iPhone ‘Beautygate’ Skin Smoothing IS Gone in iOS 12.1: See For Yourself
The latest iPhones’ tendency to aggressively smooth out skin in selfies is no more. Apple recently acknowledged that the phenomenon, dubbed “Beautygate” by some,” was a bug and promised a fix. That fix just arrived in the new iOS 12.1 this week.
Apple said last week that Smart HDR has been choosing the wrong base frame for HDR processing when iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR users snap selfies. By erroneously selecting longer shutter speeds instead of shorter ones, blur was introduced into the resulting photos, and this blur is what people mistakenly believed was an intentional skin-smoothing beauty filter (which some smartphones around the world explicitly DO offer).
How to Build a DIY Long-Term Weatherproof Timelapse Rig
In the fall of 2017, I had the opportunity to capture the transformation of an empty plot of land turning into a high-tech vehicle test track. The bulk of the construction would take place for about a year. My friend and colleague, Ryan, and I were tasked with capturing that transformation into a timelapse video.
We wanted a high-up vantage point to place a camera. The site is at an airport, so there was a nearby airline hangar where we had access to the roof. With that established as our best vantage point, we had to decide what kind of camera to use.
Here were the challenges
1. The camera needed to be weatherproof, since we would be leaving it outside for many months, through a Michigan winter and summer.
2. We would only be able to visit the camera about once a month.
We considered security cameras, point, and shoots, DSLRs… everything. We landed on an entry-level DSLR because it was going to give us the best image quality for the price (and the most control), and a cheaper DSLR camera would be better since there was definitely a chance of the entire rig being ruined by exposure to the weather.
At some point, I had run into a webpage where glacier researchers built a weatherproof rig that was left out for months at a time. Since then I’ve seen a few instances where this technique was used. We used this as our guide to construct a rig that would get what we needed.
Here’s a list of the gear we used to build the rig:
With the intervalometer and the dummy battery, we could leave the camera on, non-stop, capturing photos at timed intervals. The glacier researchers did one photo per day. We decided to do one photo per hour, with the thought that it would give us more opportunities to use photos to better show the construction process. If we wanted to do one photo per day, we could just use every 24th photo.
It was time to go to the shop and put the rig together.
The first step was to install the lens port in the front of the Pelican case. To do this, I used a power drill to make holes in a circle to fit the 3.5″ PVC pipe, after marking where the lens would protrude out of the case. It had to be a tight fit, so this took some time. Pelican cases are not easy to “destroy”!
We were making progress!
The next task was to seal the PVC pipe to the pelican case. I used Gorilla Glue to make a solid connection between the two. Caulk was then added to the seam on the outside, and hot glue was applied to the inside to strengthen the seal. The UV filter was added to the front and sealed with more glue and caulk.
Helpful tip: Getting glue on the lens of the filter will be hard to remove later. I covered the glass with masking tape until construction was complete.
After the port was completely dry, we began working on the mount that would hold the camera in place when the case was closed.
We used two steel L-brackets to hold a wooden platform in place. Both the wood and the brackets were just laying around in my shop, but they worked great. The two L-brackets were bolted to the front of the case through pre-drilled holes. These were then covered with calk to seal the holes.
In the center of the wood platform, we drilled a hole to insert a 1/4″ screw that held the camera securely to it. At this point, the camera was connected directly to the front of the case and was secure when we closed the case. We did a light shake test to make sure everything was nice and tight.
To connect the case to the tripod, we pre-drilled a hole to insert another 1/4″ screw down to a tripod baseplate. The ball head we used was one we had on-hand, but if I were to do this in the future I’d pick a more secure head. Again… more on this later.
The lens port was installed, the camera was bolted to the inside of the case, and the case was successfully attached to the tripod. The only thing left to do was drill a hole in the bottom of the case for the dummy battery cord. Again, glue and caulk were applied to seal the hole.
All of this took a few days, as we had to wait for different parts to dry before we could continue.
The intervalometer and the AC adapter for the dummy battery were both attached inside the rig via double-sided tape. Because of the heat that the rig would eventually endure, the tape’s stickiness would melt and by the end, they were both sitting at the bottom of the inside of the case, but it did not change the images.
