photography

My Quest for the Perfect Polar Bear Picture

My Quest for the Perfect Polar Bear Picture

I’ve been saying it for years; all the easy pictures have been taken. But there are still some stupid and crazy ones left out there. I came up with the bright idea to travel north with at least one of them in mind. I went looking for the polar bear of my dreams.

Not a zoo bear, not some hanging-around-the-town-dump bear, and certainly not a Tundra Buggy tourist bear. I went searching for a polar bear living unafraid and standing unchallenged at the very top of the food chain. I planned to photograph that bear living, hunting, and swimming among the melting Arctic sea ice.

Canada, Nunavut Territory. A self portrait atop iceberg beside ice-trapped C-Dory expedition boat along Frozen Strait on Hudson Bay

I’d been making noise for years about going up to Hudson Bay to photograph polar bears. The town of Churchill, Manitoba is one of the easiest and most accessible places to see the bears. But everyone and their dog has already been there, riding around in a Tundra Buggy to photograph bears. I didn’t see much point in spending thousands of dollars to do that, so I tried to come up with a plan to get there and explore on my own.

My idea led to a string of solitary northern journeys that began as a sort of lark: I wondered if could I step out my front door in Seattle and travel overland to the shores of a cold and mysterious sea, then head off by boat to see wild animals and have some adventures. As to whether any of this was possible, let alone wise, safe or remotely advisable, I never thought to ask.

Canada, Nunavut Territory, Setting midnight sun light Bowhead Whale bones marking whaler’s grave from 1880s at Deadman Island along Hudson Bay

I wanted to go solo, and I figured out pretty quick this was going to be a BYOB (bring your own boat) job. The funny thing is, at the time at least, I hated boats. I hated the smell of them. I hated the cloying dampness, the sea-sickening bobbing-cork lurch, the musty, cramped spaces and the uncanny correlation between time on the high seas and extreme personality disorder.

After I bought my first boat, a 22-foot long weekend fishing boat named, appropriately enough, C-Sick, I quickly learned that boating exists in a gray zone between life as an unemployed grad school dropout and formally joining the ranks of the homeless. I might not bathe for a week. I crapped in a bucket, slept on a fold-out sofa, drank alone and to excess, and compulsively talked to myself for months on end. She was small enough—eight-and-a-half feet wide, and twenty-two feet long—to haul on a trailer, but came equipped with a rudimentary bed, table, and kitchen. She reminded me of my old VW camper.

I eventually decided to haul C-Sick nearly 2,000 miles on her trailer, up to where the road ends in the middle of Canada’s north woods near a town called Gillam, Manitoba. Then I backed her into the Nelson River and motored 75 miles downriver to Hudson Bay. From there, the plan was to make a left turn, motor across nearly a thousand miles of sparsely inhabited coast, and arrive at the Arctic Circle.

On paper, it sounded pretty simple, but the reality was anything but. I hadn’t gone more than four or five hours before I grounded my boat in the river’s shallows. I wound up unloading half a ton of fuel and gear into my inflatable dinghy, then pushed and dragged her while wading in the ice cold water. After that, I spent weeks struggling to cover the rocky and wild coast of western Hudson Bay.

There are only six small towns and settlements scattered across more than 500 miles of coastline, and I had to carry ample fuel and food to keep moving for hundreds of miles on my own. Each night, I had to find a sheltered spot to anchor the boat, then I’d heat up some canned soup, download the day’s images and start scribbling in my journal about the day’s adventures and disasters.

Canada, Nunavut Territory, Rankin Inlet, Aerial view of C-Dory expedition boat anchored near Marble Island on summer evening along western shore of Hudson Bay

I wish I could say I was the Bear Whisperer, that I possessed a secret communion with polar bears—some Zen mastery that allowed me to see the bear even before I saw the bear. Or that I could send a whisper out upon the wind, carried from my chapped lips to fuzzy ursine ears. If there is a secret to finding a white bear in an infinite field of white ice, nobody has shared it with me.

I heard a helicopter and a suitcase full of National Geographic cash helps. Out on the water and amidst the drifting ice, it was simply a matter of grim determination: scanning every stinking piece of ice for hour after hour with heavy, overpriced binoculars glued to my eye sockets. Most of the time; nothing.

Canada, Manitoba, Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) lit by setting midnight sun on sub-arctic tundra along Hudson Bay at Hubbart Point

And even when I did find a bear, it was often difficult to get close enough to photograph them properly. It was nearly three weeks until I found my first polar bear, asleep on the rocky shore. I set up as close as I could get, then waited. It might have been an hour before the bear finally woke, yawned, and had a luxurious stretch on the rocks. Then he sat up and began walking toward me.

It was not a fast walk, but it wasn’t exactly a slow one, either. And he was not at all deterred by any of the array of gentle persuasions I had learned in three summers of working around Alaska’s coastal grizzly bears. I could have waved my hands overhead and yelled “Hey, Bear,” until my arms fell off; this guy was having none of it.

