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Fstoppers Interviews Rob Walwyn on His Upcoming Photo Exhibition ‘Karrikins’

Fstoppers Interviews Rob Walwyn on His Upcoming Photo Exhibition 'Karrikins'

Australian photographer Rob Walwyn is hosting the first exhibition of his project ‘Karrikins’ as part of Sydney’s Head On Photo Festival. Karrikins documents the aftermath of the bushfires that devastated Australia’s east coast in late 2019 and early 2020. What makes Walwyn’s images even more stunning is his use of Kodak’s discontinued false-color infrared film Aerochrome. 

Apocalyptic scenes of the 2019-2020 bushfire season made news around the world as vast swathes of the east coast of Australia burned. The bushfires claimed more than 72,000 square miles of land, destroyed over 5,900 buildings, and most tragically, 34 people lost their lives. The devastation was not confined to human lives either — it’s been estimated that the bushfires killed more than three billion living creatures. Yes, that’s right, three billion. 

In the aftermath of the bushfires, Sydney film photographer Rob Walwyn headed to different parts of New South Wales to capture the devastation and the regrowth that occurred soon after the bushfires. He decided to photograph what he saw using one of the few rolls of Kodak’s Aerochrome film he owned at the time. 

I’d be lying if I said that the decision to shoot that first roll of Aerochrome on the bushfire regrowth was anything but an aesthetic choice. I was hoping that bright green new regrowth snaking up the trees would look beautiful on Aerochrome. It was only after I got the first rollback and received some feedback on the images that I thought this could make a really special project.

Kodak Aerochrome film is a false-color infrared film developed by Kodak in tandem with the US Military during World War Two. Originally, it was designed for aerial photography with forestry, cartography, and industrial and military applications, such as detecting enemy camouflage. With Walwyn’s Karrikins project, Kodak Aerochrome has been used with stunning results to document post-bushfire regrowth. 

“Aerochrome captures the infrared light reflecting off the regrowth in lurid shades of pink and red, contrasting against the burnt and blackened trees, evoking images of the flickering flames that crept up these trees only months earlier,” explains Walwyn. 

On his first roll, he captured what he believes to be the iconic image of the series: Karrikins #1. The image shows the blackened trunks of trees, which contrasts perfectly with the bright pink regrowth of new leaves. Buoyed by this image and the encouraging results of this first roll, the Karrikins project was born. 

The name of the project is a nod to the bushfire regrowth Walwyn documented through his photographs:

I studied Chemistry at Uni and when I came to read about the family of molecules known as karrikins (with etymology deriving from an Aboriginal word for smoke), that are produced during bushfires and can lead to the germination of dormant seeds of a variety of different plant species. I knew I had found the perfect name for my series.

Since that first roll of Aerochrome, Walwyn has documented the regrowth of the bush on more than 20 rolls of precious infrared film. Shooting both 120 and 35mm film, his cameras of choice have been the Pentax 67II, Mamiya 645, and Fuji TX-2 (Xpan). During my discussion with Walwyn, he talked me through some of his favorite images below. 

Karrikins #1 

Karrikins #1 was from his first-ever roll of Aerochrome taken in Bilpin in the Blue Mountains in March 2020. It was the first image he posted on social media shot on Aerochrome. 

The response and feedback was incredible, not just in terms of the number of likes and comments this image got, which were orders of magnitude more than an average post, but also the number of people I had messaging me asking about prints and to find out more about this film. The fact that I took this image, which is the archetypal photo of this series, on my first roll, makes it even more special to me. This image is taken on the side of Bells Line of Road, an area that was particularly devastated by the 2019-20 bushfires.

Karrikins #8 

Karrikins #8 was shot in the Blue Mountains in January 2021. At first glance, this photo may not look special, pictured is an extremely rare pink flannel flower (Actinotus forsythii). The pink flannel flower can only be found in scattered parts of eastern Australia, from the Blue Mountains to northeastern Victoria. 

This flower is not endangered as a species; however, they appear so infrequently that many bushwalkers have never seen them. The flowers favor heath and open forest areas at altitudes.

