April 22nd, 2016

Aaron Vincent Elkaim Wins $20K Alexia Foundation Grant for 2016

March 29, 2014. A group of boys climb a tree on the Xingu River by the city of Altamira, Brazil. One third of the city will be permanently flooded by the nearby Belo Monte Dam. Photo © Aaron Vincent Elkaim.

A group of boys climb a tree on the Xingu River by the city of Altamira, Brazil on March 29, 2014. One third of the city will be permanently flooded by the nearby Belo Monte Dam. Photo © Aaron Vincent Elkaim.

Toronto, Canada-based photographer Aaron Vincent Elkaim has won the $20,000 Professional Grant from the Alexia Foundation, the organization announced this morning. Elkaim received the grant for his project “Where the River Runs Through,” which examines the consequences of Brazil’s major hydroelectric expansion on the ecosystems, communities and industries within the Amazon Rainforest.

The winner of the first place Student Grant is Ryerson University senior Nathaniel Brunt for his project “#Shaheed,” a study of the war in Kashmir, the men fighting in it, and the changing relationship between technology and the representation of conflict. His prize is a semester at Syracuse University to further his goal of earning a PhD and to produce his project into a book.

Finalists for the Professional Grant were Adriane Ohanesian for “The Last Lives, Rebel Darfur,” Brendan Hoffman for “Brotherland: War in Ukraine,” Krisanne Johnson for “Post Apartheid Youth,” and Asa Sjöström for “Moldove Silent Land.”

Alvaro Ybarra Zavala received a Judges Special Recognition award for his project “Colombia, The Parallel State,” which documents the reality of a civilian population who live in a hidden Colombia that only knows the reality of sixty years of war.

José Márquez of Brooks Institute, Gabriela Arp of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Sarah Blesener of The International Center of Photography, and Nick Wagner of Western Kentucky University have been awarded Student Award of Excellence Grants.

Judges for the 2016 competition included past Alexia Professional Grant recipients Teru Kuwayama, Darcy Padilla and Ami Vitale.

The mission of the Alexia Foundation is to promote photojournalism through scholarships and grants to bring attention to social injustice and to promote cross-cultural understanding. The foundation was established in 1991 by the family of Alexia Tsairis, a Syracuse University student who died in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Related stories:
Paolo Marchetti Wins $20K 2015 Alexia Foundation Grant
Aaron Vincent Elkaim Named Finalist In 2015 FotoVisura Grant

April 22nd, 2016

Earthquake Rattles CMOS Image Sensor Market


A series of devastating Earthquake hit Japan earlier this month, claiming 44 lives and destroying infrastructure across the island of Kyushu.

The quakes also appear to have dealt a blow to Sony’s CMOS image sensor business.

Sony’s factory in Kumamoto, located near the epicenter of the quake, has been taken offline indefinitely while the company assesses the damage.

The factory makes CMOS image sensors for digital cameras. Sony is a market leader in CMOS chips used in both digital cameras and smartphones with an estimated 40 percent market share, so any supply disruption will inevitably lead to product delays and, potentially, higher prices as supply shrinks.

Sony’s smartphone sensor factories are back online but there’s no word yet on how much damage its digital camera sensor business has sustained. The Kumamoto factory was primarily focused on sensors for still cameras, not smartphones.

UPDATE: In its quarterly earnings release, Sony nows says the factory won’t be brought back online until at least the end of May.  According to Reuters, both Canon and Nikon have said Sony’s plant halt would affect their camera production. We’ve reached out to both Canon and Nikon for more details.



April 21st, 2016

TIS Books Grant Shows Support for Hardworking Photography Adjuncts

Book publisher TIS has launched a grant for adjunct photography instructors. Called the “Essential Non-Essentials Grant,” TIS created the $1,000 award in recognition of hardworking adjuncts, who often work multiple teaching jobs, sometimes in different states, in order to earn a decent living.

“One of our co-founders is part of this army of road dog educators and we understand the struggles that adjunct professors face while trying to support their livelihood and studio practice while also teaching a new generation of artists and makers with no security or benefits,” TIS said in a statement announcing the grant.

As has been widely reported, colleges and universities have in recent years been replacing tenure track teaching positions—in all areas of study, not just the arts—with lower-paid adjunct positions. Adjuncts usually earn between $2,500 and $5,000 per class. For a story about adjunct instructors published in the January 2015 issue of PDN, some adjuncts reported traveling to as many as three states per week to fill their teaching schedules.

