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March 22nd, 2016

500px Guts Royalty Rate on Non-Exclusive Images

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Photographers can expect to earn less money from 500px going forward. The company is preparing to substantially lower its royalty rate on non-exclusive images effective April 4, bringing the commission from 70 percent to 30 percent. Images that are exclusive to 500px will also get a haircut, albeit smaller, dropping from 70 to 60 percent commission.

The online marketplace defended the move as a capitulation to the “reality of running a stock marketplace” and the need to fund further growth.

500px has been emailing its customers in advance of the change. The full text was reproduced here. The pricing shift won’t be abrupt and will be tested over the course of several months, 500px said.

The service also plans to unbundling Multi-Seat and Unlimited Print license add-ons from the standard license that applies to both Core and Prime collections. There are also new license add-ons and an increase in the size of the Web Ready license from 1500 pixels to 1800 pixels on the longest side.

Photographers with exclusive images on 500px should begin marking those images as such to ensure they earn the highest rate possible.

March 9th, 2016

The New Gear from WPPI 2016

WPPI 2016 has seen its fair share of product intros. We’ve paced the halls to bring you a few of the highlights.

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Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000 & PRO-4000

The 24-inch wide PRO-2000 and 44-inch PRO-4000 use the same ink set and print head technology that was introduced in the PRO 1000 and deliver a higher Dmax and better gloss uniformity than earlier models.

They also employ Canon’s Chroma Optimizer, the first time it has been used in the company’s 24 and 44-inch printers. Outside of the reformulated ink and more precise print heads, the construction of the printers has been improved to reduce vibrations that could impact print sharpness. Workflow enhancements include the use of three L-COA PRO processing chips for faster data crunching and built-in hard drives so print jobs can be quickly off-loaded from a PC and onto the printer.

Both models feature a 3.5-inch color touch screen, USB ports and wireless printing. They support three different ink tank sizes, a new 160ml cartridge plus 330ml and 700ml tanks. Thanks to the use of a sub ink tank, all ink cartridges drain completely before needing a refill.

The printers will work with an optional multi-function roll system which can act as a dual media roll or a take-up unit.

The PRO-2000 will sell for $2,995 or for $3,795 with the roll system. The PRO-4000 will set you back $5,995 or $6,995 with the roll system.

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Sony Wireless Flash

Sony shooters will soon get their hands on their very own wireless flash transmitter, the company announced today at WPPI.

Due this summer, the FA-WRC1M wireless radio commander and FA-WRR1 wireless radio receiver will have a maximum range of 98 feet.

Sony says the system will be able to control a maximum of 15 separate flash units in up to 5 groups of flashes. You’ll have both manual and automatic control over the exposure of connected flash units and hit flash sync speeds of up to 1/250th of a second. There’s also high speed sync (HSS).

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Profoto Beauty Dish

Profoto hit WPPI with new modifiers for its B2 on/off-camera flash system. The new OCF Beauty Dishes will be more compact and lighter than the company’s standard light shapers. They’ll have fewer parts too, so they’ll be easier to mount.

There will be two Beauty Dishes, both for $179. They’ll both have a deflector plate, an optional diffuser and come with a carrying case. The white dish will deliver a soft and more even light when the silver dish will deliver a bit more contrast.

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Solidiphy

Solidiphy uses 130 Canon Rebel S1 DSLRs, all attached to a synchronized trigger and strobe lighting, to create an immersive, multi-angled image of a person. The Rebels are housed in cabinets arranged in a circle, about 14 feet in diameter–although the size of the system can vary depending on your needs.

After you trigger the shutters, the 130 JPEGs are sent to your PC where they are then uploaded from Solidiphy’s software to the company where the products are 3D printed. Solidiphy charges a wholesale price on printed products and has suggest retail prices, though photographers are free to set their own prices.

Solidiphy can produce cake toppers, figurines, Lego heads and more. Turnaround times range from 7-10 days.

Solidiphy isn’t cheap. It costs $130,000 and the price includes installation, set up, training and support. You’ve got to move a lot of figurines to recoup your investment, but the quality of the 3D print is lot higher than other 3D printed figurines we’ve seen.