I clutched my bear-banger pen and carefully began a backward stumble-walk over the wet and uneven rocks, never turning to let the bear out of my sight. I retraced my steps back toward the dinghy, struggling to feel my way over the rocks through thick rubber boots and barely noticed the half gallon of cold water spilling over my boot tops when I finally scrambled back aboard.

Over the course of four summers, I photographed dozens of polar bears and a host of other animals near the Arctic Circle, at the northern reaches of Hudson Bay. I spent endless hours watching the bears as they moved along the melting sea ice and on shore.

Canada, Nunavut Territory, Repulse Bay, Polar Bear Cub (Ursus maritimus) beneath mother while standing on sea ice near Harbour Islands

There were times when the bears relaxed completely, and I was able to show them staring through the boat’s window at me, or swimming through the water, hunting on the ice.

Canada, Nunavut Territory, Young Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) peers through window of expedition boat on ice pack near Arctic Circle along Hudson Bay

There were also a few times when they took a more active, even culinary interest in my presence, which was another matter entirely. But the funny thing is, the bears didn’t scare me half as much as the Bay did. The Bay itself might be better described as a vast inland sea, six hundred miles long and up to four hundred miles across. When the wind blew, there wasn’t a tree or hill in half a thousand miles to stop it. The coast is only poorly mapped, and I constantly struggled to keep C-Sick off the rocks and out of the ice.

I gave my poor wife a heart attack one day when I left one of those ‘lost climber on Everest bidding sad farewell’ messages on her voicemail. The pack ice is constantly drifting on the currents and tides up near the Arctic Circle, and when I found myself cut off by a wall of icebergs, I drove C-Sick onto the rocky shore to avoid being trapped or crushed.

Canada, Nunavut Territory, C-Dory expedition boat caught in sea ice in Frozen Strait near White Island on summer morning

I couldn’t think of what else to do, so I called her on my satellite phone, gave her my GPS coordinates, then asked if she could look up the numbers for the boat insurance policy. It took 10 or 12 hours, but the tide eventually loosened up the ice and I floated back off the beach and away to safety.

I wanted to show polar bears in a new way, and I was willing to try almost anything. Along with a couple cases of my dinged-up Canon SLRs and attendant long telephotos, I brought along remote camera traps, an Aqua-Tech underwater camera housing, even a DJI Phantom 3 drone that seemed obsessed with thoughts of suicide.

In the end, I shot more than 100,000 images and covered more than 6,000 miles of wandering across the northern Bay. And some of those photographs did generate a modest amount of notoriety, including a first place award at the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition in 2013, Grand Prize in the National Geographic Photo of the Year contest in 2013 and a First Prize in the 2014 Big Picture Competition.

Canada, Manitoba, Churchill, Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) hides while submerged at edge of melting ice floe on summer evening
Canada, Nunavut Territory, Underwater view of Polar Bear’s paws and claws (Ursus maritimus) swimming in Hudson Bay
Canada, Nunavut Territory, Vansittart Island, Setting midnight sun lights skull of Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) along Frozen Strait along Hudson Bay
Canada, Nunavut Territory, Close-up of Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) biting at camera near Arctic Circle along Hudson Bay

I never set out to write a book. Arctic Solitaire: A Boat, A Bay, and the Quest for the Perfect Bear has its origins in the journals and notes I kept during those four summers between 2012 and 2015. It was the voice in my head, scribbled down longhand at the end of each day’s solitary travels. I turned some of them into posts for my blog, which caught the eye of Mountaineers Books here in Seattle. They offered me a book contract, a small advance, and a chance to try something entirely new; staying home and writing for months at a stretch.

For a guy who had spent the past 15 years traveling five or six months a year, it was a big change, but a welcome one. The writing forced me to use a whole different set of muscles, and made me think in new ways about photography and bearing witness to the world, as well as allowing me to explore the history of the places I’d visited.

I’m already thinking about my next expedition project. I sold my beloved C-Sick to a nice man who seemed less inclined to drag her back to the ice, after buying a 43-foot steel motorsailer in Nova Scotia sight unseen, on the Internet. I took her north during the summer of 2017, covering more than 3,000 miles, from Halifax to Newfoundland and on to the northern tip of Labrador. Next summer, I hope to take her further north still.


About the author: Paul Souders is a photographer who travels the world for photos. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on his website and find out more about his book here.


Source: PetaPixel

My Quest for the Perfect Polar Bear Picture

Popular Child Photographer Under Fire for Sexualizing Young Girls

Popular Child Photographer Under Fire for Sexualizing Young Girls

Well-known child photographer Meg Bitton has sparked a firestorm of controversy over the manner in which she photographs young, underage girls who model for her portraits and workshops. Bitton is accused of sexualizing the children and putting them in inappropriate scenes that suggest things such as prostitution and drug use.

