Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award Goes to Brent Stirton for Rhino Poaching Photo
South African photojournalist Brent Stirton’s grisly image of a de-horned black rhinoceros, killed by poachers in South Africa’s Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park, won him Wildlife Photographer of the Year honors in the annual competition sponsored by the Natural History Museum, London. Stirton was honored Wednesday evening in a ceremony at the Natural History Museum. His image was chosen from among nearly 50,000 entries from 92 countries.
Stirton made the image as part of his project “Rhino Wars,” an undercover investigation for National Geographic into the black market for rhino horn, which is fueled by demand in Asia. “The horn is part of an ancient Asian medical system and today is seen as a curative for everything from Cancer to Kidney stones,” Stirton writes in a statement published on his website. “Essentially keratin, a mild alkaline substance identical to fingernails, the horn is ground down in grinding bowls and mixed with water. This is then ingested by the sick and the wealthy of Vietnam and China, the imbiber hoping for miracle cures, when in fact science shows us it has a placebo effect at best. The use of horn dates back over 2000 years but the recent economic rise of countries like China and Vietnam and the subsequent wealth of the new upper class has had disastrous effects on the world’s remaining rhino population.”
Jury chair Lewis Blackwell said of Stirton’s image: “There is a horrible intimacy to the photograph: it draws us in and invites us to explore our response and responsibility.”
“This shocking picture of an animal butchered for its horns is a call to action for us all,” added Natural History Museum Director, Sir Michael Dixon, in a statement.
Daniël Nelson’s image of a nine-year-old male gorilla eating breadfruit won him Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
Dutch photographer Daniël Nelson was named Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his image of a nine-year-old gorilla that lives in Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Republic of the Congo.
Now in its 27th year, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award includes an exhibition featuring the images of the winners and finalists, as well as a catalogue of the work. The exhibition opens at the Natural History Museum, London on October 20, and will continue through May 28, 2018 before touring internationally.
Past Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners include Daniel Beltrá, Paul Nicklen, Michael “Nick” Nichols and Tim Laman.
The Role of the Slit-Scan Image in Science and Art
The use of slit-scan photography is actually quite old. It is often called line-scan, photo finish, or streak photography. Slit-scan photography has a rich and colorful history rooted in chemical analog photography. This technique is often used to visualize high-speed events such as missiles and bullets, although it is probably best known as photo finish photography used to determine the outcome of races.
In the past, slit-scan photographic systems used a sheet of film that was moved past a slit. These cameras were most commonly used as photo finish cameras at races and could very precisely measure the time one horse might have won the race by, for example. There were a number of designs of these systems. One of the most interesting slit-scan cameras had the camera and film moving at the same time to create a panoramic picture. The last camera on the market to use this technique was the Spinner Dolphin 360 made by Lomography.
Modern times have replaced film with digital sensors and slit-scan photography is more popular than ever, although most people have never seen the results. Slit-scan imaging solves a number of problems found in industrial applications. Quality control inspections found in high-speed assembly lines can look for product defects in real time. Industrial applications are the most common uses of the technology today. Although it not the most popular form of photography, the resulting images are often a surprise to the photographer and can be quite stunning and beautiful in their own right.
To make a slit-scan image a large number of images are collected in video format. To create a slit scan image, one row of pixels is extracted from each frame of the video and placed adjacent to the same row from the next frame. Each row of pixels represents a duration of time. If the video was recorded at a rate of 30 frames a second, then the row of pixels will represent 1/30th of a second. The resulting image is really a representation of motion and time. To figure out how much video to collect, count each frame of the video as one pixel in the width of the image to be part of the final image. In this case, I collected 4 x 60 x 30 or a grand total of 7200 images. Thus my final image was 1920 high and 7200 pixels wide. The 1920 comes from the video frame placed vertically to get a larger pixel count in that direction.
To extract the slit-scan image out of the finished MOV file I use a useful program written by Martin Dixon called Slit-Scan. It is a free download and is available from this website. The program is available for both Mac and Windows operating systems and requires the programming environment called Processing to running. This is by far the easiest way to make slit-scan images currently.
To measure the results of a toy car race, students in my class recorded two Matchbox cars going down a track. The video was recorded at 1000FPS with an Edgertronic camera.
