June 20th, 2016

Woods Wheatcroft on the Great Outdoors

The work of photographer Woods Wheatcroft is imbued with light, energy and play. In fact, those are the names of three portfolios on his website that present his work. Wheatcroft shoots travel, lifestyle and stock photography that is true to his West Coast upbringing: laid back, cheery and sunlit.

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A long exposure of a surfer in Baja California, Mexico. Photo © Woods Wheatcroft

His work has attracted outdoor clients such as Keen, Outside and Patagonia, and his job often takes him to far-flung locations. Last year, a shot of BASE jumpers in the Italian Dolomites—shot for KAVU outdoor wear—garnered him Grand Prize in our annual competition The Great Outdoors (open for entries for 2016 at www.greatoutdoorscontest.com). We asked Wheatcroft to talk about the striking award-winning image and what goes into his outdoor photography.

PDN: How long have you been shooting professionally, and how would you describe your style?

Woods Wheatcroft: I earned my first photography paycheck in my early 20s and have now been full time for about 16 years. My style is very much connected to the life I choose to live: fun, spontaneous, authentic, humorous. I am most happy capturing the in-between moments.

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Two beachgoers are caught by an unexpected shorebreak wave in Baja California, Mexico. Photo © Woods Wheatcroft

PDN: Where are some unique locations that your travel work has brought you to?

WW: Unique and memorable travel locations for me include Japan, Nicaragua, Baffin Island in Canada, and the west coast of Scotland, to name a few. Baja California, Mexico, is still my favorite.

PDN: What’s the story behind your Grand Prize image from The Great Outdoors?

WW: That image was taken on a two-week trip through Europe with a group of sponsored wing-suit jumpers. KAVU is one of my long-time clients and I shot stills for them on a multimedia shoot. We traveled to Switzerland, Italy and France. This particular image was taken in the Sass Pordoi region of the Dolomites in Italy. Ironically, two days after this image was taken our car was broken into and all of my camera gear was stolen. That hurt. I shot the remainder of the trip on a Polaroid and a cardboard disposable camera I bought at a gas station!

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Wingsuit BASE jumpers leaving the exit point in the Sass Pordoi area of the Italian Dolomites. Grand Prize winning image of The Great Outdoors. Photo © Woods Wheatcroft

PDN: Was there only one opportunity to get that shot, or did the BASE jumpers do multiple runs?

WW: There are few angles and options to shoot wing-suiters. I will say there was only one opportunity to shot this particular moment because of the weather closing in. The BASE jumpers did do multiple runs but this was the last jump of this day, as the clouds filled the exit point. We were in a downpour shortly after this. We did explore another angle that involved a three-hour hike to be in the middle of their flight as they flew past a cliff. That result was an award winner as well.

PDN: Are there any rules you live by when photographing outdoor work?

WW: Rule 1: Any rule I give myself, I must be willing to break it at anytime. The moment rarely repeats. Besides that, I always try discover and explore new angles—such as my experience with the BASE jumpers—and not just ones that take five or 10 minutes. I think about the bigger environment and do my best to pre-visualize how the subject will best communicate in that space. Other rules of thumb: Always keep shooting until you “feel” you have it, and love what you do! I love my life outside of my photographic pursuits, and it feeds me and inspires me. Wherever life takes me, I usually take my camera.

Enter this year’s edition of The Great Outdoors at www.greatoutdoorscontest.com before the June 30, 2016 deadline. See more from Woods Wheatcroft at www.woodswheatcroft.com.

June 17th, 2016

Great Weekend Reads in Photography & Filmmaking

Carlos Lorenzo | Flickr

Carlos Lorenzo | Flickr

“My early and invincible love of reading–I would not exchange for the treasures of India.” Edward Gibbon

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The Photographer Turning Forensics into PortraitureThe Guardian

On Ethics and Respect in Street PhotographyNicholas Goodden

When It Comes to Creativity, More Is MoreCreative Review

Photoshop Is PhotographyThe Phoblographer

What I Learned After Two Years as a Concert PhotographerMedium

The Life of a Photographer’s AgentCreatives Go!

