Sundance 2020 Announces 118 Feature Films

For independent filmmakers the most eagerly awaited announcement of the year is here: the 118 feature films selected for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. The films hail from 27 countries and were chosen from a dizzying record high of 3,853 features. And the 2020 edition is the final one for outgoing Festival Director John Cooper, who says, “The program this year, my last as Director, is a celebration: of art and artists, yes, but also of the community that makes the annual pilgrimage to Park City to see the most exciting new work being made today. Watching this group expand […]

Qualcomm’s New Chips Will Bring 8K Video and ‘No Limit’ 960fps to Smartphones in 2020

Qualcomm has officially unveiled its next generation smartphone chipset–the Snapdragon 865–and if the specs are to be believed, smartphone cameras are going to get a whole lot more powerful next year.

The so-called Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform includes several important improvements, but the one we’re focused on is the new Qualcomm Spectra™ 480 Image Signal Processor (ISP), which can process data at up to 2 gigapixels per second. What does that mean in practice?

According to Qualcomm, devices featuring the new chipset:

… can capture in 4K HDR with over a billion shades of color, capture 8K video, or snap massive 200-megapixel photos. You can also take advantage of the gigapixel speeds to slow things down and capture every millisecond of detail with unlimited* high-definition slow-motion video capture at 960 fps.

8K video, unlimited (as long as your storage and battery hold out) 960fps super slow motion at 720p, and 4K HDR capture as well. And according to Engadget, the chip can handle 4K at up to 240fps.

According to Qualcomm, devices built around the Snapdragon 865 platform are expected to arrive in Q1 of 2020. This seems to back up recent rumors that Samsung’s Galaxy S11 would feature 8K video capture, although only HMD, Motorola, Oppo and Xiaomi have “confirmed” that they have Snapdragon 865 smartphone in the works.

To learn more and find out what all Qualcomm has in store for 2020, tune into the full livestream of day 2 of Qualcomm’s 2019 Tech Summit below:

(via DPReview)

Modded ‘Ribcage’ Sony RX0 II features passive MFT mount for interchangeable lenses

Canadian retailer Back-Bone Gear is offering the new Ribcage RX0 II, a modified version of the tiny and rugged Sony RX0 II camera that features a passive MFT mount for use with manual lenses, as well as a C mount (via a mounting ring) ideally intended for use with 1″ and 1.1″ format lenses.

The Sony RX0 II features a 1″ stacked Exmor RS CMOS sensor, removable IR-cut filter, support for capturing video at up to 4K resolutions, slow-motion capture at up to 1,000fps, and much more. Joining the camera’s robust features is an ‘extra-super-duralumin’ rugged body and 180-degree tilting LCD.

The modified Ribcage version of the RX0 II enables users to attach their existing lenses using an adapter, to use the tiny camera for niche applications involving telescopes and microscopes, or to use unique lenses with the camera, such as vintage models. Back-Bone Gear notes that its modified MFT mount doesn’t supply power for the lenses, hence why it must be used only with manual lenses.

The Ribcage model features CNC-machined aluminum components and includes a removable mounting plate with 1/4″-20 and 3/8″-16 mounts. The Ribcage RX0 II modified camera is available now for $1,299; it ships with a replacement IR-cut filter, charging cable, wrist strap, and more.

John Wick, Deadpool 2 director shot Apple’s new ‘Snowbrawl’ ad with iPhone 11 Pro

Apple tapped Deadpool 2 and John Wick director David Leitch to direct a 90-second iPhone advertisement called ‘Snowbrawl.’ As its name suggests, the video features high-action footage of a snowball fight filmed in cinematic style using the iPhone 11 Pro.

It’s not uncommon for Apple to publish video and image ads shot using its latest iPhone models. The company has increasingly embraced short-form storytelling as part of its ads and ‘Snowbrawl’ is no different. The commercial shows off the iPhone 11 Pro’s camera capabilities while telling the brief story of children engaged in an epic snowball fight to save a kidnapped teddy bear.

Creatives have been producing works shot using the iPhone for years. The 2018 movie Unsane was shot entirely using the iPhone 7 Plus, for example, though it should be noted that a variety of gear, including stabilizers and external lenses, are often used as part of these projects.

From Falling 100 Feet to Being Attacked With a Samurai Sword: How Photography Saved a Man From PTSD and Suicide

From Falling 100 Feet to Being Attacked With a Samurai Sword: How Photography Saved a Man From PTSD and Suicide

I asked Paul how he thinks his life would have been without picking up his camera that day. He said, “I’m confident I’d have killed myself sooner or later.” A harrowing answer encased in an important story.

[ Read More ]

Mesmerizing Time-Lapse of a Chemical Reaction Rippling Through a Petri Dish

The intersection of art and science can be a beautiful place, a point that’s made very clear by the online video project Envisioning Chemistry. In their latest creation, you can watch a chemical reaction ripple through a petri dish, a beautiful example of an “oscillation reaction.”

Envisioning Chemistry is a collaboration between the Beauty of Science and the Chinese Chemical Society that seeks to “reveal the beauty of chemistry through special techniques such as macro and micro photography, high-speed photography, time-lapse photography, and infrared thermal imaging.” We’ve featured their videos in the past–including time-lapses, macro, and slow-motion work–but there’s something especially hypnotic about their latest release.

What you’re looking at is a time-lapse of a Belousov–Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction, which is a classic example of a “nonlinear chemical oscillator.” The reaction–which doesn’t actually move too much slower than this in real life–shows non-equilibrium thermodynamics in action, which is really interesting for scientists… and just plain “pretty” for the rest of us:

To see more from Envisioning Chemistry, check out some of their previous features here on PetaPixel, or visit they’re newly redesigned website. And if you want to take it beyond Chemistry, you can see even more videos on the Beauty of Science website.

Fantasy Photographers You Need to Follow

Fantasy Photographers You Need to Follow

Some of these photographers are well known in the industry, and others are climbing the ladder of recognition, but all of them have something incredible to offer the genre of fantasy photography.

