Baby Ariel Hearts You
Baby Ariel’s new single “I Heart You,” appropriately released around Valentine’s Day, details a relationship on the brink of becoming something more than puppy love. Ariel’s smooth and carefree vocals, permeated by plaintive emotion in the chorus where she sings “You hurt me // And I hurt you // ‘Cause you heart me // And I heart you” come through radiantly against the punchy beat of the track. But the philosophy the song reflects is much heavier than the danceable melody lets on…
Socialite Filmed Freaking Out Over Baby Photo Shoot on Public Property
A prominent Houston socialite is the subject of a viral video this week after she was filmed losing her cool over a baby’s first birthday photo shoot on public property.
ABC13 reports that this past Saturday, Franci Neely, the ex-wife of Houston Astros owner Jim Crane, stopped her car, got out barefoot, and confronted a family that was doing a photo shoot to celebrate their daughter’s first birthday in a Broadacres esplanade popular among photographers.
Kelyn Alyssa shared her side of the story in a Facebook post and included a 3-minute video that was filmed of the confrontation.
“It’s a well known public trail where many people have photos taken,” Alyssa writes. “When we arrived there were several other photographers in the vicinity, working with their clients. Our photographer arrived and we began setting up. We set up on the path for the baby to sit with small props (to match the scale of the baby) and began taking our shots.”
Alyssa says that about 35 minutes into the hour-long shoot, her family suddenly heard shouting directed at them and turned to see Neely roll up in her blue Jaguar convertible.
“You are trampling the grass that WE pay for,” Neely allegedly shouted at the family.
Here’s Alyssa’s account of what transpired next:
Out of this light blue Jaguar convertible emerges this barefoot caucasian woman wearing a housedress, holding nothing but a cell phone and carrying her dog. She marches towards us and upon arriving, takes a look at my 11-month-old daughter and releases her unleashed dog, who at the time could not walk and was sitting peacefully on the pathway. In the midst of her shouting, I immediately and calmly asked her to restrain her dog as it made a beeline for the baby and it was coming dangerously close to my child. I actually crouched next to the baby and put my hand out to try to shoo this strange dog away. The lady begins shouting at us that we are on private property, and that she will not restrain her dog because she can do whatever she wants there.
I told her if her dog damages my child I will be pressing charges and she takes out her phone, starting to record me, asking me if I was threatening her. I repeated what I said. At this point her dog wandered away.
Our photographer calmly approached her to let her know that she was the one directing the shoot. The lady tells her that she brought “these” people into “her” neighborhood. The lady had no answer when asked why she did not approach the other photographers WHOM SHE PASSED ON HER WAY TO APPROACH US. Her lack of response prompted my husband to take out his phone to record what was going on.
At this point the lady stomps towards my baby and starts aggressively trying to remove the props placed around her, startling me. The baby, petrified by her aggression, started to scream and started crawling away from her into my arms.
Alyssa says a police officer later confirmed that the family was doing nothing wrong by doing their photo shoot on public property. She and her husband have filed a police report and say they’re planning to press charges against Neely.
After Alyssa’s Facebook post went viral with over 12,000 reactions and 20,000 shares, and after the story began making headlines in the media, Neely released the following apology to ABC13 on Monday:
The Broadacres Homeowners Association Invests lots of money paying to maintain the trees, grass and walkways in our neighborhood. The high volume of commercial photography damages the property that Broadacres HOA pays to maintain and interferes with dog walkers and others who merely want to walk under the pretty trees. We asked the commercial photographers to please stop.
I am very sorry that I got upset on late Saturday afternoon. Putting it in context, however: I saw three commercial photography shoots in one block at the same time, something that happens frequently. When I explained the situation to the first and third groups, they were respectful. The couple whose photo shoot obstructed the walkway was not. It’s hard to remain composed when confronted by shouted threats of lawsuits and false, inflammatory accusations.