Criticism over Bitton’s work erupted earlier this month after an anonymous author published two articles titled “Let’s talk about Meg Bitton” about Bitton’s work and practices on a WordPress site hosted at boycottmegbitton.wordpress.com. Fstoppers followed up with an article a couple of days later.

Bitton exploded back into the public eye back in 2016 thanks to this photo and post that went viral:

BoycottMegBitton accuses Bitton of attracting attention to her work by posting controversial photos, waiting for the images to “hit a fever pitch,” and then removing the “click bait” photos from her online record. Over the years, Bitton has amassed over 300,000 followers on Facebook alone.

While many of her controversial photos have been deleted from social media, the images that remain continue to show a pattern of photographing young made-up girls in suggestive outfits and poses.

Her Facebook gallery continues to contain a promotional image she posted for a “Wild Child” workshop:

But it’s the photos that have been wiped from the Web that have people calling for a boycott of Bitton’s work and workshops.

One controversial photo showed a young girl in a skimpy outfit sitting behind a steering wheel with a cigarette.

In another photo, two girls are photographed hugging… except one of them has a rolled up bill tucked into her shorts.

One photo shows a girl in underwear and a shirt that promotes the legalization of marijuana:

In another set of photos, girls in skimpy outfits are seen embracing and also surrounding a man with a walkie-talkie in his back pocket.

“They’re wearing knee high boots and platforms,” BoycottMegBitton writes. “I’m pretty sure that’s a reflection of water in the background. And that man is older than them. And has a walkie talkie in his back pocket. That’s a pimp. These girls ware working a dock.”

Some of the controversial themes and photos were reportedly part of workshops that Bitton held to teach other photographers her ways.

Bitton has had strong words (and bans) for people who have criticized her practices on social media.

“Too young for what?,” Bitton replied on Facebook in response to one critic. “To be embracing each other in shorts and tops? Too young to be out at night? Too young to explore? Too young to feel? What are they too young for? What is disgusting?”

In another response, Bitton told her followers that her photos tell a story of New York City and her childhood in the 1970s.

While many of Bitton’s fans have come to her defense on social media, Bitton is receiving widespread criticism and condemnation for her work. An ongoing online petition started by a “Concerned Citizen” has received over 6,000 supporters who are calling to have Bitton removed from Facebook and Instagram (where her account is now private).

“If a middle aged man shot these photos, we would be having a very different discussion,” BoycottMegBitton writes.

We reached out to Bitton for comment and she has yet to provide answers to questions we posed in writing. Bitton did say that she is dealing with her mental health at the moment, presumably as a result of the controversy and outrage her work has created (outrage that allegedly may even have included death threats made against Bitton).


Source: PetaPixel

Popular Child Photographer Under Fire for Sexualizing Young Girls

Getty Images to be Fully Controlled by the Getty Family Once Again

Getty Images to be Fully Controlled by the Getty Family Once Again

The stock photo powerhouse Getty Images is now once again owned by the Getty family from which it received its name. The company announced that the family has acquired a majority stake in the company and will take full control.

Getty Images was founded in 1997 by family member Mark Getty and CEO Jonathan Klein after the duo merged their company (Getty Communications) with a company called PhotoDisc. After a decade of strong growth in the stock photo industry, Getty Images was acquired in 2008 for $2.4 billion by the private equity firm Hellman & Friedman. Four years later, Hellman & Friedman put the company up for sale and ended up selling it for $3.3 billion to the private equity firm The Carlyle Group in 2012.

Mark Getty (left) and Jonathan Klein (right), Getty Images Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Board. Photo by Getty Images.

Now the company is being bought back by the Getty family, completing its full circle. The family is acquiring all of Carlyle’s ownership in Getty Images in exchange for cash as well as “ongoing financial interest in the future growth” of the company.

“The Getty family is thrilled to resume control of Getty Images, a business that bears our name and one we strongly believe in,” says Mark Getty, who led the transaction on the family’s behalf. “Getty Images is one of the world’s great media brands and the company has delivered a significant repositioning in the past few years, investing in its products and people to capitalize on favorable sector dynamics and build on its industry-leading position.”

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the transaction is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2018.


Source: PetaPixel

Getty Images to be Fully Controlled by the Getty Family Once Again

Flickr Revamps Galleries with a Fresh Look and New Tools

Flickr Revamps Galleries with a Fresh Look and New Tools

Flickr has announced a major new update to its photo galleries that brings a redesign and new tools for helping you “tell your visual stories with new tools to facilitate your creativity.”

“Flickr’s galleries have long been one of the tools available to our community for visual storytelling, though they have gotten dusty over time as the rest of the site progresses,” Flickr says.

The new galleries design helps showcase photos and videos through a much larger layout that’s geared toward modern screen sizes and resolutions.

