An Interview with Renowned Celebrity Photographer Douglas Kirkland

Photographer Jared Polin recently sat down with famous celebrity photographer Douglas Kirkland and his wife, Françoise, and recorded this 36-minute interview. It’s a peek inside the mind, life, and career of a legend.

Born in 1983, Kirkland is famed for his work with all kinds of stars. He has taken portraits of Marilyn Monroe, in 1961, as well as other famous names like Morgan Freeman, Michael Jackson, Paris Hilton, Charlie Chaplin, and more.

One of Kirkland’s famous portraits of Marilyn Monroe.

Talking about his shoot with Monroe, Kirkland says there’s an incredible pressure that comes with photographing mega stars. In fact, he believes that had the shoot gone poorly, “that would be my career down the pipes.”

But “the shoot went well,” Kirkland says. “That established me for photographing a lot of stars.”

Consequently, his star-studded list of subjects was kicked off because of his subsequent time spent working in the motion picture industry, where he has been a specialist photographer on over 150 films.

Douglas Kirkland (right) and his wife, Françoise (left).

Describing his many years spent jet-setting and traveling the world to different shoots, Kirkland and his wife reflect on the ease of travel in the 60s. They had quite a lavish life with relatively “no money” because “the film companies paid for all our expenses.” But these days, things have changed and photographers find themselves in a much harsher industry.

Kirkland’s archive of images currently stands at just under 1 million frames. That’s an impressive collection — one that requires dedicated personnel to maintain.

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Mesmerizing Photos of Car Tunnels in Holland

“Tunnel Vision” is a new series of photos by Dutch photographer Patrick van Dam, who visited car tunnels in Holland and captured mesmerizing views from directly in the middle of the lanes.

“I have a fascination for tunnels,” Van Dam writes. “Driving through a tunnel, I feel as if I’m in a sci-fi movie and my vessel has just been launched into space from the mothership.”

“I love the slated concrete, the symmetry and the never-ending perspective,” the photographer continues. “It’s pleasing to the eye. The lighting, the shape and the place it takes you to makes each tunnel unique. A tunnel is an essential artery in the flow of traffic, an undervalued piece of engineering and design.”

You can find more of Van Dam’s work on his website, Behance, and Instagram.

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AI Can Easily Erase Photo Watermarks: Here’s How to Protect Yours

Happy that your photos are safe online hidden behind aggressive watermarking? Maybe it’s time to reconsider. New Google research shows that a lot of watermarks, including those used by major stock websites, can be easily removed automatically by computers. But there’s a way to prevent it.

Using clever AI algorithms, it’s possible for a computer to zero in on the exact watermark and remove it from a photo as if it was rubbing away a smudge. Here are a couple examples Google shared using stock photos:

The news was disclosed in a paper, titled “On The Effectiveness Of Visible Watermarks,” that was presented at the 2017 Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Conference.

Google has brought this to the attention of the photography industry in the same way that it would reveal information about software vulnerabilities to malware. There are some solutions, though, to make your watermarks “more robust to such manipulations.”

The removals work by identifying repeating patterns (such as watermarks) in a large collection of photos with the exact same watermark — you may have the same thing on your photos if you use an action to apply your watermark. The computer can then establish a rough estimate of the watermark and what exactly it looks like by viewing the image as noise, and the watermark as the target.

The original photo is then recovered by solving what Google calls a “multi-image optimization problem.” This involves separating the watermark (the foreground) from the photo itself (the background).

The optimization can produce “very accurate estimations” of the watermark’s own components and is able to deal with most watermarks seen on all kinds of photos. Here are more examples:

The solution is relatively simple, though. The problem lies in the fact that there is “consistency in watermarks across image collections.” So, to counteract the ease of removal, photographers need to somehow introduce inconsistencies for their watermarks. Even a subtle warp of your watermark in each photo is enough.