The affluent Broadacres area in this latest dispute has actually been the subject of an ongoing battle between the Broadacres Homeowners Association and the City of Houston. The HOA banned photo shoots in late 2017, but Houston quickly overruled the HOA by stating that the esplanades are in the public right-of-way. The HOA continues to maintain that while the city owns the streets and sidewalks, the Broadacres Trust owns the meticulously maintained grassy areas.
For now, though, photography on the esplanades is legal and perfectly fine as long as the photo shoots don’t block the rest of the public from passing on the roads and sidewalks.
It was surprising because in July 2017, Bowens went into liquidation and nobody’s heard a peep from them since, so understandably we all thought that was the last we’d ever hear of them. But to hear nothing for nearly two years and then see the ‘Bowens is Back’ statement from an online photographic retailer of all people was certainly odd.
But is it true? Is Bowens, one of the oldest running studio lighting manufactures, really back?
Well before I go into the details of their revival, let me quickly update some of you on how we got here, why I’m even talking about it and how some of these companies are connected.
Bowens as a company was founded in 1923 and by the 1950s it was one of the largest of its kind in Europe. The company saw great success for many years and was well known for producing incredibly reliable and durable studio lighting heads that were the workhorse of many a busy studio.
Bowens also developed what is now the most commonly used lighting attachment mount in the world referred to as the ‘S-Fit attachment’. This attachment method spawned countless copies that ultimately resulted in the Bowens head having thousands of viable lighting attachments from all corners of the globe. This unintended proliferation is, in my opinion, one of the reasons for the Bowens success early on as many third-party manufacturers were producing very cost effective modifiers for their studio strobes and ultimately its users.
But unfortunately, I also think this proliferation of the S-Fit was ultimately one of the causes of their downfall. Before long, competitively priced Chinese strobe companies like Godox began manufacturing S-Fit strobes that were good enough for all to use and at a price point to see them sideline the bigger Bowens.
Bowens was certainly struggling and in June 2016, the German investment company AURELIUS bought Bowens. The following year, in July 2017, Bowens went into liquidation and AURELIUS closed it down completely shortly thereafter. We’ve heard nothing from them until now.
So Where Does WEX Photographic Fit Into All of This?
As I mentioned previously, the German investment company AURELIUS bought the Bowens brand back in 2016, but they also acquired Calumet as well as WEX Photographic. (To my international friends, WEX Photographic is (now) our largest online photographic retailer here in the U.K.)
In July 2017, AURELIUS then announced that they were ‘merging’ Calumet into WEX to ‘offer an improved experience and wider range of products to photographers across the U.K.’ And once more, we never heard from them again.
So to recap; AURELIUS bought Calumet, WEX Photographic, and Bowens. AURELIUS then merged Calumet into WEX and closed Bowens. So what we’re left with is not only WEX being the last man standing but also the public face of AURELIUS and it’s photographic assets. The importance of this will be more evident as we find out about the future of the Bowens brand.
Why Do You Care, Jake?
Just to be clear, I currently have no affiliation with Bowens, WEX, or any of these other companies in question and I am writing and sharing this due to my own personal curiosity and interest, nothing more.
In the past, I was a major part of Team Bowens which essentially means I would test their new products, write articles for them and provide training to the public as well as their distributors around the globe. But that affiliation abruptly ended when Bowens went into liquidation in 2017. I know there was a lot of anger at the time from employees both here and in China regarding the abrupt Bowens closure, but I can only say that I received all the money I was owed for the work I provided for them, therefore I can’t comment on that. My point here is that I have no ill will towards them.
As a part of Team Bowens, I did receive the new Bowens XMT strobes to test and use. As it stands today, I still use all Bowens heads for my day to day commercial work as well as my workshops and training. Since Bowens’ closure in 2017, I have been contacted by several lighting companies to use their products and although money is always a factor, I still choose to use my old Bowens heads as I love using them.
I felt it important to make that stipulation and although I have no official affiliation with Bowens I still have contacts not only with them but their old distributors as well. But upon reading in my emails that ‘Bowens was Back’, I did begin to try and reach out to old contacts to learn more. After several bounce-backs and dead ends, I did manage to speak to Matt Devine (head of content) over at WEX Photographic.