The seeds can lay dormant for years on end, waiting for a special confluence of events forming the right conditions for their emergence – a year or so after bushfire followed by rainfall, which is exactly what the flower’s home turf experienced last year. When I saw pictures of these rare flowers popping up on social media, I knew it would be a perfect subject to shoot on Aerochrome for my series.

Karrikins #14 

Karrikins #14 is another of Rob’s favorite images of the series to date. 

This image was taken in September 2020 in Yaouk in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales. Only seconds after I took the photo, the light finally broke through this otherwise cloudy and rainy day and perfectly illuminated the scene with beautiful light and a nice rainbow as well – of course, I missed these beautiful lighting conditions as this was the last shot on the roll, but perhaps the cows wouldn’t have been lined up and staring at the camera moments later, so maybe it all worked out for the best anyway.

Karrikins #12

Finally, I asked Walwyn to tell me about my favorite image of the series. It shows a group of young people taking selfies and having fun in a swimming pool, while the haunting pink regrowth and blackened trees loom large behind them.  

That’s also from the Snowy Mountains, from the same trip as the cow shot. The swimming pool is thermal – naturally 26 degrees all year round. It must be pretty nice to visit the pool in winter when it’s freezing. I saw an image of this pool on social media and the fact that it had these beautiful trees in the background and the mountains were ravaged by bushfires, contrasting with people frolicking in the pool and having fun, that’s what made this image special for me.

Visit the Karrikins Exhibition

These are just some of the hundreds of stunning infrared photos Walwyn has taken using Aerochrome for the Karrikins project. He has meticulously whittled down the images to just 17 for his first exhibition ‘Karrikins’ taking place from November 24-28 at the Barometer Gallery in Paddington, Sydney. The exhibition is part of Sydney’s Head On Photo Festival, which is taking place at dozens of galleries and outdoor spaces across the Emerald City until November 28. The festival also features workshops and panel discussions. 

Images used with permission of Rob Walwyn.

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Nikon Releases Teaser Video on Upcoming Z 9 Camera

Photo of Nikon Z9

Nikon has been relatively quiet about its forthcoming flagship camera, the Nikon Z 9, but that is starting to change. Nikon just released its first teaser video on the Z 9, which you can view at the bottom of this post.

Titled, simply, “Z 9 is Coming – Teaser 1,” the 30-second video shows a photographer using the full frame mirrorless camera to photograph a model in a cavernous studio environment. The clip showcases a few of the Nikon Z 9’s features including a rear screen that can fold out in two directions, the ability to adjust the camera’s orientation from horizontal to vertical portrait mode by swiveling it, and face and eye-detection autofocus.

A Nikon web page dedicated to the Nikon Z 9 carries the tagline, “Get Ready. Experience image-making like never before.”

Photo of Nikon Z 9 rear screen

Other than that, there’s not much more revealed about the Nikon Z 9 aside from what we already know. Namely that the Z 9 will feature a newly developed FX-format stacked CMOS sensor, a new image processor and advanced video features including the ability to shoot 8K videos.

The Nikon Z 9 will be the company’s first flagship camera using Nikon’s Z mount lens system from its Z series mirrorless line. It’s designed to surpass the Nikon D6, a DSLR that is the company’s current flagship model.

Photo of Nikon Z9

The Nikon Z 9’s design is similar to the recently released Canon R3, in that it has what appears to be an integrated battery grip for vertical shooting. That would seem to make the Z 9 bigger and bulkier than the Sony Alpha a1, which does not have a built-in battery grip.

The sensor resolution, release date and price of the Nikon Z 9 have not been revealed yet.



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Skylum Reveals More Details of the Upcoming Luminar Neo

Skylum Reveals More Details of the Upcoming Luminar Neo

Skylum created a bit of a late summer storm when it announced a new image editor, Luminar Neo. The complaint from users has been that Skylum drops development on an editor, only to release a new one, while essentially going end of life on the current software. 

There’s some validity to the complaint. My advice to Skylum is to settle on a codebase, lock it in, and keep updating it, a la Adobe and many of their competitors. Still, Skylum has offered some tremendous software and given us very high-quality AI tools for sky replacement, portraits, and much more.

