Photos of Strange and Beautiful ‘Earth Pyramids’ Caused by Erosion
Photographer Kilian Schönberger shot a series of otherworldly photos showing the “earth pyramids” found in the province of South Tyrol in northern Italy. These are unusual and beautiful natural formations caused by erosion.
“One of the strangest landscape elements of the Alps are the so-called earth pyramids of South Tyrol,” Schönberger writes. “Especially during foggy conditions, these pillars appear like from another world.”
These earth pyramids form due to large boulders shielding the ground below from rain. As the clay soil erodes, the protected areas become tall pillars holding up the boulders that shielded them. Here’s Schönberger’s explanation:
The soil is prone to erosion during heavy pour – though it’s hard like stone when dry. Boulders within the glacial soil are like a shield to the soil below them. The surrounding material is swept away by rain but the stone-protected parts stay more or less dry and pillars start to “rise” from the ground. Once the earth pyramid is too fragile to carry the boulder even longer, the balance is lost and the stone tumbles down. Without this protection, the rest of the earth pillar vanishes quite fast with the next rainfall.
Schönberger spent several hours with the pyramids, documenting how the colors and lighting of the location change from dawn to noon.
Pakistan’s UN Envoy Criticizes India, but Uses Gaza News Photo to Do It
When Pakistan’s envoy to the UN accused India of attacking civilians in the disputed region of Kashmir, she waved a photo she claimed showed the bruised face of Kashmiri girl who had been struck by fire from a pellet gun used by the Indian army. There was one problem: The photo was taken in Gaza, not Kashmir. Photojournalist Heidi Levine took the photo in 2014. It shows a Palestinian girl, Rawya Abu Joma’a, then 17, who had been injured in an Israeli airstrike.
“Normally a photojournalist would be honored to have their photograph shown before the UN General Assembly to help further show a global audience the horrific impact that war has on civilians,” Levine told PDN. “However, this is not the case and I feel not only shocked but ashamed to see such a mistake, as it compromises the dignity of Rawya.”
Pakistan UN envoy Maleeha Lodhi held up Levine’s photo at the UN general assembly on September 23, while arguing that India is conducting a “campaign of brutality inside Kashmir.” She was responding to claims by India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj that Pakistan is “exporting terror.” Lodhi said the the photo shows “the face of Indian democracy in Kashmir.”
After reporters recognized the photo, Levine received a flood of emails and press requests. Levine says, “I was asked what I would like from Ms. Maleeha Lodhi in response to her mistake and as I mentioned earlier, my work was never meant ever to be about me, and I believe she owes an apology to Rawya.” She noted, “Rawya is not the face of India.”
Levine took the photo in 2014 at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where abu Joma’a was recovering after an Israeli airstrike. The image was published in The New York Times, The Guardian and other publications around the world. Levine’s caption states that Rawya Abu Joma’a was wounded when two Israeli airstrikes struck her apartment building, killing her cousins and her sister. Abu Joma’a suffered multiple shrapnel wounds; the bones in one hand were crushed. (You can find the image and caption here.)
Levine says bloggers have sometimes used her work without her permission, but this was different. “I haven’t seen my work misused without captions to this degree ever before and I have never heard of a photograph being misused like this at the UN or by other officials to this level. I hope I will never encounter seeing this again because it only undermines my efforts as a journalist and my commitment to uphold the highest standard of journalism I have spent my career committed to.”
The Hasselblad A6D-100c is a Monster 100MP Aerial Camera
Hasselblad just released this 1-minute video introducing its new A6D-100c, a 100-megapixel industrial camera designed specifically for aerial photography.
The A6D-100c, which was first announced back in May to succeed the A5D, shares most of its primary specs with the photographer-oriented H6D-100c medium format DSLR, which costs $33,000. Specs include 211MB 3FR raw files, 289MB 8-bot TIFF files, 16-bit color definition, 15-stop dynamic range, a max ISO of 12800, CFast/SD card storage, computer tethering, and 60 captures per minute.
Here’s where the A6D differs from the H6D: while the aerial camera gives up 4K video and is limited to 1080p HD, it features a leaf shutter that can reach shutter speeds of 1/4000s — perfect for capturing sharp images from a potentially shaky vantage point in the sky.
The A6D-100c can take any Hasselblad H system lens that has been modified for use on the camera. They’re locked securely to reduce vibrations and the focus is precisely adjusted and fixed at infinity.
People Are More Drawn to Meaning in Photos Than Parts That Pop Out: Study
People’s eyes are more attracted to areas of photos that have more “meaning” than areas that “stick out.” That’s according to a newly published study by a team of researchers at UC Davis’ Center for Mind and Brain.
As photographers, we’re normally told to compose our photos by leading the eye through a scene, and not to include too many distracting objects or bright spots that may tear the eye away from the important parts of the picture.
But a new study, published in Nature: Human Behaviour, has found that viewers are more likely to look first at areas of “meaning,” despite the presence of distracting bright spots and other more prominent parts of a scene.
