Watch the Video for Ravyn Lenae’s “4 Leaf Clover”
Rising R&B artist Ravyn Lenae is back with a retro-inspired video for “4 Leaf Clover”, off of her new EP CRUSH. The video opens with Lenae and her girl gang in ’50s style sleepwear, complete with pastel rotary dial telephones and luxurious bedding to really bring the fantasy. The video is immediately full of female empowerment, with Lenae holding all the strings when it comes to love. Her star power as the lead of her backup singers evokes nostalgic R&B girl bands of yesteryear, but the…
In Monkey Selfie Case, Appeals Court Says Animals Can’t Sue for Copyright
A federal appeals court has affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of the infamous monkey selfie case, on the grounds that “the Copyright Act does not expressly authorize animals to file copyright infringement claims under the statute.”
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is located in San Francisco, handed down the ruling yesterday in Naruto V. Slater, a case that pitted a macaque monkey named Naruto against a photographer named David Slater. The monkey allegedly grabbed Slater’s camera in 2011 when the photographer left it unattended, and shot a selfie that Slater later distributed.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sued Slater for copyright infringement in 2015 on behalf of the monkey. A federal district court in California dismissed the claim in 2016, on the grounds that animals have no standing under the Copyright Act to make infringement claims. PETA appealed the lower court ruling.
Slater reached a settlement agreement with PETA last summer, a month after they argued the case in front of the appeals court. Slater and PETA then filed a joint motion asking the court to dismiss their appeal. But the appeals court refused to dismiss, indicating that it didn’t want the parties settling a case that had already been argued just to manipulate legal precedent or avoid an adverse decision.
By refusing to dismiss, the court was sent a message aimed mostly at PETA, which was trying to establish a legal precedent for animals. During oral arguments last July, PETA faced tough, skeptical questioning from the appeals court judges.
The appeals court said in its ruling yesterday that while Naruto has legal standing in court under Article III of the US Constitution, he has no standing to claim copyright infringement in particular because the Copyright Act authorizes people to sue, but not animals. One of the appeals court judges called PETA’s lawsuit “frivolous.”
In addition to rejecting PETA’s claim on behalf of Naruto, the appeals court ruled that PETA must pay Slater’s attorney’s fees and costs for the appeal. The case was remanded to the lower court to determine those fees and costs.
7 Jedi Mind Tricks Every Portrait Photographer Should Know
Jedi mind tricks are not just for Jedi. They’re for photographers too. Us portrait photographers face a difficult mission. We must form instant connections with our subjects. Have you ever photographed someone with whom you just can’t click? I have, and it sucks.
To avoid awkward suckiness sucking, I recommend using Jedi mind tricks.
So What Is a Jedi Mind Trick?
According to StarWars.com: “An experienced Jedi can use the Force to implant a suggestion in the minds of those they encounter, encouraging them to comply with the Jedi’s wishes.”
In Star War lore, Jedi Mind Tricks only work on the weak-minded, like these Stormtroopers.
But, students of persuasion know that all people – no matter how smart – are susceptible to suggestion. That includes you and me.
Side note: If you want to up your persuasion game and build your interpersonal skills, you owe it to yourself to read Influence by Robert Cialdini.
And you can wield powers of persuasion to get the pictures you want. But, before proceeding, I can’t let you turn to the Dark Side of the Force.
Forget Master Yoda’s words we will not: “If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.”
If you do not agree, you will say out loud “this is not the article I am looking for,” and you will click here to leave. And once you leave, you will never return.
Great! I’m glad you stayed. So let’s talk about…
#1. The Infamous Cookie Trick
A photo shoot is like a date – a platonic one, obviously. If you want to get along, you’ve got to talk about the right stuff. And what’s the right stuff? It’s whatever makes people feel good. Like travel, music, books, movies… and food.
Years ago, I heard fashion photographer Stephen Eastwood mention an interesting trick for relaxing his subjects, which I’ve deemed “The Cookie Trick.” I love this trick so much that I wanted to claim ownership of it. But like you, I stay away from the Dark Side of the Force, and so I must give credit where credit is due.
So what’s the trick? Turn to your subject and say “close your eyes. Imagine you just walked into your kitchen, and you smell chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven.”
You love that smell. It brings you right back home. Watch this next video.
Don’t you feel good? You can even personalize the Cookie Trick by asking someone what their favorite food is.
For example, one subject of mine loved fried pork dumplings. So I told her a story:
“Imagine that you just worked a 12-hour shift, you’re hung over, and your back hurts. You walk into your kitchen to find an empty fridge. A minute later, you hear a knock on the door – it’s a delivery guy with 3 orders of fried pork dumplings and a 6 pack of beer.”
It was all smooth sailing after that.
#2. Say “We” So You Become a Team
Darth Vader had his flaws. But at least he was a team player. Vader didn’t want to the rule the galaxy alone. He wanted to share the power with his ungrateful son Luke Skywalker.
Be like Darth… without all the killing. Portrait photography is a team sport. So put your subject on your team by using words like “we” and “let’s.”
