The Art of Knowing: Thoughts from a Photo Trip to China

The Art of Knowing: Thoughts from a Photo Trip to China

For my recent trip to China, as I’ve done before, I planned and I planned… and I planned. I made detailed maps, took notes on locations and hints as to the best vantage points. I scoured everything to ensure that my time there was incredibly well-invested in capturing the best images I could manage within the time I had. And frankly, I feel that this was a great practice, for me.

I enjoy detailed preparations, and I enjoy the ease with which I can navigate myself upon arrival, having set them and assimilated them practically into my subconscious.

I brought the Nikon D850 with me for this trip and I intended to put it to use to see just how well it could perform in all manner of applications. While my choice practice of photography is landscapes, I intended to put in some serious miles on foot through the various cities in which I’d be staying, and to that end, I brought two wide-angle lenses and a single walkaround lens.

As things turned out, my recently acquired Nikon 20mm f/1.8 was the breakout workhorse of the two wides, and only once did I elect to swap it out. This thing renders beautifully, is immaculately sharp practically from edge to edge, and generally served me very well with its field of view.

The Bund (Nikon D850 w/ Nikon 20mm 1.8 – f/8, 189 seconds, 64 ISO)

I brought along the Nikon 24-120mm for my after-location walkaround habits, and while there are certainly mixed reviews on its usability as a “pro” lens, it performed admirably on the D850, capturing some excellent images up to as high as 25,000 ISO in the darkness of night.

Reflecting on the weeks spent using it in a variety of settings, I would rate it as an admirable lens to capture the memories of one’s journey, but lacking in some of the finer optical qualities of Nikon’s primes or top-level zooms. That said, it served its purpose.

For all of my plans and equipment and backup equipment, nothing that I’d sought could be achieved without a set of general guidelines to keep me focused on the task at hand. I was mulling this over one afternoon in Hong Kong – an extremely hot and humid afternoon – and as I huffed along the trails of Braemer Hill, cooking in my own perspiration, my mind drifted from my body and, floating somewhere ahead of me, began to conceive some essential notions which – unbeknownst to me – had helped guide me to just this place on this visually inspiring, if ruthlessly hot day.

Braemer Hill (Nikon D850 w/ Nikon 20mm – f/8, 5 seconds, ISO 64 – 10 shots on Median Stack Mode)

Photography in any form, once it becomes a consuming passion, is not merely a labor of love. It is often laborious and inconvenient. As often as one might be in the right place at the right time and take a tremendous photo to share with friends and family, someone else is dragging themselves up before dawn and hiking miles in the shadows to their preconceived destination. This is very much a product of determination.

Any experienced and dedicated photographer has a set of rules ingrained into their understanding of how they go about their workflow. These are the things we should all know in order to guarantee us that when the time comes, we are armed and ready. Somewhere within my roasting brain, these are the items I drummed up.

Know Your Plan

This is really as obvious as it sounds. For myself, the majority of my shoots are very early in the morning. For whatever the complexity of the shoot may be, or the distance from any sort of accessible food, water, power, or so forth, I try to always ensure that I have considered everything that I will need and the time I’ll need to dedicate to the trip. I save maps, I screenshot directions to my phone, planning for service outages (I could take this one step further and hand draw maps on my arm, but I haven’t gone that insane yet).

For my time in Beijing, this was a fairly basic aspect of my approach. Beijing is an extremely populous city, and at any time, on any day, you can expect to contend with crowds. On the first morning of my stay, I had wanted to shoot as early as possible within the Temple of Heaven to obtain some serene images of the grand alters within, and this entailed two basic requirements: arriving prior to the opening of the inner gates, and my most intense ND filter (I had brought only a 10 stop, so that’s what I used).

As it turned out, I was among the first people to enter the gate, and still, within moments, the place was busy with families and tour groups – I wouldn’t even want to imagine what it’s like inside of those courtyards by noon.

