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October 7th, 2014

FREE Travel Photography Video Tutorial

If you missed Pulitzer-prize winning photographer Brian Smith’s live presentation on travel photography at B&H Photo in New York City last month, you can now see it online for free. Brought to you by Sony, this inspiring and educational one-hour video is filled with stunning images, practical tips and technical advice to help you capture better travel photos. Take it from Brian, he’s traveled six continents, taken thousands of photos as a Sony Artisan of Imagery and built a stunning collection of travel photos that will motivate you to get brave and creative with your camera, especially when you travel.

Brian-Smith-Sony-A7R
Brian Smith with the Sony a7R

Sponsored by Sony, creator of Sony Alpha-series mirrorless and DSLR cameras

October 2nd, 2014

“How Come This Stuff Isn’t Animated?” The Story of Mr. GIF

Pop star Miley Cyrus and the rapper 2 Chainz backstage at Jeremy Scott's S/S 2015 show at New York fashion week. © Mr. GIF

Pop star Miley Cyrus and the rapper 2 Chainz backstage at Jeremy Scott’s S/S 2015 show at New York fashion week. © Mr. GIF for Milk Made

Mr. GIF wants to animate the Internet. The creative duo has made photographing and illustrating GIFs—the 27-year-old bitmap image format that supports crude animation—their calling card. They’re the team that Marc Ecko, Evian and Transamerica tap when they need to quickly make strong, easily shareable moving images for whatever they’re selling. In just a few short years, they evolved from a pair of daydreaming MTV plebes to shooting Miley Cyrus and 2Chainz backstage at fashion week. To them, still images that move were obviously taylor-made for the Internet and its thousands of screens. But can you really make a career of making GIFs?

The duo, Jimmy Repeat and Mark Portillo, are college buddies. They studied advertising design together at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Their studies were almost irrelevant—Portillo didn’t even finish—but the renowned art and design school is where the two would meet. Less than seven years later, they would quit their jobs to make GIFs—the full-time for clients like and others. Even an insurance company.

Having gone their separate ways after school, Repeat and Portillo reconnected under the umbrella of Viacom, at MTV’s “Geek” vertical, which covers cartoons, comics and videogames. Doing research for work, they devoured the same comics, but were struck by the format’s limitations.

Maria Sharapova for Evian at the U.S. Open © Mr. GIF

Maria Sharapova for Evian at the U.S. Open © Mr. GIF

“We were like, ‘How come this stuff isn’t animated yet?’” Portillo remembers. “We read Akira and we were like, “If this background was giving me seizures, it would be so much better.’”

So they dreamed up a GIF comic over smoke breaks outside Viacom’s Times Square HQ, and quickly learned why animation was so expensive (it’s a lot of work!). They abandoned the book idea, throwing the frames they’d finished up on Tumblr. But they were having fun. Illustrations gave way to photos, and a thought: “How is the GIF better than the JPEG?”

“We saw the potential,” Repeat says. “Everywhere you look, there’s a screen.”

As relative neophytes—Repeat especially—they were intrigued by the technology of photography. They experimented with odd cameras well-suited to the medium; at first, digital models like the Fujifilm FinePix Real3D W3, but they would later become obsessed with the aesthetics of analog. Toy cameras like Lomography’s Pop 9 (a nine-lens camera that makes nine exposures at once) and ActionSampler (four lenses, four consecutive frames), even 3D film cameras like the Nimslo 3D. The multi-exposure cameras helped streamline their workflow—helpful, as they had to develop and scan each frame to animate their GIFs. They found creative ways to merge digital and analog, using a DSLR to make time-lapse clips of instant film as it developed. They have a lot of cameras.

Marc Ecko, founder of Eckō Enterprises, Mr. GIF’s first big client. © Mr. GIF

They spent their nights and weekends making GIFs and posting them to Tumblr for free. It wasn’t long before Mark Ecko came calling (tweeting, actually) with their first paid gig, animating his upcoming TEDx presentation. They powered through it in three days. “I think we made 200-300 GIFs in one night,” Portillo says. “It was intense.”

