SpaceX’s Inspiration4 crew, which last month completed the world’s first all-civilian orbital mission, recently started sharing some incredible Earth images shot with a top-end Nikon camera.
But at the weekend mission commander Jared Isaacman dropped another stunning shot (below), this one captured with an iPhone 12.
Apple is known to offer some of the best camera technology in the smartphone industry, so the excellent image quality offered by the phone’s camera from 357 miles (575 kilometers) above Earth comes as little surprise.
Isaacman shot the picture through the all-glass dome built beneath the nose cone of the Crew Dragon spacecraft that was home to the four non-professional astronauts during their three days in orbit.
Once in space, the nose cone, which is clearly visible in the top right of Isaacman’s photo, opens up to offer passengers panoramic views of Earth through the glass dome.
Isaacman also posted a video while flying over Brazil, again captured with the iPhone 12.
A video over Brazil from first day on orbit. Shot w/iPhone but hopefully we can get some of @inspiration4x Nikon shots out soon. Such a privilege to see our 🌎 from this perspective. We need to take far better care of our home planet and also reaching for the stars. pic.twitter.com/mAQw6eK8Ui
In the coming weeks, the crew is expected to share more images and videos shot with the iPhone and Nikon cameras, offering earthlings more extraordinary views of Earth captured from a unique vantage point that’s even higher than the International Space Station.
Of course, Apple isn’t the only tech company to offer a smartphone with an outstanding camera system. Samsung, for example, has been playing its part in pushing smartphone camera technology to its limit, with the Galaxy S21 Ultra gaining high praise from critics.
Keen to see how the camera on Apple’s new iPhone 13 compared with the performance of Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra, Digital Trends conducted a detailed head-to-head to see which one came out on top. Check out the results for yourself.
Located east of the Horn of Africa, Socotra was famously described by English anthropologist George Wynn Brereton Huntingford in 1980 as “the most alien-looking place on Earth.” Photographer Daniel Kordan visited the island and captured the otherworldly beauty of the landscapes, from the dragon blood trees to the white sand dunes.
Socotra is the largest of the remote Socotra islands in the Arabian Sea. They’re found 238 miles (380km) south of mainland Yemen (which the islands belong to) and 50 miles (80km) east of Africa. As with other remote islands on our planet, Socotra is known for being a cradle of biodiversity, boasting many unique animals and plants. 37% of the plants, 90% of the reptiles, and 95% of the land snails on Socotra are not found anywhere else on Earth.
One of Kordan’s favorite things to photograph on Socotra is the Dracaena cinnabari, popularly known as the dragon blood tree, which is known for its densely arranged branches, umbrella-like shape, and red sap (hence the name).
“According to legend, the first dragon blood tree was created from the blood of a dragon who was wounded in a battle with an elephant,” Kordan writes on Fstoppers.
“The unusual shape of the dragon’s blood tree is an adaptation for survival in arid conditions with low amounts of soil, such as in mountaintops,” Wikipedia states. “The large, packed crown provides shade and reduces evaporation. This shade also aids in the survival of seedlings growing beneath the adult tree, explaining why the trees tend to grow closer together.”
Another gorgeous feature of Socotra is the white sand, which is piled into beautiful rolling dunes along the turquoise sea and in the desert within the island.
If you are interested in visiting Socotra yourself for a photography adventure, your best bet may be to arrange the trip through a local travel agency, which should be able to help you obtain a Yemeni visa. Visiting at the present time is not advised, though — the US government currently has a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for the nation due to “due to COVID-19, terrorism, civil unrest, health risks, kidnapping, armed conflict, and landmines.”
A space station astronaut has captured a striking photo of Earth showing only water.
Posting the image on Twitter, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet described the scene as “our blue marble,” a nod to the famous image of Earth taken by the Apollo 17 crew in 1972.
Pesquet added: “Sometimes, there’s just no land in sight, even from our 400-km [250-mile] crow’s nest. I think of all the sailors and explorers who traveled the world on solitary expeditions.”
