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Let me begin by saying that I’m not a hunter. But I am surrounded by hunters because I live in Minnesota. I’ve heard countless stories about deer hunting from co-workers and friends, but the most interesting story was from a seasoned hunter who told me that now he only hunts for a “trophy buck” because he’s hunted everything else and he’s only interested in getting “the big one”.
He goes on to describe what the big one may look like – broad shoulders, big neck, and apparently the size of the rack doesn’t matter. When he goes hunting he may let herds of less attractive deer walk by during the course of a weekend without lifting his gun. This may sound like an elitist attitude, but it made me think about using this strategy in street photography.
It’s pretty easy to draw the metaphor of street photography to hunting. Both require the use of your various senses to track down your prey and pull a trigger. You have virtually no control over your environment and are at the mercy of the weather. And both activities involve specialized equipment to be successful.
I just returned from a four week trip to China where I shot street photos in seven different cities. In each of these cities I noticed I was seeing the same shots over and over again with only slight variations. I started thinking about the “trophy buck” strategy of hunting – where I would only raise my camera for the “great” shots and walk away from the ordinary shots.
Like a lot of street photographers, I come from the school of “digital spray-and-pray”. I would shoot a LOT of photos and then separate the good from the bad during processing. Some days I would see a 10% hit ratio, while other days would yield only one keeper.
I learned that searching for the trophy buck on the streets requires both patience and risk. Getting in close for an intimate image that captures facial emotion is a risky maneuver, but if done well it usually pays off.
Toward the end of my recent trip I decided to implement the trophy buck strategy by using an internal filter for scenes I considered “too small” or “ordinary”. These shots I would walk away from. And there were a lot of them.
(I guarantee if you got this far in the article that I’m about to insult someone out there, so let me be clear: these are my filters and people should shoot whatever makes them happy. I’m not a member of the street police attempting to define the boundaries of the genre.)
This is my list of “walk-away shots”:
– Anyone holding or using a cell phone. That includes about 90% of China. It’s like hunting squirrels with a shotgun. Too easy.
– Street performers. Too common and easy.
– Homeless people or beggars. Let them keep their dignity.
– The all-too-common juxtaposition of a person against a billboard or sign. Yawn.
– People sleeping. Double yawn.
– Street markets. I’ve gotten some great shots at markets, but it’s time to move on.
– The back of people’s heads isn’t very interesting unless they’re staring at something incredibly profound.
– I use to shoot a lot of photos of children in China because, well, they’re just so gosh darn cute, but now I’m slowing down on that.
So what’s left? This is my list of potential “Trophy Bucks”:
– Cultural anomalies and visual paradoxes. These are relatively easy to find in China, but you still need to dig them out of the urban landscape.
– Factory photos. I take a lot of factory tours for my “day job”, which gives me access to some interesting sights inside Chinese factories. Technically not exactly street photography. Yes, I always ask for permission to take photographs.
– Clever (but not trite) reflections. I haven’t done many of these types of photos, but I’m always looking for the opportunity. I just don’t want to rip-off HCB’s puddle leap photo.
– Some of my favorite photos are actually street “portraits”, which I still love doing.
– Because there are 1.3 billion people in China, there are a lot of people searching for their own identity in the crowd. They just want to stand out. These people make for interesting subjects.
– Smoke and steam fascinate me. They add an interesting element to most images.
– I’m playing with motion shots to communicate energy.
– Like all street photographers, I’m always hunting for over-the-top WTF shots.
– I love shooting in kitchens in Chinese restaurants. It’s always full of surprises and the cooks love being photographed.
– There’s a public park I go to in Yangjiang, China where the city’s really old people hang out all day. They play cards and tell stories. It’s ground zero for some amazing street portraits.
– About a year ago I started using a flash at night to grab some faces-in-the-crowd photos. It takes some big stones to fire a strobe in a stranger’s face, but so far I haven’t had my ass kicked.
