Nikon 180-400mm Review: A First Test and Sharpness Comparison

Nikon 180-400mm Review: A First Test and Sharpness Comparison

So, here’s the story: Nikon announced its new 180-400mm f/4 lens, and I’ve been more than a little curious about it. However, I’m not 100% sold on it just yet, so I decided to rent one and give it a whirl for a few days and share what I’ve discovered with you.

In the video below, I’ll tell you what I think about the lens overall, performance, and sharpness. There are a number of sharpness comparisons including with the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR, 300mm f/4E PF ED VR, and 600mm f/4E FL ED VR.

After watching the video, check out the images below if you want to give the sharpness test photos a closer inspection. I have included both center and corner crops. Please watch the video first, though, because there’s more to the sharpness tests than just what you see below.

Also, keep in mind that this is not a full field report. If I do decide to get the lens later this year, I’ll do the full review after I get to use it for more than just a few days.

I was only able to use the lens in the field for a few hours, but I did want to include a couple of images from it. Based on my preliminary usage, I think this can be one heck of a nice lens for wildlife photographers.

Below are the images from the video for closer inspection. Click each one to view them in their full size.

200mm Tests

300mm Tests

400mm Tests

500mm+ Tests

About the author: Steve Perry is a nature photographer and the owner of Backcountry Gallery. You can find more of his work, words, photos, and videos on his website, Facebook, and YouTube channel. This article was also published here.

Source: PetaPixel

Nikon 180-400mm Review: A First Test and Sharpness Comparison

The Rising ‘Pay To Be Featured’ Economy On Instagram

The Rising ‘Pay To Be Featured’ Economy On Instagram

Instagram is a great platform for making connections and getting work out there to the masses. Reach hasn’t been affected like it has on Facebook just yet. However, on the topic of getting your work out there, “feature accounts” have really begun to take hold.

Many of them start accumulating a large audience with over 100,000+ followers. The distribution is instant and larger than many magazines, so it’s no wonder they’re appealing to photographers to be featured on.

On the flip-side, there’s a problem having images being re-posted without permission. That in itself is hard enough to keep up with. Another trend I am seeing more regularly is how feature accounts now approach creatives and ask for payment for a feature.

As you can see from this conversation shared by David J. Crewe, they sent a message to him asking if they can share his work. The problem isn’t permission or compensation for David, it’s that they want to get paid to do it. The approach seems completely backward, but based on them saying they are the “cheapest on Instagram,” it begs a few questions:

1. How many accounts now do this?
2. How many people are paying to be featured?
3. Is there anything wrong with this, and how does this differ from paid advertising?
4. It’s morally strange, but is it against Instagram’s Terms of Service?

Personally, I don’t think this is a great way of approaching people in trying to earn some cash, but are enough people paying into this system that it’s become so common and profitable for both sides?

I can see the allure, pay a few bucks and get in front of a wide audience, hoping to attain real traffic (if they’re even real). It sounds just like paying for ads, but the approach is uncommon. It can rub people the wrong way, and it can be insulting based on how you read into it.

I wonder if this will ever go away, or will it become the new norm?

Have you ever been contacted on Instagram about buying exposure?

Have you ever paid to be featured on a popular Instagram account?

(via Retouchist)

Thank you, David, for sharing this with us. You can follow him on his website or on Instagram.

About the author: Pratik Naik is a photo retoucher specializing in commercial and editorial work. To see his work, head over to his website or give him a follow on Instagram and Facebook. This article was also published here.

Image credits: Header illustration based on photo by Pictures of Money and licensed under CC BY 2.0

Source: PetaPixel

The Rising ‘Pay To Be Featured’ Economy On Instagram

Martin Stavars, The One Man in a Web of Online Photo Contests

Martin Stavars, The One Man in a Web of Online Photo Contests

Online photo contests are a popular way for photographers to test their skills and vie for global recognition and bragging rights. But some contests are more reputable than others. A number of popular photo contests are now at the center of a growing controversy, and all indications seem to point to the fact that there may be one mysterious man behind all of them.

The first murmurings of trouble began earlier this month, when a number of photo contest judges publicly sounded an alarm. It turns out the judges recruited for the International Photographer of the Year (IPOTY) contest weren’t asked to judge a single photo before the winners were announced.