With the rig build complete, we set it up on the roof of the hangar, plugged it into a nearby outlet, and weighed the tripod with a weight to prevent movement from wind. The intervalometer was set for 1 hr increments, we closed up the case and … left it there for a month.
The first time we checked on it there was virtually no wear on the case and the camera was still working, but after a few more months we encountered cobwebs, bird activity, a scrap piece of paper that somehow found its way into the lens hood, and more. But… for the most part, the lens was clear of debris and we were getting good results.
The biggest challenge was adequately capturing the construction progress from our vantage point. We weren’t up high enough to see a lot of the progress outside of a thin strip on the horizon. Fortunately, the images were really big and we could crop into different areas throughout the time lapse.
After more than a year, we collected the rig and began processing photos. Here is a demo of all the images captured:
You can see by these preliminary results that the timelapse isn’t very good simply by stringing the photos together. This was going to take some careful processing.
I removed all the photos at night, and that still didn’t make it much better. I ended up removing all the photos that had hard shadows. Fortunately, there were a lot of cloudy days.
After some stabilization, the results looked a little like this:
The camera rig, for the most part, was successful. The camera was not destroyed and still works today. (It’s currently set up on property in the Grand Rapids area capturing the changing fall colors.)
One thing I would change is the ball head. Either wind or human tampering caused the camera to move a little bit. I would use a more heavy duty head to prevent this.
The biggest challenge with this project was camera placement. The results, in my opinion, aren’t great. I expected to be able to see a bigger change in front of the camera. Unfortunately, we were limited in where we could put the camera. In the future, I think this would work really well for change that is easier to see.
About the author: Drew Mason is a Michigan based content creator who specializes in outdoor travel. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. See more of Mason’s work on his website, Instagram, and Facebook. This article was also published here.
I’ve Never Flown a Drone. Here’s My Review of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Since the 2010 launch of the Parrot AR.Drone, consumer interest in drones has skyrocketed. DJI’s ubiquitous Phantom, originally released in 2013, has spawned multiple iterations and the company has further developed product lines like the Spark and Mavic to fill various niches and price points.
The drone has become another tool in the storytelling arsenal with its ability to capture incredibly high quality stills and video from a perspective that was once reserved for helicopters or expensive commercial units.
I’ve been tempted to join the drone game for years, but I’ve resisted the urge to dip my toe into the waters because the earliest units were too complicated, large, and expensive. I deferred my dream to other photographers and videographers who had more patience, skill, and need than me.
But over the years, my Instagram feed has been infiltrated with incredible aerial images, and after attending the launch of the DJI Mavic 2 Pro earlier this year, I decided it was time to take one out for a spin. I made my way to the DJI Offices in Soho to pick up a loaner unit, and was promptly asked, “Have you ever flown a drone before?”
A brief in-person tutorial ensued, followed a few hours later by an email strongly suggesting that I also borrow a smaller, cheaper Spark to practice with. A perfectly reasonable request, which I quickly ignored!
If you’re accustomed to seeing those flying white rectangles (those are Phantoms), you might be surprised by the size and compactness of the Mavic 2. The propeller arms swing and fold into a unit the size of a brick, but significantly lighter. The radio frequency (RF) controller plugs into your smartphone giving you a pretty solid video feed. Omni-directional sensors help the drone avoid obstacles (at least in some flight modes), and the unit is pretty darn easy to fly, even for a neophyte.
But let me pause here for a PSA.
The proliferation of drones has led the FAA to require a remote pilot certificate for commercial use. Although recreational use is exempt from this requirement, I spent a few hours familiarizing myself with the rules (e.g. no flying within 5 miles of an airport) and reviewing the airspace maps to get a clear understanding of my potential flight areas. Even little drones can cause devastating damage to aircraft wings, so all drone operators need to exercise caution.
I felt exhilarated the first time (and second and third) time I flew. The experience reminded me of learning to drive a car as a teen and getting on the highway for the first time – what a rush! Controlling the drone and seeing the live birdseye view is almost an ineffable feeling, and reviewing the images and video later on a large screen is incredibly satisfying.
