Do You Look Like an Ogre in Video Calls? Me Too. Fix It With Simple Tips From Portraiture

Do You Look Like an Ogre in Video Calls? Me Too. Fix It With Simple Tips From Portraiture

With most of us on lockdown to some degree, the number of video calls for work and pleasure have increased exponentially. So, you might as well work out how to make yourself look halfway passable, rather than the cave-dwelling ogre you might without forethought.

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New reference modes for the Apple Pro Display XDR

Apple added specific reference modes to its Pro Display XDR that are designed to cover typical content creation workflows across several media types. What is interesting is that you can also create custom reference modes that are specific to your needs if you are dealing with a particular type of workflow. If you are interested … Continued

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Postlab adds Premiere Pro

With the Coronavirus causing havoc all over the world a lot of us are being forced to work from home. This is where collaboration tools can play a big part. The Hedge team has been hard at work pushing out new functionality for this very reason and they have now made Postlab compatible with Adobe … Continued

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Portraits In The Time Of Coronavirus

We are living in unprecedented times. As a photographer of social events (weddings), individual, family, business portraits and sports, the recent closing of schools and the virtual shut down of our towns and cities—basically our lives as we have known it—has shut everything down.

It is a difficult time for so many and I am grateful that we are here close to family, that all of us are healthy and safe, and also grateful for the people continuing to work like first responders, grocery store workers, truck drivers, delivery services, restaurants doing carry out, and the media for helping keep us informed.

As a former newspaper photojournalist, I’ve been thinking about what I can do with my talents and also how to capture this incredibly historic time in our country’s (and our families’) history. I’ve been photographing professionally for over 35 years and have never seen anything quite like what our country and our world is experiencing right now.

I believe I found a way to do that in a safe and responsible way, following all current CDC social distancing recommendations while creating work that is important, beautiful and a gift to my neighbors.

The Project

To photograph my neighbors on their home’s front porch or through the front window of their house, while we both are applying the current CDC approved guidelines for social distancing.

I’m photographing from a safe distance using a longer zoom lens and creating an environmental portrait of each family. They receive the photographs as my gift, while allowing me to create this work and share it on my website, social networks and in printed materials.

How it Started

I went to my niece and nephew-in-law’s home last Wednesday afternoon, their two girls were sitting in their large front window. My niece stayed in, as did the girls, while Jeremy came out to give me the item I had come to collect.

But that image of the girls at the window stayed at the forefront of my mind.

It was a beautiful scene—poignant and also truly revealing of the time we are in—but I didn’t have a camera with me to photograph it. As is common for photographers, the image that “got away” gnawed at me.

I called them back and proposed that I come back to take a picture. The result is the portrait you see below.

Driving around our beautiful and quiet little town (especially quiet now), I saw the gorgeous homes and realized that I could create some really beautiful portraits of people on their front porch or in their front window, all while keeping a safe distance and respecting the CDC social distancing guidelines.

A great painting by Grant Woods called “American Gothic” came into mind, because it shows a husband and wife in front of an Iowa home. It’s always been one of my favorite paintings, and I want to create my homage to that in these photos.

Ultimately, this project started because it was a story that I felt had to be told for now and for future generations.

There is so much uncertainty and fear caused by not knowing how long this will place our lives on hold. We’re still new in town, without too many clients booked yet, but many of my colleagues have been experiencing far worse situations than me with the loss of income from their weddings. My heart goes out to them.

Personally, my sister and her husband (who live 1/4 mile from us) will not come by to visit — we visit now outside the houses with our dogs while social distancing.

My niece, her husband and their kids who live on the other side of our small town won’t be visiting until this is clear. She is a hairdresser and is not working now because of the shut downs to her industry. Her husband is still working.

My wife and two kids are home and we are social distancing from our neighbors, though we can still chat to them across the fence or from a safe distance. Luckily we are in a neighborhood where many residents walk animals at the evening or are out with family. We all practice safe social distancing.

Nothing like this has been seen in of our modern era. My photojournalism background is clear in the portraits and the drive to do this story.

For the health considerations, I have followed all the current CDC guidelines, keeping my distance and only photographing people who are healthy and have not tested positive with the COVID-19 virus.

In terms of gear, I’m taking pictures with a Sony a7R IV and an a9 II using three lenses: a 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master, a 135mm f/1.8 G Master, and a 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master. I will sometimes use a small Ikea step ladder to raise my height a bit for portraits of people in windows or to help keep the perspective of their home if I’m including the face of it in the portrait.

