November 18th, 2015

DJI Drones Are About to Get Safer But at What Price? [Updated]


DJI is about to make flying their drones safer thanks to a new “geo-fencing” system that will feed its flying cameras with continually updated airspace information and block them from taking off in or flying into unsafe zones.

The information, provided by AirMaps, will alert DJI drone users with up-to-date guidance on locations where flight may be restricted by regulations or safety concerns. Fliers will have info on temporary flight restrictions due to fires, stadium events, VIP travel and other events. According to DJI, the geo-fencing system will also “include for the first time restrictions around locations such as prisons, power plants and other sensitive areas where drone operations raise non-aviation security concerns.”

This obviously raises some questions about using DJI drones for investigative journalism. National Geographic photographer George Steinmetz, for instance, was arrested for taking aerial photographs of cattle farms. Would cattle farmers and other corporate interests be able to request and activate no-fly zones over their facilities? (We’ve reached out to DJI for clarification on this and will update this post when they respond.) Update: DJI tells us that they’ll provide more specific information about which sites would be deemed security considerations when the software launches in December. “We will generally follow guidance issued by national aviation safety and national security agencies,” a spokesperson told us.

DJI is providing some means of over-riding this geo-fencing too. By default, a DJI drone won’t fly into or take off in locations “that raise safety or security concerns” the company said, but registered users with verified DJI accounts will be able to over ride these settings in “some” locations that aren’t national security-related.

Over-riding a no-fly zone will require a DJI user account verified with a credit card, debit card or mobile phone number. DJI says the verification service “provides a measure of accountability in the event that the flight is later investigated by authorities.” Verification is free and DJI says it won’t collect or store credit card and mobile phone information.

The new geo-fencing system will initially be available in North America and Europe in December by updating drone firmware and the DJI Go app.

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November 18th, 2015

Nikon Says a D5 Is Under Development


At some unspecified time, this will no longer be Nikon’s flagship DSLR.

Anyone speculating that Nikon would follow up its D4S with a D5 can bask in vindication. Nikon announced that it is indeed developing a new full frame flagship DSLR to be named the D5.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all they said about it.

Nikon also revealed that a new wireless transmitter (the WT-6) and new speedlight (SB-5000) will also be joining the ranks, though again, no other information about them was disclosed.

In the absence of concrete information, feel free to speculate wildly as to what the D5 will deliver. Given the role the D4S plays for many professionals, we’re undoubtedly going to see a camera that delivers rapid burst modes, speedy autofocus and much, much more.

November 17th, 2015

Fund Your Work: $3K Documentary Photo Essay Prize from CDS Seeking Submissions

The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University is accepting submissions for their $3,000 Documentary Essay Prize now through February 16, 2016. The prize honors a documentary photography project that is ongoing or that has been completed in the past two years.

The three-year old award alternates year to year in honoring writing and photography. The previous winner for photography was Latvian photographer Iveta Vaivode, for her series “Somewhere on a Disappearing Path,” which reimagined the photographer’s family album.

In addition to the cash award, the winner will have his or her work featured on the CDS website and in their periodical Document. The work will also become part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at the Rubenstein Library, Duke University.

The winner will be announced in June 2016.

Related: Nadia Sablin’s Project About Her Aunts’ Lives in a Small Russian Village was Awarded the CDS/Honickman First Book Prize

November 16th, 2015

New Services Helps You Automate Photo Posting on Social Media

screenshotOne of the key challenges in growing a social media presence is keeping various social media outlets fed with content. A variety of services, like Buffer and HootSuite, are available to automate Facebook and Twitter posts, but a new service dubbed PhotoBuffer promises to tackle a variety of photo-friendly social sites.

With PhotoBuffer, you can upload a single image and automatically schedule a posting to Facebook (profile and pages); Twitter, 500px, Flickr and Tumblr (no Instagram yet).

The service is broken out into tiers. A free tier allows you to queue up to 10 posts to PhotoBuffer with a file limit of 10MB per image. Facebook posting isn’t available in the free tier and a PhotoBuffer message will be attached to images you share.

To remove the branding and expand your buffer to 20 images at 15MB in size, you’ll have to pay about $5/month (pricing is listed in Euros at the moment). A $10/month tier provides Facebook support, up to 30 photos in your queue and a 20MB file size limit. Step up to $20/month and your buffer grows to 50 photos with a 35MB file size limit and the ability to add your own custom text on the bottom of each share. Finally, a $40/month tier allows for an unlimited photo queue, 50MB file size limit and customized messages with each share.

There’s no contact info to speak of on the PhotoBuffer site and no terms of service yet, though when we reached out through an online chat on the service, we were told one is coming soon and will be geared around a simple theme: “the photos are yours and we will use them only to post them on your photo account.”

Given the recent contretemps with InstaAgent, photographers may want to wait a bit until PhotoBuffer has its legal ducks in a row. Still, it sounds interesting.

