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  • 3 reasons my husband and I are keeping our Amex Platinum Cards (8514 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 16:00:00 -05003 reasons my husband and I are keeping our Amex Platinum CardsThe Points Guy

    It isn’t easy to top The Platinum Card® from American Express when it comes to premium travel perks. But, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, my husband JT and I have grounded our previously quite frequent travels. And, despite the promise vaccines bring, I’m not sure when we’ll get back to our global digital nomad lifestyle.

    So, when JT’s $550 Amex Platinum annual fee (see rates and fees) came due, we considered canceling. After all, on top of his annual fee, we also pay a $175 annual fee (see rates and fees) to have three additional cardmembers (including me) on his account.

    After carefully considering the pros and cons, we decided to keep his Amex Platinum card and the three additional cardmembers on his account. Today, I’ll describe our reasoning.

    Get the latest points, miles and travel news by signing up for TPG?s free daily newsletter.

    Perks we’re using now

    Amex has centered most of the Amex Platinum’s benefits around travel. But, even though we’re not traveling right now, the Amex Platinum provides several non-travel benefits. Some of these are ongoing perks, while others are pandemic-era temporary additions. Here are several of the credits we can use even while grounded:

    Even ignoring any value we might get from Amex Offers, the PayPal, Uber and Saks credits will provide us up to $480 of value in 2021. But even while not traveling, keeping his Amex Platinum account open offers value in several other ways.

    For example, the Amex Platinum offers purchase protection, extended warranty protection and return protection when we purchase eligible items with our cards. Although we typically use Citi credit cards that provide a two-year extension for extended warranty protection, Amex’s shopping protections do occasionally provide us value.

    Plus, having access to the Amex Platinum and its benefits as a cardmember provides intangible value to both of us professionally. After all, we both frequently write about the Amex Platinum card. For example, I once wrote about how I got $160 of food and drink included on a $153 Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts stay. And last week I wrote about unique perks that keep the Amex Platinum in my wallet.

    Related: 14 things to do when you get the Amex Platinum

    Valuable perks for future travel

    If we expected to remain grounded for another year, it would be more difficult to justify keeping our Amex Platinum cards. But we have lots of trips booked for mid- and late 2021. Even though it’s unclear how many of these trips we’ll take, we expect our Amex Platinum cards will provide some value on actual travel later this year.

    In particular, the following Amex Platinum benefits will provide value once we restart travel:

    Of course, the value provided by the perks is challenging to calculate even in a typical year filled with travel. And we often book flights using the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card because we prefer Chase’s less-restrictive included travel insurance.

    However, we get significant value from Amex’s Fine Hotels and Resorts program and Amex’s Global Lounge Collection. Plus, although I earned Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status organically last year, I rely on Hilton Honors Gold status as an Amex Platinum additional cardmember when staying with Hilton. And the Amex Platinum’s medical transportation assistance is the primary reason we generally don’t purchase travel insurance.

    Related: Amex Platinum vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which card is right for you?

    Additional cardmember benefits

    After JT signed up for the Amex Platinum in 2017, he added his mom, dad and me as additional Platinum cardmembers on his account. After all, Amex Platinum cardmembers can add up to three additional Platinum cardmembers for a flat additional $175 fee (see rates and fees). And additional Platinum cardmembers get many of the same benefits as primary cardmembers, including:

    Note that additional Platinum cardmembers are different than additional Gold cardmembers, which you can add for no extra cost. And complimentary Gold cards are different than the popular American Express® Gold Card. In short, complimentary Gold cards don’t provide many perks besides the same earning rates as the Amex Platinum, access to book hotel stays through The Hotel Collection and a Global Entry application fee credit every four years (or a TSA PreCheck application fee credit every 4 1/2 years) (up to $100).

    Having three additional Platinum cardmembers who also use the card’s benefits certainly pushed JT to keep his Amex Platinum. Sure, he could have canceled his account and I could have signed up for an Amex Platinum card and added JT and his parents as additional cardmembers. But I’m likely not eligible for the Amex Platinum’s welcome bonus. And, due to Amex’s welcome bonus policies, I am not willing to sign up for the Amex Platinum without a welcome bonus.