Skylum has already announced Luminar Neo for this winter, but we’re getting more details of its capabilities. 

Layers

Creators can combine multiple images as layers on a single canvas, including raw images, for maximum control over color and light. Blending, masking, and opacity can be used to create collages, double exposure effects, and other powerfully creative interactions between layered photos.
 
PNG images with transparency can be added to layers, allowing artists to move beyond strictly photographic compositions. Textures and other graphic elements can add additional flourishes to the final work. Once these elements are on a layer, they can be easily moved, rotated, and flipped to place them precisely within the composition. Luminar Neo includes built-in overlays and object libraries, which allow artists to start creating layered compositions right out of the box.

Depth-Aware Control Over Scene Lighting

Luminar Neo can fix a portrait where the foreground subject is underexposed. Enhance a landscape photo where the background is overexposed. RelightAI helps isolate the problem areas for correction while leaving the rest of the image untouched. Advanced controls let the artist naturally reposition and blend the light. 

Skylum Reveals More Details of the Upcoming Luminar Neo 1
By combining RelightAI with other scene-aware tools, photographers can precisely adjust the lighting of any photo.

Examples include:

  • Sky Enhancer AI: Precisely adjust the color and exposure of the sky and clouds.
  • AccentAI: Balance exposure and color before RelightAI to create an appealing contrast.
  • Portrait BokehAI: Adjust the depth of an image and control background blurring.

Artificial intelligence that drives several tools in the Luminar family is 3D Depth Mapping. It is used in AtmosphereAI and Portrait BokehAI to recognize the contents of a photo. Depth mapping seamlessly identifies the planes (i.e. foreground, midground, background) and the elements (i.e. people, buildings, skies, animals). 
RelightAI is a lighting tool that uses the 3D Depth Map in a whole new way. RelightAI provides discreet and creative control to artists, allowing them to independently adjust the lighting in the foreground and background to recover detail and color. 

The upcoming version also offers context-aware masking.

Skylum Reveals More Details of the Upcoming Luminar Neo 2

Availability

Luminar Neo ships this winter with layers, RelightAI, and other exciting tools. Portrait Background RemovalAI and MaskAI are planned for the first free update to Luminar Neo, scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2022.
Early-bird pricing for the Luminar Neo application and plugin is available here and includes a 30-day money-back guarantee from the time of shipping. Luminar Neo will also be carried in both the Microsoft Store and macOS App Store.

Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing the app, and like many reviewers, I’ll get an early look, which I will share with you. While I have some differences with Skylum on how their apps should be sold and updated, there’s no denying that they are moving the editing industry forward with fresh ideas.

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Gorgeous Starlapse Shot From Upcoming Launch Site of Ariane 6 Rocket

Gorgeous Starlapse Shot From Upcoming Launch Site of Ariane 6 Rocket

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.

Gorgeous Starlapse Shot From Upcoming Launch Site of Ariane 6 Rocket 3
Exploded view

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).

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The Upcoming Nikon Z Lenses

As you might already know, Nikon added a few new lenses to its Nikon Z lens roadmap in October, which included a couple of super-telephoto lenses. Although the maximum apertures of these lenses were not defined, I projected that these would be fast super-telephoto primes, namely Nikon Z 400mm f/2.8 S and Z 600mm f/4 S. Nikon recently released an image of its upcoming lens line-up, which includes silhouettes of unreleased lenses, and it looks like these will indeed be fast super-telephoto primes.

