After Effects Classic Course: Colorama 2 – Tinting

After watching the movie in the previous post, you should now be over your initial shock and fear of Colorama, and understand how it works. Now let’s put it to work, here as a very powerful color tinting tool:

This movie previously appeared in our Insight Into Effects course on Learning. They’ve retired that course from their library, so we’re making the movies from it available publicly for free. Click here for the playlist of previous movies we’ve made available.

The post After Effects Classic Course: Colorama 2 – Tinting appeared first on ProVideo Coalition.

Photographers, Instagrammers: Stop Being So D*mn Selfish and Disrespectful

What does it take to push a farmer to this point? The point where, fed up of thousands of disrespectful photographers, wannabe “influencers” and narcissistic tourists, they feel the only way to get them to stop damaging their business and property, is to damage those people’s photographs?

I guess those visiting the lavender fields of Valensole, Provence, in the south of France, just found out.

I write this, obviously, with a slight tinge of irony – after all, I am a photographer myself so I’m speaking to my own failures too. That said, the growing trend I’ve witnessed over the years has taken some photographers and Instagram users to a new level when it comes to lacking common courtesy and respect.

For some time now, as part of my one week of relaxation each year, we’ve visited the south of France to unplug, de-stress, and enjoy the world without a camera. As many of you will know, I’m often frustrated by our seemingly insatiable desire to record every single moment of life on a digital sensor, and this has become my haven to avoid that behavior for a brief spell every summer.

Provence is, or was, a relatively untouched corner of the world when it comes to fad-influences – and for that, I hold it in special regard. No, the Internet doesn’t always work very well. Yes, you still get woken up by cockerels and church bells far too early each morning. No, there are no elevators to your 3rd floor room (in the old farmhouse building or castle). Yes, everything comes with wine (and as a bonus, some of it’s actually quite good!)

This trip would be different, however – having seen the beauty of the countryside we often travel through “off-season”, and spending time at the L’Occitane head office – I decided (for once) to bring my camera equipment and capture the lavender fields in full bloom.

With a car full of gear, we pulled up to a spot I’d noticed last year just after harvest, expecting to see a few other photographers, given that all signs pointed towards a good sunset.

What I found, however, was truly shocking:

  • Cars dumped, strewn all along the roadside, blocking traffic with people darting in and out across the road.
  • Mobile wardrobes (with 5-6 outfit changes) being transported into the farmer’s private land for a fashion “shoot”.
  • Photographers with step-ladders to get higher up, trampling and crushing the rows of lavender which had been cared for all year.
  • People picking (yes, another word for stealing) huge bunches of lavender from the farmer’s fields for their photoshoot, and ultimately, to take home.

And all this occurring INSIDE the fence that the land owner had clearly erected to keep people out.

I set up in a quiet area, still shocked at the scene right before my eyes – and shot one field from the roadside.

The second I’d managed to capture just 1 frame, a small wave of photographers and self-styled “models” (ahem) then de-camped from their original (now trashed) spot to join me — but not to photograph the field respectfully or politely, as I was, from the edge of the road…

No, they’d “discovered” a view of an empty field – which would obviously be improved with just one small change: THEY needed to be IN it.

This year, global tourism has officially hit an all-time high. I get it, I really do. The days of expecting a quiet little corner of the world have well and truly gone, thanks to the “power” of social media and the suggestion that’s now lodged into peoples’ minds – that to win at life, you have to see every corner of the world as quickly as possible, and prove it.

But this was crazy. And rude. And selfish. And utterly, disgustingly, narcissistic.

These weren’t people wanting to enjoy the view – or even capture the scenery to share and enjoy well into the future with friends. These are people so obsessed with their own sense of self-importance for the sake of a few instant “likes” on their social media profile that they find it perfectly acceptable to trespass, steal, disrespect the workers and their land – all in the name of “influencing”.

Which explains the sheer frustration that was evidenced by the workers’ next move (which, for clarity, I massively respect them for doing).