Photographers of Color on the Industry’s Lack of DiversityPDN

Photogs You Should Know: Celebrity Shooter Miller MobleyRF

All That Sex and Blood, Mr. DePalma!New York Times

From Backyard Epics to Miles DavisFilmmaking Magazine

On Photographic EnvyEric Kim

Why I Shoot FilmEmulsive

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Weekend Video

Official White House photographer Peter Souza sites down with BBC’s News Night to discuss what it’s like to photograph the most powerful man in the world.

June 17th, 2016

Ricoh Is Buying EyeFi Cloud

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Ricoh is scooping up Eyefi’s Cloud service and associated apps.

Here’s an email that was distributed to Eyefi Cloud users announcing the move:

We are pleased to announce that Ricoh Innovations Corporation (RIC) and Eye-Fi Inc have reached an agreement for the acquisition of Eyefi Cloud, and associated apps, by Ricoh. RIC is a member of the Ricoh Group which is a $19B dollar market leader in digital imaging. Ricoh is dedicated to providing imaginative products and services that improve people’s lives through products such as its Pentax DSLR, Theta 360 cameras and many others. This unique blending of technology and expertise creates new opportunities to enhance value for our customers.

The Eyefi Cloud team will immediately join Ricoh and is excited about bringing even more innovation to our customers around the world. We are dedicated to maintaining and increasing the quality, support and service that you have come to know from our team. One thing will remain the same, our passion for photography and protecting your valuable memories.

Evidently, Eyefi’s SD card business isn’t impacted by the sale, though it’s an open question whether the cards will remain integrated with the cloud service now that it’s owned by Ricoh. (Ricoh often bundles wireless SD card with its cameras, though it lacks the features of Eyefi’s Mobi Pro.) [Update: According to EyeFi CEO Matt DiMaria, “all Eyefi Mobi and Mobi Pro card users (existing and new) will receive 100 percent identical Eyefi Cloud support under Ricoh’s ownership.”

Prior to the sale, Eyefi had been deepening its cloud integration with camera vendors like Olympus and GoPro (but not Ricoh). It remains to be seen whether those efforts will continue or whether Ricoh will try to leverage the Eyefi cloud for its own product lines exclusively. We’ve put these questions and others to the parties and will update this post when we learn more.

June 17th, 2016

Study: Instagram Interactions Are Plunging

Interactions on Instagram–the numbers of likes and comments on photos and videos–have taken a massive hit this year, according to a new study released by research firm Quintly.

Surveying over 13,000 Instagram profiles of varying sizes, Quintly found overall interaction rates have dropped 27 percent since last year for image posts and and 39 percent for video posts. What’s more, Instagram users with large followers (defined as over 1,000 followers) saw the biggest hit.

Follower Count Graphic 01-4

Interestingly, this plunge occurred largely before Instagram began rolling out its highly controversial algorithm-driven feed in place of its chronological one. Instead, Quintly chalked up the declining engagement to a growing user base and increasing post frequency–there’s simply too much content for people to engage with. They also cited the growth of brand advertising, which may be alienating Instagramers.

Other takeaways from the Quintly research:

  • Video posts are 15 percent of Instagram timelines in 2016, up from a mere 5 percent last year
  • While interactions are down, they’re still higher than both Facebook and Twitter

It will be interesting to see what these engagement numbers look like after a few months of Instagram’s algorithmic massaging.

Read More:

Instagram Takeovers and How They Work

Confessions of a Social Media Influencer

How to Be an Influencer Without Being Unethical

What Should Photographers Charge for Social Media Usage?

June 16th, 2016

Want to Make Virtual Reality? 6 Rules for Starting Out

Jenna Pirog, virtual reality editor for The New York Times Magazine

Jenna Pirog, virtual reality editor for The New York Times Magazine.

