February 5th, 2015

Olympus Unveils OM-D E-M5 Mark II

E-M5MarkII_BLK_right_M14-42EZ_BLK Olympus got an early jump on the CP+ Show camera news with the announcement of the new OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

The new mirrorless camera delivers what Olympus is calling the most powerful optical image stabilization system on the market according to CIPA standards. The E-M5 Mark II offers a five-axis stabilization system that delivers up to five EV steps of stabilization. Olympus claims you can shoot handheld at 1/4 sec. shutter speeds and still enjoy crisp images.

The camera features a 16-megapixel LiveMOS sensor, a 3-inch, vari-angle touch screen display and a TruPic VII processor capable of a brisk 10 frames per second in continuous shooting mode. The camera is also capable of 5 fps continuous shooting with continuous AF engaged. You’ll also find built-in Wi-Fi, mechanical shutter speeds up to 1/8000 sec. and a silent electronic shutter with speeds up to 1/16,000 sec.

While the E-M5 Mark II has a 16-megapixel sensor, it can create a 40-megapixel image using a new High-Resolution Shot mode. In this mode, the camera captures eight images in a row over the course of a single second, moving the sensor by .5-pixel steps between each shot. The M5 Mark II then takes two additional seconds to process the photos into a single, 40-megapixel image. Images can be captured at up to f/8 with a shutter speed of up to eight seconds and a sensitivity of up to ISO 1600. A tripod is recommended.

E-M5MarkII_BLK_back_dialUnlike its other mirrorless rivals, Olympus choose not to add 4K video recording to the M5 Mark II, arguing instead that its ability to record 1080p video at 60 fps with excellent hand-held stabilization delivers a more relevant value for videographers using interchangeable lens cameras. Your mileage may vary.

When shooting 1080p videos at 30 fps, the M5 Mark II is capable of a maximum bit rate of 77Mbps. You’ll enjoy focus peaking,  the ability to add art filters, select AF points, electronic zoom and exposure controls while shooting video. Time code and recording to external devices via HDMI are also supported.

The body of the E-M5 Mark II is dust, splash and freeze proof. The viewfinder has been upgraded to be identical to the 2.36-million dot EVF found in Olympus’ current flagship, the E-M1.

The E-M5 Mark II goes on sale this month for $1,100 for a body-only kit.

Speaking of which, Olympus also announced that new firmware for the E-M1 camera will push its continuous shooting from the current 6.5 fps to 9 fps.

Olympus is also updating its M. Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f.4-5.6 zoom lens.

Equivalent to a 28-300mm full frame focal length, the lens is able to focus on objects as close as 13-inches away from the front of the lens and features a quiet, internal zoom motor. It will retail for $600 when it ships in March.

Finally, Olympus will bring a new Stylus Tough camera to market in April.

The TG-860 sports a 16-megapixel backlit CMOS image sensor, a 21-105mm (35mm equivalent) f/3.5-5.7 lens, Wi-Fi and a 3-inch display that flips up for selfie taking. The camera is waterproof to a depth of 50 feet, drop proof for up to seven feet and can withstand up to 220 pounds of pressure.

The TG-860 delivers 1080p video recording at 60 fps or 854×480 videos at up to 120 fps. The camera will be sold in a choice of black, orange and white for $280.

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February 3rd, 2015

Grant Deadlines: Magnum/Inge Morath, Manuel Rivera-Ortiz and Pulitzer Center

Deadlines are coming up for grants supporting women photographers, and photographers working on social issues.

The 2015 Inge Morath Award 

© Magnum Photos/Inge Morath

Inge Morath. © Magnum Photos/Inge Morath

Magnum and the Inge Morath Foundation have announced deadlines for the 14th annual Inge Morath Award: submissions must be received by April 30th, 2015.

The two foundations award $5,000 to a female photographer under the age of 30, in support of the completion of a long-term documentary project. One winner and up to two finalists are selected by a jury composed of Magnum photographers and the director of the Inge Morath Foundation.

Morath was an Austrian-born photographer who was associated with Magnum Photos for nearly 50 years. The Inge Morath Foundation was established after her death in 2002, and her colleagues at Magnum created an award in her honor.

Shannon Jensen won the last award, in 2014, for “A Long Walk.” For more information, visit ingemorath.org. All submissions must be made online at ingemorath.submittable.com/submit

The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography & Film 2015

The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography & Film has opened a call for submissions for its global grant; both professional and emerging photographers of all nationalities are encouraged to submit documentary photography projects on topics of human suffering and unrest, forgotten communities, exploited lands and people, on communities ravaged by war, poverty, famine, disease, and the exploitation of global resources.