🌎 Our blue marble. Sometimes, there's just no land in sight, even from our 400 km crow's nest. I think of all the sailors and explorers who traveled the world on solitary expeditions ⛵️ #MissionAlphapic.twitter.com/sQ0F33DEZm
As the French astronaut suggests, most images shot from the International Space Station Earth usually contain at least a little bit of land. But Pesquet’s impressive picture is a reminder that our planet actually comprises mostly ocean, with water covering about 70% of its surface.
The ISS crew is constantly changing, with most missions lasting about six months. Among each new crew, a keen photographer often emerges, with Pesquet clearly possessing an eye for an amazing shot.
We recently showcased some of his best Earth pictures snapped in the weeks since his arrival on the space station in April 2021, his second visit to date. Among the last ISS crew, Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi revealed himself as a keen Earth observer, regularly sharing his own amazing pictures of our planet.
For the best views, space station astronauts usually head to the Cupola, a seven-window module that was attached to the ISS in 2010, 10 years after the station went into operation.
Pesquet and other crew members have a wide range of advanced cameras and lenses to choose from, including top models made by the likes of Nikon and Sony.
To find out more about life on the space station, take a look at these videos recorded by astronauts who’ve visited the orbiting outpost over the years.
Watching any Milky Way timelapse is almost always an awe-inspiring experience, but add in the stellar location of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Ariane 6 rocket launch site and you’ve got a recipe for something truly special.
As Digital Trends reports, the agency is currently preparing for the arrival of Europe’s next-generation launch vehicle. The above starscape-filled timelapse was filmed around the launch base in French Guiana and lets you “imagine yourself stepping out of the launcher assembly building or standing on the launch pad in front of the 90-meter high mobile gantry, to look at the stars.”
The video opens with a breathtaking view of the Milky Way before shifting gears and showing off several of the night scenes around the ESA’s launch site in South America where Europe’s next-generation heavy-lift rocket will soon lift off from. Comprised of two versions, the Ariane 6 is a modular three-stage launcher (Solid-Cryogenic-Crogenic) and is configured with an A62 with two strap-on boosters and an A64 with four boosters. The entire Ariane 6 sits at just over 60 meters tall (196.85 feet), which is just about the same height as SpaceX’s Falcon 9.
The European Space Agency says the new rocket will weigh nearly 900 tons when launched with a full payload that is “roughly equivalent to one-and-a-half Airbus A380 passenger airplanes.” The video below shows what this launch mission should look like once the rocket finally gets started.
According to the ESA, the launch of the Ariane 6 is comprised of three stages: the two or four strap-on boosters, a core stage, and the upper stage. The core stage propels the Ariane 6 for the first 10 minutes of flight where either the two or four boosters will provide additional thrust at liftoff. The upper stage will be powered by the re-ignitable Vinci engine allowing the Ariane 6 to reach a range of orbits on a single mission to deliver more payloads, with the upper stage burning up two or more times to reach the required orbit. Once the payload has been separated, the rocket will burn a final time to deorbit the upper stage to mitigate space debris.
Sitting at the top of the rocket is the 20 meters (65.6 feet) tall and 5.4 meters (17.7 feet) diameter Ariane 6 fairing which will contain the various payloads and protect them from any thermal, acoustic, or aerodynamic stress during the ascent to space. This section has only recently arrived at the launch facility and will undergo a series of tests before its maiden voyage into outer space. While the rocket was initially scheduled to launch back in 2020, multiple delays — including some caused by the global coronavirus pandemic — have caused the mission to be pushed back until the spring of this upcoming year (2022).
It’s hard to go wrong with a time-lapse of a star-filled sky, but throw in the imposing accouterments of a rocket launch site and you end up with something really rather special.
A beautiful time-lapse (top) released recently by the European Space Agency (ESA) captures a stunning starry sky over its Spaceport in French Guiana, South America.
