Google Built a Rotating Arc of 16 GoPro Cameras to Shoot Light Fields
It seems Lytro has a new formidable competitor in the area of light field cameras. Google revealed today that it has created a rotating arc of 16 GoPro cameras arranged vertically to experiment with light fields.
While a 360-degree camera allows you to look in different directions in virtual reality, a light field camera gives you a much more realistic sense of presence because you can move your head around in 3D space while looking in the same direction. The motion parallax and change in light experienced is much closer to what the world looks like to us in real life.
To create its light field capture camera, which captures all the different rays of light entering a volume of space, Google modified a GoPro Odyssey Jump 360-degree camera rig and bent it into a vertical arc of 16 outward-facing cameras, which was then mounted to a rotating platform.
The camera takes a minute to swing around and capture roughly 1,000 outward-facing viewpoints on a 70cm (27.5in) sphere, providing a 2-foot-wide sphere of light rays. By sampling rays of light based on camera position on the sphere, Google can construct views of a subject to match how a viewer is moving their head in VR space.
So far, Google has tested the camera at a few different locations (the Gamble House in Pasadena, the Mosaic Tile House in Venice, and the Space Shuttle Discovery) and has created a free new app on Steam called “Welcome to Light Fields.” It’s compatible with HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets.
“Take the seven-minute Guided Tour to learn more about the technology and the locations, and then take your time exploring the spaces in the Gallery,” Google says. “This is only the beginning, and lots more needs to be done, but we’re excited about this step toward more realistic capture for VR.”
Watch 3 Photographers Do a Freestyle Portrait Shootout with Work Lights
Gulf Photo Plus held another ShootOut at GPP Photo Week 2018 in Dubai last month, pitting three photographers (Nick Fancher, Zack Arias, and Caleb Arias) in the photography equivalent of a freestyle rap battle.
With only 25 minutes to do their thing, the photographers were asked to shoot portraits of the same subject. But instead of having studio strobes or flashes, the photographers were only given work lights.
Nick Fancher invited 3 attendees to help serve as human light stands. He then lit subject with three different colors to create a multiple-exposure portrait.
Zack Arias shot a dramatic portrait of the subject from a low angle with shadows in the background.
Caleb Arias used tape to add white lines for a creative foreground in the scene and shot the subject with color gels.
I had the great privilege of tagging along with photographer Eric Kim for Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai back in 2014 and 2016. GPP is an annual event: the region’s biggest and only photography festival, bringing the world’s best photographers and instructors to Dubai to share their knowledge and experience with the professional and amateur photography community in the Middle East and Africa.
I’ve been humbled to learn bits and pieces from an unbelievable roster of GPP teachers. Because Eric is one of the instructors and I’m his glorified help, I have had access to many of the instructors – picking their brains during cab rides, over rooftop cocktails, or at breakfast club.
At the 2016 event, I decided to bring some work to show the photographers. I brought along my Havana project, shot in 2015 and probably the first real set of images in the street photography genre that I was proud and confident to show my peers. I walked around with my little tablet and convinced people like Ed Kashi, Zack Arias, and Steve Simon to have a quick look.
I view these people masters at what they do, who are actively involved in storytelling through street and documentary work. They helped make some suggestions on a what photos they thought were the strongest, which photos did not fit in well, and offered sequencing tips – overall it was really positive and their feedback jacked up my confidence levels.
One evening I was enjoying a few drinks at a rooftop bar and I had a conversation with another one of the GPP instructors, Sara Lando. Sara is an incredibly talented creative portrait photographer and one of the most enthusiastic educators I’ve encountered. I’ve known her to be blunt, maybe a bit loud at times, but always somewhat charming.
I decided it would be interesting to get some feedback from someone who wasn’t really experienced in street photography. I thought she’d be able to come at it from a fresh perspective. The next 45 minutes we would have on that rooftop would go on to have a profound effect on both me and my work.
Before she dished out the goods, Sara wanted to first disclose that: “Even if I think your photos are s**t, please know that they are images that I am incapable of taking.”
Well, that was a relief. I knew whatever was about to be said came from a place of love…or was it anger?…or comedy?…mostly love though.
When we started to go through my Havana photos, her response was unlike that of the other photographers. It wasn’t a: “this is great”, “love this one”, “I don’t get this one”, or “I wouldn’t include this one”. She wasn’t telling me her opinion, she was probing deeper into my mind asking me questions like: “why did you take this photo?”, “what are you trying to say with this photo?”, “why were you in Cuba in the first place”, “what is it about Cuba that interests you?”, etc.