    Related: I?m finally applying: Here?s why the current Amex Platinum offer is better than waiting for a 100K bonus

    Bottom line

    The Amex Platinum currently offers an elevated welcome offer. You can earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership. Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new card at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $15,000 in combined eligible purchases) during your first six months of card membership. As such, you can earn up to 225,000 American Express Membership Rewards points when you apply now. You can also check out CardMatch to see if you are one of the lucky ones targeted for an even-higher 100,000-point welcome offer.

    If you don’t already have an Amex Platinum card, you may be interested in applying. After all, as I discussed in this guide, you can still get significant value from the card even if you aren’t traveling right now. And by applying now, you can build up your stash of American Express Membership Rewards points for some much-anticipated post-pandemic travel.

    Related: Who should (and who shouldn?t) get the American Express Platinum?

    For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, please click here.

    Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.

    What is Delta Air Lines elite status worth in 2021? [Mommy Points]
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  • Nikon?s February Nikkor F-mount lens rebates are ending this week (1290 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 15:47:00 -0500Nikon?s February Nikkor F-mount lens rebates are ending this weekNikon Rumors

    The Nikon USA instant rebates for nine different Nikkor F-mount lenses are ending on February 26 – see the details at Adorama and B&H. Here is the full list:

    Check out also the Nikon Z5 discounts in Europe – see the details at Park Cameras, Calumet, Foto Erhardt (the same savings should also be available also at Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Amazon FR, Amazon IT, Amazon ES);

    Here are the discounted F-mount lenses:

    The post Nikon’s February Nikkor F-mount lens rebates are ending this week appeared first on Nikon Rumors.

  • Draw an Iceberg and See How It Will Float (924 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 15:36:00 -0500Draw an Iceberg and See How It Will Floatkottke.org

    Glaciologist Megan Thompson-Munson recently posted an “unofficial but passionate petition” for scientists and science publications to start drawing icebergs correctly.

    While it’s true that only ~10% floats above the surface of the water, the “classic” orientation is unstable and would actually not be found in nature. An elongated iceberg would not float on its head, but instead on its side.

    Inspired by her plea, Joshua Tauberer made a cool little iceberg simulator called Iceberger — you can quickly draw an iceberg and see how it will float. Here are a couple of weird ones I drew:

    I would love to see a gently gamified version of this where you compete to draw the slowest-orienting icebergs or icebergs closest to their stable orientation. Would be similar to some of the puzzles in Brain It On!

    Tags: Joshua Tauberer   Megan Thompson-Munson   science
  • How Much of a Photo Can Be Deleted Before AI Can?t Recognize It? (3655 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 15:14:00 -0500How Much of a Photo Can Be Deleted Before AI Can?t Recognize It?PetaPixel

    In a new project that mixes science and art, artistic duo Shinseungback Kimyonghun has created a series of images that have pixels removed until an AI program can no longer recognize the subject — in this case mountains. Impressively, much of the image can be deleted before this happens.

    “Shinseungback Kimyonghun” is a Seoul-based artistic duo consisting of engineer Shin Seung Back and artist Kim Yong Hun. The two have many projects that mix AI visual recognition with photography. In one from 2012 called Cloud Face, the two had an AI look at moving clouds in an attempt to pull frames that looked like human faces. In another project called Flower, the AI was shown a series of distorted flower images which could still be recognized by the AI.

    In a similar vein to Flower, this latest project, titled Mou ta n, examines the limits of AI’s current object recognition capabilities.

    “An unfinished painting by Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Water Jug inspired the project,” Yong Hun tells PetaPixel. “Although almost half of the painting is unpainted, we can still see the objects. Would it be visible to AI as well? If so, how much should it be erased to be unrecognizable to AI? What would it look like to humans then? These questions arose and we applied the idea to mountain images.”

    Yong Hun says that he and Back used three different object recognition systems for this project: Google Cloud Vision, detectron2 by Facebook, and Microsoft Azure Computer Vision. When none of the three AI systems can see the mountains in the images, the duo considered the piece complete.