– I tried shooting in the rain (with a flash) on my last trip. That was new for me.
– Shallow DOF photos, which are a challenge to focus on the move, but do a great job of separating the subject from a busy background. These are probably still a spray-and-pray project just to grab focus.
When I first started implemented the trophy buck strategy in China I felt paralyzed because I wasn’t taking very many photos. I walked for kilometers and kept saying nope, nope, nope. But when I did see a worthy scene or subject I found myself taking a lot of shots of good material. I worked the scene more.
This reminded me of my favorite photo book, Magnum Contact Sheets, which illustrates how the masters spent a lot of time working a single scene. In the past I might grab one or two shots of MANY different scenes, but now because I was filtering my potential subjects I was focused more on the good stuff. This may seem pretty obvious to some people, but it was a “ah ha moment” for me. Less is more. I felt I had a filtering process before, but now it’s more formal and refined.
After reviewing the shots from my trip in Lightroom I discovered I had a few good “series” of images that gave me some good choices. I had fewer (crappy) photos to review so it was easier to find the keepers. Sadly there were no award winning photos this time, but if I keep looking for the elusive “trophy buck” and ignore the ordinary-looking herd maybe I’ll get one soon.
About the author: Jim Hofman is an industrial designer and photographer (street and studio) who has been traveling to China for the last 30 years, with an average of 5 to 6 trips per year. You can find a collection of his work on his website.
Image credits: All photographs copyright 2015 Jim Hofman
Good old-fashioned fleshy people power has usurped cold robotics when constructing complicated car parts.
The developers at Oxide Games have made a name for themselves by pushing low-level APIs. They were an early adopter of AMD’s Mantle with their Star Swarm stress test, and they later ported the test to DX12. Then someone got the bright idea to turn that demo into an actual game, and Ashes of the Singularity was born. Now nearing its official March 22 launch date, the presumably final beta has been sent out to hardware reviewers, and it will become publicly available on Steam Early Access tomorrow.
What makes this second beta of Ashes unique is that it’s the first demonstration of DX12’s Explicit Multi-Adapter (EMA) rendering, aka that technology that promises to let AMD and Nvidia GPUs live together in harmony. Unlike AMD’s CrossFire and Nvidia’s SLI technologies, which pair up nearly identical hardware to improve performance, EMA allows developers to utilize any and all graphics resources as they see fit. No longer are developers confined to the whims of driver teams and homogeneous hardware; EMA now let’s them do crazy things like rendering a game using both AMD and Nvidia GPUs.
Over at Maximum PC I’ve put together a massive article detailing what works—and what doesn’t—with Ashes’ EMA rendering. It’s a complex problem, and trying to balance a workload across disparate hardware can’t be easy. Look at how often SLI or CrossFire fail to work properly, and now imagine trying to do all of the rendering work without the help of the drivers. That it works at all is testament to the dedication of Oxide’s developers, but just because you have two GPUs in a system doesn’t mean they’re going to always play nicely.
Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen someone try to pair up GPUs from the two rivals. Back in 2010, LucidLogix created their Virtu virtualization software to try and accomplish the same thing. With little to no help from the GPU vendors, however, LucidLogix pulled the plug a couple of years later. This time, with a low-level API in hand, it’s up to the game developers to make things like EMA work. Is this the shape of things to come—will we see more developers implementing EMA in the future, or will this prove to be too much work for too little benefit? Our crystal ball is a bit cloudy on the subject, but kudos to Oxide Games for being the first to tackle an extremely difficult problem.
If you’re interested in learning more about the technologies behind EMA, check out Maximum PC’s article for a deep dive.
Here are just about all the things you can say to Apple’s updated TV assistant — just press and hold the microphone button on the remote and start talking.
The Hitman beta started on PC today, and it has quickly become clear that giving people the same tools and putting them in the same scenario doesn’t mean you will always get the same results. Quite the contrary in some cases, as can be seen by the drastically different outcomes below. Wes, Chris, and Tim all tried their hands at the first mission to see just how unique each of their runs would be. Chris also grabbed a video of the second mission in the beta as a bonus, but it goes less than ideally.