It was a non-stop barrage of questions. The line of questioning eventually broke down to one fundamental baseline: what was my purpose or intent when I took these images? Aside from wanting to replicate the work of others that had inspired me, I couldn’t really give a suitable enough of an answer that would satisfy both of our curiosities. I felt my foundation beginning to crack.
So at the time, I was seriously thinking of making return trips to Havana to document the changes the city and its people stemming from the renewed hope of closer diplomatic and economic relations (thanks, Obama). I was set on shooting it, as I had, in a panoramic format on film. I hoped that the result would be the love child of Alex Webb, David Alan Harvey, and Josef Koudelka.
When Sara pressed further about what my endgame was, I told her that I’d like to produce a book in the aesthetic of Alex Webb and David Alan Harvey, both of whom produced amazing bodies of work in Cuba.
“So you’d like to spend the next ten years working on this project so that you can produce the third best book on Cuba ever?”
Ok, that was huge burn #1. In that moment, it was as if someone grabbed me, shook the s**t out of me, then slapped me repeatedly until I regained consciousness.
Know Your Audience
She then moved quickly to ask who my audience for the book would be. I told her that I wouldn’t really care if it sold a lot of copies or if people outside of the street/documentary photography community didn’t care for it. As long as it was respected by my peers, then I felt like the book would have been a success.
“Neil, you are a f**king idiot! You care so much about gaining the approval from people who couldn’t care less about you; who don’t even know you exist! You know whose opinion I care about most? The three people who supported me from the beginning when I didn’t even know how to take a proper photo.”
She made me realize that ultimately, you are shooting for yourself and that there was no point in spending energy to gain the approval from people I didn’t even know. Not to mention my intended ‘audience’ wasn’t really an audience at it – they were people who had no clue who I was!
She probed further about why I felt the need to gain approval from people; why I seem to have this massive chip on my shoulder. This is sort of a complicated two-part answer. First off, I come from nothing in the literal sense of the word: I was born in a refugee camp. We grew up pretty poor.
I grew up constantly trying to fit into a place where I never really felt I belonged. Even after graduating and securing a ‘normal’ stable job I wanted to show my traditional Asian-values family that I could succeed doing something unconventional.
I’ve worked hard my whole life trying to prove people wrong – whether it is being able to have a career outside the norm or shooting a jump shot in someone’s face on the basketball court because they didn’t think I could play.
Secondly, I told her candidly that I thought that there were millions of photographers in this world that were more popular than me, made more money, and had much larger followings. I said bluntly that a lot of them produce work that I found mediocre and that in a one-on-one scenario, I would hand them their ass.
She interrupted me and said simply: “No you wouldn’t. Neil, I think you’re a really talented photographer and obviously you know all the technical aspects of photography. But right now – you’re just a really good cover band.”
Ok, that was huge burn #2.
Again, it really came down to purpose and intent. I was competent enough to make images that weren’t rubbish, but I did so without purpose. I would just shoot as much as I could and worry about the narrative later. I often didn’t know why I was creating images or what its purpose really was.
Photography is a Language
“Photography is a language. To most of us it’s a foreign language we are learning how to speak, but even if you are fluent in shutter speed and aperture, even if you know everything about bouncing flash and own the best camera on the market, the thing is if you don’t have something to say, then you’re pretty screwed.”
Just because I know a lot of words and even sentences, it doesn’t necessarily mean I can form them into paragraphs or a book. The book is ultimately the story and to get there you first need to know your words, form sentences, then paragraphs. I had a lot of words and sentences but couldn’t put together a book that made any sense.
You are Already Who You Are
So was I actually screwed as an image maker? Sara would go on to ask more questions about who I was and how that influenced my photography. I honestly never really thought these types of things actually manifested themselves at all in people’s photography.
I told her that I’m naturally introverted (even though I can be the loud proactive guy or the center of attention on occasion). That I prefer quietness and subtlety. From a photography perspective, I told her that one of my problems was that I love to shoot too many different genres and am influenced by photographers spanning the entire spectrum.
And the problem I thought with loving architecture, cityscapes, portraits, street and documentary photography is that nothing I photograph really sticks because it is too random and diverse.