The final result here is a stack of exposures to remove any other spectators. The majority of the work wound up being a simple waiting game as people swirled around me shooting selfies and whatnot. My only really unexpected delay was amusingly an older gentleman with whom I could only communicate in gesture, asking me to take a photo of him – first on his phone, then on another phone, and finally using his laptop. He seemed very pleased with the shots I took of him, so I was happy to be of assistance.

Hall of Prayer (Nikon D850 w/ Nikon 20mm 1.8 – f/8, 5 seconds, 64 ISO – 10 shots stacked)

Know Yourself

This is not necessarily meant to impart some sort of David Carradine-esque Kung Fu wisdom such as “he who conquers himself is the greatest warrior.” Nonetheless, it is always a layer of consideration.

Know your preferences, and know your foibles. Plan around the issues you know you’re prone to causing yourself. On top of my consistently early wakeups throughout this trip, I was rolling my alarm back an additional 30 minutes because I always require about that long for my mind to claw itself out of the pits of sleep-induced delirium and into proper consciousness. It is always a rough experience – I tell you that.

In addition, consider your habits and what unexpected decisions you might make while you’re out. I love to walk for miles. I don’t generally consider it, but once I set on the ground and have the time, I can walk the length of a city and simply enjoy the sights and sounds. In China, one generally must take care to drink bottled water, and to that effect, my room was consistently stocked with half a dozen bottles and other drinks, and I was always a new, regular customer in my nearest corner store.

I probably spent more time talking with my corner store folks than anyone else. When out, one of my top considerations is to stack my bag with bottles of water – which while helping to keep me alive, also double as generous weight if I need to hook my bag from the tripod to help mitigate the wind.

Know Murphy’s Law

I’m sure most people are familiar with this phrase: “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” I am a bit of a lunatic when it comes to my observation of this one – especially when I’m in a foreign country halfway around the world. Most mornings I leave my hotel with 2-3 batteries, a backup camera remote, a case of extra SIM cards, and multiple lenses, and I tend to check and re-check my bag even up to the point of walking out the door.

As for walking out the door, I’m usually doing it long before I truly need to, and tend to be the first photographer on location when I’m arriving at a sunrise shoot destination. My philosophy is that the world will test you with any number of unforeseen issues, and I’d rather sit on my hilltop or at the foot of a river for 45 minutes awaiting first light with 10 pounds of extraneous gear than to arrive late with a malfunctioning intervalometer.

That being the case, I spent my first two mornings up on Victoria Peak in Hong Kong in a good stretch of darkness as bats rustled the trees around me and swooped overhead and beneath the path, and some very large, unidentified things scurried across the path beside me. I hold no malice toward any animal and generally am fond of all of them, but I can declare now that I do find bats to be a bit on the creepy side.

All in all, my precautions were worth it, as they ensured I did not have to flail my fists to the heavens when I discovered my camera’s loaded battery was dead, or when I realized I’d somehow forgotten the trigger to remote number 1. In the end, this was my favorite of the images I walked away with from Hong Kong (and the one I’d been dragging myself up at 3:30 for, day after day).

Hong Kong from Victoria Peak (Nikon D850 with Nikon 20mm – f/9, 8 seconds, 64 ISO)

Once all is said and done, of course, the most important rule is to forget all notions of rules and to enjoy yourself, for as challenging a craft as this can often be, we’re all here in these bodies merely the once and should enjoy the sights before us before we commit them to everlasting photographic memory. To quote once more from Kung Fu: “To be at one with the universe is to know bird, sun, cloud.”

I could not agree more.


About the author: Philippe Newman is a photographer, hunter, gatherer, and scotch aficionado. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on his website and Instagram.


Source: PetaPixel

The Art of Knowing: Thoughts from a Photo Trip to China

Emilia Clarke’s True Calling is Posing for Stock Photos

Emilia Clarke’s True Calling is Posing for Stock Photos

Vanity Fair created this tongue-in-cheek 4.5-minute video in which actress Emilia Clarke recreates some of the most generic business stock photos.

“I feel confident that making stock footage is what I’ll be known for forever,” says Clarke, who’s currently best known for her roles in Game of Thrones and the new Star Wars movie, Solo. “Making stock footage… that’s the new high bar.”

