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Thursday, 21 December


Review: Annie Leibovitzs MasterClass is a Disappointment PetaPixel

When MasterClass announced Annie Leibovitz Teaches Photography, I was pumped. Id already taken the James Patterson Teaches Writing MasterClass and loved it. In just a few hours, I got a crash-course in fiction writing with plenty of actionable tips I still use every single day. So when MasterClass finally released Annies class on December 14, I yelled: Take my money!

Im an Annie fan through and through. I own several of her books, and Ive watched her interviews with Charlie Rose about a dozen times.

Here is the MasterClass trailer in case you havent seen it:

My Expectations

Going into Annies class, I knew that Annie Leibovitz is not a technician. Ive listened to lectures and interviews with Annies former assistants, and they all basically said the same thing: that Annie is a brilliant, driven artist that knows exactly what she wants but not specifically how to get there.

And in Annie Leibovitz Teaches Photography, she admits as much:

I photograph people. It allows me to have a point of view, and have a voice, which makes my photographs stronger, I believe. Having done this so long, Ive sort of clung to the notion that what Im doing is portraiture. But Im actually a creative artist using photography. Annie Leibovitz

So I wasnt looking for Annie Leibovitz to tell me why she underexposed a background by 1 stop instead of 2. And I wasnt expecting her to show me the difference between an umbrella and a beauty dish, or how to retouch skin.

I was hoping for:

  • Insights into her creative process
  • A general understanding of how she runs a portrait sitting
  • How her editing process works

These seemed like entirely reasonable expectations based upon...


This is What Happens When You Microwave a DSLR Camera PetaPixel

The folks at Daytripper Photo recently decided to find out what happens when you microwave a DSLR camera in the name of science. The 11-minute video above documents how the Nikon D60 and 18-135mm lens fared (spoiler: not well).

The camera was placed in a microwave sitting out in the middle of a grassy yard.

After 5 minutes in the microwave, portions of the DSLR were beginning to melt. The LCD screen on the back had melted and things were falling apart in the grip area.

After several more minutes of being bombarded with microwaves, most of the DSLRs plastic had melted away, exposing the electronics within. The lens fared well, though.

Here are some photos showing what the Nikon D60 and lens looked like afterward:

A few years ago, people shared viral information about how you can fully charge an iPhone battery by microwaving it for just one minute. As thi...


Idaho Gets First International Dark Sky Reserve in the United States PetaPixel

Looking for exceptionally dark skies in the United States? It seems Idaho is the place to visit. A large patch of land in central Idaho has just been designated the first International Dark Sky Reserve in the country, and its one of only 12 such reserves on Earth.

The designation was announced this week by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), which picked an area spanning 1,400 square miles (3,600 square km) from Ketchum/Sun Valley to Stanley. The reserve becomes the 3rd largest of the 12 reserves.

IDA says that the designation comes after two decades of Idahoans working to limit light pollution on the regions environment. Becoming a reserve will further help the area combat the use of artificial light.

IDAs Reserve designation requires public and private lands to possess an exceptional or distinguished quality of night sky, view of the stars and nocturnal environment, the association says. Reserves can only be formed through partnerships of multiple land managers who have recognized the value of quality nighttime environment through regulation and long-term planning.

Heres a list of the 12 current Dark Sky Reserves:

  • Aoraki Mackenzie (New Zealand)
  • Brecon Beacons National Park (Wales)
  • Central Idaho (U.S.)
  • Exmoor National Park (England)
  • Kerry (Ireland)
  • Mont-Mgantic (Qubec)
  • Moores Reserve (South Downs, England)
  • NamibRand Nature Reserve (Namibia)
  • Pic du Midi (France)
  • Rhn (Germany)
  • Snowdonia National Park (Wales)
  • Westhavelland (Germany)

The Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve has achieved Gold Tier status, which is reserved for the darkest skies around the world.