The TIS grant aims to provide a bit of extra money to these teachers to use however they wish. The application fee is $7, and they’ve streamlined the application process, asking for seven images, a 300-word statement and a CV. TIS is accepting applications through June 1st, and will announce the winner June 7th.

Go here for more information and to apply.

Are Art School Hiring Practices Hurting Prospects For MFA Photo Students?
A Part Time Future: Adjunct Teaching Dynamics in Three Parts

April 21st, 2016

Launching a Career in New York on $66 a Day

Fashion and beauty photographer David Paul Larson launched his career in New York with determination and self-discipline, as we explained in the April issue of PDN. He moved to New York City in 2008 as the economy was collapsing, struggled for two years just to pay rent, and finally rose up the ranks as an assistant to some top photographers including Mark Seliger, Mario Testino, and Norman Jean Roy.

At the time he decided to stop assisting, Larson says he was earning up to $800 a day, including overtime. “It’s very hard to walk away from that,” he says.  “You’re traveling first class everywhere, shooting 250 or 300 days a year with the best photographers. Assistants at that level are probably peaking between $150,000 and $200,000 a year. It’s golden handcuffs.”

But Larson forced himself to walk away from it to get his own career going. He took a $14-an-hour job at a rental studio just so he could use the studio free-of-charge for his own test shoots at night and on weekends. “I’m always trying to figure out an angle, especially for the test shoots, because it’s such a big expense,” he says.

Another strategy has been to live well below his means. “That’s probably one of the most important things,” he says. He has pared his monthly expenses to about $2,000–about $66 per day. That includes $1,200 for rent on a shared apartment, his biggest expense. He can now afford to live alone, but his priority it to save whatever he can for his test shoots, he explains.

His other monthly expenses include:

Health insurance: $300
Groceries: $250
Cell phone: $100
Insurance: $120 (including business insurance, renter’s insurance, and insurance for his Vespa scooter)
Health club membership: $60

Larson says he uses one provider for all his insurance needs, “which I would recommend because you get a better deal by a lot.” He doesn’t ride the subway, relying on his Vespa instead for all of his local transportation. Gasoline runs about $20 per month, he says.

As we explained in our story about his transition, he rarely splurges on any personal expense.  “I made the decision when I was 22 not to stop drinking, but I probably drink only 5 times a year. It’s a lifestyle choice,” he says.

Larson says he never considered asking his parents for help, because they didn’t support his decision to move to New York City in the first place. And admitting defeat and going home was unthinkable, he says. His plan B was to sell everything he owned and live on friends’ couches, if he had to. “There’s the story of the general whose soldiers were put on the beach and he burned all the ships so they couldn’t retreat. You know, you just burn all your bridges and you’re like, all right. We’re here.

“People come to New York and think it’s going to be a walk in the park. It’s really competitive. Everyone wants to move here. Well, guess what? It’s not sunshine and rainbows…Life is hard. Anything worth doing is hard.”

Below is an audio excerpt of our interview with Larson. He offers tips for how to push through the burn-out and creative plateau that prevents many assistants from transitioning to their own photo careers. He also shares the most valuable client service lessons he learned as an assistant.



April 19th, 2016

Storage at NAB: No Terabyte Left Behind

For creatives churning out 4K videos, storage and data speeds are an ever-pressing concern. At NAB, several storage companies unveiled super high capacity drives that combine generous capacities with blazing transfer speeds to cope with the data rich era we live in.

G-Technology G-Rack 12

G-Technology hit NAB with its first-ever Network Attached Storage device to cope with the storage demands of 4K video.

The G-RACK 12 a scalable 12-bay server offering capacities up to 120TB. You can add another 120TB using an optional expansion chassis.The G-Rack features four 10-gigabit Ethernet connections for high-speed data transfers and uses a BTRFs files system and graphical interface to make drive management simpler. The 12-bay, expandable units incorporate enterprise hard drives and are available in 48TB, 72TB, 96TB, and 120TB storage capacities.


LaCie 12big Thunderbolt 3

This 12-bay RAID unit can deliver up to 96TB in capacity and uses Thunderbolt 3 to deliver transfer speeds of up to 2600MB/s in RAID 0 and 2400MB/s in RAID 5.

The LaCie 12big features 256MB cache, 7200RPM Seagate enterprise-class drives rated for 8,760 hours of operation per year. LaCie’s RAID Manager software has also been redesigned to make it simpler to use, the company said. The new software will also be available to download for free for owners of older big-series drives.

It ships with a USB-C to USB-A cable and will be available this summer in 48TB, 72TB and 96TB capacities. Pricing wasn’t announced.



SymplyStor is a new desktop RAID storage solution designed to let up to eight different Thunderbolt-connected PCs access files.

