Tag Archives: photography

LUMIX Gh4: Capturing Stills from 4k video

LUMIX Gh4 Camera

LUMIX Gh4

Recently, I tested a Panasonic LUMIX Gh4 with two important features that affect how still photographers will be capturing images in the near future. Firmware now offered by Panasonic for the Gh4 makes it possible when shooting 4k video to set any shutter speed for each video frame.

The LUMIX Gh4 also is a WIFI hub and the Jpg images taken by the camera can be transferred to a smart phone immediately for distribution.

I put together a two and a half minute video that graphically shows how it all works. It can be found here.

Hi Res Hockey Still

8.5Mb Still at 1/1000 sec.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took the LUMIX Gh4 to Disney World where, as an experiment, I shot only 4k video. I selected a number of frames that I extracted as stills for illustrations in my monthly newsletter.  Sign up on this page. I have included several other successful images below.

Ballon Pic

1/400 of a second, ISO 200

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horsing Around

1/400 of a second, ISO 400

Dapper Dan

1/400 of a second ISO 200

Swingers

1/400 of a second, ISO 200

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birds in the Trees

1/30 of a second, ISO 800

Get my monthly newsletter by signing up on the right hand side of this page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instagram Comments on Martin Luther King Post

On Martin Luther King Day, I posted this Instagram with the following caption”

MLK Instagram

MLK Monument Washington, DC

“Monument in Washington DC. An awe-inspiring statue of an extraordinary man. He was killed before the current wave of terrorism, but through his words his legacy lives on — and addresses the recent atrocities in France #jesuisCharlie. We still hear his voice promoting justice and #love for all mankind. Two quotes from him come to mind: ‘We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools’ and ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice’. Please heed his wisdom!

Of course the Instagram was published worldwide – many followers are outside of insular America. I received over 15,400 “likes” and 144 comments, thirty or so from the same three people.

Most impressive in this publishing venture was the dialog that the caption generated. Some were profane, some silly, but many debated views on freedom, racism, religion, etc. We should take note that many rational people see things in a different light.

Excerpts follow, with the actual Instagram monikers obscured for privacy reasons.

Awesome statue !!… people still live by his words !! CO

When people insult black people, it’s racism, when people fight the rights of the opposite gender, it’s sexism, but when people insult Muslims and its founder, it’s freedom of speech. To hell with every supporter of JeSuisCharlie. MD

Do you really think that the world is better off with those cartoonists dead? You think they were bad people for making jokes? You can’t be serious. Just because someone believes something strongly doesn’t mean that it is free from criticism. Freedom of religion is very important. But freedom of religion is a part of having freedom of ideas, and freedom of ideas will always include tolerating any criticism of any given idea. MR

MLK Jr. would have been disgusted by the violence committed, but he would have also been even more horrified by the consistent and systematic marginalization of Arabs in the present social, political and economic context. It is disingenuous and disrespectful to use his legacy in this way. PW

Those cartoonists died horribly but their deaths are nowhere near the injustice inflicted upon the poor and mistreated minorities the world over. Please choose your comparisons wisely. HM

Don’t think because you have that wrap on your head it makes you an expert on Muslims, black American history, especially X. I will school your ass anytime you want to come to Morehouse College and have a REAL debate with REAL black men. SGJ

Real black men, college? Debate? Dude you sound angry, take a chill pill….I suggest that you watch Selma. I recommend this movie to all young disenfranchised angry Muslim men to go see it and learn how to achieve success amid hopelessness. Many good lessons to learn from this movie. HM

Until your race starts fighting the racist ideas that your people have, and stop focusing on black’s resentment to the was they’ve been treated in the past and currently, we will always hate you deep down. SJG

Bro you can get your point across without insults. You might have knowledge but no one’s gonna listen if you dish out whatever you don’t like. AK92

…hate creates violence, the extent of the hate determines the headlines not the victims then revenge is created the vicious cycle begins, again. We have had and still do (have) individuals worldwide who go beyond just thinking but also do for freedom, injustice and inequalities, all should be praised… SH

MLK and Malcolm X put their lives on the line for what they believed. Anyone can talk a good game, which one of you would die for yours? MP230

King, Gandhi and Mandela…I salute you!! Cheers on #mlkday!! ASH

So sad that such a wonderful post was soiled by such hatred. This monument is truly amazing and I appreciate the posting as a reminder to us that hatred is not the way. SK49

_____________________________________

I don’t agree that my post was “soiled”. I think it started a discussion.

Tell you friends about this site!

 

Review of My 2014 Blogs

Recently I looked back at the archive of blogs that I posted in 2014. Although there were a couple of outliers, most blogs fit into specific photographic themes. Please click on the links to revisit these blogs.

