photography

Lessons From Loupedeck on Making It in the Photo Industry

Lessons From Loupedeck on Making It in the Photo Industry

Over the last few years, the photography industry has been growing quite steadily. With the advent of new technologies and price-accessible equipment, more and more people are choosing the photography industry. Smartphones have also played a significant part in the influx of new photographers and creatives.

The limited barriers to entry and income potential make the industry very appealing for many people. The photography industry also appeals to people looking for more fulfillment in the work they do. There’s something quite wonderful about creating your own work of art.

Over the next few years, the photography industry is projected to go beyond $110 billion overall. The question is: how do photographers, from a financial perspective, make the most of this growing industry?

To try and answer this relatively important question, I met with a startup company called Loupedeck, which is based in Helsinki, Finland.

Full disclosure: My travel and accommodation to visit Loupedeck was paid for by the company.

Who Is Loupedeck?

If you haven’t already browsed through their website and “About Us” page here’s a brief overview of the company. Essentially Loupedeck is a hardware company that produces an editing console. Their current product the Loupedeck Plus offers you physical dials and buttons for Lightroom, Premiere Pro and even Capture One to some extent.

This is great for people who want a more tactile approach to editing images. In my experience, using hardware to edit tends to not only increase your productivity but also allows you to be more precise and effective. Loupedeck is a relatively new company that’s experienced a lot of success in a very short space of time. Understanding how they’ve managed this can, in my view, provide some extremely useful lessons for photographers.

The Success Story

Developing a successful business in any industry is no small feat. Developing a successful business in manufacturing and hardware presents its own unique challenges and what Loupedeck have achieved is nothing short of impressive. Like me, many of us who know of Loupedeck may be tempted to believe that they built their business on the back of a crowdfunding website. This isn’t entirely true and discussing this with their CEO Mikko Kesti, I was surprised to learn that websites like Indiegogo are mostly used to determine product viability.

The team members in Loupedeck’s original Indiegogo campaign.

Understanding if there is a market for the product you’re producing, is really important and crowdfunding websites are a fantastic way to realize this. Even before we start looking at the actual crowdfunding campaign, building a working prototype was the first step. The first prototype, which was essentially just a dial, was developed by ex Nokia engineers. The cost of this was around $3,300 which was paid for by Kesti. This was money that Kesti had earned and saved himself.

Developing the prototype was the first and fundamental requirement for the business to work. With this, Kesti sought help from a government organization called Business Finland. With a grant of around $57,000, Kesti could not only develop a fully working Loupedeck device that looks very similar to what we know now but he also had almost enough funds to market the product on Indiegogo. I say ‘almost’ because a further $18,000 was required in order to make the campaign a reality.

Kesti had to sell almost all of his assets including his car in order to raise this amount. With a family and a young child at the time, this was quite the risk to undertake. In essence, the stakes were very high at the time and failure would have been catastrophic for him and his family. The Indiegogo campaign required help and this came from a marketing company called Miltton, which is based in Finland.

This is also where he met one of the co-founders, Felix Hartwigsen who at the time was working for Miltton. The materials required for the Indiegogo campaign needed to be completed within 4 weeks, which is difficult, to say the least. Fortunately, with Miltton and Hartwigsen’s experience, this was completed and the campaign was a success.

The original Loupedeck Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.

What Indiegogo did for Loupedeck was prove the concept and demonstrated a market for the product. Although they had raised more than $400,000 on the platform, further funding was required and with the help of his mentor Janne Jormalainen, Loupedeck were able to raise this from investors. Although the money from Indiegogo was useful, the majority of it was already claimed for by the people who backed the campaign. That money was predominantly set aside to cover the cost of manufacturing those particular units.

The campaign itself put Kesti in a position where he was able to attract investors to his business. Investors like Jormalainen not only provided much needed financial assistance but, also provided a wealth of experience and know how to ensure the business was successful. Once the campaign had been completed, Kesti also offered a position to Hartwigsen because he recognized the need to have good people on board. Hartwigsen’s abilities when it comes to marketing were obviously crucial for the company.

Recently, Loupedeck moved to a new office location because the company has grown very quickly in the last two years. They’ve hired more staff, their initial device has been refined and, new products are currently in development. Loupedeck has come a long way since the initial prototype two and a half years ago.

What Can We Learn from This?

I find it to be pretty incredible how Loupedeck has gone from being just an idea in the mind of someone passionate about photography to being a successful and rapidly growing business. I’m really interested in the business side of photography and I think it’s valuable to understand the industry especially if you’re looking to develop your own business.

Belief

Kesti put everything he had into Loupedeck because he believed in it and It paid off. Belief is the first step — if you don’t believe in something yourself, then what’s the point? Lack of belief also prevents conviction or certainty about what you’re doing or what you want to do. This makes it difficult to plan effectively or put into motion any ideas you may have. A book that I strongly recommend that discusses this in detail is, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

The Team

For one reason or another many of us feel this inane desire to do everything by ourselves. Maybe it’s because we want all of the credit and all of the rewards. Or it could be because we don’t work well in a team, or can’t deal with other ways of doing things. I too have had to deal with this and it’s something I continue to work on because I understand just how ridiculous it is. Even if you are capable of doing everything yourself, the number of tasks you can complete in any given amount of time is still limited.

Kesti describes how Loupedeck would never have been successful without the team that made it happen. Individual expertise and experiences are always going to be relatively limited when compared to a team of experts. Working with people like Hartwigsen or Pauli Seppinen who is head of product development was and still is crucial for the business.

For us photographers and creatives, choosing who we work with can have an immense impact. Even for example who you choose to assist on a shoot, or which make-up artist you pick. The team you develop and get to know are extremely important and being able to pick the right people and cultivate that team can help produce incredible results.

Any excuse that you may feel tempted to use about why or how you can’t work with other people needs to be put to rest immediately. The benefits of having a good team of people far outweigh any of the potential negatives. Of course, this does not mean you start working with anyone and everyone. Being selective is important too and with time we can learn to be better at picking the best people for the job.