Nikon Z System with Lenses

Based on these silhouttes, we can make projections about the upcoming lenses and their maximum apertures. Here is the detailed list:

  • Nikon Z 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 DX – this is likely a rehash of its current Nikon F mount counterpart, so it will probably have the same maximum aperture of f/3.5-5.6. It will not be an “S” line, so don’t expect this lens to have any premium or weather-sealing features.
  • Nikon Z 24-105mm f/2.8-4 S – if the scale of the lens is more or less correct, this could be a fast-aperture f/2.8-4 zoom. I initially thought this would be an f/4 lens, but considering that it is taller than the 24-200mm superzoom and almost as tall as the Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, it is unlikely that Nikon will make another standard f/4 zoom lens.
  • Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 – judging by the small size of the silhouette, we can project this to be a small, lightweight, and very inexpensive f/2.8 pancake-style prime.
  • Nikon Z 40mm f/2.8 – another pancake-style prime with an f/2.8 maximum aperture.
  • Nikon Z 50mm f/2.8 Macro – it looks fairly small in the image, so it will likely be an f/2.8 macro lens.
  • Nikon Z 85mm f/1.2 S – although the lens does not seem to be as tall as the newly-released Nikon Z 50mm f/1.2 S, look at how wide the front element of the lens is. This will most definitely be a premium f/1.2 prime that’s going to be very heavy and pricey.
  • Nikon Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 S – it is a given that this will be a variable aperture lens. And being an “S-line” lens, I expect it to be a solid, weather-sealed zoom for shooting outdoors.
  • Nikon Z 105mm f/2.8 Macro S – optically, this should be very similar to the current Nikon F 105mm f/2.8 Macro lens. However, the silhouette shows a very tall lens with a large barrel. Perhaps Nikon is planning to go with a faster maximum aperture of f/2?
  • Nikon Z 200-600mm f/5.6 – this could be very similar to Nikon’s popular F-mount 200-500mm f/5.6 lens but with 100mm extra reach. The lens looks pretty big in the image – almost as big as the 400mm prime.
  • Nikon Z 400mm f/2.8 S – Nikon’s “best of the best”. I expect this lens to be announced with a high-end Nikon Z camera body that is designed for shooting sports and wildlife (Nikon Z9?). It will be an exotic, super expensive lens for professionals. Expect new levels of optical performance for high-res cameras, and I really hope Nikon will design it to be lighter than the current Nikon 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens.
  • Nikon Z 600mm f/4 S – this beast should be announced together with the 400mm f/2.8 S. We might see a “development announcement” first for the trio of 400mm f/2.8 S, 600mm f/4 S and the Nikon Z9 (or whatever the premium full-frame sports camera is going to be named). Either way, this is going to be a stellar lens for the Z mount. Super good and super expensive.

What’s Missing

Although it is great to see Nikon develop so many lenses for the Z mount, there are plenty of gaps in the line-up that many of us Nikon shooters want to see sooner than later. Let’s take a look at the list of lenses that I would like to see in the next roadmap:

  • Nikon Z 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5 Fisheye S
  • Nikon Z 14mm f/2.8 S
  • Nikon Z 35mm f/1.2 S
  • Nikon Z 105mm f/1.4 S
  • Nikon Z 135mm f/1.8 S
  • Nikon Z 70-200mm f/4 S
  • Nikon Z 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6
  • Nikon Z 200mm f/4 Macro S
  • Nikon Z 300mm f/2.8 S
  • Nikon Z 300mm f/4 PF S
  • Nikon Z 500mm f/4 S
  • Nikon Z 500mm f/5.6 PF S
  • Nikon Z 800mm f/11 PF S

It would be also great to get a few DX primes, such as the Z 24mm f/1.8 DX, Z 35mm f/1.8 DX, and Z 50mm f/1.8 DX. Add the missing Z 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 DX ultra-wide angle zoom. Small, lightweight, and very affordable – that’s the point of having a DX system.

Personally, I am staying away from buying the Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 S due to its size and weight. Yes, it is an amazingly sharp lens and currently the sharpest 70-200mm f/2.8 on the market, but for my landscape and travel photography needs, I would rather see an f/4 version.

Other lenses that I would really like to see sooner than later would be a 300mm f/4 PF, 500mm f/5.6 PF and 800mm f/11 PF lenses. I recently had a chance to test Canon’s 800mm f/11 lens. At first, it sounded like a gimmick, but after I used it for a few weeks, I was amazed to see how useful it can be for things like astro and wildlife photography.

What lenses would you like Nikon to release in the next few years? Please let us know in the comments section below!

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