This is the Amazing Tethering Speed of the Sony a7R III PetaPixel

I purchased the new Sony a7R III last week as an upgrade to my a7R II. Ive used my a7R II in hundreds of shoots over the last year and it has always given me amazing results, but Ive had one major issue with the camera: tethering speed.

I shoot for magazines and clients. I make it a point to tether my camera to my Microsoft Surface tablet so the clients can see what I am shooting as I do my work. Using Capture One, I can even have settings apply to each image as I shoot them so the client can have a more realistic view of the final image look.

But my issue was, when shooting tethered, the Sony a7R II could only capture 22 images in a row before it got buffered and you had to wait for the camera to transfer the images it held over. If you tried to take more shots, you could only take one every 3-4 seconds, which is annoying when you are missing some great shots.

Furthermore, because the a7R II only comes with a USB 2.0 slot, this takes a while to transfer over the 42 megapixel shots (which are about 40MB in size RAW). Sometimes what I am shooting is not the actual shot still loading on my Surface, as the buffer is 1 minute behind.

This being said, I wouldnt give up the a7R II for another camera, as all the other features of the camera such as eye-AF and incredibly sharp photos make up for this.

But then the Sony a7R III came out on December 1st and with it, USB-C. Not only that, it could do a burst rate of 10 shots a second, which is incredible. I had to test it right away!

I purchased the Sony a7R III and then purchased a new Microsoft Surface Book 2. I chose the Surface Book 2 because not only does it have USB-C built in, but it also has an i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and an ultra-powerful Nvidia 1060 video card, so I knew it can handle the throughput.

Tether Tools send me their brand new USB-C to USB-C cable for testing (which should be available for all by the end of this month). Finally, I used my Profoto B1 lights at a power of 2.0, to get really fast recycle times.

I wanted to test the USB-C to USB-C speed of the a7R III but I also knew that not everyone has a laptop/computer with USB-C, so I tested USB-C to USB 3 as well. I additionally added the a7R II speeds to see the vast improvements.

As you can see in the video below, the results were amazing!



Shooting Pro Portraits with Window Light in a Tiny Home Studio PetaPixel

If youd like to shoot studio portraits but dont have access to an actual studio or pricey equipment, you can achieve beautiful results with a minimalist setup in a small room thats bathed in natural window light. Heres a 5-minute video by photographer Irene Rudnyk that shows this type of setup for a recent shoot.

Rudnyk set up a backdrop in a room that has large bay windows.

She then had her model sit facing the window with her knees raised by cushions and dress held up by chairs.

Rudnyk photographed the model from in front of the window, standing on a step ladder for a flattering high angle and slightly off to the side to avoid casting shadows on the subject. Bringing your subject toward the windows as much as possible helps you utilize as much natural light as you can in the environment.

Here are the photos Rudnyk captured using her Canon 5D Mark III and 85mm f/1.2L lens:



UK Police Have a Porn-Spotting AI That Gets Confused by Desert Photos PetaPixel

UK police are turning to high-tech artificial intelligence to help wage war against the scourge of child pornography, but the system currently has a tricky problem: the AI has a hard time telling the difference between nudity and photos of deserts.

The Telegraph reports that the Metropolitan Polices digital forensics department is deploying AI to scan child pornography suspects phones and computers so that human police officers are no longer subjected to the psychological trauma that comes with the task.

The department, which had to search through 53,000 devices just last year, hopes to have an AI system capable of doing the job within two or three years.

Although the system is quite good at spotting some subjects in photos things like drugs, guns, and money it has been failing at distinguishing between naked bodies and sand dunes.

Sometimes it comes up with a desert and it thinks its an indecent image or pornography, says Met digital forensics head Mark Stokes. For some reason, lots of people have screen-savers of deserts and it picks it up thinking it is skin color.

Image recognition AI technology has come a long way in recent years Google has a photo captioning AI that can describe photos with 94% accuracy. But these AI systems have had notable blunders as well. Both Google and Flickr apologized in 2015 after their auto-tagging systems identified people with darker skin colors as apes.