Via: Hacker News

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November 16th, 2015

The Do’s and Don’ts of Collaborating with NGOs

Jane Huber, creative director of Oxfam America, says she’s inundated with requests from photographers wanting to work for the non-governmental organization. The photographers she rehires understand its mission and values—which includes respecting the individuals and communities it serves. “When you work in the field with an NGO, for all distinct purposes, you are the NGO,” says Huber. “You’re representing us and you want to embrace our values: human first.”

Huber was a participant on two panels during a one-day workshop titled “Photography: Agent for Change,”  hosted by the Alexia Foundation at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York City on November 8. It was designed for documentary photographers and filmmakers who go beyond raising awareness and move into advocacy. Many photographers seek work from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the hopes that their images will be used in awareness campaigns, fund-raising and advocacy; some seek the access to communities or areas where the NGOs work, and want help with production and translation.

Huber spoke with PDN following the event to offer practical advice for photographers taking the initial steps to work with NGOs and how to behave in the field once they’ve been hired.

First of all, “do your homework,” Huber says. “As a prospective photographer you want to understand the objectives of Oxfam and what I’m seeking.” Huber continues, “I get a lot of emails that say, ‘I’d love to work for Oxfam because I love to travel and I’m interested in other cultures and I’m a photographer…’ And I think you haven’t done your homework. Photographers interested in doing work for international NGOs are a dime a dozen.”

To distinguish yourself, show that you know the organization and its programs well, Huber says; she recommends referencing specific campaigns that the NGO is conducting. Continue the email along the lines of “I’m particularly interested in labor issues and am always available for domestic work.” says Huber.  “Everybody likes to feel their time is valuable,” says Huber, “so you could say, ‘Dear X, I’m going to be in your area on Tuesday and I would love to take you out for coffee. It could be as short at 30 minutes.’” She adds, “Anyone who has a good portfolio, I’ll always try to give them a shot.”

Second, Huber expects photographers to put the people Oxfam serves before pictures. “You’d be surprised by what some people do in the field,” she says. “If you’re going to be a photographer working with people living in communities that are suffering because of poverty or violence and it’s for an organization that has a rights-based approach to development, then you have to mirror those values.” The photographers she rehires consider how they interact with the population they’re photographing. For example, she says: “If someone is weeping, it might be a really beautiful shot, but you may have to lose the great shot for the greater human interaction.”

Reciprocity with subjects is crucial, she says. At times that means missing the best light of the day to meet a contact person, an elder or local dignitary. It could also mean sitting down for tea. “I had a photographer who Oxfam worked with some years ago who I don’t choose to work with anymore,” Huber recalls. “It was reported back to me that when the family invited him to sit down for a cup of tea, he chose to sit in the corner and look at his camera. He may have thought he was using his time effectively, but when the team said it was important he sit with the family, he said, ‘I’m beat.’”

Huber sums it up by saying, “You may not be able to drink the tea because the water isn’t boiled, but you damn well sit there and show respect, because that’s reciprocity.”

—Sarah Stacke

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November 13th, 2015

Daniel Mayrit Wins $10K First PhotoBook Award from Aperture, Paris Photo

© Riot Books

You Haven’t Seen Their Faces by Daniel Mayrit, © Riot Books

Daniel Mayrit has won the First PhotoBook Award and a $10,000 prize at the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards. The award, which is given for an outstanding monograph, was announced today at a ceremony at the Paris Photo festival. Mayrit’s book, You Haven’t Seen Their Faces (published by Riot Books) features photos of “the most powerful people in London” that have been rendered in grainy black and white by the artist to imitate closed-circuit TV footage this is used by police during criminal investigations.

The prize for PhotoBook of the Year was awarded to Illustrated People by Thomas Mailaender (published by the Archive of Modern Conflict/RVB Books). Maileander laid negatives, pulled from the Archive, over the bodies of his models, then projected a UV lamp onto them: “Maileander then photographed each of his models before the sun made the image disappear,” according to the publisher’s description of the book.

A special Juror’s mention was awarded to Deadline by Will Steacey, a tabloid-sized, newsprint publication which chronicles the decline of The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper.

Images of Conviction: The Construction of Visual Evidence won Photography Catalogue of the Year; it was published in connection with an exhibition at Le Bal in Paris of photos and video used as crime evidence.

The winners and all the shortlisted photo books are currently on display in Paris. The jurors who selected this year’s winners were: Frish Brandt, president of Fraenkel Gallery; Christophe Boutin, cofounder of onestar press; Clément Chéroux, curator of photography at Centre Pompidou; Donatien Grau, author and editor; and Lorenzo Piani, curator of the Enea Righi Collection, Bologna.

The shortlist was selected by Yannick Bouillis, founder, Offprint Projects; Julien Frydman of the LUMA Foundation; Lesley A. Martin, creative director of Aperture; Mutsuko Ota, editor-in-chief, IMA and Christoph Wiesner, artistic director of Paris Photo.

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November 12th, 2015

If You’re Using This Instagram App, Delete It

InstaAgent is a popular app that helps Instagram users track who’s visiting their Instagram account. It’s also, according to a investigation by a developer at Peppersoft, malware.