A typical photo finish image of a Hot Wheels car race. The red car crossed the finish 114 pixels in front of the blue car since each pixel in the horizontal direction represents 1/1000th of a second, the red car won the race by .114 seconds. The slit-scan image is a very powerful tool and useful for making image measurements. If the length of the car is known, then the pixels can be measured in the horizontal direction to determine the amount of time for the car to pass a fixed point. From this information, the velocity of the car can be calculated.
Ocean waves are recorded when moving. Since each pixel in the horizontal direction represents 1/30th of a second, the wave motion can be measured.
If the camera is rotated, the extracted slit scan becomes a panoramic image. Here a junction in the college’s hallways is imaged by Nate Dileas, Scott Semler, and Makayla Roof from my high-speed imaging class. Since the camera was moving very slowly, Nate ducked around the camera and was recorded twice. This is a classic strategy for this technology and dates way back. If you look at old panoramic images you will almost always see at least one individual that is included twice in the photograph.
In this picture, a colleague Dan Hughes volunteered to sit patiently on a rotating chair. The resulting image is a peripheral slit scan image sometimes called a peripheral portrait and reveals the full circumference of his head. This technique has been used to record Roman vases, and tread wear patterns on tires.
Instead of a human subject, a peripheral slit scan image is collected of a rotating Dahlia flower. The flower has the slit of pixels extracted from the video is parallel to the axis of rotation. If the extracted row of pixels is not parallel or taken at an angle the resulting images can be quite weird and surprising.
The same dahlia flower as above is used to make a slit scan image, but here the row of extracted pixels is at a 90-degree angle to the axis of rotation. I personally find these images new and exciting to make. Even after making these images for 20 years, I still never quite know what to expect.
An off-axis image of another Dahlia flower this image was extracted from a full resolution .mov file taken with a Canon 5DMkIII.
The same dahlia flower movie file used to make a peripheral slit scan image of the flower.
A bouquet of spring tulips imaged off-axis make a unique twisty picture. The flowers were placed on a turntable that took three minutes to make one complete revolution. This image was collected in camera by using a Better Light scan back camera which had the scanner parked in a fixed position. The camera has a feature that allows the taking very high-resolution panoramic images. The full image requires approximately five minutes to collect because the camera’s operation itself is slow.
Here a dahlia flower is imaged with the axis of the rotation and the camera offset by 15 degrees. Strange effects are quite common with this technique.
Downtown Richmond VA is imaged by collecting a high-speed video from an iPhone 6 pointed out the window of a moving car. The handheld image shows the aspect ratio is not correct – the car should have been moving slower. Slit-scan imaging is commonly used to map the ground from high flying aircraft. Surprisingly, aerial slit scan still uses large and long rolls of film even in 2017.
Slit-scan is used to record the patterns on a cone seashell. Another example of peripheral streak imaging.
The technique is used to capture the arrangement of corn kernels in Flint corn. Flint corn is also known as Indian corn or calico corn and is a common decorative corn seen here in the United States throughout the U.S.’s Thanksgiving holiday. This image shows the variation of the placement and color of the kernels of corn around the full corncob in one image.
Many images just look strange like this slit scan image of a historic flashbulb firing. The slit image is used to determine the timing of the flash here the M3 flash bulb is brightest for about 20 milliseconds. As in all of the slit images time goes from left to right here.
An abalone paua shell from New Zealand is imaged as an off-axis slit scan image. The constant pattern at the bottom is due to the rotation stage being turned off.
Have you ever wondered what beach glass placed on a rotation stage placed on a second rotation stage imaged in off-axis silt scan photography would look like? I have and pictured above is the result. Oddly enough, this image will be familiar to readers that are used to looking at rotation charts for the moons of Jupiter which are displayed in a similar pattern.
For a number of years, I have been intrigued by the unique patterns displayed by objects in a variety of ways through the use of slit can imagery. I hope the interested reader will give this technique a try.
About the author: Ted Kinsman is an assistant professor of photographic technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He teaches advanced photographic technology, light microscopy, and macro photography courses. Kinsman specializes in applying physics to photography. You can find more about him and his work in his faculty profile and on his website.