The study showed participants a number of scenes, each of which they created 2 heat maps for. One map showed the areas of particular prominence (or saliency), and another showed areas with more “meaning.”
These “meaning” maps were created by having a number of people (not the study participants) vote on areas of each scene that had more meaning to them.
The researchers then showed the images to the participants and created a heat map of where they were looking in the photo. These heat maps matched more closely with the “meaning” maps than the saliency maps.
“A lot of people will have to rethink things,” said the lead author, Professor John Henderson. “The saliency hypothesis really is the dominant view.”
The salience hypothesis suggests that people immediately look to areas of contrast or color that stand out from the background, but the study looks to shake up the understanding of human attention of a scene.
So next time you’re composing your photo, perhaps think more about the areas of “meaning,” rather than worrying too much about things that seem to “pop out” at you.
I confess: I’m a photo gear junkie. I’ve bought dozens of cameras and lenses, way too many tripods, camera bags and backpacks, and many thousands of dollars’ worth of filters, flash units, and other accessories. I’ve tempered my obsession over the last few years, mostly because there’s only so much room to store these things, but from the flood of new products hitting the market recently I’d say I slowed down just in time.
Most of the gear I’ve bought has come from what are still the dominant camera brands―Canon and Nikon. Of course, there have always been many more choices: Leica, Pentax, Olympus, Hasselblad, just to name a few. Now, however, thanks to crowdfunding we’ve entered a different photo gear universe. And, as Monty Python so cheerfully sang, this one is amazing and expanding.
To learn more about this new universe, I looked at the data behind the top 100 most successful photo gear campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I also spent some time talking with the people behind some of these campaigns to get their perspectives. Here’s what I found out:
Crowdfunding for photography gear has grown from non-existent as little as ten years ago to what has quickly become an important force in the development of new products. As someone who has bought an unreasonable number (50? 100? I’ve lost track) of camera bags and backpacks over the years, it’s hard for me to believe that the marketplace for new bags is not already well saturated. And yet, the two largest Kickstarter campaigns for photo gear were both for camera bags (admittedly, really cool camera bags) that brought in a combined total of $11 million.
The company that produced those bags, Peak Design, is now the undisputed champion of crowdfunded photo gear. Overall they’ve raised more than $14 million for their products, and they proudly call themselves “the world’s most crowdfunded active company”.
Founder and CEO Pete Dering started the company in 2011 with the strategy of using crowdfunding for all of their major products. He says that “crowdfunding lets us do what we love”, and he claims that much of their success has been due in part to what he calls “radical transparency”. By that he means they communicate with their audiences every step of the way, including showing their problems as well as their successes.
Dering and his team are such big fans of crowdfunding that they include a Kickstarter 101 section on the company’s website. There they share what they’ve learned about crowdfunding, starting with these five key points:
Solve a real problem. They emphasize that it’s not enough to simply find a solution to a problem—you have to know that there’s a big enough market for your solution to justify the time and expense it will take to develop it.
Tell a great story. It has to be about real people who see a real need for your real solution.
Pay attention to your customers. Peak Design holds on-air Google Hangouts with their backers so their customers get answers to their questions and the designers get ideas for product improvements.
Tell everybody about it. This is Marketing 101, and it can’t be ignored. Start before the campaign is launched, and continue as long as the product is still offered for sale.
Be ready and able to deliver. They say “going from zero to funded is much less difficult than going from funded to fulfilled.” A key part of their success was knowing every facet of the production and distribution processes before they ever launched a campaign.
Staying true to their radical transparency promise, they’re quick to follow up on these points with this confession:
We have mastered none of the above things. As a matter of fact, we maintain that they’re un-masterable. We’ve learned a lot in the past 5 years, enough to formulate some broad advice to the crowdfunding community. But we are always learning, the tables are always turning, and nothing ever goes exactly to plan.
For the most part, though, innovative companies like Peak Design have been able to deliver time and time again. As of this date, ten photo gear campaigns have raised more than a million dollars each, and another fourteen have raised more than $500,000. Perhaps more importantly, the top twenty campaigns all exceeded their initial fundraising goal by an average of 2250%. And all of them met their initial goal with 24 hours of launching!
Immediate feedback: Developers get product feedback that continues throughout the funding campaign. People who contribute to the campaign offer encouragement and suggestions that help the developer improve the product and to reach an even larger customer base.
Market confirmation: Crowdfunded designers know upfront what the initial size of the production run should be. This saves a lot of time and money that might otherwise have to be spent on research and logistics.
Viral marketing: Contributors to the campaign become willing but unpaid advertising assistants. Many of the people who invest in these campaigns are influential early adopters whose mention of a product can reach tens of thousands of people through blog posts, list serves, and in-person presentations.
On the lower end of the funding scale, nearly 40% of the top 100 photo gear campaigns raised less than $100,000. Many of these were for simpler products like camera straps and lens caps, but even so on average they exceeded their funding goals by 240%.
