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How to Deal With Online Image Theft

How to Deal With Online Image Theft

Image theft is both morally wrong and also incredibly frustrating. As a photographer, my images have been stolen so many times that it now no longer upsets nor surprises me. Until recently there wasn’t a great deal I would do about it, but now I have a great system.

For me, image theft is a fact of life. It comes in many forms, from the blogger who simply doesn’t know better, to the ad agency that are publishing outside of the usage agreement. Both of which are usually fixed with little issue through a nice conversation. Then we have the stranger ones, there are currently a few photographers out there who are using my images in their portfolios, a few ad agencies far away in different countries who are claiming that my work is their own, and even a few companies offering prints of my images seemingly from nowhere in the world. 

Dealing with these types in the past has been so far down my list of things to do. Dealing with people who are committing theft is never fun, there will be no reasoning with them and the time you will lose just really isn’t worth it. I also find it to be a very negative experience, and I would rather spend that time and emotional effort in a more positive way of making money. That is until I came across this latest method and system that I discuss in my video. It both removes any stress from you, and gets someone else to do all of the leg work!

How do you deal with image theft?

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Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures

Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures

Focussed on the sharp, perfectly composed, and exposed shot? Why not try Intentional Camera Movement or multiple exposures to create something unique. You may quite like it.

Most of us as photographers are looking for sharp, perfectly composed and exposed images. It is what we are taught or have learned and so, therefore, try to achieve. Sometimes, though, it’s fun to change this up a bit. Intentional camera movement is exactly that, intentionally moving the camera when taking the shot to produce a creatively blurred image using longer shutter speeds. Multiple exposures are where you set the camera to take a series of multiple shots of the same scene or of varying scenes and elements to make up the resulting image. Your camera’s menu settings should allow you to do this. But if not, there’s a three-step tutorial below.

Intentional Camera Movement

At the time of taking these images, my longest focal length for shooting was the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S Lens, so all have been captured at 70mm. The longer the focal length, the shorter exposure required, plus the movement registers more quickly. The wider the lens, the longer the exposure and less movement recorded. You can also add an ND3 stop if conditions allow or depending on the type of effect you are seeking. Most of the exposures shown have shutter speeds of between 1/2th and 1/8th second. My choice of aperture for these was f/5.6, as I wanted slight clarity in any areas with little movement. The final effect you achieve will be up to you and will depend on the conditions when shooting. More blur, longer shutter. Another note I’d like to make is the tonality of the images shown. This is my choice to edit them with these similar tones, as I feel it complements the images and the dreary weather we get here. Plus, I’m a big fan of the artist J.M.W Turner and his works. You can opt for vibrant foliage and flowers or sunsets. It’s entirely up to you.Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 1Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 2

Movement

Some photographers may tripod their shots and lock off any direction of movement that they do not wish and then take the shot. Think vertical panning of trees and horizontal panning of seascapes.Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 3

However, if you handhold the shots, there are multiple directions you can move in; just don’t drop your camera! Flick your wrist, drop your wrist, spin, pan vertically or horizontally while rotating. Add a zoom blur while moving, though takes a bit of practice. All are fun to try, and all will produce varying results. Plus, there is nothing to say that during the editing process you can’t combine multiple exposures to get another unique image. It’s totally up to you.Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 4

You will also find a great article and techniques on shooting intentional camera movement here by photographer and Fstoppers writer Jason Parnell-Brookes 

Multiple Exposures

Your camera’s menu should allow you to take multiple exposures of a scene, but if not, keep reading, as I have a brief tutorial on how to achieve similar results below. What I normally do when shooting these is set my camera to aperture priority, although manual works just as well, with the aperture being around the f/8 mark. My Nikon allows me to take up to 10 multiple exposures in an overlaid sequence, shown in the viewfinder, before creating the final JPEG. The in-camera blend mode is set to average. Please note if you are thinking of trying this, shooting in JPEG and not raw will save processing time in the following tutorial. I don’t refocus between images.

Most of the movements I make are only quite slight, overlapping, moving up or down, and rotating slightly. When rotating, I try to imagine a fixed center point of the scene in my viewfinder. I also find that higher-contrast scenes or scenes with varying colors produce better results. These images were photographed using the Viltrox AF 85mm f/1.8 Z Lens for Nikon Z.Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 5

Smart Object Blending

If you choose to shoot these singularly instead of in-camera, try to visualize the rotation point of the previous image and don’t keep checking the playback. Smaller movements will result in better images I have found. As I mentioned the Z 7 records 10 multiple images and displays/overlays them in the viewfinder when I shoot, as will most cameras nowadays. It also records them as individual files, and this is what this tutorial is based on.

