Just before sunset today, a gorgeous double rainbow appeared over the San Francisco bay. I happened to have a fisheye lens attached to my camera, so I ran outside and snapped this shot. The rainbow stuck around for a few minutes, so I had time to shoot using a few different setups.Read More
I recently went out and captured about 130 320-megapixel HDR 360 panoramas. Each panorama consists of about 4.25 GB of raw files from a Sony a7r II and takes nearly an hour to detect and render on a Windows machine running an 10-core Intel Core i7-6950X overclocked to 4.2Ghz and a Titan X GPU--about 5 days of continuous rendering (using Kolor Autopano Giga).
I'm willing to leave my machine on for 5 days to do this sort of rendering, especially when it's cold outside, as I'd have to run a heater in the room if I wasn't doing this sort of rendering, anyway (hah), but long rendering sessions like this require software that can essentially remain running continuously forever...Read More
I have been collecting Lexar SDXC 2000x UHS-II/U3 SD cards, which claim to have read speeds "up to 300MB/s." These cards use an extra set of pins on the back to achieve such fast transfer speeds, but there's a catch: your cameras and card readers must be compatible with UHS-II in order to take advantage of the increased speeds. Without explicit compatibility, these cards perform no better than inexpensive SD cards.
Some high-end cameras, like the Sony A7R II, can't take advantage of fast SD cards. In this SD card speed test, the Sony never exceeds 35.27 MB/s, which means that cards like the Lexar 633x UHS-I/U3 SD card, which are less than half the cost, work just as well (and also support 4K video in Sony cameras like the A7R II and RX100 IV/V). This Lexar UHS-I/U3 card is starting to be hard to get, but Sony's equivalent card is a few dollars more and also works well.
I am currently on assignment in London capturing about 200GB a day in still images. Copying and backing up such large amounts of data is a huge pain, and the built-in SD card slot in my MacBook Pro was getting an average of around 45 MB/s when reading from the 2000x. Switching to the $8.95 Kingston Digital MobileLite G4 USB 3.0 card reader, which supports UHS-II cards, tripled my read speeds to 140 MB/s (2000x SD card) and 100 MB/s (1000x SD card). This turns 75 minutes of copying into 24 minutes—an amazing time savings for a $9 dongle!
The Lexar SD card reader that comes bundled with 2000x-speed cards is also supposed to be even faster, and the standalone Lexar SR2 card reader is supposed to be the fastest, but it's relatively bulky when used outside of the Lexar Workflow Hub, in which it was designed to dock.
If you're using fast media cards, make sure you have the right accessories to take advantage of them!
I went to the DEMA Show for a day last week to check out underwater photo gear.
360RIZE announced underwater housings for the Samsung Gear 360 and 2 x Kodak SP360 4K, and were also showing their 6 x GoPro (Abyss) with Bullet360 sync. The Samsung and Kodak housings are expected to retail for around $1K.Read More
After much agonizing about the state of Apple's dedication in supporting power users, I decided to replace my Mac Pros at home and work with beefy Windows desktops (my laptop is still a MacBook Pro). At work, I now have a Falcon Northwest Talon (6-core), and at home, a custom 10-core workstation built by my good friends at Central Computers.Read More
Unboxing the Hover Camera by ZeroZero Robotics. Everything is really well thought out, and I'm looking forward to putting it in the air. Both batteries are charging now via the dual-battery charger, which is very compact.