Prepping the Unit
There are a plethora of YouTube videos on how to set-up your drone if you’re not inclined to read directions, and this was the route I took. In truth, set up is simple. In my mind, attaching the propellers was going to be a daunting task, but the design makes assembly nearly impossible to screw up.
Like other drones, the Mavic 2 connects to your smartphone (Android or iPhone) via the DJI Go app (your phone is used as the live monitor), while the controller provides the RF connection to the drone. I had to update the firmware on both devices and update the geofencing database – a mechanism on most consumer drones to avoid flying in restricted areas.
The “Fly More” kit (USD$139) gives you additional batteries and a charging hub that holds up to 4 batteries. But beware! The hub doesn’t charge batteries simultaneously – it charges them in sequence with priority given to the battery with the most charge.
Orienting yourself in 3D space takes a while. It’s not hard to fly the drone at all, and by most accounts, the Mavic 2 is significantly quieter than most drones. The left joystick controls altitude and nose direction, and the right joystick controls forward, backward, left and right movement. But maintaining visual line-of-sight of the drone is challenging because it wasn’t intuitive to match what I saw on the screen with the position of the drone. The drone was often lower on the horizon that I anticipated, but still higher on the altimeter than I thought.
The approximately 30 minute battery flight time went by in a flash during my maiden flight. There was so much to see, and soon the controller’s low battery warning (which kicks in at 25% by default) was incessantly beeping. You’re definitely going to need multiple batteries for any serious use.
In 2015, DJI bought a minority stake in Hasselblad. In early 2017, the minority stake became a majority stake, and the Mavic 2 Pro’s camera is company’s first collaboratively designed drone camera featuring a 20MP 1” sensor – a pretty significant update from the Mavic Pro’s 1 / 2.3” sensor – and akin in size to the Sony RX100. The camera has a variable aperture (f/2.8 – f/11), an ISO range up to 12,800 and a field-of-view roughly equivalent to an iPhone (28mm on full-frame).
DJI also brags about integrating Hasselblad Natural Colour Solution, an optimized color profile that “delivers the best possible natural colors from the selected chip without having to select from multiple presets.” I did find the JPGs to be punchy with some images appearing with boosted saturation and contrast similar to something out of an iPhone or Pixel.
You can also shoot in RAW which yields a DNG file (not a Hasselblad 3FR file), which can be processed in your favorite image editing program, or you can download Hasselblad Phocus for free.
The UI allows you to toggle between still and video modes. You can’t do both simultaneously, although you can obviously use a video grab if there is sufficient light. Taking a picture is accomplished by pressing the virtual shutter button, which momentarily freezes the display. There is a burst mode, but I opted to use the single shot mode. Timing became pretty essential.
Still photography has been my main interest, and I found taking pictures to be an intuitive process that yielded great results. It took a few days of shooting to find which angles I thought worked best from a birdseye view, but the results were worth it.
The camera’s light meter had a tendency to blow highlights. This was particularly noticeable when shooting video in high dynamic range situations. But you can dial in some exposure compensation, or set the camera in a completely manual mode.
In the basic video mode, controlling camera and drone movement is completely manual. Although I had some complex camera movements in mind (e.g. circling a subject at a constant distance), my flying skills weren’t good enough to do it convincingly. Add in the ability to tilt the camera up and down, and you suddenly realize why DJI created pre-programmed modes.
For example, the drone can auto-track a subject, which also has the added benefit of enabling all of the omnidirectional collision avoidance sensors. And I have to tell you, seeing the drone track something or someone while avoiding things around it is pretty incredible. Tracking isn’t flawless with fast-moving subjects or when the camera loses contrast detection, but it’s good enough for many applications.
The camera supports DJI’s 10-bit Dlog-M Color Profile. For video amateurs like myself, this means that the tonally flatter output is easier to color grade in post. Because I’ve had very little experience grading footage, and don’t own any plug-in LUTs, I decided to stick with the out-of-camera H.264 4k video, and still came away impressed.
It’s also a testament to the gimbal. Even in situations where I was getting high wind speed warnings, the video was often incredibly stable. Clearly the state of consumer gimbal technology has improved to near professional quality levels – and DJI has leveraged their experience in their Ronin line of camera stabilizers.