Slowly, an hour before sunset, a tractor and cherry-picker made its way towards “the tree” at the end of the rows. The tree that everyone had been focused on, the tree that “made the shot”. Not to harvest, but to unveil…

…their sign. A PLEA, to those who were trampling their hard work, produce and land.


Did it have the desired effect? No, of course not.

They left it hanging there, presumably all night.

A few photographers got angry, muttered to themselves, shifted their composition, then restarted. Most just continued on as if the sign wasn’t there. So self-absorbed in their own bubbles, the plight of these landowners was simply ignored in the name of “getting the shot”.

They’d damaged the land. They’d stolen the owner’s products. They’d ruined the fields that had been tended to with hard work for months. But even the farmer’s final attempt to put and end to it wasn’t enough – they wanted more.

Out came the silk scarves, the props, the fake wedding dresses surrounded by visiting Chinese photographers and assistants (with visas to be working there commercially? I wonder…)

The selfie sticks, the straw hats, the make-up artists, the wardrobe changes – and then, finally, the uploads.

Thousands upon thousands of uploads. Not of the stunning scenery, the beauty of the lavender fields and sunflowers in full bloom for this brief season each year. No, the uploads of ME. Me, me, me, me, me – that’s what the 4.9 million #lavender posts demonstrated as I looked through peoples’ feeds:

Me, myself, and I.

The Instagram Generation

Those who know me, know well my opinion of the “Instagram generation” that we’ve sadly become – but this has now spread further, to those who claim to be a part of my “profession” too.

I saw the same behavior from a ton of landscape photographers, equally disrespecting the land, the scenery and the people of this region. As photographers, we have the privilege of capturing some of the most stunning locations across the planet – but also the responsibility to look after the world before our lenses as we share those views with people far and wide. These “photographers” showed none of that care or respect. From my single afternoon’s observation, it was clear that the world has, quite frankly, completely lost its manners.

And please, let’s stop wrapping things up in claimed ignorance or the constant cries of “oh, sorry, I didn’t know”…

STEALING large bunches of lavender from a farmer’s field is not “cute”, it’s not a “memento”, it’s not “helping to put the place on the map” – it’s THEFT, following a spell of TRESPASS onto that owner’s land.

That owner, who has invested time, money, energy and their lifetime’s ambition to grow a business selling lavender; you then believe it’s your right to trample, take and ruin for your own selfish gains.

We left, saddened by what we’d witnessed – even for that short period of time. I decided I didn’t want a shot of the lavender fields after all, certainly not at that cost to the local region. But then it got me thinking, remembering, Provence isn’t alone in its plight.

That Wanaka Tree

Rewind back 6 years or so ago, and I recall standing in almost perfect solitude – in awe of how amazing this solo willow tree looked against the mountains that surround Lake Wanaka in New Zealand.

I wasn’t the first to shoot it, and certainly not the last, but over a span of a couple days, I managed to get a shot of how serene this location was – so calm, so contemplative, so naturally beautiful. It was nice to just sit there for a while too, without a camera, just appreciating the place for how incredible it looked in every direction.

…and then fast forward only a few years, to find the reality of the invasion of photographers who each want their own piece of the scene, each trying to out-do each other in position, style, and how far forward they can get.

Above image courtesy Eddie Spearing

From a beach with a few locals walking through each evening, to now, what has become a honeypot for crowds of photographers getting in the way every “golden hour” – being rude to locals and passers by who are “in their shot”, believing they own the view (hint: NOBODY owns a view).

The Asian wedding photography boom has equally hit Wanaka – with brides hanging in this poor old water-bound tree, without a care for its ability to withstand their grappling stance, all to “get the shot”. I’ve seen that beach left littered with new filter wrappers, bits of tape, trash from camera bags and water bottles – the second the light has gone and the interest from those groups has faded.

I’ve seen photographers edge further and further into the water – ruining the view for others, shouting at kayakers who “dare” to exercise their right to paddle around the lake while drifting into their shot, and even making a point of ruining the scene for everyone else if they can’t get their own way.