Nearly a year ago, Abraham Joffe of Untitled Film Works reached out to see if I would be interested in collaborating on an episode of Tales by Light, a relatively new TV series about photography. I watched some of the work in progress clips from other episodes of the show and was amazed by what such a small, tight team was able to do. I eagerly signed on.Read More
Simple video editing can be frustrating for content creators whom aren't familiar with the process, and even people who work with video every day can struggle to find the right tools to accomplish quick edits. One issue is that most video editors force video re-encoding upon export, which results in potentially-long render times as well as degradation in quality. Here's how to do simple editing without re-encoding your final video.Read More
Seven years ago, I wrote a chapter for a book about eco-activism. It was during an incredible time in my life between spending 10 years chasing strange underwater stories, and a partial-return to tech. Ultimately, it was deemed that I was not "hardcore" enough of an eco-warrior; my chapter was silently struck after I was told that it needed to be "in some ways rewritten."Read More
I've been asked a lot recently by friends for product recommendations for useful baby things (our son is now 18 months old). I remember how daunting it was to have a new baby on the way. A few friends dropped off literally truckloads of hand-me-down baby stuff, much of which were confounding collections of plastic tubes, cylinders, and funnels that were apparently supposed to connect in ways that might be useful. Every kid is going to be very different, but here's what Mako ended up using...Read More
The state of 360 capture is such that you can currently almost always find the photographer in the shot, even in high-profile, brand-name pictures. These are from the 360 photos coverage of the Rio 2016 Olympics by Getty Images in the Oculus 360 Photos app. There are so few photographers shooting in 360 at the Olympics that they become recognizable almost immediately!Read More
Here's a consumer 360 camera comparison that includes videos shot using a Samsung Gear 360, Ricoh Theta S, and LG 360 CAM. I put the cameras side by side on a light stand and captured using default settings.Read More
A lot of my friends are Mac users who are setting up dedicated Windows machines to run VR setups like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Many of them are trying to figure out where to put an extra desktop computer and all of the accessories necessary to accommodate a VR headset...Read More
Psst! Center those horizons in your 2:1-aspect ratio equirectangular 360 photos, and your horizon will also be centered (and straight) in interactive viewers.
I take a lot of aerial drone panoramas, and I always have to stretch the sky a bit and paint in a bit at the very top to get my horizons centered...Read More
A few days ago, I wrote a note over at Facebook about how to get Facebook to recognize 360 photos that have been edited by programs that strip out the image metadata that tells the world that they should be treated as 360 panoramas.
If you're interested in editing 360 photos for interactive sharing over at Facebook, it might be worth a read!Read More
A discussion of various consumer 360 "VR" cameras for shooting 360 photos and videos, as well as how to hold them up using tripods.Read More
Our family orders something from Amazon at least once a week. Increasingly, we order items from Amazon third-party sellers, many of whom honor Amazon Prime shipping and are almost indistinguishable to the common buyer throughout the entire purchase and delivery workflow. We have very few problems with third-party sellers, but there is one major difference between buying something Amazon-stocked and from a third-party supplier: the inevitable follow-up email that essentially puts the buyer on a mailing list they never opted into.Read More
On Friday, I lost my $2,800 Apple MacBook Pro by following standard TSA security protocols at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). I look back on the series of events that led to the lost computer with incredulity, and although all of the TSA staff and LAX airport police were courteous, I am still without my computer and am unsure whether or not I will be reimbursed for my loss.Read More
From a natural history perspective, the underwater ecosystem is actually very accessible. You can have close encounters with wildlife, even with big animals, and many of the relationships between animals are easily observable -- commensalism, which includes symbiosis and parasitism, is literally everywhere.
I love learning about natural history, and it's as important to me is the photography itself.
On land, it can be very hard to see wildlife up close, and if you do happen to get close to a big wild animal, it is often dangerous.
People say they wish they could be doing what I'm doing. I do feel extremely fortunate that I get to do what I do, but I also feel like almost anyone can get into photography if they spend enough time doing it.
We live in a time of unprecedented access to camera equipment--there are literally billions of cameras on the planet--more cameras, in fact, than there are people. Interesting subjects are also almost everywhere on the planet, and subjects become interesting when a compelling stories are created about them and shared.
The last pieces are having an audience, and most importantly, spending a lot of time behind a camera. Audiences are easy these days because of the Internet, which leaves time spent taking pictures... which takes me back to what goes through my mind when someone says that they wish they could do what I do. If you spend thousands of hours doing something, you will probably become an expert, especially you are naturally predisposed to being a storyteller. It's really simple: go out and spend all of your free time capturing and telling stories about something you care about, and after a year or two, you will suddenly find that you have an interesting body of work. At this point, you'll also probably discover that you are very knowledgeable in both photography and in whatever domain you have chosen as your subject of choice. Good luck!