If you want to attend the EyeEm Festival and Awards in New York on 18 September, we have 10 reduced-price tickets to give away!
I've been to CES quite a few times now, and I can't help but notice that photography is starting to be less and less of a focus for the show. To wit: This year, like many years before, the PMA is hosting... well, in their own words, "Digital Imaging/Photography Exhibits and Sessions, presented by PMA, at 2015 International CES".
The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is one of the biggest platforms in the world for announcing new photography kit. So what went down in 2015?
It's been a week of updates to our image-sharing programmes on social media. First Facebook introduced an auto-enhance feature, which will apply the filters that its algorithms calculate are most appropriate for your photos. Then Instagram unveiled five new filters, its first in two years. Now it's the turn of EyeEm, which brings a gaggle of new filters, fine-grained control over their application, and a new feature called Open Edit. The theory behind Open Edit is that it lays bare the post-processing path that a photographer followed to create an image, from the original to the final version. Each crop, tweak, and nudge is set out in a timeline that's made visible to the rest of the EyeEm community. If you see something that you like, you can apply the same edits to your own photos with one tap.
Right now, only certain photographers have the ability to open up their edits to the community, but it's something that will be rolled out to all members in time. The EyeEm team hopes that this open deconstruction of people's photos will lead to a more collaboratively minded community and one that can learn from each other and share their skills.
Can I see what EyeEm is trying to accomplish with Open Edit? Yes, definitely. Sometimes I do look at a photo and wonder precisely what sort of magic the photographer wove in order to create that particular effect. But at the same time, I'm not completely sold on it. The mystery and the secret behind someone else's photos are part of their appeal. Having the edits revealed to you can feel a little like the illusion of a magic trick being shattered when you know how it works. My curiosity means that I want to know, but the romantic in me appreciates the mystique.
From a teaching and learning perspective; I love EyeEm's enthusiasm to allow its users to share their knowledge. But I think that by going one step further, they could make this a much more valuable learning tool. How much people will actually learn from being able to see and apply other people's edits to their own photos will depend hugely on how much they're prepared to engage with the editing process and observe the kinds of impact each adjustment makes. Experimentation is such a valuable part of learning that just being able to apply someone else's workflow to your photos feels as if there's an important step in the process that's being skipped. It's not just about the what that you do to your photos, it's also about the why.
Bring a bit more dialogue to the experience—underpin the action with some explanation—and I think it could really work. Still, lots of people seem to be very excited by EyeEm 5.0, so perhaps I'm the one who's missing the trick here.
Let me know what you think.
You can download EyeEm 5.0 here.
What happens when you take 40 time-lapse photographers, and you give them a mission: Create a love story to London? Well, my team over at Triggertrap decided to try and find out. With incredible success, I might add.
Under the expert guidance of professional timelapse photographer Chad Gordon Higgins and award-winning urban photographer Nicholas Goodden, the gang of eager photographers set out across the city to capture London from their own perspective.
By the end of the day the team of photographers had created clips shot from a whole range of London’s landmarks, from Tower Bridge to Camden Market, Oxford Circus to the Thames Barrier, and even gained access to the BBC Newsroom in full swing. The LapseLondon photographers managed to cover a huge variety of London views and experiences, highlighting the amazing and diverse city it is.
The 80 clips were assembled from well over 35,000 individual photographs, representing a total of over 40 hours spent timelapsing across the capital - all in a single day. The final video is an ode to London, showing the beauty of one random day in December in London through the eyes of 40 photographers.
See the behind-the scenes documentary
And then there's LapseLondon itself!
In the run-up to Christmas, the guys from Just Go Do It have a great project lined up: 30 challenges for 30 different days, ranging from self portraits, nature photographs, candid photographs, photographs starting with B... All manner of awesome challenges. Best of all? The challenge is so simple: If you are given 24 hours to photograph Happiness, could you? How about Play? How about 'This Year'? Each of the individual challenges are so eminently... Reachable! So - grab the list, and get snapping.
I'll be giving it a shot (or 30) this year. Keep an eye on my Flickr stream to see how I'm getting on!. Join in the fun!
Between 11:00 and 15:00 I shall be on the second floor of Waterstone's in Cambridge, offering smartphone photography demonstrations, one-to-one advice, and signing copies of my books if anyone wants to buy them.
If you're in or around Cambridge, please do drop by. I'd love to see you!
