Category Archives: Photography

The New World of Machine Photo Recognition



Red DogBack in 2012 Google announced that its computers learned to recognize pictures of cats.

Technology doesn’t stand still. Today in 2016 Google’s computers can now recognize many other things besides disinterested feline faces. What comes from this machine recognition ability goes far beyond facial recognition.

About a year ago, I uploaded my entire library of photos and many of my videos to Google Photos as a supplemental photo backup system. I am using the free version, allowing Google to compress images as they see fit to save space. Over a period of time my thousands of scanned 35mm negatives finally uploaded. I install Google Photos on all of my mobile devices so any photos or videos I take will automatically be uploaded.

I was looking at Google Photos as just a convenient photo/video backup insurance plan. As it turns out, I’m getting a lot more than I bargained for. The ability to search my personal photo collection is nothing short of remarkable.

Who has the time to enter keywords into photo management systems? Like most other people with large digital photo collections, I’ve never bothered.

Machine learning now renders labor-intensive keyword entry unnecessary.
Though the current level of machine learning isn’t perfect, it is more than good enough to be extremely useful. It is now possible for me to quickly find specific photos or types of photos from my massive lifetime image library.

For example, I take search for “zoo” and photos of animals in cages plus various animals that can be found in zoos pops up. If I type in “rodeo” a massive number of rodeo photos will pop up, not surprising since I spent years photographing my youngest brother, who used to be a rodeo bull rider.

If I search for “dog” all manner of dog photos I’ve taken over the years show up.

If I search for “cup” all kinds of photos will show up, including photos of different types of cups, people holding cups, etc.

If I type in people’s names, chances are I will get photos of them. I’m not surprised by this since when I scanned in a number of old print photos I named the files with the names of the people in them.

Searching on adjectives such as “cold” or “hot” may or may not yield image results. Using search words such as “blue” or “green” can result in images that have blue or green objects in them, or they may have an overall blue or green cast to them, such as images taken without flash under different colors of florescent lights.

Over time the machine learning is bound to improve and the search results will become even better than they already are.


Facebook and Twitter are Making Images More Accessible



image by Redd Angelo from StockSnapIt has been said that adding an image to your post in social media is a good way to get more people to look at it. People who are blind or visually impaired might not be able to see those photos. Facebook and Twitter have made changes that are designed to make the images more accessible.

Facebook posted a blog that explains the change they are making. “With more than 39 million people who are blind, and over 246 million who have a severe visual impairment, many people feel excluded from the conversation around photos on Facebook. We want to build technology that helps the blind community experience Facebook the same way that others enjoy it.”

Facebook has introduced something called automatic alternative text. It generates a description of a photo using advancements in photo recognition technology. People who use screen readers on iOS devices will hear a list of items a photo may contain as they swipe past photos on Facebook. The change is a big one. Facebook states that before, the screen reader would describe a photo as “photo”. Now, the screen reader might say something like “image may contain three people, smiling, outdoors.”

This change was made possible due to Facebook’s object recognition technology. Facebook has launched automatic alt text on iOS screen readers set to English, and plans to add this functionality to other languages and platforms soon.

This follows a change made by Twitter that was designed to improve accessibility. As of March 29, 2016, people who use Twitter’s iOS and Android apps can add descriptions (also known as alternative text) to images in Tweets.

Users can enable that feature by using the compose image descriptions option in the Twitter app’s accessibility settings. The next time you add an image to a Tweet, each thumbnail in the composer will have an add description button. Tap it to see the image, and then add a description (of up to 140 characters). Doing so will help people who use screen readers to “see” your photo.


Vivitar Gets More From Life at CES



PrintVivitar has a long history in photography and cinematography going back to the middle of the previous century. Constantly reinventing itself, Vivitar’s latest iteration is to focus on the fun side of consumer electronics. Marlo and Todd enjoy the new cameras from Vivitar with Director of Marketing, Melissa Hoistion.

First up is the Vivitar DVR988HD 360 Cam which will feature two 180 degree lenses on the front and back of the camera, taking a full 360 degree view. Built-in video stitching software merges the two views into a seamless panoramic image of the journey, whether on a roller-coaster or a scenic bicycle ride. The 360 Cam will record full HD 1080 x 1080 pixel video at 30 frames per second, capture still images at 12.1 MP resolution and shoot about four hours of video on a single battery charge. There’s 200MB of internal storage and a micro SD slot for an additional 256 GB. The Cam will be US$169 when it comes out in Q2.

Next is the new Vivitar MicroCam Air DVR939HD is a miniature life-blogging camera with a 160-degree lens and records full 1080p HD video and 10MP still photos. With very simple controls, the resulting footage can be viewed using a free companion app on smartphone or tablet and there’s a range of clips and mounts to attach the camera to clothing, bikes and helmets. Expected on sale in Q2 for only US$79, I could see myself getting one of these as the MicroCam can record key moments without intruding on the experience.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com and Marlo Anderson rounds up the latest technology news at The Tech Ranch.