“Neil! You don’t even realize it but you are already being influenced by all of that. You are already who you are. I think the best images I’ve seen from your Havana work are the ones that are quieter and subtle. Where things like the space and architecture are central to the photo. Your images are more intimate and relatable when you’re not trying to be someone else.”
How I’ve Changed Since
There’s no doubt that conversation I had with Sara played an important growth in both my personal and professional work. I think my most important takeaway was that I needed to shoot with more purpose and intent. So no matter if it is for a wedding client, editorial, commercial or something personal, I set out to know what those images are being used for and what the story is that I need to tell through those images.
For corporate work, I need to know what the images are being used for and where they are appearing to get a better sense of how to photograph what they need. Even for personal work when I am traveling, I will do research in advance to make a more purposeful effort in capturing what was intended.
Being true to myself has also helped steer me in the right direction. The way that I see things now is that my goal is to create interesting images that I myself would like. For example, I take wedding photos in a style that I would personally like to have when I get married. The fact that others can connect with those images is really the icing on the cake.
In a lot of ways I think this realization is so important for a photographer; stop trying to please others and please yourself. Find others that gravitate towards your vision and don’t worry about catering to those who have different tastes. It is impossible to please everyone.
To me, the pursuit of photography is a lifelong work in progress. I feel as though the more I learn, the less I actually know. The only thing I can do to better myself is strive for continuous improvement by adding new tools to my photography toolbox. It’s been great reflecting on such a memorable conversation with Sara and hopefully out of all of this you will have at least something to add to your own toolbox as well.
Note: A special thanks to Jhila Farzaneh whose expert note-taking allowed me to re-visit some of the that night’s conversation. You can also have a look at my Havana project or purchase the zine.
About the author: Neil Ta is a Toronto-based documentary, wedding, and commercial photographer. You can view his work on his portfolio or follow him on Instagram. This article was also published here.
Amelia Earhart’s Leica Camera for Sale on eBay for ,000
Amelia Earhart, the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic, disappeared while flying the Pacific over 80 years ago, but fascination over her story remains strong to this day. And now you might be able to own a little piece of her history: a Leica purportedly owned by Earhart has appeared on eBay.
The camera was listed by photography enthusiast Ian Macdonald (eBay seller name lockesboy), who has a stellar reputation of 100% Positive feedback from roughly 1,300 ratings. According to the listing’s description, the camera has been in the seller’s family for 85 years.
“I’m selling Amelia Earhart’s camera which was gifted by her to a family member in 1933 after returning back from a trip to Chicago with her husband,” Macdonald writes. “The camera has been in my family possession since that time and has been in long-term storage, the camera appears to be working correctly.”
“The black paint camera, which was made in 1929, is thought to have been given to owner Ian [Macdonald]’s grandfather Wullie Macdonald when he worked for a cleaning firm that collected laundry from hotels and homes in New York,” wrote the Evening Times in 2017. “One of his jobs was to collect clothing from Earhart’s house in Rye and during a visiting in 1933, he commented on the aviator’s camera.”
The camera was part of a collection of cameras Macdonald sold through McTear’s Auctioneers in March 2017. After originally having an auction estimate of £10,000-£15,000, the camera went unsold.
The camera comes with a card that appears to have been signed by Amelia, who included the personal signature with the camera when it was gifted.
To our eyes, the signature on the card does look identical to known signatures that can be found across the Web:
“Everything is authentic, I’ve known this camera all my life,” Macdonald says. “I would like the camera to go to a museum if possible.”
The one glaring issue, however, is that the provenance for this camera is relatively weak — it hasn’t been independently authenticated by anyone, and Macdonald acknowledges that fact, saying:
Please note I have absolutely nothing to prove that this was in fact Miss Earharts Camera and research would need to be done to confirm such, I have absolutely no idea how to do that myself. From memory over 40 years ago my Father told me that she found it fiddly to load, Miss Earhart may have studied photography, my Grandfather had said as much and described her as a keen photographer , she preferred a Kodak folding camera as I recall being told, she was also described as very nice and down to earth […]
I do understand that provenance is an issue. If I had that the camera would be worth Millions, not thousands. I had Bonhams Auctions out in 2016 who said as much when they inspected the camera.
If you’re willing to take a gamble on the camera and have it authenticated afterward, you can head over to the eBay auction and buy the camera now for £50,000 (~$69,900).
After opening up the phone and examining the camera module, JerryRigEverything finds a lever that allows the blades to be physically opened and closed, toggling the lens between apertures of f/2.4 and f/1.5.
