Flickr Unveils a New Login That Ditches Yahoo’s System
After being acquired by Yahoo in 2005, Flickr became bound to its new owner’s authorization system, meaning all users needed to have a Yahoo account just to use Flickr. Flickr has just announced a new login system that finally frees the service from Yahoo.
“We set to work right away to bring all our members a new, secure login method that doesn’t require a Yahoo account, and we’re thrilled that the time has come to begin migrating members to the new login,” Flickr writes in a blog post.
Because Flickr has so many registered users, this rollout will take some time, but it should reach you sometime “over the next few weeks.”
“We hope you love this new, simpler login experience,” Flickr says. “We’re still hard at work on performance and stability improvements across the site (as discussed here), but we’re delighted to check this key item off our members’ wish lists.”
I got an email notifying me of the release of Topaz Sharpen AI, a program that enhances details and fixes out-of-focus/blurred shots. I initially expected that it was something similar to Adobe Enhance Details, which slightly enhanced the details of some specific shots and didn’t work for many other images. Topaz provided a demo fully-functional for 30 days, so I decided to give it a try.
Honestly speaking, I didn’t expect much. AI is the buzz word these days. Every company claims that their products feature wonderful AI but usually such AIs underperform my expectations.
I tell you the conclusion first so that you don’t have to waste your time. I was very, very impressed with Topaz Labs’ technology. It doesn’t work perfectly well with all images and it has some drawbacks, but the overall technology is really amazing.
Let me show you some images I processed using this software.
The first example is a landscape photograph I took during my travels in Australia. It was a typical situation for travel photographers: I had to take this photo with my 28-300mm utility zoom lens. There’s no problem with the focus or camera shake, but it was simply that the lens was soft particularly at the edges.
I was blown away. The following settings were applied. If you feel it’s a little too sharp at the center, turn Remove Blur down to, say, 0.40 and blend them together in Photoshop using the circular gradation tool on a layer mask.
As soon as I started using this software I noticed something unusual — It is really slow! This program is extremely CPU/GPU intensive, so you need to run it on a fast PC. My 27″ Retina iMac is not too slow (Core i7 7700K 4.2GHz with Radeon Pro 8GB and 40GB of RAM), but it runs really slow on my computer. If you turn off Automatically Update Preview switch at the right bottom of the window, it runs smoothly but you need to check out the preview to make appropriate settings. The workaround I found was to keep the preview size as small as possible — then it ran a little faster. Still slow but somewhat bearable.
Let’s move on to the next example. This photo was again taken with a utility zoom lens. I took this shot when I lived near the building (Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building) several years ago. The original image was slightly out of focus. Perhaps I should’ve fixed the purple fringe in Lightroom in advance. But the Sharpen AI enhanced the details dramatically and also removed the purple fringe to some degree.
So far this program is really amazing. But it doesn’t always work perfectly well.
This shot was taken with the Sigma Art 50mm f/1.4, so it’s actually very sharp and doesn’t really require any further sharpening, but I tested it, too.
The AI successfully sharpened the image except for the trees hidden in the shadow. The original was much better in this particular area. So you need to know how to blend two images using a layer mask in Photoshop to fully appreciate this software.
How does it work on photos with a shallow depth of field? I tested the AI with the above example shot.
To my surprise, it sharpened the focused part and also smoothened (or reduced the noise at) the defocused part.
The focused and defocused areas were easily distinguishable in the above example. Let’s try it with another sample in which the amount of bokeh varies within a single subject.
You might wonder why I couldn’t focus on a cat who stayed still. Well, I manually focused using an old lens… It’s a shame to show you such a badly taken photo, but it is a good example for the review.
These settings couldn’t fix the focus. So let’s try another algorithm.
A little better. But not very natural. Maybe you can blend it with the original to make it look as if the focus is on the nose of the cat. I need to test more photographs to draw a conclusion but I guess that the AI is not very good at handling this sort of photographs, that is, the amount of bokeh varies dramatically within a single subject.
The last example is a photo of an eagle I took in Australia with the 28-300mm utility zoom. I spotted an eagle while driving in the outback. I quickly pulled over the car and took this shot but unfortunately the camera couldn’t AF well.
Wow! I was utterly gobsmacked at the result. It’s magic, isn’t it!?
But it also sharpened defocused areas in an unnatural way as well. So I’d need to blend the sharpened image with the original in Photoshop. I’m not going to explain how to blend them in Photoshop in this article, as it is already too long and I want to focus on the AI.