Objects in Disguise

White Mt Sunset

White Mountains Sunset

In the month of July I concentrated on tutorials on photographing things above the earth’s surface staring with fireworks just before the Fourth and followed up with the moon (a super moon in July), the sun and a rather complicated blog on star photography. Much fun and hopefully helpful.

Photojournalists

As I consider myself one, photojournalists that literally put their life on the line enamor me. These blogs on Tyler Hicks (January) and Bob Edelman and his civil rights coverage (April) attempted to explore their vision and their bravery while photographing difficult subjects.

Thoughts for Photojournalists
These blogs explored methods and suggestions for budding photojournalists and included one on finding locals to help you (October), and returning to a location that one senses will make good images (Also in October).

Technological Advances in Photography
2014 saw new innovations on many fronts, from new cameras (July) to new software solutions by Getty Images (March). I also highlighted what social media is doing with our previously private information (February), and talked about good digital practices by backing up (January) and the value of having a tablet (February).

Photography Exhibits

The Bean

Cloud Gate Sculpture

I have personally entered a number of shows and exhibits and with a blog tried to impart some knowledge about how they are organized in May, but also highlighted exhibits in Mexico that show differences in approach with photography (March).

This Fragile Earth
Two blogs covered the international land grab (November), and how the Bureau of Land Management in the US is trying to mitigate the hordes of visitors that descend on sensitive areas (January). These blogs bookended 2014.

"The Second Wave", Arizona

“The Second Wave”, Arizona

I hope you enjoyed these ruminations and find that my future blogs in 2015 are of value. Before I put one up, I think about the photographic community at large, and try to decide if the blog may be of interest to them.

If you enjoy the site and find something of interest, please let me know.

Sunrise , Sunset – How to Photograph the Sun

The previous blog concerned photographing the moon, and following this extra-terrestrial theme, here is a blog about photographing the sun. I used to say that perhaps 15% of all photographs were of sunsets, but with the advent of smart phones and selfies, this percentage has declined dramatically.

Unlike moon photography, determining the location of the sunrises and sunsets is relatively easy, as the location is visible for some time prior to the actual event. Here are some tips for creating excellent sun images:

Sun Halo

Sun Halo in Florida

1. NEVER look directly into the sun, especially through a telephoto lens. This is a great way to permanently damage your retinas. When aiming the camera, frame what you want above or below where the sun is, and then move the camera up or down to include the sun. If you do look through the lens, look anywhere in the frame but at the sun. Reflections of the sun off of the water also count.

Some cameras have a depth-of-field preview button next to the lens. You can configure the lens for the smallest aperture and use this button to look through the camera at the sun with minimum exposure, but it’s still dangerous.

2. As the sun sinks (or rises) into the atmosphere, a phenomenon similar to moonrises and moonsets occurs. When it is on the horizon, the color of the sun varies. This is because you are looking at the sun through much more atmosphere than when it is overhead. Dust in the air or photographing the sunset just after a rain can affect the color dramatically.

Christmas Clouds

Christmas Clouds

3. Clouds can help. The color of the clouds just after sunset or before sunrise can mitigate the intensity of the direct sun and add dimension to your image. No clouds create a situation where there is little drama in your sunset picture.

4. “Mask” the sun. Use atmospheric conditions such as fog, smog or haze to create “filters” where the sun is much more distinguishable and appears with definition rather than as a white orb. Other objects in your frame will have more character with a masked sun.

5. At sunrise or sunset, objects on earth will be silhouetted, as you are looking directly into your only light source and it is bright. Take your exposure reading off of the brightest parts of your framed picture, otherwise the resultant photograph will looked “washed out”. For sunsets with a fantastic array of multicolored clouds, position the horizon in the bottom third of the frame for maximum effect. You can use reflectors to bounce back some of the light, or use flash to “fill in” the light on subjects close to the camera (like people). Off-camera flash is desirable. With many cameras you can adjust the intensity of the flash so that your subjects are not extremely overexposed against a coal-black background.

Geese in Fog

Geese in Fog

6. We have seen many sunsets where the actual location is a mystery. The sun in Nova Scotia is the same as the sun in Costa Rica. Make yours different by including identifying objects such as lobster boats or palm trees.

7. Turn around. Sometimes the way the light at dawn or dusk strikes the landscape is much more interesting than just shooting another sunset.

8. Long shadows during the “golden hour” prior to sunset “model” the subject, creating a more three-dimensional effect for your actual two-dimensional image. Take advantage. You can still shoot the actual sunset.

