It doesn’t matter for how long you have used Adobe Photoshop, there is always more you can learn. In this video, learn some lesser-known functions hidden away in menus for working on the colors of your images.
I have discussed the depth of Photoshop a few times and it never fails to regularly remind me just how deep it is. I started learning Photoshop about 18 years ago and I remember thinking that there was so much to the software that it was borderline unmasterable. Then, as these learning curves tend to go, I started to build up an arsenal of techniques and tools and felt as if I was getting rather good at it. Finally, when you actually are rather good at it, you realize how much you don’t know.
All of these years later and I still feel the same way. In fact, I’m arguably worse because I rarely seek out new techniques anymore. I have all the tools I need to complete the work I do to the standard I want, and there are rarely situations in which I look at an image and think that it could be significantly improved by someone better at Photoshop than I am. This is a limiting way to work, particularly with software as fast-changing as Photoshop.
In this video, Photoshop Training Channel walks you through some automated tools that are a little hidden away. A few of these techniques I was aware of, but the first example I had absolutely no idea it existed.
In February, David Whitcomb discovered an attic full of photographic treasures in Geneva, New York. Identified as the hidden studio of photographer James Hale, multiple rare photos — including one of Susan B. Anthony — were discovered. After six months, the full collection has finally been cataloged.
Discovered in the attic of a building he purchased for his law firm, Whitcomb stumbled across a trove of historical treasures including multiple portraits of Susan B. Anthony — a notable woman’s suffrage leader — among other artifacts from a bygone era. Whitcomb tells PetaPixel that after laboring for the last several months, the entire collection is now online to be viewed and explored ahead of a public auction that will take place on September 18.
The prices listed on the website are just to establish an opening bid, and Whitcomb says that he decided not to have any of the pieces officially appraised and has decided to let the market tell him what the items are worth.
“It’s difficult because there’s simply nothing like it,” Whitcomb tells PetaPixel, describing the entire find. “Almost the full contents of a turn-of-the-century photography studio, which happens to contain photos of Susan B. Anthony and other suffragist leaders, there’s just nothing to compare it to, unlike say if you found a signed Babe Ruth baseball, you could come up with a comparable value online.”
Whitcomb points to a few particular items that he is most excited about.
“This is the photographer’s copy which would have been on display in his studio to impress customers at the height of his prowess and her fame,” Whitcomb says. “If you look at the description of Lot #200, the photo, you can read all about the history and why we are in love with this.”
“This one is the holy grail to me of this find,” he says. “I feel that way for all of the reasons above, but this glass plate IS the image, it was in the room with Susan B when her photo was taken and it’s like seeing her ghost in the glass. Once in a lifetime find.”
Whitcomb says that everyone involved with the cataloging of the find is in love with this particular item, which he says stems from how fascinating of a piece it is.
“It was made by the Arc Printing Co. Racine Wis and it was used by J.E. Hale for advertising purposes,” Whitcomb explains. “It has the original label on the inside to show some examples of how it is used and instructions for use. After researching the company, there are none known to exist on the open market, which makes it very rare — we don’t believe any others exist.
It is a hand-held ink print stamp that would have been placed on bridges, buildings, paper (for signs), and anywhere else that it could be rolled for the sake of advertising.
“We had some experts from Kodak use the proper ink and recreate the print on special paper, which you can see in the photos,” Whitcom says.
“This rare street corner display was used by Mr. Hale to display and lock some of his photographs outside of his studio at the nearest corner,” Whitcomb says. “We don’t have the key to open it, but you can see the thumbtacks used to hang his photos. It’s in excellent shape, and there’s a label but we can’t really read it. It is a very interesting piece and extremely rare.
“In fact, the folks at Kodiak told me they’ve seen this in period brochures to order, but that they’ve never actually seen one in the real world so we’re excited for how rare this find may be.”
“It’s amazing the number of backdrops we found in the attic, all rolled up and piled together in a corner, which helped them stay in great shape over a century and survive the fire in the building next door which covered most of the materials with silt from the charred roof of the building,” Whitcomb says.
He believes the indoor scene is much older, as it shows the pattern of the floor that it would roll over and more wear from chairs and customers who had their picture taken on it.
One final piece that Whitcomb pointed to is more interesting to him personally, as it depicts Canandaigua Lake where he lives.
