Early Photos vs. Now: Seeing Progress as a Photographer

Early Photos vs. Now: Seeing Progress as a Photographer

Whelp! The Internet reminded me a few days back that I’ve officially been shooting photography for over 10 years now. I’ll be honest, I thought my progress would have been further. I assume the end of my life will be something like what I am currently experiencing, which is “Wow, that went fast.” It seems I’m just barely starting to grasp the wise words of my elders when they told me “Time goes quicker than you think.”

Recent artwork from my 2018 RGG EDU tutorial. Both tutorials I’ve released with them are some of my favorite accomplishments.

In the spirit of anniversaries, let’s see just how f**king horrifying Year 1 and 2 really were… *Takes a deep breath* To the archives!

What’s this ‘flower’ setting on my point and shoot?? Oh s**t! You can take pictures of things close up! Woo!”*misses putting subject in focus
“Yes yes, let’s do a fake blood-filled cup and some s**tty pearls cause Anne Rice got me hooked on f**ken vampires in the 90’s!” Shot again with a point and shoot, with some lamps for lighting and some brutal Photoshop work to make up for the lack of lighting knowledge. Also had clearly not heard the term “Color Temperature” yet.
“Flash can be turned on manually on my Nikon Coolpix, and if I put it in front with the sun behind, it does THIS?? Well this is my new favourite thing ever!” Then I remembered that mosquitoes suck and promptly scampered into the studio for mostly ever more.
Photographed in my fridge, cause I learned that big soft light is sexy, and lamps just weren’t doing the trick.
Blown highlights and crushed shadows and no concept of color harmony?? You mean sky glitter and trendy as f**k presets…

When I first picked up a camera it was mostly to be creative in a way that didn’t involve modeling, and it was faster than drawing. I photographed macro, still life, bikes, and over the course of a year, a number of friends and slave labored my sister a bunch. The first few years were the most exciting cause the gains were exponential, obvious, and relatively easy to attain.

Admittedly, Year 1 was probably my most fun year in photography. Not that the subsequent haven’t delivered amazing memories and new friends, but I was in it purely for the fun and had no expectations from anyone but me. I didn’t have goals, a client wish list, no questions of what gear would make my work better, or any desire beyond the next batch of point-and-shoot pixels that would get my dopamine levels hopping off the charts.

Early years are dedicated to trying a lot of things, as many different facets as possible. I don’t think anyone should be really trying to “figure out their style” because if we do enough work and spend the hours just being immersed in it, style will inevitably start to form. Sometimes it looks like what’s already being made, and sometimes it turns into a creature that nobody has ever seen before. Regardless of what it is, you have to have your ass in the seat as often as you can or want, to find that voice.

10 years in, it feels like the gains I make now are at the sacrifice of dragging myself over broken glass while an elephant steps on my back. I’m not here because I retained that energy of “This is the best thing evaaarrrr!” from the early days, but because discipline and stubbornness have forced me to continue. When I’m bashing at the walls of my inability to complete a concept that’s been in my mind for 5 years, and I’m still probably another 2-3 years away from being competent enough to finalize the piece, I know I’m in it for the long game.

Time has taught me the harder things feel in the moment, the more frustrated and pressurized my brain feels over the work, I’m probably just getting closer to my next sliver of a creative breakthrough. I’ll trade one elephant for another bigger, slightly heavier elephant. While they trade places though, in those brief moments I’ll find I can breathe again.

A recent challenge to create an image using only one area of the color wheel. Many thanks to Linda Friesen for channelling her inner Moon Goddess.

Those Moments Are What I Live For

I write this all to serve as a reminder, to those in their first year, or to the grizzled veterans staring down a resume longer than a CVS receipt. Where we started and where we are now is worth celebrating. Most of us weren’t born with a natural “talent” — in fact, many would argue that is a myth. We are simply a result of repetition and practice.

I think a lot of people get intimidated in their early years that their work will never look as good as they want it to. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can definitely say that 10 years in, I’m still another 10 years away from doing the kind of work I want to make. I hope it never changes.

My inbox is filled with emails asking the same question written hundreds of different ways, but the theme can be boiled down to “How do I get awesome at this??”

Answer? I could write an essay but here are some easy points:

  • Just keep at it. Put your ass into frequent, habitual practice.
  • Most who are any good, sit upon a throne of really, really terrible work, and years of it. Every time you complete a work of art that you think is pretty f**king awful, congratulate yourself. It’s one more foundation stone into your cathedral of mastery.
  • Do not look for shortcuts. You’re only stealing from your future-self.
  • There is no “one path to success”. There are thousands of ways, and what works for one may not work for another.
  • Know thyself. Inspiration is great, but nothing beats digging into the nuts and bolts of your honest creative self.
Self portrait, trying to grind down on better color theory. I probably need to watch Kate Woodman’s RGG tutorial…

Maybe you are the creator who does a little bit of everything from now until forever. Maybe you’re the type who started one style and never ever changes. There is no right or wrong answer. Far as I know, they don’t hand out medals in the afterlife… yet.

“They” say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I’ve met some of those humans, and they’re most often either f**king unicorns, or completely disillusioned. Love what you do, or don’t, regardless your ass is probably gunna work pretty damn hard.

I fall in and out of love with my chosen career and lifestyle on a weekly basis. I equate my career to being in a long-term, committed relationship. Some days we wake up and look at each other in bed and wonder why the other is still there. Others we are reminded what got us there in the first place. Regardless of my feelings, I think they’re mostly irrelevant.

Accurate depiction of real life misery. Brought on by walking barefoot into a glacier fed, cold ass lake, or occasionally just trying to will myself into turning on my computer… Side note – Check out those “I clearly only ever wear boots” pasty ankles!

10 years in, I feel like I’m just cracking the surface of “me” and what that means to be a creator. Seated upon a mountain of embarrassing pixels and memories, I’m staring at the bottom of an even larger heap that I will create over the next decade. My well-made list of goals and plans will probably get muddled and misplaced by the chaotic influence that is life, but another 10 years will pass regardless.

I just hope that my small, infinitesimal contribution of creativity will maybe start to balance out the number of straws I’ve used.

Commissioned work for guitar queen Nita Strauss.

Inspiration time! I managed to convince some mind-bogglingly awesome artists from a variety of genres to also dig into their archives, and bravely share some of their own humble beginnings. This was a very cathartic experience for me. It was so just absolutely f**king perfect seeing where they all started to their current favorite work. Remember, we all start somewhere, and with a few years of dedication, we never know where we will wind up.

Dave Brosha

2003. “Pure garbage. Both emotionally and metaphysically.”
2018. “The only thing between where you are and where you want to be is the passion to learn and putting the time in. Some of my earliest images are laughably make-your-eyes-bleed bad – but I never beat myself up for them. They are what they are…and that’s to say, they’re part of the process of learning and growth.”

Visit his website here.

Curtis Jones

2012. “Cape Spear, Newfoundland. Completely disregarding geography, composition, and proper use of a tripod, I felt this was a pretty solid shot of my friends under the northern lights. To be honest, I’m not 100% certain a tripod was even involved but I was out there making an effort and that’s what sticks with me. Turns out the most easterly point in Canada isn’t a hotspot for aurora activity.”
2018. “Khongoryn Els, Mongolia. Now, with a few more miles racked up, an appreciation for location scouting and a better grasp on my gear, putting in the effort still counts but the returns have become more consistent – less random and more intentional.”

Visit his website here.

Felix Inden

2008. “I was really stoked about this one. Enough to save it as my first .psd (of course after reducing to 72 DPI)”
2018. “I was incredibly lucky that I got this shot… it was not thought or anything. I just saw it coming, fired away and luckily had the right settings from shooting out of the heli before of this moment. Don´t plan to much. embrace spontaneity. be there and be ready.”

Visit his website here.

Michael Shainblum

2007.
2018.

Visit his website here.