Photographers and filmmakers may imagine that virtual reality is “the next big thing,” but Jenna Pirog, virtual reality editor for The New York Times Magazine, warns that the technology is best suited to certain types of stories. “I get many pitches for VR films and most of them all sound like really great 2d docs or photo essays,” Pirog told an audience at the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph on Wednesday. Pirog  recommended one criteria to consider. “If you were bringing readers to this location to experience it first hand, would that help them understand it better? If the answer is no, then it might work better in other media.”

Pirog, speaking via Skype at a LOOK3 presentation on visual storytelling, offered her tips on what storytellers need to know to produce VR experiences. She says it took two months to make “The Displaced,” the first VR experience presented on The New York Times Magazine VR app in November. The experience took viewers to refugee camps in South Sudan, the Ukraine and Lebanon. The idea, she says, was to examine the issues facing the millions of displaced persons around the world by focusing on just three refugee children and using the technology of VR to help place viewers within the camps where the children are now living. Since the debut of “The Displaced,” the Times has produced eight VR experiences. “We managed to learn lessons along the way,” Pirog said. She presented the lessons as six rules for making successful VR.

Rule #1: You have to be into tech. Pirog said the equipment for making VR is ever changing. There are some cameras on the market that capture 360-degree images and are aimed at the consumer-level enthusiast (Pirog mentioned the Samsung Gear 360, priced at $350 ). Pirog said these cameras offered “a good place to start” to experiment, but noted that most VR is made with more expensive setups, usually using multiple GoPro cameras mounted on rigs to capture every angle on a scene. The post-production required to make seamless 360-footage is also labor-intensive, she noted. Currently, she said, most VR work is being done by production companies that have invested in or created their own rigs, and they are “hiring crews” to handle shooting and editing.

Rule # 2. Choose the right story. Pirog says that “The Displaced” was an attempt to give Times readers a more immersive and empathetic look at the lives of refugees than they could get through countless articles that had already been reported last year as waves of migrants fled conflicts around the world. In their VR production titled “Ten Shots Across the Border,” The Times used VR to go to the site on the Texas-Mexico border where a border patrol officer had shot and killed a teenager on the Mexico side of the fence. The VR experience allowed viewers to  look at the height and size of the border fence, and to consider allegations that the teenager had thrown rocks over the fence with the intent to harm border patrol officers. Pirog said this was “an attempt to use virtual reality in a more investigative way.”

Rule # 3. Place your camera and adjust your height to where your audience might stand. Pirog called this rule her “pet peeve.” In VR, the camera is a stand-in for the viewer’s eyes on the scene. “If it’s too high, readers feel like a seven-foot-tall giant.”

Rule #4. There is no longer a place for the filmmaker to stand. Pirog showed some behind-the-scenes footage of filmmakers setting up their camera rigs, turning the cameras on, then ducking, rolling or dashing to crouch behind the nearest sandbag, doorway or piece of furniture to avoid being caught on camera. “If there’s no place to hide, you become part of the story,” she noted.

Rule #5. Moving shots should be made with care and practice. In watching a VR experience, viewers move their heads to determine what they see. If the camera moves independently of the viewer, the effect can induce motion sickness. “I think it’s our responsibility not to make people sick watching our content,” said Pirog, who added that “If you can keep the camera very steady,” some panning shots can be used effectively without inducing nausea.

Rule #6. Audio is more important than the visual. Sounds alert the viewer where to turn to look for action. The Times is experimenting with 360-audio, which records live sounds from all around the environment where a camera is recording footage. The recording devices are expensive, and they are still experimenting to get the playback right, she said. “But done properly, it can feel very natural,” she added.

—by Holly Stuart Hughes

Related:

Should Photographers Jump on the Virtual Reality Bandwagon? (For PDN subscribers only.)

Five Technologies Shaping Photography and Filmmaking Today

GoPro’s Next Tricks: A Virtual Reality Rig and a Drone

June 16th, 2016

Don’t Miss Another Travel Photo Opportunity! (Sponsored)

Photo by Nicholas La (with a Sony a7SII camera).