“The crazy thing about this glass plate is that I’ve seen this image before in my lifetime. There’s a poster that says ‘Canandaigua Lake’ of this very picture that you see in various restaurants and shops in town,” he says. “Turns out that this image is by J.E. Hale, it was turned into a postcard which later was blown up into a modern poster. And I found the glass plate negative of it in an attic in Geneva. Crazy to think about and it is a personal favorite from this find.”
The full collection of items found in Hale’s studio can be perused through the One Source Auctions set up by Whitcomb. To see original images of that attic as he found it, check out PetaPixel’s original coverage here.
Image credits: Photos provided courtesy of David Whitcomb and used with permission.
If you are reading this, chances are you’re aware of NFTs — non-fungible tokens that are bought, sold, and traded on a digital ledger known as the blockchain. But what are their costs, risks, and side effects?
For those unfamiliar, make sure to catch up with PetaPixel’s explainer on what NFTs are, and how they are made.
NFTs are one-of-a-kind pieces of digital art and in the last few months have completely taken over the art world. However, NFTs are not new. But their rise in popularity has put increased focus on the environmental toll of a single transaction.
For example, Ethereum, a type of cryptocurrency, consumes roughly 50 TWh (Terawatt-hours) of energy per year, which is equal to the annual carbon footprint of Jordan, according to Digiconomist, which tracks the “unintended consequences of digital trends.”
So why do NFTs require so much energy? What can be done about it? And, with all things considered, are the cost of NFTs worth the benefits they provide to artists?
PetaPixel spoke with digital artist William Murphy (@wgm_v) and Susanne Köhler, who studies sustainable blockchain technology at Denmark’s Aalborg University, about the relationship between NFTs and the environment.
To understand why NFTs consume so much energy, it’s important to understand how the blockchain works. The blockchain, where cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum live, acts as a distributed ledger, which records information, data, and transaction details anyone can see.
Since NFTs use the blockchain platform to mint, list, and sell digital art, they also contribute to the energy consumption of the system as a whole, according to Köhler.
Read more: How to Mint an NFT: The Photographer’s Guide
“These transactions consume a lot of energy when they are built on proof-of-work (PoW) blockchains,” she said. “PoW is a consensus mechanism that is in place to validate the transactions and secure the blockchain without needing a central authority. PoW is energy-intensive by design as so-called miners compete in a guessing competition of who gets to mine the next block.”
The more miners are involved, the more secure the blockchain is, and the more energy is consumed, Köhler continued.
How Are Carbon Emissions and Energy Consumption Calculated From the Buying and Selling of NFTs?
There are plenty of organizations and individuals keeping track of the carbon emissions and energy consumption associated with cryptocurrencies and NFTs, like Offsetra, Memo Akten, academics, and major financial institutions. Many estimates produce big, scary numbers, but one, which was backed by researchers, equates the listing of a single NFT to driving 500 miles in an average, gasoline-powered car, according to the New York Times.
Energy consumption and carbon emissions are not the same.
Energy consumption is easier to decipher and can be estimated by using the “hash rate” — the power the computers use to mine and process blockchain transactions — plus the energy use of the hardware doing the computing. Carbon emissions, on the other hand, are difficult to tally for a number of reasons: the main being lack of transparency, the use of fossil fuels, and “different energy mixes.”
“It is difficult to know exactly where miners are located and what kind of energy sources are used,” said Köhler. “More data from the mining industry is needed to make a better assessment and to discuss the energy sources used for mining on a system-wide level and not based on anecdotes as it currently is the case.”
With the environment in mind, some digital artists have migrated over to smaller NFT marketplaces or “side chains” — blockchains that run alongside larger blockchains, which may seem very meta. However, smaller blockchains or more environmentally-conscious NFT marketplaces have switched over to the “proof of stake” model, which requires less computing power and is based on how many coins a person holds.
The solution to the environmental havoc cryptocurrency wrecks on the environment could be as easy as upgrading the technology to make it more green, and energy-efficient, or disconnecting NFTs from cryptocurrency and crypto-mining entirely. But neither has been done as of yet.
What About Carbon Offsetting?
NFTs have a carbon footprint. For example, say you are interested in an NFT from a popular artist. You want to make a bid on it. But so do thousands of others. The more people place bids on that NFT, the more it is traded, the more mining is required, which means more computing power is used.