[ Read More ]

Qualcomm’s new 865 chipset supports 8K video, 4K HDR, no-limit 960fps capture and more

Qualcomm has introduced the Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform, its latest chipset that pushes the limits of mobile processing in a device that’s small enough to fit on the face of a penny.

In addition to support for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 4G/5G modem, the chipset also brings a number of improvements in the imaging department thanks to its Kryo 585 octa-core CPU, Adreno 650 GPU and Spectra 480 Image Signal Processor (ISP).

Unlike previous chipsets, which could only hand one pixel per clock cycle, the Snapdragon 865 can handle four pixels per clock cycle. In addition to power savings and running cooler, this increase enables exciting new features on the photo and video front.

Specifically, the Snapdragon 865 can handle up to two gigapixels of data per second thanks in part to its dual 14-bit ISPs. This means the Snapdragon 865 will be able to handle up to 200-megapixel captures, as well as dual 64-megapixel camera captures with zero shutter lag and HEIC photo capture. It can also apply multi-frame noise reduction on the fly, as well as provide real-time object classification, segmentation and replacement in images thanks to its 5th generation Qualcomm AI Engine. This new technology will make it possible to ‘quickly and intelligently identify different backgrounds, people, and objects, so they can be treated individually for a truly customized photo,’ according to Qualcomm.

The Snapdragon 865 chipset is also a major boost for mobile video. In addition to 8K video capture, the chipset can also handle 4K HDR (HDR10+, HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision), 4K video at 120fps and 4K video capture while simultaneously capturing a burst of five 640-megapixel photos. This makes it the first chipset that captures Dobly Vision video on the fly and in addition to capturing 120fps video, the chipset can also playback 120fps video in realtime when paired with a 120Hz display, such as those found inside the Razer Phone, Razer Phone 2, Sharp Aquos R3 and Asus ROG Phone II smartphones.

Qualcomm has addressed high-speed capture as well. The Snapdragon 865 can capture 720p video at 960fps without limits. 720p video at 960fps is nothing new, as the Sony Xperia XZ and over a dozen of other smartphones from Sony, Samsung, Huawei, Sony and Xiaomi can attest to, but current devices are limited to capturing just a few seconds at a time. When paired with the proper hardware, the Snapdragon 865 chipset will be able to record 960fps video indefinitely; or at least until you run out of storage.

Below is Qualcomm’s day two livestream of its Snapdragon Tech Summit in Maui:

Qualcomm says flagship devices based on the Snapdragon 865 are expected to be available in the first quarter of 2020. So far HMD, Motorola, Oppo and Xiaomi have confirmed they have devices on the way based on the Snapdragon 865 chipset.

Press release:

Qualcomm Introduces the World’s Most Advanced 5G Mobile Platform

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform Delivers the Best 5G Mobile Experiences for Next Generation Flagship Devices—Devices Expected to be Commercially Available in First Quarter 2020

MAUI, HAWAII — December 4, 2019 — Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, introduced the Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM 865 Mobile Platform, which combines the world’s most advanced 5G Modem-RF System with the world’s most advanced mobile platform designed to deliver the unmatched connectivity and performance required for the next generation of flagship devices.

The platform’s best-in-class Qualcomm® SnapdragonTM X55 5G Modem-RF System provides peak speeds of up to 7.5 Gbps, surpassing most wired connections and transforming the mobile experience. The leading 5th generation Qualcomm® AI Engine and new Qualcomm® Sensing Hub provides more intelligence and personalization than ever before. Snapdragon 865 includes the blazing fast Qualcomm SpectraTM 480 Image Signal Processor (ISP), which brings new features to mobile photography and videography thanks to gigapixel speeds – up to 2 gigapixels per second. Gamers can use Snapdragon to compete at the highest levels with an array of brand-new Qualcomm® Snapdragon Elite GamingTM features for desktop-quality gaming and ultra-realistic graphics. Our next-generation Qualcomm® KryoTM 585 CPU delivers up to 25% performance improvement, and the new Qualcomm® AdrenoTM 650 GPU offers up to 25% overall performance boost compared to the previous generations, ensuring superior processing power for the next generation of flagship devices. The Snapdragon 865 empowers you to game, capture, cross-task and connect like never before.

“Snapdragon 865 supports the world’s most advanced 5G connectivity and features, raising the bar for what a mobile device should be,” said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager, mobile, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “It’s the culmination of Qualcomm’s more than 30 years of wireless leadership and innovation.”

Benefits of the Snapdragon 865 include:

  • The World’s Most Advanced 5G Mobile Platform: The Snapdragon 865 is the most advanced 5G mobile platform—ever. Its Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System is the world’s first commercial modem-to-antenna 5G solution for consistent, lightning-fast speeds across the board—with peak speeds of up to 7.5 Gbps. The comprehensive Modem-RF System-approach allows advanced technologies such as Qualcomm® 5G PowerSave, Qualcomm® Smart TransmitTM technology, Qualcomm® Wideband Envelope Tracking technology and Qualcomm® Signal Boost to help deliver superior coverage and data speeds along with support for all-day battery life. This 5G global solution supports all key regions and bands including mmWave and sub-6 in both TDD and FDD frequencies. Plus, it’s compatible with both NSA and SA modes along with Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), global 5G roaming and support for multi-SIM. In addition to 5G connectivity, the Snapdragon 865 is redefining Wi-Fi 6 performance and Bluetooth audio experiences via the Qualcomm® FastConnectTM 6800 mobile connectivity subsystem. Extensive Wi-Fi 6 feature innovation helps users take advantage of incredible speed (approaching 1.8 Gbps) and latency, especially in crowded environments with many devices contending on a network. FastConnect 6800 is also among the first to be designated Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 by the Wi-Fi Alliance. The introduction of Qualcomm® aptXTM Voice makes Snapdragon 865 the first mobile platform to wirelessly support Super Wide Band (SWB) voice over Bluetooth for a new class of crystal clear audio, in addition to aptX Adaptive and Qualcomm TrueWirelessTM Stereo Plus, thereby reducing latency, increasing battery life and improving link resilience for wireless headphones and earbuds.
  • Gigapixel Speed ISP: The Snapdragon 865’s ISP operates at staggering speeds of up to 2 gigapixels per second and provides brand-new camera features and capabilities. You can capture in 4K HDR with over a billion shades of color, capture 8K video, or snap massive 200-megapixel photos. You can also take advantage of the gigapixel speeds to slow things down and capture every millisecond of detail with unlimited* high-definition slow-motion video capture at 960 fps. And now, for the first time ever on mobile, Dolby Vision video capture creates brilliant HDR footage that’s primed and ready for the big screen. In tandem with the 5th generation Qualcomm AI Engine, the gigapixel speed ISP can quickly and intelligently identify different backgrounds, people, and objects, so they can be treated individually for a truly customized photo
  • 5th Generation Qualcomm AI Engine: The new 5th generation Qualcomm AI Engine and new AI software tools pack incredible performance for the latest camera, audio, and gaming experiences. It delivers a whopping 15 TOPS of AI performance, which is 2x more powerful than its predecessor. At the heart of the Qualcomm AI Engine is a new and improved Qualcomm® HexagonTM Tensor Accelerator that has 4x the TOPS performance of the previous Tensor Accelerator while operating at 35% greater power efficiency. Then, there’s real-time translations using AI—your phone can translate your speech into a foreign language in both text and speech. In addition to the Qualcomm AI Engine, the all-new Qualcomm Sensing Hub enables your device to be contextually aware of its surroundings– using extremely low power. Highly accurate voice detection ensures your requests are heard loud and clear by your favorite voice assistant, while enhanced always-on sensors and intelligent sound recognition brings contextual AI to the next level. An updated Qualcomm® Neural Processing SDK, Hexagon NN Direct and Qualcomm® AI Model Enhancer tools gives developers ultimate freedom and flexibility to create faster and smarter apps.
  • Desktop-quality Gaming: Snapdragon 865 unlocks brand new and first-to-mobile premium features to deliver ultra-smooth gaming experiences with the highest graphics quality in the next generation of Snapdragon Elite Gaming. Snapdragon 865 is the first mobile platform on Android to support Desktop Forward Rendering allowing game developers to bring over desktop quality lighting and post processing effects creating a new level of realism for mobile games. With a first-to-mobile feature, Adreno Updateable GPU Drivers can be downloaded directly from an app store when made available by OEMs, which allows players to have control over their graphics driver updates and GPU settings for their top games to achieve premium performance. An upper echelon of display and visual fidelity for mobile HDR gaming is here with 144Hz display refresh rate available for the first time on mobile and Game Color Plus to enrich game image quality with enhanced details, boosted color saturation and local tone mapping. Game play is now optimized to the micro-second level with the Snapdragon Game Performance Engine, providing adaptive and predictive real-time system tuning for sustained performance over longer periods of time. The new Adreno 650 GPU offers new hardware embedded features like Adreno HDR Fast Blend to boost game scenes with heavy blending, often used in complex particle systems and rendering, to deliver up to 2x performance lift for certain operations.

Devices based on Snapdragon 865 are expected to be commercially available in the first quarter of 2020. For more information, please visit [link]. Livestream replays will also be available Snapdragon Tech Summit Event Hub.

Battery life and storage varies significantly based on device, settings, usage, and other factors.

How to Photograph Christmas Light Displays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Streets are filled with joyful songs and gorgeous light displays. Some Christmas trees and illuminations are so large that photographing them can be tricky. Next are some tips and composition ideas, with examples, that can help you take better photos this holiday season.

Generally speaking, aim to photograph during blue hour — the hour before sunrise and after sunset — because the contrast between the bright lights and the sky won’t be as strong. If you don’t get all your shots during those hours don’t worry. In fact, the majority of the photos showcased in this post were taken with a pitch-black sky.

You will be shooting during the evening and at night, so carry a tripod with you. Shoot wide — get a wide-angle lens (lower than 35mm) — to get as much of the scene as possible. Set your camera to manual mode and select the RAW image format to be able to recover highlights and shadows in post-processing.

Lines all the way! Composition is key. You might have a beautiful scene but if you don’t know how to present it to the viewer even the most beautiful details can be lost in the photo. If you are photographing a tree, don’t just take a photo of the tree, add a foreground that leads toward it.

The most common way to lead the viewer’s eyes is through lines. It’s important to take some time to look around and find those lines. You would be surprised how common they are, you can find them in places like escalators and on the ground.

Fast track! If you don’t find lines that work with your composition, try to create them with light trails. Make a long exposure of cars and buses, or other light sources passing by. Your camera needs to be still, so a tripod is a requirement for this technique.

By rule, a light trail can be captured by using the lowest ISO, a small aperture (high f-stop number), and by leaving the shutter speed open for a few seconds. Experiment with different times to find out which exposure gives you the best result. The challenge is not to over-expose the light trails. Check on your viewfinder and histogram if the highlights are not blown out.

Curves? Yes, please! In addition to lines make sure to look for curves. They are even more dynamic! The type of curves that are most popular in photography are the C and S curves. You can find them in nature (ex: rivers and hills) and on the streets of most cities.

Crowds are welcome! During Christmas time, some cities, like London, can be quite crowded with tourists. If you can’t escape the crowds you can deliberately add people to your composition to give the viewer a sense of perspective. It’s a great way to display how magnificent and large some light displays are. Blur the people with a long exposure to show the movement and energy of the place or go for a still shot like the one with a silhouette.

Double the scene! Use reflections to do more creative work. Reflections can double your subject, add texture and balance your photo with symmetry. Water is often used in reflection photography. In addition to natural pools, like lakes and rivers, puddles are also popular, especially in cities.

Take a walk after a downpour and scout for puddles. To photograph them, make sure to position your camera and tripod very close to the ground. You can also find other reflecting opportunities in buildings with glass and steel surfaces, wet pavements and even cars, as you can see in the examples below.

Remember to look down! Try to find rooftops and balconies available to the public in the area. Shooting from a high vantage point with a wide lens is a great way to capture the colorful avenues and wooden chalets of Christmas markets. Higher angles can also be used to get more than one Christmas display in the same frame.

I hope that this was informative. I would like to wish you a wonderful holiday season with many photo opportunities ahead.


