“A bonnet shields the gaze from the emotional ligaments that might engage or discern too much. Or maybe it draws you in, like a funnel, like a frame, demanding penetration. A bonnet could express more than your face value or what you were permitted to present to the other faces that you face. Or a bonnet could work as a counterpoint, ironic or sincere. It could be violent, heartbroken, or bleeding, like the breast of a robin. Or it could signal the calm of whiteness beneath a full moon, like a…
I take a lot of photos. Usually, I pack either a Sony a7R II or a Leica M — two cameras with massive sensors and brilliant lenses. But lately, I’ve been shooting exclusively with the iPhone X, and have found it absolutely excellent.
I am the design half of the team that makes the iPhone app Halide, which is a camera app with manual controls and, most importantly, RAW capture.
RAW is a file format that holds an incredible amount of information. We’ll get into the details later, but first, let’s show what you can do with it.
RAW affords you editing freedom. Absolute freedom to change the colors and white balance of a photo, or recover too-bright highlights and too-dark shadows.
However, as awesome as RAW is, it’s important to know RAW isn’t a magic “enhance” button. Some of our users sometimes reach out with confusion about their RAW images looking worse than a regular capture from the stock camera app.
It’s helpful to understand how a RAW file is fundamentally different than JPEG, to fully understand the tradeoffs.
So What’s a RAW File?
Think of the process of taking a photo as three steps:
1. A sensor captures light
2. Software translates detected light values into an image
3. The image is saved as a file, like JPEG
When you take a photo, light from the camera lens shines through several optical elements and falls on a small, smaller-than-a-pinkie-finger sensor behind the camera lens. The sensor has small individual spots that capture light, with small filters on them to capture the colors red, blue and green.
To understand RAW files, you need to know that what your camera sensor sees is very different than what makes it onto the screen. A RAW file just saves the values it measures on this sensor. If we took a look inside the file, it would look something like this:
That’s not very useful to us as humans. Here’s where the next step comes in.
Step 2 and 3
The data is passed to the imaging processor, a chip that takes what your sensor ‘saw’, does some magic (we will get to this later) and instantly converts it to a JPEG (or HEIC) file, finally storing it on your phone.
This is processing, a hardware and software process that translates those individual red, green, and blue patches into this:
…and discards the rest of the sensor data. Voilá: your photo.
That’s the process for a JPG. Processing RAW files is a lot of work, so that’s why Apple saves the processed file as a JPEG or HEIC. These require much less space, and they’re much faster to load.
However, they do this by throwing out information that your monitor doesn’t need, and details that your eyes can’t see.
When you shoot JPEG, you really need to get the photo perfect at the time you take it. With RAW and its extra data, you can easily fix mistakes, and you get a lot more room to experiment.
What kind of data? RAW files store more information about detail in the highlights (the bright parts) and the shadows (the dark parts) of an image. Since you often want to ‘recover’ a slightly over or under-exposed photo, this is immensely useful.
It also stores information that enables you to change white balance later on. White balance is a constantly measured value that cameras try to get right to ensure the colors look natural in a scene. iPhones are quite good at this, but it starts to get more difficult when light is tinted.
Here’s an original RAW file:
And here are two different white balance settings (an edit like this is impossible with a JPG!):
Many of us have felt disappointment when we photograph a beautiful sunset only to find it looking entirely unlike what our eyes see. With RAW, you can change the image afterward to make it resemble what you actually saw. A JPEG capture essentially commits to the white balance the camera estimates was accurate when the photo was taken.
In essence, the stock camera app decides how to process RAW files for you, making choices like ‘What is the most natural white balance?’. Sometimes it’s wrong; sometimes you want to go in a different creative direction. Processing photos is just as much art as science.
So, Should You Always Shoot RAW?
No. RAW isn’t always the best choice. Because RAW files can’t use lossy compression, they’re about 10 megabytes, while the humble JPEG is under three megabytes. If you’re taking a photo of where you parked, RAW is probably overkill.
But there’s a more serious issue: a lot of people turn on RAW, and they’re confused at photos looking kind of… bad. What’s going on?
RAW Caveat 1: Always Check for RAW Support
We’re not just talking about the app you use to take the photo: only load RAW files in apps you know support RAW files. This is very confusing because RAW files look like regular image files to most apps.
