Rihanna Announces New Lipsticks from Fenty Beauty are Coming
Just when you thought Rihanna’s groundbreaking Fenty Beauty line couldn’t get any better, with its 40-shade line of foundations, Bad Gal RiRi is here to prove you wrong.
On Tuesday, Rihanna announced that Fenty Beauty will release 14 new vibrant lipstick shades this month. The new line, called Matte Moselle, drops on December 26 at 9:00 a.m. on FentyBeauty.com and will be sold at Sephora and Harvey Nichols stores as well.
The Instagram queen took to the social media platform to share the …
Pushing Canon DSLRs to the Low-Light Limit: Shooting Auroras Live
After photographing the solar eclipse in Idaho, I couldn’t resist continuing my “long-service leave” and returning to Canada’s Yukon Territory for some early season aurora hunting in September 2017. I had just two and half weeks (one New Moon cycle) based with my friends and supporters Andrea and Florian Lemphers at Shallow Bay, north of the capital Whitehorse.
Clear skies were always going to be the biggest challenge, especially during the fall, but I hit four clear nights in a row from the start so luck seemed to be on my side. I also managed to peg some beautiful cold clear nights and sweet aurora activity at clutch locations I explored along the way; my favorites being North Canol Road and Tombstone Park on the Dempster Highway.
With the 5D Mark IV, I captured 1080p video at the camera’s maximum 32000 ISO setting. Super-fast Canon and Sigma ART wide lenses didn’t hurt either.
The video files as generated are pretty noisy (applying noise reduction in-camera on the fly is presumably too taxing for the processor?) but a simple application of Neat Video temporal noise reduction in After Effects made a big difference to the viewing quality of the footage above.
Most of these clips were captured on my first night when the aurora went nuts for just a few minutes, which goes to show you have to be prepared and ready to roll from the start! There’s no doubt that pushing ISO to the max and applying heavy noise reduction softens the image crispness, but being able to show the aurora in real-time (how crazy is that!?) is still pretty cool.
I did also capture some live 4K video but the combination of the 1.7x crop factor and significant reduction in maximum allowable ISO speed meant the results weren’t as impressive. However, with the extra pixel detail noise reduction performed very well on these files. If I had another two weeks and some more brilliant aurora displays I’d definitely play with the 4K feature again with a super-wide lens to compensate for the 4K crop-factor.
One of the selling points of the Canon 6D Mark II has been the 4K timelapse video feature and I was very keen to experiment with this under the Yukon’s Northern Lights. I’m used to capturing RAW file sequences and rendering them, but there is a lot to be said for the fun and efficiency of capturing direct to 4K timelapse in-camera. (The 4K file is available to download and view via Vimeo — highly recommended for best quality).
When I wasn’t shooting 4K, I captured 2.5 TB of RAW timelapse images with my four cameras in just over two weeks. That creates such a headache in terms of data storage and processing power that I haven’t even started editing that footage yet.
In contrast, editing this 4K video from the 6D Mark II required nothing more than throwing the clips together in Premiere Pro with just a slight brightness/contrast tweak for some punch. No noise reduction has been applied to the files out of the camera. It was a lot of fun capturing these clips in and being able to see the timelapse video result on camera immediately. Motivation in the field like that really helps keep you going while your fingers freeze at 2 am in the morning!
The bright and fast sequences in this video were captured at 1 frame per second, the fastest the camera allows in 4K timelapse (resulting in footage 25 times real speed). Some of the quieter moments I was capturing at 1 frame every 2-3 seconds as longer exposures per frame were required. Again super-fast Canon and Sigma ART lenses were critical to the outcome.
There is also an auto-exposure feature in the 6D Mark II timelapse settings intended for day-night transitions which I thought may be helpful for adjusting to the rapidly varying brightness of aurora displays. In practice, I found it easier and more reliable to use fixed exposure but I’d experiment further with this feature if I had more time — it is surprisingly hard to concentrate on details like this when the aurora keeps fading and then pulsing back into action around you without warning.
P.S. Thanks to my talented friend, cellist and composer Kristin Rule for the music and my hosts Andrea and Florian Lemphers whose support made all of this possible.