More From WPPI 2016:

Three Things We Learned from Sue Bryce on Making Money in Portraits

A Photo Booth for the GIF Era

All the WPPI Product News in One Place

 

February 25th, 2016

Pond5 Taps Artificial Intelligence to Improve Media Uploading and Discovery

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In the dystopian future every sci-fi fan knows by heart, artificial intelligence invariably enslaves or destroys humanity.

And maybe that enslavement is just around the corner (opinions vary), but in 2016, AI is used to put tags on your photos and videos.

The creative asset market Pond5 is the latest company to harness AI to make its image database more efficient, following similar moves by Flickr, ImageBrief, Eye-Fi and others. The company announced today that it will use AI to power two new features in its stock marketplace.

The first is dubbed NextSense, which uses image recognition powered by artificial neural networks to scan the contents of uploaded files and automatically apply up to 20 “hyper-specialized” tags on them to make finding them easier. Users are free to edit these tags, and add more of their own. The idea, says co-CEO Ryan Scott, is to streamline the process for creatives and make their media easier for buyers to find.

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The other AI-powered feature is Visual Discovery, which uses machine learning to anticipate what a user wants based on their search terms and browsing. Rather than just scooping up media with related tags, Visual Discovery goes deeper to pull images with similar aesthetics, angles as well as media that’s trending in its community. The company did extensive research on how buyers selected media and found that when using the AI-powered discovery features to winnow down their choices, they had much higher response rates and customer satisfaction, Scott tells us. “It may not get it right 100 percent of the time,” Scott adds, but it will also improve with more time and more data.

Beyond its budding Skynet, Pond5 is introducing a two-tiered subscription plan, which launches at a 50 percent discount for a limited time. Buyers can purchase assets as they go, or sign up for a Pro Membership ­plan for $49/month ($349/year) for up to five HD downloads per month and 10 percent off additional downloads. A Premium Membership ­plan for $89/month or $599/year ­comes with 10 4K downloads a month plus a 10 percent discount on additional downloads.

Pond5’s artist portfolio page have also been changed with the ability to upload header images, personalize a bio, and hand curate your media.

Pond5 boasts over 40,000 contributing artists from over 150 countries. It hosts over 4 million royalty-free video clips and millions of photos, sound effects, music and media.

January 12th, 2016

Twitter Will Now Autoplay Periscope Broadcasts

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Photographers like Chase Jarvis and Jeremy Cowart have been major proponents of the Twitter-owned live streaming app Periscope, using it to reach and educate their followers.

Today, Twitter said that it would deepen the integration of the two service by bringing Periscope broadcasts — both live and replays — directly into Tweets.

These broadcasts will only be viewable in Twitter’s iOS app to start and will autoplay when the user scrolls over them (whereas before, they had only be accessible through a link). A Periscope broadcast can be expanded to full screen by tapping on it, where a user will also view comments and hearts. You don’t need the Periscope app or a Periscope account to view these broadcasts in Twitter’s iOS app.

Periscope has seen over 100 million live broadcasts since its launch.

Read More:

How Photographers Are Using Periscope

How Many Hashtags Should You Use on Instagram?

Using This Instagram App? Delete It

How Photographers With Huge Followings Grew Their Social Networks

This Is the Most Liked Photo on Instagram

December 14th, 2015

Vimeo Launches Wider 4K Streaming

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The online video service Vimeo will broaden access to 4K videos hosted on its site. Vimeo originally launched 4K streaming and downloading for select users earlier this year, but according to Variety, the service will make 4K videos available to all its users by the first quarter of 2016.

Central to Vimeo’s 4K efforts is the use of a technology called adaptive bit rate streaming, which measures a user’s available bandwidth on a continuous basis and adjusts streaming video quality accordingly. If a user’s bandwidth is limited, Vimeo will automatically adjust and send a lower-quality stream (rather than buffer the video) and will dynamically increase the quality of the stream when bandwidth conditions improve.

Adaptive streaming is used by YouTube, Netflix and other streaming video services but Vimeo is a late adopter.

Vimeo is also evaluating whether to automatically send a viewer the highest quality video based on their bandwidth, whether or not they manually select that option.