I explained to Matt that I was part of the old Bowens pro-team and I mentioned that I still use my Bowens heads to this day and if he had any knowledge he’d like to share with me with regards to the ‘Bowens is Back’ news then I’d gladly love to pass it along to you guys here.
WEX Photographic’s Response to the ‘Bowens is Back’ Statement
Me: Is the Bowens brand back for good?
Wex: Yes, the Bowens brand is back as an own-brand professional offering within the Wex Photo Video portfolio. There is a full line of lights, flash, triggers, and accessories planned for release.
We are able to sell these products at a more affordable price than competitor brands because we are sourcing them directly – the lower price does not signify a drop in quality.
Is the Bowens brand now owned by Wex Photo Video?
Bowens is owned by the same group that owns Wex; so, effectively, yes.
Will there be any new products or are we just selling through old stock?
Yes, there is a rolling program of new products in development, alongside continuous improvements to existing models.
Will the new products be made by the same manufacturer as before?
The products are being made to the previous Bowens specifications by the Godox factory. Note that Godox was previously involved with the manufacture of Bowens products prior to the closure, but the Bowens factory was separate to the Godox production line.
It’s important to note that these are not just rebadged Godox products – Godox is the trusted manufacturer that has been selected to produce the products to the high Bowens specifications required.
What is the involvement of Godox?
Godox is the chosen production partner but the new gear will be produced to the pre-existing Bowens specifications.
Is this XMT500 the same model as per the previous release?
Yes, this product is the same as the previous model on sale before Bowens went into liquidation
Will all Bowens products come with a two-year warranty?
Yes, all Bowens products come with a full two-year Fixation-approved warranty.
So first and foremost, I was never expecting to hear Bowens come back in any capacity and secondly, I was certainly not expecting WEX to be so open and upfront with its intentions of where it wants to take the brand now.
AURELIUS owns WEX so essentially WEX owns Bowens. This means that Bowens is simply an own-brand product of WEX. They are not buying Bowens heads and redistributing them, meaning they aren’t marking up the products price to sell them on and this means they have the largest margin to play with when it comes to selling the products.
For example, they have to buy other photographic lighting heads like Profoto and then mark up the price to resell them. Whereas this is not the case with their new Bowens own brand.
Personally, I see this to mean that we’ll likely continue to get the same excellent Bowens heads at a crazy-good price. Take a look at my quick comparison right here of some of the heads on the market right now.
Here in the U.K., our Godox heads are rebranded under the Pixapro name so the head being compared here is essentially the well known Godox Citi 400. It’s a great head and for a 400w head, it comes with a lot of features for that price. The Bowens XMT is a 500w head priced at only a little more through WEX. Of course, to keep everything in perspective, I’ve also included the Profoto 500w battery head here too. At nearly a £1,000 (~$1,300) more, you’re hoping to get a lot more light for your money.
New Bowens Products
New products?! This was one of the most surprising statements to me and in reality, it could mean anything from new Bowens strobes or new Bowens mugs and mouse-mats. Time will tell us how much they want to invest in this but if nothing else, it does speak very loudly to their commitment about the new Bowens revival sticking around for a while at least. Which is good news for all us current Bowens owners.
Another thing I was surprised about was WEX’s openness about Godox. To those that don’t know, prior to Bowens closing, Godox actually made the Bowens heads for many years. We as Team Bowens weren’t supposed to talk about it at the time but we also knew it was no secret. Here WEX openly says that Godox will be making the new batch of Bowens lights from the Godox factory.
There’s one piece of info to take note of here and although seemingly innocuous, time will tell if it’s important.
‘Godox was previously involved with the manufacture of Bowens products prior to the closure, but the Bowens factory was separate to the Godox production line.’
‘Godox is the chosen production partner but the new gear will be produced to the pre-existing Bowens specifications.’
I was aware of this back when Bowens was still functioning, but essentially Bowens owned its own factory in China, inside it was run by Godox but it had Bowens employees and they were beholden to Bowens rules of quality assurance.