SymplyStor is available with either SSD or hard drives in capacities up to 64TB. It supports both Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt 3 speeds. If you opt for the SymplyShare base, you can double the storage capacity by adding another 64TB SymplyStor–the two will behave as a single RAID device.

SymplyStor uses Apple’s Xsan networking technology to let multiple users access the same storage drives. The software features a 5-step setup and there are monitoring apps for Mac, Windows, iOS and Apple Watch.

SymplyStor starts at $1,999.


April 19th, 2016

Travel Log: Brian Smith at Mardi Gras with Sony’s G Master Lenses

Sponsored by Sony

When Miami-based portrait photographer Brian Smith was asked to test the Sony G Matster Lenses, he chose a setting with color, texture and history: Mardi Gras. The annual New Orleans celebration is a photographer’s playground with parades, vibrant costumes and a diverse range of subjects from day to night.

© Brian Smith

© Brian Smith

Although he is best known for his portraits of big-name celebrities like Samuel L. Jackson and Anne Hathaway, Smith is also an avid shooter of lifestyle and travel photography. New Orleans provided opportunities for all of the above, from the lively nightlife on Bourbon Street to the porches of Cajun fishermen in nearby Houma, Louisiana.

Smith’s camera of choice is the Sony α7R II, and, up until now, his lenses of choice were the Sony-compatible Zeiss line. With the new G Master Lenses, he had high expectations: “I was hoping the new lenses would come close to matching the performance of [Zeiss lenses],” he says. Armed with the FE 24-70mm F2.8 lens and FE 85mm F1.4 lens, both from Sony’s new G Master series, Smith traveled to Louisiana to test them out.

© Brian Smith

© Brian Smith

“We were all over Cajun country. We went everywhere we could think of to try out these lenses,” Smith recalls. Smith’s odyssey led him to shoot sunset portraits of jazz musician Benny Jones, Sr. in Louis Armstrong Park; Big Chief Kevin Goodman of the Flaming Arrows, decked out in full Mardi Gras Indian regalia; as well as a staged fashion shoot in the historic Lafayette Cemetery.

Smith was happy to find that the lenses’ autofocus was fast and accurate, while also rendering colors and skin tones faithfully. “I was hoping the G Master Lenses would come close to matching the performance of Sony’s Zeiss lenses,” said Smith. “And they exceeded my expectations.” Pairing the fast autofocus with the low-light capabilities of the α7R II allowed Smith to capture nighttime portraits with only available light.

© Brian Smith

© Brian Smith

Most noticeably, according to Smith, the lenses had a “smooth transition from in-focus areas to out-of-focus,” a quality that Smith says made images like those of the science fiction-themed Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus parade “simply look better.” “When you are photographing people, you want the image to be as sharp as possible, but you also want it to look beautiful,” Smith explains. “Beauty isn’t something you typically talk about when testing lenses, but when you see the images, you can understand why I would say [that what the G Master lenses produce] are beautiful.”

© Brian Smith

© Brian Smith

When Smith returned to his studio in Miami, he could see even more clearly what he had noticed in the field: the G Master images were crisp, even when he zoomed in on minor details—and even when he had shot with a wide-open aperture. Since his New Orleans trip, Smith says the G Master lenses have become an integral part of his gear: “I’ve been using them on almost all of my shoots. I’m very happy taking these two lenses with me and calling it a day.”

For more information on G Master Lenses and Brian Smith visit sony.com/alpha.

April 19th, 2016

3DR Makes Solo Drone Smarter with Software

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 3.07.21 PM

3DR will make its Solo smart drone smarter with a new software update announced at NAB.

The software tackles a number of functions designed to make the drone safer to fly and more functional. Here’s what’s coming:

Software-based Scene Awareness: This will help pilots avoid obstacles. According to 3DR, the software is a more effective and safer alternative to hardware-based avoidance systems.

Custom Geofencing: The Solo app also now supports geo-fencing, so you draw a virtual fence on your screen to delineate the furthest the drone can fly from you. The Solo drone won’t be able to escape the fence. The geo-fence can be drawn before take off or when the drone is in the air.

Rewind: This feature will command the Solo drone to retrace its exact path for the last 60 feet of its flight (you can alter the distance it will retrace in the app). The idea behind Rewind is that if a “return to home” route has potential obstructions or obstacles, Rewind is a safer path for the Solo to fly.