(Yes, that’s a photographer who decided to camp out in the tree because he couldn’t get “his spot”. If he couldn’t get the shot, then “nobody would”…)

And the saddest part? As photographers…


Our responsibility as photographers used to be simply rooted in respecting the land and the world we captured. That needs to change.

For those who don’t already, they need to learn respect – for other people, for the planet, for the towns we visit, for the scene itself.

For those who already do, we need to promote the right behaviours and publicly call out those which are completely inappropriate around the world.

For instagrammers, and wannabe “influencers” – learn that there are people on the planet who might not be interested in YOU. They might want to see the view without you in it. They might even want to just sit and enjoy a scene without a camera (shock!). While it’s easy to get wrapped up in this stuff online, they have every right (or maybe even more) to enjoy a place without it being ruined by your need to be “liked” by people you’ll never meet.

Danger – Stay Off The Ice!

That’s not a pointless instruction designed to annoy tourists who visit Iceland’s famous iceberg lake – Jökulsárlón – it’s a requirement for everyone’s safety. The water in this lake can move fast when it wants to, ripping tonnes of ice through a narrow straight, breaking it up into chunks before heading directly out to sea.

Those who risk standing on these floating marvels are not only putting their own lives in danger, but also those of the locals who feel obliged to help rescue them when it all goes wrong. I lost count at how many warning signs are placed around the entire lagoon, and yet still we see wedding shoots, “fashion”(ish) shoots and risk-taking selfies all determined to ignore them.

Sharing the achievement – “standing on the floating ice” (whether faked or not) – to “fans” around the world only exacerbates the problem, as each new batch of visitors insists on trying to out-perform the last. For some, in even more dangerous ways – for others, in a way that’s literally ruining the view for everyone else.

And all in the name of a selfie, or a “like”, or to get one more rung up the ever-important ladder of worldwide “influencer rankings”. Well, for those who insist on putting themselves, and the lives of others, at risk – here’s a special ranking that really didn’t need to exist before this behaviour became mainstream:

That’s right – it’s the Wikipedia list of selfie-related injuries and deaths. I wonder if we were able to ask those on that list, or their parents, their loved ones, “so, was it worth it?” – just what the answer would be.

The Fun Police

As I said at the outset of this post, writing this has been a real challenge – at the core of the issue, I am equally part of the problem. I share images from places I go to around the world, and have no more right to enjoy visiting those places than anyone else.

But that’s just it – I have no more, nor less, right to enjoy the view.

The view I came to see, that is, not a view of yet another fake straw hat being held onto a head in non-existent wind as someone pretends to look wistfully out into the sunset.

Instagrammers: When did it become unacceptable/impossible to simply appreciate the scene before your eyes? When did the requirement for every view to have you IN it become law? This obscene level of narcissism is infectious, disturbing and quite frankly, unhealthy.

Photographers: Jostling, pushing, shoving, to “get the shot” without care, courtesy or respect for your fellow visitors is a disgraceful thing to see. We should be respecting the view, and those who have come to enjoy it with us. If you’re running a workshop, that includes ensuring the rest of your group behave in the right way too.

Ticketed Locations: Stop being so greedy. Yes, there is clearly a temptation to maximise profit if you have a scene that’s the current “hot shot”, but allowing such levels of overcrowding in tiny tourist hotspots is irresponsible to say the least.

Private Land Owners: SORRY. Sorry, for all those times you’ve been violated, trespassed, stolen from. Sorry, for all those times people show absolutely no respect for the piece of the world that you’ve worked so hard to enjoy. And sorry, on behalf of those who can’t be bothered to show you the common courtesy that you deserve – as sadly, I doubt you’ll ever hear those words from them.

The lavender fields of Provence, “that Wanaka tree” in New Zealand, Iceland’s amazing glaciers, the ancient temple of Angkor Wat – we’re trashing the wonderful world that’s our temporary home for the sake of what? A few virtual “likes” from strangers who couldn’t care less about you mere seconds after scrolling up by a few pixels on a tiny screen.