(via Telegraph via...


Photos of the Beautiful Vaulted Halls of Grundtvigs Church in Denmark PetaPixel

Grundtvigs Church is a famous church in Copenhagen, Denmark, thats known as a rare example of expressionist church architecture. French photographer Ludwig Favre shot a series of photos that capture the beautiful lines of the giant vaulted ceilings.

The church was built after World War I between the years 1921 and 1940. It was designed by Danish architect Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint, who studied village churches in his country before merging the concepts of Brick Expressionism (modern geometric forms) with Gothic architecture (classic verticals).

The hall church has three aisles and measures 259 feet long (76m), 115 feet wide (35m), and 72 feet tall (22m).

You can find more of Favres work on his website, Behance,...


Hasselblad Launches XPan Lens Adapter for the X System mirrorlessrumors

And today we have another Hasselblad news :) They announced a new XPan Lens Adapter. Press text: Hasselblad Launches XPan Lens Adapter for the X System Hasselblad expands its range of accessories for the X System with the new XPan

The post Hasselblad Launches XPan Lens Adapter for the X System appeared first on mirrorlessrumors.


$18,000 Stolen Camera Kit Recovered, Suspects Arrested PetaPixel

That was fast. Just 48 hours after the Canadian retailer The Camera Store announced a burglary, loss of $27,000 in equipment, and a $5,000 reward, most of the camera equipment has been recovered and suspects have just been arrested.

The Calgary Sun reports that it was all thanks to sharp-eyed tipsters who noticed some of the stolen camera equipment on the online buy-and-sell service Kijiji, a site thats similar to Craigslist.

The aftermath of Saturdays break-in at The Camera Store.

Sgt. Lee Dunbar of Calgarys online stolen property team responded to the online for sale ad. During negotiations for the $8,000 Hasselblad X1D-50c camera being listed, the sellers also revealed that they were selling the same lenses that had been taken from the display case during the burglary.

Yesterday afternoon, an officer went undercover and met face-to-face with the sellers at a mall in northeast Calgary. After confirming that it was the stolen equipment, the two male sellers 60-year-old Tan Bui and 36-year-old Justin Ross were arrested for burglary.

Recovered were the X1D-50c camera as well as the three stolen lenses: a $4,000...

Wednesday, 20 December


Annie Leibovitz is Teaching Her First-Ever Online Photography Class PetaPixel

Want to take a class from one of the worlds best photographers from the comfort of your own home? Renowned portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz is teaching her first-ever online class through the education platform MasterClass.

In her first-ever online class, award-winning photographer Annie Leibovitz teaches her process for working with light, creating concepts, and finding your point of view as an artist, Masterclass says. Through case studies and on-site lessons with Annie during a magazine shoot, youll learn her photography techniques and be inspired to try new ways of approaching your craft.

Heres a 2-minute trailer introducing the class:

Anna-Lou Annie Leibovitz is one of the preeminent American portrait photographers, and her career spans four decades. Here are just some of her accomplishments: she was the first female chief photographer at Rolling Stone, she was the first woman to hold an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, and her photos have graced hundreds of covers on top magazines around the world.

Heres a rundown of the subjects covered by Leibovitz in her new course:

  1. Research your subject
  2. Sharpen your observation
  3. Come up with photo concepts
  4. Establish a rapport with your subject
  5. Create effective lighting
  6. Develop your storytelling
  7. Approach photography as both an art and craft
  8. Improve your skills by taking family portraits

The class consists of 14 video lessons, a downloadable class workbook (with lesson recaps, assignments, and resources), and office hours (upload videos to get feedback). Leibovitz will also answer select student questions, Masterclass says.

If youre interested in taking this course, you can do so for $90 over on the Masterclass website.


