Did you know that the worse you are at photography, the more likely it is that you think you’re great at it? It’s a cognitive bias in psychology called the Dunning–Kruger effect. Here’s an inspiring 9-minute video by photographer Jamie Windsor on how you can avoid falling into this common mental trap and actually become a better photographer.
In their 1999 study, social psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger found that people who have virtually no skill in something often rate themselves as near experts because they simply don’t understand how much they actually still have to learn.
“If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent,” Dunning writes. “The skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.”
Windsor shares this psychological phenomenon as a warning to photographers since accurately assessing your own photography abilities can help you better judge “what work to take on and how far to push yourself.”
Here’s a quick rundown of the 5 tips Windsor gives for how you can avoid stagnating due to the Dunning–Kruger effect (watch the video to hear him elaborate on each one):
1. Beware of feeling comfortable. 2. Learn to let go of old work. 3. Ask for feedback from good photographers. 4. Always keep learning. 5. Understand that feeling bad about your old work is a sign that you’re moving forward.
Norenberg had detailed specifications in mind for his “wildlife dream lens” — a combination of features and specs that seemed ridiculous at the time.
He wanted to be able to full frame a subject 4 to 5 feet in height (like many wild animals) from a distance of 300 to 350 feet. Canon decided this meant the lens would have a focal length of 1000mm on the telephoto end based on a Super 35 sensor.
But Norenberg also wanted to be able to shoot wide views of landscapes, so Canon decided the lens would need to be 50mm on the wide end.
The lens would be a 50-1000mm lens, which has a 20:1 zoom range. So far so good.
But cinema cameras with powerful zoom abilities are generally big and bulky, but Norenberg also wanted the lens to be compact and lightweight, weighing no more than 15 pounds and measuring no more than 16 inches long.
This combination of big zoom range and small form factor is what made this project difficult. In fact, Canon says it was “the most challenging project ever undertaken by the Canon optical design team.”
But nonetheless, Canon said “challenge accepted,” and after a great deal of brainstorming and design work, the Canon CINE-SERVO 50-1000mm is what resulted. The lens was officially unveiled in October 2014.
Canon even went above and beyond Norenberg requests by building a 1.5x extender directly into the lens, bringing its telephoto reach to 1500mm and giving the lens a total zoom range of 30x.
“Canon really met 100% my specifications and my ideas,” Norenberg says.
The Best Wedding and Engagement Poses in Less Than 2 Minutes
Need some posing inspiration for an upcoming wedding or engagement portrait shoot? Photographers Sara Byrne and Phil Chester made this 2-minute video that shows some of the trendiest poses being used these days.
“A quick fire guide to all of the hottest couples poses of the season,” the duo writes. “Whether it be for wedding, engagements or whatever!”
The video shows everything from “The Hipster” to “Dirty Boots Messy Hair”.
Like the NYC Open Studio, the Oakland studio is located within VSCO’s offices (the company’s main headquarters, to be exact).
“In a market where renting studio space is wildly expensive and Bay Area costs are rising, the launch of Open Studio signifies VSCO’s commitment to equipping creators with the tools they need to succeed and is doing its part to help local Bay Area creators,” the company says. “Open Studio is a space for non-commercial projects. We believe it is important to give personal projects the opportunity to live.”
The new space may be a godsend for San Francisco Bay Area-based photographers who have a camera and concept but no cash. You’ll need to bring your own camera to the space, but VSCO has stocked it with backdrops and an assortment of basic professional lighting equipment you’re free to use:
If you’re interested in booking a 4-hour studio session at VSCO HQ, you can submit your request through this online form.
How Tech Disrupted Photography and Made Things ‘Awful’ for News Photogs
The photojournalism industry has undergone seismic shifts over the past couple of decades with photography’s move to digital and the rise of the smartphone camera. The business intelligence firm L2 recently sat down with veteran photojournalist Rick Smolan to chat about how tech has disrupted photography.
Rick Smolan is one of the most seasoned photographers alive, having served as a photographer for TIME, LIFE, and National Geographic. He’s perhaps best known for his bestselling book series, “Day in the Life,” which features photos shot by a large number of photographers in one country over the course of 24 hours.
Multi-megapixel, Internet-connected smartphone cameras have caused to become commoditized, Smolan says.
“Even though I still think there are only two or three hundred men and women in the world that do the quality of photography that I want to feature in my books, there’s a lot of 23-year-old picture buyers out there working at magazines now that are paying $50 for something someone would have paid me $5,000 for 20 years ago.”
“It’s really upended the whole industry […] It’s actually probably about a third of what you were being paid thirty or forty years ago, so for a journalist it’s awful.”