About the author: Mara Leite is a globetrotting photographer capturing the vibrant colors of the world through landscapes and cityscapes. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of her work on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

Beyond Mere Composition: Getting Over the Rule of Thirds and Golden Ratio

There is a wealth of information on the internet about composition—endless blog posts about visual rules, geometric concepts, and photos with all kinds of lines and shapes drawn over them to the prove the point. But all of this information focuses on the “what” of composition rather than the “why.” A photographer must stop and ask themselves: “why even bother following visual rules?”

Disclaimer: Should You Even Read All This?

First, a brief note on who this article is meant for. If you’re already well-versed in photography and have strong ideas about composition, then you might see my ideas and start having a debate with me in your head with me, calling me all sorts of names. And that’s okay!

What you’ll find here is a compilation (of sorts) of concepts that I’ve picked up here and there throughout the years. I’ve filtered and digested them in my brain until I’m sharing them with you now. And so, the only “authority” from which I state my ideas is my own. I do hope to shake up how you think about composition. If that sounds interesting you, please read on!

Diagonal lines convey a sense of motion, sympathizing with the actual motion of the woman and her yellow dress flowing through the air.

Doing Away with Abstract Geometric Concepts

Geometric ideas like the “rule” of thirds, golden ratio, and others I won’t list here, are merely arbitrary concepts. Yes, the golden ratio is a mathematical construct, and it appears sometimes in nature. But more often than not examples of the golden ratio, such as galaxies and snail shells, are not in fact the golden ratio but rather one of many other mathematical ratios.

The point is that, in the end, it’s just about numbers and shapes and bears no real meaning or emotional content.

In any case, who goes out there with a ruler and compass, measuring out ratios while composing their shots? Anyone? It’s something we can only do after the fact, and then go “ah yes, you see how the golden ratio is present in this image?” It’s similar to the English major over-analyzing literary prose: patterns can be found anywhere if you have the time to look for hours at a still image. But do these abstractions help us when we are actually shooting in the field? They don’t.

Now, there certainly are simpler and more readily “functional” concepts out there, the most famous one being the rule of thirds. Honestly, it is more a “suggestion” of thirds at best… definitely not a “rule” of any sort. Though easily applied in the moment, it’s even more arbitrary than mathematical ratios. Why thirds? Why not fourths, or fifths, or sixteenths? It’s a concept that can be used to great effect, but when used for its own sake it misses the point (more on that later).

In the end, it’s a mere shortcut that works some of the time. But why does it work when it does? First, some basic concepts…

An extreme case of ‘tension’ and ‘isolation’ induced by the narrow space and the subject’s position close to the edge of the frame. This is intended to give a feeling of being ‘trapped,’ as a Tokyo office worker might feel.

Some Composition Basics, and I Mean Really Basic

I’m sorry… I just bashed abstract concepts and now I’m going to expound on abstract concepts. Don’t get me wrong, some abstraction and conceptual rules are unavoidable, in particular when discussing composition and framing; however, these concepts should be grounded in the frame of a camera as well as the human perception of images—more psychology than mathematics.

With that in mind, the most fundamental concept of composition (in my opinion, so if you disagree, that’s okay) is very simply put as “less is more.”

About as simple as an image can get.
One can’t help but look at the circle.

What I mean by this is that the simpler a photo is, the more impact is given to the elements that remain in the frame. The simplest image would be a single color, full frame. Bam… you know exactly what to look at because there is only one thing there. It might be boring, but the visual focus is 100% clear to the viewer.

Now add something right in the middle of the frame, perhaps a red circle, smack-dab-in-the-middle. Again, simplicity leads to a perfectly clear understanding of where the eye should rest. Almost anyone presented with the image described above would look immediately at the red circle. This is obvious.

There is one other place in the frame that might have nearly as much impact as the center—the extreme edge, and especially the corners. If we place a circle half-in and half-out of the frame, anywhere along the edge, this circle will very strongly draw the eye’s attention. There is something about “leaving” the frame that is a bit eye-catching, like an itch that wants scratching. It induces tension.

A bit uncomfortable here.
Ah, much better… a sweet spot.

I’ll explain tension in more detail later, but for now, know that one way to introduce “tension” is to put subjects away from the center and towards the edge, especially the corners. And this is why the rule of thirds often works. Those places in the frame where the third lines intersect happen to be at a “sweet spot” between the center and the corners. But there is nothing special about that spot. And it’s only one way of many to introduce tension into a photograph (but more on tension later).

So, in short, simpler images are easier to view. As the creator of the image, we can more accurately predict where the viewer will look. The viewer also has a better idea, or at least a more immediate idea, of what the photo is about. Consider a photo with a single person dead center vs a photo of a many people scattered throughout the frame.

Now, this does not mean that simpler photos are always better (take a look at the fantastic work of Alex Webb for an example of exquisite complexity in the frame). It just means, that when creating complex photos, we have to be careful in how we arrange the various subjects in the frame. To this end, simplicity is a very good starting point.

Isolation in a frame of static and dynamic lines.
Isolation and tension far in the corner.

Story Comes First and Composition Should Serve the Story

Alright, so with that most basic idea out of the way, let’s actually get to the real thrust of this article: the ‘why’ of composition. Composition does not exist purely for itself (at least in most photographic genres). How the photographer composes the frame ought to always be subordinate to the narrative intention of the photographer. I say “ought” because often this is not the case. Photographs can fail when arbitrary rules are applied to the composition without any though given to their meaning.

For example, a common “rule” that is followed without question is having the horizon level. A tilted horizon is blasphemy! It goes against everything sacrosanct in photography, and spirit levels everywhere shudder at the thought of a tilted horizon. Yet, we do not ask “why?” A level horizon affords the photo stability, a static nature. On the other hand, a tilted horizon can imbue the image with dynamism. Neither is good or bad. Both concepts can be considered when telling your story (and there are other ways to imbue a photo with these characteristics).

If we want to portray a mountain as monolithic, immovable, and eternal, then perhaps it should be framed perfectly level (and probably dead in the center). Yet, if our goal is to convey the chaotic motion of a city and give the viewer a sense that the camera itself is moving, then an angled frame can achieve that. Our narrative intent is what should drive our choices when it comes to composition.