Enjoy The View

Seemingly gone are the days of recording a MEMORY of a time and place with a quick snap of some friends or family members. Instead, we’re faced with contrived, bile-inducing, self indulgent recordings of ridiculous egos which remain unmatched by their owners’ care for the environment and others around them.

People now seem incapable of appreciating the scene before their eyes – thinking instead that it will be improved by them stood in the middle of the image in that straw hat and floaty dress they’ll likely return to a poor retailer later that day, all for the sake of achieving “internet fame”….

Wouldn’t it just be nice to appreciate the view?

That’s right: The vista, the scenery – a “view” without a “you”.

Just one final thought:

Maybe we could all consider replacing our front-facing cameras with some inward-looking reflection? Every now and then, at least…

About the author: Paul Reiffer is a fine-art landscape, cityscape, and commercial photographer based in England. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Reiffer is a Phase One and SanDisk ambassador as well as a National Geographic contributor. You can find more of Reiffer’s work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

What Are Anton Chekhov’s Six Rules For Writing Fiction (and Scripts)?

We know about Chekhov’s gun, but what are his six rules for writing fiction, and how do they apply to screenplays?

If you want to be a screenwriter you have to sit down and write. No amount of rules or strategies will help you. But if you want to procrastinate and need a kick in the pants to get going, Anton Chekhov has a few tips for you.

Chekhov is famous for his gun, but he also spent a lot of time writing letters to his brother. They’d talk and talk about life, writing, and writing tips. These letters were grouped into a book you can find on Amazon or in a library. Anton Chekhov’s Life and Thought: Selected Letters and Commentaries (public library).

The point is, in an 1886 letter to his brother, Aleksandr, Anton wrote a checklist about what he thinks makes great fiction.

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Amateur with Fuji GFX 50R Takes On Pro with Google Pixel 3

The folks over at popular tech channel Linus Tech Tips recently did something fun. They combined your standard Amateur vs Pro photography challenge with the Pro Gear vs Smartphone trope to answer a different kind of question: Can a rote amateur with an expensive camera beat a professional who’s using only a smartphone?

For this video, the amateur was Linus himself, and the professional he’s pitted against is Linus Tech Tips cinematographer Brandon Lee. The duo competed in 5 challenges:

  1. Action/Sports Photography
  2. Editorial Fashion Photography
  3. Dog Food Photography
  4. Professional Headshot Photography
  5. Pre-Natal Couples Photography

Each challenge had specific criteria that the resulting photos would be judged against, and in case that last challenge topic doesn’t give it away, some shenanigans ensued…

We won’t give away the ending, but suffice it to say Brandon and his Pixel 3 put up a very good fight against the medium format GFX 50R and Linus… who started the day trying to figure out if the lens he was using was a zoom lens or a prime.

Does gear trump skill? Can Linus figure out how to focus the GFX? If you have half an hour to kill and you want a bit of photo-themed entertainment today, pop some popcorn, click play up top, and find out.

(via Reddit)

Scripted Television Production in Los Angeles

Increasingly driven by the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program, Scripted television production remains a bright spot in the L.A. production picture. In the latest quarterly data from FilmLA, on-location filming within that jobs-rich sector increased while feature, commercial and reality TV production decreased. In the second quarter of 2019, 51.7 percent of local […]

The post Scripted Television Production in Los Angeles appeared first on Below the Line.

Aputure’s New Lantern is Super Affordable and Sets Up in Seconds

Aputure is now shipping their Lantern Softbox, a rugged unit for getting soft light where you need it.

One of the most popular low-budget lighting tricks is the simple soft ball light, often called “china balls,” available at many hardware stores.

The large ball creates a nice soft light, but the drawback has traditionally been mounting and durability. You needed ceramic sockets to put in a powerful bulb, but the paper units frequently tore in the truck, and they were hard to point in the direction you wanted to go.

