Hehe – funny conversation with a nice woman in Toronto. She saw I was wearing Glass and I told her I was recording, and then a funny conversation began!
Where do you think she is from?
Daily Photo – Swimming On Top of Beijing
I spent the morning and the night up on top of this building shooting downtown. I didn’t even realize this awesome room was here until I came down to the bathroom! So I decided to have some fun moving around and taking photos!
And yes, if you look close, you can probably see it is not really a swimming pool. The floor was super-buttery and soft. I don’t know what this room was used for. As far as I could tell, it was always empty. There were no tables or stage or anything at all… maybe the only reason it ever existed was for me to come in and take a photo of it!
Here’s a little video from China when I was changing lenses to get a shot on an old part of the Great Wall.
Another Photo during Winterfest
Every year around this time Queenstown has a long event called Winterfest. Every day they have different events… on the opening night, there is a big concert and then some fireworks. Here’s a quick shot I got while I was watching it with the family.
Daily Photo – Super Moon Sets Over Queenstown
So… you’ve been coming to the blog for, what, six+ years, yes? Well, maybe…hehe… AND, if you’ve been coming all that time, you might have noticed that I have NEVER posted a photo of the moon. Why is that, you wonder? The main reason is because I’ve always gotten absolutely terrible moon photos. Until now! I finally got one that I am kinda happy with… I shot this in the morning yesterday when I walked out to my studio.
I saw it setting behind the mountain near my house, so I got out my NEX-7 with the 55-210mm lens and shot away. This is just one exposure… one RAW file. It worked out well because all the light levels were about the same with the pink in the sky and the snow and the white moon behind the purple cloud…
I know my stance on this is not popular, but I don’t really care. The photography-media is out there trying to scare you into protecting your work with watermarks… I urge you not to live your online life and make your online decisions based on fear. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering. A little green friend once told me that.
As you may know, my work is all Creative Commons Non-Commercial. That means people, as long as they give credit and link back to StuckInCustoms.com , can use my images on their blogs, wallpaper, personal use – anything – as long as it is not used commercially. Every day, I upload a HUGE 6000+ pixel max-resolution image to the Internet. I do not have any fear at all… Believe me, it’s quite liberating living in a world without internet-stealth-fear.
This does not prevent licensing of the images. We do a ton of this activity when people contact us through the website.
So why don’t I use watermarks? It’s a multi-part philosophy:
Updated List o’ Reasons
1) Watermarks look ugly. Whenever I look at a photo with a watermark, often times, ALL I can think about is that watermark! It’s so distracting. Also, I find that I begin to psycho-analyze the photographer based on their font choice. I can tell immediately if they are a cheesy wedding photographer or someone that has no sense of graphic design couth. Now, maybe this is just me. But I don’t want to spend any time thinking about the watermark. I just want to look at the image. And, conversely, I think this is what people want when they look at my images.
2) Legitimate companies do not steal images to use commercially. So I don’t have any logical fear there. *In case of emergency, break glass and see #4
4) We do register our images with the copyright office, so if someone uses an image commercially without a proper license, it is an easy lawsuit. Easy. We’ve had many many wins (often which happen even before you go to court), but we can’t talk about them because it’s always in the paperwork. But there are many online articles you can find out about our lawsuits… everyone from Time magazine to the Sydney Newspapers.
5) I don’t have to maintain two versions of each image – one with a watermark and one without.
6) NOT using watermarks and using creative commons helps more and more people to use your image freely for fun, which increases traffic and builds something I call “internet-trust.” If more people link to your images, then you get more Google juice that flows down your river.
7) As image search and image recognition get better and better, there will be no need to watermark things. In a very short time, we’ll be able to use online tools to find the original creator of an image.
8) Yes, last, there will be bottom-feeders that steal your stuff. I call this the cost of doing business on the internet. These are the Tic-Tacs that are stolen from the 7-11. It is impossible to maintain 100% of your digital inventory, so wanting “perfection” in your online strategy is an illusion.
Hangout about Watermarks
This article ended up inspiring this hangout. We even got an attorney on to talk about orphan works and whatnot. If you want to watch it with the Questions Interface (so you can scrub back and forth and find the part you want) See This Version of the Hangout.