Chromatic tension synergized with spatial tension.

Composition with the Story in Mind

Now let’s get into some composition concepts that we can use to help support our intended narrative or feeling for the photograph.

The first concept to consider is isolation. Keeping a subject separated from all other objects in the frame can bring attention to the subject, it can also underscore that the subject is strong, weak, big, small, unique, aloof, or any number of other feelings that might be pertinent to the scene at hand. Subjects can be isolated by being placed on neutral backgrounds (a visual concept called “figure to ground”) but they can also be isolated using distance in the frame, going even to the extreme of placing the subject in the very corner of the frame.

Finally, emphasizing the difference in size of objects in the frame can also evoke a sense of isolation or separation between them.

More static…
More dynamic…

Another narrative concept, which I touched on above, is the idea that objects in the frame can be static or dynamic.

There are a number of ways that an image can appear to be either static or dynamic. Static images tend to have symmetry, straight lines going horizontally or vertically through the frame, and are generally ‘squared’ up with the frame itself. Dynamic images, that is images that convey a sense of motion, can be achieved by implementing diagonal lines, or lines that lead the eye “into” the frame (this being an illusion, since the image is, of course, a flat 2-dimensional surface on which forms are projected).

The short of it is that certain compositions evoke a sense of motion or energy (dynamic images), while others evoke a sense of stability (static images). It’s up to the photographer to decide which one is effective in a given context.

Isolation through position and size.
Tension through proximity.

As I already mentioned above, we also have tension.

Tension can be created in a number of ways; we discussed putting the subject very close to the edge of the frame, or even in the corner. Similarly, putting objects very close together in the frame, but not allowing them to touch, can induce a feeling of tension. Similarly, subjects occupying small empty spaces in the frame evoke a sense of tension (frames within frames). Also, objects apparently moving away or towards each other have this effect.

Finally, once colors come in to play, tension can also be achieved by contrasting colors in a variety of ways. Notice how this concept is related to, or built upon, the previous two (isolation and stasis/dynamism). Once again, how the concept is used is very context-dependent and it can evoke different emotions in the viewer.

A leading line…
… and now with some chromatic tension.

Finally, there is leading geometry. This goes a bit beyond the usual example of leading lines (typically train tracks or something receding into the distance).

Leading geometry is the concept that all of the objects in the image guide the eye in some way. We tend to look at something first, then another thing, then another. Sometimes we ignore certain parts of the frame if they are not interesting. The arrangement of forms in the image, whether it’s mostly geometric or more contextual, guides the eye. It could be the direction someone is walking, or where they are looking, or a brightly colored object that stands out against a monotone background.

Leading geometry, like the previous concept of tension is not easily distilled into a simple idea. It’s something that arises from combining all of the concepts I’ve mentioned above.

And that should be our goal: to combine all of these ideas into an interrelated tapestry of forms and shapes that lead the eye while implicitly conveying feelings and perceptions to the viewer. Of course, not every shot requires all of these things. Some photos can simply be… simple. But some of the best photography, in particular street photography, seamlessly weaves these concepts together. And by doing so, it evokes a particular perception in the viewer’s mind.

Leading geometry and chromatic tension in action, conveying motion and juxtaposition of color.

How to Compose in the Moment

Let’s get into some specific decisions you can make while actually out shooting, starting with a very basic decision as an example: portrait or landscape (orientation)?

It boils down to a matter of context. You should ask yourself this question constantly: “where is the context?” It sounds a bit rudimentary, but I often see my students struggling with this very decision during my workshops. Often, they choose the (in my opinion) wrong orientation because they are focusing too much on the shape of the subject and not the context surrounding it.

For example, a person is often photographed in portrait orientation because people are long vertically. Conversely, cityscapes are nearly always in horizontal orientation because that’s how we generally see the world through our own eyes. But in many cases, the context or juxtaposition for a scene lies in an unexpected direction. We should then make a conscious effort to identify the subject and then choose our framing accordingly.

A mostly isolated subject highlighted by a dynamic leading geometry in the big bold arrow.

This idea of context leads back to the concepts mentioned earlier, which I generally sum up as “leading geometry.” All of these previously mentioned concepts facilitate the viewer’s journey through the frame, creating a hierarchy of forms and subjects that can be absorbed in sequence. To decide how to frame, we must pay close attention to the context, the surroundings, and then decide how to implement isolation, tension, stasis, dynamism, etc. in order to allow the viewer to explore and absorb the subject in its context in a fluid way.

In my view, this is what makes visually stimulating photography.

In the end, all of these ideas cannot decide for you, the photographer, which elements in the frame should be primary, secondary, etc. You must consider leading geometry in your photography, bearing in mind that the ideas should not serve themselves. Rather, they should serve the subjects and context of the scene you wish to capture.

And here’s the kicker: because everyone’s brain is already innately accustomed to interpreting these visual concepts, it is already in tune with them. So, it’s a matter of training yourself to be conscious of them while looking through the viewfinder. The process ends up being much more intuitive and faster than thinking about geometric ratios and other such abstractions. With enough practice, noticing these visual cues becomes second nature.

All subjects placed near the edges of the frame, creating a feeling unease and mystery, while also bringing attention to various details, such as the subject’s hand mysteriously protruding from the top-left corner of the frame.

Inspiration and Further ‘Reading’

It is certainly not easy to infuse photographs with compositions that actually compliment the intended themes of the image. The problem is that photographs can be ambiguous. This is a given, since the images are still and so they lack a temporal context. Of course, when you are creating the images this is less of a problem. You, as the photographer, know the temporal context and can compose with this in mind. The obstacle of ambiguity occurs when analyzing other people’s images.

I find it difficult to always accurately dissect what another photographer intended with their composition. I might find certain patterns that stimulate my perception, but those might not be exactly what the creator had in mind. And so I turn to movies as my inspiration. Feature films contain a narrative that lends context to the moving pictures on the screen. This eliminates a lot of the ambiguity and allows for a more accurate and definite interpretation.