About the author: Phil Hart is an engineer by day and astronomy and night sky photographer by night. Phil Hart has been enjoying and photographing the night sky for nearly twenty years. His award winning photos have been published in books, magazines and popular websites around the world. He is the two-time winner of the David Malin Astrophotography Award and author of the Shooting Stars eBook. He has previously run Night Sky Photography Workshops in partnership with Michaels Camera Store in Melbourne. You can find more of his work on his website. This article was also published here.
Google Unveils 3 Experimental Photo Apps For Smartphones
Google has created a trio of apps that utilize experimental technology in a bid to push forward the possibilities of smartphone photography and videography. The apps — Storyboard, Selfissmo!, and Scrubbies — use techniques like smart object recognition and person segmentation algorithms similar to Portrait Mode to enable creative editing of images and video.
Storyboard — which is available only on Android — applies a comic book style effect to your videos. It works by analyzing your video and grabbing still frames at interesting points. It then lays them out in a single-page comic layout and applies a stylization algorithm that yields a different result every time you swipe down on the screen to refresh it.
Selfissmo! is an app to assist in taking selfies, and is available on both iOS and Android. Once launched, the app snaps a black and white photo of you every time it recognises that you have changed your pose and stopped moving, without you needing to trigger the shutter yourself.
It also offers encouragement during your photo shoot, displaying small platitudes such as “Radiant!”, “Fabulous!”, and “Superb!”. The app collates these photos into a contact sheet from which they can be saved or shared.
The third app is named Scrubbies, and is available only for iOS. Scrubbies allows you to manually create a looped video by scrubbing through it to alter the speed and direction. The end result is a shareable video loop similar to Instagram’s Boomerang, but with complete control over the output.
Over on its research blog, Google says that the “‘appsperimental’ approach was inspired in part by Motion Stills, an app developed by researchers at Google that converts short videos into cinemagraphs and time lapses using experimental stabilization and rendering technologies.
“Our appsperiments replicate this approach by building on other technologies in development at Google,” the company writes. “They rely on object recognition, person segmentation, stylization algorithms, efficient image encoding and decoding technologies, and perhaps most importantly, fun!”
Here’s a Great Documentary About the Life and Work of Ansel Adams
Want to be inspired by the great American photographer Ansel Adams? Here’s a fantastic 80-minute documentary film that PBS aired back in 2002. Titled Ansel Adams: A Documentary Film, it’s an in-depth study of Adams’ life and work.
The documentary was co-produced by the environmental organization the Sierra Club — Adams served on its board for nearly 40 years — and was watched by 5 million people when it originally aired on the 100th anniversary of Adams’ birth. Here’s a synopsis:
Ansel Adams is an elegant, moving and lyrical portrait of one of the most eloquent and quintessentially American photographers. At the heart of the film are the themes that absorbed Adams throughout his career: the beauty and fragility of “the American earth,” the inseparable bond between man and nature and the moral obligations that the present owes to the future.
Wrangling the Cast of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” for a Portrait
This Friday marks another major event in the intergalactic battle between good and evil with the release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” It is the eighth episode of the 40-year Star Wars saga. To stoke anticipation and ticket sales, the cast has been speed dating with the media. The New York Times got 30 minutes last week.
“We thought that meant 30 minutes for my picture,” says celebrity photographer Jesse Dittmar, who was hired by Times photo editor Jolie Ruben to shoot a group portrait of the cast. “But it meant 30 minutes to interview 11 people and take a picture.
“I ended up with two minutes to shoot the group of 11 egos, six of whom were palpably unhelpful, while a peanut gallery of 40 PR reps, individual hair, make-up, and stylists were trying to get their say,” says Dittmar (in the blue shirt, talking to actor Domhnall Gleeson in the BTS photo below).
Planning was key. “I knew there would be elements out of my control,” he says, reeling off the list of unknowns: what the actors would be wearing, what moods they would be in, who else would in the room causing distractions.
Dittmar focused on the things he could control: the set, the lighting, the positioning of the subjects, and the color palette. He researched the actors to get a sense of their personalities, as well as their heights, which he needed to know to plan their positioning. The shoot was to take place at the the Echo Park room in LA’s Intercontinental Hotel. To see the room in advance, Dittmar had to call the hotel and pretend he was interested in renting a conference room. “They showed me the [Echo Park] room and it was gross,” he says.