Daily Photo – San Francisco and the Sony NEX-7
Yes, yes. I’m working on this switch to the NEX-7 story in the background… it’s taking a while! I took this photo below of San Francisco just recently with the NEX-7, btw. Also, we were contacted by Sony after my first article came out a few weeks ago. Sony offered me free cameras and lenses – unlimited! That was nice of them, but I told them no. In fact, I just bought another one as a backup (an NEX-6)… paid full price and everything. So… yes… the article is on the way… just been busy lately!
Trey’s Variety Hour #79: Backing up your Photos – The Latest! Physical and cloud…
Backups, backups and more backups! John Pozadzides, Eric Cheng, Scott Kublin, Peter Adams, Scott Jarvie, and I go over a ton of different backup options and workflows. Later in the show we share some photos and finish the show with our G+ Discoveries.
G+ Photographer Discoveries:
Lace Andersen, Jim Shoemaker, Robbie Peterson, Douglas Sonders, Matt Adcock, and Phillip Colla.
Thanks to Dave Veffer for helping out with the whole production!
You can subscribe for free to my YouTube channel at:
I noticed a shortcoming in Google Glass. When you are in a helicopter and trying to get Google Map directions, the only options are walking, biking, public transport, or car. There is nothing about a chopper in there.
But I wasn’t flying the thing. I had the back window seat and was busy tracking the Google[x] Project Loon balloons. I didn’t really plan on making a video until I jumped in the chopper. Then, I thought, hey, “This is gonna be cool. I should record it!” I’m still getting my head around the idea of recording the “highlights” of my day. I’m doing it more and more with my kids. I don’t want to lose these moments, you know?
If you click below, you can see the video I made with Glass. Is it blocked in your country? Here is the Vimeo link.
I didn’t know anything about Project Loon when I signed the paperwork from Google. They just said “Sign it.” I was like… errrr… okay. But if it was from Google[x], I figured it had to be cool. Besides, I trust Google and I guess they know I am a good secret-keeper. It sounded like a great chance to go see Project Loon and take pictures behind the scenes.
Let me back up a second. So, it turns out that Google has this cool secret plan to launch a matrix of balloons all around the earth to bring internet to the masses. There are billions of people on Earth without internet. It turns out that launching a ton of low-cost balloons could be the most effective way of getting these people connected.
And, by coinkidink, they happened to be testing these balloon systems in New Zealand, where I just moved about a year ago with my family! I live down in Queenstown, which is about three hours south of the launch site in Tekapo. I drove up there with my son and arrived at midnight. A few hours later, at the crack of dawn, I was watching a launch and flying all over the south island to get photos and test out the balloons. We had a whole covey of helicopters out there. It was like Apocalypse Google Now.
The balloon launch worked flawlessly. I’m sure they’ve had many failures (in the wonderful Google-iterative-development-manner), but the one I saw was perfect. They partnered with another company called Raven Aerostar to help with the balloons. These guys build the NASA weather balloons, the Macy’s Day Parade balloons, and all kinds of other hardcore things. I was kind of hoping the balloons would be in the shape of Snoopy and Barney, but no such luck.
As for Glass, I would alternate between taking photos and videos. It’s super easy. By default, the Glass video (which is all HD), only records 10 seconds. But you can click a little button on top if what you are recording is interesting and it can go for a long time. This is actually a smart system. Most 10-second videos are quite boring and you can bail out easily. It sure makes it easier later when editing. I edited together everything in iMovie in about five minutes. That was easy and fun.
But then I realized another little problem. I mean, it’s a good problem, but still a problem. I’m recording more and more video every day, especially of my family. Editing it down and picking the best bits takes a bit of time. Creating a “highlight” reel of your day or week is a cool idea, so I am looking forward to when it is more automated. Google+ photos are already doing a smart job of this with “Highlights” where it automatically picks the best photos. I’m looking forward to when that happens with video too. Anyhoo, for now, it just takes a few minutes in iMovie to edit stuff down… not the end of the world.
Back to the Loon story. We landed on a very remote farm in Canturbury, which is sort of a central area of the South Island of New Zealand. Even here, there are about a million people without internet. After landing, we went into the house and tested out the internet as the balloons were flying overhead, forming an internet mesh. It worked perfectly! The family was thrilled. Well, the wife was not so thrilled when her husband started looking on trademe.co.nz (the New Zealand ebay) at buying another truck.