It took some serious deliberation. There were a lot of emails between us. There was even the odd expletive. Finally, however, Haje, Tom, and I have selected our five favourite photos from the Photocritic Long Exposure Competition. In no particular order I present to you the winners of Patience is a Virtue:
Set Fire to the Rain by Cybjorg
Sunrise at Botany Bay, Edisto Island by Luke Robinson
Tower Bridge traffic by Nick Jackson
Blades of Light by Paul Shears
and Cairngorm Panorama by Ian Appleton
Many congratulations to the five of you! I shall be in contact presently to enable to you claim your Triggertrap gift card prizes!
We'd also like to say thank you to everyone who entered and made our lives a little bit tricky when it came to selecting a winner. As Haje said when we first sat down to draw up a shortlist of our favourites: 'There's some serious talent there!' Please do go look at the selection in the Flickr pool: there are some inspiring images.
If at the beginning of last year you'd asked me if one of the best $15 that I'd spend in 2013 might've been on a macro lens attached to an elastic band to use in conjunction with your smartphone, I probably would have looked at you askance. It's not so much that it's a ridiculous idea; actually it's pretty sensible – portable, flexible, affordable. But would it be effective? It wouldn't slip, would it? And it would actually magnify the subject, wouldn't it? And would I really make use of it? It might only be $15, but if I never use it, then it's $15 wasted. In 2014, the answers to those questions—would it work, would I use it, and would it be $15 well-spent—are very definitely yes. I pledged $15 for an Easy-Macro band on Kickstarter and it works a treat. It lives in my wallet, I use it regularly, and I love the results. If I choose to upgrade my iPhone or switch to a different manufacturer, my Easy-Macro will remain compatible. Fabulous!
There isn't just the review here on Photocritic, but I have lots of pretty close-up photos taken with my iPhone to show for it.
And now due to popular demand, Easy-Macro is expanding its product line. Woohoo!
In addition to the original 4× magnification band, a 2× and a 10× band are being put into production. Pledge $30 to the Easy-Macro Kickstarter campaign and you'll receive a triple pack of magnification bands if it successfully reaches its funding goal. You can then use them individually or stack them one on top of each other for some serious close-ups.
All of the details are available on the Easy-Macro Kickstarter page.
British Summer Time ends this weekend&Mdash;at 02:00 on Sunday, to be exact—which means that time is running out for you to submit your long exposure photos to our competition. We won't be accepting any more entries after the clocks move back, so if you want to be in with a chance of winning a £40 gift card for the Triggertrap shop, you'd better get your skates on.
All of the competition's rules and regulations, not that there are many of them, can be found on the Flickr pool page, the same place to which you need to submit your entries. There've been some cracking shots submitted so far, but we'd really love to see more in the pool!
You've just under a week left to submit a maximum of five of your favourite long exposure photos to our competition, and be in with the chance of winning one of five £40 gift cards for the Triggertrap shop. We've already had some terrific entries over in our Flickr pool, but we'd love it if you made the judging even more difficult for us!
We can't wait to see your photos!
How often do you print your photos? How often do you place your printed photos on display? I bet you should do it a bit more often. Image sharing platforms are great, but there's something special about seeing your photos in a tangible format. Digital images can be ephemeral; hang a photo on your wall and it's a little harder to ignore it. And placing five of your favourite images in a softly glowing cube, reminiscent of a 1970s acrylic photo cube but thoroughly more modern, is definitely a good way of showing them off.
This is precisely the aim of Cubee, which is nearing the end of its Kickstarter campaign having smashed its $9,000 funding goal. Cubee is an LED-illuminated, USB-powered, acrylic cube measuring 3.25” along each edge. You select five of your images to be printed on Kodak Universal Backlit Film, which are then inserted into your Cubee before its shipped to you. Want to change your chosen images after six weeks or six months or even six years? Not a problem, any of them can be replaced with new prints.
You can read about the development process and the technical aspects of the Cubee over on Kickstarter; what you most likely want to know is that you can pick up one Cubee for a pledge of $30 and that you have until Tuesday 21 October 2014 to do so.
I think I might send a pair to my niece and nephew, to serve as stylish, personalised night lights.
One of the questions that people ask me when a new book comes out is 'Are you going to have a launch party?' Once or twice I've even been asked if I'll do a tour. The answer is, for both, sadly, 'No.' That's not so much because I'm a miserable and dyspeptic misanthrope, but more because I'm not exactly Clare Balding or Tom Holland. However, (I do love a good however) in November I'm getting a one-date gig at the gorgeous Waterstone's branch in Cambridge that sort-of maybe perhaps passes for either of these events.