Mentorship

Having a business mentor was quite possibly the most valuable thing I’ve had to date. Kesti agrees with me on this too and strongly recommends having a mentor like what he has in Jormalainen. I personally recommend having a primary mentor that’s not in the same industry as you. This helps give a fresh perspective, new ways of doing things and, can help to develop ideas that you may not have previously thought of.

I’ve personally found it relatively easy to find mentors too. This is purely because many successful individuals actually enjoy mentoring and are actively looking for potential mentees. I’ve had several moments were simply asking someone for advice has turned into them becoming my mentor for a period of time. It’s not always long-term, but the wisdom and knowledge I’ve managed to gain from them have always been incredible. I’d also recommend a little vigilance when seeking out a mentor too although in my experience I haven’t had any negative outcomes so far.

Fear

Investing everything you have into a business can be extremely daunting. I imagine Kesti was on edge at the time when he sold almost everything to fund Loupedeck. The thing I notice here is that even with that fear and uncertainty, Kesti still went ahead with his plan.

Fear is something that we all feel and although I don’t personally recommend you invest everything you have into something. But if you feel strongly enough about it, maybe you should? If you’re really passionate about something and you’re letting fear cripple you, then I strongly recommend you start following someone called Gary Vaynerchuck. I also strongly recommend that you recognize the fact that fear may be holding you back.

For the most part, we’re afraid of failure or we’re afraid of how people will look at us if we fail. This is illogical because most people have little to no bearing on your life. Any decision we make that’s based on fear is probably the wrong one.

The Industry

As discussed above, the photography industry is growing and Loupedeck as a company recognized this. From a macro perspective, the creative industry is a rather niche industry, however, this in itself provides certain benefits. A niche industry helps you focus your offerings and goals. This is why I think the photography industry is primed for photographers and other creatives to develop products and offer other services too.

Photographers have a unique perspective of the industry and workflow, therefore have an advantage when it comes to knowing what can help improve it. Kesti is a perfect example of someone who enjoyed photography and came up with a product that helps with common workflows. He, as a photographer, understood the need for a tactile way of editing and made it a reality.

The majority of the money being generated in the industry is not by photographers themselves but by companies that operate within the industry. For the most part, these are companies that sell products or services to photographers. This is not a bad thing by any means, it’s simply important to appreciate or understand. It also demonstrates the viability of the industry for anyone looking to develop a new product or offer new services. There are plenty of opportunities for fellow creatives to generate income in this growing industry.

Advice from Loupedeck

I always like to ask people for advice and the staff at Loupedeck were kind enough to offer some of their thoughts.

The main piece of advice I received from Kesti was about making sure you’re surrounded by talented and capable people. Picking the right people to work with essentially determines whether you’re successful or not. One of the main reasons so many crowdfunding projects fail is due to a lack of experience. Kesti understood he wasn’t experienced enough to develop a hardware manufacturing business, so therefore he found his mentor Jormalainen. Kesti also offered a position to Hatwigsen due to his experience in marketing. A company is nothing more than the people within it, and for that reason, it’s imperative you pick the right people.

The advice I received from Jormalainen was once again around people. As an angel investor, he gets the opportunity to discuss plenty of ideas with plenty of people and it’s not normally the idea that sparks his interest but the person themselves. The question Jormalainen asks himself is, can this individual execute this idea, can they make it happen? Ideas are worthless, execution is everything and the person is who makes it happen. Once again, the people you work with is extremely important.

The final bit of advice I received was from Hartwigsen. You may notice a theme here because all of the advice I received discussed people, individuals and teams more than anything else. Hartwigsen describes how pro-actively building networks of professional individuals and customers is extremely useful. I completely agree with this and have personally found it to be extremely useful and rewarding.

You can’t work with people you’re not aware of, or I should say it’s probably very difficult. I attend events that are specific to the business that I’m in. For example, flying out to Finland to meet Loupedeck only occurred because I met them at Photokina. Prior to attending Photokina and meeting them this year, I didn’t know anyone at the company. I’m now fortunate enough to have met some incredible people who I find to be very inspiring.

Final Thoughts

The main thing I took away from my discussion with Kesti was that he took advantage of all the resources and opportunities available to him. Even though he didn’t have the capital himself to develop this business, he put forward whatever he could and then used that to leverage other funding options. From the initial $3,300 that he put in from his own pocket to being able to raise almost $1.8 million from investors after the Indiegogo campaign.

This is incredible and I believe it should be something we not only celebrate but also learn from. There are plenty of opportunities within the photography industry and it’s important not to get bogged down by the negativity that circles around on occasions.

Some of you may shun the idea of doing anything other than photography but I strongly believe that it’s important to diversify. As a strategy, putting all of your eggs in one basket may work for someone like Warren Buffet, however, he’s considered by many as the exception to the rule. For the vast majority of us, diversifying your offerings is a much better option. We know the photography industry is changing and it will continue to change. Areas within the industry that offer great income potentials may dry up very quickly and if you’re not prepared, you’ll be left with a bunch of excuses.

Even Loupedeck is looking to diversify their offering. They don’t want to rely on a single product and therefore aim to provide more products to a wide range of creatives. For photographers, diversifying doesn’t need to mean that you start a manufacturing business. Diversifying may simply mean not to rely solely on photography as a way of generating income.

There are plenty of ways to diversify your offering without negating your brand message. For example, how many photographers sell prints of their artwork. This is a very obvious and subtle way to diversify what you offer. How many of us offer workshops or teach beginner photographers that want to learn? Ultimately, there are plenty of opportunities available and I think we should all take advantage of them.

If we don’t someone else will.


About the author: Usman Dawood is the lead photographer of Sonder Creative, an architectural and interior photography company. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on his website, Instagram, and YouTube.


Source: PetaPixel

Lessons From Loupedeck on Making It in the Photo Industry

This Negative Mural Can Be Developed by Inverting Your Photo

This Negative Mural Can Be Developed by Inverting Your Photo

Colombian graffit artist Sepc recently created an mural showing a woman snapping a Polaroid picture. But it’s unusual in that it’s a negative: you can see the normal “positive” version by snapping a photo of the mural and then inverting it.