Smolan shares that he was paid $300 a day in 1983, while photojournalists today often make $200 a day. If adjusted for inflation, $300 in 1983 has the equivalent buying power as about $765 in today’s money — that’s like an hourly rate of close to $100.
Wildlife photographer Chad Barry has captured many gorgeous, award-winning photos of various animals over the course of his career, but there’s one thing viewers probably never realize when looking at his work: a lot of the wildlife images were captured from inside a car. Barry made this 23-minute video sharing how you can do the same.
“You can capture some amazing wildlife and bird photos without ever leaving your car,” Barry writes. “In this episode I discuss some of the equipment needed for wildlife photography and bird photography as well as take you out for a drive and photograph waterfowl, snowy owls and other species using my vehicle as a blind.”
Barry teaches by example, taking us on a photo drive and discussing his strategies and tips along the way. One thing Barry has noticed is that many animals are actually less wary of an approaching car than they are with an approaching human.
When shooting out the driver’s side door, Barry has found that a blanket or sweater can serve as a great stabilization tool for your camera.
Here are some of the photos he captured during the outing:
Photographer Finds His Stolen Camera Lens on eBay — It Sells for ,100
Photographer Daniel Zvereff lost his precious custom-modified Canon 50mm f/0.95 “dream lens” last month, and this week he came across that very lens for sale through an eBay auction. He then watched as the auction ended yesterday with a ridiculous winning bid of $65,100.
Daniel originally purchased the unusual modified Leica M-mount lens for about $2,300 from eBay back in 2013, and he spent about $800 having the lens coded (to allow Leica cameras to recognize it automatically), serviced, and cleaned up.
On February 19th, Zvereff woke up in his hotel room in Guadalajara, Mexico, and was shocked to find that someone had entered the room in the middle of the night and had stolen his camera bag containing the Canon 50mm f/0.95 and a Mamiya 75mm f/3.5 lens.
“I had to either miss my flight and stay in Guadalajara to report this to the police, or continue my journey,” Zvereff tells PetaPixel. “I knew that reporting to police in Mexico about a stolen item was pretty useless. And I also stopped using equipment insurance, so at that point, I decided to suck up my losses and move on.”
While riding a cab to the airport, Zvereff shared the following post on Instagram, mourning the loss of his beloved lens:
Fast forward to this week, and Zvereff was messaged by a friend who had somehow stumbled upon Zvereff’s stolen lens while browsing eBay.
“Funny thing is, even he was able to recognize it as mine, and he borrowed it maybe 3 times,” Zvereff says. “Just based on how it looked, the conversion is unique. It has a leatherette backing on the part that is facing the camera when mounted. It’s a strange design feature. I haven’t seen any other lens like that.”
What’s more, the seller’s custom photos of the lens even included the serial number on the front and the red filter that the lens was stolen with.
“I was just utterly dumbfounded that they would be so brazen as to include the serial number and even my red filter,” Zvereff says.
Here are photos of the lens posted by the Mexico-based eBay seller, salmanleitz047 (it seems you can see a reflected silhouette of the seller in the front view):
Here’s a photo of the lens Zvereff has on his iPhone’s Camera Roll from July 2016 — you can see that the serial number matches exactly:
“I called eBay immediately, but they were pretty unhelpful,” Zvereff says. “The person told me I had to go to the police and file a report. Then when the police contacted eBay, they would take it down. But the listing was ending in 15 hours. So I told them it would be literally impossible to get the NYPD to act within that time frame.”
As he was giving up hope, Zvereff’s friend Chris Gampat wrote about the strange story on The Phoblographer.
When Ken Wheeler (AKA The Angry Photographer) caught wind of the tale, he spent hours going back and forth with eBay trying to freeze the auction.
Despite receiving a tremendous amount of support from the photography community (and plenty of offers to help), the eBay auction ended yesterday… with a staggering final price of $65,100.
“As far as the listing going extremely high in cost, I’m not sure whats going on,” Zvereff says. “If it sold at $3,000, that wouldn’t surprise me, but it’s not mint or in collectible condition.”
Zvereff thinks it’s “absolutely possible” that the absurd price is the result of photographers doing whatever they can to prevent the auction from completing successfully, even if it means putting a price that they have no intention of paying.
At least two supporters have even won other auctions (or perhaps this one) by the seller for the sole purpose of leaving negative feedback:
“I really hope someone doesn’t get in trouble and is stuck with paying an exorbitant amount,” Zvereff says.
Other supporters have launched their own investigations, and Zvereff says photographers in Mexico are telling him that the seller is a man named Salomarte who’s known for selling stolen goods with his brother. The photographers noticed the lens for sale on Facebook for $2,300 and feigned interest to learn more.
For now, Zvereff still doesn’t know if he’ll ever get his lens back, but he’s encouraged by what has transpired over the past couple of days.