Read More:

Here’s the First Footage from the RED Raven

Why Quentin Tarantino Shot the Widest Format Film There Is

Watch a Film Camera and Lens Become Art

 

November 4th, 2015

Microsoft’s Broken Promise

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When we canvased some of the best hard drive and cloud solutions for archiving your images in June (subscriber link) we singled out Microsoft’s OneDrive for praise, noting that it was one of the best deals around. For the price of a Microsoft Office 365 subscription ($99/year), you could enjoy unlimited file storage on the OneDrive cloud.

Well, evidently the folks in Redmond have had a change of heart about that “unlimited” thing.

According to a company blog post, Microsoft is reneging on its offer of unlimited storage for Microsoft 365 subscribers because some users were storing a lot of files on OneDrive:

Since we started to roll out unlimited cloud storage to Office 365 consumer subscribers, a small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings. In some instances, this exceeded 75 TB per user or 14,000 times the average. Instead of focusing on extreme backup scenarios, we want to remain focused on delivering high-value productivity and collaboration experiences that benefit the majority of OneDrive users.

This serves as a useful reminder that not only is Microsoft  limiting your storage, they’re peering into the contents of your cloud drive, too. (They’ve made no secret that they do this.)

Microsoft is doing more than just capping storage limits for Office 365 subscribers, they’re also dramatically scaling back their free storage tier. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Starting now, Microsoft 365 subscriptions will include 1 TB of OneDrive storage.
  • 100 GB and 200 GB paid plans are going away as an option for new users and will be replaced with a 50 GB plan for $1.99 per month in early 2016.
  • Free OneDrive storage will decrease from 15 GB to 5 GB for all users, current and new. The 15 GB camera roll storage bonus will also be discontinued. These changes will start rolling out in early 2016.
  • If you are an Office 365 consumer subscriber and have stored in excess of 1 TB, you will be notified of this change and will be able to keep your increased storage for at least 12 months.
  • If you are using more than 5 GB of free storage, you will continue to have access to all files for at least 12 months after these changes go into effect in early 2016. In addition, you can redeem a free one-year Office 365 Personal subscription (credit card required), which includes 1 TB of OneDrive storage.
  • Current customers of standalone OneDrive storage plans (such as a 100 or 200 GB plans) are not affected by these changes.

While it’s certainly understandable from a financial aspect, any photographer or videographer who took Microsoft at their word is now faced with the unpleasant prospect of paying more than they anticipated or migrating their files to another cloud server.

This is also cautionary tale about the perils of cloud storage. Files stored on a third party’s servers are ultimately subject to that party’s terms of service and as Microsoft has just usefully demonstrated, those terms can change to your detriment. Cloud storage has many benefits and can be a useful option for your files. Until it isn’t. 

See Also:

How Apple Could Build the Greatest Cloud Service Ever

In the Digital Age, Longevity Is No Sure Thing

Burned by the Cloud? Try These High Capacity Hard Drives Instead

 

October 28th, 2015

Keeping Your Photo Business Profitable During the Holidays

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Sponsored by Zenfolio

The holidays can be a stressful time when you may find yourself spending more money than you’re making. But if you’re a photographer, fear not! You can turn the holidays into a very profitable season. The experts at Zenfolio provide five easy ways to market your photography business during the holidays, because let’s face it: what says “personal” more than giving a photo gift to loved ones?

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Here, Zenfolio provides five ways to advertise your site (and how to host a sale) during the busiest shopping season of the year:

  1. Offer Coupons and Gift Certificates

Everyone loves a good deal. Offer clients a coupon during the holiday season for an incentive to buy. Zenfolio offers three types of coupons: amount-based, percentage-based and base cost. Amount-based coupons subtract the discount amount from the order total, percentage coupons subtract discounts as a percentage of order total (sales tax excluded) and, lastly, base-cost coupons allow customers to order products at their base cost, bypassing any markup you may have added. You also have the option with Zenfolio to create a huge batch of coupons all at once.

Gift certificates are foolproof: they allow the gift recipient to pick exactly what they want for the holidays. Zenfolio offers gift certificates that act as a credit where the photographer creates the code to share with clients, and can be a form of payment during checkout to make the process simpler.

  1. Banner Advertisement

What’s better than advertising your sale front and center on your homepage? Zenfolio allows users to display banners in several different ways: photo, video, slideshow or a horizontal photo strip. It’s easy to display a sale you’re having, and you can even link it directly to the products offered for sale.