Tim Kemple

2004. “From my first commercial shoot. It was on Mt Washington for Eastern Mountain Sports and we had this awesome but wacky creative director that wanted a shot of the less glamorous moments that happen when you are out hiking. Shot on slide film. Provia 400F pushed a stop.”
2015. “Two climbers on Mt Huntington in Alaska. Shot with Phase One medium format from a helicopter.”

Visit his website here.

Elizabeth Gadd

2008. “10 years ago I discovered my passion for taking moody self portraits (because sitting on the ground and staring into space with a blurry focus seemed cool). Can’t believe how proud I was of this one once.”
2018. “10 years later, still taking moody self portraits. Hoping the practice has paid off!”

Visit her website here.

Bella Kotak

2008. “This was when I first discovered Photoshop! It took me a few more years to figure the program. At that time it wasn’t really about improving my “photography” but more about how I could improve on what I wanted to express. It just so happened that the camera felt like most natural medium to do that through.”
2018, The Kiss. “It’s amazing what time, practice, and knowledge can do. When it comes to creating pictures I’ve never focused on what I can’t do but rather, what I can do. The goal is, and has always been, to shoot often, keep learning, constantly experimenting, never hold back, and always try to level up.”

Visit her website here.

Kate Woodman

2014. This image represents my first real foray into using Photoshop in a creative/artistic way vs. a more conventional dodge-and-burn-cleanup kind of way. The image was accidental–one of my strobes didn’t fire, and I was left with something I wasn’t anticipating but though could lead to something interesting. It was the first time I really embraced a mistake as a learning opportunity–and I’ve made many more and learned so much from them, from both a technical but also a conceptual perspective.”
2018. “I feel like I’m finally getting to the stage where my photography not only reflects my aesthetic preferences but also my conceptual interests. This is a more recent image which I think is pretty successful in portraying a narrative that is both visually and viscerally impactful. There’s definitely something going on but it leaves room for interpretation–that ambiguity is something I’ve always liked in others’ art and strive for in my own.”

Visit her website here.

Richard Terborg

2009. ” I like the snow, and I like photography. So I figured it would be funny to combine the two in a “creatively next level” way, by wearing my normal “day” clothes instead of winter clothing. Because I didn’t want my garden in the background this frame was the only one that worked.”
2018. “I’ve been on a Wes Anderson exploration/funk/inspired by/phase/binge??? So I asked my friend to bring anything yellow he has and a puffy hat. It was around 35 degrees celcius outside and he had to put on the only yellow woolly shirt he had and a warm cap. Love places with a lot of color and lines because of ‘Wes’ and this place just clicked perfectly.”

Visit his website here.

Julia Kuzmenko

2007. “I honestly had no clue what I was doing. I know now, that the best thing to learn something in a specific photography genre is to break apart and analyze every aspect of the images of a handful of successful artists whose work resonates with me the most. The cropping, the colors, the makeup, hair and facial expressions.. everything that we photographers have control of at the time of the capture.”
2018. “Shoot, shoot, shoot more! Practice like a maniac, so you are at the right skill level when the opportunity comes along.”

Visit her website here.

Tina Eisen

2009. “February. I had one light and a friend called Hannah. We knew nothing. Even less than Jon Snow. Not even the cat bowl was safe.”
2018. “September. I know a couple more things now! I still experiment to this day and wake up happy every morning that I took this step 10 years ago!”

Visit her website here.

Pratik Naik

2008. “I wanted to be a fashion photographer with my wonderful wide angle kit lens and sweet angles. I thought the more angles the better and so we angled all day.”
2018. “I realized what was actually kept me inspired was the complete opposite. It was energy, mood, and emotion. Through my attempt at fashion photography, I carved the path to what I really loved shooting.”

Visit his website here.

Benjamin Von Wong

2007. “Well, I found a second set of mirrors… on another escalator haha. Theres a nice big flash hiding my head but I thought it’d make a cool effect on the metal parts.”
2018. “Ironically, I believed myself to be a better photographer then, than I do now, even though my skill level is objectively higher. I wonder how I’ll feel about myself and my work in another 10 years!”

Visit his website here.

Ashley Joncas

2010. “I was always a disgruntled little $hit even when I started teaching myself photography. I was obsessed with antique portraiture but also obsessed with HotTopic…so the dynamic duo combined with me barely knowing how to turn on a camera ended up in a branch explosion from my friends head surrounded by fake smoke. Thankfully 8 years has made a big difference…and I’ve gone from doing a horrible job to actual horror photography.”
2018. “The work I do now is directly indicative of how my creative mind works and what it responds to. For a while I thought being a good photographer meant doing pretty images with flower crowns and safe color palettes, but I realized my voice was in the strange and irregular chasms of our reality. So, my favorite image from this year is a shot of someone sitting in a basement with a bloody eye and shackles.”

Visit her website here.

The Art of Mezame

2013. “I thought using a single LED light and a Samsung Galaxy S3 was good enough for toy photography. I remember the motivation for using the LED light was just so I could see something in the dark. I don’t remember editing the image though haha!”
2018. “I am now actively shooting portraits in studios and using more than just LED lights. Instead of lighting things up just so I can see something in the dark, I use lighting and lightshapers to craft images that tell stories. Only time will tell what else I could discover in my journey as a photographer. Still learning, never stopping.”

Visit his website here.

Joel Robison

2009. “Back in the early days I was still a bit nervous to really get outside and shoot, I was largely taking self-portraits inside my apartment and really only had one bare wall to play with. I was doing a 365 project and ideas were getting thin so I decided to do a week of making props out of cardboard…I whipped up a cardboard gun, money bag and mustache and spent a good solid 5 minutes shooting this image which I then ran through Picnic AND Photoshop to get the desired “vintage” effect.” We all started somewhere and I can’t believe I thought it all looked good!”

Visit his website here.

Webb Bland

2005. “Distortion? Check. Vignetting like I stacked too many polarizers? Check. A pass of every free plugin I could find? Check and mate, photographers! *Retouchers. Whatever.”
2019. “High noon in an airplane graveyard, spacing each car between stark wing shadows. The only thing missing is the abysmal HDR and VIGNETTING OH GOD HOW DID I FORGET THE VIGNETTING??! Shot for Audi.”

Visit his website here.

Alex Ruiz

1993. “Crappy figure drawing: This gem was from my submission portfolio to Cal Arts. Needless to say, I didn’t get in. In retrospect this was valuable lesson for me: get damn good at figure drawing or else I wasn’t going anywhere!”
2018. “Kat Livingston as Elven Queen. There’s something about creating portraits that I’ve always been drawn to more and more over the years. There’s a deep intimacy to it, having a character stare deeply back at you, and sometimes through you. This one is based off New York model, Kat Livingston. Giving her an ethereal, elven quality seemed fitting for her.”

Visit his website here.

John Gallagher

2013. “My Little Pony – A cautionary tale. I’m fond of migrating beloved and nostalgic animated content to ‘real world’ to test my own ability to stay true to the characters while transforming them for fun. This is a gorgeous cringe worthy example of what not to do. Cue sharp inhale.“
2018. “So Deadpool… This won 2nd place in the DeviantArt fan art poster contest with Fox. DA picked five fan-favorite artists to compete for prize money and a trip to New York to the premiere. There was a long list of no-fly zones for content and just a couple days to do it so we all hit the ground running. I thought it came together pretty well and dovetailed nicely with the slo-mo mayhem of the DP cineverse. It’s a natural fit for my brand of hyperkinetics.”

Visit his website here.


The best way to see our progress is to occasionally take an honest look back at our past. What kind of people we were, what we valued, and how we expressed it. While it sometimes feels weird or awkward to look back at our less than experienced selves, they are the treasures that helped us become who we are, and what we do now shapes our futures.

It’s also so easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to others, the mysteries behind the scenes that helped evolve the final product they now share to the world.