But the gimbal can only do so much. In high wind areas, excessive movement will cause the jelly-like appearance of the rolling shutter.
As a part of the drone’s start-up sequence, it calibrates an IMU, or inertial measurement unit. This bit of electronics is responsible for making sure the drone is where it thinks it is and is moving in the direction that it should be. As such, it’s somewhat sensitive to magnetic interference, and I was surprised to find things like metal fences and rebar in concrete sometimes caused the unit to throw an error.
Also, the unit that DJI lent me for this review started acting up after a couple of days. The process of connecting to the controller to the drone degraded and it became continually more difficult to pair until it stopped altogether.
I tried using the somewhat abysmally designed desktop software DJI Assistant 2 to try downgrading the firmware. But the software wouldn’t connect the Mavic 2 to my MacBook Pro.
I was so frustrated after spending hours trying to debug the unit, that I ended up buying my own Mavic 2 Pro at a local Best Buy, and that’s perhaps the best endorsement I can make of the unit. I had so much fun in the first few days of using the drone, that the thought of not having it for another week while visiting my parents in Hawai’i was unfathomable.
My unit performed flawlessly for the rest of the trip.
I ended up flying the Mavic 2 Pro every day. I even woke up before sunrise one morning to go flying, which is frankly unheard of for this night owl. Using a drone in a big city like New York is impractical (and mostly illegal), but in less densely populated areas of Hawai’i, it’s a dream.
Like a new lens, the drone is simply a tool that allows you to capture the world in a different way. And right now, I’m in the honeymoon phase. But with its ability to get you into positions you physically cannot occupy, drones seemingly offer more unusually creative perspectives – fueling my creatives juices and motivation.
Given that this was my first experience with a drone, I don’t really have any basis for comparison. But I can say even first time flyers will have no problem piloting the drone and capturing compelling content. It’s a compact, incredibly well-designed piece of hardware with stellar image quality. All of this to say that the Mavic 2 Pro is a pretty damn good piece of gear, and I can’t wait to “Go Fly” again.
About the author: Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter, which regularly publishes resources for photographers. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Allen is a graduate of Yale University, and flosses daily. This article was also published here.
If you fly a DJI Matrice 200 drone, beware: there are reports of the drone losing power and falling out of the sky. DJI says it’s currently investigating.
BBC News reports that UK police have grounded the drone after a police drone “experienced an in-flight issue” and landed onto the roof of a commercial building. Officials later stated that some of the drones suffered a “complete loss of power during flight.”
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) then followed up with a notice warning that a bug can result “in the aircraft falling directly to the ground,” even when the battery still holds a charge. As a result, the CAA is advising that operators stay at least 50m (164ft) away from (and never directly above) people, vehicles, and structures.
DJI quickly issued a notice last Friday acknowledging that it received reports of the issue and vowing to investigate and fix the problem.
DJI followed up with another notice today advising owners to fly with caution if they use TB50 and TB55 in their drones.
“DJI is investigating reports that a small number of batteries have shown incorrect power levels that have led to loss of power mid-flight,” DJI writes, saying that it’s working on a firmware update for the affected batteries that will provide “improvements to flight safety.”
You’ll be able to download the firmware fix through the DJI Pilot App in the “coming weeks.” Until then, DJI is instructing owners to land and recharge when their batteries reach about 30% of their capacity.
For most kids, deciding what to wear for Halloween is an exciting time to make a yearly memory. This is no different for my own daughter. However, this year, she received her costume from a neighbor as a hand-me-down. The joy on her face was priceless! Now that she had her costume, it was my job as her father and photographer to make her look epic.
The outfit reminded me of an Adorama TV feature that Gave Hoey did years ago that also included the character of Red Riding Hood:
As I wanted to use this video as inspiration, but not copy, I choose not to simply review this photo rather than the entire video. This allowed me to make it my own style and look. In keeping with the season of yummy treats, I thought I would write this article in the style of a recipe. Enjoy!
