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August 27th, 2013

Ricoh Introduces Prime Lenses and Weather-Sealed Flashes for Pentax Cameras

Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation (the company formerly known as Pentax Ricoh) just announced five new prime lenses and two new weather-sealed flash units for Pentax DSLR Cameras.

Five New Prime Lenses

HD Pentax DA 70mm lens

HD Pentax DA 70mm lens

The K-mount, HD Pentax DA Limited series lenses include a 15mm f/4 ED AL, 21mm f/3.2 AL, 35mm f/2.8 macro, 50mm f/2.8 and a 70mm f/2.4. Lens barrels, hoods and caps are constructed of high-grade aluminum and the glass is treated with an HD coating to help reduce flare and ghosting. (That little red anodized marking on the front of the focus ring indicates the lens is treated with the HD coating.) Additionally, each lens is designed with a rounded diaphragm to optimize bokeh. All lenses will be available in silver or black in September.

 

 

Prices:

  • 40mm f/2.8: $550
  • 15mm f/4: $700
  • 21mm f/3.2: $700
  • 35mm f/2.8 macro: $750
  • 70mm f/2.4: $750

Two New Weather-Sealed Flashes

RESIZED Flash_backside_image

Ricoh imaging also introduced two flash units for Pentax interchangeable lens cameras: the AF540F GZ II and the AF360F GZ II. Like the Pentax medium format 645D and some Pentax DSLRs, the flash units are weather-sealed. With the addition of an LED, the flash units can produce a constant source of light for video and stills. The LED can also be used to produce catchlights and as an AF assist light (with updated firmware on the 645D as well as most K-series DSLRs). Nine custom flash functions, wireless flash and a host of other features are available on both flashes. Powered by four AA batteries, the flash units will ship in September.

Prices:

  • AF360F GZ II: $430
  • AF540F GZ II: $630

http://www.us.ricoh-imaging.com

August 23rd, 2013

Photographer Gang-Raped in Mumbai

A photographer on assignment to document abandoned textile mills in the financial district of Mumbai was raped by five men on Thursday, the BBC reports.

She is currently in stable condition after being treated for multiple injuries. A male colleague who was with her and also taking pictures at the time was assaulted and tied up during the attack. The Mumbai police commissioner reported this morning that one suspect has been detained.

The police also released sketches of the five suspects; they can be found on the BBC site.

Yesterday’s attack comes nine months after a 23-year-old student died after she was gang-raped on a city bus in Delhi, an incident that made international headlines and inspired passage of tougher punishments for sex crimes in India.

Police report that the victim in yesterday’s attack, an intern at an English language lifestyle magazine based in Mumbai, and her colleague were photographing inside a dilapidated mill in the Shakti Mills district when a man accosted them and asked why they were on the property. He then called four other men to the site.

*Update: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which documents attacks on the press, has called for Indian authorities “to investigate this attack with urgency and sensitivity.” CPJ ranks India twelfth on its Impunity Index, based on the number of attacks on journalists that have gone unpunished. CPJ’s report on sexual violence against journalists can be found here.

  

August 22nd, 2013

Corel Announces PaintShop Pro X6

COREL PSPX6ULTEN_Left jpegCorel just announced the latest versions of its image-editing software, PaintShop Pro X6 and PaintShop Pro X6 Ultimate, as well as Photo & Video Suite X6. Don’t go rushing to the Corel site yet. It’s a two-stage release: Today’s release is available to current users only; everyone else will have to wait for the global launch on September 4 to purchase or download updated versions or a free trial.

Based on the results of a major research study–the largest the company ever conducted in the history of product which is now in its 16th iteration–Corel concentrated on several aspects of the software. While the previous updates for X5, focused on social media and creative effects, the big news for X6 revolves around performance. PaintShop Pro X6 has been completely re-architected  as a 64-bit product with much faster performance (a 32-bit version is available and, if necessary, can be installed along with the 64-bit version). Some of the benefits of 64-bit include 10% faster launch speed, the ability to access more than 4GB RAM, better handling and processing of  large files (e.g., 400MB) and opening and batch processing of upward of 50 RAW files. Corel estimates that batch converting 50 RAW files to PNG, for example, works 57% faster than in X5.