“We found that introducing random geometric perturbations to the watermark — warping it when embedding it in each image — improves its robustness,” said Google. Here are some examples showing how warped watermarks can’t be cleanly removed by the same AI system:

Here’s a 3-minute video explaining this research:

Thanks to this research, it’s possible that stock libraries will start introducing such random changes. Right now introducing geometric changes to your own photos isn’t easy to automate, but who knows – maybe Adobe will introduce such a feature to the Lightroom export window in the near future.

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How to Turn Day Into Night in a Photo Using Photoshop

In this 8 minute image manipulation tutorial, Colin Smith of photoshopCAFE utilises the little-used Lighting Effects filter in Photoshop to completely re-light a scene.

Smith completely reinvents a daytime scene by compositing in street lamps and then using the Lighting Effects filter (found under Filter>Render) to turn them on.

Lighting Effects allows you to create virtual light sources in your image, with full control over the size and angle, fall-off, color, and background ambiance.

To change the coloring of the sky behind the brick wall in his image, Smith uses another little-known Photoshop feature. The Color Lookup adjustment layer allows you to apply LUTs to your image; a concept you’ll be familiar with if you’ve done any video grading. Smith uses the ‘Moonlight’ 3DLUT file to mimic a moonlit night sky.

There are many ways to skin a cat with Photoshop, but this walkthrough will hopefully expose a few techniques new to you. If you enjoyed the short tutorial, check out photoshopCAFE on YouTube for more.

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What Newspaper Photojournalists Get to Shoot in the Course of a Month

My name is Robin Roots and I’m a photojournalist for Õhtuleht, one of the largest newspapers in the small country of Estonia. Our team of five photographers has to write down every trip we do with a company car. I was looking over our trips from last month and thought that perhaps others would like to know what we newspaper photojournalists do on a daily basis.

This list is only a small part of the assignments we were given, but it’s a good snapshot of what we get to shoot over the course of just one month.

  • Interview with tree huggers
  • Music festival
  • Somebody got shot
  • Song festival
  • Press conference after song festival
  • Deadly car crash
  • Football match
  • Pictures of an intersection
  • A USA 4th of July party
  • Traffic jam pictures
  • Football press conference
  • Theater
  • Video of a local celebrity
  • Interview with a soccer player
  • Traffic jam pictures
  • Portraits of an actor
  • Beer festival
  • Pictures of a shooting suspect
  • City mayor candidate
  • Tennis
  • Stray dog getting a new home
  • Photos of church
  • Police station from inside
  • Dead bees on a field
  • Car on fire
  • Hockey
  • Local historian interview
  • Music festival
  • Football match
  • School on fire
  • Local writer portrait
  • School construction
  • Photos of cafeterias
  • Building a wind generator
  • Search for a rapist
  • Somebody got bitten by a dog
  • Theater
  • Long lines in a police station
  • Yoga festival
  • Street performer portrait
  • Chess player portrait
  • Fire on a harbor
  • Basketball match
  • Searching a drunk driver
  • Walking on hot ashes
  • Rugby match
  • Businessman portrait
  • Local celebrity arriving to airport
  • Smoking fish
  • Carwash
  • Witchcraft enthusiasts gathering
  • Self-driving buses
  • Basketball match
  • Searching a bear
  • Videos of a food
  • Syrian refugee living conditions
  • Abandoned prison from inside
  • Beach football
  • Train traffic
  • White wedding pigeons
  • Music festival
  • Courthouse
  • Tennis match
  • WRC rally

Again, these are just some of the assignments we drove to in the company car — mainly the things that translate easily to English. Hopefully you got a taste of what work looks like for our small team of photojournalists working for a large newspaper in a small country.


About the author: Robin Roots is a 25-year-old newspaper photojournalist who has been doing photography for a decade. You can find his (and his fellow photographers’) work on the Õhtuleht website.


Image credits: Header photo by Miha Jan Strehovec

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The Woman Who Paints the Backdrops Used by Top Photographers

Sarah Oliphant is a backdrop painter working in New York City whose highly sought after $1,000+ backdrops are used by many of the world’s top portrait photographers. Here’s a 47-minute interview by portrait photographer Peter Hurley, who sat down with Oliphant at her new studio in Bushwick, NYC to see how she works and to learn about the woman behind the paintings.