Remember how we said RAW files are really slow to load? It would be annoying to flip through a folder, trying to find a particular photo, and have to wait a few seconds for every file to load.
That’s why RAW files also contain a very low resolution preview image. It isn’t designed for editing, just finding your photo. This preview is only half a megapixel, while the real image inside is over twelve megapixels.
Now this is where most people get confused: apps that don’t support RAW will still load the image. However, they just load the low-resolution preview instead of the full-resolution image. And they won’t warn you. Believe it or not, the built-in iOS Photos app doesn’t support RAW, and that’s why you see this:
Most of our bad reviews mention blurry images. Our top support requests are the same. As iOS still doesn’t inform users in the Photos app that an image is a RAW file, we recommend you edit RAW files in Darkroom, Snapseed, VSCO, or Lightroom. As soon as you do this, the problem is solved.
It’s easy to blame users for being ignorant, but honestly, we were just as surprised by how iOS handles RAW files—and we build a camera app!
We’ve found a solution: in our next big update, we’ll save both a RAW and a Processed image in your camera roll. It’ll look like a single image, so it won’t clutter your camera roll. Apps that support RAW will know how to access it, while apps that don’t will fall back to a full resolution, preprocessed image. This will be much less surprising to people.
We’ll have an option to opt-out of this if you want to save a little storage space. In this situation, we’ll only save RAW, and no accompanying JPEG.
RAW Caveat 2: RAW Skips Apple’s Magic
Apple’s stock camera app does a lot of cleanup behind the scenes. This is ‘magic’. Yes, magic. The imaging processor in every smartphone and camera does some magic. This is the kind of stuff that is a closely guarded secret.
On the left is raw data from the sensor, and on the right is what the photo looks like after the “magic” is applied. There’s a lot going on here: advanced noise reduction (hardware-based in your new iPhones 8 and X!), merging several exposures to get more detail in the highlights and shadows, and picking the sharpest frame in a set of photos to reduce the movement of your hands.
Sounds wonderful, but this isn’t always great. Sometimes the noise reduction is aggressive and destroys fine detail; other times the grain can be pleasant.
I find that the new iPhones have a type of noise that isn’t always bothersome. In some shots, it can almost look like film grain.
It’s completely bonkers what you get out of iPhone X shooting RAW. Immense detail and dynamic range in those 12 megapixels. The noise is almost film-like, not too bothersome at all. pic.twitter.com/vYzBtDSy3M
However, if you’re shooting in very low light, where the grain can get extreme, you may benefit from noise reduction.
This photo has full iPhone X noise reduction:
This photo is a RAW without noise reduction:
The second photo has far better highlight recovery, but the noise is colorful and bothersome in the shadows.
Mind, you could do this noise reduction yourself: there’s plenty of noise reduction software to chose from, but Apple’s is really quite great, and it would further complicate your editing workflow.
RAW Caveat 3: Portrait Mode
You also lose “Portrait Mode.” When shooting in this mode, iOS is taking two photos simultaneously and measuring their differences to figure out the depth of objects in scenes. While in this mode, RAW capture is unavailable.
(Depth maps, which are created by measuring this difference, do look cool though—and we can capture them, just not while also shooting in RAW.)
We don’t know Apple’s precise reasons, but we do know calculating depth-maps is very taxing on your phone. We wouldn’t be surprised if it is just about performance. Hopefully, someday they’ll unlock the ability to capture RAW while in portrait mode.
When you’re informed about its benefits and drawbacks, shooting in RAW on your iPhone can lead to some spectacular results!
P.S. We’re working hard on Halide 1.6 to ease some of iOS’ quirks when it comes to RAW support. We think it’ll help a lot of users that are confused about RAW, and we have a few more tricks up our sleeve to make it an awesome release. Stay tuned!
About the author: Sebastiaan de With is a photographer, freelance designer, and the designer of Halide. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can connect with him on his website, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.
Shooting Product Photos with a Single Speedlight by Painting Light
Here’s a 20-minute tutorial from Dustin Dolby of workphlo that looks at how you can shoot high-end product photos using just one speedlight by painting light. Dolby also looks at how to composite and enhance the shot to produce the final image.
Dolby starts out by shooting a base frame that he will use to composite different things into the shot later on.
