Sara Quin Talks About The Emotional Impact of ‘The Con’ On Its 10th Anniversary
When Tegan and Sara released The Con back in 2007, the Canadian indie-pop duo were going on their fifth album. The twin sister outfit was already pretty established, but the record would be their first through major label Warner Bros. For teens on the precipice of adulthood, the album narrated a coming of age tale full of heartbreak, love and self-discovery. The record was the perfect marriage of lo-fi alt-rock and textured pop rhythms. And it has resonated with the music community for a decade….
Sheep can recognize human faces in photos at a level that’s comparable to humans. That’s what scientists discovered through testing sheep by showing them celebrity portraits.
Researchers at Cambridge University led by neurobiology professor Jenny Morton conducted the study by leading 8 different sheep one at a time into a research barn and showing them a photo of one of four celebrities: Barack Obama, Emma Watson, Fiona Bruce, and Jake Gyllenhall. The sheep were given food to create an association.
Next, the sheep were taken into the barn and shown two photos. One was a celebrity it had seen before, and one was a photo of a non-celebrity who looked similar and had the same gender and ethnicity.
Tapping on the “correct” portrait would reward the sheep with food while choosing the wrong face would result in no food and a sound being played.
The sheep were able to pick out the celebrities and earn the food reward 8 out of 10 times.
To challenge the sheep even further, scientists showed them the same celebrities in photos captured from a different, tilted angle. The sheep were still able to choose the correct person, showing that they weren’t simply memorizing what a 2D photo looks like, but instead were understanding the 3D idea of a human head.
“This ability has previously been shown only in humans,” the scientists write. “Sheep successfully recognized the four celebrity faces from tilted images.
“Together these data show that sheep have advanced face-recognition abilities, comparable with those of humans and non-human primates.”
Here’s a short video showing the experiment in action:
VSCO’s Recipes Let You Share Photo Editing Formulas with Others
VSCO has just introduced Recipes to its popular mobile photo editing app, enabling users to create and share presets that allow for quick applications of certain looks and styles to photos.
The company said it found that many users were trying to use Pinterest to share sets of different settings and filters that could achieve a certain look. Coming up with its own integrated solution to satisfy this need, VSCO has developed what it calls Recipes.
Recipes allow users to save a “unique editing formula,” which could be a combination of filters and/or presets, alongside adjustments to other settings. By creating such a template, users will then be able to share them with others and, in turn, use recipes created by others on their own images.
All VSCO users will be able to create one recipe, with VSCO X members being able to save up to 10.
The feature is very simple, involving just a couple of taps on a button in the edit window. Here’s a quick look at how exactly the new feature will work:
The VSCO app with the new Recipes feature is available for free on Android and iOS devices.
Photographer Bill Frakes Loses Sexual Harassment Appeal
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) has rejected photographer Bill Frakes’s appeal in a sexual harassment case, because “clear and convincing evidence” showed he had violated university sexual harassment policies, according to a report in the Omaha World-Herald.
Last summer, Frakes lost his position as an adjunct professor at UNL because he had “engaged in sexual misconduct” and “created a hostile environement” for a female student, university investigators concluded in a report obtained by PDN. Frakes appealed the ruling. Last month, the university affirmed the original ruling, the Omaha World-Herald says. The newspaper cited a confidential, 35-page report on the appeal.
Frakes’s violations included “making unwanted comments…regarding female students’ bodies and clothing” and instilling fear that he could “negatively influence” the careers of students, according to the report obtained by PDN last summer. That report said Frakes commented on the appearance of female students, scrolled through photos of “scantily clad” women on a phone while driving with female students in his car, and told students he was not a person to “‘piss off’ and he could ‘end their careers.’”
Journalism student Calla Kessler filed the harassment complaint against Frakes, and other students confirmed her accusations, according to the Omaha World-Herald report and the documents obtained by PDN. In an interview last summer, Kessler said she and other students were initially reluctant to speak out. “We feared retaliation,” she said at the time. With the support of other students and women journalists she contacted through social media, “I felt I had enough support to undergo this grueling process,” she said.
Frakes denied the accusations against him, saying Kessler was retaliating for negative criticism about her work, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
The newspaper also said Kessler and Frakes both declined to comment on the appeals ruling because of a confidentiality order.
This AI Creates Photo-Realistic Faces of People Who Don’t Exist
Instead of searching for the ideal model for a photo shoot, photographers of the future may be able to generate one using artificial intelligence. Neural networks these days can generate portraits of imaginary people.
NVIDIA recently published a paper titled “Progressive Growing of GANs for Improved Quality, Stability, and Variation.” GAN stands for “generative adversarial network,” and it’s a system that uses two neural networks — one generates things and the other evaluates them. These algorithms are capable of generating artificial “photos” that look real to humans.
For its project, NVIDIA found that training the neural network using low-resolution photos of real celebrities and then ramping up to high-res photos helped to both speed up and stabilize the “learning” process, allowing the AI to create “images of unprecedented quality.”
To demonstrate the system, NVIDIA trained the neural network using the CelebA HQ database of famous faces.
Once it had been trained on these real faces, the AI was able to begin generating photo-realistic photos of fake people.