“I think one takeaway from this to me is that it’s been incredible to see the photo community’s response,” he says. “I think theft is something that we all experience and as photographers we tend to spend more on our equipment and treasure the value of these items we painfully sought after to create within our medium.
“I don’t expect to get the lens back. And I’m totally OK with it.”
Adorama Angers Film Photographers with Article and ‘Stolen’ Photo
The camera superstore Adorama is closed this week in observance of Passover, but it still somehow found itself in the center of controversy among passionate film photographers over a pro-digital article and “stolen” photo.
Resnick’s stated reasons for never going back to film are: (1) “digital costs less than film,” (2) “digital is faster,” (3) “digital is healthier,” (4) “digital is more flexible,” and (5) “I can make beautiful prints from my digital files.”
Doesn’t this mentality about film completely defeat the purpose of shooting on film? Of course digital is faster, and cheaper, but it’s not just about nostalgia, It’s about being involved in the process from start to finish #filmisnotdead
Man I was shopping around for a place to buy cases upon cases of acros in 120. You know who’s definitely not getting a dime of my money (on film or anything else?) @adorama. Too many options to deal with this shit.
Adorama tells PetaPixel that the apparent “theft” was the result of a mistake on Resnick’s part.
“Resnick says that he used Ken’s image as a placeholder and never intended to publish the image,” Adorama director Jacob Waldner tells PetaPixel. “He forgot that it was there and published with the image in the article.
“Taking into account that the photography community has had their trust compromised over the last few years, photographers are super sensitive and hyper-vigilant to any type of intellectual property theft. I am happy to see that the community looks out for each other.
“Ken is a good partner of ours and we would never intentionally use his work without consent. I spoke to Ken and he said that we are family and there are no ill feelings.”
As a spiritual symbol of Japan, Mt. Fuji is one of only three sacred mountains of the country and its tallest at 3,776 meters. Its designation as a UNESCO world heritage site further exemplifies its importance to not only the people of Japan but to the world as well.
When my wife and I went to Japan in the Spring of 2017, I had the opportunity to capture a widely known event called diamond Fuji — the time when the sun rises behind the apex of Mt. Fuji, creating a sparkle on top, much like a diamond would on top of a ring.
The term double diamond Fuji refers to this event and its reflection caught in a body of water in the foreground. This happens around April 20 and August 20 of every year (give or take a few days) at Lake Tanuki.
Prior to my trip, I did my research and found that one of the most picturesque locations to capture a double diamond Fuji is at Lake Tanuki — a man-made lake made for irrigation purposes. Unfortunately, other than Kyukamura Hotel (pictured below) which sits right on the shores of the lake, there weren’t many places to stay around this area, unless you wanted to camp out in the open.
This hotel books far in advance, and especially during special times like this. We were fortunate enough to get a cabin for two nights during mid-April, as we had booked well in advance. The area around this hotel has some great viewing spots including a public lookout that is located literally right behind the hotel (located to the left of the pathway in the photo below).
If you walk a little further away along a pathway, it will lead you right to an open area where you can enjoy an unobstructed view of Mt. Fuji.
Beyond the opening, you’ll come across a spectacular shoreline with unobstructed views of Mt. Fuji with Lake Tanuki in the foreground.
The First Morning
No matter how much planning you do though, there is always one factor that you cannot control: the weather. And unfortunately, the first morning we were there, it was overcast with thick clouds covering Mt. Fuji.
The early morning fog was thick as we walked the pathway along the lake. What was even more interesting was this fog quickly dissipated in front of our eyes in a matter of seconds as the sun came out. It was as if someone had pushed the “sun” button that turned off the fog.
As the fog lifted, so did the clouds — although at a much slower pace. We waited patiently by the lake for the clouds to move away so that I could get my first glimpse of Mt. Fuji from this location — which was the closest I’ve ever been.
It was at this moment that I felt the sheer raw power of Mt. Fuji, humbling in every way. I now know what people mean when they say that this mountain had moved them spiritually. Its mere presence was enough to put you in your place.
We spent much of the day driving around the area, taking more photographs of Mt. Fuji from various locations, including a sunset view of Mt. Fuji, seen below from the lookout area directly behind the hotel.
The Second Morning
The double diamond Fuji at Lake Tanuki happens only twice a year — in mid-April and mid-August. So it’s understandable that many photographers want to come and experience this at such a picturesque location. Each night people pay close attention to the weather forecast, trying to see if the morning will be clear. This morning was forecasted to be partly cloudy. My hope was slowly fading away.
The peak morning, or when the sun was to rise directly at the apex of Mt. Fuji, was actually a few days away. The hotel was fully booked the rest of the week so this was the only chance I had to get my photo of a double diamond Fuji.