We started to see “fixed” soft ball lights around 15 years ago, that provided a silk instead of paper, a fixed metal frame, and could mount on the front of your light to offer the benefits of a ball light without the drawbacks.

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Zhiyun Unveils Cheap, Compact Crane-M2 Gimbal for Compact Cameras

Earlier today, Zhiyun added a lightweight, affordable, compact gimbal to their Crane lineup. Called the Crane-M2, the small 3-axis gimbal is targeted at travel shooters and vloggers who want to capture the smoothest possible footage with their compact camera, smartphone or action cam.

The Zhiyun Crane-M2 announcement comes less than a week after DJI revealed the lightest new addition to their Ronin lineup, but the M2 isn’t going to compete head to head with the Ronin-SC. The Ronin is meant for mirrorless ILCs like the Canon EOS R or Sony a7 cameras, while the Crane-M2 is targeted at much smaller cameras.

With a weight limit of 1.59lbs or ~0.7Kg (according to Adorama) it’s not going to hold most mirrorless cameras; even lightweight options like the Sony a6400 are going to start bumping up against that weight limit once you add a lens. But if you’re shooting with Sony’s popular RX100 series or your favorite smartphone, the Crane-M2 promises to provide performance that rivals any other compact gimbal on the market.

It’s lightweight and compact at just 500g, features an OLED display for a quick read of your settings, boasts 7 hours of battery life and USB-C charging for additional runtime out in the field, and uses built-in WiFi and Bluetooth to let you control your camera wirelessly through the gimbal handle once you’ve paired them via the ZY Play smartphone app.

Finally, the Crane-M2 features a locking pin that lets you lock all three axes with a single thumb screw, and a newly designed quick release plate that makes attaching your camera and keeping it balanced as simple as possible.

Here’s a quick feature breakdown from Zhiyun that dives into each of these a bit more thoroughly:

It seems the Zhiyun Crane-M2 is for those people who think that DJI didn’t go far enough when miniaturizing the Ronin-S into the Ronin-SC.

One of the common complaints we saw in first impressions videos about the Ronin-SC is that it was too small to work properly with many camera and lens combinations—once balanced, the camera would bump up against the rear motor. The Crane-M2, by comparison, doesn’t even try to go there. A lightweight mirrorless camera will technically work on this system, but it’s really meant for smaller setups.

To learn more about the Crane-M2, head over to the Zhiyun website. The lightweight little gimbal is already available for pre-order for $270. Some retailers are currently listing the eventual retail price as $450, but this seems to be a mistake. According to Zhiyun, the Crane-M2’s full retail price is $270.

Photos of Sandhill Cranes Raising a Baby Goose

This spring, here in Michigan, something quite unexpected happened. It started out as it always does in early April, with the sandhill cranes preparing their nest. A week later, they laid their first egg and then a second egg appeared. The devoted parents incubated both eggs and in early May the first egg hatched. This is where the unexpected turn occurred.

Much to everyone’s surprise, this first chick was the gosling of a Canada goose! The parents adopted this gosling and cared for it as if it were their own.

A few days later, the sandhill crane colt hatched. Under the watchful eyes of the adult cranes, the two chicks bonded and developed further with the adults teaching both chicks how to find worms and other typical crane food.

The baby goose was like… “you want me to eat what?!?”

The sandhill crane colt shows the Gosling how it’s done.

The baby goose and mother have a long talk about things.

He also had a discussion with his brother about the situation.

But in the end, the little guy caught on pretty well! Everyone was so proud!

It is now Mid-June and we are happy to report that the entire family is doing very well.

About the author: Steve Gettle is a nature photographer based in Brighton, Michigan. He has won multiple awards in the BBC’s prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

Canon Files Patent for Barndoor-Style Lens Cap Mechanism That Is Permanently Attached

Canon Files Patent for Barndoor-Style Lens Cap Mechanism That Is Permanently Attached

There are two types of photographer: those who utilize their lens cap, and those that don’t. Canon now seems set to make this a thing of the past, as it has patented a barndoor-style lens cap design that folds open when shooting, and shuts to protect the lens when not in use.

