Are Drones Revolutionizing Photography?

Are Drones Revolutionizing Photography?

Drones have enhanced viewer experiences in a wide range of media, from documentaries to sports coverage. That they have had a massive impact on the film and photography world is undeniable, but have they revolutionized photography?

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Review: addlink S70 SSD NVMe, a 1TB fast drive for the low price of $120

addlink S70

If you want to move from HDD to SSD, consider a NVMe SSD as your best option. The addlink S70 SSD NVMe costs $120, less than some SATA SSDs, and is one of the fastest NVMe drives available.

Moving your data from an HDD to an SSD gives you a boost in speed that will make you wonder why you’ve not taken that decision earlier, because of the way your workflow changes. The next step is NVMe, which is even faster, but prices have kept many of us from moving into that fast lane. Now it is the time to change, I believe, and a first sign of how accessible NVMe drives may be in the future is presented by addlink,  with the S70 SSD NVMe, available in different capacities: 256GB, 512 GB, 1TB and 2TB.

The company from Taiwan, addlink, is not one of those popular names we mention when talking about SSD drives, but its engineers have a decade of experience in the mobile storage industry. The company’s main products are mobile accessories such as mobile phone memory cards, professional camera memory cards, USB drives, dual-use flash drives (MicroUSB, OTG, Type-C, Lightning), and other memory storage devices like SSD and memory for traffic cameras.

Moving from HDD to a NVMe drive

For a while I’ve used a 2TB Seagate Firecuda for data, in my system, but I wanted to move to a faster solution and go beyond a regular SSD, if possible.  I decided that a 1TB drive would be enough for my intended use, but with prices for a 1TB SSD the NVMe kind going to $200 and beyond I could not see myself getting into the fast lane.

Browsing the Internet looking for a solution I found the Intel SSD 660p, which seemed like a good choice. It’s the first Quad-Level Cell NAND, which means that each cell can store four bits of information, more than the other solutions available: Triple-Level Cell (TLC), Multi-Level Cell  (MLC) or Single-Level Cell (SLC). The initial price in 2018 was $200, but the most recent price I saw at Amazon lists the Intel SSD 660p at only $94 for the 1TB version, which makes this, apparently, the most accessible NVMe and a good solution for most users.

The Intel SSD 660p is no match

The Intel SSD 660p is not the fastest NVMe drive around, but it attains respectable 1800MB/s read and write under normal conditions. It does have a problem, though, pointed by different reviewers: when it runs out of cache, it writes little faster than a hard drive. This may not be a problem for everyday use, but the slower speeds than speedy NVMe drives, and the knowledge that your NMVe might go slower than a HDD, do not help the Intel SSD 660p to become popular in a world that always wants more speed.

So, I looked elsewhere for another option. That’s when I found multiple references to addlink and its S70 SSD NVMe. The company offers a solution for gamers, addgame X70, a M.2 PCIe NVMe drive. It utilizes the PCIe Gen3 x 4 interface, meaning four lanes are used for transmitting and receiving data simultaneously, resulting in compelling performance of Read/Write up to 3500/3000MB/s and random Read/Write 500K/513K IOPS.

addlink S70

Is the addlink S70 a good choice?

The addgame X70  from addlink gaming series seems to be the origin of the addlink S70, as the technical specifications are similar. According to the company, “the addlink S70 M.2 SSD is engineered with a RAID engine and LDPC (Low-Density Parity Check) coding, a powerful ECC algorithm, to keep data secure. Manufactured with high-quality flash chips, and engineered dynamic thermal throttling mechanism, the S70 guarantees superior endurance and stability for high-end applications.”

Buying a product from a company that you do not know has some risks, but the comments and reviews online do suggest that the addlink S70 SSD is a good buy, made even better because of the low price it has now. The drive entered the market close to $190 and is now available for some $70 less, that’s $120.  Looking at the Passmark Software data for the best 100 SSD, the addgame X70 has been consistently in very good position, even when compared, price wise, with regular SSD solutions.

addlink S70

Read your motherboard’s manual

Installing the drive was easy, and there is a complete guide to download from addlink’s website. You’ll also find there a FAQ which covers the most common questions. The S70 has a M.2 2280 form factor, so make sure your computer is compatible.  Refer to your motherboard manual to know the best way to add the addlink S70 SSD to your system.