First, select all your images in Lightroom and then right-click, open in Photoshop as layers.Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 6

Next, in Photoshop, select all your layers and convert them to a Smart Object. Don’t auto-align here, as we want them to be as you shot them.Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 7

Once this has been completed, go to Layer- Smart Objects – Stack Mode – Meanm and let Photoshop do the rest. Remember if the images are raw files, this could take a minute or so. If you shoot in JPEG, the time will be much shorter. Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 8

The resulting image is in Photoshop.Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 9

From here, just go on to edit your image however you want. Below are both the in-camera image and the resulting Smart Object image using the tutorial above. Yes, there are differences, but you get the idea. Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 10

Have Fun

For myself, these techniques were born out of necessity due to one of my dogs being so impatient when out with the camera. I enjoyed shooting when out walking, just recording a scene or location that I would perhaps come back to. However, one of my dogs, Inca, had other ideas and would get up to all sorts of mischief when I stopped to shoot. So, to keep an eye on her and shoot, I would keep walking and do intentional camera movement on the move. She’s a lot better now, and now, I can stop for five minutes or so and do whatever I feel the scene dictates.

If you’ve tried intentional camera movement and multiple exposures, you’ll know that they can be quite rewarding at times and produce something unique. Plus the bonus is that you’re not so caught up with focusing and exposure effectiveness. I’m looking forward to trying multiple exposures with architecture when I head to the city.

If you haven’t tried it, give it a go; it can be fun and breathe a new dimension into your photography.

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How a Professional Landscape Photographer Creates an Image From Capture Through Editing

How a Professional Landscape Photographer Creates an Image From Capture Through Editing

Landscape photography is a challenging genre that takes the confluence of a lot of techniques, creative ideas, and more to bring an image to fruition, but it is quite rewarding when you see the finished photo. This awesome video tutorial will show you how a professional landscape photographer shoots an image, from choosing the right focal length all the way through the edit. 

Coming to you from Landscape Photography iQ with Tom Mackie, this great video tutorial will show you how he shoots a landscape photo from start to finish. One thing that I have always loved about landscape photography is how many distinct images you can get from a single scene, depending on the time of day, the weather, the season, and more. If you are newer to the genre, do not be afraid to experiment with different focal lengths. We almost all tend to default to using wide angle lenses for landscape work, and while they can certainly produce fantastic results, a telephoto can be an excellent way to explore your creativity. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Mackie. 

And if you really want to dive into landscape photography, check out “Photographing The World 1: Landscape Photography and Post-Processing with Elia Locardi.” 

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dark_lord’s latest blog : image enhancement ? still seen as ‘cheating’?

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Image Enhancement – Still Seen As ‘Cheating’?

28 Jul 2021 9:46PM  
Views : 47
Unique : 46

It’s a long held belief that using software to enhance an image is the devil’s own work. I’m not talking about creating misleading, fake or fraudulent imagery but using simple basic adjustments that many images benefit from.

The idea for this blog came from reading a description of post-capture processing on an image uploaded for critique. It’s welcome to see someone detail their processing steps, so that we know what has been done to the image. It must be noted that these were bread and butter adjustments such as contrast, levels, and so on. It’s a pity the original unprocessed image wasn’t included so that a comparison and assessment of the changes could be made. Were the steps taken enough or did they go too far? That’s what’s needed in order to provide the most useful feedback. While different people will have different ideas, further small adjustments did improve matters.

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Straight from the camera

That last sentence is the caveat. Ten different photographers will produce ten different results from the same image. I don’t mean because they use different gear (hough that could be the case), but give them a RAW file to work on and the same software to use you won’t get ten identical results. True, some will be quite close to one another, but some won’t. Indeed, a single photographer can easily create several versions all of which they like.

While it’s hard, if not impossible, to dial out personal choice and style, and I don’t advise anyone to go that route (unless they’re) there are good practices to observe. We all want our images to look as good as we want. It can be that we’re too close to our own work. Coming back a day later and evaluating what’s been done can be helpful. Sometimes a small comment is enough to make us see what needs to be changed. For example, on one of my images, quite a number of years ago now, reference was made to a slight magenta cast. It was there, and using the white balance picker on the white background made the image so much more viewable.