This list is only a snapshot in each person’s life, a single Polaroid in an entire journal to be perceived as warnings or inspiration. Inevitably there will be someone commenting about “I like x image more!” or “I wish I was as good as their befores”. If those are your thoughts, I applaud your skill in missing the point.

Remember, we are only in ultimate competition with our younger and future selves. Our journeys are our own, appreciate the past and embrace the next 10 years.


About the author: Canadian born and raised, Renee Robyn is a former model turned photographer who has developed an ethereal style, combining fact and fiction. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Merging together expertly shot photographs with hours of meticulous retouching in Photoshop, Robyn’s images are easily recognizable and distinctly her own. She travels full time, shooting for clients and teaching workshops around the world. You can find more of her work on her website, Facebook, and Twitter. This article was also published here.


Source: PetaPixel

Early Photos vs. Now: Seeing Progress as a Photographer

The Essence of the Street Photographer

The Essence of the Street Photographer

Since the availability of Phase One’s new 150-megapixel system hardware, the prices on lesser equipment have fallen surprisingly. I was therefore able, recently, to purchase a lightly used Hasselblad H6D-100c, with a couple of lenses, at a relative steal.

As an experienced photographer (I have been shooting for 2 years now, professionally for 18 months of that) I was able to master the intricacies of the new system almost immediately, and having done so I set out as is my wont to wander the streets looking for meaning in the play of light, shadow, and the human spirit.

As I passed under a bridge a few miles from my home, I noticed in my peripheral vision a graphical design cast by the momentary clearing of clouds, allowing the sharp, slanting rays of Sol to cut some interest into the wall. Of course, there were cars passing, the view was obscured. “No shot,” I sighed to myself.

Still, unconsciously, I broke my stride, pausing for a moment as a pedestrian approached, passed across the light region behind the stream of automobiles, and then for a split second there was a gap in the traffic.

By pure instinct I brought the Hasselblad, married for this perambulation to the superb HC 3,2/150mm lens, to my eye, by feel working the aperture to the optimum f/8 as I did so, and pressed the shutter button trusting to the exposure meter to get me close enough to work with. And then the moment passed. Gone.

I was unsure if I had gotten anything, of course, but I felt that perhaps there was something there. I continued as flaneur, returning home after 3 or 4 more hours, and only then loaded my take into Phocus version 3.3 to examine it. Chimping on the rear of the camera, even with the startling excellence of the H6D-100c’s 920k pixel touchscreen, simply isn’t worth the time.

Of the two frames I shot during the 5 or 6 hours I spent searching the streets, this one, the instant described above, is clearly the best.

You can see how effortlessly the H6D-100c’s autofocus system nailed it. The incredible bit depth of the 100 megapixel sensor allowed me to retain detail in those deep shadows, and to separate the pedestrian’s body, although shadowed itself, from those deep shadows, while retaining detail far into the highlights despite the extreme contrast of the scene. The creamy texture of the midtones feels filmic to me. This is, obviously, impossible without a medium format sensor, and a good one at that.

Was this pure instinct? Perhaps a little luck, I think together with my well honed instincts. I have simply shot so much that my unconscious mind appears to grasp possibilities a second or two before I even know it. Without that hard-earned instinct, these shots would be impossible, the moment simply passes too quickly to be consciously grasped.

This, then, is the essence of the street photographer.


About the author: Andrew Molitor writes software by day and takes pictures by night. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Yes, this article is satire. Molitor is based in Norfolk, Virginia, and does his best to obsess over gear, specs, or sharpness. You can find more of his writing on his blog. This article was also published here.


Image credits: Header illustration uses photo by Factory and licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0


Source: PetaPixel

The Essence of the Street Photographer

The Extreme Confidence of Vaquera

The Extreme Confidence of Vaquera
It wouldn’t be talking out of school to say that the final look of Vaquera’s SS19 show, which took place inside an actual school, included one of the most creative riffs on proportions seen in recent fashion week memory: an LSD-laced nostalgia trip, the show’s finale was a graduation-blue satin gown, propped up by a Marie Antoinette-style hoopskirt, and accessorized with an outrageously large cap.

The finale’s achievement—to take something normally associated with adolescent ungainlines…

Keep on reading: The Extreme Confidence of Vaquera
Source: V Magazine

The Extreme Confidence of Vaquera

Apple Unveils the iPhone XR, a Budget Phone with One-Camera Portrait Mode

Apple Unveils the iPhone XR, a Budget Phone with One-Camera Portrait Mode

In addition to the new XS and XS MAX, Apple has also announced the new iPhone XR, the latest budget iPhone that still packs a mean punch.

Instead of an OLED display, the phone uses a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina LCD display that Apple calls the “most advanced LCD in a smartphone.” It’s purportedly the most color accurate LCD display in the industry, offering True Tone and wide color support.

Size-wise, the iPhone XR is the same as the iPhone 8 Plus (which has a 5.5-inch screen):

The display stretches edge-to-edge and is protected by the most durable front glass ever found in a smartphone. The band around the phone is crafted from durable 7000 series aerospace-grade aluminum. The back of the phone is also glass, which allows for wireless charging.

Other features and specs of the phone include IP67 water resistance, the new A12 Bionic chip, Face ID, LTE Advanced, Dual SIM, and iOS 12.

The Camera

Instead of a dual camera, the iPhone XR features a single 12-megapixel f/1.8 wide-angle lens. What it lacks in dual-camera-ness it makes up for with computational photography: the iPhone XR can — like the Google Pixel line — do Portrait Mode using its single camera thanks to improvements to the image signal processor, neural engine, and algorithms.

The front camera can also be used for Portrait Mode selfies.

Like the XS and XS MAX, the XR has a new Depth Control slider feature that lets you adjust the depth-of-field in Portrait Mode photos after they’re captured, going from maximum bokeh at f/1.8 to maximum depth-of-field at f/16.

And like the XS and XS MAX, the XR features Smart HDR, which preserves better highlight and shadow details across photos.

Other camera features include Portrait Lighting, Animoji, and Memoji.

Here are some official sample photos captured with the iPhone XR:

Here’s a 4-minute Apple video introducing the XR alongside the XS and XS MAX:

Pricing and Availability

The iPhone XR will be available in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB models in white, black, blue, yellow, coral and (PRODUCT)RED for $749. Pre-orders will start on October 19th and the phone will hit store shelves on October 26.


Source: PetaPixel

Apple Unveils the iPhone XR, a Budget Phone with One-Camera Portrait Mode

Apple Unveils the iPhone XS and XS MAX: Smart HDR and Bokeh Slider

Apple Unveils the iPhone XS and XS MAX: Smart HDR and Bokeh Slider

Apple has just announced the iPhone XS and XS MAX, a new generation of iPhones that brings iPhone photographer to the next level.

The iPhone XS and XS MAX are both made of surgical-grade stainless steel. On the front and back are the most durable glass that has ever been introduced in a smartphone.

The phones come in three finishes (Gild, Silver, and Space Gray) and two sizes: the XS features an edge-to-edge 5.8-inch 2.7-million-pixel screen and the XS MAX features a 6.5-inch 3.3-million-pixel screen.

Here’s how the XS and XS MAX compare to the iPhone 8 Plus’ physical size and 5.5-inch screen:

Both screens are OLED Super Retina displays that pack 458 pixels into every inch, the highest pixel density so far on an iOS device. The displays have a 60% greater dynamic range than the iPhone X, great for viewing the details of photos.

Other features and specs include IP68 waterproofing (submersion down to 2 meters for 30 minutes), 120Hz touch sensing, 3D touch, Tap to Wake, True Tone display, iOS systemwide color management, up to 512GB storage (enough for 200,000 photos), wide color support, and the biggest battery ever in an iPhone (an extra 1.5 hours of juice for the XS MAX and 30m for the XS ).

Camera Features

The iPhone continues to be the world’s most popular camera, so Apple focuses a great deal of attention to ensuring that its smartphone camera capabilities stay relevant.