It was also observed that the Monochrome Photography Awards had a website structure and contest format that was eerily similar to IPOTY. An anonymous Monochrome representative denied to PetaPixel that the two contests are related (admitting that there was a “partnership” that ended in 2016), but PDN soon discovered that this year’s Monochrome judges weren’t involved in picking the contest’s winners either.

So, we began digging into this mystery in an attempt to unravel the truth behind these photo contests, and one name has continually appeared in every corner we’ve looked: Martin Stavars.

Mentions of Stavars have been disappearing from the Internet in recent days, but cached versions of web pages still contain details that paint a picture of who Stavars is.

“Martin Stavars was born in 1981 in Czestochowa, Poland,” states a deleted page at ND Magazine. “He studied economics, computer science, and photography, which he ultimately focused on.”

So Stavars is a ~37-year-old Polish man who has a formal education in money, programming, and photography. He currently resides in London.

It’s also clear from mentions of Stavars online that he’s the founder and managing editor of ND Magazine which operates the Neutral Density Photography Awards (ND Awards) photo contest. Here’s a bio that Stavars has used in multiple places:

The tagline on the ND Awards homepage states: “Be internationally recognized in the world of photography with ND Awards.” Like IPOTY and the Monochrome Awards, the ND Awards is pay-to-play: photographers pay fees of $15 to $30 to enter a single photo in the contest (and $10 for additional photos).

A reverse IP lookup reveals that Stavars’ personal website, ND Magazine, and the ND Awards are all hosted on the same server. It also shows the server hosts the domain name, which doesn’t point to any website. But a cache search of that domain reveals a server directory listing captured in 2014:

This finding suggests that Stavars originally hosted the Monochrome awards on his own server before moving it to its own at some point since 2014.

Now here’s where things get interesting: as recently as November 2017, the ND Magazine website listed a group of online photo contests in its footer: MonoVisions Photography Awards, ND Awards, Fine Art Photography Awards, Monochrome Awards, and International Photographer of the Year.

The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine reveals that these links were completely removed from the website earlier this month, on March 15th, two days after we published our story about the International Photographer of the Year contest on the 13th.

A reverse IP lookup also reveals that International Photographer of the Year and MonoVisions Photography Awards are currently hosted on the same server.

Interestingly enough, Stavars has been listed as a jury member for at least two of these photo contests without any mention him being affiliated in any way. He was judged the Monochrome contest between 2014 and 2017 and is even currently listed at this year’s MonoVisions contest.

There’s also one glaring feature shared by all 5 of these contests linked to Stavars: none of them state who the operator of the contest is, and all of them feature a simple web form and email address as the only means of contacting the contest.

Jury members were invited to judge the IPOTY contest via an email from a man named “Sebastian Markis.” An online search for him mostly reveals a number of empty and abandoned social media profiles created under that name. One page has him linked to the Monochrome awards, but in 2015, photographer Bill Allen says he was interviewed by Sebastian Markis, who claimed to be the editor of Monovisions magazine.

Based on the evidence we’ve found, it seems likely that “Sebastian Markis” doesn’t actually exist and is simply a pseudonym used by Martin Stavars.

So why would someone anonymously start, promote, and operate online photography contests? Well, it can apparently be an extremely lucrative business.

Based on our previous calculations, taking into account number of entries and entry fees, the latest IPOTY and Monochrome contests may have received upwards of $131,400 and $223,550, respectively, from entry fees alone — thousands of photographers around the world paying “small” entry fees through PayPal adds up.

It’s difficult to determine how many entries the 5 photo contests linked to Stavars have received over the past several years, but it seems likely that these contests have collected well over $1 million in fees while paying out relatively little in cash prizes.

The ND Awards, the highest-paying of the 5 contests, has a total cash prize for winners of around $7,500.

Of course, operating a photo contest for the purpose of profit isn’t out of the ordinary these days, but there are a few aspects of this strange network of photo contests that likely won’t sit well with photographers.

First, at least two of the contests (IPOTY and Monochrome) are no longer being judged by actual jury members, which is how this whole thing turned into a scandal. If the contests had continued asking its judges to judge, perhaps the world of photography wouldn’t have looked at these contests more closely.

Second, it seems that Stavars may be judging his own photo contests, which would be a major conflict of interest.

Finally, prestigious photo contests are always operated with transparency in their operations, clearly disclosing the company or organization behind them. These five contests have been operated under a shroud of secrecy.

In summary, the five known photo contests that appear to be operated by Stavars are: International Photographer of the Year, Monochrome Awards, Fine Art Photography Awards, ND Awards, and Monovisions Photography Awards.