    Looking at the mostly-deleted images, it is rather impressive that the AI systems were able to see these as mountains for so long: some of these are nearly indistinguishable even to the human eye. Yong Hun and Beck agree.

    “We had to erase more than we expected,” Yong Hun says.

    For the team, finding a balance to where the AI wouldn’t be able to recognize it but a human still would was part of the challenge.

    “We wanted the erased mountains to still be visible to humans. This boundary was difficult to find. If we erase only a little, the AI sees the mountain. If we erase a lot, humans cannot see the mountain either,” Yong Hun said.

    The portions they chose to erase had to be picked in such a way that humans could still recognize them. But Yong Hun says that if they wanted to, they could have deleted so much of the photo that a human wouldn’t be able to see what it was, but an AI could still recognize it.

    “The images were erased in the way that humans (at least myself) can see the mountains, but it could have been erased for AI can see but humans can?t,” he says.

    The duo believes that as AI gets smarter, it will be harder and harder to create images that humans can still recognize but AI cannot. Part of what they found in this process was that in many cases, AI showed that it may be better at recognition of objects than humans are, and this is especially the case as AI gets smarter.

    While certainly interesting as art, this project does point to the power of artificial intelligence. With image recognition and facial recognition getting particularly powerful, it will be part of human society’s choices in the near future to determine the limits of how the technology can be deployed, what it can be used on, and how governments should be expected to use or not use it.

    To see Shinseungback Kimyonghun’s full project, check it out here.

    Image credits: Photos by Shinseungback Kimyonghun and used with permission.

  • NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover Provides Front-Row Seat to Landing, First Audio Recording of Red Planet (1647 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 15:09:00 -0500NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover Provides Front-Row Seat to Landing, First Audio Recording of Red PlanetSlashdot

    New video from NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover chronicles major milestones during the final minutes of its entry, descent, and landing (EDL) on the Red Planet on Feb. 18 as the spacecraft plummeted, parachuted, and rocketed toward the surface of Mars. A microphone on the rover also has provided the first audio recording of sounds from Mars. From a report: From the moment of parachute inflation, the camera system covers the entirety of the descent process, showing some of the rover's intense ride to Mars' Jezero Crater. The footage from high-definition cameras aboard the spacecraft starts 7 miles (11 kilometers) above the surface, showing the supersonic deployment of the most massive parachute ever sent to another world, and ends with the rover's touchdown in the crater. A microphone attached to the rover did not collect usable data during the descent, but the commercial off-the-shelf device survived the highly dynamic descent to the surface and obtained sounds from Jezero Crater on Feb. 20. About 10 seconds into the 60-second recording, a Martian breeze is audible for a few seconds, as are mechanical sounds of the rover operating on the surface. "For those who wonder how you land on Mars -- or why it is so difficult -- or how cool it would be to do so -- you need look no further," said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. "Perseverance is just getting started, and already has provided some of the most iconic visuals in space exploration history. It reinforces the remarkable level of engineering and precision that is required to build and fly a vehicle to the Red Planet."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Recent Eruptions on Mount Etna (20 photos) (707 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 15:02:00 -0500Recent Eruptions on Mount Etna (20 photos)In Focus

    Mount Etna has erupted four times in the past six days, sending lava flowing down its slopes, and showering nearby villages with ash. Etna, on the Italian island of Sicily, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. No significant damage or injuries have been reported during this recent outburst, and officials have said they do not think there is immediate danger of escalation, but the views have been spectacular.

  • Hopkins School Council Meeting - Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 (288 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 14:38:00 -0500Hopkins School Council Meeting - Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021All Agendas Web Google Group

    Attached please find the agenda for the upcoming Hopkins School Council meeting, scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 28, at 8:30 via zoom (the link is in the agenda). Thank you, -- *Kim Piquard* Administrative Assistant Hopkins School Hopkinton Public Schools 508-497-9824 kpiq...@hopkinton.k12.