“We are going to kick ass on this shoot.”
“Let’s start with a simple headshot, and then we’ll move onto…”
When you make someone your teammate, they up their game. Why? Because no one wants to be the weak link.
Okay? Are you ready for some controversy?
#3. Never Comment on Someone’s Looks
I believe that portrait photographers should NEVER compliment a person’s looks. I compliment a person’s style, sense of humor, or talent. But their looks? No way.
Maybe you’re saying “what? are you afraid you’ll come off like a creep? Well, that’s part of it.
The bigger issue is this: even the best looking people can be self-conscious about their looks. The thing you love about them – like their hair, skin tone, or body shape – may be the thing they hate most about themselves.
Plus. There are beautiful men and women that get compliments everywhere they go. The last thing they need is another compliment.
I don’t want people thinking about their appearance. I just want them to have fun and feel good.
#4. The Water Bottle Trick
Want to kick off a shoot on a high note? Hand your subject a bottle of water and say “I have some snacks if you get hungry.” This is the best $2 you’ll ever spend.
You can say you’re prepared. And you can say you take care of your subjects. But showing is more powerful than telling. Your subject will think, “Wow, this photographer is really looking out for me.”
And second, there’s a psychological concept called the reciprocity principle. It means that people are nicer and more cooperative after you give them something. So don’t ask your subject if they want anything. Just give them something.
You can’t lose with a bottle of water and a bag of gummy bears.
#5. Put on Standup Comedy
We never say “smile!” at our subjects. We make our subjects laugh because laughs lead to natural, relaxed smiles.
Now, I love to play music on a shoot. But if you really want a shortcut to great expressions, put on standup comedy, a funny movie, or anything else that will get a laugh. It works so well it feels like cheating.
I’m awkward as hell when I’m being photographed. But I loosen up and laugh like crazy if I’m listening to Rick Flair cut a promo:
#6. The “Toilet Bowl Cleaner Commercial” Trick
Again, we don’t want forced smiles. We want laughs. And you can get a person to laugh by giving them a funny role to play.
For example, I like saying “pretend you’re in a toilet bowl cleaner commercial, and you are SHOCKED at how clean your toilet bowl is.”
It could also be a Shamwow infomercial or one of those bizarre “I have eczema but I’m still kickboxing commercials” — whatever.
By playing a role, your subject automatically becomes less self-conscious and more animated.
#7. The Don’t Smile Method to Getting Great Smiles
This is a high-risk move, but hey! Sometimes you gotta take a chance.
Let’s say you’re shooting headshots for your new client Julie. If Julie looks very uptight and nervous, say this:
“You need to know that this is a very serious picture. You can’t smile or you’ll ruin everything. I need you to promise me right now that you’re not going to smile or laugh. Do you promise?”
No subject ever sees this coming. You can guess what happens next. A smile starts at the corners of Julie’s mouth, and she fights like hell to keep it away.
Right then, you have to say “No, no, no, you can’t smile! Please don’t smile!”
That’s when Julie bursts out laughing. Mash your shutter button down and get as many frames as you can, because laughs make for great expressions. Once the big laughs die down, Julie will glow with a relaxed, natural smile, and you’ll nail the shot.
If you have your own Jedi mind tricks you use for getting perfect portraits, feel free to let us know in the comments below.
About the author: Michael Comeau is the Editor of OnPortraits.com, an all-new online community dedicated to simple, classic portrait photography. Click here for more information. This article was also published here.
Image credits: Header illustration based on still frame from Star Wars by The Walt Disney Company
Photographer Shoots Thermal Photos of the Homeless in the Winter
With homelessness on the rise in countries across Europe, photographer Grey Hutton decided to take to the streets of London and Berlin to shoot portraits of the homeless in winter months using a thermal camera. His project is titled Traces of Warmth.
“I wanted to get closer to these marginalized members of our society and, through their stories and my pictures, offer a new perspective on the realities of living on the streets in the unforgiving environments of Europe’s two largest economies,” says Hutton, who calls both London and Berlin home.
“Using a state-of-the-art infrared camera that records human body temperature, I set out to create intimate and vivid images of those I met in their surroundings, illuminating the extremity of their living conditions in a way that the human eye cannot see.”
“Through their stories, and the striking infrared color palette, I hope to highlight some of the difficulties of sleeping on the streets, and the importance of greater funding for councils to face the growing numbers of rough sleepers, and provide adequate support and housing for those in need,” Hutton says.
“It is my hope that by adding a new perspective to this growing problem, these images will act as a vivid reminder to some of our cities greatest failings, and perhaps encourage us to show a little more warmth to those members of our communities that are all-too-often overlooked,” Hutton says.
All the photos in Traces of Warmth were shot using a Flir T1030sc HD infrared camera that was loaned to Hutton for the purpose of this project, “the first of its kind to be attempted with this camera,” Hutton says.
Hutton shot the street photos between December 2017 through February 2018, and the coldest temperature he experienced while out was -17°C (1.4°F) in Berlin.