Flickr, now owned by SmugMug, is also increasing the maximum number of photos in galleries tenfold from 50 to 500. There’s a new model that helps you work with large numbers of photos by batch adding them directly from your Faves.

“By explicitly connecting Faves to gallery creation, we’re making your workflow simpler when you’re curating your favorite works from other Flickr members,” Flickr says.

The galleries list page has been redesigned to show a triptych of photos (the cover photo and the two most recently added images). Each card also displays some gallery metadata.

Aside from the redesign and new features, most of what galleries offered before is still sticking around.

“You can update your cover photo at any time by selecting an image from the gallery,” Flickr says. “You can edit your Title and Description at any time. You can reorder the images in your galleries as often as you like. You can share galleries outside of Flickr with an intuitive share sheet that will improve the presentation of your galleries on other social networks.”

Head on over to your Flickr galleries page if you’d like to check out the new system and get started in using it.


Source: PetaPixel

Flickr Revamps Galleries with a Fresh Look and New Tools

Why Canon Shooters (Still) Need to Consider Sony Cameras

Why Canon Shooters (Still) Need to Consider Sony Cameras

When it comes to architecture and interior photography, it’s generally best practice to shoot using a tripod. There are several obvious reasons why, mostly due to being able to shoot effectively with slower shutter speeds and to compose your images more precisely.

Many landscape photographers will more than likely agree with the idea of using a tripod too. Unfortunately, there are certain scenarios where shooting with a tripod is simply not feasible. Take for instance a recent contract I received from a construction company that wanted one of their staircases photographed. The location itself does allow you to photograph the interior without any permits or permissions, however, tripods are not allowed due to it being a potential tripping hazard. I obviously wanted to ensure I produce high-quality images for the client and submitted a request to the location to use a tripod.

The back and forth ensued and the time it took to receive replies was eating into the time I had to complete the shoot. Not to mention the amount of paperwork required, suffice it to say there was a lot of red tape. Conscious of my deadlines I decided to shoot the location without a tripod and I’m very pleased with the results.

The equipment I used for this was without a doubt the lightest setup I’ve ever used on any interior shoot. My choice of camera was the Sony a7R III and the lens I decided on was the Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero Distortion lens. I decided on the Laowa lens because of the wider aperture and the working space available to shoot.

Always remember to scout your locations as much as possible as it will help you to decide what equipment will be best for the job.

There are several reasons the a7R III was a better choice compared to any current Canon camera on the market.

Electronic Viewfinder

The Laowa 12mm lens is completely manual and therefore autofocus was out of the question. Considering the lack of light, I decided to shoot wide open at f/2.8. The great thing about the 12mm lens is that even wide open you get a great degree of depth of field and it was sufficient for this particular location.

Shooting handheld in low light with a manual focus lens brings in a number of challenges. Fortunately, a good EVF will negate many of these issues. For one, looking through the viewfinder as opposed to using the back screen offers more stability in the way you hold the camera. Focus peaking and being able to punch in to check focus through the viewfinder meant that I never had to use the back of the screen. Although the 12mm lens does produce a relatively deep depth of field, some effort did need to go into making sure I was focusing correctly.

Canon and Nikon have announced their mirrorless cameras too but it’s not as though you can go out and buy one as I write this. Sony has been the only full-frame manufacturer offering a good EVF for a while now, making them a fantastic option.

In-Body Image Stabilization

Sony is still the only company on the market that offers a full frame camera with IBIS rated up to 5.5 stops. Even the newly announced cameras from Nikon don’t offer IBIS to this degree (it provides 5 stops). Canon, on the other hand, isn’t even competing in this area — the new Canon EOS R lacks it.

IBIS is extremely useful and without it, I doubt I would have been able to produce high-quality images. Due to the lighting, even when shooting at f/2.8 I had to shoot at shutter speeds as slow as 1/15th of second. Had I have picked my Canon 5DS R, as I do normally, I wouldn’t have been able to shoot at shutter speeds that slow and produced detailed images.

It seems Canon still believe that in-lens image stabilization is a better option. I recently demonstrated how this is not true and IBIS performs either about the same or better than IS. Even with adapting the Laowa lens, IBIS proved to be invaluable.

Other Compelling Reasons to Consider Sony

We are now three generations into Sony mirrorless cameras and currently they are the only manufacturer that offers a proper well-rounded system. Yes, Canon and Nikon have announced their mirrorless systems and although they do look pretty good as a first edition, they’re far from perfect. Above I discuss a real-world scenario where Sony was by far the best option for the job. There are, however, several other very compelling reasons Canon and even Nikon shooters should consider Sony cameras.

Lens Selection

I normally discuss this as a major advantage for Canon and talk about how native is always best. In practical real world uses though, Sony has some pretty notable advantages here.

