November 5th, 2015

Lytro Moves into Virtual Reality with New Immerge Camera


Lytro built one of the world’s most interesting cameras, pioneering a new approach to capturing images that enabled users to refocus an image after it was captured. For all its novelty, Lytro had difficulty convincing photographers to buy into the concept and following a round of layoffs and an infusion of new capital, the company is trying its hand at something new, though closely related: cinematic virtual reality.

Lytro’s push into VR involves a new camera and an end-to-end system that will process virtual reality videos and output them for viewers like the Oculus. The system, dubbed Immerge, consists of a camera capable of capturing light rays from all angles of an environment, enabling Lytro’s software to not only calculate colors but depth from the viewer. The result, they claim, will deliver six degrees of freedom and make VR experiences more lifelike without having to stitch together individual frames. Rather than view a two dimensional image, Lytro’s technology will enable photo realistic VR experiences that edge closer to gaming, where users will be able to navigate within a scene.

Since a VR camera captures everything around it, including camera operators and production crews, the Immerge camera can be remotely controlled via Wi-Fi and operated using a mobile device.

Winter Forest

Joining the camera is a server to hold the voluminous amounts of image data it will generate. One server rack can store about an hour’s worth of video. Footage from the Immerge camera can be edited in standard programs like Avid Media Composer and Adobe Premiere through plugins Lytro is developing.

Lytro will begin to rent and sell the Immerge system in 2016. Exact prices weren’t announced, but a price tag of “several hundred thousand dollars” has been bandied about.

Just as the competition is heating up among lower-cost spherical imaging devices like Ricoh’s Theta, there’s now some serious movement for production-grade VR capture devices. GoPro and Google are giving beta testers access to a VR system they’ve co-developed, while Jaunt VR has built a bespoke VR production camera it’s already used to produce work for The North Face and others. Jaunt’s system in particular seems like Lytro’s biggest competitor, as it too can create stereoscopic images with depth–although it sounds like Lytro’s system will be capturing far more information.

Check out the video below for a few more details on Immerge.

November 5th, 2015

DJI Buys “Strategic Minority Stake” in Hasselblad

DJI Phantom 3

Drone-maker DJI is buying a strategic minority stake in Hasselblad, the two companies announced today.

Just how much DJI paid was not disclosed, but the Chinese drone builder earns a place on Hasselblad’s Board of Directors.

According to a joint press release, the tie-up “will allow opportunities and new ways of combining the technical knowledge and inventive spirit of the two industry leaders in their respective fields.”

The companies “will each focus on their individual strategic directions and related growth opportunities, with marketing and branding platforms continuing to delineate the two companies,” the release stated.

As far as manufacturing, Hasselblad cameras and gear will still be produced in Sweden, and DJI will continue to make products in Shenzhen, China.

A DJI spokesperson told us that the two companies will not only continue to develop their own gear, they are also “exploring ways to combine the strengths of DJI and Hasselblad through joint projects.”

We can only speculate what that will mean. A 50-megapixel drone, perhaps?

November 4th, 2015

In Memoriam: Photographer Burgess Blevins, 73

Burgess S. Blevins ©Kathy Wildberger

Burgess S. Blevins ©Kathy Wildberger

Photographer Burgess S. Blevins, whose career as a commercial photographer spanned nearly four decades, died suddenly on September 27th while hunting on the Maryland farm where he was raised. He was 73 years old.

Blevins began his career in the late 1960s, and continued shooting assignments until a decade ago. His clients over the years included Anheuser-Busch, Army National Guard, Britten-Norman Aircraft, IBM, Dell, John Deere, Lockheed Martin, Remington, Northrop Grumman, and Visa.

“Burgess was a master of location production and the manipulation of natural light,” his friend and former rep Robert Mead wrote. “Having grown up on a farm, he had an innate sense of his surroundings. He was a ‘wizard of weather,’ and proved it many times. Whether it was pouring rain, or snowing, he was able to locate the one square mile within 50, where it was bright and sunny. And yes, he could make it rain, put ice on grass or on a man’s beard in 90º weather.”