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  1. Expiring Galleries

A different approach to getting customers to act is to set a deadline on their galleries. This means you can put an expiration date on when their photos will be available for viewing online. This will give them a gentle nudge to buy before their photos disappear. Zenfolio gives the option to set expiration dates on galleries, and after that date it is only seen as private. A notification email is sent to clients to remind them of this date.

  1. Visitor Sign-In

A great way to build clients is to have a visitor sign-in page, so you can market to your visitors later. Think of it as a modern day guest book for your website. With Zenfolio, you can apply a sign-in page to a group or gallery to gather information from those interested in your photography. This will be a helpful list to have on hand when you have sales so you can share the sale details to your entire list.

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  1. Email Campaigns

Once you have that list of followers (even if it’s a small group, at first), Zenfolio allows you to send emails to your entire list, or to a selected tagged group of contacts. You can send out promotional emails for your sale with coupon code information inside, and push it with an expiration date (for example: two-day sale!). If it’s a previous client, it may be wise to direct them to a specific gallery. For example, you can entice them to buy framed prints from an old portrait that they can give to a loved one.

For more detailed information about how to advertise during the holidays, watch this free Zenfolio webinar. Get started on your own website with the two-week free trial today.

October 6th, 2015

500px Redesign: New Profile Pages, Discovery Features

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500px pulled back the curtain on a major redesign of its profile pages, photo pages and the search experience.

A user profile page (pictured above) will no longer display square cropped thumbnails. Instead, thumbnails will retain their original aspect ratio. Profile images have been moved to the middle to make them more prominent, as has bio text.

The company also made the Follow and Share buttons more prominent.

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Photo pages will now display larger photos. According to 500px, portraits will be 12 percent larger while landscape images will be 15 percent larger than before. A modal design displays images as pop-ups so that visitors can keep their place in the background. Information about the photo has been consolidated into a sidebar. All of the details, except for comments, can be collapses into a Details tab. If you frequently collapse the Details tab, 500px will remember your selection and begin to automatically collapse the tab for you.

Below an image, 500px will display the set it was a part of to help visitors find additional images. They’ve also improved how quickly images load by allowing a low-resolution version of the image to pre-load to enable those with slower connections to view something while the full resolution images finishes its journey from cyberspace to browser.

Finally, the Discover section of 500px has a new design that features full aspect ratio images that load smoothly as you scroll. Pages will scroll continuously now, too with no more pagination. The Fresh page will continue to support bulk uploads, but will only display the first three images in any bulk upload to preserve existing images on the fresh page.

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September 3rd, 2015

The Future of Storage: Portable, Durable Solid-State Drives

Sponsored by SanDisk

CLIFF MAUTNER, WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

Photographer Cliff Mautner shoots over 50 weddings per year. It’s high-stress, demanding work that means he’s always on the run. One weekend, he’s hopping a plane to San Francisco to shoot a wedding in a Federal-Bank-turned-wedding-hall. The next weekend, he’s photographing a couple in front of a New York sunset on a TriBeCa rooftop. Everywhere he goes, he brings his SanDisk Extreme 500 Portable SSD, which he says is “perfect for the wedding photographer.”

Indian Weddings at The Palace at Somerset Park

Mautner photographed a multi-day wedding in Sommerset Park, New Jersey, backing up the images from each day to the SanDisk Extreme Portable 500 SSD. / © Cliff Mautner

“When I shoot weddings, I need a portable, durable, fast drive that I can trust,” Mautner says. “The Extreme 500 is as light as a feather and fits into my front pocket. I can bring it anywhere.”

The Extreme 500 has completely changed Mautner’s workflow. It’s size, speed, portability and storage capacity (ranging from 120GB to 480GB) means that he can edit his images whether he’s shooting an Indian Sangeet ceremony in Philadelphia, driving to upstate New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley or flying to Northern California. When he returns to his studio, he can easily hand off the Extreme 500 to his studio manager for processing.

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SanDisk Extreme 500

The Extreme 500 is a solid-state drive and connects to your computer via super-fast USB 3.0, making it four times faster than traditional external hard drives. Between the drive’s lack of moving parts and its rugged shock and vibration-resistant exterior, it is exponentially more reliable too. That means that when Mautner does want to outsource processing for a special event, he can ship the Extreme 500 without any fear that it will break under the rigors of shipping. It’s built to take a beating.