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Colour Balance warmed, Shadows lifted, Curves adjustment

I’m talking about basic adjustments required in order to bring out the best in an image. Good colour, contrast, shadow and highlight detail retrieval, a crop maybe, and so forth. Nothing that creates a fraudulent result (for example removing or adding people from a street scene for political ends or creating artificial looking skin in a portrait, though those types of manipulation have ben done decades before digital appeared).

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Straight from the camera

Years ago, photographers would choose a particular film for its characteristics. Velvia to a boost insipid tons in a drab northern European winter landscape, Astia for more natural skin tones. Filters would be used to control colour, polarisers to boost saturation. Not to mention the renditions of different black and white films together with contrast enhancing filters and control over the print using different contrast grades of paper. All of which are choices you have using the basic adjustments of which I described above. You’re just replicating what has always been done, albeit with a greater degree of control.

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Levels and Curves adjustments and further Curves adjustment on the sky

The allegation of ‘cheating’ is misplaced and comes from a lack of understanding, mainly from non photographers who don’t understand either analogue or digital methods and would have had negative film processed at a low cost (that must mean good value and thus a good job) minilab and accepting the results as given. Even some dyed in the wool photographers at the start of digital photography regarded the greater control with scepticism, and I think, apart from the fact it was a change, considered it cheating because they didn’t understand computers and software not realising the potential and freedom to actually produce the style of images they always wished for. Yes there would be a steep learning curve, and that doesn’t suit everyone. There is also the fact that so much more responsibility was put on the photographer to come up with the goods. No more blaming it on the local photo processing lab.

There are still purists who don’t like post capture processing, preferring to accept the jpegs straight out of camera (or other device), not necessarily realising that a whole lot of processing has already been done defined by algorithms with no creative appreciation. That’s their choice of course. In the end they’re missing out on getting the best from their efforts.

So, for the rest of us, let’s continue with our adjustments.

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Too far?

All text and images © Keith Rowley 2021

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Best photo storage: solutions for any type of image

A large table of all colors of wood with photos arranged one after the other in the form of a table of memories.



Best cloud storage Amazon Photos provides the best photo storage solutions. Amazon Photos

For Amazon Prime members, take advantage of the free and unlimited cloud photo storage system that can declutter your phone and keep your memories safe.

Pros

The app can be set up to automatically save photos.

Cons

You’ll need a Prime account—but this also comes with perks of free two-day shipping and more.

Best HDD storage The Seagate Expansion 12TB External Hard Drive provides the best HDD storage. Seagate Expansion 12TB External Hard Drive

This 12 TB drive can store all your photo data, so images remain high-quality without any lost information.

Pros

Even with a massive amount of storage, this pick is compact and easily portable.

Cons

The writing speed may be slower than with other picks.

Best SSD storage The SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable SSD is one of the best photo storage solutions when you’re on the road. SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable SSD

This ultra-portable pick is compact enough to take on any trip—and with 1 TB of storage to keep your favorite photos on-hand.

Pros

The hardware encryption software allows you to protect private information.

Cons

Make sure to format your drive before storing photos for optimal use.

We live in a time where everyone has a camera in their pocket and it’s never been more affordable to shoot digitally. Film photography is also making a big comeback and if you love shooting the more traditional way, it won’t be long until you end up with a backlog of negatives in addition to all your digital files. Shopping for the best photo storage solutions may not be as exciting as picking out a brand-new camera or fancy lens, but it’s really important. Getting your archives backed up and stored properly means you will be able to better enjoy those memories that you’re capturing for years to come.

Best Photo Storage: Digital Solutions

Whether you’re a digital shooter or a film shooter you should be storing your precious images in a few different ways. Every style of photographer should be utilizing some kind of cloud storage solution and an external hard drive to preserve their images. Why two? If you’ve been shooting for a long time, you know that there are two types of hard drives—one that has already failed and one that’s about to fail. Keeping your work in the cloud and on a physical drive means that your work is stored in two places. If one goes down, you’ve got the second place where you can restore the files. 

What’s more, cloud services can help you organize your archives with features like tagging and AI that will sort and categorize your images. Cloud services provide a low-cost way to store tons of digital files and because they live online, as long as you’re backing up consistently, you don’t have to worry about losing access to your files even if you can’t access your hard drive. 

For short-term storage, you should consider an SSD (solid-state drive). This style of drive is smaller than a traditional hard drive, more durable, and typically operates with much faster transfer speeds. Although we wouldn’t recommend an SSD drive for long-term, archival storage, it’s a great tool for quickly creating a duplicate of the images on your SD card while you’re on location before you back up to your HDD (hard disk drive) at home and whatever cloud service you may subscribe to. If you’re a photographer who has damaged a memory card (it happens!), you know how important it is to always be backing up.  