Evidently, InstaAgent is storing Instagram users’ passwords and usernames and sending them in plain text to a remote server. As MacRumors Julie Clover reports, the app is “also using the credentials to log into accounts and post unauthorized images. Instagram does not permit third-party apps to upload photos to user accounts.”

Since the revelation, InstaAgent has been pulled from both the iOS and Google Play app stores. If it’s on your mobile device, you should delete it ASAP and change your Instagram password.

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November 12th, 2015

Watch a Film Camera and Lens Become Art

There’s an entire cottage industry in the tech world of “tear downs”–the disassembling of new gadgets to learn about their constituent components, see how easy they are to repair or to simply gaze lovingly at their innards.

Maison Carnot’s new short film “Disassembly” is a tear down, of sorts, but of older technology: in this case, a Fujica ST 705 film camera and lens. The goal wasn’t to learn about the camera so much as to use it to create a new work of art.

The process took an entire day, though condensed into this two minute film, the tedium becomes oddly mesmerizing.

November 11th, 2015

Professor Forced Out of U. of Missouri J-School after Blocking Student Journalists at Protest

A University of Missouri assistant professor who was caught on video trying to block a student journalist from covering a protest on Monday at the university’s main campus in Columbia has resigned her “courtesy appointment” at the Missouri School of Journalism, the university announced late yesterday.

The protests, over the university’s handling of racist incidents on campus, were covered by the national media. Protesters eventually forced the resignations of the university’s president, and the chancellor of the U of M-Columbia campus.

The widely circulated video of the professor, Melissa Click, was shot and posted by student reporter Mark Schierbecker. The video shows a group of protesters confronting student photojournalist Tim Tai, at the urging of Click. She tells him to “back off.” Tai hold his ground, and asserts his right to photograph the protest under the First Amendment, until the protesters interlocked arms and physically push him back.

Schierbecker then doubles back with his camera towards Click, who was behind the line of protesters confronting Tai, and asks to speak to her. “You need to get out,” she tells him.

“No, I don’t,” he responds.

At that point, Click appears to grab at his camera, then she turns around and calls for other protesters to help force Schierbecker away:  “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here!”

Amid a storm of protest on social media over Click’s interference with the reporters’ First Amendment rights, Click said in a prepared statement yesterday, “I have reached out to the journalists involved to offer my sincere apologies and to express regrets over my actions.”

Last night, after a School of Journalism faculty meeting to discuss the incident, David Kurpius, the school’s dean, announced that Click had resigned her “courtesy appointment.” Kurpius noted that Click “never taught courses at the School.”

Her “courtesy appointment” at the School of Journalism simply enabled her to as a thesis reviewer for School of Journalism students, The New York Times explained in its report about the incident.

Click continues to hold her position in the communications department of the University of Missouri’s College of Arts & Science, according to the university.

Kurpius said in statement yesterday that “The Missiouri School of Journalism is proud of [Tai] for how he handled himself” during the confrontation with Click and other protesters.

Tai has said on Twitter, “I’m a little perturbed at being part of the story, so maybe let’s focus some more reporting on systemic racism in higher ed institutions.”

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November 5th, 2015

B&H Photo Video Warehouse Workers Vote to Unionize

Warehouse employees of B&H Photo Video have voted to unionize under the umbrella of the United Steelworkers, radio station WNYC has reported.

The vote, held yesterday among workers in two B&H warehouses in Brooklyn, was 200 to 88, according to the union.

After the vote, B&H spokesperson Henry Posner said in a prepared statement, “B&H Photo has always stood behind our employees’ legal right to seek union representation, and today’s outcome and our commitment to engage in a respectful dialogue with our employees and their representatives still holds true.”

Workers at the warehouses—many of whom are Hispanic—had complained of unsafe working conditions and discrimination, according to press reports. For instance, The New York Times reported last month that union organizers claimed B&H warehouse employees had been forced to work in warehouses where emergency exits were blocked; were exposed to dusty air that allegedly caused rashes and nosebleeds; and were pressured by management to sign English-language forms releasing B&H from medical claims.

A B&H senior executive countered in that same Times article that “B&H provides terrific benefits, highly competitive wages, and a safe, friendly environment.”

Laundry Workers Center, a non-profit labor group, began its efforts last year to help B&H workers unionize. United Steelworkers contacted B&H management last month, asking to be recognized “as the sole and exclusive bargaining representative of the employees.”

That request set the union vote in motion. Shortly afterwards, hundreds of photographers, filmmakers, and other industry professionals began signing a petition in support of the B&H employees. (The petition was initiated by union organizers, including Laundry Workers Center.)

The union alleges that B&H “ran an aggressive anti-union campaign prior to the vote.”

In his statement asserting B&H’s commitment to work with the union, Posner also said that the company has “gone to great lengths to ensure the highest standards for living wages and benefits, workplace safety, and respect and dignity in the workplace.”

—David Walker