Here’s what the mural above looks like when you invert the photo:

The idea came about as a technical challenge, Sepc tells PetaPixel. He combined the creative idea with the technique for making it happen.

“I think that in the world of urban art, it’s not enough to be good,” says Sepc, who’s based in the city of Manizales. “I am constantly reinventing myself and the curiosity to explore and discover new ideas is something that I focus my work on.”

This isn’t the first time he has created negative murals. Here are a couple of other examples of previous works using the same technique:

Sepc creates the mural by making a sketch and using vinyl paint to create the initial background layer of volume and colors. He then adds in his detail using spray paint.

“Each color has an adjacent or complementary color that is the inverse color of the other,” Sepc says. “I want the viewer to capture a photo and to ‘reveal’ the image — this creates another kind of experience with urban art.”

You can find more of Sepc’s work on his Facebook, Flickr, and Instagram.


Image credits: Photographs by Sepc and used with permission


Source: PetaPixel

This Negative Mural Can Be Developed by Inverting Your Photo

Britain’s Biggest Speed Camera Uses a Canon 100-400mm Lens

Britain’s Biggest Speed Camera Uses a Canon 100-400mm Lens

Gloucestershire police have unveiled Britain’s biggest speed camera. Called the A417, the portable camera can catch drivers violating laws from roughly 1,000 meters or about 3/5 of a mile. And on the front of the camera is a Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS telephoto zoom lens.

The camera is dubbed “The Long Ranger,” and it can capture clear video and still photos of people inside their cars from great distances. It’s being deployed on the major route between Gloucestershire and Wiltshire to help police catch driving offenses such as speeding, tailgating, and using a phone while behind the wheel.

“Many people have come to me with their concerns about speeding and other safety issues along this road,” says Gloucestershire Police Chief Martin Surl. “We now have a chance to test a new model of collaborative road policing […]

“The aim is not just to penalise motorists but to uphold the law by creating a change in people’s behaviour. But the police will enforce the law when necessary.”

While traditional speed guns and cameras can usually be seen by drivers from a distance, allowing them time to change their behavior, the Canon 100-400mm paired with a 1.4x teleconverter provides a 35mm focal length of 560mm. It’s unclear what sensor size the A417 uses, but the resulting focal length allows the A417 to clearly capture drivers from 1km away, making it too far away to be seen while approaching it.

A closer look at the camera and lens. Photo by SWNS.

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS is a discontinued lens that was first announced in September 1998. While it was praised for its optical quality, zooming with the lens involves pushing and pulling the front and rear barrels apart with a telescoping action rather than with a zoom ring. This meant that air is sucked in when zooming from the wide to telephoto ends, and dust would often be sucked in at the same time.

For this reason, the lens is nicknamed the “Dust Pump.”

Canon’s EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS lens, the “Dust Pump.”

Here are a couple of sample shots from the camera:

If the ongoing tests of the camera are successful, it may be deployed to any road in Britain.


Image credits: Photographs by SWNS


Source: PetaPixel

Britain’s Biggest Speed Camera Uses a Canon 100-400mm Lens

Timelapse Captures How House Plants Move in the Day and Sleep at Night

Timelapse Captures How House Plants Move in the Day and Sleep at Night

The beauty of time-lapse photography is that it gives us a view of the world that our eyes can’t naturally see. Darryl Cheng of House Plant Journal created a time-lapse that does just that: it reveals how much ordinary house plants move over the course of a day.

Here’s the time-lapse Cheng created with @angusandceleste, which includes a clock in the frame to show the pace of time:

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The timelapse is “showing two of my favourite daily movers: oxalis and maranta,” Cheng writes. Boing Boing notes that the moment is known as nyctinasty.

“Nyctinasty is the circadian rhythmic nastic movement of higher plants in response to the onset of darkness, or a plant ‘sleeping’,” Wikipedia states. “Nyctinastic movements are associated with diurnal light and temperature changes and controlled by the circadian clock and the light receptor phytochrome. This is the plant sleeping.”


Source: PetaPixel

Timelapse Captures How House Plants Move in the Day and Sleep at Night

I Set Up a Sting Operation and Caught the Thief Who Stole My Camera

I Set Up a Sting Operation and Caught the Thief Who Stole My Camera

Like many professional photographers, my main camera is a bit of a beast. A Fuji X-T2, usually with a big lens, and always with a battery grip on it. It’s a bit big to go traveling with, and although it’s not as big as my Nikon D600 and grip that I used to use, it still warrants the travel/side-arm camera I bought in the D600 days.

That camera is a delightful little $1,300 Fuji X100T from 2014, which I purchased with a tele-conversion lens (TCL-X100) to bring the 35mm equivalent FOV up to 50mm (my preferred focal length).

I take that X100T everywhere with me. Across the city, across the province, across the country, or across the world, it’s been from Berlin to Spain to Florida to Mexico to small little towns in the interior of my province. Frankly, it sort of blurs into the background of my life, and just goes everywhere with me, so when I did a short 4-hour drive to visit a friend in early October, and of course my trusty X100T came with me.

The Fujifilm X100T

The Burglary

Upon our arrival in the small town of 90,000 we were visiting on a warm Friday evening, my friend Tyrone and I stopped at a restaurant for some beers and a burger. We are from a big, relatively safe city nearby, so we thought nothing of leaving all our things that we’d traveled with inside the trusty black SUV that Tyrone drives. It’s got an alarm, it’s parked right in front of the restaurant, and we’re right in downtown in a well-lit area, what could go wrong?

We returned to the truck after dinner, and shortly after driving away I noticed that my new BlackBerry KeyTwo was missing… Had I dropped it when I got out of the car earlier this evening? We returned to the street we had parked on, and I searched everywhere… no luck. I checked Find My Device, and it showed the same spot- either the device wasn’t checking in, or someone had picked it up and turned it off. Well, phone gone. Ok, sh**ty, but probably my fault, but it’s a work phone so not the end of the world.

The next morning, I get a call from Tyrone asking if I saw his backpack or perhaps brought it in with me (we were staying at two different places). Nope, hadn’t seen it, are you sure you brought it? He was certain — he had gotten something from it when we made a pit-stop on our way out here the previous afternoon.