We’ve spent many days attempting to reach out to the contests’ “organizers” and to Martin Stavars, but all of our efforts have been met with complete silence.

Source: PetaPixel

Martin Stavars, The One Man in a Web of Online Photo Contests

Fund Your Work: Women Photograph Calls for Grant Applications

Fund Your Work: Women Photograph Calls for Grant Applications

Women Photograph has announced its 2018 project grants for women and non-binary photographers. Applications for six grants worth a total of $35,000 will be accepted from April 1 to May 15, according to the Women Photograph website. There is no fee to apply.

The grants include five Women Photograph + Nikon grants worth $5,000 each to support projects by visual journalists who are “working in a documentary capacity.” Those grants are available for new or ongoing projects.

The other grant is a $10,000 Women Photograph + Getty Images Grant, available to professional photojournalists for the support of an ongoing project. Applicants have to demonstrate their long-term commitment to a project and show they’ve completed a substantial amount of work on it.

The 2017 Women Photograph Grant winners included Alex Potter, Luján Agusti, Gabriella Demczuk and Néha Hirve.

Women Photograph was launched in 2017 to promote more diversity in the photojournalism community by elevating the voices of female and gender non-conforming photographers. See the Women Photograph website for more information about the grants and advice about how to apply for them.


Fund Your Work: Upcoming Grants, Artist-in-Residency Application Deadlines

Hirve, Augusti, Demczuk Win $2,500 Each in Inaugural Women Photograph + ONA Grants

Thursday Tip: Write Grant Applications As if Talking to Your Grandmother

How to Win Grants That Support Your Photo Projects (subscription required)

The post Fund Your Work: Women Photograph Calls for Grant Applications appeared first on PDNPulse.

Source: PDN Pulse

Fund Your Work: Women Photograph Calls for Grant Applications

Workshop Preview: Learning the Business of Adventure Photography from Alex Strohl

Workshop Preview: Learning the Business of Adventure Photography from Alex Strohl

Alex Strohl has built his photography career making adventure and travel photographs in some of the most beautiful places in the natural world. His personal work, which he shares primarily via Instagram to an audience of nearly two million followers, has led to work for Apple, Land Rover, Travel Alberta and HP among several others. Strohl is also one of the cofounders of Stay & Wander, a creative agency that works with photographers and influencers to create social media-focused campaigns for clients such as Google and BMW.

Strohl recently launched “The Adventure Photography Workshop,” an online education program in which he explains all aspects of his work as a freelance photographer, including his process, workflow and editing, and getting the attention of, and working with, brands.

We recently interviewed Strohl via email to get his take on the important aspects of the travel and adventure photography business, and to find out what students can expect to learn in his workshop.

PDN: What prompted you to create an online workshop?
Alex Strohl: I believe there’s a misrepresentation of what being a freelance photographer means and I want to shed some light on what it actually is. I’ve had a fair share of interns and apprentices, and helping them grow is one of the most fulfilling things that I have ever done. But it wasn’t really scalable. They would stay anywhere from two weeks to three months with me, but I felt like I wasn’t producing enough change. So I came up with the idea of doing a workshop that photographers can take online at their own pace. It’s the best solution I’ve found to help the photography community grow on a more significant scale.

PDN: What did you feel was missing from the education options that are out there for photographers who want to shoot travel and adventure photography?
AS: Nowadays, there is tons of great educational content out there and it can be overwhelming. I just did [some reflection] about how I like to learn and realized that the best things I’ve learned were from people I either knew in person, or knew of and respected because of their work. Biographies are my favorite type of reading because I’m learning about someone I’m excited about, who I can relate to. Googling a tutorial about how to do something and learning from someone I don’t know doesn’t rock my boat, so I figured there would be some people who were just the same. What is missing from a lot of the content online is someone’s story attached to it. We learn better when we can identify with our teachers.