(via Vanity Fair via Laughing Squid)


Source: PetaPixel

Emilia Clarke’s True Calling is Posing for Stock Photos

This Photographer Uses a Quad-Flash

This Photographer Uses a Quad-Flash

Godox recently released its new EC-200 extension head (AKA Flashpoint eVOLV 200) for the Godox AD200 TTL Pocket Flash (AKA Flashpoint eVOLV 200). Celebrity photographer Markus Klinko decided to combine four extenders and flashes into this unusual-looking quad-flash.

Klinko has used many different ring flashes and parabolic umbrellas over the course of his career, but “neither [type is] ideal for extreme close up work when balanced, even front-lighting is required,” he writes at DPReview. But these “new remote heads from China on the other hand, are small and light enough to allow for several of them to be mounted on a camera flash bracket and rail.”

At extremely close distances to subjects, the resulting light can be much less harsh than what you get with a ring flash, as long as you choose the right wide-angled reflectors, Klinko says. Each of the flash heads can be individually controlled and adjusted, allowing Klinko to have a great deal of control over how light hits his subject’s face (particularly limiting the amount of light hitting the face from below).

The unusual rig also produces unusual catchlights in subjects’ eyes.

The quad-flash rig is light enough to comfortably use while shooting handheld, powerful enough to black out strong sunlight, and can be used both on- and off-camera.

For this photo, the quad-flash was placed slightly off-camera on a tripod.

The flashes cost $299 each and the extension heads are $35, so you’ll pay about $1,155 for the four flashes if you’d like to start building a quad-flash rig for yourself.


Image credits: Photographs by Markus Klinko and used with permission


Source: PetaPixel

This Photographer Uses a Quad-Flash

Winnie Harlow and Hailey Baldwin Join the Hilfiger Fam

Winnie Harlow and Hailey Baldwin Join the Hilfiger Fam
Today, Tommy Hilfiger announced the newest additions to the Tommy family, selecting models Winnie Harlow and Hailey Baldwin as their newest global brand ambassadors, and the faces of the Fall 2018 Tommy Icons capsule collection. In an exciting statement, Hilfiger says, “They are leading the way for the next generation of Tommy women, approaching everything with confidence and optimism. These shared qualities and values are why I’m excited to welcome them into our family.” Speculation…

Keep on reading: Winnie Harlow and Hailey Baldwin Join the Hilfiger Fam
Source: V Magazine

Winnie Harlow and Hailey Baldwin Join the Hilfiger Fam

Photographer Captures Eagle and Fox Fighting Over Rabbit in Midair

Photographer Captures Eagle and Fox Fighting Over Rabbit in Midair

Wildlife photographer Kevin Ebi was out shooting a few days ago when he witnessed and photographed a crazy sight: a bald eagle and red fox fighting over a rabbit… in midair.

While photographing the non-native foxes in San Juan Island National Historical Park on San Juan Island in Washington state, Ebi spotted a young red fox carrying a rabbit it had caught across a meadow. As he panned his camera to follow that fox, a bald eagle suddenly swooped in from behind Ebi and grabbed the rabbit while it was in the fox’s mouth.

“To my surprise, the scene was even more dramatic than I expected,” Ebi writes on blog. “I thought the fox would drop the rabbit, giving the eagle an easy dinner.”

But no: the stubborn fox held on tightly to the rabbit and was itself carried more 20 feet into the air. The two predators struggled for about 8 seconds before the fox fell and hit the ground in a small cloud of dust (don’t worry: Ebi says the fox was perfectly fine afterward, but we’re guessing its ego might have been bruised).

Here’s a sequence of photos Ebi captured showing how the aerial tug-of-war played out:

Ebi’s work has appeared in some of the world’s biggest publications, including National Geographic, Smithsonian, Outdoor Photographer, and Lonely Planet. You can find more of his work on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also purchase his images, prints, and calendars through his website, Living Wilderness. Ebi’s latest book is Our Land: it’s filled with his national parks photos and commemorates the centennial of the National Park Service.


P.S. It was just last month that photographer Doc Jon captured a photo of bird that caught a shark that caught a fish.


