Ep. 204: Why It Might Be Pointless to Watermark Your Photos – and more

Episode 204 of the PetaPixel Photography Podcast.
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Featured: Photographer, author and educator, Nicolesy (aka Nicole S. Young)

In This Episode

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Show Opener:
Photographer, author and educator, Nicolesy (aka Nicole S. Young) opens the show. Thanks Nicolesy!

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Google’s AI research figured out how to remove watermarks from images…and what you can do to foil it. (#)

A photographer checks her fancy Leica camera and lens at the airport and surprise…it gets damaged. (#)

Rumors that Fujifilm is about to give the XPro-2 the ability to shoot 4K video via a firmware update. (#)

Sony cameras and lenses dominate the EISA awards and other great gear gets some love. (#)

Godox releases the A1…so why don’t we have smartphone and touchscreen control of all our devices? (#)

The French president sues a photographer. Do heads of state have a right to privacy? (#)


Connect With Us

Thank you for listening to the PetaPixel Photography Podcast! Connect with me, Sharky James on TwitterInstagram and Facebook (all @LensShark) as we build this community.

We’d love to answer your question on the show. Leave us an audio question through our voicemail widget, comment below or via social media. But audio questions are awesome!

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Shooting the Sun Without a Filter Can Melt Your DSLR

Planning to photograph the upcoming solar eclipse? You’d better make sure you have the right solar filter to protect your camera. Here’s a 2-minute video that shows how shooting the sun without protection can completely melt your DSLR’s guts.

The folks over at Every Photo Store in Dubuque, Iowa, decided to do a test to see what unprotected solar photography can do to a camera. They mounted an old Canon Rebel XT (AKA 350D) to a $10,000 Canon 400mm f/2.8 IS II lens, pointed it up at the sun, and watched to see what would happen.

With the mirror down, things started smoking, and the mirror mechanism quickly had issues flipping up all the way after just a few moments of exposure.

Next, the mirror was locked up using a paper clip to show what happens when the shutter and sensor are exposed to the midday sun. In just seconds, a good amount of smoke began pouring out of the mirror box.

Looking into the camera, they found that the focused sunlight had melted through the shutter and sensor:

“We made this video to make people aware of the damage they can cause to their camera by pointing it at the sun without a solar filter,” Every Photo Store tells PetaPixel. “We burned through the shutter and sensor in a matter of minutes!”

Always use proper protection when shooting the sun, folks!

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4 Lighting Hacks for Fashion Shoots

Here are 4 great tips for fashion photographers and videographers looking to light effective portraits. In this 3-minute video by Aputure, cameraman Kazu Okuda shares his expertise on how to work well with studio lighting.

Hack 1: Frontal Key Light First

For fashion, you’re selling the product and the person. So leave the side lighting and backlighting to the cinematic shooters. Make sure to establish your key light first and light the model properly before adding any “frills”.

Hack 2: Light for a Centralized Area

Actions are spontaneous, and models won’t necessarily “hit their marks” every time. Close your aperture down one-stop lower, giving a deeper depth of field and more room for error and movement.

Hack 3: Know the Attitude of Your Shoot

Think about the emotion you’re trying to convey on your shoot. A “happy shoot” should have brighter, lighter colors. Something more “grungey” should have more contrast, but not be too dark it looks sad and dark.

Hack 4: Eye Light / Catch Light

Think about the catch light in your model’s eye. More contrast and more lights mean less obvious catch lights. Think about carrying a small LED light you can stick onto the top of your camera, causing enough of a glint in the eye to bring the catch light back.

Check out the full video above for more detail on each of these handy hacks.

(via Aputure via ISO 1200)

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I Biked Across the Canadian Rockies to Build a Photo Portfolio

I decided a while ago that for my high school graduation and summer trip, I was going to photograph the Canadian Rockies. I started pursuing landscape photography seriously a little over a year ago and wanted to build a photography portfolio.

I had mostly been shooting cityscapes locally around my home in Toronto and wanted more than anything to visit Banff and Jasper National Parks, and include them in my new website.

The biggest hurdle that stood in my way, however, was my ability to drive, or rather the lack thereof. At 17 years old, I did not have a full driving license yet, nor did I own a car. Furthermore, no rental company was going to rent a car to anyone under 21, let alone a minor.

I decided, however, that I was going to solve this problem by finding an alternative mode of transportation, and I realized it was there all along – my bicycle. Lots of people travel long-distance by means of bike-packing, and it was genuinely fun to cycle to my destinations. The question then was if cycling the Canadian Rockies for me was possible.

For the few months leading up to my trip, I started training myself relentlessly. I cycled a lot more than I normally did and even went on a few weekend century cycling trips around Ontario.

In June 2017, right after graduating from high school, I hopped on a bus and traveled halfway across Canada in what had to be my greatest practice of patience, ever.

