It Was Shockingly Easy for Someone to Steal US Government Plutonium From a Hotel Car Park

Thankfully, the plutonium samples stolen were not enough to make a nuclear bomb, but it’s still eyebrow-raising news.

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Comparing the Sony a7 III and Canon 5D Mark IV for Astrophotography

I’m an avid night sky photographer that cut my teeth capturing the stars using the original Canon 6D. I shot with that camera for years until purchasing the Sony a7S (Mark I) after reading about how it could essentially “see in the dark.”

Using the Sony mirrorless system was a big change coming from Canon and no matter how awesome the images were, I never learned to love it.

After reading countless reviews of the Canon 5D Mark IV that touted its dynamic range and low light performance, I sold the a7S and made the leap into the new Canon flagship camera. I was not disappointed, as the new sensor was absolutely incredible for night sky photos. The resolution, dynamic range and high ISO performance was a welcome upgrade from my aging 6D and had a bigger “wow” factor than even the a7S I could deliver. The 5D Mark IV became my go-to camera for astrophotography.

Earlier this year, Sony announced the a7 III and it completely blew people away with the specs, especially given the price. The hype was then amplified when reviewers backed up the spec boost with amazing first-hand reviews. Sony was also well known for dominating in low light performance, so naturally, I was keen on getting my hands on the new camera and put it to the test.

I made a 2-part video series in which I put the more expensive Canon 5D Mark IV up against the cheaper Sony a7 III to see how the two compared when shooting the night sky. I tested the dynamic range, compare images at various ISOs, and tested with some really long exposure shots using a star tracker. The goal of the test was to see which camera could deliver the best results as well as delivering the most value for the dollar spent.

In the first 13-minute video above, I head out into the field and share my first impression of each camera when shooting with them. I used the same lenses on each camera, the Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 and the Canon 35mm f/1.4 II. I adapted the Canon glass on the a7 III using the Sigma MC-11.

In the second 40-minute video above, I’m back home pixel peeping and comparing the images to see how the cameras performed and give my final conclusion and recommendation. The video’s sections are: Dynamic Range (2:20), ISO 3200/6400/12800/25600 Review (7:04), Long Exposure 120s/300s Review (17:21), Star Eater (24:11), Post Processed Image (27:51), and Conclusions (32:53).

After spending quite a bit of time with each of these cameras I was surprised with the outcome. If anyone is in the market for a full frame camera to shoot photographs of the stars, I think this comparison would help you decide which way to go.

What camera would I recommend? I would recommend the Sony a7 III.


About the author: Matt Quinn is a dark sky and nature photographer based in the Waterloo Region of Canada. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

NUU Mobile G3 Unlocked Android Smartphone

Communicate and navigate seamlessly with the NUU Mobile G3 Unlocked Android Smartphone. Designed to become an extension of yourself, this device offers some of the most advanced technology available today. Using next-generation fingertip digital sensor technology, the NUU Mobile G3 recognizes your fingerprint instantly. The unlocked Android smartphone also comes with cutting-edge facial recognition technology. Additionally, VoLTE technology ensures that your conversation is crisp and clear. Dual cameras are included for all your photography needs, from close-ups to wide-angle shots…. Continue Reading

Is National Geographic Fine Art a Ripoff for Photographers?

I recently received an email from National Geographic Fine Art Galleries (NGFA) for a request to include one of my photos in their galleries. It was a photo from 2012 of the Village of Gasadalur, which was published in the Dec. 2012/Jan. 2013 issue of Nat Geo Traveler. However, after I received additional information, any initial excitement turned into disappointment.

I was surprised to learn the photographer only gets 5% of the total sale price. Artists in galleries commonly receive 40% to 50% of the sale price. Most US states where the prints are sold will earn more than the photographer in sales tax.

Here’s how the Nat Geo Creative rep explained the pricing:

NGFA follows a pricing matrix which is arranged by size and category. There is a pre-release price that is held for 30 days (an example of a pre-release price at 70cm is around $1,800 and 200cm is $4,950). After 30 days, the price increases (in this example, the 70cm increases to $2,250 and 200cm to $5,750). As the images sell, the price increases based on the sales rate. NGFA pays the National Geographic Creative agency a 10% royalty on these sales, and then we split that 50% with the photographer. So if a print sells for $1,800, the gallery pays National Geographic Creative $180, and then we split half of that with you, $90. That is the lowest amount you would get for a print.

If you are interested in the National Geographic gallery program and your image is selected, please note the following responsibilities:

  1. You will need to review and sign the standard contract detailing participation terms in the gallery program;
  2. We will need you to disclose any previous fine art sales of the image;
  3. When your image is added to the gallery inventory, you will be required to pull the selected image from all other print and fine art sales venues, including your own site;
  4. You will be asked to provide a digital signature, a background story for the image and a short biography.