Uh oh. The thought finally sank in that someone had stolen my phone, and his backpack, which had his iPad, work laptop, and some expensive jeans in it.

We started researching how hard it was to jimmy his model of car — apparently not that hard. This wasn’t good… then it struck me: my camera! I quickly searched the car, and the sinking realization set in that after we had returned back to the spot we were parked yesterday, I had put sunglasses into the exact space my camera had previously occupied in his car’s console… we had been burgled.

The count came up to: Tyrone’s backpack (worth about $80), some assorted socks, underwear, and T-shirts (cumulatively about $60), his jeans (in the $300 range), his iPad, his work laptop, my work blackberry, and my camera… all told, about 6 grand worth of stuff.

Saturday afternoon now, after the Friday night theft, Tyrone phoned in the police report and logged it all in as much detail as we could. Our day was pretty listless after that until that evening, when Tyrone got a call from the local police saying they had recovered his backpack and with it a bunch of our stuff. iPad, work laptop, and work blackberry, all found with a guy that was hanging around another guy at a Tim Hortons who apparently was waving a gun around. Sadly, no jeans, and no camera.

We returned home, I unhappy, and he only marginally better — he loved those jeans, and I certainly don’t need to say how much it sucks to have your camera stolen, even if it is just your travel camera.

The Search

The next month was spent scouring craigslist for any mention of a Fuji camera. In fact, the town was small enough that I could show ‘all for sale’ on craigslist and just scan through the newly added items to see if I recognized my camera among them. No luck.

Having effectively given up, and realizing my camera was probably being used and enjoyed, I began searching for something new. Something small — a Fuji, no doubt, but something older-ish (and thus cheaper), and with interchangeable lenses so it could share lenses with my X-T2.

I exhausted craigslist’s options pretty quickly and thought maybe Kijiji (a craigslist competitor) would have some different options. I popped open Kijiji, and hit Photo + Video, before realizing that I was on the entire province Kijiji, not localized to my city. Whoops! I scrolled a bit to try to change that, but before I did, something caught my eye: my camera.

Oh, it was mine, alright — I could tell from a first glance. That absurd tele-converter lens with a bulbous piece of round glass sticking out the front, the dust and specks in all the right places. Yep, that’s my baby!

A crop of the photo in the Kijiji listing.

To say I freaked out is a bit of an understatement. I sent the link to some friends, and all agreed that the timing was too perfect — it had been listed about a week and a half after the theft. However, the oddest part was not the timing but the fact that the camera was described as having a “fisheye lens”! Anyone who knows the X100 series of cameras knows that there are two screw-on lens attachments for this camera, and two only: a tele-conversion lens and a wide-conversion lens. The wide looks quite normal, and the tele looks like a goddamn fisheye!

The Fujifilm Tele Conversion lens.

I sent a text to my new friend, whom I’ll call Mark. I was casual, checking in to see if the camera was still available. I explained I was busy with family stuff that day (not wanting to reveal I was traveling cities for it), but that I could come by the next afternoon. He said someone else was coming by that evening to look. Oh really? Your post has been up for 2 weeks and as soon as I ask, someone else is coming to look? Sure.

I offered a case of cheap beer if he held it for me, saying it was for my girlfriend’s birthday and the price was good enough to throw that in. He agreed.

I told Tyrone, we planned our trip, and the next morning we set out.

On our way back to this lovely little town, we gave our friends at the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) detachment a call and asked for some assistance.

“Yeah we can’t really do much — we can advise you not to go to meet the person but our presence in a squad car is probably going to spook them. You’re on your own!” That’s more or less the gist of the conversation I had. It ended with me passing on the phone number of the person I was communicating with, in the off chance that it was in their system.

30 minutes after my conversation with the RCMP, we got a ring back. Turns out that some people are stupid enough to continue using the same phone number for multiple illicit activities, and this character was known to police and was known to be dangerous. Remember that guy with the gun from before? Yeah, perhaps the same guy…

We became a bit nervous, but the police immediately said they would like to help set up a sting. And so, a plan was put in motion. I would continue communicating with the seller, we were to arrange a public meet-up spot, and we would communicate with the police when the seller had arrived.

The sting was set for 5 pm at the tables in front of a local, not-too-busy McDonalds. The air was a dry cold, and it was already dark out… a perfect night for revenge. Tyrone and I pulled up a few minutes early, and little ways away, in his black SUV, hoping the seller wouldn’t recognize it as the car the camera was stolen from a month prior.

We waited for about 10 minutes before a 20-something guy dressed as how the seller had described himself pulled up to the tables from the other side on an expensive mountain bike. I texted my officer friend that he was there, and a ghost car that had been sitting a little further from us started to silently drift forward.

The car approached the seating area, with our sticky-fingered friend sitting casually on a table, with his bike just off to the side. Suddenly the area was lit in red and blue as the ghost car lit up and two officers popped out, guns drawn, and demanded that Mark freeze and that he was under arrest.

I’ll tell you what: Mark did no such thing. He bolted, alright. Gone around the corner, with an officer on foot giving chase, the other whipping the car around, and suddenly two squad cars appearing out of nowhere and flying off in the same direction.

We fired up Tyrone’s truck and hauled off in the same direction, a quick corner later and we saw a great sight: three squad cars with their lights ablaze, standing in front of them were a half-dozen officers, many with guns that were certainly larger than would be necessary for this situation. And at the very front, pressed up against the side of a dingy motel, while a woman looked on from a nearby doorway.

Our dear friend Mark had come all this way to so kindly return my camera to me.

Thanks, Mark!


About the author: Mr. Greenshirt, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a photographer based in Canada. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.


Source: PetaPixel

I Set Up a Sting Operation and Caught the Thief Who Stole My Camera

500px Launches Photobook-Inspired Redesign, Users Aren’t Happy

500px Launches Photobook-Inspired Redesign, Users Aren’t Happy

500px has unveiled a redesigned Home Feed that’s designed to show more photos and provide more exposure. The “cleaner and more contemporary design” was inspired by photobooks.