 

White Mt Sunset

White Mountains Sunset

Additional tip: You can adjust the exposure on your iPhone by tapping the area where you want the best exposure, – i.e. the sun, or the foreground. You can instantly see how the resultant image will be affected.

Want to have a hands-on photographic experience? Join me on one of my international photography tours. Go here, or back to the menu bar and select “Workshops”.

 

 

Better Pictures When Shooting the Moon

About once a month in the evening, barring clouds, a full moon appears in the Eastern sky. The sighting inspires poets, astronomers, lovers and photographers.

This blog is appropriate, as on July 12 we experienced a “Super Moon”, where the elliptical orbit of the moon brings it closest to earth and, according to NASA, a full moon at perigee (closest point) is up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than one at its farthest point, or apogee. We will have an even bigger Super Moon to photograph on August 10, 2014.

Here are some tips for shooting the moon:

Waves and Moon

Seascape in Outer Banks NC

1. The full moon is bright. For your camera exposure, use a similar one to what you would use when you photograph something on earth in bright sunlight. The natural color of the moon is a light grey and reflects sunlight very well.

2. Make sure you take your exposure setting off the moon, not the surroundings. If you don’t, the moon will appear as a white “hole” in the sky. Do not use auto exposure here!

3. Photograph the moon the night before the actual full moon. I call this night the “photographer’s moon”. The reason for doing this is that the moon looks full, but rises right after sunset, At this time, there is enough ambient light on “earth objects”, and the moon will be about the same exposure as these objects. Now the moon is located in a position showing where you are taking the picture. Note the seascape and mountains in the illustrations here. Don’t worry about the moon not being a full moon – it will look full in your photographs.

Mauna Loa Moon

500mm Lens – Hawaii

4. Long super telephoto lenses increase the relative size of the moon compared to the landscape and can add to dramatic effect. Make sure you have a small enough aperture (f stop) to have both the stuff on earth and the moon in focus. Obviously, the moon will be focused at “infinity”. You will need a sturdy tripod when using these lenses.

5. Make sure your shutter speed is at least a thirtieth of a second, preferably faster. The moon moves more quickly than you think, and with slower shutter speeds you will experience blurring moons in your pictures.

6. When it is on the horizon, the color of the moon varies. We refer to “harvest moons” or “red moons”, etc. This is because you are looking at the moon through much more atmosphere than when the moon is overhead. Dust in the air or just after a rain can affect the color of the moon dramatically.

iPhone Screen

Smart Phone App

7. So where will the moon rise? You can use apps or websites on your smart phone to figure this out. I use the app The Photographer’s Ephemeris, where I can designate my location and seen not only the latitude, longitude and elevation where I am at, but immediately see times of sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset and the compass directions of each.

Then I use the compass in my smart phone to visually locate where on the horizon the moon will rise on that particular evening. I look through the camera and move back and forth, right and left, so that the spot on the horizon where moonrise will happen is composed within my “earth” frame. I’m ready! Also note that the moonrise on each successive night is quite a few compass points away from the previous one.

8. What if your foreground subject is facing to the west? Look at your moonset direction and get up early in the morning and photograph the moonset at dawn.

Want to have a hands-on photographic experience? Join me on one of my international photography tours. Go here, or back to the menu bar and select “Workshops”.

Smith Island Moonscape

Smith Island Maryland

 

4k Video – Many, Many “Decisive Moments”

One overarching benefit of digital technology is the ability to recreate work with complete fidelity – in other words new works are exactly the same as the original. This benefit, coupled with the merging and warping of imagery is changing still photography. Several important developments are already here, and other are innovations are not far behind.

1. Stills from video. Panasonic has just announced their LUMIX FZ1000 camera, available late this month. It’s a long zoom camera (28-400mm equivalent) with 4K video capabilities for $900. According to Thomas Curley, Business Development Manager for LUMIX Professional Services, Panasonic North America, “The most amazing thing about it is that you can shoot a video clip (in 4K) then ‘in camera’ select a frame for the video and save it as a 8 megapixel Jpg that is suitable for printing. Nothing like this has existed until now and it is going to change how we take pictures.”

Tom is on to something here. I think that this is the first of many video/still cameras to come. With the LZ1000 you can preview the video frames on the LCD panel and then select the frame(s) that you want to convert to 8 megapixel still(s). Check out this video of what the camera can do. WIFI is also available on this camera to transmit your photographs immediately onto the web via a smart phone or an iPad.

Think three years out. The LZ1000 has a 20.1 megapixel sensor. Will they or other camera manufacturers find a way to wrangle out a 15 megapixel still or even higher res image? Bet on it.