Analog Storage

If you’re primarily shooting film, in addition to using a cloud service and having a hard-drive backup, you’ll want to store your negatives and prints in an archival way to prevent them from getting damaged. 

Saving the negatives may seem like overkill—especially if you already have high-quality scans that are backed up in two places. But believe us, you should hold on to them! Here’s why. If you ever find yourself with access to a darkroom (they do still exist), having copies of your negatives means that you’ll be able to experience the true magic of film photography by making prints from those original pieces of film. Holding onto your negatives also means that you’ll be able to rescan at higher resolutions in the future. 

Make sure that you’re storing your negatives properly though to protect them from being damaged by moisture or getting scratched up. Negative sleeves are relatively inexpensive and provide your negatives with an added level of protection. Plus, they make it easy to examine what’s on a roll of film before you start scanning. 

Looking to store a bunch of old prints or family photos? Ditch the old shoe box and invest in an archival acid-free box to ensure that those pictures continue looking nice for years to come. 

Top pick overall: Amazon Photos

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you automatically have access to unlimited photo storage with Amazon Photos. This cloud service allows you to make minor adjustments to your images, auto tags photos based on image content, and can use facial recognition to automatically group images together. A feature called “Family Vault” lets you share specific images with friends or family members. Plus, the Amazon Photos app can be set to send you notifications about images that are stored in the cloud-based on the anniversaries of when images were taken. The app can also be set up to automatically back up everything on your smartphone’s camera roll—a big time saver when it comes to maintaining an archive. 

Runner up: Seagate Expansion 12TB External Hard Drive

A large-capacity hard drive is an excellent choice for having a tangible copy of whatever has been backed up to the cloud. The 12TB Seagate Expansion drive is compatible with Windows or Mac, has fast file transfers with USB 3.0, and even includes Rescue Data Recovery Services. Because of its generous storage space, it requires a power adapter to operate, meaning it’s best to store this one at home. But it’s a reliable choice for keeping a tangible copy of all of your digital files. 

Great storage for film: Print File 35-mm. Archival Negative Preservers

Film negatives are delicate and if you want them to last a long time you need to make sure you’re storing them properly. Print File’s Archival Negative Preservers are one of the most reliable choices for doing just that. The binder-size negative pages are made without PVC, which makes them archival-quality, and they’ll protect your negatives from dust, scratches, and fingerprints. Each sheet can hold up to 42 frames and allows photographers to make digital or traditional contact sheets without having to remove any negatives from the page.

Great storage for prints: HG Concepts Art Photo Storage Box

If your old family photos and negatives are sitting in dusty shoeboxes, do yourself a favor and upgrade to a photo-storage box. An acid-free archival storage box will keep your photo prints, negatives, and other important documents safe from the ravages of time. This box is made from sturdy board that won’t bend or dent, is bound in black-book cloth, and is lined with matte, black archival paper. It has a clamshell lid for easy access and comes in a variety of sizes. Plus, because it’s acid-free, you don’t have to worry about prints becoming discolored over time.

Also consider: SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable SSD

Solid State Drives are typically smaller and faster than a traditional external drive. They’re a great option for backing up and storing files when you’re using your camera away from your studio or office. This palm-sized 1TB-drive from SanDisk is one of our favorites. It has 1050MB/s read speeds and up to 1000MB/s writ speeds. It’s drop-resistant up to 2 meters, has an IP55 water-resistance rating, and is dust-resistant too. It uses a Type-C USB and has a carabiner loop so that you can easily secure it to your belt loop or attach it to your backpack when in transit.

FAQs

Q: What should I do with all my old photos?

If you haven’t already, we recommend scanning your old photos and backing them up to the cloud and an external hard drive before you do anything. If you want to hold onto the original prints and negatives, invest in an archival acid-free storage box to keep the prints from degrading over time.

Q: What is the best free photo organizer?

If you’re already an Amazon Prime user, you can store unlimited photos at any resolution through Amazon Photos. The service automatically sorts images based on content and can use facial-recognition features to sort your images by the people who appear in them.

Q: Should I keep negatives from old photos?

Even if you aren’t interested in working in a dark room, we highly recommend holding onto the negatives of your old photos. Keeping the negatives means that you can rescan at higher resolutions or print bigger versions of the photo down the line. Ultimately your original negative is the key to creating higher-resolution versions in the future. 