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Aurora Aperture introduces a revolutionary filter system for mirrorless mount adapters

Irvine, California, July 15th, 2019 – Aurora Aperture Inc. today has introduced a revolutionary filter system, the Aurora Aperture Adapter Mount Format (AMF) filter for Read more…

Losing My Photography Mojo and Finding It Again

On the way out of the Terai Plain in Nepal, I stopped in the town of Janakpur. The town has a beautiful temple and I was all geared up to shoot some nice stuff. But as I wandered around, I could not “see” any images despite a religious ceremony that was taking place at the time of my visit.

This visit to Janakpur came after back-to-back assignments in a sad location in Bangladesh (the biggest brothel in the world) and a poor village in Nepal for Save the Children. Daily temperature in both places was ranging between 36-40°C (96.8-104°F) with sky-high humidity. The result was that I lost my eye for images and the appetite to take them.

I got myself a cold Lassi, the best I ever had, took a flight back to Kathmandu and, after serving my addiction for coffee, decided to give myself a challenge.

First, I would have two days without a camera of any sort, not even a mobile phone. I was going to settle down in a coffee shop to retox and defrag.
Second, I would do one day of photography with one camera and one lens. No tripod, no flash.

Obviously the lens could not be a 24-240mm or anything of a sort — it had to be a fixed focal lens. To make things hard, I decided to use the 35mm f/2.8 that I had with me.

“Why hard?” you may ask yourself. I am not used to a 35m lens and I do not particularly like that focal length.

So after a couple of days of heavy coffee drinking, I had a driver waiting for me at a ridiculous hour in the morning to start shooting with the plan to finish when there are no people left on the streets.

I know Kathmandu relatively well so I knew what I wanted when it came to locations.

At the same time, I did not want to replicate images I had shot in my previous visits shooting for both Sony and Nikon. That would be just like coloring-in rather than drawing.

My aim was to avoid the tourist traps and catch as much of the local life and activity as I could.

Fortunately, Nepal is a nation of festivals, so it happened that a minor Hindu festival was on the day that I was shooting. I’ll be the first to admit that my understanding of the ins and outs of both Hindu and Buddhist religions is limited at the best of time, so my photo taking and selection of the devotional images are based on visual merits only.

To start with, it was hard to set my mind to the focal length of 35m. I use 24m as my lens of choice for this kind of photography and 35m is quite a bit narrower. In real terms, it means that when you look at a scene and think you are standing in the right place for the perfect framing, when you put your camera to your eye, you find that it is much narrower view than expected.

Sometimes it’s easy to fix by moving a few steps backward. But at other times, when you anticipate a moment and bring the camera to the eye just when shooting and for confirmation of composition, that narrower focal length can be a real pain in the backside.

My friend in Kathmandu told me about a particular candle ceremony, focussed on fertility, that women participate in that was to occur on the morning I started the shoot. So I started there.

Early morning ceremony in a temple dedicated to fertility. In a poor country fertility clinics are hard to come by and praying is the only hope.
The wizard of Kathmandu. This boy is warming up in next to a ceremonial fire. He looks a bit like a Disney type of young wizard…

From there we drove to Boudhanath, a mostly Tibetan temple with Tibetan monasteries surrounding the main stupa. The sun was just coming up and it gave an opportunity to get some faces with low sunrise light.

Boudhanath temple in the morning is a great place to photograph people praying. This part of Kathmandu have a strong Tibetan presence and it shows in the faces and costumes.
Most main Temples in Kathmandu are both active place of pray and tourist hotspots. It is interesting to see the different culture approach to the same location. In this case, two Tibetan women show their devotion at Boudhanath temple while a tourist take a selfie. Funny thing about selfies, you always face away form what is interesting….