“That was the beginning of the end for our day jobs,” Repeat says. “Like, ‘Oh, this is what a good client’s like?” Ecko dug the work, and they started to get more gigs. They GIF’d the U.S. Open for Evian, and fashion week for Tumblr. By 2013, they had quit MTV, and would soon score a huge project: a year-long Tumblr promoting the San Francisco-based insurance company Transamerica’s “Transform Tomorrow” campaign.

The pair convinced Transamerica to send them across the country making GIFs of America’s cities. They flew drones over rooftop gardens in Detroit, Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota and, of course, San Francisco and the iconic Transamerica building. They booked a room at a luxury hotel with the perfect view for a 24-hour time-lapse of the skyline. Transamerica was skeptical of the format—until they saw the popularity of the first clip they posted. Now, when you go to www.transformtomorrow.com, their fancy hotel view of San Francisco graces the background, the current time of day reflected by the time of day in the 24-hour time-lapse they made.

A time-lapse GIF of the San Francisco skyline, that Mr. GIF made for Transamerica, prominently featuring their iconic headquarters. © Mr. GIF

A time-lapse GIF of the San Francisco skyline, that Mr. GIF made for Transamerica, prominently featuring their iconic headquarters. © Mr. GIF

Now certified pros, they’re still almost instinctively inventive with their resources. When a client that was supposed to fly them out and put them up in Austin, TX, to shoot a SXSW panel told them that they had to pay their own way, they got their drive down to Texas sponsored. Their friends at Tumblr would connect them with Transamerica, but it was the GIFs they shot on the trip to Austin that would help them land the gig. When a job for St. Ives took them to Hawaii, they stayed an extra week and shot Honolulu for Transamerica. Since they like to shoot film (which is expensive to buy and process), rather than go to a professional processing house, they trained the local CVS employees how to prep and cut their negatives, adding a healthy tip for their trouble.

One thing they learned early on is that new work leads to new work. They needed to show clients they could make the work, so before they had paid work to show, they just did it for free, and for fun. The fun shows up in the work, and it works.

May 21st, 2013

The Highs and Lows of Photographing an Italian Cycling Competition

© Manual For Speed

© Manual For Speed

Manual for Speed (MFS), a website covering professional cycling created by writer/photographer Daniel Wakefield Pasley and photographer Emiliano Granado, is currently featuring daily reports from the Giro d’Italia, a cycling race through Italy that dips into neighboring European countries.

Granado and Pasley created MFS in 2011 with sponsorship from Castelli, a cycling apparel company. Pasley’s reporting on the Giro d’Italia has included access to two cycling teams that Castelli sponsors: Garmin-Sharp and Team Colombia, the Colombian national team.

MFS’s coverage of the Giro d’Italia is unique not only for the quality of photography—action, landscapes, crowd portraits, and a typology of cycling team buses, among other goodies—but also for its diaristic tone. Pasley’s account of the highs and lows of photographing a month-long sporting event is honest and highly entertaining.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to persevere through maddening daily logistical challenges, to “lite-stalk” professional athletes, to be heckled by spectators, to drop one’s expensive camera in a puddle, or to see Italian children cursing in English at a race helicopter, the daily reports by Pasley are worth a read.

Or you can just look at the pictures.

September 14th, 2012

PDN Video Pick: Chasing The Light (With the New Nikon D600)

Wildlife photographer Florian Schulz, who we profiled in the August 2012 issue of PDN, was asked by Nikon to put the recently released D600 through its paces. Schulz was the first photographer to test the camera in the field. He and his brother, filmmaker Salomon Schulz, produced this short film, titled “Chasing the Light.”

NIKON – CHASING THE LIGHT from Florian Schulz on Vimeo.

Related: Photokina 2012: Nikon Debuts Smaller, 24.3MP Full-Frame D600 DSLR for Photo Enthusiasts

December 20th, 2011

Dragonfly Photo Wins $10k National Geographic Photo Contest

© Shikhei Goh

A close-up photograph of a dragonfly weathering a rain storm in Indonesia’s Riau Islands earned photographer Shikhei Goh the $10,000 grand prize in the 2011 National Geographic Photography Contest.

In a statement, National Geographic magazine photographer Tim Laman, who was one of three judges for the competition, celebrated the photograph’s “beautiful light, rare action in a close-up image, as well as its technical perfection.” Goh’s photograph also won first prize in the “Nature” category.