The SanDisk Extreme 500 makes it easy for Mautner to do his job without having to worry about failed hard drives or slow transfer speeds. When you are running at his speed, that makes a huge difference.

SAM NICHOLSON, CEO OF STARGATE STUDIOS

As the CEO of Stargate Studios, a state-of-the-art visual effects production house, Sam Nicholson is something like the conductor of an orchestra. On any given day, he’s managing ten different cameras from RED Epics down to GoPros, as they capture terabytes of footage from hit TV shows like The Walking Dead and Revenge. The footage is then transferred, copied, chopped up and shipped out to Nicholson and to offices in places like Berlin, Dubai and Malta where production staff create breathtaking visual effects.

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Stargate Studios produced visual effects for the Globo telenovela, Os Dez Mandamentos (The Ten Commandments), in Brazil. / © Stargate Studios

To move that mass of data around, Nicholson relies on the SanDisk Extreme 900 to make sure that the footage gets to its destination quickly and reliably.

“The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is the future. There’s no doubt about it,” Nicholson says. “It’s incredibly reliable and fast, which saves you time and money.”

Today, Stargate’s workflow consists of a combination of solid-state cards in his cameras, a footage trailer on set outfitted with 30 terabytes of slower spinning hard drives and SanDisk Extreme 900 drives for transferring between editorial staff, Nicholson and Stargate’s multiple production facilities. Nicholson is itching to “future-proof” his production pipeline by using the Extreme 900 throughout because of their speed, size of up to 1.9TBs and durability. He likened his current situation to a six-lane freeway that unexpectedly closes down to a two-lane highway when data reaches the spinning drives.

“Until we use solid-state drives like the Extreme 900 through the entire pipeline, it’s like a traffic jam of data,” Nicholson explains.

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SanDisk Extreme 900

In addition to the speed advantages, the Extreme 900 adds a layer of reliability that traditional spinning drives can’t match. In Stargate’s current workflow, Nicholson and his team have to back up all footage multiple times to protect from failing spinning hard drives—which he estimates occur 30 percent of the time. When he uses the Extreme 900, he doesn’t even bother backing up because he knows the drives won’t fail.

“Future-proofing” Stargate’s workflow doesn’t just save Nicholson time, it saves his entire staff time. That means less time transferring, copying and backing up data and more time doing what he and his team loves—crafting compelling stories and mind-blowing visual effects.

“No one pays attention to all the time that gets wasted managing your data,” Nicholson says. “When you realize how much time you can save, you understand why drives like the Extreme 900 are so important.”

June 24th, 2015

Uber for Drones: Fly4Me Connects Pilots with Clients

A photo posted by fly4.me (@fly4.me) on

For all the popularity of drones, they’re far from a mass market product. Many users, even many photographers, may be leery of sending a flying robot into the air, lest it wind up on the White House lawn or on someone’s face.

That’s where Fly4Me comes in. It’s a new service that promises to link trained drone operators with paying clients–kind of like Uber for drones.

Drone owners use Fly4Me to create personalized profiles and bid on drone-related job offers, including aerial mapping, disaster surveillance but also photography and videography. Operators bring their own drone and get to keep 80 percent of any money earned. Any drone owner that wants to create a profile on Fly4Me has to undergo a safety certification process by the company first.

Fly4Me’s co-founder Adam Kersnoski told PDN that the company had obtained its 333 exemption from the FAA allowing commercial drone operations and that drone pilots using the service would be covered under that exemption.

The current exemption restricts the service to only using drone operators that fly a DJI Phantom 2, however Kersnoski told us the company’s lawyers were “already in the process of modifying [the FAA exemption] to exclude this restriction and add additional platforms.”

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Fly4Me is based in Boston and is signing up drone operators throughout the country.

The company is planning to offer some interesting technology to customers who hire operators through the platform, including the ability to view flight results uploaded by the pilot, live-streaming from a drone’s camera, private communication between pilot and customer during flight and the ability for customers to select flight locations by pointing a pin on Google Maps.

(Lead image from left to right: Adam Kersnowski, co-founder; David Amatuni, designer; Dmitry Sharshunskiy, co-founder; Karina Dodor, attorney.)