Being a portrait photographer I had all the items I needed for this shoot. Which include:
Body: Canon 5D Mark III Lens: Canon 85L 1.4IS Speedlight: Canon 600ex-rt Trigger: Canon ST-E3-RT Modifier: Westcott 26″ Rapid box with beauty dish Stand: Cheetah C10 Filter: Tiffin 6 Stop ND filter Additional: Sand bags for support Most importantly: One super cute and excited 7 year old ready to live a fantasy as Little Red Riding Hood.
Living in the city, a nearby forest was hard come by. What I did have though was a city park with a line of trees rich in autumn. The shoot began 30 minutes before civil twilight which helped give a soft glow to the trees in the background. The ambient light was a bit bright when I opened up the lens completely so I used a 6 stop Neutral Density (ND) to compensate.
I realize settings are dependent on the conditions and therefore will not apply to all circumstances, but you can use them as a guide. After all, you don’t want to over-cook your treat!
ISO: 100 Aperture: f1.6 Speed: 1/80th of a second (Image Stabilizer on) Flash: Powered at 1/32 power about 4 to 6 feet away
Tip: As long as your ambient exposure is 1 to 3 stops underexposed and you compensate with flash power, you should be able to get the desired look. It’s really that simple!
Honestly, I don’t watch a bunch of cooking shows, but I do know a great portrait has good composition. As you can see from one image above, soccer goal posts would have ruined the look. Thus, I placed my daughter in a line of trees that would give the viewer a sense that Little Red was in the woods off to grandmother’s house. My daughter, who loves posing and play acting took over and began to have fun. For a little extra flare my wife through some leaves into the shot.
I took the RAW images which were mostly complete into LightRoom. I added a pinch of dehaze, a bit of an S in curves and then some highlighting and shadowing to taste. The result Is one very happy and very excited little girl, “Daddy I look magical, I love them thank you!”
I hope this inspires you to go out and have fun. As photographers, we have the opportunity to make a child’s dreams and fantasies come true.
About the author: Christopher Buschelman is a 35-year-old fine art and portrait photographer based in Papillion, Nebraska. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Buschelman’s work on his website, Instagram, portrait Instagram, and Facebook.
Laowa 10-18mm: The World’s Widest Rectilinear Full-Frame Zoom Lens
The Chinese lens manufacturer Venus Optics has revealed the full details of its new Laowa 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 FE lens for Sony mirrorless cameras. It’s the world’s widest rectilinear full-frame zoom lens.
Venus says that the lens was created in response to mirrorless camera shooters wanting a compact wide-angle zoom lens. The 10-18mm is the smallest lens in its class, measuring just 3.5 inches long, weighing just 17.5 ounces (<500g), and having a lens diameter of 70mm.
“It is a welcome relief for landscape, adventure or travel photographers that are traveling over long distances and struggling to find a compact wide-angle zoom to pair up with their cameras,” Venus says.
The lens has a field of view that ranges from 102° (18mm) to 130° (10mm), allowing for “many impossible shots.”
A rear filter thread on the lens supports 37mm UV/ND filters.
There’s also an optional 100mm magnetic filter holder system.
Features and specs of the Laowa 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 FE include a 5-blade aperture, 14 elements in 10 groups, a minimum focusing distance of just 0.5 feet (15cm), 0.25x magnification for macro photos, and a switch that toggles click/clickless aperture adjustments.
Here are some sample photos captured using the lens:
In 2016, Venus Optics unveiled the world’s widest f/2.8 rectilinear lens in the Laowa 12mm f/2.8. Prior to this latest Laowa 10-18mm lens, the previous “widest” title holder for this class of lenses was the Canon 11-24mm f/4L.
The new Venus Optics Laowa 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 FE will hit store shelves in late November 2018 with a price tag of $849. Pre-orders can be placed now.
How to Shoot an ‘Impossible’ 1400MP 14mm f/0.2 Portrait
Want to shoot an “impossible” f/0.2 portrait? Here’s a 3.5-minute video in which photographer Tony Northrup demonstrates the Brenizer Method, which effectively turns a telephoto lens into an ultra-fast wide-angle lens.
The Brenizer Method, popularized in the modern day by photographer Ryan Brenizer, is simply a stitched panorama in which a portrait subject is featured in the frame.