A photograph by Izabelle Nordfjell of a Sami reindeer hunter preparing to take a shot while his son covers his ears won first prize in the “People” category, while George Tapan’s image of
a rainbow stretching out over the ocean off of the Philippines’ Onuk Island received first prize in the “Places” category.

These photographs were selected from more than 20,000 images submitted by professional and amateur photographers from more than 130 countries.

Galleries of the winning images and honorable mentions are online here.

The other judges were National Geographic magazine photographers Amy Toensing, and Peter Essick.

August 31st, 2011

PDN Video Pick: On Assignment with Jimmy Chin in Yosemite

Adventure photographer Jimmy Chin recently shot a feature story for National Geographic about the derring-do of modern day rock climbing, and Renan Ozturk of camp4collective.com made this behind-the-scenes video of Chin at work. It’s full of spectacular views, sweaty palm moments, and insight about how Chin works while dangling from a climbing rope on El Capitan and other Yosemite cliffs.

August 1st, 2011

PDN Video Pick: KI: Michael Levin, by Brad Kremer

Fine-art photographer Michael Levin says he first came across filmmaker Brad Kremer’s video work in late 2010 and was immediately engaged. “His video “Hayaku” is like a poem told through time-lapse photography. I felt moved along by the kinetic energy in the piece and he had me hooked,” says Levin, who needed some video footage shot in Japan for a separate project. He contacted Kremer with a basic pitch. The resulting video shown here reveals Levin’s personal experience of witnessing Japan as he worked in different locations. “I wanted to show the process, the journey, the adventure in a way that would give the viewer an emotional connection to Michael and his photography,” Kremer explains.

February 1st, 2011

PDN Video Pick: Winter In Hell

Winter in Hell from Enrique Pacheco on Vimeo.

Enrique Pacheco’s short film “Winter In Hell” (not a reference to the regular severe weather warnings afflicting areas of the United States this season), was created from footage shot in Iceland over the course of a year. It tells the story of a peaceful arctic winter interrupted by the explosion of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

The photographer and filmmaker used the Canon 7D and 5D Mark II, and Canon and Carl Zeiss lenses to shoot the footage. We recommend utilizing the full screen mode.

January 25th, 2011

PDN Video Pick: It’s Better In The Wind, by Scott Toepfer

Photographer Scott Toepfer‘s 2011 Trailer 2 video hypes his photo project and upcoming short film called, “It’s Better In The Wind,” which was shot on location throughout the western U.S. (The project re-imagines the long distance motorcycle treks of the 1960s/1970s.) Trailer 1, launched ten months ago, was a teaser for Toepfer’s photo book and exhibit that debuted in L.A. this past August. The stills for both were shot using 35mm film, and Toepfer solicited funds and support for the book on Kickstarter. The video trailers are comprised of Canon 5D Mark II footage, and the 15 minute short film due out this summer is a mix of Super 8 and Canon 5D Mark II footage. (Toepfer says that by using a combination of video teaser/slideshows, Web 2.0 social marketing, blogger/Web interviews/features, he’s managed to increase his Web site traffic by 500 percent.)

August 3rd, 2010

Steve McCurry Marks End of Kodachrome Era with Global Trip

Last summer when Kodak announced it was discontinuing its once popular Kodachrome film, Steve McCurry requested the last 36-frame roll manufactured by the company.

For nine months he planned a nostalgic journey to places he shot in the past. Followed closely by a National Geographic Channel TV crew, McCurry ventured this past June on a six-week global trip that brought him from Brooklyn to southern Asia, Italy and Turkey, and finally to Parsons, Kansas, where Dwayne’s Photo, the only Kodachrome-friendly film processing facility left in the world, processed McCurry’s roll.

Those who still have unused and/or unprocessed Kodachrome should take note: Dwayne’s will quit processing the film at the end of this year.

National Geographic Channel is planning on broadcasting a documentary about McCurry’s journey sometime in 2011

—Cameron Handley

Related: Kodachrome Culture of PDN Photo Of The Day

Via: http://www.dailynews.com/ci_15660092