Specific tools and tasks such as the Smart Carver and HDR are direct beneficiaries of the 64-bit processing with faster, smoother performance and Corel has added two new selection brushes, auto grouping of sequential images, searching by IPTC data, to name just a few of X6′s enhancements. Other major improvements revolve around a refined user interface, which simplifies the application’s visual look and feel as well as the workflow with easier access to resources, the ability to drag and drop an image to the layers palette to automatically create a new layer and more.

Like PSP X5, the new software is available in a standard version, Ultimate and as part of a photo/video suite. X6 Ultimate is only $20 more than the standard version but offers extras like a full version of Athentech’s Perfectly Clear, portrait enhancement software Face Filter 3 and a creative collections of brushes and picture frames.

Interestingly, the research study conduced by Corel took place before Adobe’s Creative Cloud was introduced but Corel was thinking along the same subscription-based line. As part of the study, Corel asked its users what they thought about a subscription-based delivery model for PaintShop Pro. The response was very clear: users wanted PaintShop Pro to remain a perpetual license product. And, Corel listened, so you can purchase the software outright with no subscription required.

Corel did, however, introduce a standard membership program, which is free with the purchase of a perpetual license product. Membership takes the place of registration, although members will have to register on an annual basis. According to Corel, the company wanted to “connect with the customer on a different level. It’s not just about buying the product and never hearing from each other. It’s a way for us to keep in touch, provide more value and find out what’s valuable to them. An annual membership makes it more organic.” Some of the benefits of membership include the Kai’s Power Tools collection (KPT, for those of you who remember this amazing batch of effects plug-ins), a scripting guide and members-only webinars, among other options.

Mac users are out of luck, though. PaintShop Pro is a Windows-only program but it’s compatible with Windows XP (32-bit and 64-bit), Vista, 7 and 8. Be sure to visit the Corel website on September 4th for more details.

Price:

PaintShop Pro X6: $80 (new); $60 (upgrade)

PaintShop Pro X6 Ultimate: $100 (new); $80 (upgrade)

PSP Photo & Video Suite: $129

–Theano Nikitas

 

 

August 14th, 2013

Imagenomic Releases Realgrain 2 Plug-In

RealGrain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagenomic has released the latest version of its Realgrain film and grain effects plug-in with some notable improvements. The software is now fully 64-bit compatible for Mac and Windows and  works with Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud, as well as CS5/CS6 and Adobe Photoshop Elements 11. With its improved multi-core support, Imagenomic promises up to four times faster processing speed. In addition to the under-the-hood improvements, Realgrain 2′s user interface has been updated to match its Noiseware 5 and Portraiture 2 siblings.

Unlimited presets, multiple categories, import/export functions and a place to write notes about those presets are now available thanks to the new preset manager. Realgrain 2′s new history control is unlimited, too, so you can go back in time to any point of your adjustment process.

A 15-day trial download is available and after running through some of the software’s long list of film presets, experimenting with some black and white conversions and exploring the software’s extensive controls, we think it’s well worth checking out. Current owners of Realgrain 1 are eligible for a free upgrade; the price for new users is $100.

 

August 14th, 2013

Tamron USA Announces 3-Business Day Turnaround for Lens Repairs

Tamron USA today announced that customers who send lenses in for repairs won’t have to be without their lenses for very long, thanks to its new three-business day turnaround repair service. Over the past year, Tamron USA ramped up the number of technicians and customer service staff responsible for the repair process and now gives repaired lenses top priority in its distribution center in order to complete repairs in three days. Lenses received before noon EST, will be put into the system and assigned a repair estimate the same day. Lenses that are no longer under warranty will be repaired and shipped back within three business days after customer approval of the repair estimate. Tamron USA currently offers a six-year limited warranty on its lenses and those currently under warranty will  be repaired and shipped back to the customer within three business days.

“By speeding up the repair turnaround time, we can alleviate our customers’ anxiety about repairs and thereby increase their satisfaction of and confidence in Tamron products,” stated Tak Inoue, President and CEO of Tamron USA.