2. HDR video. High Dynamic Range is a fancy term for combining several frames of a subject that have huge differences in exposure. The result is an image that pushes the dynamic range (specular highlights to deep shadows) of the subject toward the middle so that nothing is blown out or unreadable in the shadow area. Many still cameras now have this feature where a “burst” of frames are taken at a variety of exposures. In camera, or in post processing the images are merged together.

In video, this is difficult, as the dang thing keeps taking moving frames at 30 fps (frames per second). Now Red cameras and Magic Lantern software have come up with ways to double the frames at 60 fps with different exposures and then merge them in post production.

3. Auto focus for video. Rule of thumb: do not turn on auto focus on a DSLR when shooting video or the viewer may have an extended bout of sea sickness as the camera is constantly refocusing. Videographers have always been able to mask slight out of focus frames with motion and sound. But what happens when you pull an 8 megapixel still from the video? The resultant still can’t handle sharpness issues.

Now Andra and several other software manufacturers offer follow-focus for DSLR video. They run the application through an iPad and are able to make “focus pulls” on the fly with accuracy.

4. Helicopters and drones. Small, unmanned helicopters have been a staple for feature films and TV productions for 10 years. They are expensive, but can be programmed with GPS to fly the exact same flight again and again.

CopterStudios, a California-based company, uses a “pilot” for the remote controlled helicopter; a camera operator, who uses an IR remote control to adjust camera functions; and a set coordinator, who works with the director or producer to plan the shots.

The director or producer can watch the video in real time on a monitor on the set. SD video is transmitted from the JVC camera via a live video microwave downlink to a directional patch antenna, which feeds the reference monitor on set.
See their stunning demo video.

OK, so helicopters are pricey, but enter the drones. Drones DJI announced that it is working on an update of its S1000 Octocopter, a pro-level drone capable of carrying pro cameras such as a Canon 5D Mark III. That model should be ready in a few months and is expected to cost thousands of dollars, but may be very appealing to professional photographers and videographers.

At the present time, drones are banned from many National Parks and the Federal Aviation Administration (FFA) forbids commercial use. Under congressional order, the FAA must open national airspace to commercial and civilian drones by the end of 2015. The agency is in the process of determining the regulations for a drone license.

ADDENDUM ADDED

Grand Prismatic

Grand Prismatic Geyser

Reuters reported that a tourist seeking to take pictures of Yellowstone National Park crashed a camera-equipped drone into its largest hot spring, on Saturday, August 2. It was not clear if the drone that crashed into Grand Prismatic Spring damaged the prized geothermal feature when it sank into its depths, and officials were still trying to decide whether to remove it.

“What we have to determine is whether the presence of this radio-controlled recreational aircraft poses a threat to that unique resource,” park spokesman Al Nash said of the Grand Prismatic, the third-largest hot spring in the world and a top attraction for the roughly 3 million visitors who flock to Yellowstone each year.

The park is puzzling over how to find the drone and extract it without damaging the hot spring, which is 370 feet in diameter, more than 121 feet deep and known for its brilliant colors caused by bacteria and minerals in the water.

OK, so what does this mean for the still photographer?

First, not many people will be shooting still photographs – not even the professionals. If a client wants stills, why wouldn’t you shoot video where you can pick out the frame where the eyes are not closed, the action is at it’s height and the exposure and focus are right on? In addition, why would a client want to hire both a still photographer and a videographer?

So it is not “goodbye still photography”, but it will be “goodbye still photographer”, as we move to a video-centric world. Art photographers may still want to use still cameras, much the same as many of them today want to still use film. I have to make a living, and what is described above is, in my estimation, what will transpire in the near future. Get ready.

Getty Images Allows Social Media Usage

Huge news was made a week ago in the online photography business. Getty Images announced that they were allowing that many of the pictures on their website that are for sale now will be available for anyone for “non-commercial use”.

Until I investigated, it gave me pause, as I am represented by Getty through National Geographic, and surely did not want my images out there without payment. After all, I am a professional photographer who makes my living selling images.

Some websites such as petapixel.com decried Getty’s actions saying, “…in the end, this represents Getty throwing in the towel when it comes to non-commercial use of its images. They’ve lost this war, and rather than fight the hoards of people on the Internet who pull their images without watermark or credit and use them all over the place, Getty has created a legal use avenue that they believe will “benefit [their] content creators.”

In looking into the “embedding” process that Getty uses, I found that they are relying on a company that they acquired called PicScout. The software they use is sophisticated enough so that even a fragment of the embedded image is identified. According to Maura Mulvihill, National Geographic Society’s Image Collection Vice President and Director, Getty plans to use the PicScout software to crawl the web for violators of the terms of service that were agreed to when they were downloaded.