PDN: When we see travel and adventure photographers posting on Instagram, we may falsely assume their lives are all travel and adventure, but you’re also emphasizing the business in your workshop. Why do you think the business side of things can be overwhelming, and what do you hope to teach students?
AS: Most artists I meet don’t enjoy dealing with clients, selling themselves and negotiating. I meet a lot of creatives during my trips. Interacting with the local artistic community is one of my favorite things to do when I go somewhere new. It didn’t take long before I realized that most get super excited about creating, and that’s normal, as [being] an artist it’s the most fun you can have. But if you want to make a living, you’re going to have to sell yourself. And that’s uncomfortable for most of us if you haven’t been exposed to it. My dad is a pretty unique sales guy and I grew up going with him to see his clients. Even though he is a forest engineer he shifted to sales early in his career and ended up mixing both—he sold equipment to protect plants and trees against the challenges they face in the early phases of their life. His clients were mostly farmers, so I just got to hang out on farms and plantations with him and could see him interacting with them all day long; it was fascinating. Then back at the car we would debrief how the day went. I got exposed to the idea of selling at a very young age.

My goal is to empower individual artists to have strong careers doing something they love. One of the things I emphasize a lot in the workshop is the idea that it’s all about the client. There has to be something in it for them and it’s easy to forget when we’re focusing on “paying the bills.” You always have to look at the project from their perspective, not only yours.

The big thing was giving advice that anyone can apply. It’s easier when you’re a recognized photographer. If the client wants you bad, you can tell them anything, it doesn’t matter, they’ll still go with you. But what if you are one of the hundreds who are trying to work with that client, and they don’t know you? This is where we get tactical and I get into creative ways to get in touch with people and foster relationships with clients. Another big one for me is picking my battles. I’d rather have a handful of awesome clients that I’m in touch with every week instead of dozens of one-off [jobs from clients] who I don’t ever talk to after. It’s about nurturing fulfilling relationships. The “client” is just another person like you with their own goals, hobbies, dreams and families. Get to know that!

Get travel photography tips from Alex Strohl in his online tutorial.

© Alex Strohl

PDN: Some people may think they have to travel to faraway places to start building a portfolio, but that’s not necessarily the case. Will people who take your workshop be able to go out into their own local area to start creating images that may contribute to their portfolio of travel and adventure work?
AS: I believe that finding and getting to faraway places is always a bonus, it adds an international flair to your portfolio, but I agree that’s not always needed, it’s a “nice to have.” There is a great deal of challenge and rewards that await when you decide to look at a map on a macro scale. It’s not a world map or a state map, it’s a county map. If you look at the features of the landscape where you live now in a different way, you will inevitably find new places to go shoot. For me it’s about systemizing how to approach a location and I get into my process of discovering new places in the workshop. You don’t need to travel anywhere remote to get started, your backyard or neighboring state has what you need.

PDN: Travel and adventure photography is generally thought of as a documentary pursuit, however you’re also talking about working with models. Why is working with models an important part of the course, and an important part of the adventure photography business today?
AS: The idea behind the “Working with Models” section was to give a roadmap to photographers on how to interact with their talent. I typically don’t work with professional models. I’d rather work with athletes and friends because the work ends up feeling more natural. But there is always the time where you have to meet new talent and the objective here is getting them to feel welcomed and comfortable as soon as possible. It can be intimidating for them to show up on a shoot, meet the crew and jump in front of a camera. So that section is about taking care of that: how to build trust quickly with your talent. That’s important because even if you love documenting moments there is always a slight bit of curating and staging.

You’ll have to talk to strangers and perhaps ask them to tilt to this side or the other to make the photo stronger so if you have this guide book in the back of your head your encounters will be more fulfilling and the work you produce will be better. And the more experience you have in that, the more prepared you will be to tackle what most recognized adventure photographers have to: the catalogue shoot. Outdoor brands are always looking for new artist to shoot their look books, and if you are doing refreshing work you’ll get hired for one. They can be a little hectic with talent waiting around for [your direction], and the more practice you’ve gotten talking to strangers the more comfortable you will be in that situation. And if the guy taking the pictures is comfortable and at ease, it makes the set a nicer place to work for everybody.

PDN: You’re also offering editing and workflow tips. Why did you feel it was important to talk about the post-production side of your work? How does getting your editing and workflow dialed help you in your career?
AS: Editing is this interesting part of photography that people either overlook or overthink. I made this two-hour-long section [of the workshop] on editing to try and get to the root of it. Editing has to be done in a way that both represents your vision of photography but also has to be sensible enough that your work remains timeless. It’s like the scene in Spiderman, where Peter Parker is reminded that having great power comes with great responsibility. We have Lightroom and Photoshop with massive capabilities and we need to self-moderate and not go crazy. And the most effective way I’ve found to build taste is by looking at a lot of work in diverse fields of life, not only photography. I get into how you can cultivate taste on an ongoing basis in that same editing section. When you develop it enough, your work will start to get instantly recognized by people, it will have this unity and signature and editing certainly plays a role in that nowadays.