The iPhone XS and XS MAX feature a newly designed dual-camera system with new sensors on the backside. There’s a 12MP wide-angle camera with optical image stabilization (OIS) and a 6-element f/1.8 lens. The telephoto camera is a 12MP one with OIS and a 2x optical zoom with its 6-element f/2.4 lens.

Video-wise, the rear cameras can capture 4K 60fps footage.

In between the two cameras is an improved True Tone flash with an advanced flicker-detect system.

On the front of the camera is a multi-sensor system featuring a dot projector, infrared camera, and a main 7-megapixel RGB camera with a faster sensor and an f/2.2 aperture lens.

Smart HDR

One of the major focuses with this new generation is computational photography, or combining AI technologies to improve and enhance photo quality and capabilities.

The new A12 bionic processor in the iPhone does image signal processing every time you snap a photo, and the iPhone combines those functions of the processor with the neural engine for a whopping 1 trillion operations per photo.

This opens to door to new features such as the Smart HDR found in the phones. Every time you snap a photo with Smart HDR, the phone captures a primary 4-photo buffer, secondary interframes at different exposures, and a long exposure for shadow details. The phone then analyzes all the photos, selects the best portions of each, and then combines them to create an optimal version of what you’re trying to capture.

Depth-of-Field Slider

Another big feature in the new iPhone XS and XS MAX is improved bokeh. The phone captures “even more sophisticated bokeh” for professional-level results, Apple says.

Apple says it studied some of the highest-end cameras and fastest lenses to characterize the quality of bokeh. It then combined that knowledge with computational photography to create the new Depth Slider feature.

After capturing a Portrait Mode photo, you can open up the Edit feature to find the new Depth Slider.

It allows you to adjust the photo’s depth of field after it’s captured from f/1.4 to f/16. You’ll be able to see the depth of field and bokeh change before your eyes as you use the slider.

Here’s a short video that shows it in action:

Sample Photos

Here’s a selection of official sample photos captured using the iPhone XS and iPhone XS MAX:

Intro Video

Here’s a 4-minute video in which Apple introduces these two new iPhones (as well as the iPhone XR):

Pricing and Availability

The iPhone XS and XS MAX will be available in 64GB, 256GB, 512GB capacities with starting prices of $999 and $1,099, respectively. They’ll be available for pre-order on September 14th and will hit store shelves on September 21st.


Source: PetaPixel

Apple Unveils the iPhone XS and XS MAX: Smart HDR and Bokeh Slider

3 Reasons You Don’t Need To Be A Pro To Make Great Photos

3 Reasons You Don’t Need To Be A Pro To Make Great Photos

The label of being a “professional” at something, whether you’re a professional football player or a professional figure skater, typically means you’re the best of the best in your respective field. But when it comes to a professional photographer, the same assumption can’t be made.

I hear from people on a regular basis that discount their personal photographic abilities because they say they aren’t a “pro”, rather just an amateur or a hobbyist. This thought track is what initially got me thinking about what really constitutes a professional photographer.

What Does “Pro” Really Mean?

Depending on who you ask, a photographer becomes eligible for the “pro” stamp of approval if 100% of their income is generated from some sort of photographic activity, but all this means is that they’ve wrapped a business around their love of photography. It has absolutely no merit on their particular skill set, portfolio, or quality of work — it has more to do with their business acumen and their ability to market themselves.

I’ve seen plenty of amateur photographers that are more skilled than some of the “pro” photographers out there, but they have a 9-5 job outside of photography, therefore cannot receive the professional label under today’s requirements.

Gear Doesn’t Matter

We’re all conditioned to believe that gear matters, but it’s simply not quite as important as we’re influenced to think. Professionals will typically have better gear than most amateurs, mainly because they can easily justify upgrading on a consistent basis as they generate income from their equipment.

An important factor to consider here is the law of diminishing return, the difference between a $100 camera and a $1,000 camera is HUGE! The difference between a $1,000 and a $2,000 camera is significant, but not as significant though as the variance between the $100 versus $1,000 camera. And the same goes for a $2,000 camera in comparison to a $4,000 camera.

There is a difference, but the perceived increase in quality begins to become difficult to easily identify.

Passion Driven Shooting

This is where amateurs and hobbyist have a distinct advantage over the pros. If you’re an amateur photographer you typically only photograph things you’re passionate about, things that inspire you and put a smile on your face. Professional photographers do the same, but also end up photographing things they aren’t necessarily passionate about as they must also focus on generating income to pay their mortgage or send their kids to college.

This is one of the things I initially noticed when I made the leap from an amateur to a “professional” photographer – shooting what you love is much more rewarding than shooting for a paycheck.

At the end of the day, if you like taking photographs and you enjoy photography, then you’re a photographer. Don’t get hung up on the labels amateur, hobbyist, or professional as these labels really don’t mean a thing other than where you generate your income and definitely don’t let it stand between you and putting yourself out there because you don’t think you have the capacity to be a “pro”.


P.S. If you enjoyed this video and article, you can find more by subscribing to my YouTube channel.


About the author: Mark Denney is a landscape photographer based in North Carolina. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Source: PetaPixel

3 Reasons You Don’t Need To Be A Pro To Make Great Photos

GCDS’s FW18 Campaign is a Cosmic Dream

GCDS’s FW18 Campaign is a Cosmic Dream
Influenced by the modern emergence artificial intelligence, GCDS’s FW18 campaign transports us to the future–one could say the terrifying “near” future, if we’re being honest.

Designer Giuliano Calza has casted superstars Fetty Wap and Kali Uchis to front the cosmic infused campaign. Shot in Brooklyn’s National Sawdust, photographer team Hunter and Gatti capture the music dynamos wearing technical pieces from the Italian streetwear brand in a galactic environment styled by rising ic…

Keep on reading: GCDS’s FW18 Campaign is a Cosmic Dream
Source: V Magazine

GCDS’s FW18 Campaign is a Cosmic Dream

Nikon Z7 Field Report: Too Many Good Things to Not Like It

Nikon Z7 Field Report: Too Many Good Things to Not Like It

Earlier this year I got a phone call from Japan asking whether I would be interested in working on yet another important global introduction campaign for a new Nikon product. As I very much enjoyed creating the Hercules Rising night time-lapse for the introduction of the Nikon D850, I said yes.

My wife Daniella and I plan our photo tours two years ahead and we travel/shoot nine months a year, so it was a real challenge again to wiggle it into our schedule, but we somehow managed to make it fit. What followed were several secretive Skype calls and emails via encrypted servers in Transylvania, and eventually I found out what the new product was: the Nikon Z7 mirrorless camera.

I was instantly excited about this project, knowing how incredibly important this introduction would be and that I would be one of only very few photographers in the world to use Nikon’s first full frame mirrorless camera.

Like with the D850, I was given free choice as to where I wanted to shoot – the perfect assignment! One of the things that stuck with me after hearing all the features of the Z7, was the oversized lens mount and how it enabled the engineers to create new lenses that would produce edge-to-edge sharpness. I then decided to test this new level of sharpness by taking the Z7 to the sharpest landscape on this planet: the Grand Tsingy in Madagascar.

This place is so razor-sharp, that I literally had to climb up and down using construction workers’ gloves as to not cut myself on those limestone needles. But Madagascar is a unique place that has a lot more to offer, so I also decided to include the location where I shot my first National Geographic publication more than 10 years ago: the Allée des Baobabs, aka the Avenue of baobabs. I managed to get three Z7 prototypes for this project, which started in late May.

Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth.

As always, I spent a great deal of time figuring out the best shooting locations and ways to create unique images. Great photographs start with great ideas, so that’s what I consider the most important part of any shoot: the pre-visualization. During my research, I noticed that it’s very hard to get a proper sense of scale when looking at the tsingy images that I found online. As it’s physically impossible to walk on top of 99.99% of the tsingy, putting a little person in there for scale was not an option, unless of course that person was a mountaineer. And so it started. I found a climber with a death wish who was very excited to give this a try, so the only challenge that was left was the fact that I’m afraid of heights. Minor detail.