“The new layout’s aesthetic will better showcase the photos in your Home Feed and introduce you to new content from photographers you may not have discovered,” 500px writes.

The new Home Feed on both the web and mobile versions of 500px will showcase more photos than before, allowing users to enjoy more imagery without having to leave for other areas of the photo-sharing service.

In addition to seeing photos by users you already follow, the new Home Feed is also designed to help surface other photographers who have the same style and shoot in the same genre as people you already follow.

“[…] we’ve developed a new recommendation system powered by machine learning to surface more content from photographers, regardless of follower count, including photos from users that are new to the platform,” 500px says. “This new technology will help distribute exposure more evenly, in light of the high volume of daily uploads. That means more visibility for more great photographers and a wider variety of content for you to explore in your Home Feed.”

Recommendations will be found in a carousel (mobile) or grid (web) format on your Home Feed, and there will be recommendations based on your activity on the service.

“The more active you are on the platform, the more tailored your recommendations will be to your preferences,” 500px says.

Galleries can now be published on mobile, and you can add photos to an existing Gallery and share it with your followers when it’s ready to go.

Photo View Redesigned Too

500px has also redesigned the individual Photo View pages.

“[…] we’ve redesigned the photo pages on 500px to ensure Pulse, affection, views, and other details are easily accessible, but don’t distract from the content,” the company says. There’s now a more prominent photo display and dark backgrounds.

Bye Bye, NSFW Photos (on Mobile)

Finally, 500px is hiding all mature content when using the service through its mobile app in order to comply with the terms and conditions of the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

“You will not be able to view NSFW content via search, in profiles, or within your Home Feed on either the Android or iOS apps,” 500px says. Web users will still be able to see the content if they’ve opted in via their settings.

500px Users Aren’t Happy

The announcement by 500px is already being met with a wave of criticism from members who like the old design better. The comments section of the news is filled with complaints and requests for the ability to revert back to the old design.

Here are the highest voted comments so far:

With most big redesigns of popular services, there’s always a vocal minority of users who wish for things to be returned to the way they were, so it’s unclear whether these complaints are simply a vocal minority or whether they reflect the opinions of the wider 500px user base as a whole.

If you use 500px, what is your opinion on the new redesign?


Do you like the new 500px redesign?

You can get started with the new design by visiting the 500px website or by downloading the latest versions of the app in the iTunes App Store and Google Play.


Source: PetaPixel

500px Launches Photobook-Inspired Redesign, Users Aren’t Happy

Making a Platinum Palladium Print That Will Last 1,000 Years

Making a Platinum Palladium Print That Will Last 1,000 Years

Photographer Tyler Shields recently paid a visit to Hidden Light LLC, a fine art printing business in Arizona. While there, he watched as printer Matt Beaty used the platinum/palladium printing process to turn one of Shields’ photos into a black-and-white print that can last 1,000 years or more.

You can watch the printing process for yourself in Shields’ 1.5-minute video above. The photo being printed is titled Swim Cap, and it was shot by Shields using the Hasselblad 503CW and staged to look as though it was created back in the 1930s.

“In short, the necessary chemicals are mixed and ‘painted’ onto the printing paper,” Hasselblad writes. “After the paper has had time to dry, the film negative is put on top, and together, they are placed in a special UV light machine. Afterwards, the image is put in a tub of water and the chemicals used to develop the image are thrown onto the paper. The image develops immediately.”

What resulted is a gorgeous print that Shields says is the “hands down best black and white print” he’s ever seen in his life.

“That thing will outlive me ten times over,” Shields says.


P.S. If you’d like to see more platinum/palladium prints, check out the work of Japanese photographer Nobuyuki Kobayashi, who uses the process for gorgeous nature photos.


Image credits: Photographs by Tyler Shields and used with permission


Source: PetaPixel

Making a Platinum Palladium Print That Will Last 1,000 Years

How Boredom Helped Me Develop a Vision and Photo Project

How Boredom Helped Me Develop a Vision and Photo Project

This is the story behind my Han River project. Boredom helped me to become creative, develop a vision and a style. It also made me start my first photo project. If you’re struggling with starting your own photo project or developing your own vision and style, this blog post might be of help to you.

The picture that started it all.

The Beginning

Seoul is a magnificent city to photograph. You can climb the surrounding mountains to shoot cityscapes, wander its neon-lit streets to do street photography, or play the tourist and photograph its palaces, temples or beautiful cafes. Being crazy about photography and having a lot of time on my hands, I was doing all of them.

I liked photographing all the amazing touristic places in Seoul for my travel blog, I really did, but after a while, I started to feel that I was making the same rounds as every travel blogger in Korea. In other words, I got bored of photographing the same things in the same style as every waygookin with a blog. I wasn’t doing anything unique and it felt like I was failing (which I was, honestly).

Although, I wasn’t entirely doing exactly the same as every other travel blogger. I did find some unique places. I had noticed there weren’t many bloggers writing about the cafes along the big river running right through the heart of Seoul, so I visited them all and wrote about them. It was there that I took a picture that proved to be the starting point of this photo project.

I had taken this picture beneath one of the cafes on the Han River where there were these murals painted on the underside of the bridge. The murals by themselves were nice enough, but not that special for me to take a picture of. Then I noticed cyclists passing by, which gave me the idea that you see above. I waited for a bike to be exactly in the middle, snapped, and instantly knew I had struck gold. Back home I cleaned some things up with Photoshop, so the viewer wouldn’t be distracted from the main subject. The rest is authentic.

After I took that picture I continued some time with my blog as usual, but I wasn’t feeling it anymore. That picture triggered something in me. I couldn’t stop thinking about how it could be a great start for a photo project along the Han River. Not sure if it would be a good idea, I told some of my friends about my plan, but they didn’t think much of it. According to them the bridges on the river had been photographed so many times, that it wasn’t worth doing a photo project on them anymore.