Born January 30, 1942, Blevins graduated from the Maryland Institute of Art and set up his photography business in Baltimore. He was also a renowned bow hunter. “When on a shoot he wanted to be with his bow, and while on a hunt he wanted to be riding on a ridge looking for the perfect shot,” Mead said.

He is survived by his partner, Kathy Wildberger, as well as by three children, three grandchildren, and three siblings.

–Jay Watson

November 4th, 2015

Microsoft’s Broken Promise


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


November 3rd, 2015

Approximately 180 National Geographic Employees Being Laid Off, Others Offered Buyouts

National Geographic has confirmed that 9 percent of their 2,000 employees (approximately 180 people) are being laid off, less than two months after the National Geographic Society announced that 21st Century Fox had acquired a controlling stake in the magazine and other media assets for $725 million. There is no word yet on how many people in National Geographic’s photography department have been affected. One photo editor for the magazine, Sherry L. Brukbacher, confirmed on Twitter that she was among the “many” let go today. In addition to the staffers being laid off, the company is offering buyouts to an unknown number of longtime employees.

“The National Geographic Society and the National Geographic Channels are in the process of reorganizing in order to move forward strategically following the closing of the NG Partners deal [with Fox], which is expected to occur in mid-November,” National Geographic’s SVP of communications M.J. Jacobsen told PDN via email.

“Involuntary separations will represent about 9 percent of the overall workforce reduction, many in shared services and a voluntary separation offer has also been made to eligible employees,” Jacobsen added.

We’ll update this story as we learn more.

Update: Senior photo editor Kim Hubbard confirmed on Facebook that she was among those let go today. “Thank you for the calls and messages on what has been a surreal and sad day,” she wrote. “Over the past five years I’ve worked with some amazing photographers, designers, writers, editors, and scientists on stories that I am incredibly proud of. Now I’m looking ahead to the next big thing (if you know what that is, please let me know! 😊) I’ll be with Nat Geo until Jan 31st.”

November 2nd, 2015

Staying Ahead of the Curve: The Importance of Photography Education

Sponsored by NYIP


© Chris Corradino Photography 

© Chris Corradino Photography

The age-old adage goes: “It’s never too late to learn.” The saying is especially true in photography, a field that’s a breeding ground for rapid advancements. Even for professionals, instruction can be vital at all stages of a photographer’s career. New York Institute of Photography (NYIP) student advisor George Delgado points to the fact that photography is both timeless and in constant flux, particularly with technology evolving at so fast a pace.

Licensed by the New York State Department of Education, the New York Institute of Photography is largest online photography school in the world. After more than a century of training photographers, the reach and influence of this venerable institution is now global thanks to the modern-day luxury of online education. The school’s most popular program, the Complete Course in Professional Photography is widely considered to be the gold standard for a well-rounded photographic education by many in the image-making industry today.

© Chris Corradino Photography

© Chris Corradino Photography

NYIP lessons incorporate audio, video and reading assignments—accessed in an online learning center—with exams and photo projects judiciously reviewed by professional photographers. While the courses are delivered using Internet technology, all students benefit from the personal mentoring and assistance provided by licensed instructors—professional photographers themselves—via email and telephone.

Chris Corradino, a professional photographer based in New York City, is NYIP’s faculty director as well as an instructor. He’s also a graduate of the program. With his own business specializing in photojournalism, travel and editorial photography—some of his recent credits include work published by the Associated Press, National Geographic, The New Yorker, and the Wall Street Journal—Corradino knows firsthand the value of NYIP’s curriculum. “Even if you are already comfortable with the technical aspects of photography, the program covers a wide array of topics,” he says. “The teachers provide personalized evaluations full of useful information you can take into the field with you.”