Not only does Sony have a large selection of native lenses on the market already, they continue to develop more and more. Not to mention the vast options available if you choose to adapt lenses. Sony E-mount cameras have adapters available for pretty much all the major lens mounts. From its own Sony A-mount to Canon EF, Nikon F, and even Leica M mount lenses can be adapted.

Heck, you can even adapt some medium format lenses, making it the most adaptable lens mount currently on the market. To add to this, Sigma has recently joined Sony making native lenses for E-mount cameras. Having options like the 105mm f/1.4 and the 14mm f/1.8 make Sony cameras an even better option than ever before.

Most importantly for me and many architectural photographers is the fact that you can effectively adapt tilt-shift lenses to Sony cameras. Once again, all these lenses are going to be stabilized due to IBIS, something that Canon still does not offer. Sony is by far in the best position when it comes to available lenses for full-frame mirrorless cameras.

Autofocus System

The Sony a9 was the first mirrorless camera that really showed what a properly developed mirrorless camera can do. The zero blackout EVF and incredible focusing and tracking ability of this camera made it the first proper option for many professionals.

Focusing from the sensor is not only more accurate than conventional systems in DSLRs but allows for more interesting and useful features. Take eye detect autofocus, for example: this feature individually makes Sony cameras a much better option than a lot of what else is available on the market. For some time, this feature was seen as a bit of a gimmick due to its ineffectiveness, but cameras like the a7R III have completely changed this perspective. If you’ve ever used eye detect in the latest Sony cameras, you’ll know just how good it is.

I can’t stress enough how incredible this feature is. Shooting portraits is so much easier because you’re not having to constantly move your focus point every time you slightly change your composition. It frees you to be able to concentrate on composing the shot and not compromise that point.

On several occasions with a DSLR camera, I’ve found I had to adjust the composition to ensure the image is in focus. The alternative was to use focus recompose, but, this is not a great solution especially when shooting with wider aperture lenses. Ultimately the autofocus systems in the latest Sony cameras are simply brilliant.

Video Features

Although Nikon has only recently stepped up its game when it comes to video, Canon is still seemingly crippling its video features. The newly announced EOS R camera offers 4K at 30p, however, it massively crops the sensor (1.8x).

Sony, on the other hand, has been offering fantastic video features for a few years now. With its latest cameras, features like internal Log profiles and dual card recording mean that they are still the best option. Its autofocus for video has proven to be very reliable and properly effective.

Sony Listens

From all the current full frame manufacturers, it feels like Sony is the only company that actually listens to its customers. Sony now produces some of the absolute best mirrorless cameras on the market and this is because they’ve taken time to properly listen to the complaints. They don’t make excuses, they make changes.

Take dual card slots, for example. This was a major complaint and Sony addressed this as soon as they could with its third generation of cameras. Nikon on the other hand, even though all of its higher-tiered DSLR cameras offer two card slots, decided on a single slot for its mirrorless cameras. Canon too, for some ridiculous reason, has decided to do the same.

It’s a baffling choice especially when you consider how Canon and Nikon know what Sony has been through. If your camera isn’t big enough to house two card slots, then you haven’t made your camera big enough.

Canon had every opportunity to deliver a fantastic camera with two card slots but, as usual, it does just enough and nothing more. Even Fujifilm, with its relatively tiny cameras, has managed to offer two card slots for its cameras.

Many individuals have described how Sony takes criticisms, and it’s generally very positive. It would seem Sony care what its customers have to say and that’s part of the reason why we see so many meaningful updates for its systems.

Final Thoughts

Picking the right tool for the job is an important decision and, in many circumstances, I still pick my Canon cameras. Having said that, in the last year I’ve found myself using my Sony cameras more and more and it’s because of the wide range of properly useful features.

Sony has been working extremely hard over the last few years to develop their system and deliver fantastic options to photographers. They have a pretty vocal following for good reason: they make fantastic cameras and work hard to deliver what their customers want.

Canon and Nikon seem to only want to do just enough to keep their respective market positions. Their lackluster approach to mirrorless really demonstrates their commitment and they constantly require excuses and defending.


Which camera do you think is the best option in terms of features and specs?

When you have third party manufacturers starting to develop lenses and accessories for Sony just a few years into their development, you can tell they’re doing something right. The full-featured cameras offered by Sony are now extremely compelling options for many photographers and I predict their market position will be increasing dramatically over the next few years. For many photographers, Sony is fast becoming the absolute best option.


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

Why Canon Shooters (Still) Need to Consider Sony Cameras

When and How to Use a Polarizing Filter

When and How to Use a Polarizing Filter

Reflections are often unwanted, and glare will wash out an image. Polarizing filters counter the reflective measures and will deepen blues and add contrast to skies, reduce or remove reflections from water and windows, and increase contrast and saturation.