The Forgotten Photographer of Soviet Uzbekistan PetaPixel

As Central Asia was transformed under Soviet rule, one man made a remarkable record of life in the fledgling Uzbek S.S.R. before being driven from his career and toward tragedy.

A worker's rally in the courtyard of a textile mill in Tashkent. Between 1925 and 1949, photographer Max Penson documented life in Soviet Uzbekistan. Photo by Max Penson. Max Penson sits for a self portrait. The photographer was born in what is today Belarus in 1893, but fled anti-Semitic violence there after the outbreak of World War I to settle in what would become Uzbekistan. Photo by Max Penson. Girls in a classroom in Tashkent. Penson began his new life in Central Asia as an art teacher. Photo by Max Penson. One of Pensons early photographs showing a runner cheered by burqa-clad women. After winning a camera as a reward for excellence in teaching, the young immigrant threw himself into photography. Photo by Max Penson. A woman poses with a panel of traditional Uzbek embroidery. Penson was soon employed by the Soviet newspaper Pra...


The Street Photography of Rinzi Ruiz PetaPixel

Rinzi Ruiz is a talented photographer who discovered his passion for street photography on the sidewalks of downtown Los Angeles. Heres a great 4-minute interview with Ruiz by StreetShootr about his mindset and work.

I see light, Ruiz says. Basically what Ive trained my eyes to focus on is the quality and the value of light. So a lot of its just that. Thats all Im looking for.

Heres a selection of street photos that Ruiz shared with PetaPixel:



Adobe Just Released the Final Standalone Version of Lightroom PetaPixel

Lightroom 6.14 doesnt bring any new major features. Instead, it improves camera and lens compatibility as well as fix some bugs that existed.

The goal of this release is to provide perpetual customers additional camera raw support, lens profile support and address bugs that were introduced in previous releases of Lightroom, Adobe says.

Lightroom 6 may not be compatible with future cameras raw files. If youre intent on sticking with Lightroom 6, though, theres a path forward for you: future cameras will be supported for Lightroom 6 and other legacy Adobe software using the free Adobe DNG converter.

For the latest in Lightroom features and functionality, youll need to start paying for a subscription through Adobes Creative Cloud. The Photography Plan currently costs $10 per month.

(via Adobe via...


Photographer Sues Cop Who Shot Him After Mistaking Camera for Gun PetaPixel

Back in September, Ohio photojournalist Andy Grimm was shot by a sheriffs deputy while photographing a traffic stop it turned out that the cop had mistaken Grimms camera and tripod for a gun and decided to shoot first and look more closely later. Grimm is now filing a civil rights lawsuit against the officer and the city.

WRGT News reports that the federal lawsuit was just filed in the US District Court of Ohio against the city of New Carlisle, the county Board of Commissioners, and Clark County Sheriffs Deputy Jake Shaw.

On September 4th, Grimm heard about Shaws traffic stop at around 10 pm through the police scanner and drove over to photograph it. After parking across the street and pulling out his camera equipment from his car, Grimm was fired upon by Shaw without warning of the two bullets fired, one grazed Grimms arm and the other went through his stomach.

Grimm argues that the incident, which was captured on Shaws body camera, was an example of excessive force. He claims the deputy was attempting to kill or seriously injure him despite Grimm presenting no danger.


A Photo Shoot with Wonder Woman PetaPixel

Photographer and digital artist Antti Karppinen recently did a photo shoot in which he turned his friend Iina into Wonder Woman. Iinas a cosplay costume designer who crafted her own costume for the shoot in a mammoth 2-month-long project.

To turn into Wonder Woman, Iina had to meticulously attach the many different parts of the costume to herself before stepping in front of the camera.

As a fan of comics and superheroes, Karppinen jumped at the opportunity to create a photoshoot with Iina and her high-end Wonder Woman cosplay costume. His goal was to create movie poster-style images, and he achieved that with some clever post-production work.

Here are some more of the before-and-after images from the photo shoot and edit room:


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