The project is voluntary and I am doing it pro bono. The subjects will receive the high resolution images for participating. We have talked about doing a book after we get through this time and I think it will be a time capsule for our town and what happened in March 2020 that changed the world.

This is not a project for everyone—I don’t want to either encourage or discourage anyone from doing one of their own. For now, we’ve stopped booking sessions after reaching our goal of 100 families, and have added a wait list so that we can hopefully schedule sessions when the time is right.

Here are some images that I captured before Wednesday 3/25/2020:


About the author: Paul F. Gero is a Wisconsin-based wedding and portrait photographer, videographer, author, educator and Sony Artisan. You can see more of his work and follow his “Portraits in the Time of Corona” project through his website and Instagram.

The Easiest Way to Give Your Images a Fresh New Look

The Easiest Way to Give Your Images a Fresh New Look

One area a lot of photographers can focus their quarantined free time is updating their portfolios. Unfortunately, taking new and fresh photos is probably not part of that process, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t find new images to add to your website or social media stream.

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Would You Make a Film That No One Would See? (Here’s Why You Should)

Creatives define success in many different ways, but I doubt very many would say that it’s making art that nobody ever sees.

As filmmakers, we’re ambitious and have dreams of walking in the footsteps of our great cinematic heroes. We work and toil to become better at our craft, sacrificing everything to get just a little bit better—a little bit closer to our goal of having our films noticed by those we respect.

However, for most of us, these dreams are rarely realized and fail to match the grandiose visions that we have in our heads. We end up making films—in the dark—until eventually, we give up.

But in this video essay, Adam Westbrook explains, through the arduous career of world-renowned painter Vincent Van Gogh, why you should never stop making art, even if you’re the only one who knows you’re making it.

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David Fincher Surprises 450 Students by Crashing Their Zoom Conference

What would you do if David Fincher was your professor for a day?

My favorite times in film school were the chances we had to talk and network with working professionals. Well, imagine if one of those working professionals was none other than the amazing David Fincher?

That’s what a group of students of the United Kingdom’s National Film and Television School got when they logged into their Zoom recently.

David Fincher spent time with them giving a masterclass and cheering up everyone in the room.

Fincher is famously private, so this was a huge get and an incredibly generous move by the filmmaker. The United Kingdom went into lockdown in an attempt to combat the coronavirus outbreak, so sadly this class was solely online.

The school’s director, Jon Wardle, said “It’s been a tough week so we wanted to do something to lift the spirits of the National Film and Television School students…So this afternoon 450 students sat down for a masterclass via Zoom with THE David Fincher. David is a legend.”

In these times of crisis, we all need that glimmer of hope.

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Helpful Tips for Introverted Photographers

Helpful Tips for Introverted Photographers

Watch any successful photographer work, and you will notice that they are either an extrovert or very good at playing the part of one. The simple truth is that many of us are introverts, however, and it can be very difficult for us to work with people. This great video will give you some helpful tips for being a photographer as an introvert.

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This Obstacle Avoiding Drone is So Fast it Can Play Dodgeball

Researchers at the University of Zurich have created a custom drone that’s so good at obstacle avoidance it can play dodgeball. The drone uses a special camera that allows it to react to incoming objects in just 3.5 milliseconds, about 10x faster than anything on the market today.

The new obstacle avoidance system is detailed in this research paper published in the journal Science Robotics.

Basically, the system uses something called an “event camera,” a type of sensor inspired by human vision. Event cameras capture the world in a continuous stream of information, refreshing pixels individually when brightness has changed instead of shooting the whole scene over and over again like a traditional video camera. This allows them to respond in microseconds, making them ideal for capturing super-slow motion footage, as well as scientific applications.

Combining this type of camera with a specially-designed algorithm, researchers created a system that’s able to detect and react to moving objects much faster than anything else currently on the market. As a proof of concept, they installed the system onto an autonomous quadcopter and started throwing various balls at it in mid-air:

“Our resulting algorithm has an overall latency of only 3.5 milliseconds, which is sufficient for reliable detection and avoidance of fast moving obstacles,” boast the researchers. “Our drone was capable of avoiding multiple obstacles of different sizes and shapes at relative speeds up to 10 meters/second, both indoors and outdoors.”

As the paper’s abstract explains, current obstacle avoidance systems “have reaction times of tens of milliseconds.” Their system is about 10 times faster, which would allow a drone to “safely avoid fast moving objects” and quickly navigate “complex dynamic environments.”

It’s not perfect, but the researchers claim their algorithm, “successfully detected and avoided the obstacles thrown toward it more than 90% of the time.” That’s not bad at all, and something we would really love to see in consumer camera drones in the not-so-distant future.

(via Gizmodo)