Back in 2014, the Rosetta spacecraft captured the world’s imagination by arriving at a comet and snapping the first-ever photos of a comet’s surface. Now here’s something that’s even better: a series of photos turned into a motion picture of what it’s like on the comet at ground level.
“[I]t’s only a pre-work stacking and balancing B/N frames,” @landru79 writes. “Next step color GIF using only filters 22 -orange-, 23 -green-, and 24 -blue-. ~6 RGB possible. Will see… much parallax to manage.”
The dots traveling smoothly toward the bottom of the frame in the background are stars, while the fast-moving streaks of light in the foreground are dust particles.
Your Camera is Better Than What Legendary Photographers Used
If you think that buying a better camera or lens will instantly make you a better photographer, consider this: it’s likely that the camera you already have is better than what legendary photographers used to shoot history’s most famous and beloved photos. That’s the nugget of inspiration and encouragement that photographer Ted Forbes of The Art of Photography discusses in this 10-minute video.
“Every famous photograph was made with a camera less advanced than the one you are using now,” Forbes writes. “This is a quote I read a few months ago that’s stuck with me for quite some time. Ansel Adams didn’t have gear as advanced as what we have now. Neither did Henri Cartier-Bresson or W Eugene Smith or Saul Leiter.
“Photographers tend to put equipment on a pedestal. We blame our shortcomings as photographers on the gear that we have. Sony, Nikon and Canon all market to us in that way – you need the latest and the greatest because your photography depends on it!”
But painters generally don’t sit around and discuss the tools they use, and neither do people these days who appreciate the works of old masters. And the same should be true of photography, Forbes argues.
“Image quality alone does not make a great image,” Forbes, a former museum Head of Digital Media, says. “I’ve never seen anybody in a museum gallery sit there and look at images and go, ‘Hmmm, I wonder if that was a Nikon,’ or ‘I wonder if that was a Leica.’
“Photographer nerds might do that, but most people don’t. They don’t care what it was shot on — they care about the image and what that says in the end.”
NVIDIA’s AI-Powered ‘Content-Aware Fill’ is Mind-Blowing
NVIDIA is taking Photoshop-style “Content-Aware Fill” to the next level. The company has introduced a new state-of-the-art technique that uses AI to realistically reconstruct photos. This 2-minute video introduces the technology and contains examples that may blow your mind.
What’s amazing about NVIDIA’s system and the current “Content-Aware Fill” in Photoshop is that NVIDIA’s tool doesn’t just glean information from surrounding pixels to figure out what to fill holes with — it understands what the subject should look like.
For example, if you were to run Content-Aware Fill on a blank space where a subject’s eye should be, the result will be the space filled in with surrounding features — things like the skin, eyebrow, or nose. NVIDIA uses deep learning and knows that the space should be filled with an eye, so it adds a computer-generated eye.
For example, when giving this portrait photo with huge sections missing…
This is what Photoshop’s Content-Aware Fill gives you:
And here’s what NVIDIA’s technique creates:
While it may not be perfect, it’s significantly more similar to what the original photo looked like than Photoshop’s reconstruction based on surrounding pixels.
The feature can be used to both fill in holes in photos and remove existing things in a photo (just like Content-Aware Fill).
“Our model can robustly handle holes of any shape, size location, or distance from the image borders,” the researchers write. “Previous deep learning approaches have focused on rectangular regions located around the center of the image, and often rely on expensive post-processing. Further, our model gracefully handles holes of increasing size.”
The researchers trained their AI using 55,116 random masks of holes and streaks that were applied to huge collections of photos. By examining both the versions with missing areas and the original photos, the neural network learned how to reconstruct missing pixels from photos.
An additional 25,000 masks were used for the testing phase to validate accuracy.
Here are some additional before-and-after examples of heavily erased photos reconstructed by NVIDIA’s system:
“To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to demonstrate the efficacy of deep learning image inpainting models on irregularly shaped holes,” the researchers write.
No word yet on if or when we’ll see this technology released in a real-world software program.
Nikon Pro Mirrorless Coming Along at a ‘Rapid Pace’, Launch Within a Year
It appears that Sony is right, and that Canon and Nikon are furiously racing to bring professional full-frame mirrorless cameras to their customers. The latest word is that Nikon’s mirrorless camera will be released in the current fiscal year.
The Japanese business news outlet SankeiBiz reports that development of the new camera is advancing at a “rapid pace” and that the current goal is to launch the camera within Nikon’s current fiscal year, which ends March 2019.
Nikon will also probably show off the camera at a “large-scale overseas exhibition,” the article states, which is likely confirmation that Nikon is planning to bring the camera to Photokina 2018 (where Canon may announce the development of its camera as well).
After years of sitting on the sidelines while Sony continually wowed the industry with full-frame mirrorless cameras such as the a9 and a7 III, Canon and Nikon are finally stirring from their slumber and are now set to make their grand entrance in this emerging sector at around the same time.