Image credits: Photographs by Kevin Ebi/Living Wilderness and used with permission


Source: PetaPixel

Photographer Captures Eagle and Fox Fighting Over Rabbit in Midair

This Photography Jacket Was Inspired by the US Military’s M-65 Field Jacket

This Photography Jacket Was Inspired by the US Military’s M-65 Field Jacket

The camera bag brand Langly has unveiled a new weatherproof jacket designed for professional photographers called The Langly Field Jacket. The design was inspired by the US military’s iconic M-1965 (AKA M-65) field jacket.

“Originally developed by the military to function in any climate, the M-65 keeps cool on hot days, warm on cold nights, and dry during monsoons,” Langly says.

The US Military’s M65 field jacket (available at Army Surplus World), the inspiration for the Langly Field Jacket.

The Langly Field Jacket features a wind- and water-resistant outer shell, weatherproof tape-sealed seams, and an adjustable wireframe hood and cuffs.

In designing the jacket, Langly prioritized mobility and comfort: the materials protect you from the elements while still allowing your body to breathe, and the sleeve design provides an unrestricted range of motion without bunching up.

There are also zippered vents under the arms to further increase breathability when things get warm.

In addition to the four reinforced snap-flap pockets on the front, the jacket also features a large number of spaces to store camera gear and accessories. Here’s what it can carry:

Pass-through channels throughout the jacket allow you to snake cables (e.g. headphone and battery charger) between exterior and interior pockets.

The pockets in the jacket are lined with an RFID-blocking material, providing security for your passport, credit cards, and travel documents.

The Langly Field Jacket will be available in three color options (Graphite Black, Dark Forest, and Geo Yellow) and in two configurations: Traveler (the base model with fewer add-ons) and Photographer (which provides the full range of storage features shown above).

Langly has started a new Kickstarter campaign to launch its new jacket, and early supporters can receive one at a discounted price (assuming the project successfully delivers).

The Traveler and Photographer jackets can be “pre-ordered” for $289 and $310 through Kickstarter (the full retail prices will be $399 and $435, respectively) with an estimated delivery date in December 2018.


Source: PetaPixel

This Photography Jacket Was Inspired by the US Military’s M-65 Field Jacket

Perspective Distortion, Or: Why Lens Compression Doesn’t Exist

Perspective Distortion, Or: Why Lens Compression Doesn’t Exist

Here’s an enlightening 7-minute video by Fstoppers that explains why “lens compression” is a misconception that’s actually “perspective distortion”.

Basically, the reason a camera can “add 10 pounds” to a person isn’t due to the focal length of the lens used but rather the distance from the camera to the subject. But since that distance is largely dependent on how large the subject needs to appear in the frame, distortions are often explained as “lens compression.”

“These noticeable differences lead most photographers to believe that wide angle lenses are distorting a scene while telephoto lenses are compressing a scene, but they are overlooking what is actually happening: the camera is moving,” photographer Lee Morris says in the video. “In reality, the distance from the camera to the subject is what is creating these distortions.”

To demonstrate this, Morris shoots two portraits of the same subject, one with a 70mm lens and one with a 15mm lens but cropped to have the same field of view as the 70mm. The two photos have virtually identical perspective distortion.

If you bring the 15mm closer to the subject instead of cropping, the face becomes distorted due to the change in distance.


Source: PetaPixel

Perspective Distortion, Or: Why Lens Compression Doesn’t Exist

Peep This Collaboration Inspired by Kishin Shinoyama’s Nudes

Peep This Collaboration Inspired by Kishin Shinoyama’s Nudes
Opening Ceremony’s latest collaboration is a cross between a capsule collection and a time capsule. Launching today, the collection features the vintage photography of Japanese portraitist Kishin Shinoyama, known for his mid-century black-and-white depictions of the human form. Recalling the work of Helmut Newton with their dramatic chiaroscuro and forward-thinking sensibility, Shinoyama’s photographs fit seamlessly into the new crop of OC collectibles—a mix of sweatshirts, tote bags,…

Keep on reading: Peep This Collaboration Inspired by Kishin Shinoyama’s Nudes
Source: V Magazine

Peep This Collaboration Inspired by Kishin Shinoyama’s Nudes

People Magazine Once Paid $10,000 for a Photo It Didn’t Even Want

People Magazine Once Paid ,000 for a Photo It Didn’t Even Want

Photographers often reminisce about the glory days of magazines, when they were given huge budgets, freedoms, and paychecks to create images. Here’s one crazy example of what things were like then: People magazine once paid $10,000 for exclusive rights to a photo it didn’t even want… just to keep it away from competitors.