How to climb giant limestone steak knives. Nikon Z7, 24-70mm f/4.0, 1/4 @ f/11, ISO 100

I should add that this was by no means a one-man show. As always, I did this project together with my wife Daniella who is critically important for keeping me on track, for solving logistical challenges, and for second opinions. But we were also accompanied by a video team to shoot the behind the scenes video clips, four porters, two guides, a location manager, a producer, an ad agency representative, and three security guys, and probably even more people.

I’m not used to working as part of a herd, but in hindsight, I could never have pulled this off without them – thank you all!

The Nikon Z7 Madagascar team.

Note that this is not going to be a technical review with lots of numbers and charts – there are already quite a few of those around and I don’t like numbers and charts anyway. This is just my personal experience with three Z7 prototypes and the three new S-lenses during 12 days in Madagascar.

First impressions

My very first impression of the Z7 was that it was very black. Reason being that Nikon had carefully masked every detail on the camera with gaffer tape, in an effort to make it look as anonymous as possible 🙂 After all, the places we were going to visit are open to the general public and it was critically important that no one would see (or worse: photograph!) this new camera.

My second impression was a combination of three: size, weight, and feel. The first two were expected – this being a mirrorless camera means it’s smaller and lighter than a DSLR. But I use several DSLRs and they’re not all created equal in the weight department.

I consider my D5 and D4s to be heavy, and my D850, D500, and D810 are lightweight compared to those two. Well, the Z7 basically makes the D850 feel like a German tank. From WW I. What truly surprised me, was how the Z7 feels: like a DSLR. Nikon’s ergonomics are unrivaled, and with the Z7 it’s no different.

My main concern with mirrorless cameras has always been that they feel like vulnerable toys, impossible to operate if you have big hands, while wearing gloves, or if you don’t have a magnifying glass handy. Nikon resisted the temptation to simply shrink a DSLR, and instead designed it from scratch and gave it a really beefy grip. The moment I picked it up for the first time, it felt familiar and in a very good way.

Buttons, dials and menus

Apart from the body being a lot smaller than what I’m used to, there are not many surprises on the outside. All the buttons are in the right places. On the front there are two function buttons that you can program. I typically use the top one for depth of field preview and the bottom one for the virtual horizon, but I no longer need to use the DOF preview button as the EVF will always show you exactly what you’re gonna get. Look at that mount, it’s humongous!

On the back, the row of buttons we’re used to seeing on the left are obviously gone – lack of real estate. Most of them have been moved to the lower right corner and all buttons have kept their original size. At the top of the viewfinder is an eye sensor – placing your eye to the viewfinder activates this sensor, switching the display from the monitor to the viewfinder.

You can use the DISP button to view or hide indicators in the monitor or viewfinder. The menus are no different from usual. The first thing I always do is move all the items I use regularly into My Menu and assign it to a customizable button, which saves me a lot of time in the field.

The big dial on the left shows three user setting modes: U1, U2, and U3. Gone are those dreaded menu banks! You can assign frequently used settings to these positions for quick recall. Although I haven’t used these options yet, I will most likely put my landscape settings under U1, wildlife under U2, and night photography under U3.

I also quite liked the main dial on the right being exposed on the top, unlike all my DSLRs. With gloves on this will be more easy to operate. The top LCD screen is much smaller than I’m used to, but all the essentials are in there. From this angle, you can clearly see that beefy grip. The flange distance is only 16mm.

All in all, I feel that Nikon has done a great job with the design and ergonomics. This camera may be compact and lightweight, it still feels like a DSLR.

The FTZ-adapter

To say that I was curious what the FTZ-adapter looked like and how it performed would be an understatement. I had visions of poorly performing teleconverters (I have a drawer full of those) that cause poor autofocus, take light away and degrade image quality, so I was skeptical. But now I know that’s because I didn’t fully comprehend the concept.

The Z7 not only has a massive new Z-mount, it also has a tiny flange distance. Flange is the distance between the sensor and the outside edge of the lens mount. Regular F-mount lenses have been designed for the typical flange distance of a DSLR, so they wouldn’t work on a camera with a different flange distance, even if I had the same lens mount.

So this adapter does two things: it converts the Z-mount into an F-mount, and it increases the flange distance to that of a DSLR. This also means that no glass is needed inside the adapter, unlike a TC. Understanding this, it makes perfect sense that there is no loss of quality or performance when using my F-mount lenses on the Z7.

During this trip, I have used the FTZ-adapter with the following lenses: 14-24/2.8, 20/1.8, 24/1.8, 24-70/2.8, 70-200/2.8, 180-400/4.0. It has performed well with all these lenses. With this simple adapter, you can basically use 360 Nikon F-mount lenses, of which 90 will autofocus. But not only your Nikon F-mount lenses will still work, also any third party F-mount lenses like those from Sigma or Tamron.

Another big advantage of the FTZ-adapter is that it will add vibration reduction (in-camera image stabilization) to all your non-VR lenses!

Nikon Z7 + FTZ-adapter = a lot of choices.

I had one issue with the adapter though: at the bottom, there is this square looking part that will end up very close to the body of the Z7. I noticed that some of my generic camera plates, the ones that ‘hug’ the bottom of the body to prevent the plate from twisting, sort of wedge in between the body and the adapter, pushing the bottom of the adapter away from the camera. This didn’t look good and I was afraid I would damage the adapter or performance of it, so I ended up using completely flat plates.

In-camera image stabilization

The Z-series bodies are the first interchangeable lens Nikons to come with an in-body vibration reduction (VR) mechanism. This offers compensation in 5 directions and the effect is supposedly equivalent to a shutter speed up to appr. 5 stops faster. The in-body VR is effective when paired with non-VR Nikkor F-mount lenses by using the FTZ-adapter. That means that all your non-VR lenses suddenly get VR when used on the Z6 or Z7 – pretty cool.

Nikon lenses that already have VR (pitch and yaw) will get the added benefit of roll axis, which means that both in-body image stabilization, along with lens VR will work simultaneously to get the best out of the two. I’m addicted to my tripod, so I typically only shoot handheld when I’m shooting wildlife that’s running or flying all over the place, or when I’m just scouting and taking test shots. I have not tested this in-depth, but I’ve seen inside the viewfinder that it works well: a very steady image, and the shots were all sharp.

That’s me, handholding a Z7 with FTZ-adapter and 70-200/2.8, using both the lens VR and in-body VR.

The EVF

Apart from the obvious size and weight reduction, the EVF is clearly the biggest difference with all my DSLRs. To be honest, it took me some time to get used to. There were times that I cursed it (mostly because of operator error), but most of the time I thoroughly enjoyed it.

What I really loved is the fact that you can superimpose your histogram inside the viewfinder, so I no longer need to take my eye off the viewfinder to check my exposures. For wildlife, this is particularly useful, because lowering the camera to check your exposure might coincide with the most spectacular action ever photographed in the history of wildlife photography, and you’d miss it.

What’s also great, is that you can not only directly see the effect of the aperture you’ve selected, but also of your white balance. I usually just shoot my daytime images in auto white balance and fine tune it later, but sometimes I don’t like what I’m seeing and I tweak it in-camera to give me a more pleasing result on location.

The EVF also rules when it comes to precision focusing. When you focus, you can actually zoom in on your focus point and manually fine-tune the focus – while looking through the viewfinder. I think that’s awesome. And to make it even better, you can use focus peaking to help you get things critically sharp.