© Chris Corradino Photography

© Chris Corradino Photography

While the curriculum is designed to start with the basics of any subject and build upon skills as they develop, many photographers who are already working in the field sign up for courses in order to keep ahead of the curve in their ever-changing profession. Delgado too was an NYIP student before joining the staff. He first enrolled in order to find out if he could match his lifelong enthusiasm for photography with the skills needed to pursue a career as a professional. Years later, he credits the comprehensive education he got from NYIP for the success of his New York City-based business of portrait photography.

A formally structured curriculum, such as the Complete Course in Professional Photography, is an invaluable means for gaining the in-depth knowledge and skills needed for a lucrative career in photography. In addition, an NYIP Graduation Certificate serves as an important professional credential.

See the full NYIP course listing here:

October 29th, 2015

An Early Look at Footage from the GoPro Drone

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 9.19.07 AM

We’ve known since May that GoPro was building its own drone.

While we have no new specifics on said quadcopter, we do have some sample footage from the company that purports to show off just how steady the camera stabilization system will be in flight.

The footage was captured using a Hero4 attached to an advanced prototype of the drone. GoPro says that the video hasn’t been stabilized in post.

The video looks smooth, although it doesn’t look like they flew their drone on a particularly windy day.

See for yourself:

October 28th, 2015

PhotoPlus Expo 2015: The State of Editorial Photography

The directors of photography at Women’s Health, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Garden & Gun, People and GQ shared stories behind shoots and offered insights into how they work with the photographers they hire in a panel discussion hosted by veteran editorial photographer Art Streiber at PhotoPlus Expo this past week. In “The State of Editorial Photography,” panelists spoke about budgets, cover shoots, how video is factoring into their work and how photographers should market to them.


People’s Catriona Ni Aolain noted that TIME, Inc. is positioning itself as a video-first company and said that the People staff discuss whether or not to create video for each story the magazine does, but she also said much of the video produced during shoots with celebrities is created not by photographers but by a separate video team. GQ’s Krista Prestek said the same was true at her magazine, and Streiber noted that he’s being asked for video on only 25 percent of his editorial assignments. When magazines first introduced iPad apps, he was asked to shoot video more frequently, he said.

On shooting covers

Women’s Health’s Sarah Rozen said that her photographers usually get eight hours with their cover models and need to shoot four to five setups. GQ’s Prestek said she saw a trend of getting less and less time with celebrities because “magazines are less essential to celebrities” for getting exposure. Often celebrities will book a string of media appointments in a single day, which leaves editors “jockeying for priority so you don’t get them at the end of the day.” GQ will spend anywhere from $30,000–$100,000 on cover shoots, Prestek said. Read the rest of this entry »

October 28th, 2015

Keeping Your Photo Business Profitable During the Holidays


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?


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.


  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.


  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 28th, 2015

Lucie Awards: George Tice, Kathy Ryan Honored; Sandro and Maxim Dondyuk Share International Photographer of the Year

Fran Drescher and Simon Doonan honor Roxanne Lowit, who won the Lucie Award for Achievement in Fashion.

Fran Drescher and Simon Doonan honor Roxanne Lowit, who won the Lucie Award for Achievement in Fashion.

George Tice, Jerry Uelsmann, Danny Lyon, Roxanne Lowitt, Stephanie Sinclair and photo editor Kathy Ryan were among the honorees at the 13th annual Lucie Awards, held last night at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. The International Photography Award was a tie: The honor was split between the Ukraine-based Maxim Dondyuk, honored for his recent work on the ongoing conflict and demonstrations in his country, and Chicago-based photographer Sandro, whose project “Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich” reimagined classic photos with actor John Malkovich as his sole subject.

The Discovery of the Year award went to the Finnish photographer Ville Kansanen for his fine-art project “The Procession of Spectres.” The Lifetime Achievement award went to large-format documentary photographer George Tice, who noted in his acceptance speech that he won his first trophy for his photography when he was 14.

Rangefinder‘s Libby Peterson reported on the awards ceremony. For her full report on the awards, including winners of the awards for curator of the year, book publisher of the year and photo editor of the year, see Rangefinder‘s Photo Forward blog.


Maxim Dondyuk: Inside a Camp for Cossack Youth