Why is this important? Well, I’ve used both the Godox Citi and the Bowens XMT and I personally found the XMT to be far more consistent, color accurate and had fewer misfires when compared to my time with the Godox Citi…. even though they were supposed to be made by the same people. Of course, this is a sample test of one light compared to another and I could just have had a less than perfect Citi head.
So what’s changed now? Well, WEX state here that the new Bowens XMT heads will not be made in the old Bowens factory (presumably that no longer exists) but instead the XMT specs will now be built in the Godox factory. It’s a small difference and it could mean nothing at all. But time will tell if the more consistent XMT head was due to its specifications or a slightly tighter quality assurance in the older Bowens factory.
Peace of Mind
Lastly, WEX very sensibly mentions the warranty of all of its new heads. All Bowens heads sold through WEX will come with a 2-year warranty. This is phenomenal news and to be honest they needed to have that in place before anybody was going to risk getting back into bed with Bowens. In fairness to WEX, it was never really officially announced and promoted, but they’ve been providing repairs and parts for the Bowens heads since Bowens closed its doors nearly two years ago. I for one am very happy to see this 2-year warranty being so openly pushed, as again it speaks volumes as to WEX’s intentions with the Bowens brand moving forward.
For me personally, I see this ‘Bowens is Back’ as excellent news. I’ve used Bowens heads commercially for nearly two decades and I’ve had no reason to complain or question their products. Bottom line; their heads have been utter workhorses that far exceeded any rational person’s expectations of engineering.
Years ago I worked in a very busy studio that probably saw 1000 photo shoots a year go through its doors. Each of those shoots involved around 150-300 photos and every single one of those photos needed a flash. So if we say every shoot was around 200 shots on average, that studio took 200,000 flash photos a year. The studio had 5 Bowens flash heads and whilst I worked there nearly 7 years I don’t even recall replacing the flash tubes…. and the Bowens heads were there before I got there!
So at nearly 1.5 million flashes a piece, I don’t think anybody could argue their expectations versus the reality from 7,000,000 flashes being fired through those things. Utterly incredible pieces of kit in my opinion.
Granted Bowens has seen a huge amount of change in recent years and they certainly have an awful lot to live up to in my mind. But if we can get back to anywhere near that level of excellence again, their products will be a force to be reckoned with on the market today. No, I’m not sponsored or paid to say this in any way but I certainly wish them every success in this new chapter.
About the author: Jake Hicks is an editorial and fashion photographer based in Reading, UK. He specializes in keeping the skill in the camera and not just on the screen. If you’d like to learn more about his incredibly popular gelled lighting and post-pro techniques, visit this link for more info. You can find more of his work and writing on his website, Facebook, 500px, Instagram, Twitter, and Flickr. This article was also published here.
This Widest-Ever 4.9mm Fisheye Lens Can See Behind Itself
LensRentals founder Roger Cicala is known for disassembling camera gear and sharing his findings on his company blog. Now he has done the opposite: he’s sharing how he built (from scratch) a prototype 4.9mm f/3.5 “hyperfisheye” lens, the widest fisheye lens ever made. It’s a lens so wide that it can literally see behind itself.
It’s a purely mechanical lens, so you won’t find any fancy motors or stabilization systems inside.
“But even a simple lens is a very complex structure,” Cicala writes, saying that his behind-the-scenes glimpse “will probably give you a good idea of how much mechanical design is required to make even a very basic lens.”
“To give you an idea of what 270 degrees means, the lens sees behind itself,” Cicala says. “An ultra-wide 15mm fisheye lens gives a 180-degree field of view while an 11mm rectilinear lens is less than 120 degrees.”
“The closest thing that’s existed to this is the 1970s classic Nikkor 6mm f/2.8 fisheye, which gave a 220-degree field of view, weighed 5 kg, and can be rarely found for $100,000 and up these days,” Cicala says. “The C-4 optics lens weighs every bit as much as the Nikkor, but should be far sharper, have less distortion and vignetting, and cost somewhat less than those do today. (‘Somewhat’ being defined as ‘less than half’.)”
Just the first element in the lens alone costs about $5,000.