The video kicks off with a glorious view of the Milky Way before showing other dazzling scenes that include various parts of ESA’s launch facility.
“Imagine yourself stepping out of the launcher assembly building or standing on the launch pad in front of the 90-meter-high mobile gantry to look at the stars,” ESA says in a message accompanying the video.
The site will see the launch of Europe’s next-generation rocket, the heavy-lift Ariane 6.
The Ariane 6 will comprise two versions, the A62 featuring two strap-on boosters, and the A64 with four. At just over 60 meters, the Ariane 6 is about the same height as SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket, which just this weekend set a new flight record.
Which of these two versions is used will depend on the nature of the mission. The A62 Ariane 6 rocket, for example, can launch payloads of between 8,800 and 15,400 pounds (4,000 to 7,000 kg) while the A64 can cope with payloads of between 24,250 and 35,300 pounds (11,000 to 16,000 kg).
ESA’s next-generation rocket will weigh almost 900 tons when launched with a full payload, a weight described by Europe’s space agency as “roughly equivalent to one-and-a-half Airbus A380 passenger airplanes.”
The video below shows what a typical Ariane 6 mission could look like.
The Ariane 6 fairing that sits atop the rocket is 20 meters (65.6 feet) tall with a 5.4-meter (17.7 foot) diameter. The component recently arrived at the launch site and will undergo a series of tests prior to its first journey into space.
The new rocket had been scheduled to embark on its first-ever launch in 2020, but various delays — including some caused by the coronavirus pandemic — have pushed the mission to the spring of next year.
In the meantime, if ESA’s video has inspired you to try shooting your own star-filled time-lapse, this video tells you all you need to know.
In an effort to encourage more people to adopt black, dark-coated animals, photographer Chantal Levesque has been working on a long-term photo project designed to highlight their happiness and push aside stigmas associated with their color and boost adoption rates.
Levesque tells PetaPixel that anecdotal personal experience, as well as experiences from volunteers at shelters that she has spoken to, indicates that black animals, namely black cats and dogs, stay longer in shelters than those of other colors.
“I had a big black dog called Ruth as a kid and shared 16 years of my adult life with a super handsome black cat, Diablo,” Levesque says. “I’ve always loved black animals so I was quite surprised to learn when working with shelters that they were often overlooked and the last to get adopted.”
Black cats in particular carry with them a stigma of bad luck. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says that black cats are two-thirds less likely to get adopted than white cats and only half as likely to be adopted as tabby cats. Still, there have been studies that state the link between that history and modern adoption rates has been largely debunked.
Still, the experiences of shelter volunteers should not be wholly ignored. As one volunteer Levesque spoke to put it, dark-colored animals are often considered scary or are not as photogenic as other color configurations which leads to them falling in overall popularity.
“What happens is that big black dogs are still considered scary by some people who are less aware or educated on the subject,” the volunteer, named Laurie, says. “This is a reality that I have witnessed as much in shelters as in my personal life. People would rather stop and pet Yuki (a tan coat) who wears the muzzle than Mowgli (black coat) who is, without a doubt, the most sociable of my three dogs.”
Kindness for Cats specifically notes that black cats have the lowest adoption rate and the highest euthanasia rate because of the challenges with photographing them.
“According to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home as well as Dogs Trust, black animals are also more difficult to photograph. Therefore, they are not favored by lovers of photography or Instagram,” Laurie adds.
The Los Angeles Times wrote in 2008 that there is a pervasive idea that dark-coated animals will be passed over for adoption in favor of their lighter counterparts, and while skeptics say the syndrome is an urban legend, shelter volunteers like Laurie and rescue leaders insist the phenomenon is real.
While specific data is either inconclusive or not specifically logged, the experiences of people who work with the animals and in shelters should not be ignored. In the spirit of that belief, Levesque’s photography project called Chasing Shadows aims at creating images that show off what “magnificent, goofy, sweet, funny, adventurous creatures” black dogs and cats really are.