Instead of being deterred, my friends’ opinions challenged me. For this project to become a success, it had to be more than just photographing bridges. What that exactly was, wasn’t clear to me yet. I didn’t have a clear plan on what to shoot (as you will probably notice when reading further), so I just took the picture above as a starting point, went ahead exploring along the river, and shot what I encountered. I gave myself a restriction though: no excessive Photoshopping. Removing or moving elements in a picture was allowed, but that was about it. I broke my rule once, as you will see when reading further.

Before I Found a Style

When you look the wrong way, you won’t notice anything special.

It wasn’t clear how I wanted to shoot, but by doing this project I have learned that if you just start shooting, the ideas will come to you. Gradually the pictures went from telling a story by themselves to telling a story together. However, I wasn’t anywhere near telling a story with a series of pictures while shooting the first few. I was still struggling to connect the dots and figure out what story I wanted to tell (as you can see in the upcoming pictures). Individually they had something to say but weren’t connected to each other at all.

Seeing the picture above, you may think I was going for the bridge/bike combo at this point, but it was a pure coincidence. The pedestrian road on the north side of Jamsil Bridge is quite high compared to the underside of the bridge, so you have to bend over to see under the bridge well enough to discover its potential. It’s also fenced off and there are steep steps right after the fence.

There wasn’t anyone present at the time, but I wasn’t entirely comfortable climbing over that fence either. I saw a way around the fence if I backtracked a bit, so I did. When I came back I saw this guy sitting and having a smoke. I quickly climbed the aforementioned stairs, turned around, and shot the picture you see above. If I just had climbed the fence this guy wouldn’t have been around, which would have resulted in an ok, but much less interesting picture. In other words, I got lucky. I haven’t altered a thing in Photoshop in this picture, by the way.

Stepping into the light.

For this picture I used the same method as the ones before: I photographed without a plan. Although, not entirely. Fan Ho is one of my photographic inspirations and I think his passing was in the news not long before I took this picture. His work must have lingered somewhere in the back of my mind.

When I took this picture it was a perfect day for black and white photography; it was early afternoon and the sun was out strong, which resulted in harsh shadows. Pedestrians were walking along the river and I took a couple of shots before I finally saw the picture I wanted to take. I waited for the pedestrian to be right on the edge of the shadow of the bridge so that the shadows and the bridge make a frame of sorts. The person is being a part of the frame, but almost breaking free. I edited this in a way that the contrast is very high and also kept the strong highlights.

Bridge to nowhere.

Another Fan Ho inspired shot, although this one I took earlier than the one above. I was just looking to do something different because I quickly figured out that shooting all the bridges in one-point-perspective would be too boring. Then I saw Seonyu Bridge, which is a pedestrian bridge leading to Seonyu Island. It’s vastly different from the other bridges of Seoul, in that it’s way slimmer and it is in an arch shape.

I zoomed in as far as I could to eliminate any distractions in the background and took this shot. I edited it in black and white because I liked the minimalistic feel and it would make that feeling stronger. The theme is still quite ordinary, but you can see I was already thinking of how to make my project different than just shooting some bridges in the same way.

Strangers in a tunnel.

Here I tried to play with light in an otherwise boring tunnel somewhere near Olympic Bridge. I saw a few people walking further away from me and I immediately saw the shot I wanted to take. I waited until they were at the end where they would be surrounded by the incoming light. I edited this in black and white because it gives more weight to the darkness in the tunnel and the silhouettes give an eerie feeling to the picture.

First Inspiration: My Daughter’s Fairytales

A bridge that’s almost a portal to another world.

After taking a lot of similar shots of bridges, I got bored again and wanted something else. However, there isn’t a lot else you can do that would make a photo of a bridge interesting. I’ve seen other pictures of the bridges over the Han River and they all look similar; a one-point-perspective with a repeating pattern going all the way into the distance. It’s just the most interesting way to photograph them. It is also what my friends warned me about. Trying to solve this problem got me thinking. I figured that although you don’t always have control over your subject, you still have control over your style. I could photograph in some sort of a theme.

The first idea of a theme for my pictures was inspired by the bedtime stories I read to my daughter. She’s crazy about all kind of stories, but fairy tales are her favorite. Reading her all these stories about magic worlds with princesses, fairies, and monsters started to make me think if it could be the answer to make my photography project stand out.

In other words, I started to question if objects in this world could be imagined to be something else from another world. The picture above of Seongsu Bridge was my first attempt. I started to see the path that leads under the bridge to some sort of portal. I edited the colors to reflect this a bit, but I didn’t alter anything with Photoshop.

On my way to Mordor.

This picture is from the same location. I noticed Lotte Tower and I thought I maybe could do something with it. I’ve always thought that Lotte Tower resembled something of a modern Barad-dûr in shape, as well as the position a chaebol is in, within the Korean economy. I’m not the only one with this idea, because people have been Photoshopping the eye of Sauron on the tower. When I was scouting for angles, I noticed this view where the tower is perfectly framed by the pillars of the flyover. I edited it in black and white to subdue the feeling that it’s a modern world and maybe make it more believable that the viewer is looking at a modern Mordor. I removed a concrete block in the bottom right corner with Photoshop, because it was distracting from the image.

Getting out of the Dungeon.

My daughter usually is obsessed with one story for a period of time, which results in me reading the same story over and over to her until I can dream the words. A lot of them feature dungeons (Beauty and the Beast, for instance) and that’s what I was thinking about when I was walking under the highway near Dongjak station.

When you walk here it doesn’t resemble a dungeon in the slightest. There are a bike path and stream on the left. Also, the pillars are too far apart from each other. However, a long focal length lens compresses the background, which creates the illusion that those pillars are actually very close to each other. Changing the color of the pillars from grey into brown adds to the illusion of it being a dungeon instead of pillars supporting a highway. I removed a bit of distracting light on the right, but otherwise no Photoshopping has been done.

Entrance to Atlantis.

This isn’t the first time I flipped a picture upside down to create the illusion that it’s a picture from another world, neither is it the last. I’ll go more into detail about how I came to this style at the next picture, which was the first time I had that epiphany. The illusion of stairs that disappear in the water above, gave me the inspiration that this was the entrance to Atlantis.