  • Photographer Sues Hilary Duff for Defamation Over ?Creep? Claim (2784 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 14:25:00 -0500Photographer Sues Hilary Duff for Defamation Over ?Creep? ClaimPetaPixel

    Photographer Darryl Wilkins has reportedly filed a lawsuit against celebrity Hilary Duff and talk show host Wendy Williams, accusing the two of defamation by suggesting that Wilkins could be a child predator after Duff filmed Wilkins photographing her son’s soccer game in a public park.

    It all began back in February 2020 when Duff noticed Wilkins at her 7-year-old son’s soccer match. Duff started recording Williams with her smartphone camera as she approached and confronted the photographer.

    She then posted a clip of the confrontation to her millions of followers on Instagram with the caption: “Paparazzi shooting KIDS. Go ‘practice’ your photography on ADULTS! Creep! Laws need to change! This is stalking minors! Disgusting!”

    “Can you stop taking pictures of the kids please?” Duff is heard on camera asking Wilkins.

    “It?s legal,” Wilkins replies. “I?m taking pictures. I?m practicing photography. I?m not here to scare you or anything like that. Your paranoia is unwarranted.”

    “It?s just an uncomfortability factor that these are 7-year-old children and you don?t have a child here,” Duff counters.

    After Duff’s video went viral, Williams weighed in on her top-ranked syndicated talk show , The Wendy Williams Show. Williams played Duff’s clip to her audience and

    “Creepy to me,” Williams says after sharing the clip. “Sir, if you’re practicing photography, why wouldn’t you go into a park and take pictures of birds and butterflies?”

    In his lawsuit, which was first reported by The Blast, Wilkins insists he was simply testing his camera gear by shooting sports photography and that Duff defamed him by publicly accusing him of “reprehensible and despicable conduct including by innuendo that he was a child predator.”

    Williams then repeated the defamatory claims on her TV show, the suit says.

    Wilkins argues in the lawsuit that Duff made defamatory “false statements because Wilkins is not a pedophile or child predator and was attempting to take photographs as a photographer and not as a paparazzi or stalker or with mal intent or evil wrongdoing.”

    The photographer is asking the court to award general, specific, and punitive damages for the harm he received from he slander.

    As of this writing, Duff’s original Instagram video has been viewed over 2.2 million times and William’s clip on YouTube has around 200,000 views. Both clips remain available online.

    Image credits: Hilary Duff portrait in header illustration by VOGUE Taiwan and licensed under CC BY 3.0

  • Clubhouse Chats Are Breached, Raising Concerns Over Security (1395 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 14:12:00 -0500Clubhouse Chats Are Breached, Raising Concerns Over SecuritySlashdot

    A week after popular audio chatroom app Clubhouse said it was taking steps to ensure user data couldn't be stolen by malicious hackers or spies, at least one attacker has proven the platform's live audio can be siphoned. From a report: An unidentified user was able to stream Clubhouse audio feeds this weekend from "multiple rooms" into their own third-party website, said Reema Bahnasy, a spokeswoman for Clubhouse. While the company says it's "permanently banned" that particular user and installed new "safeguards" to prevent a repeat, researchers contend the platform may not be in a position to make such promises. Users of the invitation-only iOS app should assume all conversations are being recorded, the Stanford Internet Observatory, which was first to publicly raise security concerns on Feb. 13, said late Sunday. "Clubhouse cannot provide any privacy promises for conversations held anywhere around the world," said Alex Stamos, director of the SIO and Facebook's former security chief. Stamos and his team were also able to confirm that Clubhouse relies on a Shanghai-based startup called Agora to handle much of its back-end operations. While Clubhouse is responsible for its user experience, like adding new friends and finding rooms, the platform relies on the Chinese company to process its data traffic and audio production, he said.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Hopkinton Parks & Recreation - Meeting Agenda - February 24, 2021 (283 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 14:07:00 -0500Hopkinton Parks & Recreation - Meeting Agenda - February 24, 2021All Agendas Web Google Group

    Attached: Hopkinton Parks & Recreation - Meeting Agenda - February 24, 2021.pdf Sent using Google Docs https://docs.google.com/ -- All email messages and attached content sent from and to this email account are public records unless qualified as an exemption under the *Massachusetts

  • The Used Market, The Last Bastion for DSLRs, Has Fallen to Mirrorless (3578 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 13:52:00 -0500The Used Market, The Last Bastion for DSLRs, Has Fallen to MirrorlessPetaPixel

    As you might expect, the used market is several years behind the new market when it comes to trends. DSLRs had ruled the secondhand market but for the first time, KEH reports their sales have finally dipped below mirrorless.