“Through portraits, action shots, and moody environmental photography, like stills from a movie, their stories will be told and adventures will be lived,” she says.
Levesque’s images embrace the animals’ dark coats and place them in desaturated, black and white environments to highlight the contrast of their fur. While the photos may at first glance look to be taken in black and white, the images are actually in full color but framed in such a way as to highlight the monochrome nature of the dark-coated creatures.
“Photographed in many shades of grey, the animal’s personality, spunk, liveliness, and of course their badassery can be displayed without any distractions. The only color being the flicker in their eye that lets us gaze into their kind, loving souls.”
Below are several animals accompanied by the stories from their newly adopted families.
Levesque hopes that this project will continue to grow and encourages anyone to submit their dark-coated animal for consideration for inclusion into this project here.
“Black animals rock, let’s show the world!”
Image credits: Photos by Chantal Levesque and used with permission.
Photographer Skander Khlif traveled to the North African country of Tunisia this past summer and spent days traveling along the coast. Along the way, he turned his lens on the joy of kids there growing up next to the sea and playing in the water as a way of life.
The Munich-based photographer’s goal was to “document the breeze of freedom kids are having the chance to live thanks to living near the sea.”
“In fact, this is one of the rare joys they can afford,” Khlif says. “At this age, youth starts taking many risks, but not the one of crossing the Mediterranean.”
Khlif’s photos, captured with a Fujifilm X-Pro2 and Fuji XF 23mm f/2R WR lens, show his keen eye for lighting, composition, and details.
For a lot of people, editing images with their phone just consists of slapping a filter on and posting the pic to social media. And while that was your only option about a decade ago, there are now some seriously powerful tools that equal anything you can use on your computer.
The difference between photography and “phone-ography” has become meaningless. As you might have already imagined, shooting with a DSLR and editing on your computer works like a charm—but so does using your smartphone through the whole process.
The problem with filters
Filters can be awesome, but they’re easy to get wrong. They tend to be the first (and oftentimes, only) stop in most people’s editing process, but they actually work best at the end. The big problem is filters are a blunt tool—they’re sold as a one-stop shop to beautify any kind of image, but they don’t take into account your photo, the subject, or what you’re trying to achieve.
Instagram’s Juno filter, for example, ups the contrast and vividness of your pics regardless of whether they need it or not. If you put it on an already contrasty shot, your shadows are going to get super dark. If you want to get great results from a filter like Juno, you first need to reduce the contrast of the original photo so it doesn’t push the shadows and highlights over the edge.
Get the right tools
Being proficient with a single app, rather than jumping between a few different ones, will make editing photos on your phone much easier. I recommend you play around with a few, find the one you like best, and learn how to use it properly.
There are so many great photo-editing apps available that it’s hard to give a single recommendation. They all do the same kinds of things and you can get good-looking photos with any one of them.
Adobe Lightroom CC
If you already subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, Lightroom CC is a great option. It’s a powerful editor and you can easily sync photos between your computer and smartphone. If you’re not subscribed to a Creative Cloud plan, it’s still free to use—though some features are locked. Lightroom is available for Android and iOS.
Google’s Snapseed is one of the best ways to make small or local adjustments to your photos thanks to its intuitive U Point technology. If you’re not keen on editing everything by hand, though, I find it a bit rougher than some of the other options. The app is available for Android and iOS .
This is the best filter app right now, in my opinion. VSCO originally made Lightroom presets based on classic film stocks, but it now has a huge range of well-thought out filters and the editing tools are easy to use, too. The only downside is that you’ll need a full subscription of $19.99 a year to access all the filters. VSCO is available for Android and iOS.
And that’s just a smattering of the good apps available. Pixelmator, Afterlight, and even your smartphone’s built-in editing tools are all capable of producing great results. Instagram’s tools are also more than sufficient—if you dig deep enough.