3DR has also added several new “smart shot” modes, which are computer-assisted modes that help users execute difficult shots in the air. Among the new modes are Pano to create aerial panoramic, and Zipline, which lets users set a line in the direction the camera is facing. The Solo will then fly up and down that line. Zipline also has a “spot lock” to help flyby shots — simply press the spot lock on the app in Zipline mode and the Solo will keep the camera fixed on the spot before and after it whizzes by.

Also new is Leash mode. In this mode, the Solo will follow directly behind the operator. If you use the app on an iPhone 6 or above, the Solo will also be able to accommodate any changes in altitude of its leashed subject. Finally, there’s Boat mode, which enables the Solo to take off from a moving platform.

The premise behind the Solo is to build a drone that can be continually updated rather than forcing users to buy a new one.

But the Solo is also an open source project and as such, can be modified by users and other companies looking to build out specific functionality for the drone. At NAB, several modified versions of the Solo were on display, including a 150-foot tethering solution that connects the Solo to an AC-DC converter to give the drone hours of a flight time. Other modifications included a pair of 360-degree cameras for aerial virtual reality and a reusable parachute that will deploy and safely land the drone in an event of engine failure.

April 18th, 2016

2016 Photography Pulitzers Go to The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Thompson Reuters

Migrants arrive by Turkish cruise boat near village of Skala, Lesbos island Greece, Monday November, 16, 2015. The Turkish boat owner delivered some 150 persons to the Greek coast and tried to escape back to Turkey, he was arrested later in Turkish waters. Photo © Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times.

Migrants arrive by Turkish cruise boat near village of Skala, Lesbos island Greece, Monday November, 16, 2015.The Turkish boat owner delivered some 150 persons to the Greek coast and tried to escape back to Turkey, he was arrested later in Turkish waters. Photo © Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times.

Two photo teams have won Pulitzer Prizes for Breaking News Photography this year: one prize went to Mauricio Lima, Sergey Ponomarev, Tyler Hicks and Daniel Etter of The New York Times and the second went to the photography staff of Thompson Reuters. The Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography went to Jessica Rinaldi of The Boston Globe. The prizes were announced this afternoon at the Columbia University School of Journalism in New York.

Lima, Ponomarev, Hicks and Etter were recognized for their work that captures the “resolve of refugees and the perils of their journeys, as well as the struggles of host countries to take them in,” according to the Pulitzer citation.

Thompson Reuters has been recognized for its photographs that follow migrant refugees hundreds of miles across uncertain boundaries to unknown destinations, the Pulitzer Board noted.

© Jessica Rinaldi for The Boston Globe

© Jessica Rinaldi for The Boston Globe

Rinaldi won the Feature Photography prize for her story about a boy who “strives to find his footing after abuse by those he trusted.” The finalist for the award was the Photography Staff of The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Pulitzer Committee says that it received more 1,100 journalism entries for this year’s prizes.

Related: 2015 Photography Pulitzers Go to Daniel Berehulak, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Staff (for PDN subscribers)

How Winning a Pulitzer Changed Deanne Fitzmaurice’s Career

Josh Haner, Tyler Hicks Win 2014 Pulitzer Prizes for Photography

April 18th, 2016

HP’s New Workstations Feel Need for Speed and Show Some Love for Macs

HP Z Family_Image 1


While analysts doubt Moore’s Law has much more road ahead of it, there’s still a crushing urge to push PC performance as 4K video and virtual reality applications grow more popular.

HP’s newest workstations, introduced at NAB, look to ease the edit burden.

The new HP Z1 G3 Workstation is an update to the company’s high-end all-in-one. The G3 is 47 precent smaller, thinner and 51 percent lighter and 27 percent cheaper than the prior model.

The 23.6-inch Z1 G3 boasts a 4K resolution display and Intel Xeon processor options with up to 64GB of ECC memory. Additional options include NVIDIA Quadro graphics and Dual PCIe HP Z Turbo Drives for fast boot up and improved response times for large files. Users can add two extra 2.5-inch SATA-based HDDs or SDDs to the workstation as well. They feature dual Thunderbolt 3 ports with USB 3.1, a USB charging port, media card reader, DisplayPort, and more.

The HP Z1 G3 will ship in May with a starting price of $1,498.

HP is also courting Mac users with a new Remote Graphics Software (RGS). Using the software, an individual working on a Mac would be able to remotely access an HP Z Workstation (their own or someone they’re collaborating with) to leverage its processing capabilities. Using the software, you can perform interactive edits, share a screen, and transfer 4K video files up to 60fps.

Mac users can also access Windows or Linux workstation apps through the software. HP RGS is a free download for existing HP Z Workstation customers.  HP will also offer RGS sender licenses for purchase for use on supported, non-HP hardware.