--Theano Nikitas

 

 

August 2nd, 2013

Laid Off, Maddie McGarvey Offers Touching Homage to Small-Town Newspaper Photography

Photojournalist Maddie McGarvey has written a touching tribute to her work as a newspaper photographer at Gannett’s Burlington Free Press. McGarvey was laid off yesterday, along with 200 other Gannett employees, she reports in a blog post published today, which she titled “Looking Forward.”

Despite the setback, McGarvey says that several of the subjects she’s met in her year on the job have changed her life and given her a sense of optimism, perseverance and community, and she shares her photos and stories of those people. She writes: “I’m hopeful for this career that so many friends and I have chosen to follow. This job, in my short time, has led me to some incredible people who have absolutely changed my life for the better.”

It’s worth a read: http://maddiemcgarvey.com/2013-08-02

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.

May 20th, 2013

NY Times Public Editor Questions T Magazine Photoshopping Policy

In an editorial published yesterday in The New York Times, the newspaper’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, questioned the rules regarding Photoshopping at T, the monthly style magazine published by the Times, and suggested that readers should be notified when fashion images have been digitally manipulated. She also pointed out that editors shouldn’t assume that readers understand the difference between the standards for a news photograph and a fashion photograph.

Responding to comments last week from readers that a T cover model was too skinny, T editor Deborah Needleman told Sullivan that T editors had considered “adding fat” to the model using Photoshop.

Another Times reporter called the comment “jaw-dropping” because journalistic standards would never allow for photography manipulation.

Drawing on comments from other Times picture editors including Michelle McNally of The Times and Kathy Ryan of The New York Times Magazine, Sullivan affirmed the Times’ photography standards: “The Times does not stage news photographs, or alter them digitally.” Except, Sullivan noted, in T‘s case, where it’s deemed acceptable to alter fashion and glamour photography. The assumption being that readers are aware that fashion and glamour is a “different genre of photography,” and therefore the Times’ obligation to those readers is different.

“It would be best if all the photography produced by the Times newsroom could be held to the same standard,” Sullivan wrote. But, she said, if fashion photography must exist as its own world of assumed fantasy, there should be a disclaimer for readers.

Is it realistic to expect that the Times could hold fashion photography to the same standards as news photography? Do readers need to be told that fashion images aren’t “real?”

May 16th, 2013

Photolucida: Portfolio Reviews From the Photographer’s Side of the Table

Lamb-HopewellFurn

© Eliza Lamb, from her series “Hopewell.”

By Eliza Lamb

As a photographer I find that portfolio reviews are the perfect combination of exhaustion and exhilaration, community and competition, motivation and humility. After I returned from a whirlwind four days in Portland, Oregon at Photolucida I was still coming off the high of it all. I found myself trying to integrate the connections I’d made and the feedback I’d gotten with the life I knew and the assumptions I held before I left. Sorting through piles of leave behinds, business cards, signed books and pages full of notes, I was struck by feelings of accomplishment and uneasiness, and by my downright good fortune for being able to be a part of such an amazing community.

The process of creating visual art can be very isolating and often involves years of self-reflection, pondering and personal expense, punctuated by both excitement and doubt. It can feel antisocial as we create our images and crawl back into our studios or sit in front of our computer screens for hours upon hours of editing, processing and contemplating. Having trained for years as an actress and receiving instant gratification, I find it can be near maddening putting your work out there to radio silence. But portfolio reviews are a way for photographers to join together to gain feedback, camaraderie and opportunities, to gather despite their home locations or educational training and present their work to the community as equals with common passions, goals and frustrations. (more…)

May 9th, 2013

UK Paves the Way for Orphan Works Law. Will the Sky Fall?

Photographers have not only been “Royally Robbed,” but the British government has violated their human rights, according to a UK group called stop43.org.uk. Photo trade groups in the US, including NPPA, ASMP, PPA, APA and PACA have predicted “a firestorm of international litigation.”

The cause of all the fuss? Changes in UK law that pave the way for regulations under which publishers and others can use orphan works–ie, photographs and other works for which the copyright owner cannot be identified or located–without violating copyright. The changes to the law also enable the British government to establish a central registry and licensing agency for visual works, analagous to the musical licensing agencies ASCAP and BMI.