Here’s a 6-minute video that shows more examples of what this neural network can do:
In addition to faces, the neural network can also generate “photos” of objects and scenes.
“While the quality of our results is generally high compared to earlier work on GANs, and the training is stable in large resolutions, there is a long way to true photorealism,” the researchers conclude in their paper. “That said, we feel that convincing realism may now be within reach.”
Fashion Photographer Goes Dark After Accusations of Sexual Misconduct
Montreal-based fashion photographer Anthony Turano has deleted his large online presence after a number of models publicly accused him of sexual assault and harassment.
Le Journal de Montréal reports that at least five women have gone on record with the paper with stories about Turano’s behavior, and at least one of them has filed a complaint with law enforcement.
“In text and Facebook messages that we were able to consult, models were implicitly but insistently offered sex in exchange for photos,” Le Journal writes. “After agreeing on a photo shoot date, the photographer refused to actually work with these models if they refused her advances, say the women interviewed. The modus operandi of M. Turano was often the same, almost exactly.”
Model Marianne Trudel, who filed the police complaint last month, tells the paper she contacted Turano for portfolio photos. A few days before the session, Trudel allegedly received messages from Turano saying that there was a problem — he was attracted to her.
Trudel says she decided not to work with Turano after concluding that he wasn’t willing to do the photo shoot without a “physical connection.”
Other models claim that they were informed last minute that the paid trip they agreed to take with Turano for a shoot would involve a shared room with only a single bed.
Model Rose Dubuc claims she found out she would have to share a bed with Turano for six nights during a shoot in Los Angeles in late 2016 after Turano paid for her travels, and that Turano blamed the client for booking the arrangement. She says Turano sexually assaulted her several times over the course of that week.
“Every night, he put pressure on me, we had sex and we went to bed,” Dubuc tells Le Journal. “He never sought consent. I told him several times that it did not tempt me, that I did not want to […] I was in a country I did not know and I did not want to call my mother to send me money.”
After the Le Journal article was published yesterday, Dubuc posted a video titled “It’s finally over … #MeToo #ModelLife” (you can enable English translation captions in the video):
Turano has vehemently denied much of the models’ accounts to Le Journal, and he claims the allegations are being made by competitors and rejected models who have tried to defame him for years. He says the screenshots are fabricated, and that the accusations have driven him to the verge of suicide in recent days.
In recent years, Turano has reportedly worked with publications such as GQ, Sports Illustrated, and Vogue. Here’s Turano in a recent photo shoot behind-the-scenes video:
On October 21st, after models went public on social media with their accusations, Turano abruptly retired from photography and deleted his social media accounts.
“Anthony Turano was a photographer from 2002 to 2017 with a unique style and flair for creating stunning fashion editorials for world leading magazines and ad campaigns for his prestigious clients,” his website now reads. “Due to health issues Anthony Turano was forced to retire from this business in late 2017. Anthony Turano chose to concentrate on his family, health and wellbeing.”
Before deleting the accounts, Turano had over 91,000 followers on Instagram and 26,000 on Facebook.
Turano has not yet responded to our request for comment.
This GoPro Got Covered by Lava, Burst Into Flames… and Survived
Here’s the amazing story of a tough little GoPro camera that refused to die. It was hit by molten lava, burst into flames, and somehow survived to shoot another day.
Erik Storm is the owner and lead guide of Kilauea EcoGuides in Hawaii. About 16 months ago, he was on a tour when he placed his GoPro into a crack to film lava flows.
“I was telling a story when the molten lava completely engulfed my GoPro (with housing on) and it caught on fire,” Storm tells PetaPixel. “I used a geology rock hammer to pull it out of the lava and thought it was a total loss.
After getting back home, Storm hammered the cooled rock off the GoPro housing. He suddenly noticed that the Wi-Fi light on the camera within was still blinking.
When he pulled the SD card out of the camera, he found that the footage was still intact. The last video on it shows the camera getting engulfed by lava and flames bursting into view.
“The camera even still worked although not a well as it did before,” Storm says. “Truly amazing it survived!”
Tuesday Tip: Clear Your Calendar for Your Kickstarter
“I don’t think people are prepared for the amount of work it takes to be successful with Kickstarter,” says photographer Ryann Ford. She ran a a Kickstarter campaign to subsidize publication of her 2015 book called The Last Stop.
powerHouse had expressed interest in the project, which is about the architecture of disappearing rest stops along America’s interstate highways. But the publisher wanted to gauge interest in the project before committing to publication. So editors asked Ryann to do a Kickstarter. She set a fundraising goal of $25,000, then launched her month-long campaign in November, 2014.
“I sat a the computer for 18 hours a day, for 28 days, eating microwave quesadillas,” she says. She spent the time appealing for donations from everyone she knew, posting repeatedly to Twitter and Facebook, and pitching the project to media outlets. Those pitches led to numerous interviews with media outlets that were hungry for blog content, and decided to feature her project.
“I noticed that when I walked away from the computer for a break, the pledges would stop, so I got back on there, tweeting and sharing. It was like stoking a fire. As soon as you stop, it stops.” But her efforts paid off: Ford exceeded her goal, raising more than $35,000.
See “Book Publishing: The Costs and Benefits of Creative Control”