The sun was set to rise at approximately 6:30 am, but you had to be at the location for around 4:30 am just to claim your spot along the lookout area, or along the open shoreline.
This morning, we woke up at 4:30 am, and made our way to the open area as I wanted an unobstructed view of Mt. Fuji. Waking up to a clear sky, I was excited and hopeful this would be the morning I was waiting for. There were a handful of other photographers lined up along the shores of the lake by that time, all hoping for the same thing.
As time passed by, so did a few clouds. They started forming directly at the apex of Mt. Fuji, forming a “hat” so-to-speak. This lenticular cloud formation was interesting, but not the look we were all waiting for.
A few minutes later and the reflection from the sun really brought out some colors on the clouds.
The steam directly above the lake made for some pretty photos too, so I made sure to take some photos of them as well.
As time passed by those stubborn clouds were still there, as if trapped by the peak of the mountain. The colors became more intense than ever, making this moment quite striking. You could hear the shutters of every other photographer go non-stop.
These clouds lingered there for what seemed to be like forever. Would these clouds move away in time? At this point, it didn’t look like it at all.
The sun had risen above the horizon by this point and was making its way up behind Mt. Fuji. With the clouds still lingering, you can see the sun rays peeking through the breaks in the clouds. By this point, everyone was starting to pack up and leave, as they knew this morning wasn’t the morning for a double diamond Fuji.
I started walking back and took a few more photos from the lookout area. There were even more clouds now than when I first arrived!
The Third Morning
Two mornings gone and still no picture of a double diamond Fuji. The hotel was fully booked — I even checked one more time upon checkout to see if there were any last minute cancellations. With the peak of double diamond Fuji getting even closer, nobody would cancel last minute.
We were scheduled to leave the area this day and head back to Tokyo. Dissatisfied with the outcome from these two mornings though, and the fact that it was unlikely that we would ever be back in this area again during the double diamond Fuji period, we decided to look for another location to stay in.
We scouted around and found a small guest house about a 20-25min. drive away from Lake Tanuki. It offered a modest room, a traditional Japanese dinner, and breakfast, and had rooms filled with framed photos of diamond Fuji and double diamond Fuji.
The owners of this guest house always housed other photographers during this time. There was one other guest besides us, also a photographer, hoping to capture the same thing the next morning.
With the peak getting nearer and nearer, and the weather forecasted to be clear, things were looking spot on for morning 3. We woke up at 3:30 am, got ready, and headed out the door by 4 am. The other photographer had already left before us.
We arrived around 4:25 am, with throngs of other photographers lined up along the open shoreline — way more than the prior morning.
You could tell this morning’s air was much clearer, so we were all much more optimistic.
By 5:03 am, the colors started to show starting from the light blue and purples.
And moving to the vibrant oranges and yellows by about 5:14 am.
By 5:24 am, the colors were waning.
And by about 5:57 am, you could see the bright white glow of the ball of sun behind the mountain.
You could hear the shutter snapping away from everyone else along the shoreline. Everyone was after that one perfect shot of double diamond Fuji. At 6:08 am, my moment came when I was able to capture the sun peaking above the apex of Mt. Fuji, making that starburst. It was the perfect capture that morning, which even included some clouds in the sky.
Each exposure had to be short, otherwise it would blow out the sun and the starburst, so there was no time for long exposures to smooth out the water. After taking a few more photos, I called it a morning at 6:11 am, which by this time about half of the photographers were already packed up and making their way back to their cars.
We made our way back to the hotel for that traditional breakfast we were so yearning for.
The double diamond Fuji is visible in many other areas surrounding Mt. Fuji. Depending on which direction you are looking at, this phenomenon will occur at different times of the year. Whether similar things happen at these other locations I can only guess, but I encourage you to do some research to find out if you ever go.
Hopefully this post will give you a better idea of what to expect though when you’re out looking for your own photo of double diamond Fuji from Lake Tanuki.
About the author: Taku Kumabe, also known as Smaku, is a photographer and graphic designer based in Toronto, Canada. You can find more of Kumabe’s words and work on his website, blog, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.
This Timelapse Imagines NYC Without Light Pollution
What would New York City look like at night if there were no light pollution to shroud the stars? That’s what this new 3-minute short film titled SKYGLOW NYC aims to answer.
The video was created by photographers Gavin Heffernan and Harun Mehmedinovic of SKYGLOW, an ongoing project that raises awareness for endangered night skies and shows the dangers of light pollution.
“We used compositing techniques to replace the blown out skies of NYC with long exposure footage captured at pristine dark sky locations like Death Valley National Park and Grand Canyon National Park,” the duo tells PetaPixel.
The video was released in honor of the upcoming Dark Sky Week, which is from April 15th through the 21st.