The changes are part of the so-called Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, which provides a framework but few details of how the UK’s orphan works law and copyright registry might work.  The British government is expected to issue detailed regulations this fall. Meanwhile, the government says its intent is to make the licensing of intellectual property more efficient in the digital age, and that it will protect the interests of copyright holders at the same time.

Absent the details about how the law will work, however, photographers and other copyright holders are left to speculate on the actual consequences of the new laws. Reactions among photographers (and their trade groups) range from wariness to outrage.

“I’m not terribly worried at all” about the orphan works provision of the new law, says David Hoffman of Editorial Photographers UK. “It’s annoying there’s so much confusion, hysteria and anger about that.

“I’m much more concerned about [the collective licensing provision]. It takes control away” from photographers over who may license their images, for what purposes, and for how much. “But what control do I have anyway?” Hoffman adds, explaining that thousands of his images are used illegally. He estimates he loses tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of licensing fees each year as a result.

Paul Ellis of stop43.org also dismisses the orphan works part of the legislation as a “red herring.” Users of orphan works are likely to have to show that they searched diligently for the copyright owner of the work, and the government will still collect a fee for the use in case the rights holder ever steps forward. Ellis predicts almost nobody will bother licensing orphaned photographs.

“The system will be costly to use,” once licensing, search and administrative costs are added up, he says. “And if the costs of acquiring orphan works licenses are higher than a normal license fee, you’ve built an incentive to infringe.” (Courts in the UK award little more than a normal license fee for infringement, if an image owner bothers to sue and win, he notes.)

Ellis is far more enraged about the proposed registry, called an extended rights collective. The idea behind that is that the government would set prices for lots of small commercial and editorial uses of images, collect fees for those uses, and disburse the payments to copyright holders, provided they register. Ellis points out that anyone who doesn’t register won’t get paid. And although copyright holders may be able to opt out of the system, it might be a difficult to do that.

“The effect of this will be to drive down prices, and drive value out of creators’ pockets,” Ellis predicts. But there’s a bigger principle at stake, he says. “It utterly breaches the conception that the owners of property have the exclusive right to exploit that property. If you punch a hole in that principle, you’re on very shaky ground.

“Extended collective licensing is an arbitrary deprivation of property. The government is confiscating property,” Ellis says, asserting that it amounts to a human rights violation under international law, which he says guarantees “the right to peaceable enjoyment of your property.”

The major photo trade associations in the US, along with the Graphic Artists Guild, sent a letter last fall to UK officials objecting to the new laws on the grounds that images by US copyright holders would be swept up in the UK licensing system–and used in violation of international treaties as a result.

ASMP executive director Eugene Mopsik, who was one of the letter’s signatories, says of the UK’s new orphan works law: “It’s not the end of the world, but there are significant concerns,” although he adds that it is difficult to predict the effects of rules that haven’t been written yet. He agrees that the issues of orphan works and widespread theft of images online are issues that governments have to address. But he says, “The devil is in the details.”

Mopsik says metadata is easily stripped from digital image files, so under orphan works laws, photographers can easily lose control of their intellectual property through no fault of their own. Their work can be used in ways they find objectionable, and unauthorized uses can undercut their markets–and their income, he says.

But he says ASMP is not opposed to orphan works laws provided that photographers are given certain protections, including the exclusion of any commercial uses under orphan works legislation, requirements that users search diligently enough for copyright holders, and requirements that users post notice of their intent to use an image–so photographers have a chance to learn if their images are about to be classified as orphan works.

How good or bad it the orphan works law ends up being for photographers, Mopsik says, depends upon how lawmakers define terms like commercial use and diligent search.

Jeff Sedlik, co-founder, president and CEO of the PLUS Coalition, is also opposed to collective licensing systems that are opt-out (like the UK system seems to be) rather than opt-in. But he believes it is incumbent upon copyright holders to register their works, in order to prevent those works from becoming orphans because the metadata is inevitably stripped away. But the registry must be centralized–or consist of registries in different countries that are all connected together and searchable at once–in order to effectively protect copyright, he says.