My daughter’s obsession with The Little Mermaid might also have had something to do with it. Having to watch the cartoon together, then listen to the songs, and then read the story at bedtime again, does something to your brain. I still think it’s an elaborate scheme for revenge from the universe, because of all the times I teased my sister during our childhood about watching that awful cartoon every day.

Before I wander off into a rant about mermaids, let me come back to this picture. This is the South side of Cheonho Bridge. I flipped the picture upside down and changed the color of the water and the “stairs” to give it a more off-worldly look. I didn’t touch anything in Photoshop, however.

My Own Inspiration: Sci-Fi/Space Station

Dare to Defy Gravity?

I was increasingly feeling that the fairy tale theme wasn’t fitting to a lot of scenes I encountered, because Seoul is a modern city and the Han River is spanned by many concrete bridges. Being a sci-fi fan, I contemplated what a sci-fi theme could do to my photography. My first thought was that of a space station. Because space lacks a distinct up and down, it would open up creative possibilities.

I didn’t take the picture above upside down of course. It was right side up and although it was a bit different, it was still just a picture of a bridge. While being a bit bored and pondering what I should do, I pressed the rotate picture button in Lightroom a few times. That’s when it hit me. This picture is so much more interesting upside down because it creates an illusion of stairs going up, but when you’re at the end your brain starts to malfunction. It reminded me a bit of how one of my favorite illustrators Escher draws his mind-bending illustrations.

When I posted this on social media it blew up a bit (if you can call it that with the modest following I have). People were not sure what to make of it but thought it was very cool. The black and white edit is on purpose because having it in color doesn’t work as well. Your brain receives too much information and figures out what’s going on. The high contrast and blown out background emphasize the illusion. I Photoshopped a few small distracting things out, but otherwise it is unaltered.

Space Station Fast Transport System.

The above picture resembles a fast transport system that gets you from one part to another. In the real world, it’s exactly that (well not exactly that, due to Seoul’s congested traffic), because it’s an elevated highway flipped upside down. I Photoshopped some buildings away and the lampposts that were sticking out in the middle. I used black and white to add to the illusion that it isn’t just a highway upside down.

Space Station Water Reservoir.

Another elevated highway, but this time with V-shaped pillars. The curve and width of the highway give the illusion it’s going in a circle. Here I used the water and gave the light a dreamy look with filters in NIK software’s Color Efex Pro 4 to give the illusion that the whole place is underwater. I used this technique in some pictures below as well. I Photoshopped all the buildings out of the background.

Space Station Landing Platform.

This is actually the underside of Dangsan Railway Bridge. I photoshopped all the buildings away and made it monochrome to construct the illusion that it’s actually a landing platform. For some reason, it gives me a 2001: A Space Odyssey feel.

Space Station Docking Bay.

I sat in one of these V-shaped pillars while I took this picture. I noticed a group of pigeons flying around and I waited until they passed right between the support structure. That was easier said than done because they flew so fast that they already went past before I noticed them and could press the shutter. It took a lot of patience and several tries to get it right, and I’m still not entirely satisfied. Next time I’ll bring a pigeon handler.

I flipped this picture upside down, altered the colors, and photoshopped two benches out that were in front of the first V-shape, as well as some people on the top left corner. The last V-shape is a bit different than the others, which gives the illusion there’s a glass door at the end. I kept that part the original color to emphasize this.

Space Station Maintenance Room.

This photo is taken on a path that leads you under Dongjak Station towards the river. I noticed all the pipes and I thought it would have potential for my series. I flipped the signs in Photoshop so it would help in the illusion that this is the right side up and I changed the color of the concrete a bit.

More Sci-Fi/Dystopian Future

Police Station 10.

I’m a huge fan of sci-fi movies and games where everything has gone to shit (not so much of a fan if it happened in real life though). Bladerunner, Fallout, The Matrix, and District 9, to name a few, are a huge inspiration to me. Although there are better places in Seoul to photograph a cyberpunk scene (Jongno-gu, Myeongdong, or anywhere with a lot of neon lighting), I confined myself to the river, so those were not an option for me. However, I still encountered places that could be transformed into a scene from those type of movies.

Above is the only picture in the series where I broke my own rules (well there is another, but I didn’t include that one in this post). The man in the picture is taken from one of my other pictures and photoshopped in. There were a few people walking behind the fence that you see to the right, but because they were behind the fence it was very time consuming to cut them out and move them. So I Photoshopped them out and put a man in from another picture because I felt this picture needed a person for context. It gives more weight to the illusion that this is the right side up. I also flipped the sign in the lower right corner to add to this illusion and that sign also became an inspiration for the title. In actuality, this is the entrance to the Dongjak subway station.

The Hive.

I saw the underside of Eungbong Bridge and got the idea to make it work like some kind of skyscraper, which houses something sinister in a sci-fi movie. I flipped the picture, removed two legs off the bridge and removed some buildings with Photoshop, and turned the picture black and white.

Taking a Stroll in an Post Apocalyptic World.

I’m proudest of this picture because it took a lot of patience to get it right. First I was photographing the opposite way, but I couldn’t get it right because there were too many distracting elements in my frame. So I walked forward a while and turned around, which gave me this view of the bridge. I knew I needed a person in the frame to make this picture special. Since it was the dead of winter and there was a very cold breeze, there weren’t that many people outside. When people did pass by they were either on a bicycle or walking their dog. It didn’t feel right for the dystopian theme I was aiming for.

I didn’t have a tripod with me so I was hand holding my camera. Meanwhile, my hands slowly froze from the ice-cold wind. I kept going at it for at least 30 minutes, after which I wanted to give up because I had almost lost the feeling in my hands. Suddenly the guy you see in the picture showed up and I knew he was perfect for the shot.

At home, I edited the colors so they were a bit warmer, and I removed two small distracting locks on the bottom of the picture. The simplicity of this scene makes it so perfect to me.

More Sci-Fi/Alien Ruins

Alien Ruins.