If you’ve never heard of Sarah, let alone backdrop painting, then it’s definitely worth checking out her work on her website. Sarah offers backdrops ranging from simple color gradients to entire cityscapes, and they alone are beautiful artworks. It’s no surprise though, considering her wealth of experience having started her studio in 1978.

Speaking of a good choice in a backdrop, Oliphant suggested “a classic medium value and organic texture, not anything stupid looking like a K-Mart drop.

“A good backdrop will make it easier to make a good photograph, but it’s no guarantee. You still have to know what you’re doing. Just because you have an iPhone doesn’t make you a good photographer.

“If you’re a portrait photographer who wants to travel, an ideal drop is a 6 x 8. You can travel internationally with it, you can take it anywhere. The length doesn’t matter, it’s the width.”

Watch the video above for an engaging and interesting interview, into a world that most photographers probably haven’t even thought about.

(via Peter Hurley via ISO 1200)

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Daniel Gebhart De Koekkoek’s jumping cats keep him on his toes

Cats have nine lives or so the saying goes – and if Daniel Gebhart De Koekkoek’s photographs are anything to go by, they need them. In a collection of light-hearted photographs, De Koekkoek has captured cats mid-jump, suspended in the air, in a series that took four years to make.

“The original inspiration came from Salvador Dali,” explains De Koekkoek. “He worked together with Philippe Halsman on the Jump series. There was one of Dali jumping as a self-portrait that I found very interesting and I wanted to make a new reference to this genre of photography. That’s how it started out.”

Shifting focus from humans to pets, De Koekkoek photographed cats around Vienna and Austria, starting with his parents’ pet and always shooting them at home. He wanted to capture the animals’ movements in their everyday environments, he says, and couldn’t have captured the same images in-studio. Even so, putting the project together took patience.

“I had sessions of around about two hours, two to three times a week,” he says. “I was spending a huge amount of time together with the cats, trying to gain their trust to make them feel confident enough to jump normally.”

Jumping Cats © Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek

Jumping Cats © Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek

All his shots are 100% in the moment but, he says, viewers often assume he must have used Photoshop to fake them. “I don’t know why!” he says. “People think I’ve managed to put the images together somehow – some were worried that I had thrown the cats, which I have never done!”

All in all, it’s a technical achievement not to be sniffed at – but De Koekkoek, who has also shot a series on Austrian military draft and regularly works for Monocle, says it wasn’t intended to be taken too seriously. “Most people just think it’s fun,” he says, “and that’s all I wanted.”

http://gebhart.dk/

Jumping Cats © Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek

Jumping Cats © Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek

Jumping Cats © Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek

Jumping Cats © Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek

Jumping Cats © Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek

Jumping Cats © Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek

Jumping Cats © Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek

Jumping Cats © Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek

Jumping Cats © Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek

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Godox A1 Smartphone Flash, LED, and Trigger Now Official with $70 Price Tag

After teasing the product and sharing some sample portraits, the Chinese flash manufacturer Godox has now officially announced the A1. It’s a flash, LED, and trigger 3-in-1 unit designed for smartphone cameras.

The Godox A1 features an 8W flash with a color temperature of 6000K (+/- 200K) and a 1W LED light. Power output for the flash can be adjusted with 5 steps from 1/1 to 1/16.

The device also has 2.4GHz and 433MHz wireless transmitters for triggering all Godox flashes through TTL/M/Multi mode. There’s also a 2.5mm sync cord jack if you’d like to trigger your flash that way.

A dedicated GodoxPhoto mobile app lets you make adjustments to flash/LED output as well as control groups of flashes.

An OLED panel on the top of the A1 provides the simple interface through which you can adjust the A1’s settings. Wireless connectivity is through Bluetooth 4.0, which has a 50-meter transmission range on the A1 when linking up with your smartphone.

The small (80x65x23mm/3.15×2.56×0.9in) and light (110g/3.88oz) A1 is powered by a built-in lithium battery that can put out 700 flashes before requiring a recharge. On the bottom of the A1 is a standard tripod mount.