Final thoughts about photo-storage solutions

Whether you only shoot with your smartphone, regularly shoot digitally, or only on film, having a variety of ways to back up and store your images is one of the most important aspects of photography. We recommend utilizing multiple storage solutions in the digital and physical realms because, quite frankly, you can never have enough backups. Keep your memories safe by using a combination of cloud storage, hard-drive storage, and archival storage of your physical prints and negatives to preserve your images for years to come.

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Astrophotography Stacking & Image Retouching Is Now Available In Affinity Photo

Astrophotography Stacking & Image Retouching Is Now Available In Affinity Photo

– PARTNER CONTENT –

 

Rosette Nebula SHO |
 

Version 1.9 of Affinity Photo launched earlier this year in February and introduced an array of useful and powerful improvements, from linked layer functionality to better organisation for LUTs, OpenCL hardware acceleration for Windows and long-awaited saveable workspaces.

 

Introducing Astrophotography Stacking In Affinity

Flame And Horsehead Nebula HaRGB |
Flame And Horsehead Nebula HaRGB

 

One of the more esoteric additions was the introduction of a new ‘Persona’ (or workspace) for astrophotography stacking. This functionality is not commonly found in image editors –  instead, it has always been the domain of dedicated astrophotography software, which can vary in price from free to several hundred dollars.

In this regard, Affinity Photo is relatively unique: it can perform the entire postproduction workflow required for professional-level astrophotography, all in 32-bit linear precision. The workflow is not complex either – if anything, the straightforward nature of the entire process may seem contradictory to expectations at first!

 

Astrophotography Stacking In An Inexpensive Photo Editor

Vela Supernova Remnant HaOIIIRGB |
Vela Supernova Remnant HaOIIIRGB

 

To understand the significance of having this functionality in a low-cost image editing application, we should consider the complexity of the stacking workflow and its requirements. We stack multiple exposures of the same subject to increase SNR (signal to noise ratio) – essentially, to reject noise and other artefacts from the final exposure, which allows you to pull through more meaningful detail of the actual night sky objects.

Depending on the subject and its brightness, long exposures – sometimes in excess of five or even ten minutes – are usually required to reveal enough detail, and with longer exposures comes increased noise levels and greater risk of visual artefacts like star trailing, light pollution and light trails from aircraft flying overhead. These all produce challenges during both the stacking and editing process that the software must be able to tackle.

There’s also the requirement of being able to calibrate the image frames before they are stacked together. This is achieved using a variety of calibration frames, which are often shot during the imaging session, although with temperature-controlled sensors and mounted telescope systems this is not always necessary.

 

The Stacking Process In Affinity Explained

Stack Persona (alpha) |
Stack Persona (alpha)

 

The stacking process is easy in Affinity Photo: the light (image) frames and calibration frames are loaded into separate file lists within the Astrophotography Stack Persona, and you can configure various stacking options such as the clipping threshold, which is useful for rejecting aircraft light trails and other inconsistent pixel information. You then click the Stack button, and once the images have stacked you will see the final tone-stretched result. If you need to modify any settings, you can do so and click the Stack button again (with significantly reduced processing time) – each time you do this, a new layer will be placed into the Stacked Images panel at the bottom right.

Once you are happy with the result, you can click Apply and each stacked image is brought through as a layer into your main document’s layer stack. Levels and Curves adjustment layers are also provided by default which perform the initial tone stretching – you can tweak this further if required.

Stack Persona (white Fill) |
Stack Persona (White Fill)

 

For monochrome imaging, where narrowband or broadband filters are used to capture different wavelengths of light, you would typically stack each data set separately, then copy the final pixel layers into one document and blend them together. Layers may need to be aligned, which can be achieved by selecting them all and using Arrange>Align Layers by Stars.

From this point, it’s a fascinating editing process whose complexity can vary depending on the requirements of the subject. Light pollution can be tackled with the dedicated Remove Background filter, found in the Filters>Astrophotography menu. You can single-click to set sample points within the image and easily remove gradients from the background sky detail.

 

Remove Background |
Remove Background
 

The software also has a comprehensive set of masking and selection options too, so you can easily make selections of star detail or background detail, then apply adjustments and live non-destructive filters. For example, you can use a Minimum Blur live filter to reduce the intensity of stars in the image or use an HSL adjustment to reduce background luminosity whilst boosting deep-sky object detail.