It was a fun experience, and the Google team on Loon is really clever. They’ve been working hard on this, and there is a lot of hard and fun work left to do. I felt kind of like the-guy-that-didn’t-belong. I was just kind of darting in and out, staying out of the way, taking photos, and drinking it all in. But man, it was cool. I was really honored.
One of my best photos I took from the helicopter no one has even seen yet! I was there with the famous Steven Levy from Wired Magazine. They got an exclusive on my very very very favorite photo, and that will appear in the magazine on newstands soon. Steven’s full article on Project Loon will also be another must-read, so be sure to check that out.
Here’s one of my favorite images from that day in the chopper. Shooting from a helicopter is always tough. If you watched that video, you’ll see I switched a lot between different cameras. Even though I am using the Sony NEX-7 a lot, I chose the Nikon here because of the extreme conditions. I was quite worried I would only get a few minutes to shoot, so I wanted to make sure I did not run into any buffering problems… this is why I went with the Nikon.
Don’t know what buffering is? That is what happens when you take a whole bunch of photos in a row and the camera has to save them quickly. On lesser cameras, sometimes you can only take a few photos before there is a long pause while it writes the photos. The NEX-7 lets met get in about 10-13 photos before it starts going slow. The Nikon D3s lets me take about 30+ I think!
No text… here’s one you gotta see… I grabbed a video of it to share with you, otherwise you never would have believed me!
Daily Photo – In the Lama Temple
While touring one of the many temples in Beijing a few weeks ago, we went through one of them that was filled with Lamas that were busy studying. Well, most were busy studying. Others would take an occasional break, like this one who was taking a little cat nap.
A few people saw this a few months ago when they came out to the workshop, but I thought you might like to see it in the snow… it’s a cool winter down here in Queenstown… anyway, I thought you might enjoy seeing where I go to work on my photos every day! I shot this with Google Glass.
Daily Photo – Path Through the Snow
Just today, on the way home after the Winter Festival in downtown Queenstown, I saw this scene just off the road. I jumped out of the car and got in a good spot to take a photo. There is no tripod or anything… just a handheld shot with the Sony NEX-7. I processed it in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro. Actually, I also made a video of me processing it… the team is actually working on something cool on the backend too… a new way to bring you these videos!
On This Week in Tech talking about Google X Loon Balloons, Sony NEX-7, etc
I joined from Christchurch a few days ago to talk with Leo and the gang about what happened behind the scenes at the Google launch of Project Loon in New Zealand. Here’s the full article on StuckInCustoms.com about the Google Internet Balloon launch.
Daily Photo – Wild Tokyo Streets
Here’s the wild Tokyo streets not far from Roppongi. It turns out this tiny little spot is safe to stand in. I think. Well, it probably wasn’t, but those little lines gave me some sense of safety. Either way, I took all the shots and got out of here quickly!
You can see Don Quixote there on the left. It’s a very popular store in Tokyo and they have everything! They have t-shirts, shaving cream, kid toys, and adult toys. Those last two categories are quite different.
This is a 30 min preview of the 4+ hour post-processing landscape tutorial from New Zealand. We recently had people came from all over the world to spend four days taking photos. We recorded the whole thing… watch this to see what happened! You can get all 4+ hours at http://store.stuckincustoms.com/tutorials
Daily Photo – Waterways in the Hills
Here’s another photo from the beautiful course at The Hills here in New Zealand. They decided to make these beautiful waterways that weave in and out of the course. They are great for photography too because they always flow very slowly, so there is a nice clean reflection. Whenever I (rarely) get a clean reflection off water, I always feel like a lucky guy!
Today Adobe announced Photoshop CC that is only available to cloud subscribers.
Adobe should not release such lame updates to Photoshop and Lightroom to convince people that the cloud-subscription software is exciting. They should make dramatic improvements – things that photograpehrs can’t live without. Can we live without “Smart Sharpen” and “Intelligent Upsampling” with Photoshop. Err, probably. The Lightroom improvements are equally underwhelming. You know that the updates are lame when one of the top bullet points is “Include video in your slideshows!” How did THAT become one of the top-most-requested features?