Photo by Nicholas La (with a Sony a7SII camera).

(Sponsored by Borrowlenses)

Interested in shooting high quality images and footage without the effort of lugging around a heavy DSLR? We suggest treating yourself to a mirrorless Sony A7 rental from BorrowLenses.com to see what all the hype is about.

Sony completely changed the scene with this powerful and portable camera. Here are a few compelling reasons why you should give it a test drive.

The role of photographer and videographer has never been more blurred. Sony has met the demands of creatives by combining 4K video with a high megapixel full frame sensor, all inside a lightweight form factor. With extremely sensitive ISO and vast dynamic range, the a7 is currently unmatched in meeting the exposure needs of still and motion shooters.

Interchangeable lenses continue to be a priority for Sony. They were smart to maintain the E mount format (designated as “FE” to denote the new full frame system). Users are able to attach a wide range of existing E mount lenses as well as take advantage of new FE glass. Even better, a7 users can switch their cameras into “crop mode” to accommodate lenses designed for smaller sensors and popular brands, like Zeiss, now boast a7-compatible inventory.

Don’t just follow a trend blindly, though. If you’re considering a conversion, take the a7 out for a spin. You can rent all a7 models over at BorrowLenses.com where they make photographic and cinematic dreams come true with thousands of rental lenses, cameras, lighting, and all the tools of the trade for hobbyists and pros alike.

June 15th, 2016

The Lives of Photography’s Early Pioneers

To paraphrase Henry Longfellow, the lives of historic figures “all remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and, departing, leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time.”

The task of bringing those footprints back to life for a modern audience has fallen to animator Drew Christie, who was recently commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to create several animated shorts exploring the lives of photography’s early pioneers.

First up is “Sun Pictures” which chronicles the life of Henry Fox Talbot, British inventor and creator of the photographic negative.

In “Slices of Time”, Christie explores the work of Eadweard Muybridge, another British inventor credited with developing motion picture projection.

Finally, landscape photographer Carleton Watkins gets his due in “Peaks and Perils.” Watkins is famous for, among other things, using images to help convince Congress to preserve Yosemite as a National Park.

Hat tip: ISO 2000

More Photo History

The Paper That Predicted Photography

Take a Walk Through Kodak’s Tech Vault

Hidden History of the Zoom Lens

A Brief History of Long-Lens Gotchas

June 14th, 2016

Getty Files Copyright Suit over Stolen Photo Scheme on Facebook

A post, allegedly from Walter A. Kowalczuk, to a private Facebook group where members traded illegally in stolen images. (Image taken from court papers.)

A post, allegedly from Walter A. Kowalczuk, to a private Facebook group where members allegedly traded in stolen images. (Image taken from court papers.)

Getty Images has filed copyright infringement and other claims against an Ohio man who allegedly downloaded as many as 3,400 high resolution images from Getty’s servers without authorization, and then sold them illegally to unidentified buyers through a private Facebook group.

Getty says in its claim against Walter A. Kowalczuk, filed June 8 in US District Court in Cleveland, that he and other members of the group allegedly bought and sold images using euphemisms for the sources of those images, such as “Spaghetti” for Getty and “Apples” for Associated Press. Getty says one of its licensing partners reported the Facebook group activity in March.

That licensing partner provided copies of posts to the group that were made by Kowalczuk, Getty says in court papers. One post said, “Spaghetti and Apples served all day at the lowest prices around.” In another post, shown above, Kowalczuk allegedly offered the images for as little as 75 cents. Getty alleges that Kowalczuk made “dozens of posts” between late 2015 and spring 2016, inviting group members to contact him by private message to make purchasing arrangements.