Creating a selection from this, Dolby is able to mask out the background so that the base frame is perfectly white in the backdrop.
Using a simple diffuser, Dolby shoots a frame lighting the top of the product.
By using the mask to apply this lighting to the base frame, the background is completely irrelevant.
After that, Dolby then shoots at a variety of different angles to light the product using his diffuser.
Moving into post-production, Dolby uses Photoshop to start compositing the different angles of lighting together into one final image.
Selecting the best of all the different frames he shot, Dolby makes use of the “Lighten” blend mode to pull together enough shots to ensure the product has well-lit sides and top surface.
To add the final touches, he introduces a drop shadow and a gray background. These are details that he says are appreciated by a client in an “eCommerce setting.”
Check out the full video above to see all of the post-production techniques, as well as the process of shooting all of the different lighting frames. You can also find more of his videos on his YouTube channel.
Dad Gets 500K Instagram Followers in 1 Week with Hotel Carpet Photos
A 19-year-old daughter just turned her dad into the hottest thing on Instagram this week with a single Tweet that went viral. Her father has gotten over 500,000 new followers in just the past few days for his photos of hotel carpets.
Bill Young is a photographer and pilot who travels for a living and stays in a lot of hotels. During his stays, he sees all kinds of designs under his feet, so he decided to start an Instagram account to document the seemingly endless diversity of hotel carpets. His first photo was published on Instagram at @myhotelcarpet back on August 27th, 2015:
But up until last week, no one paid attention to Young’s photos, and over two years he had managed to amass a grand total of 83 followers.
On November 25th, Young’s his 19-year-old daughter (and number one fan), Jill, came up with an idea for the perfect Christmas present this year for her dad. She would try to make his Instagram account go viral.
She posted a simple Tweet that states: “All I Want For Christmas is for my Dad’s hotel carpet Instagram to go viral, please help this happen.”
Boy did it go viral. Over the next few days, Jill’s Tweet was Liked over 25,000 times and Retweeted over 8,000. After her request and Bill’s photos began spreading across the Internet, Bill’s Instagram went from having 83 followers to having over 28,000 two days later.
Santiago Artemis Is the Rising Designer from World’s End
Santiago Artemis is so much more than an enfant terrible, and to portray him as such simply doesn’t do him justice. At just 25, the Argentine designer from Ushuaia, a city at the southernmost tip of the country, has already designed gowns for the likes of Katy Perry, Lana Del Rey, and Britney Spears. Le Grande Mensonge, the latest collection from his eponymous haute couture brand, shows an evolved viewpoint of his obsession with decadence: furs, bright colors, and shoulder pads galore….
US Says DJI Camera Drones Are Spying for China, DJI Calls Claim ‘Insane’
DJI camera drones are likely spying on the United States for China. At least, that’s what a newly uncovered US government memo claims. DJI has responded by calling the allegations “insane.”
Fast Company reports that the unclassified memo was issued back in August by the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) in Los Angeles.
In the memo, the ICE agent writes that he or she “assesses with moderate confidence that Chinese-based company DJI Science and Technology is providing U.S. critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government.”
The memo further “assesses with high confidence the company is selectively targeting government and privately owned entities within these sectors to expand its ability to collect and exploit sensitive U.S. data.”
The list of sensitive data being gathered by DJI is extensive, the agent claims:
The UAS operate on two Android smartphone applications called DJI GO and Sky Pixels that automatically tag GPS imagery and locations, register facial recognition data even when the system is off, and access users’ phone data. Additionally, the applications capture user identification, e-mail addresses, full names, phone numbers, images, videos, and computer credentials. Much of the information collected includes proprietary and sensitive critical infrastructure data, such as detailed imagery of power control panels, security measures for critical infrastructure sites, or materials used in bridge construction.
What’s more, the agent says the info collected could be used to launch an attack against the US, writing with “high confidence” that “the critical infrastructure and law enforcement entities using DJI systems are collecting sensitive intelligence that the Chinese government could use to conduct physical or cyber attacks against the United States and its population.”
These conclusions were made after the agent looked into “information derived from open source reporting and a reliable source within the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry with first and secondhand access.”