Since Affinity Photo also supports macros (recordable operations that can be played back instantly), you can speed up any techniques you find yourself using frequently, such as creating luminosity masks, applying your own tone stretching or even setting up blending of the initial monochrome data layers to produce the full-colour composition.

Another technical advantage to highlight is the ability to complete the entire workflow in 32-bit precision. With the exception of Median Blur (and therefore also Dust & Scratches), all adjustments, tools and filters are available for you to use in 32-bit. This cuts out the requirement of merging or flattening then converting to 16-bit in order to continue editing, and allows you to take advantage of processing entirely in a linear colour space from start to finish, as well as making use of the extra precision.

 

Orion Nebula HaOIII |
Orion Nebula HaOIII

 

Astrophotography, much like regular photography, can quickly become an expensive hobby or profession. Therefore, in some ways, you may argue that an extra few hundred dollars spent on dedicated astrophotography software is hardly worth quibbling over rather than investing a smaller amount into a more general image editing application. However, even if budget is not a concern, Affinity Photo offers a streamlined and straightforward workflow, especially if you are used to other layer-based image editing software. It’s ideal for newcomers to the genre, but also offers several notable advantages to seasoned astrophotographers as well, particularly for non-destructive workflows.

 

Even More Affinity Photo Astrophotography Tutorials

For anyone interested in exploring Affinity Photo’s astrophotography capabilities, we have a plethora of tutorial videos covering the subject available both on our website and YouTube.

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Amazing ‘upside down’ orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize

The winners of the Nature TTL Photographer of the Year 2021 competition have been unveiled, with a highly original orangutan image taking the grand prize.

Canadian photographer Thomas Vijayan took the winning image, called The World is Going Upside Down. The orangutan is not a reflection, but the sky around it is – if you look at the base of the tree it should make sense. The tree is coming out of water, so you’re looking at the ground as the orangutan is climbing up.

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 11

“Thomas’ image is really unique, and immediately stood out to the judging panel,” said Will Nicholls, Founder of Nature TTL. “The unique perspective and composition means you are immediately trying to figure out what exactly you are looking at.”

Vijayan takes the £1,500 grand prize and title of Nature TTL Photographer of the Year 2021.

“This image means a lot to me because presently the orangutan population is reducing at an alarming rate,” says Vijayan of his winning image. “Deforestation and humans are the key cause behind this. Trees over 1,000 years old – which are a major asset to our planet – are being cut down for palm oil plantation.

As humans we have a lot of alternative choices to replace the oil, but the orangutans don’t have any options other than losing their home. I am very happy to see this image be successful, as it gives me an opportunity to spread the issue to the wider world.”

Meanwhile 13-year-old Thomas Easterbrook from the UK was crowned the Young Nature TTL Photographer of the Year 2021 with his image of a peregrine falcon tackling a starling murmuration.

Over 8,000 images were entered into the competition this year, with nature photographers from all over the world competing in eight categories: Animal Behaviour, Camera Traps, Landscapes, Small World, The Night Sky, Underwater, Urban Wildlife, and Wild Portraits.

You can see the category winners below, and view the full gallery of commended images over on the competition website.


Animal Behaviour
Thomas Vijayan: Category Winner & Overall Winner

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 11

Johan Wandrag: Runner-up

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 13


Camera Traps
John Formstone: Category Winner

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 14

James Roddie: Runner-up

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 15


Landscapes
Jay Roode: Category Winner

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 16

Fanny Reed: Runner-up

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 17


Small World
James Gifford: Category Winner

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 18

Samantha Stephens: Runner-up

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 19


The Night Sky
Ivan Pedretti: Category Winner

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 20

Amos Ravid: Runner-up

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 21


Underwater
Grant Thomas: Category Winner

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 22

Zhi’yue Shi: Runner-up

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 23


Urban Wildlife
Kallol Mukherjee, Category Winner

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 24

Mohammad Murad, Runner-up

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 25


Wild Portraits
Dennis Stogsdill, Category Winner

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 26

James Gifford, Runner-up

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 27


Under 16
Thomas Easterbrook, Young Overall Winner

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 28

Raphael Schenker, Runner-up

Amazing 'upside down' orangutan image wins wildlife photo prize 29


Further reading
Wildlife photography tips and techniques

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Check Out This Gorgeous Earth Image Shot From the ISS

Check Out This Gorgeous Earth Image Shot From the ISS

Check Out This Gorgeous Earth Image Shot From the ISS 30
ESA / Thomas Pesquet

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 ⛵️ #MissionAlpha pic.twitter.com/sQ0F33DEZm

— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) May 26, 2021

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.