When I put pictures of the underside of this highway on Instagram, I wrote in the description that they were ancient ruins. Obviously, I meant that’s what they represented in my artistic view, but someone mistook them for real and asked me what ruins they were and where they were located. I replied with a joke, which made them realize that they had been fooled and in embarrassment deleted their comment. I thought that was unfortunate, because that they thought it was real was actually a great compliment to my work. Also, one of my friends said it looked like some scene from the Alien franchise, which was of course also a great compliment for me.

Portal to Another World.

In editing these I made the colors warmer than they were and also added a bit of a glow to give the illusion that it was underwater. I took a lot of pictures and just picked the best ones. Posting similar pictures repeatedly gets boring anyway.

The Inspection.

Maybe you recognize this man from picture 17. (the police station), but he was originally in this shot. I moved him from the actual road you see above. It’s not the best Photoshop job, but it was my first time so please forgive me for that. One of my friends couldn’t figure it out what I had done, so my mission was a success.

Rock Garden.

I posted the above picture in between the upside down ones on social media. Someone commented that for an instance they were puzzled why there were benches on the ceiling, thinking that I flipped this picture as well. For me, it was proof that my thinking was right. Flipping a picture upside down for the sake of flipping it doesn’t work. It has to totally transform the scene in a believable way. It wouldn’t be believable if the benches were on the ceiling. Keeping the viewer guessing is much more rewarding anyway.

Conclusion

Being bored is a good thing. It makes you reassess what you have been doing before and gets you to a new place in your photography. Now when I have a period where I’m bored with what I shoot, I embrace it, because I now know something new is looming over the horizon. However, the most important lesson I learned is that photographic inspiration doesn’t come from only photography itself, but factors outside of photography are just as important.

Get inspiration from both inside and outside of photography and to be successful in executing that inspiration is to restrict yourself, otherwise the possibilities are endless and you won’t come to anything. Using these ingredients will most likely result in coming up with your own style and vision.


About the author: Emre Kanik is a travel photographer and blogger. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on his website. This article was also published here.


Source: PetaPixel

How Boredom Helped Me Develop a Vision and Photo Project

Google’s Night Sight is Blowing Minds: Shoot Photos in Near Darkness

Google’s Night Sight is Blowing Minds: Shoot Photos in Near Darkness

Google’s new Pixel 3 and 3XL smartphones are packed with new AI camera features, including one called Night Sight that lets you shoot natural-looking photos without a flash in near darkness. The first reviews are starting to emerge, and the technology is blowing people’s minds.

“Night Sight is a new feature of the Pixel Camera app that lets you take sharp, clean photographs in very low light, even in light so dim you can’t see much with your own eyes,” Google writes. “It works on the main and selfie cameras of all three generations of Pixel phones, and does not require a tripod or flash.”

Google says its goal in developing Night Sight was to allow for photos between 3 lux and 0.3 lux with a single shutter press and without any artificial lighting. Smartphone cameras generally begin to struggle at 30 lux.

A handy lux table by Google.

Here’s a scene captured with the new iPhone XS camera:

And here’s the exact same scene captured with a Google Pixel 3 camera with Night Sight enabled:

After you press the shutter, Night Sight captures between 15 frames of 1/15s each and 6 frames of 1 second each. It then aligns the frames, merges them to reduce image noise, performs auto white balancing using a new AI algorithm, and does tone mapping for natural colors.

The result is an AI-assisted camera that can even shoot in less than 0.3 lux when the human eye can barely see anything.

“Below 0.3 lux, autofocus begins to fail,” Google says. “If you can’t find your keys on the floor, your smartphone can’t focus either. To address this limitation we’ve added two manual focus buttons to Night Sight on Pixel 3 – the ‘Near’ button focuses at about 4 feet, and the ‘Far’ button focuses at about 12 feet.”

Since Night Sight merges multiple frames, it doesn’t work well if the scene you’re trying to capture contains obvious movement. But in extremely low-light situations in which no other smartphone camera is up to the task, Night Sight shines.

Tech reviewer Marques Brownlee has been testing Night Sight. His opinion: “Dear God it’s basically magic.”

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“[…] Google’s sophisticated camera feature was worth the wait,” writes Gizmodo. “Night Sight is exactly what the Pixel 3 needed to really round out its photo toolkit.”

“Google Pixel’s Night Sight is revolutionizing low-light photography,” The Verge says. Here’s its 6-minute review of the feature:

Other people are taking to social media to share comparison photos as well.

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Night Sight is being released starting today through the Google Play store as an update to the camera app for the Pixel 3, Pixel 2, and Pixel 1.


Source: PetaPixel

Google’s Night Sight is Blowing Minds: Shoot Photos in Near Darkness

When the Cameraman Can Run as Fast as the Sprinters…

When the Cameraman Can Run as Fast as the Sprinters…

Live side views of sprinters are usually shot using remote cameras on rails. But if you have a cameraman that’s as fit and fast as the athletes themselves, you can ditch the high-tech equipment and use just a gimbal stabilizer instead.

A clip from the 2016 Reebok Crossfit Games has been going viral online this week. It shows how ultra-fit cameraman Marston Sawyers ran alongside the competitors during the Suicide Sprint, keeping up with the top runners and keeping them in the frame while holding a heavy stabilized camera rig with one hand.

Here’s the shot Sawyers captured next to the footage of him sprinting:

Taking 3rd while holding a camera. from r/BeAmazed

Sawyers’ efforts earned him a shot out from The CrossFit Games when it posted the clip two years ago:

The viral clip is also strangely similar to this old Powerade commercial in which an Olympic cameraman wins gold:

“I started doing CrossFit media back in 2010 at a sectional event in Utah that @brookeence was competing at,” Sawyers writes after parting ways with CrossFit last month. “I was there to show support for my girlfriend but also try and get footy of her competing. Somehow I was introduced to @hebercannon – CrossFit’s first field producer. I ended up assisting Heber throughout that weekend and in return he put me in contact with the higher ups at HQ.

“With that said I’m more confident than ever in my abilities as a filmmaker/storyteller. CrossFit forced me to take on projects that seemed very daunting at first but very rewarding in the end.”

You can find more of Sawyers’ work on his Instagram.


Source: PetaPixel

When the Cameraman Can Run as Fast as the Sprinters…