Here are some actual sample portraits captured using a Godox A1, iPhone 7 Plus, and a Godox studio flash:

Godox says it’s also planning to launch a smaller, single miniature flash for smartphones as well.

The Godox A1 will start shipping for iPhones at the end of August 2017 and for Android sometime in September. It has a price tag of $70 and can be pre-ordered through the Godox online store.

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4 Top NYC Photographers Shoot the Same Model

Here’s a new 13-minute video showing a shootout recently done between four popular NYC-based photographers: Joey L, Dani Diamond, Brandon Woelfel, and Jessica Kobeissi. All four are extremely popular online, with hundreds of thousands of followers each just on Instagram (Woelfel has around 1.3 million).

All four photographers were tasked with shooting the same model, Charlotte McKee. Just like in Kobeissi’s previous shootouts, each photographer chose one outfit and location, and each portrait had a time constraint (3 minutes).

For their cameras of choice, Joey L chose a Phase One XF with an IQ250 back, Kobeissi used a Canon 5D Mark III with a 50mm f/1.2 lens, Diamond had a Nikon D800 and 85mm f/1.4, and Woelfel shot with a Nikon D750 and an 85mm/50mm.

Scenario #1: Jessica’s Outfit and Location

Jessica Kobeissi

Dani Diamond

Joey L

Brandon Woelfel

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Who shot the best portrait in Scenario #1?

Scenario #2: Dani’s Outfit and Location

Jessica Kobeissi

Dani Diamond

Joey L

Brandon Woelfel

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Who shot the best portrait in Scenario #2?

Scenario #3: Joey’s Outfit and Location

Jessica Kobeissi

Dani Diamond

Joey L

Brandon Woelfel

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Who shot the best portrait in Scenario #3?

Scenario #4: Brandon’s Outfit and Location

Jessica Kobeissi

Dani Diamond

Joey L

Brandon Woelfel

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Who shot the best portrait in Scenario #4?


Now finally, who do you think shot the strongest set of portraits across all four scenarios?

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Who shot the best set of portraits in this shootout?

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Photo Essay: The Wildfires Leaving Portugal in Ashes

Wildfires have been burning across Portugal, causing tens of deaths and scores of injuries. Yesterday, I stumbled upon a village called Pereiro De Maçao. For the last 4 days, a wildfire has consumed a large quantity of forest, destroying villages on its way. And yesterday it was reaching this town.

People approached me, frantically telling me that I needed to tell someone out there that they have been fighting the fire alone. There has been no help or any kind of communication about what is going on, and everyone is wondering whether they will receive any help or not.

The people from the village have taken matters into their own hands and are fighting the fires themselves. As night fell, they saw the fire coming towards them even closer and they did their best to keep the fire from crossing the road towards the village.

The town’s residents were upset by the sight of a convoy of firetrucks passing by but no one stopping to say a word.

At one point, the villagers were cheering as they though they had controlled the direction of the fire, but an hour later what they were protecting was left in ashes by raging fire.

“This is very hard by ourselves,” one of the villagers told me as he cleaned the sweat off his forehead. “Why is no one helping us?”

What they didn’t know is that Maçao was completely overtaken by flames, so all the firefighters were devoting their efforts elsewhere.

Wildfires have been a constant daily presence here since the middle of June, and I have taken on the task of documenting them as best I can. My father has become my driver and my mother has become the fire spotter.

One of the things that has surprised me the most is the little coverage that this is receiving, and it’s hard to get good reliable information even if you look for it. None of the international news agencies are covering this in depth, and when I tried contacting the BBC they were not really interested.

Every day, there are around 150 to 200 fires breaking loose all around the country and around 3,000 people have been deployed throughout the country working continuously to control one fire after another.

Portugal has asked for help from the European Union, and Spain has answered the call with three planes, 27 fire engines and 120 Spanish firefighters. Morocco has also sent one of its firefighting planes.


About the author: Camilo Fernandez is a photographer based in Portugal. You can find more of his work on his website and Instagram.

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