They do this by cutting out a single wave of direct reflected light, or polarized light, by means of unicorn farts and magic. Ok, maybe science has something to do with it too, but I shan’t overwhelm you with the technicalities, it is not that important (in my opinion). What is relevant is how to use it, when, and what the results are.

There was once when a photographer would be foolish not to be armed to the teeth with a selection of colored, warming and cooling, graduated, and specialty filters, but editing software has primarily made most of these photography filters superfluous. I would argue that a photographer needs no more than an ND filter and a polarising filter these days, and here we will discuss the latter.

The most common polariser is the Circular Polariser or CPL, and if you have an autofocus camera (I would be surprised if you didn’t) then the circular polarizer is for you. It is comprised of two filters stuck together that can be rotated until it absorbs reflected sunrays and the desired effect can be obtained.

It is essential that you turn the filter each time you compose an image or shift from horizontal to vertical framing; merely putting the filter on the front is not enough. As you rotate it, it will cut specific waves of light that are reflected or refracted. The filter will remove about 1½ stops of light from your image, but your camera’s light meter will automatically adjust for this.

Deepen blues in skies

Polariser filters are fantastic for a sunny day outdoor photography and you can see why in the image above of Blois in the Loire Valley. It has deepened the blues which in turn has made the clouds stand out much more. The reflection from the slate roofing has also been reduced. The river too has become more solid.

There are post-production techniques to achieve a similar result, but they are often time-consuming and result in artifacts, such as a halo on contrast points. In the image below of the Château de Chambord, I increased the saturation and reduced the luminosity of the blues. Note how there is a visible radiance around the edge of the top of the château where it meets the sky? One now could painfully go through and remove this with a lighter clone brush, or you can simply use the polarizer in the first place, get a richer more natural deep blue without the effort.

Removing reflections

Reflections can be easily removed with a polarizer. Windows of a building, reflections in a car window, the shine on the top of a lake or river can all be reduced drastically by rotating your polariser filter to the precise angle. Below I managed to remove the glare from water that was sitting just on top of these water lilies in Monet’s Garden in Giverny, giving them back their color and form. Further below, I shot a decorative door ornament in Paris. The reflection of the sky in the glass behind the figure was distracting and unnecessary. The polarizer cuts it out completely.

Use in portraiture

Polarising filters are often thought of as outdoor, landscape photographers companion, but they have a practical purpose in portrait photography as well. While they do reduce the amount of light coming into your camera by about 1½ stops, they will also reduce unwanted reflections in glasses, and can reduce the shine on people’s skin, giving them an even illumination. In this image, look closely not only the spectacles but the forehead and the tip of the nose.

Quality and price

People have asked me what the difference between a $20 and $200 polariser filter and the answer lies in the quality of the glass. Photography is all about the glass; it would be disappointing to put a cheap filter over a superb lens; it is akin to shooting through a dirty window. The higher quality the filter is, the less color casting it will have, the less susceptible to scratches it will be, and the more robust the build quality will be. This being said, if you are a mid-level enthusiast and you treat your property well, there will be nothing wrong with the cheaper filter. It won’t be until you start pixel peeping that you will really see the difference. For those of you interested, these images have been shot using the Hoya Circular Polarising Filter on my Nikon D500 with an AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8G ED lens.

A polarising filter won’t work on every situation, the direction of the light needs to be at right angles to the source. Sunsets, where the sun is in the frame, or directly behind you, will do very little to your image. The best results come with side light or reflections at 90˚ angles and on polarized light. Try twisting it to see what it will look like on any given scene. Often things are more reflective than we think, like foliage in a garden, wooden table tops, skin and a whole lot more.

A polariser often is the difference between an average photograph and one that truly pops. Once you get the hang of them, you will wonder how you ever shot without them. Remember to take them off if they’re not giving you the desired effect, as they do rob you of about 1½ stops of light.


About the author: Alexander J.E. Bradley is the founder of Aperture Tours (formally Paris Photography Tours) and heads up the tours in Paris. A professional photographer for over a decade Alexander enjoys shooting the surreal by mixing dreamlike qualities into his conceptual images. You can view more of his work on his website.

You can find more photos and articles like this on the Aperture Tours website, or by following Aperture Tours on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This post was originally published here.


Source: PetaPixel

When and How to Use a Polarizing Filter

Creativity and Age: Your Photography Can Bloom in Any Stage of Life

Creativity and Age: Your Photography Can Bloom in Any Stage of Life

I think there is this weird idea floating around that creativity is a young person’s game, particularly certain genres of creativity (photography and music for sure). That somehow you are at your peak creatively in your twenties and thirties, and then it’s downhill from then on. I think that’s insane.

Some of us can find the courage for creativity when we are young, and for others it takes years or decades to turn onto this path. Some find creativity but not their voice when they are young, and age brings a settling into themselves and an ability to reveal something unique.