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IK’s iKlip Grip is a Pro Selfie Stick



IK MultimediaIK Multimedia‘s iKlip Grip shows the clear difference between a professional monopod and the much maligned selfie stick. IK’s Starr gives Daniel a demo of the Grip and shows why it deserves to be in your travel bag.

The iKlip Grip is a multifunction smartphone video stand that can work as a monopod or trip, can hold smartphones either vertically or horizontally, or can hold any camera with a standard screw mount, such as a GoPro. There’s a complementary Bluetooth shutter remote control.

It’s all very well done; for example, the tripod feet fold up neatly into the handle, and whatever your feelings are about vertical video, it’s great to have that option in case it’s needed.

The iKlip Grip is available now for $69.99. Much better value than that no-name clone selfie stick!

Daniel J. Lewis is the host of the award-winning podcast about podcasting, The Audacity to Podcast. Daniel helps others launch and improve their own podcasts for sharing their passions and finding success.

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Panasonic Lumix ZS100 4K Camera



Panasonic LS100The new Panasonic Lumix ZS100 comes with a raft of features that make it a little bit different from the average pocket snapper (and a price to match). Daniel chats with Darin Pepple from Imaging with Panasonic to review the ZS100’s features.

To start with, the ZS100 has a 1″ 20 megapixel sensor, which is huge for a camera in this class and gives good depth of field control. And then there’s a whole bunch of tricks such as taking a still from a 4K video or a post focus mode which captures a series of apparently out-of-focus shots from which you then choose the feature to focus on and everything snaps into focus on that point.

The camera comes with a companion app for smartphones and there’s wifi connectivity built in, so you can see on the smartphone (or tablet) what the camera sees.

Available in mid-March for US$699 online and from good photography stores. Outside of the US, the camera may be called the TZ100.

Daniel J. Lewis is the host of the award-winning podcast about podcasting, The Audacity to Podcast. Daniel helps others launch and improve their own podcasts for sharing their passions and finding success.

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Concepter Improves Your Photos With iBlazr2



Concepter logoTaking photos with your smartphone can be difficult if the lighting conditions aren’t good. Concepter has solved this problem with a small, yet powerful, LED device. It is called iblazr2 and is the second generation of Concepter’s iblazr flash series.

Daniel spoke with Vlad from the Concepter company at CES 2016. Vlad demonstrated what you can do with the iblazr2. It is a small LED flash that can be attached to any smartphone with a clip. It is also possible to hold the iblazr2 in your hand and tap on it to trigger the camera on your smartphone.

You can control the light temperature on the iblazr2 by sliding your finger across a sensor on the back of the device. Slide up to raise the temperature of the light and down to lower it. It is also possible to raise and lower the light temperature through an app. The light goes from 3000 kelvin up to 5600 kelvin. The battery in the device will last for about one hour on the first power mode and about 25 minutes on the second power mode. Charge the iblazer2 via a micro USB cable.

The iblazr2 is priced at $59. It is available through the Concepter website.

Daniel J. Lewis dares you to get started in podcasting with The Audacity to Podcast.

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VUZE Unveiled World’s First Affordable Consumer 360 3D VR Camera at CES 2016



VUZEHumanEyes Technologies, a leader in photographic 3D, animated content, and lenticular graphic arts, has unveiled VUZE, the world’s first consumer, portable 360° 3D VR camera and dedicated software studio that is set to bring immersive content creation to the masses.

Priced under $1,000, the VUZE camera and software studio is both a technological breakthrough as well as a quantum leap forward for the industry that is currently only served by large, complicated devices requiring Hollywood blockbuster type budgets.

The VUZE camera combines advanced 3D and 2D capture technology using 8 Full HD cameras within an easy-to-use “point-and-shoot” form-factor. The VUZE Studio brings groundbreaking advances in 360 3D content creation with near real-time processing (1 minute per minute) and seamless stitching thanks to a proprietary technique called Adaptive Blending that mimics the way the human eye interacts with the brain to form pictures in the mind. Finally, the VUZE agnostic approach means content can be enjoyed on its own lightweight VUZE VR Headset or on ANY VR player, VR headset, cardboard or 3D device or TV.

Featuring a stylish design, the highly portable VUZE camera will be available in a variety of vibrant colors and comes with its own purposely engineered and versatile “selfie stick” and tripod. It’s battery and removable SD card can capture up to one hour of video allowing people to capture and relive every part of the world around them in breathtaking detail.