The New York Times has published a fascinating oral history documenting the last days of Time Inc. before the “pre-eminent media organization of the 20th century ended up on the scrap heap.”

Former People assistant managing editor Albert Kim shares how publications would get into crazy bidding wars over celebrity photos, sometimes paying tens of thousands of dollars for them, and sparking tabloid and paparazzi culture.

“Not long into my tenure, there was that famous set of pictures that had Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez kissing in a convertible — the first affirmation that they were a couple,” says Kim, who was responsible for approving photo department expenses. “We got into a bidding war with Us Weekly over those pictures and we ended up buying them for $50,000. That’s what triggered everything in tabloid culture and the paparazzi.”

After that $50,000 spend, Kim began spending tens of thousands of dollars every single week to license exclusive celebrity photos from photographers.

“A lot of times I was buying pictures I knew we weren’t going to run, just to keep them out of the hands of our competitors,” Kim says. “I once spent $10,000 on a photo of Eminem and his daughter knowing we wouldn’t use it, but knowing no one else could, either.”

Former Life and TIME editor Dan Okrent says that magazines spent money so loosely simply because they were earning so much, perhaps similar to some ultra-profitable Silicon Valley companies today.

“It seemed as if no one was paying attention to the money that was going out, because there was so much coming in,” Okrent says.

But as advertising dollars moved from print to the Internet, budgets for photography have shriveled up as well.


Source: PetaPixel

People Magazine Once Paid ,000 for a Photo It Didn’t Even Want

Sony Investing $9B in Image Sensors, Aims to Be Top Camera Brand by 2021

Sony Investing B in Image Sensors, Aims to Be Top Camera Brand by 2021

Sony has unveiled a new three-year plan for its business segments under new CEO Kenichiro Yoshida, and it’s clear that one of the company’s primary goals is to dominate digital photography.

The company, already the clear-cut leader in image sensors with a reported 50% market share, is planning to invest 1 trillion yen (~$9 billion) into mostly image sensors over the next three years as companies like Samsung and (now) Canon have begun ramping up their own sensor businesses.

And in a presentation given at Sony IR Day 2018, Sony also stated that one of its mid-range initiatives over the next three years is to “be the top brand in the overall camera market.”

Canon and Nikon are still the heavyweights in the camera industry when it comes to market share, but Sony has made huge inroads in recent years with cameras such as the Sony a9, which just won “Camera of the Year” in Japan.

Now Sony is hoping to overtake the likes of Canon and Nikon by March 31, 2021 as the industry’s “top camera brand,” but it’s unclear what standard Sony is measuring “top” by.

The company also observes that there has been a “revitalization of the mirrorless camera market” — thanks in part to its technological advancements — and that one of the trends in the camera industry is that its competitors are becoming “more aggressive in the market.” Canon and Nikon are both reportedly planning to launch their first full-frame mirrorless cameras within the year.

Sony has experience in making ambitious plans and then achieving those goals. After being hammered by massive losses back in 2012, then-CEO Kazuo Hirai unveiled a “Ony Sony” initiative that aimed to trim unprofitable businesses while focusing on three core “pillar” businesses: digital imaging, gaming, and mobile. Fast forward five years, and Sony announced record profits in late 2017. A few months later, Hirai stepped down as CEO and handed the reins to Yoshida, having accomplished his goals of righting the ship.

(via Sony via sonyalpharumors)


Source: PetaPixel

Sony Investing B in Image Sensors, Aims to Be Top Camera Brand by 2021