Most NFT aficionados are aware of the space’s massive environmental toll and have turned toward carbon offsets as a short-term solution to ward off the excess emissions. This could mean donating part of the sale of an NFT to an environmental advocacy organization, calculating your carbon emissions using tools like Offsetra’s, or as simple as planting a tree.
But, according to Köhler, there is a lot more to be done to combat the environmental damages caused by cryptocurrency than carbon offsetting.
“It’s better to offset than to do nothing,” she said. “But reducing the energy consumption is even better. It would be great if the platforms are transparent, but to my knowledge, there is nothing in place that requires them to be transparent right now.”
Considering the Environmental Cons, What Pros Are There for Artists Interested in NFTs?
For artists like Murphy, NFTs have been a game-changer. It’s been so financially lucrative that since selling his first NFT in March, Murphy has been able to quit his job and work on his art full time, something he has been trying to do for nearly six years.
“NFTs have paid my bills, the majority of my income has come from NFTs,” he said. “It’s had a big impact on my life.”
Murphy uses Offsetra to calculate the carbon emissions from his NFT sales, and said, so far, he’s been able to offset “40 to 50 tons” of carbon, compared to his output of less than a ton, while also putting aside five percent of the sales of his NFTs to additional carbon offsetting measures. (One ton of carbon emissions is equal to the charging of 121,643 cell phones, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.)
Another way Murphy tries to give back is by donating to the Mint Fund, an organization that funds first-time “crypto creators” mint fees. “It’s helping people in other countries or people in countries where they are experiencing hyperinflation and they might not have the opportunity to get into this otherwise,” he said.
In the future, Murphy would like to see more NFT marketplaces integrate a feature where when an NFT is sold, a percentage of the sale would be donated to an environmental charity that provides carbon offsetting measures.
And, like other crypto enthusiasts, Murphy is not concerned with the NFT bubble “bursting” anytime soon.
“Since it’s a peer-to-peer connection, meaning if people are still using it, it’s never going to go away,” he said. “Unless the internet was going to go away — and at this point, I would say that is not very likely.”
What About the Dwindling Value of NFTs?
Earlier this spring, the value of NFTs hit an all-time high, thanks, in part, to renewed media attention and celebrities, big-time artists, and musicians joining the NFT bandwagon.
Just this month, interest has since waned — drastically. According to cryptocurrency news site Protos, the NFT bubble peaked at the beginning of May, and in the last six weeks, NFT sales have dropped by over 90%. The report also noted that “the number of active NFT wallets” dropped by 70%, perhaps signaling that participants may be questioning whether NFTs are actually valuable in the long term.
The reason for the spectacular NFT decline, detailed by charts, graphs, and data by sites like Protos and CoinMarketCap, could be for a myriad of reasons, like Bitcoin’s recent plunge. Or rather it is becoming harder and harder for artists to rationalize the high environmental impact of cryptocurrency with the sector’s varying value volatility, while taking into consideration that NFTs may not have the same worth in, say, five years’ time.
It’s possible, though, that cryptocurrency and NFT popularity could reverse yet again, creating a cyclical “boom and bust” scenario. But the unpredictability, coupled with the massive climate cost, may just be enough to scare some folks away for good.
Editor’s note: This explainer is part three of a three-part original PetaPixel series on NFTs. Part one answers what they are, part two explains how they are created, and part three (above) explains the “cost” of their existence.
Image credits: Header photo created with images licensed via Depositphotos.
In 2010, Instagram burst onto the web scene with a simple mission: To improve the quality of all our smartphone snaps. Since then, the photo-centric service has grown into a fully-fledged message and social network, becoming one of the most important platforms in the web.
You might be a heavy Instagram user, but you probably don’t know everything the app can do. Some of its best features may be hidden away, but we’re here to bring them to light.
Change filter strengths
Instagram originally made its name through filters, which overlay your image and make it look great. Today, filters are still the first set of options you see after you snap a picture in the app. What you might not know is that, once you’ve selected a filter, you can change its strength to get a more subtle effect.
To set how dramatic the alteration will be, choose a filter, then tap on the thumbnail again, and a slider you can use to adjust the filter strength will appear. While you’re toying with these settings, here’s a related tip for hiding away the filters you don’t often make use of—scroll all the way to the end of the filters and tap Manage to add or remove options you like or dislike.