The Bottom Line
This product doesn’t work perfectly for every photo but it works wonders on many photos. I highly recommend Topaz Sharpen AI if you have a fast computer. I bought it. I would be delighted if I could use PayPal though.
About the author: Yuga Kurita is a professional photographer based in Japan. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Kurita’s work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, 500px, and Instagram. This article was also published here.
I received a letter from Costco that the location I frequent for my 8 pounds of ground beef and jumbo bottle of vodka is closing their photo department. Why? Because in spite of more pictures being taken now than in any time in the history of photography, people are simply not printing their snapshots and, because of this rapid decline in printing volume, it makes no financial sense to keep the photo department open.
And after reading this letter, I have one thing to say: People… WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?
Listen, I’ve tried being nice. I have. I’ve tried the cute graphics and the thought-provoking posts, but now, I am going to sit you down to have a come to Jesus moment regarding your memories.
Folks, you are ‘effing losing them. Daily. By the second, even.
Now, I’m not even talking about professional photos; no, I’m talking about all the day-to-day memories you take courtesy of your mobile device. The thousands of photos you have on your phone right now, people.
The ballet recital. The trip to the park. The vacation. The ordinary, run-of-the-mill wonderful events that make up a life, events that you whip out your phone to remember. Events that the minute your phone crashes or falls into the toilet, you will no longer have.
“But I back up to the cloud,” you say. “My pictures are safe,” you say.
People, repeat after me: “There is no cloud.” You are simply backing photos up to another computer somewhere. And while you may have access to them, will your kids? Or their kids? Or their kids?
Let me answer that for you. NO. No, they won’t, which means all of those precious day-to-day images will be lost for future generations because you didn’t take an hour to send them off to be printed onto paper.
Again… WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? Are these images not important enough to print? Are they throw-away memories?
I tell you truly from the bottom of my heart, the snapshots you have today will be MORE important later. But, later, well, you won’t have them. 30 years from now, when you are searching for that photo of your dad at his birthday or your daughter in her kindergarten play, you won’t have it.
And when you are gone and your kids are searching for family pictures, what will they find? A link to an online gallery? An obsolete hard drive? Or boxes and albums full of wonderful printed photos, photos they will hold in their hands and pass around the table and treasure more than gold.
If you think photos are important now, wait until they are all you have left. ‘Cause the true value of a photo is only understood years after it is taken.
So upload them, back them up, but more than anything… PRINT WHAT YOU WANT TO PRESERVE. Don’t let your memories die when your phone does.
About the author: Missy Mwac is a photography satirist, a lover of bacon, a drinker of vodka, a lover of sparkle, and a guide through the murky waters of professional photography. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can connect with her on her website, Tumblr, and Facebook. This article was also published here.
Image credits:Headerphotos by Elvert Barnes and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Dubblefilm Teams Up with Revolog for Creative Films, Unveils Major Changes
Dubblefilm has ended its relationship with the German pre-exposed film manufacturer KONO! and has announced a new partnership with Revolog to produce its line of creative film stocks. A number of changes are also being made to the lines in the process.
One of the big changes is that all of Dubblefilm rolls will have 36 exposures instead of 24. The cost of each roll is getting bumped from £10.50 ($13.87) to £12 ($15.85), but the higher number of exposures per roll means that the cost per photo is actually falling from $0.55 to $0.44.
Dubblefilm is also renaming a few of its film names. While Bubblegum and Jelly are keeping their names, Monsoon is now Pacific, Moonstruck is now Apollo, and Sunstroke is now Solar.
“People were confusing Moonstruck and Monsoon (true) so we changed both and took the advantage to change Sunstroke as it evoked negative feelings of getting an actual sunstroke (false),” Dubblefilm founder Adam Scott tells Kosmo Foto.
Here are sample photos shot with each of the 5 films:
Dubblefilm initially started as a mobile app called dubble, launched by Adam Scott in 2013. A place to mix your photos with other people around the world creating stunning double exposures. As a response the creative user-base of the app dubblefilm was born in 2017. Dubblefilm provides them with creative films to take their photography experimentation away from the smartphone and back to the routes of the company; analogue photography.
“[A]s we combine our ideas, connections and styles we are able to work on a new range of films together and there will be another big announcement in a few weeks!” Revolog writes.