The foundation awards one $5,000 grant to one documentary project based mostly on submitted proposal and a 15-image portfolio. Photographers must show a commitment to the field of reportage and documentary photography.

Submissions are judged in three rounds by a panel of professionals representing the documentary photography industry. The first round assesses entries based on submission worthiness; A pre-selection jury will selects the “Top-24” and consequently the “Top-12” portfolios during round two. The “Top 12″ shortlisted portfolios will be featured and displayed during Les Rencontres d’Arles in Arles, France.

The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2015. The selected project must be completed the calendar year following receipt of the grant. For more details, rules and submission guidelines, visit mrofoundation.org.

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting’s $150,000 Nuclear Threat Initiative Grant

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting is expanding its coverage of nuclear security issues, thanks to a new grant from the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). The Pulitzer Center plans to produce a series of stories on under-covered nuclear issues for its “Going Nuclear” gateway

The 18-month grant is worth $150,000, earmarked for nuclear security projects like “Plutonium Mountain,” a report by David Hoffman of The Washington Post and Eben Harrell of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, which the Pulitzer Center previously funded.

The NTI is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization that has supported independent news coverage on weapons of mass destruction since its founding in 2001.

For information on Pulitzer Center reporting grants, see pulitzercenter.org/grants.

February 3rd, 2015

Ilford Offers Glimpse into the Mind of the 21st Century Film Photographer

fp4-plus-35mmThe photographic film business is a bit like the Black Knight — it’s been remorselessly hacked into bits, but it’s not dead yet.

In fact, it’s enjoying something of a resurgence as the Impossible Project, Ferrania, Lomography and others keep the flame alive.

Black-and-white film supplier Ilford recently surveyed their customers, canvassing “thousands” of users across 70 countries to understand why they’re shooting film. While the company didn’t release all the numbers, they did offer a few highlights that help shed some light on the state of film photography. To wit:

* 30 percent of survey respondents were under the age of 35 and 60 percent of them had picked up film photography over the past five years. Their interest in film was often spurred by receiving a film camera as a gift

* 84 percent of survey respondents were self-taught and 49 percent develop and print their own photos in a darkroom.

* 98 percent of respondents shoot black-and-white film, 31 percent did so exclusively

* 86 percent use roll film.

When asked why they choose to shoot film, photographers told Ilford that they “wanted to slow down.” The limitations of film, they said, forced them to think carefully about their craft as opposed to digital where “you just shoot.” Photographers also told Ilford they thought of film as “retro” and fun.

January 28th, 2015

PDN Video Pick: Acclaimed Beijing Portrait Project, Expanded with Video

With support from two clients and a creative approach to funding, photographer Sim Chi Yin has just released this video showing an old project from a new, more immersive angle. The video profiles Zhang Xi, a college graduate turned street peddler who is part of Beijing’s “Rat Tribe,” so named because they live in sub-standard apartments in the basements and former bomb shelters of the city.

Sim’s portraits of “Rat Tribe” basement dwellers, which she began making in 2010, have been widely published–and widely acclaimed. She previously produced a multimedia slideshow of the portraits. But this video expands on her earlier work by exploring how one subject ended up living in a Beijing basement, the tension it has caused with his parents, and what day-to-day life is like for him.

The video, published January 24 by Creative Time Reports (CTR) and Al Jazeera America, is also a case study in multi-source production funding. Sim says it was first “leanly funded” by CTR, a media website that commissioned the video last fall for a European conference on migration issues. For additional funding, Sim applied to the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. Around the same time, Al Jazeera America asked Sim for new portraits of Beijing basement dwellers, and an updated multimedia piece. So she put CTR and Al Jazeera in touch with each other, and “they decided to work together and timed their publications to appear on the same day.”

Sim hired producer Yin Jiawei, a recent college graduate, to work as a fixer and assist with the shooting.  The video was edited by Jian Yi, a freelance Chinese filmmaker.

Related:
Picture Story: Beijing’s Basement Dwellers
PDN’s 30 2013: Sim Chi Yin

January 22nd, 2015

Fellowship Opportunity for Conservation Photographers

The International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) is currently accepting applications for its Associate Fellows program. The iLCP is a non-profit organization whose members create images and other content that help advocate for environmental conservation causes all over the world. The organization counts many respected conservation photographers among its ranks, including senior fellows James Balog, Paul Nicklen, Christina Mittermeier, Krista Schyler and Tim Laman.