He rented a 20-foot foldable backdrop, some wooden flooring, and lights, including two Elinchrom octabanks, which served as the primary lights; and 2 Photek softlighters, for additional light on the actors at the extreme ends of the group. Dittmar notes that he invested a significant amount of his own money in travel, assistants and rentals. “Having this in my portfolio is worth so much more than [The Times] was paying me,” he says. “I have an important picture of an important cultural event forever.”
He spent six hours setting up: three hours building the set the night before, and three hours the following morning working on composition and lighting, using his crew as stand-ins for the actors. When the writer finished interviewing, Dittmar actually had 10 minutes with the cast. But getting them into position took eight of those minutes, he says.
Some of the actors didn’t want to stand or sit where Dittmar wanted them to. “You’re trying to charm them into doing what you want,” he says. But that doesn’t always work. “The number one thing is being assertive and confident in what you want to have happen [and] a decisive back-up plan. When someone says, ‘I don’t want to stand there,’ you go, OK, how about here? You pivot, because you don’t have time to argue.”
When he started shooting, his primary concern was getting everyone to look at the camera. “You have to speak loudly, clearly, and decisively. You’re snapping your fingers, saying ‘Hey guys, look at me,’ because when subjects aren’t entirely comfortable, by default you look at the people you are comfortable with”—their handlers, standing behind Dittmar—“to see their reaction,” the photographer says. (Unlike magazine clients, The Times doesn’t allow compositing, so it is critical to get at least one frame with everyone looking at the camera, and nobody blinking.)
To get everyone’s attention, Dittmar used the same technique as he did when shooting the cast of Downton Abbey (read more about that here). One of his tricks is to call on individual actors by name, and ask them to make small adjustments in the positions of their feet, shoulders, or hands. “Make sure you have everyone’s name memorized. That makes a big difference,” Dittmar says. To be able to call on the least-famous actor on the set by name, he says, signals to the entire cast “that you’ve done your homework, and you have a confidence that people respect.”
He says there were four people standing over him “whose sole job was to get the actors out of the room,” so there was no time for indecision. “You’re acting on your instincts and preparation.” Using a Canon 5D Mark IV with a 24-70 lens, Dittmar shot a total of 42 frames. The Times published the portrait on December 8.
Speculation has ensued on Twitter about the pronounced gap that Dittmar left between the actors in the middle of the portrait. “There was some hypothesizing that I left that space for Carrie Fisher,” Dittmar says. Fisher, who has played Princess Leia in every Star Wars movie, died last December.
Asked if the speculation was correct, Dittmar said: “I’m not saying. I think it’s a great theory, and I’m going to let it sit.”
Street photographer Damon Pablo Escudero ventures out into the streets of New York to shoot for days and weeks on end. And sometimes, he says, “I’m shooting 50 rolls [of film] a week and it’s all terrible.” We asked him the obvious question: When it’s not flowing, what do you do? Here’s his reply:
“I often get a lot of junk and that is just what happens in street photography. So you keep shooting. One or two times I’ve been really scolded, and it just shakes you and you can’t even get back into a flow. Those days I just go home and think, well, those pictures weren’t meant for me today.
“Sometimes, to build confidence, I go to places where lots of other photographers are, which are places I usually completely avoid. The Easter Parade is a great example, because everybody there is OK with you taking their picture. And then as you get your flow, peel away from that, and carry that confidence to more isolated environments and that usually works.
“I also suggest that people shoot film. With digital, you’re constantly looking [at what you’ve shot]. With film, you are constantly hunting because you don’t have a chance to look at anything until you’ve developed the roll. So that was one thing that sort of always kept me going.”
JJ Brine is a Telepathic Visionary, Not a Cult Leader
Once night falls, VECTOR V lights up an otherwise dark and deserted residential stretch of Grand Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The gallery occupies the ground floor of a brand new building––a space that’s free, unlike some past iterations of VECTOR, of curse energy. The few passerbys there are at night stand outside with mouths agape or cellphones pointed inside; JJ Brine, the mind behind the living gallery, just keeps working.