One of the more unusual products in the lower-end category is the SolarCan, a soda can-shaped pinhole camera that’s designed to create “extreme time exposures” of the sun as it crosses in the sky. The images it produces directly on paper are as unique as the design of the SolarCan itself, but the SolarCan stands out as a great example of the range of new products now being developed through crowdfunding.
Is there a downside to this new wave of photo gear campaigns? Like all entrepreneurial efforts, some don’t succeed. In 2015 a company called Triggertrap raised nearly $500,000 on Kickstarter for their high-speed shutter trigger. Unfortunately, they ran into serious problems between the time they developed their prototype and when they were supposed to start mass production.
Their product budget and their timeline were vastly off the mark, and they wound up spending five times more for research and development than they’d estimated only to find it would cost them three times more than they’d budgeted to manufacture each unit. Ultimately, they abandoned their product after having spent 80% of the funds that people had contributed. Needless to say, no one was pleased with this outcome.
Other failures have led to similar results, but so far the success stories far outnumber the missteps. Photographers will always love their gear, and clearly there’s a need for innovation and smart design in a wide range of products.
If you’d like to see a list the most successful crowdfunded gear campaigns so far, go to my Photo Funds Database. Then add a filter to display records where “For contains ‘gear’”. I update the database at least twice a month, so you’ll always find the latest crowdfunded photo gear campaigns listed there.
About the author: Tim Greyhavens is a Seattle-based photographer, writer, and researcher who helps to highlight photography that’s advanced by philanthropy. You can find more of his work and writing on his website and Twitter. This article was also published here.
Like any social network, Instagram has its share of abusive comments, trollish behavior and cyber bullying. To curb this online abuse, Instagram is rolling out several new features to control commenting and encourage positivity.
For public Instagram accounts, users will now be able to choose who can comment on a post (everyone, people you follow, your followers, etc.). For both public and private accounts, you’ll be able to block other accounts from commenting.
Instagram is also expanding its offensive comments filter, making it available in Arabic, French, German and Portuguese–not just English.
Instagram will also now let users send anonymous reports during a live broadcast if they’re concerned about the broadcaster’s mental health. Said broadcaster will see a message offering help with options to talk to a helpline, reach out to a friend or get other tips and support. The social network says it will have teams “working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, around the world to respond.”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Announce a Reissue of Their Iconic Debut
Few music movements in New York have been able to shake the industry since the garage rock scene of the early 2000s in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan. As members of the indie rock canon like the Strokes and Interpol were coming up in the era, the scene remains nearly untouchable.
One of the iconic artists that encapsulated the gritty post-punk sound and the too cool for school attitude of the era, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, have luckily graced rock fans reminiscent for period with a reis…
Snapchat’s New AR Filters Will Change the Sky Above Your Head
Snapchat has been rolling out a continuous stream of new filters, but the latest ones are rather unusual. Following the trend of Snapchat working with augmented reality, the new additions will totally transform a boring blue sky into something far more dramatic.
TechCrunch reports that the new “Sky Filters” will auto-magically detect the sky in your shot and then completely change the scene. The new filters will allow you to add different weather systems, sunsets, rainbows, storms, starry skies, and more.
Interestingly, it seems Snapchat will also adjust what’s in the rest of the picture to try and make it match the new sky as realistically as possible.
To access these new sky replacements, you just need to swipe through your filters as you would normally.
Sky Filters will be available starting today in an update for both iOS and Android users.
Getty Images has banned photos that contain subjects whose body shapes have been retouched to make them look thinner or larger. The move comes in response to a new law in France that requires that Photoshopped weight be clearly labeled.
France’s new law, which was passed in December 2015, takes effect for commercial digital photos starting on October 1st, 2017. From that date forward, photos with digitally manipulated models will need to be marked as “photographie retouchée,” which translates to “retouched photograph.”
Advertisers who break this new law face fines of up to €37,500 (~$44,000).
In response to this new regulation, Getty Images decided to update the photo submission policies for its service and for iStock, banning the Photoshopping of weight completely. It was announced to contributors through an email that was obtained by DPReview:
Here’s the text of the email:
Important Information on Retouched Images
Effective October 1, 2017 a new French law obliges clients who use commercial images in France to disclose whether the body shape of a model has been retouched to make them look thinner or larger.
As a result, also effective October 1st, we have amended our Creative Stills Submission Requirements to require that you do not submit to us any creative content depicting models whose body shapes have been retouched to make them look thinner or larger.
Please note that other changes made to models like a change of hair color, nose shape, retouching of skin or blemishes, etc., are outside the scope of this new law, and are therefore still acceptable.
Effective 1st October 2017, any content submitted where this type of retouching has been carried out will be a breach of our Submission Requirements and your Agreement with us.
Getty images | iStock
From the email, we see that this new policy doesn’t affect most of the work done by professional retouchers — it’s specifically targeting editing that has been done to alter the model’s figure and weight.
It appears that the policy change is a blanket ban affecting worldwide contributors and not just those in France. It’s also unclear what Getty Images plans to do with policy-violating photos that are already part of its massive 80+ million photo collection. We’ve reached out to Getty Images for comment and will update this post if/when we hear back.