A word of caution: follow my advice and check your motherboard manual before installing the drive. I didn’t, and when the two HDDs in my PC vanished after a reboot, I had to start over, and find the problem. It was easy: READ THE MANUAL.

In my case, with the Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Pro motherboard, due to the number of lanes provided by the chipset, installing devices on the M.2 connectors affects the availability of SATA connectors. My motherboard has two M.2 connectors:  the M2A connector shares bandwidth with the SATA3 1 connector; the M2M connector shares bandwidth with the SATA3 4, 5 connectors. I had to make some changes and finally got things right.

addlink S70

Benchmarking with CrystalDiskMark 6.0

Once installed and after a reboot, the drive was recognized and I was able to prepare it to be used. A quick test with CrystalDiskMark 6.0 benchmarking software gave me results similar to those I’ve seen from other users. This drive is fast. A real world test, loading data that I use on a regular basis, took a little over 90 seconds instead of the almost 4 minutes it took getting the data from the Seagate Firecuda 2TB HDD. The addlink S70 SSD is, no doubt, fast. And the price makes it a wise choice if you feel you need the speed. At the moment, the 1TB represents the best choice, as the 2TB costs more per MB than this version.

addlink S70

Presented as a solution that aims at high-end applications, such as digital audio/video production, gaming, and enterprise use, which require constant processing heavy workloads with no system lags or slowdowns of any kind, the S70 offers “not only fast transfer speeds but unmatched reliability” says addlink. The speed is present. Let’s see if reliability is there, but the five-year warranty is a good indication. I will update this article if something goes wrong.

The post Review: addlink S70 SSD NVMe, a 1TB fast drive for the low price of $120 appeared first on ProVideo Coalition.

The First-Ever Movie Scene with a Total Solar Eclipse as the Backdrop

During the recent total solar eclipse in Chile, professional outdoor photographer Ted Hesser was on hand on an indie film shoot to help do something that had never been done before: capture a movie scene with totality as the backdrop.

Having captured viral photos of a climber in front of totality during the solar eclipse over the United States back in 2017, Hesser was brought in to consult (to help line up the shot) and to shoot still photos for the upcoming indie movie Nomad, directed by filmmaker Taron Lexton.

“The logistics, timing, and sheer blue-collar work required to make this happen was staggering,” Hesser tells PetaPixel. “From positioning, to camera rigging, to rehearsing, to wardrobe, to sound, to moving big boulders in a small rectangle so that the cinema cameras could move freely. It was a huge effort.

“All told it took a team of ten, 3 days of 12+ hours of prep to get it all dialed so that when totality happened, we were ready.”

But even with all that planning and preparation, you still have just a 2-minute window during which the moon is fully blocking the sun to get the perfect shot.

“It still felt like a coin toss as to whether we would nail it,” Hesser says. “Totality was so hectic. During the 2 minutes of totality, we set up 3-4 shots over the length of about a football field, on uneven cactus-strewn land, running in the dark with massive tripods and an Arri Alexa LF camera with a 1500mm cinema lens.

“The camera actually fell off the tripod at one point but was caught or held on to by someone moving it. Basically, all things told, we pulled this shoot off by the skin of our teeth.”

For his still photos, Hesser had to make some split-second adjustments with his camera, Nikon 500mm f/5.6 lens, and 2x teleconverter as totality arrived.

“Murphy’s law in full effect, my tripod actually broke right at totality,” Hesser says. “So I went hand-held in a split-second decision. I also had a 2x teleconverter on a Nikon 500mm f/5.6 prime lens but decided that I wanted to use a higher aperture in the moment to have more striking sun flares. The 2x teleconverter was creating weird artifacts so I took that off rather quickly as well.

“All of this happened while constantly running backwards and repositioning. We were repositioning our actors a half-mile away by radio as well. It was hectic!”

If you like these eclipse photos, keep your eye out for the release of Nomad — Hesser says the scene the crew captured is “one-of-a-kind” and “mind-blowing.”