According to the lawsuit, an employee of Photo File, which is a Getty distribution partner, contacted Kowalczuk in March about purchasing six images. (Photo File and Getty both license a photograph of a Chicago Blackhawks hockey player that Kowalczuk had offered for sale.) Kowalczuk allegedly told the Photo File employee that the source of the images was Getty, and “gave specific instructions for ordering the images, directing that each image be identified by the catalog number assigned by Getty Images,” according to court papers.

The Photo File employee complied with the instructions to purchase the images, and Kowalczuk sent a link to the images, which he had uploaded to a file transfer website.

Getty subsequently purchased 29 other images from Kowalczuk on three different occasions—March 29, April 1, and April 29—and each time, the process was the same. Kowalczuk gave instructions, Getty identified the images it wanted to purchase by its own catalog numbers, then Kowlaczuk  allegedly delivered them through a file transfer website.

Getty says Kowalczuk had downloaded the images illegally from its website using using login credentials of two unidentified Getty customers. In both cases, the customers “confirmed that Kowalczuk was neither an employee…nor authorized to use its login credentials,” Getty says. It is unclear how Kowalczuk obtained the passwords.

Most of the images that Kowalczuk downloaded and offered for sale “consisted of sports imagery,” including images from NHL, MLB, NBA and NFL games, according to Getty. The stock photo agency alleges that Kowalczuk sold the images to sports memorabilia companies. Getty is trying to identify those buyers so it can name them as additional defendants in the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Getty is seeking damages from Kowalczuk for willful copyright infringement, contributory infringement (i.e., aiding and abetting copyright infringement by those he illegally sold images to), computer fraud, and Digital Millennium Copyright Act violations.

Kowalczuk has not yet filed a response to Getty’s claims, and efforts to locate him for comment were not immediately successful.

June 13th, 2016

Clément Chéroux Appointed Senior Curator of Photography at SFMOMA

Clément Chéroux has been appointed senior curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), the museum announced today. Chéroux will begin his tenure at SFMOMA in early 2017. He succeeds Sandra Phillips, who after a thirty-year career with SFMOMA, will assume the newly created role of Emeritus Curator as of July 1, 2016. (Click here to read PDN‘s recent interview with Phillips, in which she discusses her new role, as well as the museum’s growing investment in photography.) Ruth Berson, deputy museum director of curatorial affairs, will serve as interim department director.

Clément Chéroux. Photo courtesy of SFMOMA.

Clément Chéroux. Photo courtesy of SFMOMA.

Currently the Chief Curator of the Department of Photography at the Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Chéroux will supervise SFMOMA’s photography exhibitions, acquisition program, publications, scholarship and management of the museum’s Department of Photography, which includes the Pritzker Center for Photography, the largest space permanently devoted to the medium in the United States.

“Clément brings deep expertise in the realm of modern and contemporary photography from curation to scholarship and publication, as well as a uniquely global perspective that will build on the remarkable legacy of Sandy Phillips and our innovative photography team,” Berson said in a statement.

The museum has also announced a major photography gift from collectors Lisa and John Pritzker. The gift includes 78 photographic works by 25 artists with images ranging from documentary and experimental, and from the single print to the unique artist’s book, according to SFMOMA. It includes works from André KertészVito Acconci, Dieter Appelt, William WegmanLee Friedlander, Philip Lorca diCorcia, Paul Graham and Garry Winogrand, among others.

Related Links:

Interview: SFMOMA’s Sandra Phillips

SFMOMA Announces Plan To Open Biggest Photo Center In US

 

June 13th, 2016

Photo Storytelling App Storehouse Is Closing

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The visual storytelling app Storehouse will be closing down on July 15, 2016.

The app sought to differentiate itself from the legions of photo-sharing apps by focusing on storytelling–allowing users to craft coherent narratives using images, text, video and audio.

In a statement released by company founder and CEO Mark Kawano, Storehouse was “unable to achieve the type of growth necessary to justify the continued operation of the service.”

Users who created stories on the app will be able to download an archived version that includes all the photos, videos, and text as a zip file. The stories themselves will be HTML pages viewable in a web browser.