Therefore, as “further reading,” I highly recommend carefully analyzing the next movie you watch. To start you off, I recommend a classic of film noir: The Third Man. This film uses a number of compositional techniques (oblique angles, figure-to-ground, visual tension, leading lines, etc.) to not only compliment the story, but visually imprint the narrative in the viewer’s perception. It’s worth a watch on its own merits, but makes for an invaluable source of visual inspiration.


About the author: Lukasz Palka is a freelancing Tokyo photographer who is the co-founder of EYExplore photography workshops. You can find more of his work on his website or by following him on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. This article was also published here.

How to Age Film for a Distressed Look, or: How NOT to Store Your Film

A few years ago, I saw an article on water-damaged film that claimed the damage was due to bacteria and fungus eating the film. Having a bit of experience with fungus and bacteria from various scientific projects over the years, I thought I would explore this topic. Could I speed up the process? I also wanted to know which film aged the fastest, and was bacteria or fungus really responsible for the damage?

Florida in January 1977 Kodachrome slide film: Left image is before the treatment, right image – aged 7 days at 90F at 100% humidity.

After performing a number of experiments to try to get fungus or bacteria to grow on a selection of film in an incubator, I was able to conclude that neither fungus nor bacteria are responsible for the aging effects seen in improperly stored film. The effects of heat and water acting alone are responsible for some interesting patterns. This process is easy to reproduce and takes about a week.

How to Do It

Place the selected slides in a rack with enough water to cover the bottom, but do not submerse any part of the image on the slides. Seal in an air-tight food container and leave at 90F (32 C) for 7 days. Sealed in the container the humidity will be kept at 100%. An incubator was used to keep a constant temperature and not cycled.

Check the images every day to see how they are aging. When the desired results are achieved, let the slides dry out. It is hard to gauge the full effect of the change to the slide when the slide is still wet. Let the slide dry off to see the full color, keep the film in the incubator checking it every day until the desired pattern is achieved.

Film in holder ready to be placed in an incubator.

To digitize the slides, I photographed them in a slide duplicator with a 105mm macro lens on a Canon 5D Mark III. This was substantially faster than scanning the slides.

The following images are the results of this process.

Kodak Ektachrome Elite 200 from May 1998 has been aged for 7 days in an incubator. This image shows a closeup of the film 8mm wide.
Feeding the sea gulls in Florida in January 1977 Kodachrome slide film: top image is before the treatment, bottom image – aged 7 days at 90F at 100% humidity.
Florida in March 1981 Kodachrome slide film: top image is before the treatment, bottom image – aged 7 days at 90F at 100% humidity.
Kodachrome64 Professional from 1991 aged 7 days at 90F at 100% humidity.

Conclusions

Slides that have large dark areas tend to turn out interesting, as do slides with lots of different areas of bright colors.

Kodachrome creates a dripping/melting pattern and tends to lose contrast.

Ektachrome slides degraded quite nicely, with a dripping,/wrinkle effect.

Ektachrome from 2001 behaved differently than the slides shot in 1991. It appears that Kodak improved the formula since the Ecktachrome from 2001 appears to be more stable in harsh conditions that the earlier samples.

Each frame was a surprise on how it would respond to this aging process.

Recommendation

If you want to keep your slides in good condition, do not store them in high humidity or high temperatures.

The results show that if you are wondering what to do with your old slides that are of questionable value, why not try the distressed look?

If you decide to give this a try, I would be interested to hear about your results.

A few more images from this study are below:

Kodachrome Transparency from 1951 aged 7 days at 90F at 100% humidity.
Kodachrome Slide from July1980 aged 7 days at 90F at 100% humidity.
Florida in March 1981 Kodachrome slide film: top image is before the treatment, bottom image – aged 7 days at 90F at 100% humidity.
March 1981 Kodachrome slide film: top image is before the treatment, bottom image – aged 7 days at 90F at 100% humidity. Here the image has had the saturation increased to boost the color. This effect was added digitally and was not a true representation of the aged slide.
Kodak Ektachrome Elite 200 slide film 1991 topic was polarized ice crystals: aged 7 days at 90F at 100% humidity.
Feeding the sea gulls in Florida in January 1977 Kodachrome slide film: top image is before the treatment, bottom image – aged 7 days at 90F at 100% humidity.
Kodachrome Slide Film July 1980 Holland, – aged 7 days at 90F at 100% humidity.
Kodak Ektachrome Elite 200 slide film 1992: aged 7 days at 90F at 100% humidity.

About the author: Ted Kinsman is the 2019 recipient of the Schmidt Laureate or outstanding contributions to the progress of biocommunications. Kinsman has worked as an optical engineer, a physicist, and a physics instructor before joining the Photographic Sciences Dept. at RIT. He is one of the few active high-speed photographers able to photograph at times less than 1/1,000,000th of a second. Recently, Kinsman’s work has expanded to the x-ray region of the spectrum where he continues to explore imagery for books and magazines. His work has appeared on The Discovery Channel, Crime Scene Investigations (CSI), The X-Files, South Park, The Tyra Banks Show, and The Frozen Planet series. Kinsman is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (SPAS) where he teaches Photographic Instrumentation, Scanning Electron Microscopy, and High-Speed Imaging. His most recent book is Cannabis: Marijuana under the microscope.

Nik Updates Its Plug-In Collection With Extensive Black and White Enhancements

Nik Updates Its Plug-In Collection With Extensive Black and White Enhancements

I reviewed the newly revived Nik Collection in June. It was nice to have the collection back, after Adobe bought it and then let it sit idle. Now it’s been sold to DXO, and it’s compatible with the latest PC and Mac operating systems.

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BPS 058: Confessions of a Hollywood Script Doctor with Peter Douglas Russell

Please Note: Once you press play it will take a few seconds for the episode to start playing. Confessions of a Hollywood Script Doctor with Peter Douglas Russell Today’s guest is screenwriter and Hollywood script doctor Peter Douglas Russell. I wanted to go deep into the back alleys of what Hollywood script doctors actually do…

The post BPS 058: Confessions of a Hollywood Script Doctor with Peter Douglas Russell appeared first on Indie Film Hustle®.