Instagrammers are Getting Sick After Posing in Toxic Turquoise Lake

It’s been less than two weeks since we reported on the toxic lake in Siberia that has become a popular photo location for Instagrammers. Now, another bright turquoise lake, this time in Spain, is attracting would-be influencers. Except this one is so toxic it’s actually making people very sick.

This particular lake is called Monte Neme, and it’s actually an abandoned quarry connected to a Tungsten mine that was used during World War II. And like the so-called “Maldives of Novosibirsk” in Siberia, the pretty blue hue of the water is caused by chemical contamination.

According to a report by Spanish news outlet Publico, several Instagrammers have gotten very sick after wading into the bright green-blue waters to capture the perfect photo. “More than one has had to be hospitalized for damage to the skin and digestive system after swallowing its turquoise waters,” reports Publico. Another told the outlet they threw up and suffered from a rash for two weeks.

After the report was published, many reacted by posting humorous Photoshop creations and warnings to the Instagram location tag, but the latest posts are back to brooding selfies. Fortunately, none of the latest images show anybody actually bathing in the water, but it’s only a matter of time before these reports fade out of public consciousness and people start wading in once more.

Or maybe people won’t even wait. As one influencer told Publico, the allergic reaction and two-week-long rash was “a little bad, yes, but the picture was worth it.”

(via New York Post)

Apple MacBook Lineup Revamp: Goodbye Function Keys

Apple quietly just did a MacBook lineup revamp: the MacBook is gone, and there is not any MacBook Pro left without a Touch Bar. Although, they introduced a new entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, reduced the price of the MacBook Air and cut the costs for the various storage options. Let’s take a closer look.


Image credit: Apple

Apple MacBook Pro 13-Inch

Apple has just introduced a new entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar. For the same price, this model replaces the previous 2017 entry-level one that still had function keys.


The 13-inch MacBook Pro lineup. Image credit: Apple

In terms of specs, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro features a Retina display, an Intel Core i5 quad-core processor at 1.4 GHz, 8GB of RAM, a Touch Bar with Touch ID, the T2 chip, and only 128 GB of SSD storage. This base model with two Thunderbolt 3 ports retails for $1299; if you need four Thunderbolt 3 ports, you’ll have to jump to the $1799 model.


Image credit: Apple

Goodbye 12-Inch MacBook

The 12-inch MacBook – also known as just “MacBook” – first introduced in 2015 is now gone. It was the lightest laptop available from Apple, even lighter than the MacBook Air. Also, it was the first Mac to feature the butterfly keyboard. We still don’t know why Apple decided to stop the production of the MacBook, as some users are just looking for a small, compact, fanless, and lightweight laptop.


Image credit: Apple

Apple MacBook Air and Storage Price-Drop

The “old” MacBook Air with a non-Retina display and various ports like the SD card reader is also gone. The new MacBook Air that was announced last year replaces it.

This new 2019 MacBook Air now features a  True Tone Retina Display, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, an Intel Core i5 dual-core processor at 1.6 GHz, 8 GB of RAM, a Touch Bar with Touch ID, and 128 GB of SSD storage. Also, there is a $100 price drop on the base model, which is now $1099.

Last but not least, Apple reduced the prices of the various storage options. Prices are now much more affordable – even if they are still relatively expensive – if you want to jump to a 1 TB SSD on every Mac laptops.

What do you think of these Apple updates? Do you think the Touch Bar is useful? Let us know in the comments!

The post Apple MacBook Lineup Revamp: Goodbye Function Keys appeared first on cinema5D.

‘Buy My New Presets’ Said Every Targeted Ad From a Sony Shooter

'Buy My New Presets' Said Every Targeted Ad From a Sony Shooter

We’ve all scrolled past a targeted ad on Facebook or Instagram with a caption screaming for us to buy their new Lightroom or Photoshop presets if we want to take better photos. Is it just me, or does it usually seem these ads are often from folks shooting Sony cameras?

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Aputure 300d Mark II and Aputure Lantern Now Shipping

First shown at NAB 2019, the Aputure 300d Mark II is finally shipping! This Mark II version features a new ballast, a new case, some wireless capabilities, but more importantly, it is 20% brighter than the previous generation. The 300d Mark II is now Aputure’s most dazzling fixture with an impressive 80.000 lux output at one meter. Let’s take a closer look at it.