Nikon Z7, 24-70mm f/4.0 S, 1/160 @ f/16, ISO 200

But there’s more. When you’re shooting in bright conditions, it can be hard to check the results on your monitor. Well, that’s no longer an issue, because your image will show up inside your viewfinder. For this shot, I wanted to use a reflector to bounce some fill light on her face to better show her face paint, but I didn’t want it to be too strong. In bright daylight, it would be impossible to check the subtle differences between my exposures on the monitor. This is where the EVF really shines. It’s like using a Hoodman without having to use a Hoodman.

To the left of the viewfinder (more or less where the on-camera flash button usually is on my DSLRs) is the Monitor Mode button. There are a couple of different settings for how the EVF behaves in combination with the monitor, for instance: the display can automatically switch from the monitor to the viewfinder when you place your eye to the viewfinder, and back from the viewfinder to the monitor when you take your eye away. Or you can set it to prioritize the viewfinder, making it behave like a DSLR: placing your eye to the viewfinder turns the viewfinder on and taking your eye away turns the viewfinder off.

In photo mode, the monitor remains blank. Having only used DSLRs for so many years, I was often surprised by what was happening with the viewfinder/monitor, simply because I had set it to the wrong mode or forgot that I was shooting with a mirrorless camera. Eventually, I got the hang of it and moving back to my DSLRs after the project felt like going back in time – I really missed the EVF.

Nikon Z7 with FTZ-adapter, 14-24mm f/2.8, 0.5 sec @ f/11, ISO 64, focus stack

However, there was one thing that I really struggled with: the EVF brightness. When you look through the viewfinder of a DSLR, you see the scene at the same brightness as with your bare eye. With an EVF that’s different because you’re basically looking at a miniature Live View monitor, and you need to set the brightness level for that yourself. Several times I found myself being fooled by the brightness of the EVF, tricking me into thinking that I shot a nice and bright image with tons of shadow detail, whereas in reality, the image was actually horribly underexposed.

While it is true that one look at the histogram would tell me this, in the heat of the moment that sometimes did not compute. An overly dark scene like the one above will easily look well exposed in the EVF, but later turn out to be way too dark. There have been moments where I was looking at the image in the viewfinder and then to the histogram next to it, and realized those did not seem to belong together – the image looked so much brighter than what it should look like according to the histogram.

At first, I started to change the brightness level of the EVF to match what I was seeing, but that didn’t prove to be a definitive solution either. I ended up more or less ignoring the brightness level of the image in the EVF and only use it for composition, light direction, focus, depth of field, and instead relying on the histogram for exposure. Overall, I would say the default setting of the EVF is too bright.

Using the EVF you can also use Silent Photography mode, without first having to switch to Live View like with my D850.

Another thing I really enjoyed is the fact that the autofocus points now cover 90% of the frame and that you can focus all the way to the edge. Even with pro-level DSLRs the AF system still limits AF points to the central area of the frame, which means you will often have to focus and recompose or use Live View. With the Z7 I did not need to take my eye from the viewfinder as I could basically focus anywhere in the frame.

In the field

The contents of my f/stop Tilopa camera bag changed each day depending on the shoot, but this is about average.

On the top left there’s my D850 with a 24mm f/1.8 and an SB-5000, next to it a 14-24mm f/2.8 F-mount lens. In the lower left corner, there’s a Z7 with 24-70mm f/4 S lens and the 35mm f/1.8 S just below it. In the lower right corner is another Z7 body with the FTZ-adapter and a 70-200mm f/2.8 F-mount lens. When I snapped this image with my iPhone, the third Z7 was on a tripod with my 180-400mm f/4.0 and another FTZ-adapter. The 50mm f/1.8 S was in a different bag.

Autofocus performance

The thing I was most interested in when it comes to autofocus, was how my F-mount lenses would perform with the FTZ-adapter. I found that it was easy to get focus and keep it. The good thing is that the camera can still focus in very dimly lit situations, up to -4 EV. I created a little animated GIF of one of my last shoots.

9 Frames per second (animated GIF, click on image). Nikon Z7 with FTZ-adapter, 180-400mm f/4.0 @ 560mm, 1/100 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 4000

After several failed attempts, I finally managed to find a lemur on the limestone needles, but the sun had already set and the light was quite murky. Focusing with the 180-400mm f/4.0 and the FTZ-adapter was not a problem. Nikon engineers had advised me to turn VR on the lens off, but I saw no difference between the shots where I had turned it on. I actually like to turn it on, because the scene inside the viewfinder looks so much less wobbly.

The Z7 can shoot 9 fps, and that’s exactly what you see here: this animated GIF consists of one burst of 9 images. But although it works well, autofocus is organized differently on the Z7. There is no dedicated autofocus mode button on the front of the camera anymore to switch between the various autofocus point modes, and some of those modes have disappeared.

For instance, there’s no group mode, and no D21 or D51 – only D9. I shoot D9 most of the time myself when I’m in AF-C, so it’s not a deal breaker for me, but it’s worth noting. You don’t need to enter a menu to change autofocus point modes though, because you can assign a custom button for this purpose – like the movie record button. Works like a charm.

I must add that I haven’t used the Z7 much on moving subjects (the wildlife wasn’t cooperating, as usual), so I haven’t been able to properly test the autofocus for wildlife. From my limited experience, I can say that the AF is not as fast as my D850 and that tracking a moving subject is more challenging.

Another thing is that the buffer is not particularly large, so don’t expect to shoot a cheetah chasing a gazelle with the Z7 (23 images when shooting lossless compressed 12-bit) as you will only be able to shoot for 2.5 seconds before the buffer fills up – a bit like the D750.

Nikon Z7 with 35mm f/1.8 S, 8 sec @ f/1.8, ISO 3200

Low light and high ISO performance

I like shooting before the sun is out and after it has set, and I also greatly enjoy shooting at night. Needless to say that I was very interested to see how the Z7 would perform in low light conditions. The low-light AF performance of the D850 is nothing short of amazing, but the Z-series takes this even further.

Hidden under a11 in your Custom Settings menu is the option Low-light AF. When turned on you’ll get even more accurate focus, providing you’re in AF-S. The autofocus becomes a bit slower, but the result is pretty amazing. For the image above, I was actually able to use the Low-light AF to focus on the branches of the largest tree. The tent would have been easier, but my depth of field was not sufficient to get that big tree in focus as well when I tried.

Nikon Z7, 35mm f/1.8 S, 16 sec @ f/1.8, ISO 5000

Here’s another example where I shot at night with the same 35/1.8 S lens. Focusing was not an issue here, because I could just use the bright light in front of the tree. When you’re using a 35mm lens for shooting the night sky, you have to watch your exposures – shooting longer than 15 seconds will already show some star trailing. With a 14mm I can shoot this scene at ISO 3200 because I can expose as long as 25 seconds, but with the 35mm I had to go up to ISO 5000 to get a similar exposure at 16 seconds. And 16 seconds was also the maximum time that my assistant could sit still during the entire exposure. The resulting image quality looks very similar to that of my D850.

Nocturnal selfie. Nikon Z7 with FTZ-adapter, 14-24mm f/2.8, 5 sec @ f/2.8, ISO 3200

When Kazuo Ushida, the president of Nikon, presented the Z-series system during the global live event, this image was displayed behind him. Well, they used the completely unprocessed version – I did a perspective correction on those trees (they were quite heavily converging because of my 14-24 pointing upwards). For this image, I also used the Low-light AF to help me focus on that tree on the right (and by shining a small headlight on it). It’s one of my favorite images of the trip because it’s so different from what’s already out there, and from what I’ve shot there myself 10 years ago.

It’s not easy to create something unique at an iconic location like this, but therein lies a big artistic challenge – and I really enjoy those. This was shot on a very early morning, and the light was changing rapidly. I had to work super fast because I wanted to have some color in the sky combined with the light beams. This moment was gone in like 5 minutes.

Overall, I found that the EVF was the only challenge when shooting at night. Our eyes are so amazing at picking up the tiniest details in the landscape even during a new moon, there is no EVF that can match that.