Here’s the full memo:
In an email to Fast Company, DJI spokesperson Adam Lisberg called the memo “utterly insane.” After the memo was published on the Internet, DJI also quickly published a statement on its website refuting the allegations and saying that the memo was “based on clearly false and misleading claims from an unidentified source.
“[T]he allegations in the bulletin are so profoundly wrong as a factual matter that ICE should consider withdrawing it.”
Many of the allegations in the ICE report are obviously false. The claims that DJI systems can register facial recognition data even while powered off, that Parrot and Yuneec have stopped manufacturing competitive products, and that DJI products have substantial price differentials between the U.S. and China can be easily disproven with a basic knowledge of technology and the drone industry, or even a simple internet search.
DJI has also asked ICE to look into whether the agent may have “had a competitive or improper motive to interfere with DJI’s legitimate business by making false allegations about DJI.”
DJI, based in Shenzhen, China, is a dominant force globally in the camera drone industry — DJI reportedly owns a 70%+ market share of all non-hobbyist drones in the US, according to a recent survey. But the company has been the subject of cybersecurity scrutiny as of late.
“DJI has built its reputation on developing the best products for consumer and professional drone users across a wide variety of fields, including those who fly sensitive missions and need strong data security,” DJI concludes in its statement. “We will continue working to provide our customers the security they require.”
Flikframe is a Nail-Free Restickable and Collapsible Picture Frame
Hanging framed pictures can be a real problem if you don’t want to put holes in your wall or have a landlord that doesn’t allow it. But there’s a new solution headed toward the market: Flikframe is the world’s first re-stickable and collapsible photo frame.
Flikframe is made of 100% recycled boxboard that is precision cut and coated with a water-repellent satin finish. This gives it a sleek look and 90-degree outer edges.
Instead of glass, the frames use an acrylic that has 92% light transmission (glass windows usually have 83-90%). This also means the frames are unlikely to shatter should they fall.
The frames are light, but also sturdy, and incredibly thin at just 6mm when flat packed and 25mm when fully assembled.
“It’s exciting to inject personality and colors into your home but traditional MDF picture frames are too heavy to hang without ruining your walls,” says Jolene Chang, founder of Flikframe. “We decided we had to come up with something new.”
The frames are attached to the wall using 4 re-stickable adhesive pads. Your picture is then secured in the frame using elastic straps, which is faster than sealing it in with metal pins like in a traditional frame.
Magnets inside the frame will hold it flush with the wall plate that is stuck onto the wall, providing a neat finish.
Flikframe also has a number of “jackets” that can change the appearance of the frame. They are made of pre-scored and printed paper, allowing you to customize your frame as you see fit.
Here’s a brief video overview of the project and product:
Flikframe is currently available on Kickstarter, where for a $17.50 contribution you’ll be signed up to receive two Flikframes if/when the project successfully funds and delivers in December 2017.
Want to see how RED makes its popular digital cameras that carry price tags of tens of thousands of dollars? The company released this 3-minute video that offers a behind-the-scenes look at its manufacturing and production facilities.
The Red Digital Cinema Camera Company is headquartered in Irvine, California, about an hour away from Hollywood, and the company does its manufacturing in Irvine as well.
Here are some still frames from the video showing the factory technicians crafting and assembling the high-end cameras.
Prince’s Estate Has Opened an Online Pop-Up Shop
Stuck trying to figure out what to get your relatives this year? You’re in luck. The Prince Estate has opened up an online pop-up shop full of new official Prince merch just in time for the holidays (who in their right mind wouldn’t appreciate some great Prince gear?) The pop-up was inspired by the artist’s surprise Hit N Run album released in 2015 and features the estate’s first ever offering of authorized merch.
The range includes an array of t-shirts, outerwear, and caps emblazoned with …
The multiple exposure is one of the easiest, fastest and most flexible ways to create striking images. It is usually my go-to technique when I am struggling with creativity and I need a good shot fast or when the venue is less than ideal for creating amazing images.
So what are multiple exposures anyway? In technical terms, a multiple exposure is the superimposition of two or more exposures to create a single image. Originally done in film photography by exposing the same film negative multiple times to create an overlaid image, These days it can be done with digital cameras by exposing the camera’s digital sensor two or more times and then overlaying those images.
Overlaying multiple exposures is one of the oldest forms of “trick photography” and is responsible for many of histories “unexplainable” photographs.