For me as a photographer, I could certainly say that I had a good eye when I was young, that came quite naturally. But it took me many years to find my voice and my style. And longer still to find a place for that in the world.

I would like to say with certainty that the ability to be creative increases as we become older and wiser. It should, given the experiences we build up, but it’s not automatic.

Age can actually bring about the reverse effect, and make us more fearful and less creative. More aware of the passing of time, more aware of what we haven’t achieved (that we thought we should have), more aware of the things we do badly.

No, that is the great fallacy: the wisdom of old men. They do not grow wise. They grow careful. —Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

I think sometimes it takes effort and focus not to grow ‘too careful’. To remind ourselves that at any point we can create new ideas, new skills, new ways of living and creating.

Age is never something to hold us back. If you don’t do it now, then when? When you are younger? We are all able to bring something new to this world, that will create bursts of recognition and connection with someone else.

Let age bring us the ability to be free instead.

Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heartache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty.

Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths.

We all derive from the same source. there is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there. —Henry Miller

It just takes courage, even if that courage comes and goes, as it does with most of us. I suppose it’s a little bit like a wave that you ride.

There are many great artists and writers who came to their practice later in life and still had stunning success. And we can use that to spur us on. But recognition from others shouldn’t be the driver. That’s not the true gift of creativity.

“Louise Bourgeois made her greatest work after the age of 80,” David Galenson writes at HuffPost “When she was 84, and an interviewer asked whether she could have made one of her recent works earlier in her career, she replied, ‘Absolutely not.’ When he asked why, she explained, ‘I was not sophisticated enough.’”

Creativity doesn’t have to have any purpose. It doesn’t have to go anywhere. Of course, if you want it to there is so much to do – the opportunities available to us artists are, I believe, the 21st century’s best gift.

Creativity is a release from all that ties us to a life that’s lived in habit. It’s a reminder to pay attention to what matters most.

It’s like bursts of interestingness, jolting us awake and out of our ‘to-do list’ and our crazy minds that push us into the future instead of allowing us to live in the present.

And it’s not just about giving yourself something to do when you retire or as a replacement for your job, it’s about weaving into your life a sense of exploration, a way to enhance your life every day. It doesn’t matter what age you come to it (15, 45, 85) because at each point in life you have something to reveal, something to explore.

Creativity is a way to discover who you are underneath of all of the layers that you’ve built up in the noise and distraction of your everyday life.

Creativity is about finding a freedom within your life that is unrelated to achievement or productivity. It’s your mind being released from daily patterns to wander over the vast plains and mystery of life, in a way that is completely unique to you. It is about enriching your life, bringing you a deep sense of joy.

But it’s not a freedom whose path comes in a blissful and easy way; it’s not a straightforward process. It can feel uncomfortable, painful even. It can confront you with what you’re hopeless at or ill at ease with.

It can involve vast swathes of boredom, and it certainly isn’t always a joyful thing for me. But it has added a deep, rich layer to my life that makes it feel more fulfilling. It’s the place I go to often to work things out.

What’s thrilling to me about what’s called technique, I hate to call it that because it sounds like something up your sleeve, but what moves me about it is that it comes from some mysterious deep place. I mean it can have something to do with the paper and the developer and all that stuff, but it comes mostly from some very deep choices that somebody has made, that take a long time, and keep haunting them. —Diane Arbus

Waiting for the boat

Your creativity is waiting to be revealed right now, and that’s what I want you to remind you of.

…Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen. —Anne Lamott

In my younger years, I was really caught up with the prestige of commercial photography – getting cool, flashy clients – until I realized that I wasn’t a flashy commercial photographer.

My personality just isn’t suited to that hustling vibe. I like going off and wandering around on my own. I am drawn to my own little adventures and making my own projects, that’s how my creativity works best and that’s how I’ve created my life around.

With age, we can release the addictive powers of expectation (if we chose to). You can unmoor yourself from the ferocity of expectation. You can free yourself from how you perceive your life should be and instead find what is fascinating in what your life actually is.

It takes bravery to step out of the manner in which most of us live and try to look at things in a different way. To look at the morning sunshine and ponder it. To be reminded of the fleeting nature of life and to still look, search, explore and do what makes you truly excited and truly happy. Being creative takes bravery, for sure, but the rewards are beyond measure.

It’s never too late.


About the author: Anthony Epes is a photographer whose work has been featured internationally; including on BBC, French Photo Magazine, Atlas Obscura and CNN. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Epes is also a teacher – writing in-depth free articles on his website. Receive his free ebook on the two essential skills that will instantly improve your photos, and sign up to his weekly newsletter providing inspiration, ideas and pro-photo techniques. This article was also published here.