Daniela does smartphone photography at Waterstone's, Cambridge.
Yes, I'm rather excited about it.
On Saturday 8 November you'll find me loitering on the second floor of Waterstone's, Cambridge, not far from the coffee shop, possibly ensconced in a fortress constructed of copies of Social Photography, extolling the virtues of smartphone photography. At 11:00 and 14:30 I'll be offering a free-for-all 'How to get the best out of your smartphone' session, while in-between-time I shall be on-hand to offer one-to-one advice for anyone with more specific questions or for those whose schedules conflict with the talks. And if you want a copy of Social, I can sign it for you, too.
Even if you're not that fussed by smartphone photography, do drop by if you happen to be in the vicinity: I'd love to meet you.
Salient details: Saturday 8 November 2014, 11:00 to about 15:00; Waterstone's, Sidney Street, Cambridge; me and quite a few copies of Social Photography.
When I saw last night that image editing start-up Aviary had been acquired by image editing behemoth Adobe my initial reaction was 'Hmm. Great for the Aviary team; but I'm not sure it's so great for consumers.' Fifteen or so hours on from that, and my opinion hasn't changed considerably. I'd probably augment it with 'Smart move by Adobe.' Using the term 'start-up' to describe Aviary might not be entirely accurate, but it's a question of interpretation, I suppose. It has been around since 2007 and its code has been used to edit over 10 billion photos. Even if you don't use its smartphone app to adjust your images, you might well have come across its editing tools that have been built into platforms such as Flickr and Mailchimp using its software development kit.
Great for Aviary
If part of the definition of 'start-up' is the intention to see your company acquired by another one, then Aviary at least meets that criterion. Judging by Aviary CEO Tobias Peggs' effusive blog post announcing the acquisition, this is all their Christmases, Chanukahs, and Eids rolled into one. And that's even without the agreed fee being disclosed.
The Aviary offices are close to those of Behance, which was acquired by Adobe in 2013. Their proximity meant the Aviary people talked a lot with Scott Belsky, Behance's co-founder who now serves as Adobe's VP of Products and Community, and 'it became obvious that we shared a strong vision for mobile creativity. It became even more obvious that we should join forces, accelerate combined efforts and better serve even more app developers and even more people wanting to be creative on mobile.' Aviary is all about allowing people to be creative, through its own apps and through its SDK. It thinks it can better do this by partnering with Adobe.
Smart move by Adobe
Apart from Aviary's app being a peach and Adobe being keen to expand its mobile prowess, Aviary's SDK is well established. Adobe's isn't: it launched as a beta in June. According to Scott Belsky: 'We have high hopes for the Creative SDK and are thrilled that Aviary will infuse wisdom, technology, and reach to new developers.' Provided that the likes of Flickr, Mailchimp, and Shopify don't run screaming, Adobe has made a calculated acquisition to expand itself into a market where it didn't have a strong foothold. For anyone familiar with the English Premier League, it feels a little like accusations of Manchester City buying its way to football titles rather than building its own team. If you can't beat the opposition, buy it.
Not so great for consumers?
We know that I'm cynical; it says so in my Twitter bio. Thus from my cynical consumer standpoint, I wonder how beneficial this is for Aviary's users. The Aviary and Adobe teams are enthusiastic for what they can build together, but in trying to merge two company's visions into one coherent strategy how much creativity will be sacrificed and how much will consumer choice suffer? To what degree might smaller company 'Let's do this!' mentality be eclipsed by corporate hierarchy? Might Aviary become less accessible as it is absorbed into Adobe's Creative Cloud?
My visceral reaction is that while there are potential benefits to be harnessed from the acquisition, there are plenty of pitfalls, too. I'd like to be proved wrong. I hate the see a good thing fail and I really like Aviary.
However, whether Aviary was 'right' to sell or not isn't within my purview, not really. It's a company, it's not the NHS. It acts in its best interests, not mine. I wish them all the best.