After the sun was well up we drove to Buktapure. The town is famous for its traditionally made pottery. This small satellite town’s monuments were badly damaged in the earthquake of 2015. because of this, there are fewer tourists and more traditional craftwork. This is reflected in the images I took.

On the edge of Buktapure I saw this woman separating grain /husk. I like the use of technology, the fan to the right, but would not go anywhere near the exposed electricity wire that run to it.
I took this shoot with camera to the side of my hip using Eye AF to get the focus. This way I keep the moment candid.
There are plenty of people practicing traditional handcrafts in Buktapure. These are not for tourists to buy but for local use. I shoot both these images with the camera away from my eye to conceal the moment the shot was taken. This way I capture a natural moment in time rather than people reacting to the camera. Focusing was done with Eye AF.
There are plenty of people practicing traditional handcrafts in Buktapure. These are not for tourists to buy but for local use. I shoot both these images with the camera away from my eye to conceal the moment the shot was taken. This way I capture a natural moment in time rather than people reacting to the camera. Focusing was done with Eye AF.

As the sun climbed higher in the sky, I returned to the old streets of Kathmandu city and stayed there for the rest of the day.

I saw this boy in one of the many courtyards old Kathmandu have. He was very proud of his bike and I asked if I can take a picture. He was more then pleased to model for me.
Late in the evening in Durbar Square. There was a lot of candle burning and praying but no one could properly answer what exactly was it all about. The best explanation I received was “one of many festivals!”.
On a dark narrow street that surround Durbar Square. A street vendor waiting for people to come back from their prays and have a snack on the way home.

After 11pm, If I was going to get any kind of people photography done it was going to have to be a selfie. The streets were empty. So I stopped and enjoyed a sweet tea with a local sadhu (holy man). It was a very good way to end a very busy day.

In terms of techniques, I used everything in the book, from anticipating a moment to asking. It was a great opportunity to sit with people and chat while sneaking a frame here and there. I enjoy socializing with people so for me the later part, the chat, was the fun part

And for gear, I shot with the Sony a7R II and the Sony 35mm f/2.8 ZA. I have respect for this combination, it works on many levels as it is very light and very small. This combination allowed me to wander about incognito, gear-wise. Taking advantage of those unguarded moments. It was also easy to carry for many hours without getting tired.

Did this exercise fix my “photographer’s block” and put me on the right path to happiness?

Yes. I remembered that I really enjoyed photography just for the sake of creating images, without any overhanging need to satisfy a brief from a client. Taking a break and setting a new challenge had re-calibrated my photography mojo. I was back in the game.

Will I do it again? Absolutely. I am planning a new challenge in an area that is not my usual provenance, or more to the point, an area in which I have no talent at all: a landscape project. Will see how it goes…

About the author: Giora Dan is a New Zealand based commercial and documentary photographer and educator. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Dan has produced images for Panasonic Japan, Sony Asia Pacific, and Nikon Asia as well as geographic magazines and NGOs. More of his work available on his website and Instagram.

Wacom launches budget-friendly Cintiq 22 pen display

Wacom has launched the Cintiq 22, a large-screen addition to its Cintiq line of pen displays. Pen displays are basically external monitors that you can draw on and at $1200 the Cintiq 22 is one of the more affordable options.

The 24-inch model in Wacom’s own pro-oriented Pro series would set you back more than double, $2500, and pricing goes up all the way to $3300 for the 32-inch version. Of course for less than half-price you’ll have to make some compromises with the Cintiq 22. Its slightly smaller screen only offers a Full-HD resolution versus the Pro’s 4K pixel count. The screen also isn’t laminated, resulting in slightly more parallax, and it only covers 72% of the NTSC color gamut. The Pro guarantees 98% of the AdobeRGN color space.