    One might argue that the used market draws a unique picture of what a lot of the public is still shooting, selling, and rebuying.

    KEH recently published a report that highlights the used mirrorless market and notes that, as shown in its 2020 sales recap, DSLRs are a huge part of its business. In that sales recap, KEH notes that DSLRs ruled the company’s top 10 best-selling cameras and has done so for the last decade. KEH said at the time that it expects DSLRs to be a major workhorse camera style for years to come, but also to expect mirrorless to grow in popularity.

    In 2020, not only did mirrorless make an appearance, it took top honors: The a6000 was KEH’s top-selling camera of that year.

    “It takes a huge volume of sales to get to the top of our list, so it’s clear that there’s a tremendous amount of Sony a6000’s circulating out there to feed both supply and demand,” the company writes. “Additionally, we’ve seen that the Sony E-mount in general, is a camera system that many are actively seeking and selecting as their first foray into interchangeable-lens photography, or as an upgrade from a previous generation DSLR.”

    As noted by CIPA in recent years, DSLRs may sell in large numbers still, but they do not command the value that mirrorless cameras do. KEH is starting to see that trend affect the used market now, as it reports that revenue from DSLR bodies shrunk by 6% in 2020, while mirrorless bodies saw a jump of 91%.

    KEH’s data also mirror’s CIPA’s, as it reports that the average price of a mirrorless camera on the used market is 78% higher than DSLRs, and trending upwards.

    Mirrorless lenses are on that same pace, though DSLR lenses are still in a commanding lead.

    “DSLR lenses still make up a larger bulk of our revenue when compared to mirrorless, and that’s certainly notable,” KEH writes. “The ability to adapt DSLR lenses to newer mirrorless bodies has kept that category of gear still relevant, and it looks to continue to be that way for the foreseeable future.”

    The biggest shift in the market happened in December of last year, as KEH reports that revenue from DSLRs was surpassed by mirrorless cameras for the first time.

    “Now that manufacturers are focusing on mirrorless, and photographers have started making it their first choice, the tipping point is all but imminent where mirrorless overtakes DSLR as the biggest piece of the pie,” KEH reports. “We finally saw this happen in December of 2020 — it was the first time in our history where mirrorless beat DSLR in revenue generated. All signs point to this shift to continue over 2021.”

    For those paying attention, this data should not come as a surprise. Mirrorless was assuredly going to take over both the new and used markets eventually given their ability to sell for more and, based on KEH’s report here, hold that value over time. Seeing data like this from multiple agencies is why it is curious to see companies like Pentax reject mirrorless and push forward with DSLRs: the future is not bright for the format.

    You can read KEH’s full report on the state of the market used market with regard to mirrorless and DSLR sales here.

    Image credits: Header photo by Andrik Langfield.

  • Spotify HiFi is a Lossless Streaming Tier Coming Later this Year (1045 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 13:39:00 -0500Spotify HiFi is a Lossless Streaming Tier Coming Later this YearSlashdot

    An anonymous reader share a report: Spotify is going hi-fi. Well, "HiFi." It's taken longer than competitors like Tidal and Amazon Music, but today, the leading subscription music service announced a new lossless streaming tier that will allow listeners to get the most from their digital music library. The news came at the company's Spotify "Stream On" virtual event. Spotify HiFi will be available later this year and "will deliver music in CD-quality, lossless audio format to your device and Spotify Connect-enabled speakers, which means fans will be able to experience more depth and clarity while enjoying their favorite tracks." Spotify has done small tests of higher-quality streaming in the past, but now it's going to launch the feature more widely -- with the caveat that it'll be available only "in select markets." Pricing is yet to be announced. Higher-quality streaming has apparently been among the top requests from its customers; as it stands today, Spotify tops out at 320kbps audio.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.