Get alerts from your favorite people
We’re all fighting against notification overload from our smartphones. Luckily, you can adjust your notification settings so you’ll only see alerts when the Instagrammers you’re really interested in post something new. This option only works for users you’re already following, and it’s also pretty well hidden inside the app.
On your feed, find a post from the person you’d like to get notifications from and tap on the three dots in the top right-hand corner of it. Choose Turn on Post Notifications to get an alert for new updates.
See the world through other people’s eyes
You love your friends and family, of course, but they might not post the best photos. Tap on the Search & Explore tab (the magnifying glass icon) to see public photos and videos from users all around the world. You can also like and comment on these shared images.
One useful way to use this tab is to check out locations before you visit them. Just type the name of a city or place into the search box at the top of the screen, switch to the Places tab, and pick the place you want to look into. You’ll get a host of images and clips to browse through.
Save photos for later
Instagram recently added the ability to bookmark photos you like so you can look them up later. No one else can see the posts and collections you’ve saved—not even the account you’re saving photos from. So bookmark away as much as you like.
To save any photo or video, tap once on the bookmark icon located to the far right of the send icon—it looks like the tail end of a ribbon. Or press and hold on that icon to put the post into a specific collection or create a new one. If you’d like to see all of your saved posts, open the app, head to the Profile tab, go to the options menu (three lines in the top right of your profile) and then tap on Saved.
Use the app for instant messaging
Instagram has come a long way, adding more and more abilities to its roster. One of those features is instant messaging. Your messages don’t need to include a photo, although messaging can be a useful way of sharing pictures privately. You can also go through the photo posting process as normal and choose direct message at the end.
If you tap on the Send icon, in the top-right corner of the front screen, you can tap out a message to any of your contacts. If you’d like to send a message to multiple contacts, you’re in luck—Instagram also supports group chats.
As of recently, Instagram has also added videochat capabilities just like other instant messaging apps. Just open a chat with one or more users, and tap on the camera icon on the top right of the screen.
Make your Stories more private
Instagram hasn’t been shy about ripping off Snapchat’s best features, and Stories is already a characteristic feature of the platform—if you want to share something that doesn’t agree with your grid aesthetic, this is where to do it. But before you do, you can choose who can and can’t see these temporary posts.
Stories don’t appear on your Instagram profile, and you may not want them to be as publicly viewable as your main feed. Open the Profile tab, go to the Instagram options page (hit the menu button on the top right), and select Settings > Privacy > Story Control. From here, you can hide your Stories from specific contacts. You can also go to the profile of the person you want to hide your stories from, tap on the three dots on the top right, and choose Hide Your Story.
Keep your original files
When Instagram posts one of your pictures, it resizes the photo—partly to cut down on data usage and upload times, and partly to stop other people from stealing your images at their full resolution. But what if you want to keep the full-size copies? You can save them separately.
Go to the Profile tab and hit the button in the top-right corner, followed by Settings. Then scroll down to Account, and then tap on Original photos (if you’re using the iOS app) or Original posts (on Android). Here, you can make sure that Instagram is storing copies of your media on your phone as well as online, and you can back up these images to other places, such as Google Photos or iCloud Photo Library.
Share your pictures everywhere
Instagram includes some helpful options for sharing your pictures on more social networks so all your friends can see them.
When posting a photo to your feed, on the final sharing screen, tap Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr to connect those networks to your Instagram account and seamlessly share your post across them all. For even more options, use the free service IFTTT, or If This Then That. Not only can you share your Instagram posts to more platforms, you can also do more with your photos and videos, such as automatically backing up your media to Dropbox or Google Drive.
Instagram added a feature called Nametag, which lets you add new contacts by snapping their Nametag with your phone’s camera. Think of it like an instant Instagram business card.
To find your own Nametag, open the Profile tab, tap the menu button on the top right, and pick Nametag. Now you can show your Nametag to someone else, let them photograph it, and become contacts in a snap . Alternatively, choose Scan a Nametag from the bottom to be the one who adds a new contact.
Instagram lets you see which contacts are currently active: When you open the direct message section (from the Home tab, hit the Send icon on the top right), you’ll see green dots beside their names. While this might be helpful, it means everyone else will also be able to see when you’re scrolling through photos. If that bothers you, you can disable your activity status—just be aware that this prevents you from seeing when your friends last used the app.