Understanding Multiple Exposures
The way that multiple exposures work can be a bit tricky, so let me start off by explaining that white in an image represents exposed data. Once you expose part of your image to the max that part is exposed forever. You will not be able to bring it back or overlay anything over it because it is already exposed.
Black represents unexposed area. Which is perfect for overlaying the second exposure. Black parts of the image are still unexposed and so the second exposure will fill those parts with substance. This means ideally you want a black area on your first exposure to allow your second exposure to show through.
Everything in between is just different densities of black or white, so they will show through different amounts of the second exposure.
As far as I know, there are 3 ways to do a double exposure.
1. Using a multiple exposure setting on your camera to combine two or more consecutive shots into one.
2. Using a multiple exposure tool in the camera that allows you to combine two images that have already been taken.
3. A program like Photoshop.
95% of the time I am using option number 2, which I believe gives me the most flexibility. The other 5% of the time I will use number 1. Sometimes I will use a combination of Number 1 and Number 2 but I will explain that later. As for number 3, I’ve never combined exposures in Photoshop after that fact — not that I am against using Photoshop, but I just prefer to do it in-camera.
Setting up for consecutive multiple exposures on Nikon
Most Nikon Cameras will have a double exposure mode that can be found by navigating to your Camera Menu->Shooting Menu->Multiple Exposure and from there you can turn on multiple exposure mode, and select the number of shots you want to have combined. This is how you would do a traditional multiple exposure but like I said earlier, I only do this maybe 5% of the time. The majority of the time I am using Nikon’s combine multiple exposures tool.
(Note: I have my BKT button on my Nikon d5 mapped to double exposure mode so I can quickly set it up if I need too.)
Combining already taken multiple exposures in camera with Nikon
Navigate to the Retouch menu and then Image Overlay and from there you will be able to select two images that you have previously taken and combine them into one. You will be able to adjust the density of each image and then combine them. The output will be a RAW image of the two selected images but combined into one. In my opinion, this is the best way to do multiple exposures because it offers the most flexibility.
Setting up for Double Exposures on Canon
Most Canon cameras can be set up for double exposures by navigating to the camera menu and then navigating through the shooting tabs until you see a multiple exposure option that will allow you to enable multiple exposure mode. You will also be able to select how the exposures are combined, how many exposures you want the camera to combine and if you want the camera to shoot in multiple exposure mode continuously or for just one complete multi-exposure.
Combining multiple exposures in camera with Canon
Similar to Nikon there is a way to combine already taken images in camera, You can do this by going to menu, navigating to the same tab where the multiple exposure mode can be found and selecting “Select images for multi. Expo.” This should allow you to go through the images on your memory card and select the two (or more) images that you want to combine.
(Canon cameras have the ability to select different kinds of blending modes for the multiple exposures. I don’t know a ton about the different modes, but when I was shooting with canon cameras I would always use “additive” mode which I believe is the closest thing to what would be considered a traditional multiple exposure.)
The Thought Process
Multiple exposures can be a bit tricky to wrap your mind around when you first start doing them, there is a lot of stuff going on when multiple images get combined that it can be confusing trying to keep track of whats going on. For that reason, I like to keep things simple by breaking them into two parts. Part 1 being the “Canvas” and part 2 being the “Subject”.
The canvas is the background, foreground or any part of the image that doesn’t have a subject in it. This is for me the most interesting aspect of a double exposure and I will take the time to figure this out before I consider adding the subject to the frame. Usually, for canvases I’ll look for interesting lights, abstract designs, geometric shapes, cityscapes, fire, sparkly stuff and I’ve even been known to use pages from a magazine or paintings on walls to make interesting canvases. Here are some examples of canvases:
This is a stained glass lamp shade that I found while walking around the venue. Notice the black area on the left, That was actually made by placing a credit card behind the lampshade to flag a dark area because I knew I eventually wanted to put a subject in that area.
These are 3 lights that were above the bathroom mirror in the bridal suite. Ordinarily, they would be pretty boring but I saw them for their basic geometric shape and thought they looked kind of cool. I under-exposed my camera quite a bit to try and only get the basic shape and color from the lights.
This is a chandelier and I just I opened up the shutter speed to get a long exposure, then I moved the camera around and also zoomed in and out to get these cool abstract light trails.