Image credit: Aputure

Aputure 300d Mark II Features

Aputure announced quite a few products during NAB 2019. These products include some small fixtures like the AL-MC, a compact and portable RGB panel, and the interesting AL-RC lightbulb. On the other hand, some products are larger with significantly more output like the WRGB 300 LED panel, and the LS 300d Mark II, which is the first one to ship yet.

The Aputure 300d Mark II is part of the Aputure Light Storm series of light and replaces the original 300d that was introduced in 2017 and is a massive success amongst indie filmmakers. The smaller brother, the Aputure 120d, already got a Mark II version a year ago, so this 300d Mark II update was much anticipated.


Image credit: Aputure

But, what’s new in this 300d Mark II? First of all, it is 20% brighter than the previous version. If you combine it with the Aputure Fresnel 2X, it can produce up to 80.000 lux at one meter according to Aputure, which is close to a 575W HMI light.

The 300d Mark II is still a 5500K (daylight) balanced light, with excellent color accuracy at 96+ CRI and 97+ TLCI. If you want to compare it to other fixtures available, here is the complete photometric results by Aputure below.


Aputure 300d Mark II Photometrics results. Image credit: Aputure

If you don’t have/need the Fresnel 2X, the 300d Mark II comes with a 55° reflector. The inner shape of the reflector has been redesigned with a new coating to increase the output of the light further.

On the front of the 300d Mark II fixture, there is still a Bowens mount, to quickly diffuse or shape the light beam by attaching lighting modifiers.

The yoke of the 300d “original” is not the best in its class and can be very loose if you attach heavy light modifiers. To solve that problem, they put in the 300d Mark II the same yoke design as found in the 120d Mark II. This new yoke features a robust built-in brake, so once your light is in place, even with a massive light modifier, it won’t go anywhere.


Image credit: Aputure

New Control Box

One of the major complaints about the original 300d is that there are too many cables. There is one cable that connects the light fixture to the control unit. Another one to join the control unit to the power supply. And finally, another cable that connects the power supply to the electric outlet. Plugging all these cables takes time and can be confusing. To me, a light should be as straightforward as possible: if I give it to a gaffer that never used it before, he should be able to figure it out within seconds without having to read the instruction manual. It is not the case with the original 300d.

Also, the power supply had a fan which is not the quietest out there. It is something that could be annoying if you are recording sound. To solve all these problems, the Aputure team went back to the drawing board and redesigned the ballast/power supply unit, as they did with the 120d Mark II.


Image credit: Aputure

The result is a new aluminum control box, which is now all-in-one and silent. The fan has been moved into the fixture, like the 120d II, and we will have to test the light to see how loud this fan is.

Also, to make the 300d Mark II shine, all you need now are the two included cables. There is one standard 3m male-to-female 5-pin XLR, to connect the control box to the fixture, and one 6m NEUTRIK® locking cable to plug the control box to the electric outlet.

You are on location and want to move quickly, or don’t have access to an electric outlet? No problems, you can power the control box and the light with two Anton Bauer or V-Mount batteries. The light draws 340-350W, so make sure your batteries can deliver at least 15-amp continuous power draw. Also, you can use only one battery and still use the light at up to half the output.


Image credit: Aputure

If you don’t want to put the control box on the ground, there is an included military-grade paracord strap. Also, you can attach it directly to your light stand or a speed rail by using Aputure’s new quick release plate and clamp system. If you have a 120d, 120d Mark II, or 300d, you can now purchase a standalone version explicitly designed for your light.

Finally, you can dim the light from 0 to 100% by using one of the four different dimming curves: linear, logarithmic, exponential, and S-Curve.

Control Features

To control the light fixture via the control box, there are various possibilities:

  • Use the built-in control wheel to dim the light or navigate in the menus.
  • The wireless antenna is now built-in the control box. You can use the new 2.4Ghz Aputure wireless remote that features an FX toggle button.
  • The light is DMX-512 compatible so that you can control it via any DMX table.
  • Or use the new Sidus Link App that uses a Bluetooth mesh network protocol.