Samyang First to 3rd-Party RF Lenses: A 14mm f/2.8 and 85mm f/1.4
Samyang has announced the first 3rd-party lenses for Canon’s new RF full-frame mirrorless camera lens mount. The Korean manufacturer has unveiled an MF 14mm f/2.8 and an MF 85mm f/1.4.
“As there are currently no Canon EOS R or EOS RP camera lenses from brands other than Canon itself, Samyang’s new RF mount launch announcement is a fast response to customer demand and market trends,” Samyang says. “It also proves the competitiveness of Samyang as a leading optical manufacturer.”
Both lenses feature Samyang’s Ultra Multi Coating (UMC), which reduces flare and ghosting. The lenses are also weather-sealed to protect against light rain and snow.
Samyang MF 14mm f/2.8 RF
The new Samyang MF 14mm f/2.8 RF is an ultra-wide-angle, manual-focus lens that provides a 115.7˚ angle of view that’s geared toward landscapes, architecture, and interiors.
The lens features a built-in petal shaped hood that blocks stray light.
Other features and specs include 14 elements in 10 groups, a minimum focusing distance of 0.92 feet (0.28m), a 6-bladed aperture, and a weight of 1.76 pounds (800g).
Rick Owens Unleashes Sexy Aliens in His AW 2019 Collection
Rick Owens is known for being a maestro of spectacle, orchestrating head-turning moments in almost every show he runs (i.e. models wearing models in his Spring/Summer 2016 collection). This time around, Owens did not disappoint. Partnering with Instagram artist Salvia (@salvjiia) for makeup, Owens paraded 44 models, some as alien-like apparitions, in sexy, spacey couture down the runway. Sleaze was front and center: exposed midriffs, shining thighs and snap-clasped crotches turned on the sex…
Behind the Scenes of Ferragamo FW19
Even as Fashion Week’s finest attendees and celebrities like Charlie Heaton and Natalia Dyer took their places in the front row, the real action occurred behind the curtain. Behind the scenes of Salvatore Ferragamo’s FW19 show in Milan, the scene buzzed as the industry’s top models posed for pictures decked out in the latest pieces from the Italian designer.
Titled Generation, the collection featured pieces inspired by Salvatore Ferragamo’s patchwork mule design from 1942, plenty of earth t…
Canon Unveils RAISE, An AI-Powered Photo Sharing Service
Canon has announced the launch of RAISE, a new AI-powered photo sharing platform that’s geared toward helping photographers improve, organize, and share their photos.
“In 2017, approximately 1.2 trillion photos were taken; turning millions of people into prolific photographers, who are spending a tremendous amount of time arranging and searching through their library of photos,” Canon says. “To help photographers streamline their workflow and continually improve their craft, Canon [has] announced the company’s first online photo-community platform – RAISE.
“This new platform utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to help photographers organize and categorize their photos through auto-tagging.”
Photos uploaded to RAISE (in JPEG format, with all ownership retained by the photographer) will be auto-tagged with the help of AI. In addition to basic category and subject tags, the AI will even add tags related to things like composition, style, emotion, and color.
Photos can be gathered into Collections to share privately or publicly, both inside and outside of RAISE.
In addition to hosting photos, RAISE aims to be a community of photographers built around the images. You can explore other people’s photos, receive insights from other photographers, and receive a personalized feed of photos based on your own uploads, tags, and preferences.
Evaluating the Fuji GFX 50R for Street Photography
Like its predecessors, the Fuji X100 and Fuji XT, the Fuji GFX 50R is a marvel of engineering, ergonomics, size, image quality, and price.
I had seen wonderful, giant prints at the PhotoPlus event that were created with the Fuji GFX, and with some unbelievable Fuji deals out right now (as of right now you can get the GFX with the 63mm lens [50mm equivalent] or 45mm lens [36mm equivalent] for $1000 off), it piqued my interest regarding how it would do as a frequently used street camera. So I rented it from LensRentals, it showed up at my door a few days later, and it blew me away so much that I ended up purchasing it a week later.
Let me start by saying this is not going to be overly technical of a review. I’m just going to share my opinions and some images. And this camera is certainly not going to replace my X100.
The Fuji X100
I want to use the X100 camera as a basis of comparison for the GFX, and quickly explain why I love the Fuji X100 so much (I’m currently using the X100T) before I get into a longer review of the GFX. The X100 is my favorite camera.