Once you have decided on your canvas, you need to decide where to put your subject. When I am looking for good canvas shots, I am looking for good places to put my subject within the canvas. Remember that black represents no exposure, and so will show the second exposure. For that reason I intentionally look for dark areas within my canvas shot, knowing that it is going to be the place I put my subject.
If I can’t find a naturally dark area I will create one by putting an object in front of the lens to flag the area I want my subject to go. I’ve used my finger, a credit card, and other random objects to create a dark spot in the canvas frame so that I have a spot to place my couple.
I’ll do one of two things with the subject, turn them into a silhouette, or light them with a completely black background. Here are some examples of Subject photos.
This is just a silhouette taken against an empty white wall. I used the red gel from Magmod and had the groom hold my flash at his waist and point it directly at the wall behind him. Then I used my shutter speed to kill all the ambient light in the room and got this simple silhouette.
This is just a very simple silhouette made by placing a flash behind the subject and pointing it at the wall. Then I just increased my shutter speed to kill the ambient light and got this simple strong silhouette.
All I’ve done here is put the couple in a completely black frame. This can be achieved pretty much anywhere with a gridded flash, just kill the ambient exposure by increasing your shutter speed until your frame is completely black and then put a flash on the couple. The completely black parts are perfect for filling in with a cool canvas frame.
Complete Double Exposures
Here are a few of the techniques that I use to create interesting canvas shots, Obviously the sky is the limit on what you want to create but I usually stick to these.
1. White Balance Throw
This is when you use a different white balance with each exposure. For instance, I’ll crank up my white balance to 10,000k and photograph some interesting lights (like a chandelier, candles, or twinkle lights) as my canvas. This makes the lights super orange because I’m tricking the camera into adding orange to the image.
Then for the subject image, I’ll move my white balance to the correct white balance, this will make the subject correctly colored while the canvas image is still bright orange. You can do this the complete opposite also by setting your camera to something like 3200K and making the canvas image a strong blue color. If you are doing a silhouette you can set the white balance to 10,000K for the canvas and 3200K (or the opposite) for the subject and that will add a strong orange/blue color contrast to your image.
2. Long Exposures
This is one of my favorites, you can find interesting light sources and set the camera to do a long exposure. Then shake the camera around to get cool motion blur and or light trails for your canvas shot. Then just place your subject in as usual. You can also use a zoom lens and zoom in and out while taking the long exposure shot and it creates an interesting zoom in effect that I’ve done a few times before.
3. Multiple exposures
This is when I will use multiple exposures just to build my canvas. For example I will set my camera to shoot consecutive multiple exposures, then take an image of a chandelier, re-compose and take another image of the same chandelier, I sometimes will do this like 10 times which results in a canvas image that is build of about 10 exposures with 10 of the same chandelier in the shot but recomposed a bunch of times so it is just an abstract mess of chandeliers. Then I’ll just add my subject in as usual. This usually results in some pretty crazy/abstract shots, which can be pretty fun.
4. Mixing Focal lengths
Sometimes I’ll use a 200mm lens to compress lights, cityscapes, or anything else for the canvas. Then I’ll switch to a wider angle lens to capture my subject. By mixing focal lengths you gain control over how big or little your subject/canvas can be. For example, you can use a 200mm lens to make something small look huge and fill up the entire frame, then use a wider angle lens and step back to make your subject look small. Then put your tiny subject within the bigger canvas.
I try not to do multiple exposures all of the time because I feel like they are not always 100% true to life, not an accurate representation of what was really happening on the couple’s wedding day, and sometimes I feel like they are kind of gimmicky. That being said, however, the couples who hire me are doing so because they want amazing images and it is my responsibility to create them.
I will always strive to capture real moments, and real emotion before I fabricate something like a multiple exposure, but at the end of the day if the venue isn’t the most ideal place for amazing portraits, or if I am low on portraits for the day I know I can always put together a multiple exposure that will blow the couple’s couples mind and make me look good in the process.
So ultimately look at double exposures as just another tool in the tool-box, something you can break out whenever the occasion calls for it.
About the author: Carsten Schertzer is a wedding and engagement photographer based in Los Angeles, California. You can find more of his work on his website, Instagram, and Facebook. This article was also published here.