Review: The Yongnuo 40mm f/2.8 Pancake Lens for Nikon is Bad
As far as I am aware, Yongnuo’s latest entry in its ultra-cheap prime lens lineup is the first F-mount 40mm pancake lens that features autofocus. I was excited to hear the announcement back in September as I’ve always been jealous of Canon users and their 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens with its ridiculously slim profile.
The closest we have for Nikon’s F-mount is the manual focus Series E 50mm f/1.8 lens, the manual focus Nikkor 45mm f/2.8 lenses, and the manual focus Voigtländer 40mm f/2 lens. I’ve longed for an F-mount autofocus pancake lens since I was first struck with GAS, and now with Yongnuo’s release, it looked like I would finally be getting my fix.
Alas, all of the merits for this $94 lens aside, its biggest failing is its utterly incompetent autofocus capabilities.
The size is right. Not quite as slim as Canon’s 40mm pancake lens, but smaller than anything else Nikon is offering.
Decent enough image quality wide open. I don’t really care about sharpness — especially corner sharpness — too much, but I have had some lenses look just absolutely atrocious when not stopped down and this is not one of them.
Close enough focus. Not nearly macro level magnification, but a minimum focusing distance just under 0.3 meters gives you bigger magnification than Nikon’s 50mm offerings.
The price. I paid $94 on Amazon for a f/2.8 lens that’s actually usable at f/2.8.
Plasticky filth all around. The mount is metal, and thank goodness for that, but just about everything else is plastic. I actually prefer quality plastic to quality metal as I place a premium on weight reduction, but this is not quality. This is garbage plastic. I’ve owned several plastic kit lens and loved them all, but this lens just feels wrong.
The autofocus sucks. Just awful. Imagine the glory days of contrast-detection autofocus from your first point and shoot back in 2004. Now imagine that camera trying to autofocus on a clear white wall in the middle of a dense fog. At night. That’s what trying to autofocus with this lens feels like. And it’s noisy as hell too, which ordinarily wouldn’t bother me but I’m tired of defending this lens so I’m gonna mention it.
Manual focus sucks too. There’s no automatic-manual override feature and you don’t deserve it anyway for paying less than a $100 for a lens, but there is a switch that converts this lens from automatic to manual and you’ll wish it hadn’t. The only way you can tell which mode you’re in by feel is the hard stop at infinity and close focus. There is simply no tactile feedback from the focus ring, which feels in danger of falling off at any moment.
I didn’t venture far with this lens beyond my yard, and I don’t think I will in the future either. These images aren’t quite scientific and they certainly aren’t artistic, but they should give you an idea what you’re in for if you choose to part ways with $94. Minor global adjustments to tone were made in Lightroom with no changes to sharpening or noise reduction. All pictures were taken with a Nikon D750.
The bokeh is altogether not unpleasant to my eye – a clumsy way of phrasing that it shouldn’t matter too much in pictures taken with this lens. There is an aspherical element in there which can make this lens prone to “onion rings” in specular highlights if you care about such things. I don’t.
Pixel peepers can find some modest chromatic aberration at wide apertures which you would expect for a lens that costs $94. I personally don’t concern myself too much with defects that can be corrected with one click in Lightroom.
More Thoughts on the Autofocus
My default setting for autofocus areas is a central group of 21 points, which this lens never could figure out. I wound up shooting most of these pictures with a single central point of focus. Eventually, I got some minor improvement by switching from AF-C to AF-S, though at no point for any of these pictures was this lens free of egregious, conspicuous hunting.
Phase detection autofocus through the viewfinder exhibited hunting was just as bad as live view. And this was in broad daylight! I held my finger on the shutter waiting for focus to lock on this contrasty-as-all-hell mailbox and it never landed.
I tried three more times and every test was just as bad as the first. Autofocus this awful is unforgivable; couple that with terrible manual focus and there just aren’t enough good points left for me to recommend this lens to anyone.
Those of us waiting for a useable autofocus-capable pancake lens for Nikon still have some waiting to do. I will say that I’ve had some good experience with Yongnuo’s 35mm f/2 prime lens, though most online reviews disagree with me. It’s not a perfect lens, to be sure, but the autofocus on the 35mm is usable and does not hunt nearly as bad as their 40mm lens. And I’m glad there’s another company out there making inexpensive prime lenses to spur on some competition.