The size is perfect for an everyday walk around camera – you barely feel it on your neck. The images are wonderful, sharp, the colors are gorgeous, the noise at high ISOs is not significant and has a great look to it. The autofocus is snappy for a mirrorless camera. You’ve probably heard all of this already about the X100.
There are certainly cameras out there that do better at each individual point that I just mentioned, but I don’t think there is a camera that does all of them together as well as the X100, and particularly for the price.
The APS-C sensor size is fantastic for street photography. You can still blow up these images to create large prints with a wonderful feel to them. When zone-focusing you can set the camera to F8 or F5.6 and get a large range of sharpness in the image to be able to shoot in a spontaneous manner yet still come back with well-focused images.
Here are a few X100 example images.
Fuji GFX 50R
So if I was so happy with the X100, why did I consider the Fuji GFX 50R?
First, I did want to shoot content that I could print larger with a different level of quality. I think the APS-C prints blown up are gorgeous. I am one of those people that say variations of the oft-used quote, ‘The only people who look at large prints from inches away are other photographers.’
But I am a photographer, and those large GFX prints from close up, and from far away, are special. There is an edge to edge crispness, a lack of fringing, and a subtle and fantastic look to the tones and colors that just aren’t quite there in the X100 (although the X100 tones and colors are still gorgeous).
Because of this look, while I found myself preferring to convert to black and white much more often with the X100, I’ve found myself sticking to color most of the time with the GFX. They’re that good.
I tested out the 63mm f/2.8 and 45mm f/2.8 lenses (50mm and 36mm full frame equivalent) and ended up going with the 63mm, although I would love to have the 35mm as well at some point.
There are many other detailed reviews that will tell you the specifics, but these lenses are edge-to-edge sharp, which is incredible to see on a 40×60 inch print. They both go from f/2.8 to f/32, so you can create some incredibly sharp scenes from foreground to background at very small apertures, yet the bokeh at the larger apertures has a beautiful look to it.
And you can even use a variety of adaptors to add vintage lenses to the camera, including the Minolta Rokkor lenses. I haven’t tested this out, but it will be very exciting to try.
Size and Ergonomics
The GFX is not a small camera. It’s a tiny bit larger than the Canon 5D line. The lenses are fairly large too, and the size of the 32mm-64mm zoom lens is one of the reasons I didn’t even consider trying it. The 63mm and 45mm lenses are not small, but they are a great size for the camera and quality.
But this camera is light. At least for the size, it’s extremely light. It feels much lighter than the 5D, but it’s still a substantial camera. I feel comfortable shooting for three straight hours with it, although my neck is a bit sore the next morning, and whereas I can shoot with the X100 all day long.
This isn’t an everyday camera like the X100, but it is a camera you can use a lot of the time and for specific purposes.
The ergonomics are one of the best features of it, and I’ll explain more in my next and final point. It’s a snappy camera, the dials are easy to move, and the autofocus is very accurate and fast enough (although there is a noticeable lag after each shot, which takes a couple of days getting used to). I’m more accurate with it than the X100, which, while the size makes it perfect for everyday street photography, can be tough to use sometimes because it is so small, particularly in the winter with gloves or frozen hands.
But it’s a big, slower camera. This will turn off many of you, but for me, it was something that I wanted. I wanted to change how I shot.
The Main Reason: The Feel and Changing How I Shoot
The final, and main reason that I think this camera is perfect is that it’s not a spontaneous street photography camera. You can still get very good at it for spontaneous shots, and I did after a few days even though that can sometimes feel like shooting while riding a large mechanical bull, but that’s not the purpose of this camera.
When I go into Manhattan on the busy streets, with chaos all around, the X100 is my camera. I zone focus and shoot so quickly and spontaneously that people barely notice. It’s so easy to be nearly invisible, to steal your shots and then maneuver away.
But I wanted to slow down. I wanted to create a new body of work that felt different. I wanted to shoot in quieter areas and I wanted to be more obvious and methodical.
The GFX is perfect for this. When I walk down a quiet street with the X100 I’m just a creepy guy slinking around with a camera trying to steal shots. In certain areas, it feels weird capturing people in these quiet moments. With the GFX, I look like a photographer, inviting myself into people’s worlds and smiling, nodding, or interacting after I take the shot.
The moments feel slower, the shooting is slower, but I feel more present and involved in what I’m shooting. The experience doesn’t feel more intimate than shooting with the X100, but it’s a different kind of intimacy.
About the author: James Maher is a street, fine art, and studio photographer based in New York City. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Maher’s work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.