Here is an embedded Getty image. Click on it and it will take you to the Getty site where the picture is located.

It is interesting that I can “screen grab” this image and eliminate the information below the picture. Can they Getty still track the image?  I don’t know. Below right is a screen grab of the image taken from Getty’s site.

Getty Screen grabWhile Director of Imaging at National Geographic, I had several  software companies demonstrate their ability to survey the web and find sites that used NGS pictures illegally. My question always was, “Who will be the cop?” Their answer was NGS. We did not have the legal resources to do so.

Maura says that PicScout will contact the violators and negotiate a payment to Getty. What happens if a violator refuses to pay? Obviously Getty can’t hire all the lawyers in the world, so I would guess it depends on how grievous (read $$$) of an offense has occurred.  BTW, you can obtain the services of PicScout if you so desire.

You may have noticed that on this site that I have a link to National Geographic Creative where NG Image Sales sells my images, and you can also buy scenic/art photography directly from this website. The difference is that my pictures that Geographic sells (and receives a portion of the proceeds) are editorial and commercial in nature and the NGS clients are corporations, ad agencies or large volume users. NGS is not interested in selling to individual consumers — for them it is not worthwhile to spend the effort on such a small one-time sale.

The jury is still out on the Getty decision. A screen grab of an image on the web is still very easy. Today, not many people want a high resolution image to print – they want a lo res to send immediately to their friends. And that is why you don’t see many of my best pictures on my Instagram or Facebook feeds.

Three Miami Herald Photojournalists

Patrick Farrell              Al Diaz                     Carl Juste

I recently attended a talk by three Miami Herald photojournalists called Photojournalism in the Digital Age held by the South Florida Camera Club at Artserve in Ft. Lauderdale, FL

 The photojournalists are Patrick Farrell, Al Diaz and Carl Juste.  One might call them “newspaper photographers”, but they would only be partially correct. These three individuals are committed – to their craft, their unique vision and to creating photographs that are both honest and impartial.

And they are excel in what they do. In 2009, Patrick Farrell won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography for his devastating photographs of the aftermath of the 2008 hurricanes in Haiti.

I have attended many presentations by photojournalists, but these three provided their view of difficulties and advantages working “In the Digital Age”.  They expressed a lament for the potential loss of their publishing platform, The Miami Herald, with the advent of the Internet. As Carl Juste said, “The Herald is still breathing. It is on life support, but still breathing”. He went on to talk about the fourth estate (a term used to emphasize the independence of the Press), and rhetorically asked who else would fund  “month and a half long” projects to help viewers understand issues of the day in human terms.

Interestingly, none of the three bashed the Herald. They have all been furloughed by the publication, they now have to purchase their own equipment ($$$), and their compensation from the newspaper reflects a living wage — not even close to the income of the one percenters.

Patrick, Al and Carl are humbled being able to do what they do. I hear this from most photojournalists, but these three view their profession as a game changer. And it is.

Farrell, Diaz and Juste have all covered Haiti, as the country is part of Herald’s regional coverage, considering how close it is to Miami and the immigrant population. By comparing these photojournalist’s individual coverages, you can see the way each approach a similar subject, and how each has a particular style to tell riveting stories from that nation.

To see the power of their images, go here for Patrick Farrell’s work in Haiti; for Al Dias go here; and here for Carl Juste.

In addition, here is Patrick Ferrell’s website to see his other coverages:

I offer this poem in tribute to these three dedicated individuals…

Photojournalist

I am witness

to transgressions, corruption and greed.

Using my photography to share stories that

provide understanding and enlightenment.

 

I am witness

to natural disasters and the natural world.

Documenting their effects on humankind that

validate the power of nature and its beauty.

 

I am witness

to swimming pool openings and public meetings.

Presenting my subjects in ways that

transcend the mundane of everyday life.

 

I am witness

to wars, aggression and violence.

Recording horror, misery and shame that

fill my world with skepticism, not cynicism.

 

I am witness

to social problems and health issues.

Seeking answers to ethical questions that

communicate fundamental human responses.

 

I am witness

to love, neglect and indifference.

Illustrating affinity and malevolence that

relate to everyman as we navigate through our lives.

 

I am witness

In an era where economics of my profession prove difficult.

I stay committed in my pursuit of truth and justice

for you.

 

Post Script: After returning from Florida, I was in New York City and attended a “conversation” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art featuring icons of painting and music, Chuck Close and Philip Glass.

The commitment and dedication to their art echoed Farrell, Dias and Juste in Florida. Glass spoke of art as pushing social and cultural ideas forward that will outlast the artists themselves.