Hopefully, in the future, Yongnuo can release a firmware update that will fix these glaring flaws. And since we’re hoping, maybe Nikon will get the picture and release a solid Nikkor 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens of their own. As it stands, for F-mount autofocus pancake lenses, Yongnuo is the only game in town, but it’s a game nobody should play.
About the author: Cody Cobb is a photography enthusiast and medical student. You can find more of his work and writing on his website, 25 Photographs. This article was also published here.
Urbex Photographer Dies After Falling from 20th Floor of Chicago Hotel
An urbex photographer was killed after he fell from the 20th floor of a luxury hotel in Chicago.
CBS Chicago reports that 44-year-old Eric Paul Janssen died on Monday at around 3:30 p.m. while trespassing at the LondonHouse Chicago luxury riverfront hotel. After falling from a 20th floor wall, Janssen landed on a 6th-floor rooftop 14 stories below.
Janssen was reportedly shooting photos on the 20th-floor ledge when the accident occurred, sources tell CBS Chicago.
The photographer had nearly 4,000 followers on Instagram, where he regularly shared photos captured in run-down, abandoned locations as well as the rooftops of tall city buildings.
“Chicago has been an amazing experience,” Janssen wrote in his last Instagram post, shared the same day as his fall. “Made some new friends. Reconnected with some old friends. Had a really wonderful time exploring this great city.”
“Finally started reading Hidden Cities: A Memoir of Urban Exploration by Moses Gates,” Janssen wrote in another post just 3 days before his fall. “For those who still view ‘No Trespassing’ signs as more than a silly suggestion this book is not for you. For those who understand that there are entire cities hidden behind those signs awaiting exploration and discovery, then you should read this book!”
Fashion’s New Era: The Collage Artists of Instagram
Artists have taken to Instagram to share their work and connect with industry members previously inaccessible. The resulting work opportunities have allowed many of these artists to build out careers, growing their business network and influence with each post. Accredited by the companies they work with, earned media and reach online, Instagram is an artists’ most important public entity.
A few artists have developed a practice, style and following that has resonated within the industry, th…
Sigma Extends Camera Gear Warranty to Cover Hurricane Victims
Sigma has announced that it will extend the warranty on its camera gear to products that have been damaged or destroyed by the hurricanes that have recently devastated regions of the United States.
If your equipment is under warranty and was damaged due to Hurricane Harvey, Irma or Maria, Sigma will provide free repairs or discounted replacements.
Fstoppers reports that Sigma extended the offer to photographers in a written statement:
Sigma hereby extends the warranty coverage of Sigma products still under warranty for damages incurred as a result of Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria. If your equipment is under warranty, Sigma will provide either (a) complimentary service to get your equipment running, or (b) a trade-in option. Just ship your damaged equipment to Sigma, and we will ship the equipment back to you without charge. All terms of your Sigma warranty coverage still apply, so when sending in your Sigma product, please be sure to include a copy of the original sales receipt as proof of purchase date. If you do not have appropriate documentation as a result of the Hurricanes, please contact us. Eligibility for this offer is subject to Sigma’s sole discretion. This offer is open through December 31, 2017 (we must receive your damaged equipment by that date).”
So photographers who wish to take advantage of this offer will need to send their damaged equipment to Sigma by the end of 2017 along with the original receipt from the purpose. Photographers who no longer have their receipts may still also be able to get assistance on a case-by-case basis by contacting Sigma.
If your gear was damaged beyond repair, Sigma will offer you a replacement at a “special price,” Fstoppers reports. “The terms of the discounts may vary and will be handled on a case-by-case basis.”
Manufacturers warranties generally do not cover “Acts of God” (i.e. natural disasters), so it’s an unusual and generous move on Sigma’s part to take on some losses to help get photographers affected by recent hurricanes back on their feet.
Faith Connexion x Sita Abellan’s Capsule Collection Will Be On Every Cool Girl’s Wishlist
Sita Abellan does it all; the Spanish talent is the Instagram age incarnate, tripling as a model, DJ, and designer. And just as cool is the Parisian non-genderconforming brand Faith Connexion, so when the two teamed up to create a capsule collection, underground fashion fiends were pining for a myriad of striking designs they could conceive.