The National Board of Review 2019 Honorees

The National Board of Review (NBR) has announced their 2019 honorees, with top awards including The Irishman for Best Film, Quentin Tarantino for Best Director for Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Renée Zellweger for Best Actress for Judy, and Adam Sandler for Best Actor for Uncut Gems. The organization has also unveiled the NBR Icon […]

The post The National Board of Review 2019 Honorees appeared first on Below the Line.

Unhide Instagram Likes with this Free Browser Extension

The worldwide hiding of Instagram likes has begun, and even if you’re not affected by this “test” yet, it’s likely you will be soon. If you want to avoid this and continue to see your like counts, there is a solution in the form of a free browser extension called “The Return of the Likes.”

The extension was created by Socialinsider for the Google Chrome browser, and it does exactly what you expect: it reveals your Like and Comment stats, even if Instagram has already removed that information from your profile. Socialinsider tells PetaPixel that the extension was created for “social media marketers to have a quick progress view when partnering with other companies, agencies and, especially, when working with influencers,” but it should be handy for anybody who wants access to this data for whatever reason.

Once installed, Like and Comment counts will display below IG photos in both profile view and when you look at individual images:

Of course, doesn’t work within the Instagram app itself, which is a bummer. But if you’re determined to keep up with the Joneses (read: influencers) and you don’t want to lose access to everyone else’s Like and Comment counts, the free extension will definitely help with that.

Socialinsider includes a privacy note at the bottom of the extension’s download page claiming that “No data is sent to Socialinsider servers” when you use this extension, but of course, install at your own risk. To find out more about Return of the Likes or add the extension to your copy of Chrome, click here.

3 Legged Thing announces Legends, designed for both photo and video

3 Legged Thing announce Legends, designed for both photo and video

Pushing the envelope, that’s what 3 Legged Thing has done with tripods, and now the company introduces the most radical departure from conventional tripod design ever developed: Legends.

Make no mistake, this is a family of tripods that both photographers and videographers will be able to use. In fact, it is the first time 3 Legged Thing has introduced products designed for both photo and video. Legends, presented as the the most radical departure from conventional tripod design ever developed, will be equally useful for video makers or landscape photographers. Let’s look at the whole picture, though, to better understand the reasoning behind these new 3-legged friends.

3 Legged Thing announce Legends, designed for both photo and videoModern cameras with higher ISOs give users the – wrong – impression they can leave their tripods behind, but wise photographers know better. Videographers already know that a tripod is essential, but if you’re a photographer trusting the power – and lie – of high ISOs, remember that some of the most iconic images from photographers all around the world have only been possible, because a tripod was used. So, next time you travel, take a tripod with you.

Tripods from British company 3 Legged Thing are traveler friendly, and you’ll find a whole series of solutions waiting for you to choose the one most adequate to your needs. Now, there is a new option, with the Legends series, designed and engineered in Stagsden, England,  a family of the new products delivering, says the company, “unbelievable strength, maximum versatility, and incredible build quality.”

3 Legged Thing announce Legends, designed for both photo and video

The inspiration for Legends

3 Legged Thing tripods usually take their names from famous people. Punks Brian tripod toos its name from the 1979 Monty Python’s film The Life of Brian, as Iggy and The Cradle took its name from rock star Iggy Pop. Similarly, the monopod Alan took its name from Alan Turing, the man behind the techniques that allowed The British and Allies to break the German Enigma code.  The Legends name takes its inspiration, says the company, from skateboarder, musician, photographer, and 3LT Pro Team member, Ray Barbee, the ethos of the Legends range is innovation, outstanding performance, and creativity.

3 Legged Thing’s CEO and Founder Danny Lenihan explains: “With every incarnation of tripods, we bring new and exciting technological advances, and upgrades to existing design and engineering. Legends is a back-to-the-drawing-board look at how we use and need tripods in modern photography and videography, with ideas dating back five years that we had previously left undeveloped. With emphasis on workflow and user-friendliness, we’ve simultaneously lowered the weight, and increased the load-to-weight ratio, without compromising stability or rigidity. We’ve added advanced functionality, the likes of which have never been seen before, and made major aesthetic changes for our most incredible tripod range to date.”

Meet Mike and Jay

Danny continues: “When I first saw Ray Barbee, as a teenager, making his Bones Brigade debut in the Powell-Peralta film, Public Domain, my perception of skateboarding instantly changed. Here was this kid, who had defied normal conventions of neon and garish 80s fashion, and replaced them with a tee, jeans, Vans and a baseball cap. His style was smooth, inimitable, flowing and utterly effortless, and it was this that inspired me most. The parallels between Ray Barbee’s ethos and creativity, and the ideas forming in my head were tangible and quantifiable. I wanted to bring this new range to life, with fluid workflow, effortless movements, and unbounded style. When I mentioned to Ray that we’d like to name a tripod as a tribute to him, he was incredibly modest and humble. I knew then that it was exactly the right thing to do. Whilst the Ray tripod isn’t the first in the range to launch, it is important to understand that the influence and inspiration for the rest of the range, and the three debut products, all stem from Ray Barbee’s commitment to the arts, and I look forward to launching his signature product in 2020.”

The first two tripods in the range are Mike and Jay, 3 Legged Thing’s first levelling-base, hybrid photo/video tripods. Equally useful for video makers or landscape photographers, levelling base systems enable smooth and fast set-ups on challenging terrain. Mike is a full size carbon fibre tripod, designed for incredible stability in any conditions, whilst Jay features shorter carbon fibre legs with more sections, creating a travel-friendly video option, the first of its kind.

Not one, but three detachable legs

Mike is named after one of the original Bones Brigade skateboarders, Mike McGill. Inventor of the McTwist (arguably the most iconic trick ever invented), Mike is one of the most famous skateboarders in the world, and a professional for over 30 years. Jay is named for the late Jay Adams, the Dogtown skateboarder, whose style was inspired by surfing, influencing a whole new generation of skaters.

Similarly, the tripods in the Legends range share this DNA of innovation. These tripods have not one but three detachable legs, adding a level of versatility rarely seen in a tripod system. The legs can be used as a monopod; as boom arms for lights or microphones, or both!