The post Workshop Preview: Learning the Business of Adventure Photography from Alex Strohl appeared first on PDNPulse.

Source: PDN Pulse
Workshop Preview: Learning the Business of Adventure Photography from Alex Strohl

What Should You Charge for Your Pro Photography?

What Should You Charge for Your Pro Photography?

Figuring out how much to charge clients is a struggle shared by many photographers, particularly if you’re trying live off the fruits of your craft. In this 30-minute episode of their Picture This Podcast, photographers Tony and Chelsea Northrup spend half an hour discussing this topic and sharing advice.

“It’s REALLY hard to decide what to charge for your professional photography business,” the Northrups write. “We dig deep into different portrait photography pricing models, discuss the benefits of both low and high price points, and show you how to calculate what you need to make a real living wage from your art.”

There are all kinds of fears and anxieties that rise up when pondering the problem of pricing, the Northrups say. You could worry about overpricing your potential clients away, or underpricing and missing out on potential profits.

There are many different things you can consider when trying to settle on a fair price. Here’s a quick rundown of the subjects and tips covered in the episode (watch the video above to hear the duo elaborate on each one in more detail):

  • Confidence: Be confident and know your prices.
  • Location: Research and understand your location and customer demographics.
  • Time: Know how much time things take. It’s east to underestimate.
  • Perceived Value: Underpricing can give your photos a perception of lesser value.
  • Expenses: Know exactly how much your expenses are.
  • Competition: Be aware of how much direct competitors are charging.
  • Experience: Make sure you have the experience to back up your pricing.
  • Final Product: Control your final artwork because your name will be on it.
  • Fees and Markups: Make sure you get fair compensation for extra work and services done.

Tony and Chelsea also discuss various pricing models that photographers use.

If you’d like an idea of how much actual photographers are charging these days in the US, Tony also looked up listed prices of photography businesses in his area of Connecticut.

“Please, please take the time to figure out what you’re worth,” Chelsea says in conclusion. “Look at what other photographers in your area are charging, think about your business model and how you can deliver a final product to your clients, and then charge enough to live.”

If you found this information helpful, you can follow along with the Picture This Podcast by subscribing to the Northrups’ channel on YouTube.

Source: PetaPixel

What Should You Charge for Your Pro Photography?

Mariah Mania at The Blond

Mariah Mania at The Blond
In ultimate icon fashion, our V112 cover star Mariah Carey is in full bloom, on newsstands everywhere just in time for spring. The singer-songwriter has always played by her own rules, and there’s no doubt that Mariah’s unmatched legacy and major influence continues to bridge infectiously into each generation.

To celebrate our effervescent cover of the timeless idol, V hosted seven fresh faces at Soho staple The Blond to revel in the glory of all things Mariah. Click through the slideshow bel…

Keep on reading: Mariah Mania at The Blond
Source: V Magazine

Mariah Mania at The Blond

Here’s an 8K, 360° Video of a Lunar Eclipse with the Northern Lights

Here’s an 8K, 360° Video of a Lunar Eclipse with the Northern Lights

Back on January 31st, photographer William Briscoe set up his cameras near Fairbanks, Alaska, and shot this awe-inspiring 360-degree interactive video of a lunar eclipse in the sky above the dancing green glow of the Northern Lights.

“It was a challenging night due to the temperatures,” Briscoe writes. His primary focus during the eclipse was getting his time-lapse 360° camera rig (custom-built out of multiple DSLRs) operating correctly, as it was a frigid -31°F (~-35°C) that night during the 3-hour shoot.

The extreme dynamic range of this project also required Briscoe to pull out some digital trickery: the video is actually a composite created with images captured by two different camera rigs at the scene.

“The difference between the settings required to properly expose the moon and the Aurora is too great to do it in a single shot,” Briscoe says. “The 360 camera was set to expose the aurora and landscape, while a second camera attached to a telephoto lens was used to time lapse the lunar eclipse itself. I combined them in post.”

If Briscoe hadn’t composited the two drastically different exposures, the moon would have appeared as a white dot in the sky even during the eclipse’s totality.

(via William Briscoe via DPReview)

Source: PetaPixel

Here’s an 8K, 360° Video of a Lunar Eclipse with the Northern Lights