Fix the problems
After you’ve chosen your tools, it’s time to look at the actual photo editing. The big secret is that, for the most part, it’s not about trying to make something look cool—it’s about identifying and fixing the problems that detract from your image.
And when I say “problems” I’m not talking about objective issues like blurriness or overexposure—photos like that are mostly unsalvageable—but any small thing you perceive as a mistake that could potentially be fixed. Skewed horizons, the nose of a car jutting into your foreground, or a giant pimple right on your nose, are all examples of problematic, but fixable mistakes.
More subtle problems that are equally important and fixable include:
Shadows that are too dark (they pull down the entire image)
Dull highlights (they make everything look flat)
A weird color cast (it makes the photo look too blue or too yellow)
Someone wearing a glaringly bright garment in the background (takes focus away from the subject)
Take these two images.
These pictures are different, but they have one thing in common: they can be vastly improved by some minor tweaks. (Harry Guinness/)
There are several problems with the first one—the nose of that car is in the shot, the guys and their horse are too dark, and the edge of the building is weirdly close to the edge of the frame.
In the second picture, there are also several issues—the shadowy trees draw too much attention, the horizon is skewed, and my dog is dead-center, which isn’t very interesting.
These are exactly the kinds of problems you can fix in a few moments using the tools in your photo editor of choice.
The better you become at assessing what’s wrong with your own images and fixing them, the better you’ll get as a photographer—you’ll be capable of identifying your mistakes even before you press the shutter, which will result in even less time editing your photos.
Balance exposure and color
These are the same photos after some brightness and contrast tweaks. See how you can now easily distinguish the details on the guys with the horse (on the left), and how my dog now contrasts a lot more against the sand (on the right). (Harry Guinness/)
Depending on the circumstances, your smartphone camera will automatically tend to take pictures that are either a little too dark or a little too bright, so exposure is something you’ll regularly need to adjust. Similarly, you’ll generally need to slightly tweak the contrast between the shadows and highlights.
In most editing apps, you can adjust these two settings with the same tool, which is often named “Brightness/Contrast.” Move the sliders as much as you need for the image to look natural. Just be careful not to go overboard—extreme contrast or brightness adjustments in either direction never look good.
Finally, you’ll also need to look at the colors in the image. Are they saturated enough? Too saturated? Is there a color cast? Feel free to play around with any saturation, vibrance, and white or color balance sliders in your app of choice until you get something that looks good. You’ll usually find these tools under “Hue/Saturation” or “White Balance.”
Enhance the emotion
Contrary to what you might think, filters are the finishing touch to an already edited and improved photo. (Harry Guinness/)
Once you’ve fixed any problems with your images and balanced out the brightness and colors, it’s time for the fun part—enhancing the emotion. This is the time to add filters, get creative with different options, throw on a vignette, and make the photo yours.
The trick to successfully enhance the emotion of an image is to do things with a purpose—think about what you want from the final photo, and work towards that. If you want a really sunny, vibrant holiday photo, go right ahead and slap on a big, bold filter. But if you’re going for a moodier street shot, your approach needs to be more low key.
By first balancing out the exposure and colors, you’ll be much less likely to accidentally add contrast to an already contrasty image, and you’ll get much better results from filters, presets, and other creative tools.
Consider the whole—and share
Once you’re done editing, step back and consider the whole image again. Have you actually achieved what you wanted to? It’s easy to go the wrong direction with powerful editing tools. Sometimes you’ll miss completely and have to go back and start again. (It still happens to me all the time.)
But once you’ve got a shot you’re happy with, it’s time to share it. Send it to your friends, post it on Instagram, and let the likes pour in.
Yesterday was red, today green, and if we stretch our imaginations then tomorrow might just be blue. But for now, the challenge, should you wish to accept it, is to produce images that are significantly green. The UK is famous as a Green and Pleasant land, so green of all things should be readily accessible. The prupose is, just like yesterday, making up projects so that we focus our photographic efforts.
My greenery comes from the very green year of 2017:
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