Using a Nikon 105mm f/1.4E lens and shooting in portrait orientation, Northrup photographed both his model and the entire surroundings around by panning his camera around in small shifts.
There are other programs out there that can also stitch a large set of photos together automatically into a panorama, but Northrup has found that Microsoft ICE consistently produces good results with fewer errors than other options (e.g. Lightroom’s Photo Merge).
Here’s the resulting portrait that Northrup ended up with:
Based on the measurements, Northrup concluded that it’s the equivalent of a photo shot using a 14mm f/0.2 lens mounted on a 1,400-megapixel square-format camera. It’s a photo that could be printed 10-feet-wide at 300dpi.
This technique “creates an effect that people aren’t used to seeing. And anytime we can make a photo that’s a little bit visually different, we can make something unique and striking and something that gets a little bit of attention.”
Light Duel: An Animation Made with 300 Light-Painting Photos
Light-painting artist Darren Pearson created this short animation titled “Light Duel.” The 14-second film was created using 300 long-exposure photos with light drawings that were tirelessly painted into the scenes by hand.
The animation shows a duel between a light skeleton named Shiny Bone Jones and a human named Astro Bandit (AKA Jordan Pearson).
After the animation itself, the video contains a behind-the-scenes video showing how involved creating it was.
How to Shoot and Retouch a Dynamic Cosmetics Ad in Photoshop
Highly stylized looks offer a great learning opportunity to the beginner or intermediate product photographer. When items are placed on a composite-heavy background, there are certain considerations we can make in-camera to avoid a headache in Photoshop.
Since we are using speedlights, we’ve used adapters to make them fit inside stripboxes, which are great modifiers for controlling the light to flatter our cosmetic. By placing our stripbox behind the subject at a 45-degree angle, we can add a nice edge light which will make our product stand out on the dark composited background.
By setting this light up while other lights are off, we can get a strong read on how the edge light is positioned. We can also avoid flare, by getting a pure look at the contrast present in the black background. Here we adjusted the angle of our light a couple times before we achieved this stark level of contrast while cutting the edge out nicely.
Since our product cap is glossy, it will reflect our lighting directly. This incentivizes the use of a diffuser, which, in combination with a stripbox, will give us a larger area to reflect light onto the cap. By placing the stripbox such that it is almost perpendicular to the diffusion panel, we can create a gradient going from the inside to the outside of the cap. We turned our edge light off while we made these adjustments.
The gradient gives an edgy look to the product, while flattering the matte & glossy materials, and sufficiently lighting the brand name and text.
Now we can turn our edge light back on, and we will see right away a fashionable look emerge with just two speedlights. Of course, any type of lighting can be used here, as long as you can modify it properly. The strip boxes helped a great deal in crafting this look with precision.
Reflective frames can give you good data to incorporate in post-production, and it only takes a quick second to hold a piece of paper or card, to bounce some fill back in the subjects darker right side. Even if you don’t use all of this data, it takes a moment to capture and would be a huge headache to “fake” in Photoshop.
Mounting our product on a wire, allows us to diligently tweak the lighting, making our compositing work very straightforward. Shooting the accompanying applicator is as simple as cleaning it off and placing it similarly in the boldly lit environment.
By ensuring our products are sufficiently lit and carved off the backdrop nicely with an edge light, we create an easy time in Photoshop. The high level of contrast makes the items easy to select out, while the bright edges ensure the product will sit confidently on a low-key composited backdrop. We used pixels here as a background element, though this is just one small application of an array of looks that will now be at your fingertips.
About the author: Dustin Dolby is a commercial photographer and speedlight enthusiast. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Dolby teaches photography through his YouTube Channel, workphlo, where he breaks down studio setups using minimal gear and retouching techniques.
A 3-Minute Explanation of Bit Depth in Digital Photography
Don’t know what it means when one camera shoots 8-bit photos while another one shoots 10-bit? Here’s a helpful primer by ZY Productions that will bring you up to speed on the basics of bit depth in less than 3 minutes.
If this video piques your interest in the subject, here’s a 5,648-word article on the subject that’s way more in depth — it covers both what bit depth is and practical considerations for cameras, editing, and printing.