“We’re a Satanic cult!” Samantha Scarlette, the V…
How Portrait Mode Works and How It Compares to an ,000 Camera
Dual cameras have become ubiquitous in the smartphone world, and with them has emerged a new technique for simulating a shallow depth of field — the feature commonly called ‘Portrait Mode’. This 10-minute video from Marques Brownlee explains how it works, and it also pits Portrait Mode on an iPhone X, Note 8, and Pixel 2 against the $8,000 medium format camera Hasselblad X1D.
Because a smartphone’s sensor is so small and the field of view is so wide, most of the time everything in a normal photo taken with the phone’s camera will be in focus. Portrait mode simulates a shallow depth of field by using edge detection and/or depth mapping to differentiate between the foreground and background. It then blurs the background, simulating that shallow depth of field and making the foreground pop.
As Brownlee says, the iPhone X and Note 8 use depth mapping to figure out what is in the foreground of the image. These smartphones use data from the wide angle and telephoto lenses to create a depth map, and then artificially blur objects depending on how far they are from the in-focus subject.
The Pixel 2 takes a different approach — it utilizes pixel splitting to create a depth map and machine learning helps to identify the subject and create a mask. Because it doesn’t rely on two distinct lenses like the iPhone X and Note 8, the Pixel 2 is able to take Portrait Mode shots from the front-facing camera.
The resulting images from the phones differ, Brownlee discovered. The iPhone X appears to focus the face at the expense of everything else, often resulting in blurred hair, ears, or even other objects in the same plane of focus as the face. The Pixel 2 seems to do a better job of keeping the entire subject in focus, but applies very strong sharpening to the foreground and aggressively blurs the background, resulting in a less natural looking image. The Note 8 is somewhere between the two.
Brownlee makes the point that the capabilities of smartphone camera software and hardware are increasing at a rate much faster than traditional cameras are. Features like increasing the amount of background blur after the shot is taken or the artificial lighting effects like those that the iPhone X offers are things that traditional cameras do not have.
The ability for smartphones to simulate ‘real’ cameras is improving every year and to the untrained eye, it can already be difficult to differentiate. With the relentless yearly cycle of smartphone updates, their capabilities continue to close in on mirrorless and DSLRs.
“I think you and I will always be able to tell the difference if you pixel-peep enough between a smartphone camera and a big sensor just because of the physical constraints of trying to make such a small sensor do such big things,” Brownlee concludes. “For that reason, the big cameras will always have their place — professionals will always buy that. But [smartphone] cameras are getting so good.
“The best camera really is still just the one you have with you.”
I can’t remember seeing so much snow in our Dutch capital city of Amsterdam before. Yesterday afternoon, snow started falling out of the sky for hours and hours without stopping. Since I was already in Amsterdam, I took the opportunity of trying to document the atmosphere. The scene lasted for only a few hours before it started to rain in the evening.
I shot a lot of slow-motion video with my Sony Xperia XZ1 smartphone that has a 960fps slow motion feature. I discovered that shooting video of the snow at 960fps looked absolutely beautiful and I instantly got addicted. Here’s a video that I quickly put together after yesterday’s snow experience:
I also brought my Sony a7R III camera. The new camera performed great and didn’t even use half of the battery while shooting hours in freezing temperatures. The camera was often covered with snow yet had zero problems the whole day. The only one having issues was me. I wasn’t really prepared for this weather and got my wet feet — I froze my feet and hands off, but it was all worth it in the end.
Here are some of my photos from the day:
Needless to say, this was a unique experience. Seeing so much snow in Amsterdam is extremely rare and I am very happy to have captured this in both photos and videos.
About the author: Albert Dros is a 31-year-old award-winning Dutch photographer. His work has been published by some of the world’s biggest media channels, including TIME, The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail, and National Geographic. You can find more of his work on his website, or by following him on Facebook and Instagram. This article was also published here.
As best as I could tell, purchasing a ‘standard’ license of a photo cost $9.99 and an extended license cost $79.95. If we base it off the standard license sale of $9.99, then 18 cents in commission is less then 2%.
About the author: ‘Alan Smithee’ is a photography enthusiast and professional aerial cinematographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.