“Magnets make the world go round, and the same is true here with the OIS and aperture switch inside this camera unit,” JerryRigEverything says. “If you break anything on your Galaxy S9, this video shows the process of me repairing and replacing all the major components.”
Shooting Light-Painting Portraits with a Shattered Windshield
My name is Jason Rinehart with Hartlight Photography, and I’m a light painter known around the world for my unique light painting style. I’m always in search of different creative ways to make my images I create as unique as possible, and this is by using whatever I can find to either shoot through or shoot with.
My favorite thing is to take something that most would consider ordinary and create a different perspective that someone might never think to do.
A few years back, I discovered that I could light paint through a king size bed sheet, and since then, I’ve been trying to push myself with developing this sheet technique further. I recently got a hold of a car windshield that I used for a series of creative light-painting portraits.
Here are some behind the scenes photos of my setup:
How NOT to Reply When Your Request to Use Photos is Rejected
If you’re a business looking to license photos directly from a photographer, there are better and worse ways to respond if the photographer rejects your request and decides not to allow the use of their photos. That’s what one convention recently learned the hard way.
It all started when photographer Toshiyasu “Toshi” Morita was contacted by Michael James, the co-founder of AfroComicCon, which bills itself as “the premiere comic con event for people of color and the African diaspora in the [California] Bay Area.”
James wished to use photos that Morita had taken at an AfroComicCon event. The conversation through Facebook’s messaging system started out well.
So, James asked about using Morita’s photos for AfroComicCon’s next event, and after some discussion, Morita decided to turn down the licensing request. But then things escalated quickly…
In response to being declined the use of any photos, James decided to tell Morita that he could no longer publicly display his own photos from AfroComicCon on his personal website and that Morita would be banned from AfroComicCon 2018.
James also stated that he would share this exact conversation with other Comic Con event operators to “warn them” about Morita’s business practices. Morita beat James to the punch, however, and published the conversation on Facebook himself as a warning to other photographers.
“I refused to allow Afro Comic Con to use my photos for promotional purposes, and they ordered me to remove my photos, and they have decided to smear my name to other comic cons,” Morita wrote in the post. “Beware.”
Morita’s post began spreading as hundreds of other photographers “liked” and “shared” it. He soon heard back from James.
Morita wasn’t satisfied with this message, which he considered a “non-apology.” Some photographers called AfroComicCon to give it a piece of their mind, while others left negative reviews online.
“I was wrong for questioning his rights to his own photos, I was also wrong to suggest that I would tell other cons anything negative about him,” James writes. “I was wrong to say his community was racist. I have no ill will towards him or his community of friends, cosplayers, and fans. He is welcome to come back to AfroComicCon.
“Part of our mission is honesty about what we see as injustice in our society and I want to say that we were wrong and unjust in this situation so we would like to offer our most sincere apologies and to let you know that I have learned from my mistake.”
This is a ’60-Second’ Handheld Photo of the Milky Way
Photographer Jonathan Usher of Wellington, New Zealand, recently created this photo of the Milky Way rising from the horizon near his city. But get this: he wasn’t using a tripod or any other stabilization — not even a rock. It’s a “60-second exposure” shot handheld.
“How does one hold a camera still enough for a full minute?” you might be asking yourself.
That is pretty darn hard to do, if not impossible, but Usher had a trick up his sleeve: he captured and stacked multiple exposures for a cumulative exposure time of 60 seconds.
Instead of shooting a 60-second exposure in a single photo, he split the photo’s exposure time into 6-second exposures in 10 photos.
“I’ve been having good success with 10 second exposures handheld with my new Panasonic G9 Micro 4/3 camera,” Usher tells PetaPixel. “But I wanted even higher quality — something I could print out say 16×20 inches or so.
“But holding a camera still for a single exposure of 60 seconds — nope, I can’t do that. What I CAN do though is hold the G9 steady for 6 second exposures, 10 times in a row, and stack the resulting images to improve quality.”
So late last month, Usher went out to Wellington’s south coast after the moon had set and shot 10 separate 6-second handheld exposures at ISO 1600, 8mm, and f/1.8. After stacking the 10 photos in post, the dazzling photo of the stars emerged.
“The noise level in the result is rather low and this will print very nicely,” Usher says. “I hope you enjoy the result of my experiment! It shows even without a tripod, a very nice image can be possible.”