Source: PetaPixel

Creativity and Age: Your Photography Can Bloom in Any Stage of Life

Lioness Steals Photographer’s Canon DSLR and Gives It to Her Cubs

Lioness Steals Photographer’s Canon DSLR and Gives It to Her Cubs

Wildlife photographer Barbara Jensen Vorster was photographing a pride of lions in Botswana in July when she had her camera stolen by a lioness. She luckily had another camera ready and captured a series of photos showing what happened next.

Vorster was shooting at the Mashatu Game Reserve with her Canon 7D and Canon 100-400mm lens — a camera kit worth over $2,000 — when she accidentally dropped the kit on the ground. Upon hearing the thud, the protective lioness mother growled and then approached the group to investigate, causing Vorster and her party to retreat in their 4×4.

“The camera fell with the lens looking up, she gently flipped the camera on its side and picked it up by the barrel of the lens,” Vorster says.

The lioness then picked up the camera and telephoto lens in her mouth and carried it a distance before dropping it onto the ground. Her cubs then pounced on their new toy and began playing with it.

Here’s a video of the incident:

“They dragged it through the dirt, chewed on the lens hood and then fortunately, like most kids, soon grew tired with their new toy,” the photographer says.

After retrieving her abandoned camera, she found that it was still functioning perfectly aside from teeth marks across the surfaces.

The camera was “very dirty but appears to still work,” Vorster says. “There are two huge teeth marks on the rubber focus rings of the lens and small teeth marks on the plastic lens hood, both of which I decided not to replace.”

She spent roughly £200 having the equipment fixed, but it was a small price to pay for the unique set of photos she left with that day — Vorster says it was a “priceless experience,” adding, “What photographer can boast that their lens had been in a lion’s mouth?”

(via Barbara Jensen Vorster via Fstoppers)


Image credits: Photographs by Barbara Jensen Vorster/SWNS


Source: PetaPixel

Lioness Steals Photographer’s Canon DSLR and Gives It to Her Cubs

Canon EOS R Photos and Specs Leak

Canon EOS R Photos and Specs Leak

We now have our first look at the Canon EOS R mirrorless camera and RF lenses that will be announced on Wednesday, September 5th. Photos and specifications have leaked onto the Web for the first time despite Canon’s ultra-high level of secrecy surrounding this product launch.

The Japanese camera rumor website Nokishita first published the leaked images and details. Canon Rumors also published a set of specs.

The Canon EOS R will reportedly contain a 30.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor with Dual Pixel AF. Features include large AF coverage (100% vertical and 88% horizontal), EV -6 low light autofocus, 4K video recording, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a mic jack, a headphone jack, a dustproof and drip-proof magnesium body, and the use of an LP-E6N battery.

On the back of the camera is an articulating screen.

And like the new Nikon Z cameras, the Canon EOS R will have an information display screen on the top.

Portability-wise, the camera will reportedly weigh 580g (1.28lbs) and measure 136x98m (5.35×3.86in) in width and height, respectively.

Here’s how the new Canon EOS R and a 24-105mm RF lens will compare in size to a Canon full-frame DSLR with a 24-105mm EF lens:

The new 12-pin RF mount is said to have an inner diameter of 54mm and a flange focal distance of 20mm. By comparison, the new Nikon Z series has an inner diameter of 55mm and a flange focal distance of 16mm.

Canon’s ecosystem of EF lenses will be compatible using one of three lens adapters: a standard EF-EOS R mount adapter, a control ring mount adapter, and a drop-in filter mount adapter.

Photos of the four first RF lenses have leaked as well. Here are the 35mm f/1.8 M IS, 50mm f/1.2L, 28-70mm f/2L, and 24-105mm f/4L.

There are still details and specs that have yet to be revealed regarding the camera, adapters, and lenses. Stay tuned.


Source: PetaPixel

Canon EOS R Photos and Specs Leak

Panasonic to Unveil a Full Frame Mirrorless Camera on Sept 25: Report

Panasonic to Unveil a Full Frame Mirrorless Camera on Sept 25: Report

We’re just days away from Canon unveiling its first full-frame mirrorless camera, the EOS R. But the mirrorless camera wars are just getting started: Panasonic is reportedly planning to unveil its own full-frame camera camera later this month.

43 Rumors reports that this new camera will be announced 10 years after Panasonic released its first mirrorless camera and the world’s first Micro Four Thirds camera, the G1.

Panasonic will announce the camera and show off a prototype on September 25th, 2018 — the day before the Photokina 2018 trade show kicks off in Germany — and that the actual camera will be hitting the market sometime in the first half of 2019, 43 Rumors writes.

Sources are telling 43 Rumors that the camera is just as exciting (or perhaps even more exciting) as Nikon’s Z Series announcement and that the camera will have “superb” video recording performance.

If this report comes to pass, then in the span of a month Sony will have gotten three new full-frame competitors in the Nikon Z, Canon R, and Panasonic… something.


Source: PetaPixel

Panasonic to Unveil a Full Frame Mirrorless Camera on Sept 25: Report