VUZE has been built on its own innovative technology architecture and is controlled by a dedicated iOS and Android app. Inside the device are 8 Full HD cameras that simultaneously capture images, videos and sound to facilitate full stereophonic and 360° 3D spherical content.

Each camera uses ultra-wide and vertical angle lenses to capture 120° and 180° vertical images and together generate 4K VR content. Within the app, users can see any of the 8 camera views as well as preview and delete content. VUZE can capture both 2D and 3D 360° spherical images and videos and can effortlessly switch between the two. Finally, its internal processing and compression capabilities render easy-to-edit H.264 HD video files that transfer to users’ home computers and laptops.

VUZE will be creating and demonstrating 360 VR throughout CES at the Sands Expo Center, Hall G booth # 82717.


ProDrone Introduces ProDrone BYRD at CES 2016



ProDrone ByrdProDrone has announced the introduction of their new Ultimate Flying Platform line with a static mount capable of lifting and integrating with several of the world’s most popular DSLR cameras. This marks the first time a consumer drone had been able to integrate with heavier DSLR cameras, increasing the ease and value of producing super high quality aerial photography.

The ProDrone BYRD best known for its unique ability to fold up to the size of an iPad for hyper portability, has now added another unique ability by introducing a static mount for DSLRs. The new mount is integrated with several Sony cameras (DSC-RX100M4, ILCE6000, a7RII) and the RICOH GR2.

The system is also available with limited operations for the Panasonic GH4, Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera BMD and the Canon 5DII. Full integration will be available for all these cameras by Q2 2016.

Mount Capabilities:
* Mounts available for all levels of BYRD

* Flight time for these cameras range from 12-15 minutes

* SONY DSC-RX100M4
View footage via the ProFlight app
Take photos and video via the ProDrone controller
Focus and zoom from the controller

* SONY ILCE6000
View footage via the ProFlight app
Take photos and video via the ProDrone controller
Focus and zoom from the controller

* SONY a7RII
View footage via the ProFlight app
Take photos and video via the ProDrone controller

* RICOH GR2
View footage via the ProFlight app
Take photos and video via the ProDrone controller

* Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera BMD
View footage via the ProFLight app

* Canon 5DIII
View footage via the ProFlight app

* Panasonic GH4
View footage via the ProFlight app

The new Ultimate Flying Platform mounts will be available for sale in Q2 2016 with new features and capabilities being added in Q3 2016. Visit ProDrone at CES 2016 at booth # 25417


Bevel 3D Smartphone Camera Attachment at CES 2016



c2c19d4a2dcda42f24831c2918091871_originalMatter and Form is bringing their newest smartphone photography accessory– the Bevel 3D camera attachment– to CES 2016.

While most other 3D attachments merely create a 3-dimensional illusion by enhancing the depth of a photograph without actually creating a usable file, Bevel allows you to capture real 3D photographs using any smartphone or tablet.

Bevel works by plugging in to your phone or tablet and capturing a panoramic view of the person, place, or object you want to photograph. Bevel’s eye-safe laser light and your device’s camera work in tandem to scan the object and create a stunning 3D image that you can use in countless ways. You can even use Bevel for 3D printing!

Bevel comes in multiple color options (white, orange, green, blue, and black) and is compatible with both IOS and Android smartphones and tablets. It’s currently available for pre-order for $79 here, and is scheduled to begin shipping in early 2016.

Bevel will be at CES 2016  at LVCC, South Hall 2- 26530 in the Augmented Reality Marketplace.

 


PicLab HD: Spice Up Your iPhone Photos



hd-iconLike many photographers, I’ve spent countless hours experimenting with a seemingly endless stream of photo apps for iPhone. While Photoshop is great for hardcore RAW editing on a desktop, sometimes you need a quick and simple solution for editing photos on the go. The latest addition to my mobile photo arsenal is a beautiful little tool called PicLab HD.

PicLab HD is a powerful design studio that enhances your photos with a plethora of effects and overlays. Just import a photo from your photo library and browse through the extensive catalog of filters, moods, stickers, and overlays. You can also perform basic adjustments such as contrast, brightness, saturation, and blur.

The cool thing that sets PicLab HD apart from other photo editors is its wide variety of text and artwork overlays, all created by professional designers. You can customize the size and color of the overlays to create the perfect addition to any picture. The $1.99 app includes several collections of these stickers, and you can purchase additional packages for $0.99 each, or purchase the entire catalog of artwork for $2.99.THIS TO THISThe free version of PicLab doesn’t include as many features as PicLab HD, but it’s a good place to start experimenting with what the PicLab ecosystem has to offer. You can upgrade from within the free app to access the features of the HD version, or download PicLab HD directly for $1.99 in the App Store. If you’re a serious photographer/designer/artist/enthusiast, I recommend making the plunge and buying PicLab HD– it’s most definitely worth it!