Faith Connexion x Sita Abellan debuted at a captivating event hosted by Made at the Moxy in Times Square on Monday, Oct. 16. At the showcase, immensely …
Chris Smith, the Photographer of the US Health Secretary
Here’s a short video released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last month on the work of photographer Chris Smith, who has served as the Secretary’s photographer in the department for 27 years now.
Smith shares about both his journey in photography and some insights into what it’s like to photograph in the upper levels of US government.
Here are some photos Smith has captured over the years:
Smith says in the video that Tom Price is the 7th secretary he has covered during his time in the HHS. Just three days after the video was released, however, Price resigned as secretary amidst growing criticism about his travel habits.
Image credits: Photographs by Chris Smith and courtesy the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The Rhino ROV is a Motorized Slider for Your Smartphone and Camera
Rhino has just launched a new Kickstarter campaign to fund the launch of its new ROV motorized camera slider for smartphones and various types of cameras.
The slider has a 24 battery life, allowing for such things as shooting night-time starscapes. Its “low profile” iPhone mount means you can shoot at low angles, and the all-terrain legs fold for a compact design when traveling.
There’s also a cold shoe mount on top of the iPhone mount so you can easily attach accessories (like a shotgun microphone).
There are two sizes of the slider available, one with an 8″ travel distance and a second with a 16″ distance.
There is another version of the slider, the ROV Pro, which also has a professional 1/4-20 ball head and is capable of shooting DSLR time-lapses. It also has a premium gunmetal finish.
Able to take a payload of up to 5lbs, the device has a maximum speed of travel is 1″ per second, with a minimum of 0.05″ per second, and has a maximum angle of 30 degrees.
Using a “Coreless DC technology” motor, commonly found in medical and aerospace applications, the movement is fast, quiet, and uses very little power.
Here’s a look at what it can do, along with a short introduction:
The slider is compatible with Rhino’s Storyteller app, allowing you to change direction, movement speed, and other settings easily.
Rhino is looking to raise $50,000 to make this slider a reality, and the company has already successfully funded a number of crowdfunding campaigns.
The ROV slider is available with a contribution of $230 on Kickstarter, and the ROV Pro is a reward for contributions of $300. If the project successfully funds and delivers, you should get your slide around April 2018.
DJI’s New AeroScope Helps Track and Identify Drones in the Air
DJI has unveiled AeroScope, a new technology aimed at tracking and identifying DJI drones from afar. The new receiver will be able to identify the registration numbers of drones and plot them on a map using the existing communication links between a drone and its controller.
“As drones have become an everyday tool for professional and personal use, authorities want to be sure they can identify who is flying near sensitive locations or in ways that raise serious concerns,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI’s Vice President for Policy and Legal Affairs. “DJI AeroScope addresses that need for accountability with technology that is simple, reliable and affordable – and is available for deployment now.”
Police, aviation authorities, and other authorized parties will be able to use an AeroScope receiver. Since April this year, DJI have already installed the detectors at two international airports. With a drone colliding with a passenger plane just last week, many more airports around the world may be interested in installing AeroScopes as well.
The receivers are capable of immediately detecting a drone as it powers on, plotting its location onto the map alongside its registration number. This is effectively a drone’s “license plate,” allowing authorities to determine the registered owner of the drone.
AeroScope will work with all of the current DJI drone models, requiring no modifications or adjustments to enable detection. DJI says that analysts found this to be “over two-thirds of the global civilian drone market.”
Drone flights will not automatically be recording into a database, adhering to recent privacy concerns — AeroScope detects broadcasts from a drone to its own controller rather than to the Internet.
In an effort to protect the privacy of drone operators, AeroScope will not automatically transmit any personally identifiable information until the time when regulations in a pilot’s jurisdiction require it by law. DJI’s drone software will be updated to allow users to choose the “content” of their drone’s identification broadcast and match “local expectations” as regulations are implemented down the line.
“The rapid adoption of drones has created new concerns about safety, security and privacy, but those must be balanced against the incredible benefits that drones have already brought to society,” said Schulman. “Electronic drone identification, thoughtfully implemented, can help solve policy challenges, head off restrictive regulations, and provide accountability without being expensive or intrusive for drone pilots.
“DJI is proud to develop solutions that can help distribute drone benefits widely while also helping authorities keep the skies safe.”