Good things come to those who wait, or at least good things come to those with the requisite degree of patience required to capture a scintillating long exposure shot. Not only do you land yourself with a fabulous photo, but for this competition, rewards also come in the form of five gift cards valued at £40 to spend in the Triggertrap shop! We're on the look-out for the five best long exposure shots produced by you lovely lot. That's not the royal or editorial 'we', by the way, but Haje, Tom, who's Triggertrap's Head of Photography, and me. We don't mind what kind of long exposure shot you try: from urban scenes to light painting to smoothed waterfalls. What we want to see is a longer-than-expected shutter speed being used to creative effect to tell a story. We want to see images that leave us giddy with admiration.
Flickr is providing the image-hosting power for the competition; all you need to do is share your photos—up to five per entrant—in the Patience is a virtue Flickr pool before British Summer Time ends. So that's 01:59 (BST) on 26 October 2014. Consider it preparation for longer nights if you're in the northern hemisphere. We'll do the rest, and hope to have the results by Guy Fawkes Night. (Or 5 November 2014.)
(Un)Usual rules apply: you need to own the copyright to the images you submit; you shouldn't have done anything icky to achieve them (like sell your granny); you keep the copyright but we (that being Photocritic and Triggertrap) will want to be able to display it in conjunction with the competition; the prizes are non-transferable and can't be redeemed for cash; you can't be associated with Photocritic or Triggertrap to enter; the judges' decision is final; entry is at your own risk (quite what might happen to you because you enter I'm not sure, it's not like we're cannibals threatening to eat you, but we can't be held responsible all the same); photos have to be submitted to the Flickr pool before the closing date of 01:59 (BST) on 26 October 2014; and it's our competition so if we need to change the way it operates or the rules or heaven forfend chuck you out, we can.
That's about that. But if you need any advice on long exposures, you might want to check out our articles on shutter speed, bulb mode, zoom bursting, and light painting. Good luck: we can't wait to see what you produce!
And the results are in! You can see them here.
Keeping track of everything new that's announced at Photokina can feel like something of a labour of Sisyphus. So rather than cover every new product with an individual article and drive everyone to distraction, we've opted to summarise as many as we can in one place. This is Photokina 2014. Enjoy!
After what amounts to years of speculation, Canon has finally announced the EOS 7D mark II. The basic spec: APS-C, 20 megapixel sensor; ISO 100 to 16,000 but expandable to 51,200; dual DIGIC 6 processors; 65-point auto-focus; top shooting speed of 10 frames-per-second; and built-in GPS. All for $1,800, body-only.
There are also three new compact cameras. The premium G7X with its 1", 20 megapixel sensor and DIGIC 6 processor; top sensitivity of ISO 12,800; and a 24 to 100mm lens with a maximum aperture of ƒ/1.8 at its widest and ƒ/2.8 at the telephoto end, for $700. The SX60 superzoom with its 65× optical zoom for $550. And the N2, which, like the Powershot N, leaves me baffled.
Fujifilm announced an update to its much-loved X100-series; the X100T. This one comes with an improved hybrid viewfinder, enhanced controls, and faster shuttre speeds. All for $1,300, in either black or silver.
The X20 has been upgraded to the X30. The improvements to Fuji's point-and-shoot focus on a new viewfinder and a tilting 3" high-res LCD. You can order one for £600.
There were also two new lenses: the X-F 56mm ƒ/1.2 R APD (85mm quivalent in 35mm format) for $1,500. (APD is apodisation. It is designed to give even smoother bokeh than the normal XF56. Great for portrait work.) And the weather resistant 50-140mm ƒ/2.8 R LM OIS WR at £1,600.
And don't forget the graphite-look X-T1 for $1,500 body-only.
Roll-up, roll-up, get your suction cups from Joby! Adding to its range of twisty, bendy, go-anywhere camera support devices, Joby has unveiled two suction cups, designed to provide industrial-strength hold on all types of smooth, clean, and non-porous surfaces. One has a locking arm, that's best for use in vibration-prone situations, such as in cars or on board boats (£33). The other has a Gorilla-pod arm, a quick-twist, flexible option that's better for windows, walls, and inside cars (£25).
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There's also the Pro Sling Strap, designed for dSLRs, to keep your camera close to your body but easy to pull up to your eye (£57); the GorillaPod Focus + Ballhead X is the strongest and largest GorillaPod to date (£140); and the Flash Clamp and Locking Arm, which helps to transform everyday objects into lighting assistants with the two articulating ball joints that let you position your flash at any angle (£35).