The plan was simple. I would spend a week at each of the towns within the national parks — Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper — and a week overall cycling the course between them – a grueling 300km over constantly changing and steep terrain along the Icefields Parkway. The 300km was broken up into manageable segments, with end points at locations I had mapped out for me to photograph.

The sights along the way were simply gorgeous. It’s true what they say, that the Icefields Parkway is one of the most beautiful drives in the world. It’s true that I would have loved to drive it, but that wasn’t an option, so I peddled.

I’ll admit that cycling while carrying all my gear was difficult, especially over some of the steeper uphills. I had on me a one-camera-one-lens set up — a Fujifilm X-T2 and an XF 16-55mm F2.8 WR LM — a case of LEE filters, a tripod, miscellaneous accessories, and my Microsoft Surface Pro 4, all housed in my Peak Design Everyday Backpack.

Besides all that being all the photography gear I own, minimalism was key for my trip. I also had my camping equipment and supplies attached to my bicycle in the form of panniers. Any unnecessary weight would have only served as a hindrance while traveling on my own steam.

One of the biggest problems was managing both my photography and my cycling. Despite having broken up my trip into manageable segments, the steep terrain and long distances made it difficult to do hikes immediately afterward. The various youth wilderness hostels that dotted the route made it easier to manage both strenuous activities.

In addition to the wilderness hostels, I also camped at various spots along the way. It was refreshing to stay outdoors after years of living within city limits.

Honeymoon Lake – the view right next to one of my campsites.

This trip gave me a newfound appreciation for what landscape photographers do. Despite the rain and sun, it gave me nothing but satisfaction to be able to view the amazing vistas upon completion of a hike up a steep climb.

I arrived in Jasper on the 21st of July. I am immensely proud of the fact that I did it my way. I think that having one’s independence while traveling is essential as the more people on a trip, the more compromise is required. Traveling on my own steam allowed me to do things without having to rely on others or bend my schedule. I could stay out as late or wake up as early as I wanted to catch the sunrise, all without needing to work with or around others, and that was greatly beneficial in building my portfolio.

Throughout the trip, I met a lot of people who were surprised when I told them I was only a teenager. I think it was surprising for them because most teenagers I know don’t think about going on a bike-packing adventure. Indeed, most of the people I met on the road who were bike-packing as well were actually retired!

In my eyes, my trip was a great success. I accomplished something last month that a few years ago I would never have even dreamed of. I just want to say that I hope my story inspired you to take a leap of faith on that trip you were planning, but are holding back for some reason. I never let my age hold me back from bike-packing and photographing the Canadian Rockies because I didn’t want something as trivial as my age to keep me from pursuing what I am passionate about.

For now, I hope that this will only be the first of many adventures to come!

About the author: Ethan Chin is a 17-year-old landscape and travel photographer based in Toronto, Canada. You can find more of his work and writing on his website, blog, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

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How to Improve Your Food Photos at Home Without Buying New Gear

Here’s an 18-minute video by Sean Tucker on how to improve your food photography skills at home without buying any expensive gear.

The first thing that the video casts light on is that it’s not all about the photographer. “A lot of what goes into food photography, at least half of the job, is the styling that goes on the table and the food,” says Tucker.

So, if you’re planning on trying out food photography, try to find a way to introduce some flair to whatever is on your plate.

Lighting is, of course, very important. Tucker points out that a cool, bluish light coming in from a window will give an unappetizing look to the food if mixed with a more orangey internal light.

To combat that, he suggests turning all lights off and working with only the light coming in from an outside window. But also, taping baking tray paper over your window will turn it into a kind of softbox, working nicely as a key light for your shoot.

And the best news of all? His shots were taken on a Canon 550D, so it really isn’t about having the most expensive gear.

Try thinking about where you are setting up your shot, too. If you use outside light coming in from a large window, you can get some fairly good results.

Try throwing in some interesting accessories into the background, rather than just shooting it on plain white. The final shot is much more engaging as a result.

Check out the video above for 18 minutes of food photography goodness and some really great tips you can take home with you.

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Work: Photos of Jobs Around the World from a Top-Down View

Photographer Sanwal Deen has been working on a new personal project, titled “Work.” It’s an exploration of different careers found around the world, and how work is a thread by which individuals all over the world are connected.

“People tend to spend more than a third of their lives working,” Deen tells PetaPixel. “But more than that, the type of work that happens in a city or place (and the process by which it comes about) is directly tied to the culture of a city, place or country.

“For a lot of people, their identity is tied to the work that they do.”

“The idea behind this project is to document and celebrate one’s individuality as seen through the lens of the work one does, while still acknowledging our shared humanity.”

Deen is a photographer who’s originally from Islamabad, Pakistan, and who’s currently based in the United States. He recently won a 2nd Place National Award in the Sony World Photography Awards. You can find more of his work on his website.

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Here’s a 5-Minute Intro to Photoshop’s Healing Brush

In this 9-minute video by tutvid, take a look at Photoshop’s Healing Brush and learn how exactly you can use it to improve your editing workflow.