Fellows work with the iLCP to promote the work of the organization and partner organizations involved in conservation, participate in expeditions organized by the iLCP and receive support for their work from the iLCP.

Associate fellows work with the organization for two years before they are considered for senior fellowship. The iLCP lists several expectations for associate fellows on its site. Applicants are expected to have completed and published two major conservation photography projects. They should also be willing to mentor Emerging League Photographers and participate in events and workshops, among other qualifications.

The application for associate fellowships is due Friday, February 27, 2015. The application process involves two rounds. Each round requires a fee of $125.

To learn more about fellowships and read more about the application process, visit the iLCP site.

Related: The International League of Conservation Photographers and the Wilderness Society Protect Idaho’s Clearwater Basin

January 22nd, 2015

Magnum Foundation Announces Emergency Fund Grants, Fellowships

Gaza, Palestine. 2014. Schoolchildren head to class at the Sobhi Abu Karsh School in the Shujai'iya neighborhood. Operation Protective Edge lasted from 8 July 2014 – 26 August 2014, killing 2,189 Palestinians of which 1,486 are believed to be civilians. 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were killed. It's estimated that 4,564 rockets were fired at Israel by Palestinian militants. (Peter van Agtmael / Magnum Photos)

Gaza, Palestine. 2014. Schoolchildren head to class at the Sobhi Abu Karsh School in the Shujai’iya neighborhood. Operation Protective Edge lasted from 8 July 2014 – 26 August 2014, killing 2,189 Palestinians of which 1,486 are believed to be civilians. 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were killed. It’s estimated that 4,564 rockets were fired at Israel by Palestinian militants. (Peter van Agtmael / Magnum Photos)

Today the Magnum Foundation announced the recipients of its 2015 Emergency Fund grants, which support the production of in-depth documentary photography projects “that can no longer be funded through the media alone.”

The 11 grantees were selected from more than 100 nominees from around the world. Their projects include investigations of Pakistan’s legal system; the trafficking of Nigerian women to Italy; Turkish television studios; income inequality in the United States; and failed foreign aid projects in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The grantees are:

Asim Rafiqui, Curran Hatleberg, Elena Perlino, Emine Gozde Sevim, Guy Martin, Massimo Berruti, Matt Black, Nii Obodai Provencal, Pete Muller, Peter DiCampo and Peter van Agtmael.

An international committee of 15 photo editors, curators and educators nominated photographers for Emergency Fund grants. In addition to monetary support that will allow the photographers to travel to complete their projects, the Magnum Foundation also offers mentorship and distribution support to grantees.

The Magnum Foundation also announced the Abigail Cohen Fellowship in Documentary Photography, which supports projects focused on issues critical to China. Yuyang Liu and Souvid Datta are this year’s fellows.

Finally, the foundation announced seven recipients of the Human Rights Fellowship, which offers young photographers from the global south scholarships to train at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in New York. This year’s Human Rights Fellows are Muyi Xiao (China), Nour Kelze (Syria), Anastasia Vlasova (Ukraine), Xyza Bacani (Hong Kong), Basel Alyazouri (Palestine), Sipho Mpongo (South Africa), and Chery Dieu Nalio (Haiti). The Human Rights Fellows were chosen from 576 applicants.

Related: Matt Black and Ed Kashi Bring California’s Dried-Out Central Valley to The New Yorker
Magnum Foundation Awards 2014 Emergency Fund Grants
Photo Tastemaker: Magnum Foundation Program Director Emma Raynes

January 22nd, 2015

Study: Taking “Artistic Photographs” Makes You Attractive to the Opposite Sex

There are as many motivations to pursue a life in photography as there are photographers, but a study lead by Scott Kaufman of the University of Pennsylvania may nudge a few more into the ranks.

The study, titled “Who Finds Bill Gates Sexy? Creative Mate Preferences as a Function of Cognitive Ability, Personality, and Creative Achievement” sought to “clarify the role of creativity in mate selection among an ethnically diverse sample of 815 undergraduates.”

The authors found that the ability to take “artistic photographs” was a highly prized creative attribute among both sexes, ranking seventh in the list. Not too shabby.

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(Do note that while, ahem,  “writing magazine articles” wasn’t deemed nearly as attractive as some other creative pursuits, it wasn’t rock-bottom of the list — we just clipped the list here for space purposes. The full list, giving magazine writers their proper context, is here.)

According to Kaufman, et al.,  creativity that falls into the “ornamental/aesthetic” form proved more attractive than creativity that falls into the “applied/technical” arena (activities like coding, for example).