HP Z440_Z640_Z840

HP also updated its line of Z Workstations, juicing their memory and processors to keep pace with VR, 4K and other computationally intense processes.

The refreshed HP Z840, Z640 and Z440 desktop workstations offer multi-core Intel Xeon processors, the latest graphics options from NVIDIA Quadro and AMD FirePro and are available with either Windows or Linux operating systems.

If you opt for the new Intel Xeon E5-2600 v4 series processors, HP Z Workstations will support faster memory speeds than the previous generation processors (up to 2400MHz) and can support up to 44 physical cores per-workstation. The DDR4 memory on the new workstations is 12.5 percent faster compared to the prior generation, too.

All the new Z Workstations offer a tool-less chassis and integrated handles.

The HP Z440, Z640 and Z840 Workstations ship this month with prices starting at $1,299, $1,759 and $2,399, respectively.

If you want to coax out even more performance from the Z line, HP is releasing a new  Z Turbo Drive G2 1 TB PCIe SSD. It offers four times the read performance of traditional SSDs, according to HP, and will retail for $799.


April 18th, 2016

DJI Introduces Powerful New Drone, Ronin Stabilizer and Osmo Accessories

Matrice 600-12 Render

DJI lifted the curtain on an all new aerial imaging platform at the NAB show. The Matrice 600  (M600) uses DJI’s new A3 flight controller and Lightbridge 2 video transmission to deliver HD video over a distance of up to 5 kilometers.

The M600 uses six rotors to keep a payload of 13 pounds aloft. It can accept the full range of DJI gimbals, including the new Ronin MX 3-axis gimbal. The M600’s propulsion system is dustproof and, like the Inspire 1, it has retractable landing gear so the camera can have an unobstructed, 360-degree view.

The M600’s 6-battery power system can keep the drone airborne up for to 36 minutes with a Zenmuse X5 camera attached or up to 16 minutes with a RED EPIC or similar cinema camera attached. It also ensures redundancy so that in the event one battery fails, the rest power the M600 in flight.

The M600 works with the DJI GO app for access to a live video feed, battery and redundancy status, transmission strength and other drone data. If you’re filming with the Zenmuse X-series cameras, the app will also allow you to adjust aperture and shutter speed and, on the X5/R, focus.

The M600 will retail for $4,599 and includes the A3 flight controller and a full set of batteries.


The new Ronin-MX is the company’s first universal aerial gimbal that communicates with the onboard DJI flight controller. This ensures the gimbal is able to keep a level horizon, among other things. The MX can hold just shy of 10 pounds worth of camera and lens.

Like previous Ronins, the MX has multiple operation modes, including underslung, upright and briefcase. It offers Bluetooth and a 2.4GHz receiver and can be controlled via the DJI GO app.

It will retail for $1,599.

Osmo Upgrade

DJI is ready to ship new versions of its Osmo handheld stabilizer to accommodate its Micro Four Thirds-based X5 and X5R cameras.

The new Osmos will be dubbed the Osmo Pro and Osmo RAW, respectively.

The Osmo RAW uses the X5R record to 4K video with up to 12.8 stops of dynamic range with an ISO range of 100-25,600. It saves RAW footage (CinemaDNG) to 512GB of SSD memory. It supports a flat D-LOG color profile to deliver footage ideal for post process color grading.

If you purchased the Osmo with the X3 camera, DJI will sell an adapter that will allow you to mount the X5 or X5R to your Osmo, though a price hasn’t been set.

Owners of the original Osmo with the Zenmuse X3 camera will also get a new stabilizer accessory to correct for movement along the Z-axis. The stabilizer sits between the camera and Osmo handle to stabilize the vertical axis. The Z-Axis accessory features a shock absorber, a tilt angle adjust button and a knob to control the spring tension needed on the fourth axis.

The Z-Axis stabilizer will retail for $129.

DJI also has a new high-capacity battery for the Osmo that supports up to 96 minutes of 4K recording  when shooting with the X3 camera (up from roughly an hour on the original battery). If you’re using the heavier X5 camera, you’ll get 78 minutes of recording while the heavier-still X5R will roll for 37 minutes on the high capacity battery.

The new high capacity battery can be charged using the standard Osmo charger.

If you need still more recording time, there’s a new intelligent battery system that fits into the Osmo handle and connects with  either a dedicated DJI power charger or a DJI Intelligent Battery (the same ones used in the company’s drones). Once connected to this external power source, an Osmo with an X3 camera can record for 14 hours, with an X5 for up to 11.7 hours or under 6 hours with the X5R.