ISS photography

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.

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Fujifilm GFX 100s Versus Sony Alpha 1: Image Quality Comparison

Fujifilm GFX 100s Versus Sony Alpha 1: Image Quality Comparison

For those of you that enjoy extreme levels of pixel peeping, you’re in for a treat.  A recent video compares the image and video quality between the Sony Alpha 1 and the Fujifilm GFX 100s. Although both cameras sit in slightly different categories, it’s interesting to see how both camera systems compare against one another. 

Fujifilm with its GFX series of cameras has single-handedly made medium format more affordable than ever before. It wasn’t long ago when a 50 MP medium format camera would cost more than $20,000. You can now purchase a 16-bit capable 100 MP medium format camera for less than some flagship full frame cameras. Full frame cameras such as the Sony Alpha 1. With its price tag of $6,498, the Sony Alpha 1 costs almost $500 more than the Fujifilm GFX 100s camera. Of course, both of these cameras sit in different categories and in many respects are aimed at different kinds of photographers. Nonetheless, if you’re only looking at sheer image quality the less expensive option could be the better option. 

In the video linked above, Gordon Laing compares the image and video quality from both camera systems. What’s most interesting is how closely both cameras perform against one another, with each beating the other in certain categories. 

To see how both camera systems perform, check out the full video linked above. 

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Image Manipulation and Social Media: Where Is the Line?

Image Manipulation and Social Media: Where Is the Line?

Image manipulation in various forms has been around from nearly the beginning of the medium itself, and the ethics of that process have been debated for nearly as long. Although this topic seems rather Sisyphean in nature, a conversation with an individual on Instagram inspired me to take a look at it from the perspective of social media in particular.

Entire books have been written about the history of image manipulation and the ethics surrounding that. A quick Google search results in hundreds of millions of hits on the topic. Needless to say, much has been said by many individuals over time about what is acceptable and what is not. And yet, this is a topic that keeps popping up again and again, especially as technology advances making it even easier to manipulate images and easier to share those images. 

Most genres generally have their own unwritten (or sometimes written) rules or standards regarding what is acceptable in terms of editing. We understand and accept that fine art photographs can have significant manipulation done (it even seems expected at times), while images for photojournalism should not have any. Product and fashion work are also genres that there is general acceptance for lots of retouching and manipulation. And yet, the debate is ever-evolving and the edges around genres can sometimes be a bit soft, making things even more complicated. Social media also seems to have shifted the conversation and where the line of acceptable editing is, especially within the past few years.

Most frequently, we see the discussion of image manipulation and the media (including social media) in the context of models being edited to look slimmer, have better skin, or look different in other ways to make models conform to socially constructed beauty standards. Within the past few years, we as a culture have come to more or less agree that editing a person to look significantly different than real life has created a negative situation and it is something that should not be done. But what about all the other genres and, in particular, what about when those other genres are posted on social media? Does that change things?

Manipulated Images on Instagram

Image Manipulation and Social Media: Where Is the Line? 31

Image Manipulation and Social Media: Where Is the Line? 32

Image by Drew Mason | www.instagram.com/drewmason and www.instagram.com/themittenmutt

I follow an account on Instagram, @themittenmutt, who posted about some negative comments he received in response to one of his recent photos (seen above) and his photos in general. Drew Mason, the photographer behind the dog account, received some negative feedback from various individuals about his images, saying that they felt like Drew’s images were misinforming, misleading, and contributing to the “toxic fakeness of the Instagram world.” Without seeing the image first, you might anticipate some crazy edits. Drew does indeed edit his images significantly. But, those edits involve manipulations of colors, lighting, contrast, and other such basic things. These comments sparked a curiosity for me about where the line may be in terms of social media and image manipulation. In most other contexts, that amount of editing wouldn’t be questioned one bit, in my experience. So why is it such a big deal in the context of social media?

I chatted a little with Drew, and he also shared some thoughts on his Instagram stories, where he explained that he uses his editing to recreate the way that his mind interprets and remembers a moment. The way that he remembers a scene may be very different from the way that the camera captures it, however, which is where the editing comes into play. I think most of us have probably been there as well. We try to capture an epic sunset but the camera doesn’t do it justice. So what do we usually do? Enhance things in editing to make it feel and look more like the sunset that we remember. Editing to enhance an image and create (or recreate) a feeling in an image is not a new thing, or one that has been seen as unacceptable in the past, and yet it seems to be an issue in the realm of social media.