The above is via Tiffany Mueller who makes a persuasive case that photography really belongs at number four on the list.

January 20th, 2015

Adobe Spotlight: Kate Edwards’s Ethereal Fashion Photography

Sponsored by Adobe

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All photos © Kate Edwards

Kate Edwards is a Brooklyn-based fashion photographer who creates dreamy, ethereal imagery through calculated use of gesture and color. Her models are often lost in thought, or turned away from the camera, and she’s drawn to iridescent color palettes that are carefully refined, or pale neutrals that evoke a sense of quiet and contemplation. Post-production technique is crucial to perfecting the look of Edwards’s imagery, and we spoke with her about her creative process from start to finish, and how she has simplified her workflow in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CC for a more efficient output.

PDN: How do you conceptualize your fashion shoots?

Kate Edwards: My creative process usually involves a lot of brainstorming. I tend to have a wandering mind, so I find that I get most of my ideas from a variety of things that influence me on a daily basis; walking my dog, listening to music, or flipping through a million fashion magazines. I tend to take a lot of photos while I’m out and about that help me create ideas through lighting, colors or patterns. This ends up influencing how I conceptualize my fashion shoots as well. There are so many things you can do, so many possibilities, that for me, being inspired by a lot of different things makes it way more interesting.

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PDN: What are some of your favorite shoots that you worked on in 2014?

KE: I did a bunch of shoots that were definitely a ton of fun, but I have to say that my most memorable photo experience this year was actually being accepted and participating in PhootCamp. It has been around for about six years, and allows 30-40 up-and-coming photographers spend a week together taking photographs of everything and anything that inspires them. Each year the location is different, and for 2014 it took place in Joshua Tree, California. All we had to worry about was bringing our favorite cameras and making work. What an unbelievable experience for a young photographer.

PDN: You have a knack for creating rich color palettes and tones in your imagery. What influences your color choices?

KE: Like I mentioned before, everything influences my color choices—even down to some random song I am listening to, or an amazing wall I walk that is painted the coolest color. Right now I love peachy hues, lots of neutral styling and soft light. I try to always keep it simple though. I tend to become too overwhelmed when there are too many elements going on in one shoot or even in one photograph. I am a “less is more” kind of photographer.

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PDN: What are your goals in post-production? If you are enhancing or altering the existing coloring, what’s your approach?

KE: I try to remain consistent and not overdo my retouching when it comes to my photographs, which can honestly be hard to do when you start diving into editing something you’re really excited about. I used to spend hours doing things in post that I really didn’t need to be spending that much time doing. Now there are easier, more comprehensive ways to take a group of images in Lightroom and create consistent and reliable workflows, so you’re not sitting at your computer all day instead of spending more time shooting. Especially when you start to become busier, this is a valuable tool.

When I do start altering colors, I try to do this consistently from the beginning so that when I need to tweak certain things afterwards, there remains a balance between all of the photographs as a group or story.

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PDN: In what situations do you use Lightroom, and when do you opt for Photoshop CC?

KE: I use Lightroom almost always, and then depending on the shoot and the content, I will use Photoshop CC to go in and fix certain issues with images that might need cleaning up (a sign needs to be retouched out, a perspective that needs to be changed, blemishes on a models face that need to be fixed).

One of the hardest, but most valuable tools I have learned as a freelance photographer is that time is money. It is extremely important to find useful ways to edit larger groups of photos so that you can move onto your next project and not be prisoner to retouching! As someone starting out, Lightroom is extremely valuable to know first and foremost.

PDN: How much time, on average, do you spend editing your photos?

KE: I used to spend forever, but I didn’t know what I was doing. Now I spend a fraction of the time because I know which program to use for each job I am shooting. For example, I spent a day in Lightroom retouching an entire wedding I photographed (approximately 200 photos). I also spent an entire day retouching six photos for an eyewear print campaign in Photoshop CC. It just depends on what I’m looking to accomplish.

PDN: What do you think are the fundamentals a photographer should learn in Lightroom and Photoshop CC?

KE: In Lightroom, first and foremost, it is extremely important to understand how to process your RAW files. The next step is to create useful workflows for the kind of work you are shooting, and to create presets in Lightroom that can be applied and adjusted to all of your images efficiently.

In Photoshop CC, it’s fundamental to understand what you want to correct about your images and which tools to use, because there are an endless amount of possibilities with that program. It is the perfect tool for retouching, so understanding what you’re looking to accomplish is important. The first actions I learned in Photoshop CC were Layers and Masks in order to have the freedom to apply adjustments to specific areas of your image without affecting the rest.