Keep an eye out for more of our thoughts about the Hitman beta next week, and check out what James thought of his time with the game earlier this month.
And Chris’ attempt at the second mission:
If you’re not familiar with the superhero, king and Avenger, here’s your primer.
Master of Orion, the reboot of the epic 4X sci-fi strategy game that was originally published by Microprose way back in 1993, will arrive as an early access release in just over a week, with an impressive cast of voice actors in tow: Luke Skywalker, Mr. Worf, Freddy Krueger, Wash, Q, Howling Mad Murdock, and a wack of others.
Play it WITH US!
Play Master of Orion at the PC Gamer Weekender in London from March 5-6.
The trailer is the fun way to see who’s taking part, and it also reveals a brand new playable race, but if you just want to get to it (and also if you want the full list of voice actors, rather than a highlight reel), just cast your eyes ever so slightly downward. (I’d recommend watching the trailer anyway, though.)
- Troy Baker (The Last of Us) – Klackon Advisor and Psilon Emperor
- JB Blanc (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy TV Series) – Bulrathi Advisor, Meklar Advisor, and additional voices
- Sara Cravens (Halo 5: Guardians) – Additional voices
- Kat Cressida (Fallout 4) – Mrrshan Empress
- John de Lancie (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Human Emperor
- Michael Dorn (Star Trek: The Next Generation)- Narrator
- Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street) – Terran Emperor
- Nika Futterman (Star Craft II: Legacy of the Void) – Darlok Advisor and Mrrshan Advisor
- Jean Gilpin (Halo 5: Guardians) – Klackon Empress
- Mark Hamill (Star Wars saga) – Alkari Emperor
- John Kassir (Tales from the Crypt) – Alkari Advisor and additional voices
- Misty Lee (Star Wars: Battlefront) – Silicoid Advisor
- Sumalee Montano (Fallout 4) – Terran Advisor
- Nolan North (Uncharted Series) – Darlok Emperor and Sakkra Emperor
- Dwight Shultz (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – GNN Anchor
- Roger Craig Smith (Regular Show) – Sakkra Advisor
- Fred Tatasciore (Family Guy) – Bulrathi Emperor and Silicoid Emperor
- Alan Tudyk (Firefly) – Psilon Advisor
- Kari Wahlgren (Rick and Morty) – Human Advisor and GNN Anchor
Publisher WG Labs also
announced that the Collector’s Edition of Master of Orion, which includes the original MOO trilogy, “retro art Pixel Ships,” a digital artbook, soundtrack, and the new Terran Khanate race, will be available on Steam Early Access and GOG’s Games In Development on February 26, and will cost $50/EUR46. The standard edition will be available when the game goes into full release.
This “Hezbollah sniper” is actually just playing the video game Medal of Honor.
Fallout 4 Game Director Todd Howard said at DICE today that Bethesda Softworks is “busier than we have ever been,” with work ongoing on the recently announced Fallout 4 DLC and Survival mode overhaul. But more interestingly, he revealed that it has three new projects in the works that aren’t like anything the studio has done previously.
“We actually have three kind of longer term projects we’re doing that are all–we’ll talk about them at a future date–but they’re different than anything we’ve done before, while also being a Bethesda-style game,” he said, as reported by VG247. “Big and crazy, but in many ways different than things we’ve done before. It’s an exciting time.”
Bethesda hasn’t had a lot of recent success with games that weren’t either Fallout or Elder Scrolls, but I’m still really curious about what they’re working on, if only because it’s done so many different things over the years. Dare we dream of a new, open-world Wayne Gretzky Hockey? Given the studio’s tight-lipped approach to Fallout 4, I wouldn’t expect to hear more about these projects anytime soon. But you can bet we’ll be paying attention.