Indeed, the 300d Mark II is the first app-controllable Aputure lighting fixture. This is pretty cool because you can control the light up to 400 meters away, and you can also link multiple fixtures inside the App. By using the Sidus Link app, you can have access to all of the functions of the control box. Also, you can save your own presets, fine-tune and trigger additional lighting FX, as well as install firmware updates, all from your smartphone or tablet.


Image credit: Aputure

Speaking of lighting FX, the control box of the 300d Mark II features eight built-in FX: paparazzi, fireworks, lightning, faulty bulb, TV, pulse, strobe, and explosion. There is also a new “trigger” button to activate lighting FX instantly.


The new Aputure 300d Mark II’s carrying case. Image credit: Aputure

Carrying Case

The beautiful thing with Aputure lights is that most of them come with a carrying case. The new 300d Mark II is no exception, and it comes with a case made of ABS honeycomb walls with a soft exterior lining that can support up to 100kg. If someones need a break on set, they can seat on your bag, no problems.

The bottom of the case is also covered with a slash-proof material, so your 300d Mark II should survive most of the situations you throw at it.

Inside the box, you’ll find the bag, a strap for the bag, the control box with a quick-release clamp, the 300d Mark II fixture, the two powering cables, the reflector, and the remote with a battery.


The Aputure Lantern. Image credit: Aputure

Aputure Lantern

Aputure is already making some high-quality Bowens mount lighting modifiers for its Light Storm series of lights. For example, there is the Fresnel 2X, the barn doors, the Light Dome and Light Dome Mini, and so on. The good news is, they just released a new lighting modifier: the Aputure Lantern.

The Aputure Lantern is a soft light modifier. This spherical softbox can be set up in seconds thanks to the same type of quick release speed-ring and rods that they use for their Light Dome II/Light Dome Mini II. I bought a Light Dome Mini II, and I can’t tell you how quick and easy this thing is to set up, it’s impressive.


Image credit: Aputure

The Aputure Lantern is an omnidirectional light modifier. It means that it can light an entire room with soft, even light, all from a single light source. Thanks to a 26” spherical design, the Lantern spreads the light in every direction with a 270° beam angle.

If you need more control over your lighting, it also comes with a 4-section fully adjustable light control skirt.


The Aputure Lantern light control skirt. Image credit: Aputure

You can attach the skirts in any direction you want thanks to the hook-and-loop design of the skirts. For example, you can roll the skirt up or down to flag off unwanted light.

Pricing and Availability

The Aputure 300d Mark II is available right now for $1199/1200€ in either Gold Mount or V-Mount versions. The Aputure Lantern is also available now for $89/106€.

What do you think of the Aputure 300d Mark II? Do you already have the first version? Do you believe the Aputure Lantern can be useful for your next production? Let us know in the comments down below!

The post Aputure 300d Mark II and Aputure Lantern Now Shipping appeared first on cinema5D.

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.

Lensbaby Composer Pro II With Edge 35: My First Time Doing Street Photography

Lensbaby Composer Pro II With Edge 35: My First Time Doing Street Photography

Street photography is one type of photography that I’m honestly not brilliant at. It’s different from most kinds of photography, because it’s somewhat difficult to plan. For architecture, I can control most things, and this is comforting, because I know the kind of results I’m going to be able to produce. Street photography, however, is not quite the same.

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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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“I Was Drawn… to the Pure Mystery of It”: Liz Garbus on Her HBO Doc, Who Killed Garrett Phillips?

In 2011 the small town of Potsdam, NY was rocked by an inexplicable atrocity: 12-year-old Garrett Phillips was discovered murdered in his home. The tragedy in turn launched a manhunt, which led to the ex-boyfriend — or rather, one of the ex-boyfriends — of Garrett’s mother Tandy Cyrus being arrested for the crime. Which only led to more questions as this man, Oral “Nick” Hillary, happened to be the beloved soccer coach at Clarkson University. And also one of the few black men in town. Liz Garbus’s Who Killed Garrett Phillips? painstakingly follows the twists and turns that unfolded over […]