Here's a list of some of the features with Photoshop CC. I am not thrilled. Also, that seems like kind of a lame photo they are using to show off their product, isn't it? Maybe Photoshop has gotten to the point where it is just kind of like a pencil or a paintbrush -- they can't be improved upon. Maybe Adobe really has run out of ideas (except for ideas around new business models where you get to pay them every month).
It also worries me that Adobe is running out of ideas for their photography-related products. Their “big features” are, at best, incremental improvements. They are certainly not exciting enough to drive millions to subscribe to their cloud subscriptions. Their biggest idea, sadly, seems to be cloud-based subscriptions.
Business-model confusion with Adobe
Adobe’s PR and marketing team has a whole list of reasons about why Cloud-based subscription is so awesome for Photoshop. They have a few good points in there, such as it is easy to do incremental updates. But mostly, the reasons are lame and not exciting to amateurs and hobbyists who can’t afford to shell out a ton of money every month.
Here is the confusion: If Cloud-based subscriptions really are so awesome for Photoshop, why do they have a completely different business model for Lightroom? They tell me, well, Lightroom is more for hobbyists and casual people, and Photoshop is more for professionals. I think that sounds kind of ridiculous, don’t you?
What is especially confusing for me is, “How do I explain this to people?” I get a bunch of people that come to this website or to the HDR Tutorial (new and improved, and free as always, btw!) to get advice on what kind of software to get. We get a lot of new photographers who don’t really own any software. Now I have to give confusing advice: “Well, you really need Photoshop and Lightroom. Photoshop you have to pay every month for, but Lightroom you can just buy once.” People are like, “Whhhhaaat?” Why have two business models for such complementary pieces of software? It’s completely confusing to new people, and moderately confusing to veterans.
Anyway, these are the kind of confusing decisions that come out of committees. I hope they clarify things soon, and I also hope they have a business model that is less punitive to beginners, students, and hobbyists that can’t afford the high price of cloud-based subscriptions. It’s not like Netflix or World of Warcraft with their monthly fees. You pretty much have one kind of customer there. With photography, you have the full span of professionals and studios to ameteurs and hobbyists. In my judgment, it’s too punitive to have One-Pricing-Model to rule them all.
Daily Photo – Sunset in New Zealand before the Blizzard
We are expecting a major blizzard coming into Queenstown tonight! We just got back from the grocery store to stock up. I’ve got all my cameras fully charged and ready to go… I’ll try to hit as many places as I can with the fresh snow… chains are ready and all is good to go! Super-excited.
And, speaking of the article above, I can’t think of any of my images that could have been improved if I am using the new features in Adobe’s cloud. Sure, I subscribed to their cloud (Adobe did not gift me one, nor will they probably ever because I am so critical of them), and I am using the latest of everything… but none of these new features have really found their way into my photos yet. Comon Adobe… I know you can do better.
Filled with ideas and resources to help you find your “spark” of inspiration
146 beautifully designed pages filled with colorful photographs
Presented in Nicole’s approachable and conversational style of writing
Real-life inspirational examples
Dozens of ideas to help get those creative brain-cells active
Want to see more from Nicole and the book?
Watch the show that went live last night here on the blog. She joined us to talk about it!
Daily Photo – The Golden Seaspray
It’s fun to take photos of waves exploding on rocks. You never know what you’re gonna get, so it’s a good idea just to take a ton of photos. I must have taken 50 or 60 to get this one. It’s a lot of guesswork involved!
In cases like this, maybe I could have done even better with the Sony NEX-7 instead of the D800. The thing is that I could have hit that 10 FPS, and it would have come in very handy! One of the main problems with the NEX-7 would NOT have reared its ugly head here — the buffering. You can get enough shots when the wave hits and then just wait for the buffering to catch up while waiting on the next wave!
Trey’s Variety Hour #78: Finding Your Photography Inspiration + Google Loon Balloon recap!
I am joined by Wired’s very own Steven Levy, Thomas Hawk of thomashawk.com, inspirational photographer and author: Nicole S. Young, and The Gino Barasa in this fun episode about Google X’s Top Secret Project Loon and photography inspiration!