In addition, with the Cintiq 22 you’ll have to pay extra if you want Wacom’s ExpressKey Remote. Still, for a pen display from a reputable manufacturer like Wacom the Cintiq 22 offers good value for money and might just be the right option for amateurs and enthusiasts who can live without top-end performance. More information about the Cintiq 22 is available on the Wacom website.

eBay Scam: Buyer Steals Camera by Pretending to Receive Wrong Product

When it comes to selling your used camera gear online, many consider eBay to be one of the safer options. But as one photographer found out recently, there’s a new scam that gets around eBay’s “protections” and could cost you thousands of dollars and your camera gear.

Liz Moughton—a photojournalism intern who has worked at the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and more—shared her story with PetaPixel last week.

Back in mid-June Moughton sold her Sony a6500 with 18-135mm lens on eBay for $1,400. At first, everything seemed to go fine. The buyer paid through PayPal and the package was delivered. Then, the scam artist did something we’ve never heard of before: he asked to return the camera for a full refund because “apparently” what Moughton send him was an older Sony NEX-6 with a 20mm lens.

“In reality, he simply took my camera out of the packaging box, put his inside, took photos and sent them to eBay as ‘proof’ that I’d sent him the wrong product,” Moughton tells PetaPixel.

What Moughton sent:

The photos the eBay buyer submitted as “proof”:

When Moughton saw this, she reached out to eBay to warn them that this could be fraud, and asked that the refund be declined.

“I asked them if they could investigate the buyer, but they said no because they had to follow their procedure,” says Moughton. She begged them not to go through with the return/refund to no avail. “The buyer returned the Sony NEX-6 camera. (It was of similar size and weight so I didn’t bother trying to get USPS involved because shipping had gone smoothly.) eBay refunded him $1,400. The case was closed.”

What followed was hours upon hours spent on the phone with eBay, PayPal, the bank, and the police, trying to get her money back and convince eBay to just look into this rather than believing the buyer outright.

eBay had promised that “if the buyer returned a camera different from what I listed, then they would refund me,” but when she sent them pictures of the different camera, they repeatedly denied her claim.

I requested to re-open the case with my new photos proving that I received a camera different from what I listed. I heard nothing for several days, so I called again. eBay asked for a police report. I got a police incident report, and the officer said they don’t deal with online shopping at all but that he would be happy to speak to eBay for me. I sent it in.

I heard nothing for several days, so I called again. This time they asked for an affidavit. I filled that out and sent it back. No word again. I waited a few days and called in. This time the person on the phone told me my case had been denied for the second time. They didn’t even bother to contact me to tell me that.

After 45 more minutes on the phone, she learned that the policy at eBay is to review these cases based only on written documentation. “They never talk to the seller or the buyer on the phone,” she tells PetaPixel. “I begged [eBay] to investigate the buyer, but [they] said it’s not in their policy to do so.”

In other words: this scam works like a charm, because neither eBay, nor PayPal, are willing to investigate a case unless the buyer opens it.

As a last resort, she turned to social media, posting the story to Facebook and Twitter in the hopes that it might pressure eBay to do the right thing and at least look into this case further.

This, finally, worked. After her posts began to receive some attention, eBay contacted her on Twitter and Facebook saying that they’d re-open the case for the third time. Shortly thereafter, they refunded her the 10% seller fee of $140, and the entire $1,400.

“I honestly feel bad that eBay was caught in the middle of this and is probably suffering the financial loss from the refund,” Moughton tells PetaPixel. “I appreciate them finally coming through for me, and I understand how complicated it can be to review cases like these. I just don’t understand why it is in their policy not to protect sellers.”

As for the future, she says she’ll be extremely careful if she ever sells anything else online in the future. “If I ever sell online, I will package the item at the post office and have someone video record me packing it up and handing it off to USPS,” says Moughton. “Or I will only sell in person.”

If you’re a regular eBay users or are considering selling your used gear through the website, beware this new type of scam. It seems all it takes is an old camera, a few pictures, and the willingness to tell a bald faced lie (something scammers rarely have an issue with…) for someone to practically steal your camera right out of your hands.

Credits: Photographs and story by Liz Moughton, shared with permission.

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