Art and Truth in Photographs

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Image Manipulation and Social Media: Where Is the Line? 34

Image by Drew Mason | www.instagram.com/drewmason and www.instagram.com/themittenmutt

I think this debate largely comes down to two broad questions that have plagued the medium of photography since the beginning: are photographs art and, maybe more importantly, are photographs truthful, faithful representations of a scene? These topics are intensely fascinating to me and could lead me down a serious rabbit hole. I’ll refrain (for this post), but let’s at least look at the surface level of those questions as it relates to photography and social media.

The first question, whether photography is art, has been a near-constant debate in the art world. As with anything, context is key. In the right context, photographs are absolutely art, at least in my opinion. If we accept that photographs are indeed an art form (at least in the right context), then that should leave them open to creative changes and manipulations, i.e. editing. The issue with social media is that the context of images can be fluid and ambiguous, as the app itself is used for a wide variety of purposes. Both news agencies and artists and everything in between use Instagram to share material. This conglomeration of different uses within the same space can create confusion in regards to context and can lead to individuals being on different pages of what the correct interpretation may be.

The second question, if photographs are truthful, is also a frequently debated topic. Some believe that a camera is documenting whatever scene it is pointed to, making photographs inherently truthful. It is seen as an unambiguous act of documentation. However, this is not truly the case. Jörg M. Colburg said it well in an article in Conscientious Photography Magazine:  

 If a camera is a little machine that faithfully records what is in front of it and that displays just that, then obviously it’s the photographer who screws up if there is a problem. Now, a camera is not at all just some little machine that does that. It never faithfully records what was in front of it, and the many steps that lie between the pressing of the shutter’s button and the display of the resulting image (in whatever form) make the connection between reality and picture very, very difficult.

Photographs don’t lie. To say a photograph lies is to believe that there can be such a thing as an objectively truthful photograph. There can never be. All photographs present a truth: their makers’. The issue is not whether or not that truth has any relation to the Truth. The issue is, instead, what photographs tell us about our own truths, about those beliefs that we take for so granted, that we stick to so obsessively, weighing what we see.

Even the act of composing an image requires singling out certain things and excluding others. It is impossible to completely remove ourselves from photographs because of this. As a result, as Colburg says, it is impossible to have an “objectively truthful photograph.” In light of that, if we take things to the extreme, even unedited snapshots posted on social media could be considered misleading since they are only representing their maker’s truth and nothing more.

As mentioned briefly above, cameras can also fail to document a scene as we see it. Colors could be drastically different than real life if your white balance is off. To me, correcting that is not causing issues with how truthful an image is and could, in fact, be making an image more truthful instead. Focal lengths can also drastically change the way a scene appears in an image. If you use a telephoto instead of a wide angle or normal lens, the perspective and magnification of elements in the scene are going to be vastly different. So, is it misleading to use anything other than a normal lens to take images for the sake of social media then? I doubt that anyone would say this is the case. 

Where Is the Line?

So, with all this other information in mind, let’s revisit the question at hand and the image that sparked it all. Drew was not manipulating a person (or dog) to look different than real life, so there is no risk of creating unrealistic beauty expectations. He wasn’t editing in landscape features that wouldn’t be found in that location, so there is no risk of tricking people to think that epic mountains are found in Michigan or anything along those lines. His edits adjusted colors and lighting, to, as he says, more accurately reflect how he remembers the scene. In fact, in the image in question (with the dog), things were set up with the final image already in mind, so all edits were to enhance the way he staged the scene. 

If we examine the context of his images, they are not intended to be news images or anything such as that. So in my opinion, they can be seen more on the art side of photography, which allows for creative interpretation and manipulation in editing. I do not see where a line was crossed, or how these images would mislead anyone. The photographs are perhaps idealized images of the scene, which you could argue contributes to the “fakeness of the Instagram world,” though I hardly think it’s enough to make them toxic or anything remotely so negative. Our feeds, in general, are idealized versions of life, for the most part, simply because of what we choose to share. In my view, the photographer isn’t even obligated to explain what edits were done. In my opinion, photographs that are personal, or are taken for the sake of creativity or art, are fair game for manipulation, and an explanation of what has been done shouldn’t be expected. 

And now, I pose the questions to you all: where is the line for image manipulation in regards to social media? Are only the most basic edits acceptable? Is any editing okay? And, is the photographer obligated to share what edits were done? Let me know in the comments!

Images used with permission of Drew Mason.

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