The brush itself comes with loads of options to adjust that you may well not have noticed or used before. From different modes to altering the sampled layers, the Healing Brush is more than just a “click and correct” affair.

One problem you may have faced with the brush is when removing things near to a contrasting edge, strange colors and information can bleed over into the “fixed” area.

But try adjusting the diffusion setting of the Healing Brush. This allows you to decide exactly how these edges will affect the adjustment, and will quickly solve the problem.

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French President Sues Photographer Who Followed Him on Holiday

French President Emmanuel Macron has filed a legal complaint against a photographer who he claims infringed upon his “right to privacy.” The photographer is being accused of taking “holiday snaps” of the president and his wife in Marseille this week.

Preferring a more private holiday than his predecessors, Macron spent his vacation in relative secrecy. The location of his retreat was not publicly revealed, but once word of the location got out his security team worked hard to fend off paparazzi.

The photographer in question, however, apparently went to great lengths to capture images of Macron and his wife. The photographer reportedly used a motorbike to follow Macron and his wife “on several occasions despite repeat warnings from security staff, and sometimes did so in a risky and perilous manner,” the French government tells the Telegraph.

“On Sunday, he entered the private property (of the president’s villa) which led to the complaint,” a presidential spokeswoman says.

It is unknown whether the photographer was shooting independently or on behalf of an organization. However, he did make comments about his treatment to VSD magazine, saying: “The police searched through all my gear, my bags… I even had to remove my shoelaces and my watch.”

Image credits: Header photo by Gouvernement français

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This is the Oldest Known Photo of a US President, May Sell for $250,000+

Back in March 1843, the sixth US president (serving from 1825–1829), John Quincy Adams, sat for a portrait photo in a Washington studio. Fast forward to the modern day, and the photo is now the oldest surviving photo of a U.S. president. It’s going to auction and carries an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.

The photo was taken years after Adams’ presidency, during his time spent in Congress, and was given as a gift to a fellow representative, Horace Everett. The man’s descendants then kept it in the family, and it has only now resurfaced in recent years.

A note on the back of the frame reads “Presented by J.Q.A. to his Kinsman H.E. 1843.”

Emily Bierman, who is the head of Sotheby’s photographs department, described the image to the New York Times as “without a doubt the most important historical photo portrait to be offered at auction in the last 20 years.”

The incredibly rare photo is still not the first image of Adams ever taken. His first portrait was taken in 1842, but the original has not survived or been found. Adams would go on to sit for more than 60 portraits over his lifetime.

There’s a chance this Adams photo may sell for much more than its $250,000 pre-auction estimate.

“In 2011, a whole-plate daguerreotype portrait of the states-rights advocate and former vice president John C. Calhoun, taken by Mathew Brady, fetched $338,500, including the buyer’s premium — roughly nine times its estimate,” writes the Times.

9 times this Adams photo’s estimate would mean it sells for $2.25 million, which would place the picture at about #17 on the list of world’s most expensive photos, just about tied with Untitled Film Still #48 (1979) by Cindy Sherman.

The title of the oldest known photo of a U.S. president actually belongs to former president William Henry Harrison, but the original daguerreotype is believed to have not survived.

So perhaps it’s time to check those old photos in your attic because someone somewhere might have a fortune hiding in an old photo album. After all, one of the oldest known photos of Adams was purchased for 50 cents at an antique shop back in 1970.

(via Sotheby’s via New York Times)

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10 Predictions About the Future of Photography

How might photography evolve in the coming years and decades? The folks over at COOPH took a look at current trends and research projects to come up with 10 productions about the future of photography. They’re discussed in the 4.5-minute video above.

Here’s a quick summary of what COOPH believes the future holds for photographers:

1. Stronger Sensors: Cameras will have sensors with hundreds of megapixels in resolution, extremely high ISOs for night vision, and possibly even a curved design that superior to flat ones.
2. Smaller Cameras: Future cameras may be completely flat with no moving parts.
3. More Photojournalism: As cameras become more and more accessible, there may be greater storytelling.
4. Closer Integration: Contact lens cameras and other innovations may help cameras to integrate directly into the human body.
5. Intelligent Cameras: You may be able to control cameras with eye movements and even brain waves.
6. More Versatile Lenses: Shape-shifting camera lenses and cameras covered with lenses may be what the future has in store.
7. Alternative Energy Solutions: Cameras may generate their own energy, perhaps through solar panels.
8. New Formats: We may project photos as holograms, especially with 3D holographic display technologies.
9. Smarter Software: Programs may choose, edit, and share our best photos for us, taking humans more and more out of the creative process.
10. Return of the Vintage: Old technologies often seem to make comebacks, and DSLR cameras may soon be considered a vintage technology in the history of photography.

Feel free to share your own predictions about what the future of photography will look like in the comments below.

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