With the legs removed the tripod can be used on table-tops or at ground level by joining a set of 3LT’s tripod footwear to the leg hinges. This enables both Mike and Jay to be used for macro work, bringing photographers a varied range of perspectives from which to shoot. With the addition of 3LT footwear, the levelling base can also be used as a foot stabiliser for a monopod leg, adding an extra level of versatility to the products.

Made of Japanese carbon fibre

The tripods are constructed from 8 layers of 100% pure Japanese carbon fibre, and aerospace-grade, anodised magnesium alloy, providing incredible strength, rigidity, and durability.

The new tripods have 3 Legged Thing’s new Rapid Latch, a hardwearing anodised mag-alloy latch with auto-engage lock, which is used to open and position the legs. The Rapid Latch has been specifically designed to make adjusting the legs quick and simple, even if the user is wearing thick gloves. Rapid Latch is also designed to be friendly to those with disabilities or hand injuries, enabling them to easily change the leg angles without complication or fuss.

Each of the legs can be used at three optimal angles creating different shooting heights, and can be positioned independently for use on uneven ground. The tripods come with removable rubber Bootz, which can be replaced with one of four varieties of alternative footwear, to increase stability on even the most challenging surfaces.

The Legends range tripod leg locks have new external designs with raised O-Pads for improved, grip, leverage and water displacement. Internally, the locks have been engineered with a new design of Chicken Lips (shims) which give the locks greater strength and grip, and formidable anti-rotation.

3 Legged Thing announce Legends, designed for both photo and video

The AirHed Cine

Mike and Jay’s levelling base has a friction control that enables users to finely-adjust the positioning. Both tripods are also available in kits with 3 Legged Thing’s stunning new video head, the AirHed Cine.

Precision milled from aerospace-grade magnesium alloy, and featuring a distinctive spiderweb design, the AirHed Cine has an adjustable, fluid-motion, tilt mechanism that offers smooth movement and can be controlled directly, or with the included panning arm. The arm can be fitted to either side of the head for right or left-handed operation. The AirHed Cine is available with a choice of standard video clamp and plate, or an Arca-Swiss compatible clamp and plate, and features a ¼”-20 thread for externally mounted devices such as articulated arms.

The first two tripods in the Legends range are  expected to be in stores in early December. Mike’s suggested retail price is $549.99 for tripod only, with tripod kit including AirHed Cine SRP of $849.99. Jay’s SRP is $479.99 tripod only, and $779.99 for Jay Kit with AirHed Cine. The AirHed Cine is available separately with a suggested retail price of $349.99.

The post 3 Legged Thing announces Legends, designed for both photo and video appeared first on ProVideo Coalition.

Capture One 20 Brings New Features, Camera Support, and Ease of Use

Phase One has announced the launch of Capture One 20, the latest major version of the popular photo editing software. The release brings a refined design, new processing capabilities, and workflow enhancements, many of which were developed directly from feedback from photographers using the software.

Here’s a rundown of the new and/or improved features found in Capture One 20:

Noise Reduction: “Retain colors and details like never before when shooting with high ISO. With improved noise reduction, start your editing with better quality images.”

Basic Color Editor: “Edit colors faster with a new Basic Color Editor that’s compact and easy to use. Click anywhere on the photo and drag to adjust the hue, saturation, and lightness of any colors – or edit with intuitive sliders. For more control, the Advanced Color Editor and Skin Tone tools are as powerful as ever.”

High Dynamic Range Tool: “Do more with contrast and tone thanks to the new High Dynamic Range tool. Recover highlights, boost shadows, darken the blacks or boost the brightest areas of your photo – all in one tool.”
 

Crop Tool: “Easily visualize and transform your crops thanks to the visible handles in the new Crop tool. Instantly crop from the center, rotate the crop or lock the aspect ratio using modifier keys.”

Image Culling: “Save up to 50% of your keystrokes when sorting images – enable “switch to next” to automatically switch to the next photo when you rate or tag. Works with sets so you can easily review multiple images at the same time and manage big projects in a snap.”
 
Scrolling Tools: “Work quickly and intuitively – scroll through all your tools with ease and pin your favorites to the top for instant access.”

Copy Layers and Masks: “Easily copy specific layers between photos – including photos with different formats and sizes – without replacing the existing layers on the destination photo.”  

Support for DNG Files: “Get the most accurate colors and sharpest details out of any camera model, drone or smartphone capturing DNG files.”

Interface: “Make a big difference to your workflow with small updates. We’ve added text to the icons so you can find tools instantly, made Masking tools easy to access and simplified the adjustments clipboard. Plus, get higher resolution thumbnails and adjust the viewer background color with one click.”

Keyboard Shortcuts: “Edit faster with new default shortcuts for zoom, full screen, Focus Mask and much more. Plus, customize the shortcuts further to create your ideal workflow.”


   
New Camera and Lens Support: “Capture One is offering RAW support for all the major camera brands and provides profiling and image correction support for lenses. As with the RAW file interpretation, Phase One carefully measures the optical characteristics of each supported lens and builds correction algorithms that compensate for the various optical imperfections of various designs. As a result, Capture One can correct for numerous common optical issues such as vignette, and chromatic aberration as needed for each of the supported lenses, providing you the best version of your image possible. And they are always adding support for the newest camera bodies and lenses.”

Here’s a short 1.5-minute video showing some of what’s new in the software:

Pricing and Availability

Capture One is available in different versions depending on what camera you use. Capture One Pro 20 supports cameras from all major brands, but if you use Sony or Fujifilm, there’s also Capture One Pro 20 (for Sony) and Capture One Pro (for Fujifilm).

A perpetual license for Capture One Pro 20 costs $299, and an upgrade to it will cost you $159. The Sony and Fujifilm versions can be perpetually licensed for $129.

If you’d rather pay monthly, you can subscribe to Capture One Pro 20 for $15 a month. The Sony and Fujifilm subscriptions cost $8 per month.

Finally, there’s a 30-day fully-featured free trial that allows you to thoroughly try out the software before you decide to drop money on it.