Update: It’s clear readers were not happy with our original choice of title for this post. We’ve added quotes around “60-second” to make it more clear that it’s not a standard single exposure prior to reading the text — our goal was to not spoil the “trick” immediately from the title, but we didn’t choose the right way to do this. Apologies.
Fundamentally you’re capturing the same amount of light in either case so the results should be the same.
Practically, there are 2 differences between stacking 30 one second exposures and shooting one 30 second exposure. The first is the light lost between each one second exposure after the shutter closes before it reopens for the next exposure. This can cause problems with light trails of fast moving objects (such as cars), but is otherwise unlikely to cause significant problems.
The second is that doing 30 one second exposures requires 30 reads from the sensor, so you will get 30x the read noise (errors that are picked up as the signal is read off the sensor before it is converted to a digital value).
Sony Exec Predicts Canon and Nikon Full-Frame Mirrorless Within a Year
There’s plenty of speculation among photographers as to when Canon and Nikon plan to announce full-frame mirrorless cameras, but Sony itself has thoughts on when a formidable challenge to its mirrorless cameras will arise from the two juggernaut industry rivals. A Sony executive is now saying that he believes we’ll see the unveiling of such cameras within a year.
DPReview interviewed Sony camera General Manager Kenji Tanaka at the CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show in Japan earlier this month, and Tanaka predicts that full-frame Canon and Nikon mirrorless cameras would be on display by next year’s show around this time.
Here’s how Tanaka responded after DPReview asked him when he thought full-frame mirrorless cameras would become the norm in the industry:
This is just my personal opinion, but I think that maybe by next year’s CP+ you’ll see full-frame mirrorless cameras from Canon and Nikon. I think [by then] they will be participating in this market.
Just look at our technologies, like eye focus. All of that data comes from the imaging sensor. In DSLRs, the data comes from separate sensors. The main imaging sensor is blanked out, 90% of the time by the mirror. The sensor is turned off. But the imaging sensor is very important. So if cameras are going to develop, and be more able to capture the moment, manufacturers have to develop mirrorless technologies. So within one year, I think.
“[Tanaka] has a much better high-level understanding of the camera industry’s ins and outs that most of us,” DPReviewwrites. “In other words: we take his ‘personal opinions’ quite seriously.”
“Within existing businesses, there are market areas that are growing, such as […] mirrorless in cameras,” Mitarai says. “In these segments, by launching differentiated products that only we can provide, we will stimulate the market, grow our sales, and secure additional market share.
“For example, in our core camera business, in addition to our overwhelming share of the DSLR market, we will go on the offensive and work to expand our sales in the mirrorless camera market, which is exhibiting remarkable growth.
“This will allow us to reach our goal of 50% market share of the entire interchangeable-lens camera market.”
The ,000 Sony a7 III vs. the ,200 Sony a7R III: Here’s the Difference
Portrait photographer Manny Ortiz recently got his hands on the newly-announced Sony a7 III full-frame mirrorless camera, allowing him to compare the $2,000 camera to his $3,200 Sony a7R III. Here’s a 6-minute video in which he compares the cameras and discusses the strengths of each one.
“The experience of shooting in the real world, there was no difference than when I was shooting with my Sony a7R III, in autofocus performance, in everything,” Ortiz says.
Here are the pros of each system mentioned by Ortiz in the video:
Reasons for a7 III over a7R III
#1. Price. You save $1,200.
#2. Workflow. If you don’t need the extra resolution, the 24MP files will be faster to work with and cheaper to store.
#3. Low Light. Ortiz concluded that the a7 III performs slightly better in low light, with less noise in the photos.
#4. Autofocus. The a7 III features 693 AF points with 93% viewfinder coverage compared to the 399 points and 68% coverage of the a7R III. But “in the real world, I didn’t notice any difference,” Ortiz notes.
Reasons for a7R III over a7 III
#1. Viewfinder. The a7R III has a better electronic viewfinder with a faster refresh rate.
#2. Pixel Shift. The a7R III can combine pixel-shifted shots for ultra-resolution photos.
#3. Resolution. The a7R III captures 42-megapixel photos compared to the 24MP of the a7 III.
#4. Sharpness. The a7R III leaves out the low-pass filter, which provides increased sharpness. The a7 III uses the filter to reduce moiré patterns.
In the end, if you need the highest resolution and don’t mind paying extra for it, the a7R III is probably still the camera for you. But if you’re okay with 24 megapixels, the a7 III is a formidable camera that can leave you a chunk of money for other equipment.