To do so, open your Profile tab, tap the menu button on the top right, and select Settings > Privacy > Activity status. Here, turn off the toggle switch.
Change the font and add some flare to your Stories
When you put together Instagram Stories, you can now adjust the font. Even a slight tweak can change the mood of your post, so go ahead and play around with this feature.
After you capture a photo for a Story, tap the Aa button in the top-right corner and then hit the font name at the top of the screen to cycle through your options (Classic will appear by default). You can also create a post that’s just text and color: In Stories, simply swipe to the right before snapping a picture, and you’ll find yourself on the Create screen.
Finally, you can also choose the color of your font. When you type, you’ll have a 27 classic colors to choose from, but you’ll also be able to choose any tone included in your picture. Just tap the eyedropper icon in the far left, and a pin like icon will appear on your screen. Move it along and it’ll select whatever color you point it to.
Your bio is a great way to tell people a little about you and perhaps attract some new followers. Recently, Instagram added the option to dress up this summary with hashtags and @mentions, allowing you to trigger a hashtag search or link to another Instagram profile.
To get started, tap the Profile button at the bottom of the screen and select Edit Profile. Then tap inside the Bio box and preface any word with “#” or “@,” turning those terms into hashtags or mentions, respectively. They’ll go live as soon as you save your changes.
Photographer and “mad scientist” Don Komarechka is back for a DPReview TV episode on ultraviolet light. Specifically, he explains how a modified camera-and-filter combination can reveal hidden ultraviolet patterns that are invisible to the human eye, but crucial for pollinators like bees.
Human trichromatic vision is limited to the so-called “visible” portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, but the spectrum doesn’t simply stop at those boundaries. Immediately adjacent to the visible light spectrum is near-infrared and infrared on one end, and ultraviolet on the other, both of which can be captured using specially-modified cameras.
We’ve featured infrared photography many times before, but in this video, Komarechka heads over to the other end to reveal the hidden world of ultraviolet light. Specifically, he shows you the hidden patterns that pollinators like bees use to home in on certain flowers. The results can be downright shocking:
From streaks leading to the pollen source, to big fat ultraviolet landing pads, these patterns are completely invisible to the naked human eye, but they play a crucial role in the plant kingdom. As Komarechka demonstrates over and over, much like macro photography, a special ultraviolet camera-and-filter combination can reveal beautiful new worlds that have been hiding in your backyard or garden all along.
As a bonus, the camera can also reveal the protective power of sunscreen in pretty stark terms… a trick that has gone viral a few times before:
To learn more about ultraviolet light and ultraviolet photography, and see many more fascinating before-and-after photos of “monochromatic” flowers that aren’t, check out the full DPReview TV episode above.
And if you want to see more uses for ultraviolet photography, check out these ultraviolet portraits we featured back in 2017.
Even the most mundane, unremarkable, or sometimes disgusting phenomena take on a totally new life when viewed at a supermacro scale. Case in point, a new timelapse film dubbed “The Rise of Molds” captures the mesmerizing growth of a subject we’ve all at one time or another cut out of a slice of bread or scrubbed off our bathroom walls: mold.
The video is the latest in the Beauty of Science series, which was created by Dr. Yan Liang. Every couple of months we receive an email from Dr. Liang sharing his latest creation, and every couple of months we’re blown away. From the magic of chemical crystallization to 4K macro footage of M&Ms dissolving in petri dishes, the videos never disappoint.
In their latest creation, Beauty of Science takes on the seemingly ugly subject of molds and shows us how beautiful they really are by zooming in… like WAY in.
“The film records the growth of four types of molds used for food fermentation, namely Rhizopus, Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus oryzae and Penicillium,” explains Liang. “Captured by time-lapse supermacro photography, the growth of these molds is magical and charming, revealing a mysterious and gorgeous tiny world.”
Here’s a look at a few of the most beautiful frames from the timelapse, which Liang kindly shared with PetaPixel‘s readers:
Put some headphones one, draw the blinds, and check out the macro timelapse up top to get the full effect for yourself. And if you want to see more Beauty of Science and Beauty of Chemistry videos, dive into the PetaPixel archives, visit the BoS website, or subscribe to Beauty of Science on YouTube.
Image credits: All photos by Yan Liang/Beauty of Science, and used with permission.
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