Here’s what the fully-assembled C-4 Precision Optics 4.9mm f/3.5 lens looks like:
You can find an in-depth step-by-step look at the assembly of this lens here.
Here’s a 46-second timelapse video of the process:
Cicala announced C-4 Precision Optics nearly four years ago back on April 1st, 2015, but — perhaps due in large part to the April Fool’s Day announcement — it seems no one took the announcement seriously then. Well, it’s clear now that the new lens startup is very much real. It’s a joint venture being run in spare time by Cicala and Brian Caldwell, who previously worked as a designer at Metabones and Coastal Optics.
C-4 has only developed two lenses thus far, and Cicala hasn’t revealed what his long-term goal with these creations is. If you’re interested in seeing what this hyperfisheye lens can do, Cicala expects to have the first set of sample photos from it within the next week or two, so stay tuned.
The Industry Pays Respect to The Legacy of Lagerfeld
German creative director, fashion designer, photographer and author- Karl Lagerfeld has revolutionized what we know today as fashion. With a tenure in fashion surpassing thirty years, Lagerfeld has defined luxury for generations of models, creatives and consumers. Sitting as creative director of Chanel, Fendi and his eponymous label, Lagerfeld has stood as the heart of said brands and furthermore established himself as a patriarch to the industry.
Kissing Sailor in Iconic ‘V-J Day in Times Square’ Photo Dies at 95
The sailor who was photographed kissing a nurse in Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic photo V-J Day in Times Square has died. George Mendonsa was 95.
Eisenstaedt was in New York City’s Times Square on August 14th, 1945, during victory celebrations that ensued after then-President Harry S. Truman declared the end of the United States’ war with Japan. The photographer spotted and photographed a US Navy sailor grabbing and kissing a stranger — a woman wearing a white dress.
Eisenstaedt wasn’t able to take down the names of his subjects, so after the photo became a defining image of that day, several people have come forward claiming to be the subjects.
In 1987, George Mendonsa came forward and filed a lawsuit against Time Inc., claiming that he was the sailor and that the magazine had violated his right of publicity by using his likeness without his permission. He dropped his lawsuit the following year, but a subsequent study by volunteers at the Naval War College in August 2005 confirmed Mendonsa’s claim by comparing his scars and tattoos with the sailor’s in the photo.
The woman has been identified as Greta Zimmer Friedman, who was a dental assistant at the time the photo was taken.
Mendonsa later said that he kissed Friedman because her outfit reminded him of the nurses on a hospital ship who had been caring for wounded sailors during World War II.
Friedman died in 2016 at the age of 92. Mendonsa died on Sunday, two days before his 96th birthday.
This Guy Shot 50,000 Pics to Make an 81MP Photo of the Moon
Check out this incredible photo of the moon. It may look like it was captured using some ultra-advanced (and expensive) equipment, but it was actually created by astrophotography enthusiast Andrew McCarthy by capturing and combining 50,000 photos.
The Sacramento, California-based McCarthy shot the photos using two cameras: his Sony a7 II mirrorless camera and his ZWO ASI224MC (a $250 astro camera).
“The lit side of the moon was processed using 25 ’tiles’ that were stitched together in Photoshop,” the photographer tells PetaPixel. “Each ’tile’ was a stack of the best 50% of 2000 images captured with the ZWO.”
The stars and the dark portion of the moon were captured with the Sony a7 II.
“The dark side is around 13 tiles, each with the best of around 50 images,” McCarthy says. “The stars were captured with a stack of 50 shots with the Sony.”
The stacks were blended using AutoStakkert!, and McCarthy then turned to Photoshop to process and stitch together the photo.
“A lot of selective masking, histogram stretching, and contrast adjustments were necessary to get the look I wanted,” he says.
In the ad, a mother is surprised to find that another woman has “bokeh’d” her child by using the iPhone’s Depth Control feature to blur him out in the background.
“Did you… bokeh my child?” she asks indignantly, causing the other mother to become flustered and apologetic.