Leica announced a laundry list of new cameras at Photokina:
- Leica M 60 Edition - an LCD-less camera, limited to 600 units, and costing $18,500 with a 35 Summilux stainless steel lens
- X - Type 113; and X-E
- S - Type 007; and S-E
- V-Lux - Type 114
- D-Lux - Type 109, basically a Panasonic LX100
And a goodly selection of lenses, too. Leica enthusiasts couldn't have known which way to look first!
Nikon's big announcement was the D750: an FX-format camera with 24 megapixel sensor and EXPEED 4 processor, 51-point autofocus system, sensitivity ranging from ISO 100 to 12,800, a tilting LCD, built-in wi-fi, all crammed into a smaller-than-expected body. For $2,300, body-only.
Panasonic came up with two new cameras and a new lens, together with the re-branded Leica cameras under the V-Lux and D-Lux badges.
The new LX100 camera is available for $900. It has a Micro Four Thirds sensor, a 4-75mm Leica DC lens (ƒ/1.7-2.8), and comes with an external flash. The GM5 mirror-less camera comes in black or red, with a 12-32mm lens, for $900.
And there's also the Panasonic G Vario 35-100mm ƒ/4.0-5.6 ASPH lens for G-series cameras, costing about $400.
As well as the 50 mm T1.5 AS UMC cine lens, Samyang also announced its 12 mm ƒ/2.8 ED AS NCS fish-eye lens, which has been designed for full-frame cameras. We don't have a price or release date yet for it, but I am looking forward to seeing it.
Sigma announced its dp1 Quattro camera, with a Foveon direct image sensor that is similar to traditional colour film in that its multiple layers capture all of the information that visible light transmits. It also announced two different versions of the same lens: the 150-600mm F/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports and the 150-600mm F/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary. The sports version is, probably quite obviously aimed at sports and wildlife photographers. The contemporary label is more compact and portable.
There was also the 18-300mm F/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM Contemporary lens.
Just before Photokina, Sony announced two new lens units, to attach to smartphones. These were the QX1 and QX30. During Photokina, a slew of camcorders, video cameras, and accessories were unveiled, too. The things that caught my eye was the flash unit, the HVL-F32M for $300.
Today is World Photo Day. If you're wondering how a 2009-invented celebration of the visual medium came to be on 19 August, it's because that's the day in 1839 when the French government announced that it had purchased the patent to the daguerreotype method and made it a gift 'free to the world'. Armed with that snippet of information, the pressing question is, what are you going to do to mark it? For anyone in need of a little inspiration, here are some Photocritic suggestions to mark World Photo Day.
1. Try something new
Photography is a learning curve. There's always something new to try or with which to experiment, so pick something you've not done before and give it a go.
May we recommend, in no particular order and certainly far from exhaustive:
- High-speed photography
- Street photography
- Macro photography
- Infrared photography
- Nude photography (that's photographing nude models, rather than taking photos in the altogether; but if that floats your boat... why not?)
- Long exposure photography
- HDR photography
- Panoramic photography
- Flash photography
2. Go back to basics
The technological wonders that we can perform with our cameras today can sometimes obfuscate the simplicity of photography. It's painting with light. So why not go back to basics: pick up a pinhole camera and rediscover the perfection of capturing light in a box.
3. Have a print made
How many of your photos are hanging on your walls and how many are stuffed away on hard drives as binary files that never see the light of day? Do justice to your skills: pick your favourite image and have it printed to hang on your wall.
4. Set yourself a challenge
We can't all be good at everything. But we can try to improve. Which aspect of photography do you find challenging? What would you like to do better, but find a struggle? Maybe your landscapes come across as flat and dull? Perhaps your portraits fail to capture your subject's spirit? Is your food photography not exactly good enough to eat?
Decide on a point of focus and challenge yourself to improve over the course of the coming year. Read. Practise. Try. Maybe fail. Definitely try again. Keep a record of your experimentations. Come World Photo Day 2015, you can measure your progress.
5. Teach a child to take a photo
There's no better way to share your passion for something than to teach it to someone else. So why not help to develop the next generation of photographers by teaching them how to take photos. It doesn't have to be complicated or difficult, just the basics. We've even got a tutorial to help you.
Sony announced its A5100 yesterday. It has been referred to as both a replacement for the NEX-5T and as a camera sitting between the A6000 and the A5000. It has a 24.3 mepagixel CMOS sensor, auto-focus that's been described as 'lightning fast' (although not quite as fast as the A6000), upper sensitivity of ISO 25,600, a pop-up flash, wi-fi, and a touchscreen. But there's no EVF.