When using a regular viewfinder, once you’re eyes are used to the darkness you will be able to see the landscape even when the only light source is the stars. I usually switch off the camera so that I don’t get blinded by the bright numbers inside the viewfinder, and then fine-tune my composition. With an EVF this is not possible, after all: it’s an illuminated micro monitor. In total darkness, it will always be too bright, and it will never be able to show the amount of detail that your eyes can see at night.

This is not a shortcoming of just the Z7, but a general phenomenon for all mirrorless cameras. When you look through the EVF on a really dark night, it’s hard to see what you’re doing.

Diffraction compensation. Nikon Z7 with FTZ-adapter, 70-200mm f/2.8, 1/80 sec @ f/22, ISO 1600

Diffraction compensation

We all know that shooting with very small apertures will deteriorate the quality of the sharpness: diffraction. Most serious landscape photographers will therefore choose to shoot several exposures at different focal distances at a larger aperture – focus stacking. But focus stacking requires additional post-processing time, and ideally you don’t want anything to move within your frame.

The Z7 has an option called Diffraction Compensation, and I was super curious how it would perform. While climbing in the tsingy, I saw an interesting backlit tree which contrasted nicely with the dark limestone surrounding it. I could not get any closer to it, and the only way to frame it the way I liked was to use my 70-200/2.8 at 125mm.

Getting sufficient depth of field was a real challenge here, and I would usually have gone for a focus stack in this situation. However, there was a fair amount of wind, so the leaves were moving, and I figured this would be a good moment to test the Diffraction Compensation option.

I stopped the lens down to f/22 which gave me the DOF I needed and took two shots: one with Diffraction Compensation set to ON and one to OFF. When I compared the two images, there was a subtle but noticeable difference – this option really works. Shooting a focus stack will still give you better results, but if there’s no time or you just don’t feel like it: this is a useful option.

Enhanced Focus Stacking

Since I already mentioned focus stacking (Nikon calls it ‘focus shift’), the D850 was the first DSLR to have this as an automated option, but the Z7 takes this even further. With the new ‘Peaking Stack Image’ function you will be able to see a monochrome preview of the focus stack you are able to capture – pretty awesome. If you like to be close to your subject and want everything in focus, then focus stacking is the way to go to get maximum depth of field at maximum quality. Ever since I got my D850 I have been using the automated Focus Shift function regularly, and this latest enhancement has made it even nicer to use.

Sharp against sharp. Nikon Z7 with FTZ-adapter, 14-24mm f/2.8, 1/6 sec @ f/11, ISO 64

For this particular image, I placed my Z7 and 14-24 inside a very prickly cactus, and the only way to get front to back sharpness is by shooting a focus stack. I ended up shooting an automated focus shift sequence of 16 images that I later combined using Helicon Focus. The cactus needles in the front and the limestone needles in the background are all razor sharp. I should add that working with a much smaller body like the Z7 makes it a lot easier to set up shots like this.

Wireless Speedlight control

I love my Speedlights as they allow me to create my own light. In that sense, a flash really is an important creative tool for me. When working on my shot list before the start of the trip, I thought about creating an environmental portrait of a local girl using my Speedlights to create selective lighting and drama.

What surprised me when I arrived at this location, is that many of the young girls paint their faces with a yellow ‘paint’ that is made from a special type of wood. This isn’t merely decorative but also applied to protect the skin from the damage of the sun as well as ward off insects such as mosquitoes. It is also believed to make your skin more beautiful, much like a face cream would. The mask is known as Masonjaony.

Nikon Z7, 50mm f/1.8 S, 1/100 @ f/1.8, ISO 400

The idea was to use the 50/1.8 S lens to throw the background out of focus and create a nice contrast with the sharp subject in the foreground. I waited for the sun to set and for the afterglow to hit the trees with beautiful low contrast warm light, and I set the Speedlight to a very low output.

I triggered the SB-5000 with the WR-R10 transceiver. That thing is very small and connects directly into the side port of the camera. The flash settings I controlled with the in-camera flash menu that I added to My Menu for quick and easy access. The detail on her face is amazing, and I love the quality of the light created by the Speedlight.

In order to be as flexible as possible and work fast – I really wanted to keep some color in the sky – I decided to shoot everything handheld. I don’t usually shoot people, but for this project, I decided that was something that I needed to do to add some more life to the landscape. I was way out of my comfort zone here, but I fully enjoyed the experience and I strongly believe that it actually makes you a better photographer if you step out of your safe space every now and then.

Edge to edge sharpness and tons of detail. Nikon Z7 with FTZ-adapter, 14-24mm f/2.8, 1 sec @ f/11, ISO 100.

Endless detail

One of the coolest things to do when you’re shooting 45+MP is to zoom in on your image and admire the detail. With the new S-lenses that detail now goes all the way up into the corners and to the edges. With the Z7 you can now control the amount of detail via the Picture Control menu. You already know that you can tweak these picture controls, and now even more so than ever.

If you want to adjust your selected picture control, you can now choose Quick Sharp, Sharpening, Mid-range Sharpening, and Clarity. Mid-range Sharpening is particularly interesting because you can adjust sharpness according to the fineness of the patterns and lines in mid-tones affected by Sharpening and Clarity. And when you’re in the Picture Control menu, you will also find the Creative Picture Control where you can choose from a bunch of effects, similar to the ones in Instagram.

The image above is probably one of the best examples of what this camera is capable of: edge to edge sharpness with tons of detail. To get this shot I was perched on top of one of those nasty limestone needles, pointing my 14-24 straight down into the abyss – not the greatest experience if you’re afraid of heights. But you have to suffer for your art, or so they say.

Nikon Z-series: the S-lenses.

The Lenses

During this project I have used a wide variety of lenses; F-mount lenses as well as the new S-lenses that were specifically designed for this new system. The idea behind the large Z-mount was to create a future-proof mount that is large enough to accommodate modern lens designs that can be as fast as f/0.95.

The new Nikon Z-mount is 17% larger than the trusty F-mount, thanks to its inner diameter of 55mm. This, together with a 16mm flange distance will allow Nikon to make lenses that were much more difficult to design with the Nikon F-mount. One of the objectives was to design lenses that would deliver edge to edge sharpness. This has clearly been something that I have tested constantly by checking the edges and the corners after every shot. And I have to say – the results are very good.

Of the three S-lenses that I have used, the 24-70/4.0 is by far my favorite. I love zoom lenses for the creative flexibility that they offer, and this lens was also the widest of the three which I often preferred for the landscape shots. Comparing the three, the 24-70/4.0 also seemed the sharpest to me.

Nikon Z7, 24-70mm f/4.0 S, 1/100 sec @ f/8, ISO 320, SB-5000. The birds are not pasted in.

Overall, the lenses are all compact and lightweight and nicely balanced on the Z7. For the image above I really wanted those grasses in the foreground to be razor sharp all the way up to the corners, and at the same time have the tree and the background crispy sharp as well.

Looking through the EVF, I was able to zoom in on those areas and check them for sharpness. Each click of the aperture dial would result in a live DOF change inside the viewfinder – very useful. To add some fill light on the girl in red, I used my SB-5000 that I triggered with the WR-R10 transceiver. That thing is very small and connects directly into the side port of the camera.

The Z-series feature an on-sensor hybrid autofocus system, which works very differently compared to the traditional phase detection autofocus system on Nikon DSLRs. There is no need for a secondary mirror, and this basically eliminates all AF micro-adjustment issues that many photographers spend so much time on (AF fine tune). By incorporating phase detection pixels right on the sensor, Nikon is able to perform focus on the image sensor without relying on a secondary focusing system: no more lens calibration necessary!

The Nikon S-Line road map.

Nikon is planning to release between 4-6 new S-lenses per year, and I’m especially looking forward to both the 20/1.8 S and the 14-24/2.8 S. I have extensively used my 14-24/2.8 F-mount lens on this trip with great results, but that’s neither a lightweight nor a compact super wide angle zoom, and I can only imagine what a killer landscape photography combo the Z7 with a compact and lightweight 14-24/2.8 S-lens will be.