  • Finding All the Source Images for the Sgt. Pepper?s Album Cover (1134 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 13:19:00 -0500Finding All the Source Images for the Sgt. Pepper?s Album Coverkottke.org

    The iconic album cover for The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is a collage of images of dozens of people — mostly famous, mostly men — arranged as though they’re standing in a group behind the band. A list of the people depicted on the cover (including Marilyn Monroe, Edgar Allan Poe, Karl Marx, Shirley Temple, and Fred Astaire) can be found on Wikipedia but Chris Shaw went a step further and tracked down the exact source images for each one of people & objects shown.

    The collage was designed by Peter Blake and his wife Jann Haworth, and the cut-outs were assembled in Michael Cooper’s London photographic studio. Michael and his team toiled hard to construct the ‘cast of extras’, using a mix of photos sourced from the BBC Hulton Picture Library, images from private collections, waxworks and personal artifacts, including a gnome owned by Ringo Starr.

    You so rarely get to see the raw materials used for design objects, so this is a real treat. (via waxy)

    Tags: Chris Shaw   design   music   remix   The Beatles
  • 5 One-Light Modifier Setups: Portrait Lighting in 10 Minutes (6541 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 13:19:00 -05005 One-Light Modifier Setups: Portrait Lighting in 10 MinutesPetaPixel

    In this article and video, you?ll get five one-light studio setups, and we?re going to do it in less than 10 minutes. I?m using a Profoto A10 for this setup, but you can use any flash. I?m also going to limit our modifiers to just the basics, so we?ll mainly use an umbrella. For all of our setups, I?ll give you other options, regardless of what I?m using.

    You can find our model, Sammy, on Instagram (@boom_shenanigans).

    Setup #1: Rembrandt Lighting

    One of my favorite setups is for Rembrandt lighting. For this setup, you?ll need to place the flash at an angle so that the light falls mainly on one side of the face with just a bit of light reaching the far side of the subject?s face, usually in the shape of a triangle (see the image above).

    Here?s a simple trick for this setup. Ask your subject to look straight into the camera and then place the light in a spot where, from the light?s position, you can only see a small portion of the far side of your subject?s face (see image below).

    From there, simply add the modifier onto your light source. I?m just using a standard shoot through umbrella, which you can find on Adorama for around $10. For my camera setup, I?m using a Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 lens. I?ve set my exposure (1/200, f/4, ISO 100) so that if I take a shot without any flash whatsoever, my image comes back completely dark. I?ve cut away all the ambient light, meaning the only light you?re going to see in the image is coming from the flash that I?ve added.

    As a reminder, Rembrandt lighting is characterized by a little triangle highlight on the far side of your subject?s face. You can control the size and placement of that triangle by just simply adjusting the face position. If you want more of the highlight, turn the face a little bit more towards the light source; if you want a little bit less of the highlight, turn the face away from it.

    Also, if you want to fill in the shadows, you can use a v-flat (ours is from V-Flat World) to bounce light back onto your subject. These are fantastic modifiers to have in the studio, but if you don?t have one, you can use a 5-in-1 reflector with the white side facing the light source. Of course, you?ll need a stand for the reflector as well.

    Setup #2: Paramount or Butterfly Lighting

    This next lighting setup is often called Paramount because Paramount Studios often used this setup when photographing their actors and actresses. It?s also called butterfly lighting because of the little butterfly shape that it creates in the shadow just below the nose.

    To use this setup, place the flash directly above your subject?s head at a downward angle. I?m using the same umbrella from the previous setup. This setup is simple and it does a great job of highlighting the hair, as well as contouring the cheeks and the face. Just remember, you may need to (and probably should) experiment with the height of the light source to ensure that you?re getting fill light into the eyes. If you?re not getting enough light into the eyes, just lower the light a bit.

    Setup #3: Clamshell Lighting

    Grab yourself a reflector and add it to the previous setup to get clamshell lighting. Have your subject hold the reflector around waist-high, or they can set it on their lap if seated.