I didn’t think they would negotiate for a better commission, but I tried anyway. I was then told by the rep that, “The commission is the same for all of the photographers in the gallery and cannot be negotiated.”

My 2012 photo of the Village of Gasadalur on the Faroe Islands. This was published in Nat Geo Traveler and is the photo I was contacted about.

NGFA says it “tests” the photos on their Instagram page first, to determine if it meets “certain criteria”. Based on recent NGFA Instagram posts, they seem to be targeting photographers who have placed well in Nat Geo photo competitions or who are popular on the Your Shot community. It makes me wonder why NGFA is seeking photos from photo competitions and Your Shot. Perhaps it’s the low 5% commission?

NGFA makes editions of 200 for each photo, which is an extremely high number of prints for an edition.

The photographer is usually involved in the print process for fine art prints, whether he/she is printing them or having someone else to do so. I was told all of this would be done via email, and if necessary I could get a single proof mailed. This seems fine if you’re printing posters, but for a fine art print, the photographer usually approves and signs each and every print.

A great relationship with a gallery might warrant a lower commission, but not 5%. There’s usually some sort of relationship with the photographer/gallery and future projects, etc. So, I inquired to see what the gallery/photographer relationship would be. The rep quickly made it clear no such relationship would exist.

“This request is only for the one image by the National Geographic Fine Art Gallery,” she told me.

Oddly, the contract also stated I would have to submit a digital signature. I asked a VP at NGFA about this, and he said, “we digitally sign all final production pieces via autopen. They aren’t physically signed so we will require your signature at the final stage”.

An autopen is a machine that uses a pen to replicate a signature.

I asked if the autopen signature is ever an issue for the customer and the VP replied: “We’re upfront with our customers about it being a digital signature before the sale is complete so they’re aware.”

While that may be true, I find it hard to believe someone would pay thousands for a photo that wasn’t even signed by the photographer. An autopen signed print is a poster, not fine art!

I could certainly use the extra income, but I couldn’t justify such a small commission and contributing to the ever-lowering pay scale for photographers. Not to mention, the autopen!

What is your opinion about the deal National Geographic Fine Art Galleries offers photographers?


About the author: Ken Bower is a graphics designer and outdoor photographer. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Bower’s work has been published by VICE, Business Insider, National Geographic, and National Geographic Traveler. You can find more of Bower’s work on his website and Instagram.

Facebook’s AI Can Open Your Eyes in Blinking Photos

“Take it again, I blinked.” That’s something commonly said after pictures are snapped, but it may soon be a relic of the past if Facebook has its way. The company’s researchers have created an AI that can automatically replace closed eyes with open ones in your pictures.

The scientists trained the AI with photos of people with their eyes open to learn what the subjects’ eyes normally look like. After learning what a person’s eye shape and features should be like, the AI can then work to replace closed eyes with artificially generated eyes in blinking photos.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 2018 also contains a feature called Open Eyes that also opens closed eyes by copying open eyes from other photos of the same subject. But as you can see in the comparison images below, the results leave quite a bit to be desired compared to Facebook’s results.

Closed eyes (left), the results of Adobe Photoshop Elements 2018 (center), and Facebook’s eye-opening AI (right).

Here are some more examples of results produced by Facebook’s eye-opening AI:

Reference photos (left), closed eye photos (center, and AI-generated open eye versions (right).

Some results are better than others. A few are quite realistic, while others produce cold and creepy stares that you probably wouldn’t want to share with friends and family on Facebook.

Advancements in this type of eye-opening AI will undoubtedly produce better and more realistic results as time goes by. But for now, this is an interesting (and eerie) look at what the future may hold for our casual snapshots.

(via Facebook via The Verge)

Ep. 281: Sony Wants the Top Spot by 2021 – and more

Episode 281 of the PetaPixel Photography Podcast.

Download MP3 –  Subscribe via iTunesGoogle Playemail or RSS!

Featured: Fujifilm X photographer, Karen Hutton

In This Episode

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Show Opener:

Fujifilm X photographer Karen Hutton, opens the show. Thanks Karen!

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Stories:

Sony aims for being #1 by 2021. (#)

Fujifilm introduces the X-T100. (#)

Sony’s a9 wins Camera of the Year. (#)

When magazines bought photos they didn’t intend to use. (#)

Shutterbug magazines kills their print edition. (#)

Canon starts selling its sensors to others. (#)

My other podcast with Brian Matiash, the No Name Photo Show.

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.

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