Image quality

From my limited experience with this camera and the large variety of lenses I have used, I can say that the image quality is superb. All my F-mount lenses performed just as good as on my DSLRs, and some of them got VR as a bonus via the FTZ-adapter (AF-S 14-24/2.8 VR!). The S-lenses are all very sharp, compact and lightweight. Colors, contrast, detail, and sharpness of the images are all very good and comparable to the D850.

For the image below I wanted to shoot straight into the sun with the 24-70mm f/4.0 S to create some graphic silhouettes, but zoom lenses are more prone to flaring in those conditions. I was happy to see that there was very little to no lens flare, even with the sun away from the center of the frame. In some ways, the Z7 felt like a D850 Light in terms of image quality, but that would actually not be fair to the Z7 because it is a fantastic camera that even has some features and advantages that the D850 does not have.

Shooting into the sun. Nikon Z7, 24-70mm f/4.0, 1/640 @ f/8.0, ISO 64

Weather proof

This is a biggie. No matter how great a camera is, if it can’t survive harsh conditions I won’t use it. This has always been the main complaint I’ve heard from our photo tour participants who are shooting mirrorless: the cameras struggle in dusty/humid/cold conditions and become unreliable. As I spend most of my time in dusty/humid/cold conditions, I’ve never been really interested in going mirrorless.

When I first looked at the Z7 I was still skeptical, but that was mostly because it is so much smaller and lighter and you sort of expect it to be less weatherproof and reliable than a DSLR. During this project, I have photographed in blistering heat, high humidity during the night, in dense fog, and in very dusty conditions. At no point did these conditions affect the cameras, only me (I forgot to bring a down jacket for the cold nights).

Nikon Z7 with FTZ-adapter and 70-200mm f/2.8

The tilt-screen of the Z7 seems to be the same as the one on the D850, which works fine but I’m always worried when I flip it open and look at the intricate construction – I’m always afraid to damage it. Funny enough I let my D850 crash onto the ground during the Hercules Rising time-lapse project with the tilt-screen open, and although it was severely bent out of shape, I simply bend it back and it just kept on working fine. And so did the camera.

I have an angle finder that I use a lot for shooting from low angles, but I find myself using the tilt-screen more and more now, also on this trip. The Malagassy dust did not affect the mechanism. I would have loved the tilt screen to also tilt sideways when shooting verticals, though.

Nikon Z7, 24-70mm f/4 S, 1/125 @ f/8, ISO 64

The One Card Slot Controversy

The trolls really had a field day with this one. To be honest, I don’t understand why there is only one card slot as both the Sonys have two, but at the same time, it is not an issue for me. I always set the second card slot to ‘overflow’ anyway, so the one card slot will have zero impact on my workflow.

I get it that wedding photographers get freaked out by the idea of not having a second card as a backup option, but at least that one card slot is for the mighty XQD card (which will eventually be compatible with CFexpress as well, after a firmware update). They’re much more solid, durable and capable than SD cards and I’ve never had one crash on me – as opposed to CF and SD.

Also, don’t forget that the Sony A7 II and A7R II had just one card slot, and it’s only the most recent Sony’s that have a second SD card slot, barely more than a year ago. Even the new Canon R only has a single SD card slot, so it’s clearly not that unusual.

Nikon Z7: one XQD card slot.

Battery life

There have been some wild stories on the Internet regarding the supposedly poor battery life of the Z7. This is not my experience. As a matter of fact, both Z bodies use a similar battery as the D850. During the Z7 project, I have used three Z7 bodies extensively and never did I have to use more than one battery per day, so the CIPA numbers seem extremely conservative to me.

However, your camera’s battery life depends on many factors: temperature, live view, image review, monitor brightness, standby time, EVF use, EVF brightness, focusing, VR, etc. If I’m shooting polar bears in the Arctic with my 180-400/4.0 in sub-zero temperatures, using AF-C and VR continuously while looking through my EVF and regularly reviewing my images on the LCD screen, that will seriously impact battery life. But for the Hercules Rising time-lapse project for last year’s introduction of the Nikon D850, I used similar batteries and never had any issues either. I already have quite a few of those batteries, so I won’t need to buy extra when using the Z7.

I was happy to hear there will be a battery pack available soon. I use battery packs on all my DSLRs for increased battery life and better handling when shooting verticals, so I’m definitely going to get me one of those for my Z7.

Nikon Z7 with FTZ-adapter, 180-400mm f/4.0, 1/100 sec @ f/4.0, ISO 6400

The End

That’s it. I can go on forever, but I’ve been told that’s gonna bore people to death. I hope you enjoyed reading about my experiences with the Z7 and I hope you will someday be able to try one yourself. It’s a really great camera that has earned a spot in my camera bag. No, it doesn’t have eye AF and only one card slot, but those are not even minor disappointments in my opinion.

There are simply too many good things about this camera to not like it, and I haven’t even talked about the customizable lens control ring, 4K and 8K time-lapse, 120p slow motion full frame video at full HD, fast start-up time, no low pass filter, fast XPEED 6 processor, and a whole bunch of other stuff. The next time I go hiking in the mountains or the desert, there is absolutely no question which camera I will put in my backpack.


About the author: Marsel van Oosten is a professional nature photographer from The Netherlands. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Together with his wife Daniella Sibbing, Van Oosten runs Squiver, a company that offers specialized nature photography tours all over the world for small groups of all experience levels. You can find more of Van Oosten’s work on his website and Instagram. This article was also published here.


Source: PetaPixel

Nikon Z7 Field Report: Too Many Good Things to Not Like It

An 8-Hour Photo Walk Around New York City

An 8-Hour Photo Walk Around New York City

Early this September, I went up to New York City to photograph Teachers College, Columbia University’s new student orientation. While I was there, I had the opportunity to take some time for myself and walk around New York City, reminiscing about old times.

I lived in New York for 5 years and had a lot of great memories around the city. Several of which included walking around Manhattan alone and with friends taking photos in 2014.

5 months ago, I moved to Orlando after not wanting to be in NYC anymore. Life in Manhattan meant it took long to get anywhere, everything was expensive, places are small and there are too many people everywhere. I needed more calm than the city provided.

But this was my first time being back since moving and it felt different. My dislike of New York City had changed. I now missed the city and surprisingly wanted to be there. The same streets that I had walked by so many times before and had taken for granted now touched me in a different way.

As a photographer, New York City offers diversity and variety of scenery and people in a way that you don’t get in many other places. I took that for granted while living there. For street photography, in particular, it’s a photographer’s paradise. It’s rich with people, places, and things everywhere. Things I disliked before are assets I wish I had around now.

This day, I had no agenda other than go around the city taking photos of whatever seemed interesting to me and I was going to take advantage of it.

I’ve improved in my photography since the last time I walked around the city with the sole purpose of photographing. It was exciting, nostalgic, challenging, and emotional getting to be in Manhattan again with my camera in hand. I walked. And walked. And walked some more and I didn’t care how tired I was getting – I just wanted more photos and more time in what used to be my city.

My Apple Watch says I ended up walking 16.04 miles and burned 1,426 calories by the time I got to my hotel at the end of the day. I walked from 9am to 8pm with about 4 hours of breaks in between to eat and be with friends and family. I was dead tired and had to photograph the orientation the next day, but it was so sweet getting to capture the photos I wanted to take in a city I once didn’t like.

It helped me fall in love with it once again.


Gear used: Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 50mm f/1.4, and Canon 10-18mm f/4.5.


About the author: Christian Hernandez is a photographer who resides in Orlando, Florida. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Hernandez specializes in natural light portrait, fashion, engagement, and wedding photography. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.


Source: PetaPixel

An 8-Hour Photo Walk Around New York City