    We started with the silver side of the reflector facing upward and you can see that the light bounced off of it and filled in all the shadows while also adding quite a bit of catchlight. You can control this in one of two ways: First, bring the reflector up closer to your subject?s face; the closer it gets, the more light is going to fill into the face (move it farther away for less light). The other way we can control the light using this setup is by simply using the white side of the reflector.

    If you don?t have a reflector, grab a bounce card or anything any white ? a piece of foam core, poster board, or whatever you have. Bring the reflector up close to your subject, direct them into a pose, and capture the shot.

    Setup #4: Square Lighting

    With a square lighting setup, we?re essentially filling light from all angles. In addition to the umbrella and reflector, I?m going to use v-flats on both sides of my subject. If you don?t have v-flats, grab two reflectors and hang one on each side with a primary light at the top and a third reflector on the bottom.

    An actual, professional square lighting setup can cost thousands of dollars. This is a very simple and effective way of doing the same thing without all the gear. The cool thing about the square setup is it does a really great job of filling shadows for the entire face. It creates a very flattering overall look, great for headshots.

    Setup #5: Backlit Flat Light

    For this setup, you?re going to grab a reflector and, brace yourself, cut a hole right in the center of it. If you?re worried about the price, these things cost around $30. Hopefully, you can swing it.

    I?ve placed a flash right above my background (see the image above), essentially creating a two-light setup using only one light. I angled the flash down to skim right over my subject?s head and bounce off of the reflector and onto my subject?s face. The resulting light resembles a square light setup but with a hair light falling from behind the subject.

    You can handhold this setup yourself while capturing the shot, but I?d recommend getting a reflector stand if you plan to use this setup often. They?re quite inexpensive and will prevent you from throwing out your arms while you?re shooting.

    We hope you enjoyed this article/video on 5 one-light setups for capturing portraits.

    P.S. If you?d like to dive deeper into lighting, check out our Flash Photography Training System over at SLR Lounge, which is part or our full library of Premium workshops.

    Be sure to catch our next episode of Mastering Your Craft on Adorama?s YouTube channel next week! If you want to catch up on all the episodes, make sure you check out our playlist!

    About the author: Pye Jirsa is a wedding photographer based in Southern California and the co-founder of SLR Lounge. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Jirsa?s work here. This article was also published here.

  • Leak Reveals Updated Pentax Optics, Including 77mm f/1.8 Limited Lens (2759 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 13:02:00 -0500Leak Reveals Updated Pentax Optics, Including 77mm f/1.8 Limited LensPetaPixel

    Three new fast Pentax prime lenses are rumored to be coming soon: the HD Pentax-FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited, HD Pentax-FA 43mm f/1.9 Limited, and Pentax-FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited lenses. Additionally, Pentax will supposedly be releasing the K-1 Mark II in four new colors.

    The HD Pentax-FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited will be available in two colors, according to a new report from Nokishita. Images of this lens leaked in greater numbers than the other two upcoming optics, and the price is expected to be $799 — notably less expensive than the current version which retails for nearly $900. Visually, the two lenses share a lot in common, and the re-release is unlikely to be a completely new take on the lens but rather small adjustments.

    While the 77mm f/1.8 leaked first and with the most number of images, it appears that the 31mm f/1.8 and the 43mm f/1.9 will also be re-released at or near the same time.

    As was the case with the 77mm, all three lenses appear to be re-issues of current lenses in Pentax’s lens library but upgraded with new coatings. Notably, all three lenses feature “SP Coating” and “HD Coating” branding that is not present on product descriptions for the current versions of the lenses (31mm f/1.8 here and 43mm f/1.9 here).

    Additionally, Nokishita reports that Pentax will be releasing a limited edition run of four new colors for the K-1 Mark II: Black & Gold, Viridian, Scarlet Rouge, and LX75 Metallic.

    While these products were leaked ahead of their official announcement, there was no indication for the specific date the lenses or DSLR were supposed to become public.

    It’s possible that Pentax will be focusing on these re-releases because of the recent news that it would not be able to announce the K-3 Mark III at Photokina this year due to problems sourcing parts. Pentax spent a considerable amount of its efforts hyping the K3 Mark III since late summer last year and losing its flagship APS-C announcement at Japan’s largest photography-focused tradeshow was likely a huge blow for the Ricoh subsidiary.