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PDN: Do you have any retouching tips for photographers looking to experiment with color? What are some of your favorite tricks in either program?

KE: I love using a tool in Photoshop CC called Selective Color. It allows you to adjust colors way more in depth. For example, if you want to subtract a little yellow out of your blacks, it creates an interesting purple effect. Experimenting with this tool can be a ton of fun. I also like adding gradient layers onto images to play with the color palette.

To see more work from Kate Edwards, visit www.kateedwardsphotography.com.

To learn more about Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Photoshop CC, visit www.adobe.com. The Creative Cloud Photography plan, offering both programs and more, is 9.99/mo.

January 20th, 2015

5 Fundamental Photo Tips for Aspiring Wedding and Portrait Photographers

Sponsored by NYIP

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Photos courtesy of NYIP

For wedding and portrait photographers who want to sharpen their skills, but already have a full schedule, The New York Institute of Photography (NYIP) offers an online course for each specialty that covers both technical skills and business smarts. Each course is 150 hours, divided into four units, and can be completed at the student’s own pace over 18 months, with an additional six-month extension easily available as well. Instructional materials span a variety of levels of experience and creative talent, and every student is paired with a professional photographer as a mentor for personalized technical support and artistic development throughout their studies.

Lead photo mentor Chris Corradino says working with NYIP students has been “one of the most rewarding experiences of [his] professional career.” We asked him for some fundamental image-making and photography business tips:

1) To enjoy long-term business success, a strong foundation is crucial. This starts with a solid knowledge of manual exposure, the important camera features, and the language of photography. Buying more expensive gear won’t result in leap frogging the competition. No matter what piano an untrained musician sits at, they still can’t play it.

2) Don’t get bogged down in equipment. What distinguishes your photographs can’t be purchased in a store. It’s your own unique vision and perspective on the world that makes all the difference.

3) Learn the rules of composition, and then break them. Good art doesn’t necessarily come from a textbook, but rather a blend of technique and creative vision.

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4) Avoid categorizing yourself as “professional” and “amateur” or engaging in debates that seek to define these terms. A good photographer focuses on craft, not labels. The actual definition of the word amateur is “to do something for the love of.” This is the spirit that all professionals should strive to retain throughout their career.

5) Simplify your composition by eliminating distractions from the frame—unless showing more of the environment actually strengthens the overall impact of an image. For example, instead of eliminating the wedding party as the couple exits the ceremony, include them in the image.

NYIP’s wedding and portrait photography courses delve further into these key topics, as well as: setting up a business; defining your brand and visual signature; developing packages, building an online presence and marketing techniques; working with vendors, planners, videographers, and clients; the history of photographic portraiture and current photography trends; posing individuals, groups, children and pets and putting them at ease; setting up a studio; using backgrounds and a variety of lighting and lenses; working on location, and more.

Visit www.nyip.edu/courses for more information on the wedding and portrait photography courses.

January 20th, 2015

Behind Cosmo UK’s Honor Killings Protest “Cover” Photograph

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This mock-up of a Cosmopolitan UK cover features an image from a series of photographs created by artist Erin Mulvehill.

Last week a mock Cosmopolitan UK cover that sought to protest honor killings drew attention and praise online. Honor killing is a horrific practice in which family members kill one of their own, often a daughter, who is perceived to have brought shame on a family.

The Cosmo UK mock cover depicts what appears to be a woman suffocating. In images of the cover circulated by the magazine and Leo Burnett Change, the agency that designed the cover, the issue is sealed in plastic bags, completing the impression that the woman on the cover is being asphyxiated. The cover was inspired by the 2004 murder of 17-year-old British Pakistani teen Shafilea Ahmed; Ahmed’s parents suffocated her in front of her siblings for perceived offenses that included refusing an arranged marriage. Ahmed’s parents were later convicted of murder.

After several outlets reported that the design would appear on the February issue, Cosmopolitan UK clarified that the cover was just a mock-up, created as part of a campaign the magazine is working on with UK women’s rights organization Karma Nirvana. (The actual February cover featured Khloe Kardashian.)

The provenance of the photograph depicting the suffocating woman is also interesting. The black-and-white photograph used in the mock-up is part of “Underwater,” a fine-art series created by Brooklyn-based photographer Erin Mulvehill in 2009. The images in Mulvehill’s series depict women who appear to be floating underwater, many with their hands pressing out towards the viewer. Read the rest of this entry »