“Depth Control on iPhone XS and iPhone XR lets you adjust the bokeh effect on backgrounds before or after you shoot,” Apple says. “So you can turn a cute portrait of two kids into a stunning portrait of one kid.”
bokehnoun: the blurred quality or effect seen in the out-of-focus portion of a photograph taken with a narrow depth of field
Perhaps Webster will soon need to add a second definition:
bokehverb: exclude (someone) from a photograph by blurring them into an unidentifiable figure in the out-of-focus background using a (real or simulated) shallow depth of field
The ad certainly does a good job of communicating what Depth Control does, but it seems that disgruntled photographers are revolting against this use of ‘bokeh’: at the time of this writing, the video has nearly 10,000 dislikes to 26,000 likes — an unusually high dislike rate of about 28%.
I Already Shot the Supermoon Today, But Here’s How to Shoot it Tomorrow
This morning I woke up early to photograph the descending supermoon on top of the famous St. Nicholas church in Amsterdam. But the supermoon was “just 96%” visible this morning as it is not completely full until tomorrow. Nevertheless, I love the slight shadow in the edge of the moon so I picked today as the day to shoot.
Here are some results:
Today, the moon set at 7:20 in the morning here. I shot these around 7. Tomorrow there will be the full supermoon which will set around 8 in the morning (here in Europe) but you can also shoot it during the moonrise later the day.
If you are interested in shooting something like this, here is what you need to do:
The most important thing is planning. You need to know where the moon will set (or will rise, depending on when you want to shoot it). My good friends at PhotoPills can tell you all about it on their YouTube channel:
But to summarize it: in an app like PhotoPills, you can easily plan these moon shots by using the planner. You will see the line in which the moon will set and rise. I will not go into too much detail about the elevation but basically right before it sets or after it rises, you will have a good opportunity to shoot the moon with an interesting subject. Putting a subject inside your photo combined with the moon gives a nice perspective to your image.
Things to consider is that you need a long lens to get the moon big in your frame. I would recommend using at least 400mm (full frame). For these shots I used a 100-400mm with 3x extender, giving me the range of 200-800mm. Obviously, when combining a subject with the moon and using a long lens, you need to stand at a far distance to make the perspective more epic. I would recommend anything between 700m and 2km, depending on how long your lens is. A church tower, cool building, or anything tall can be used as a subject. Just let your creativity flow.
Here’s a screenshot of my plan for this morning:
It’s important to scout your location beforehand. I went to this location yesterday to make sure I had a clear view of the church from the docks there. When scouting, you can use the AR (augmented reality) view in the app. Simply hold your phone in front of you and you can see the path of the moon on the day of your preference. It’s important that you have room to move on the shooting location. If you want to take a very precisely aligned shot, you often need to move your tripod on the spot to get the alignment 100% correct.
Taking the Shot
This morning I went to my planned location to take the shots I had in mind. It’s important to be there early. I was there about 1 hour before the moonset and I could see the moon setting above the church. I had time to set up my tripod and get a good alignment with the moon. With the AR view in PhotoPills, I could check the path of the moon again, making sure my alignment would be perfect. I quickly moved a few times on the spot, to get different compositions with the church. Speed is key here! Because the moon moves quite fast.
Rough settings: Aim for around f/8 for good sharpness. If it’s still a bit dark you can up the ISO a tiny bit, around 200-400. Use a decently fast shutter speed no longer than 0.5 seconds. The moon moves, so it will be blurry if you use a long shutter speed. You will probably not get both the moon and your subject 100% in focus, but it will look good enough if you shoot from a big distance. In my shots, especially the one at 800mm the moon is also slightly out of focus. Aim for focus on your foreground subject as this is most important in the shot.
Tip: Use a gear head on your tripod. This allows you to make very small adjustments (tilts and pans) with separate knobs. I normally use ballheads, but making quick accurate adjustments is not easy with most ballheads, especially not with a heavy setup.
And there you go, a quick and straight forward guide to planning your moonshots. These techniques can also be used to shoot a sunset or sunrise above an interesting subject. Panning these is very addictive, and a great passion of mine.
About the author: Albert Dros is an 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.