    Pentax has been languishing in the bottom tiers of popularity among competitors for some time, and recently doubled-down on its strategy of building new DSLRs and stating that it could not go mirrorless despite sales data regularly coming out of Japan that shows DSLRs are capable of drawing significantly less value from the market than mirrorless. Considering the K-3 Mark III was set to retail for $2,500 despite its reliance on old technology and a crop sensor, Pentax appears dead-set on bucking trends despite all data available to it.

    Still, there are those that argue Pentax is making the right business choices.

    (via Digicame Info and Pentax Rumors)

  • The Leica Q2 Daniel Craig x Greg Williams limited edition camera will be announced in the next few days (776 characters)
    New Leica Q2 Daniel Craig x Greg Williams limited edition camera leaked online [Leica News & Rumors]
  • Four Quick Links for Monday Noonish (832 characters)
  • Axcelis Ships Second 15MeV Implanter to "Leading CIS Foundry In Asia Pacific" (1048 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 12:25:00 -0500Axcelis Ships Second 15MeV Implanter to "Leading CIS Foundry In Asia Pacific"Image Sensors World

    PRNewswire: Axcelis has shipped the second Purion XEmax high energy implanter to a leading CIS foundry in the Asia Pacific region.

    Bill Bintz, EVP, Product Development explained, "Strong growth in the image sensor market continues to drive robust demand for high energy implant. The new Purion XEmax, combined with the popular Purion XE family of products, will extend Axcelis' market and technology leadership in this high growth market."

    The new Purion XEmax high energy implanter was designed for image sensor applications. The enhanced beamline features multiple filtration systems to eliminate energetic metal contaminants which can otherwise result in compromised dark current and white pixel count levels. The new system is built on the industry leading Purion XE high energy implant platform and features Axcelis' patented Boost Technology, which delivers beam energies up to 15 MeV. Purion XEmax is delivering the most precise angle and overall process control to enable higher quality photodiode performance for next generation CIS devices.

  • This Photographer Accidentally Shot a Meteor While Capturing a Volcano (2353 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 12:16:00 -0500This Photographer Accidentally Shot a Meteor While Capturing a VolcanoPetaPixel

    Sometimes in landscape photography, nature smiles at your camera and surprises you with much more than you were hoping to capture. This photo is one example of that. While photographing an erupting volcano, the photographer saw a shooting star flash across the sky and steal the spotlight in the frame.

    Back in September 2016, photographer and Nikon ambassador Daniel Kordan was leading a photography workshop at Klyuchevskaya Sopka on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the northeast corner of Russia.

    Rising to an elevation of 15,580 feet (4,750 meters), Klyuchevskaya is the highest mountain on the peninsula and the highest active volcano across all of Eurasia. It’s considered a sacred mountain by some of Russia’s indigenous people, who believe that it marks the birthplace of the world.

    Klyuchevskoi’s first documented eruption was all the way back in 1697, and the volcano has been regularly erupting ever since, so it’s a great location to visit if your goal is to capture a volcano eruption without putting yourself at much risk.

    As he was photographing a minor eruption of the volcano with his students, Kordan lucked out and managed to catch a meteor as well.

    “We stayed with my group at camp close to a small pond,” Kordan tells PetaPixel. “We caught reflections of volcanoes and accidentally I also caught a shooting star during a long 25-second exposure.”

    The composition turned out to be perfect, with the glowing trails of both the lava flow and shooting star mirrored in the foreground pond.

    While there are sometimes great opportunities to go out and intentionally capture photos of shooting stars — during the annual Perseids meteor shower, for example — other times the shooting stars unexpected photobomb long-exposure photos and create happy little accidents like Kordan’s beautiful shot.

    Kordan is one of the most-followed outdoor photographers on social media, boasting over 1.6-million followers on Instagram. You can also find more of the artist’s work on his website, Facebook, and 500px. Prints of Kordan’s photos are also available here.

    P.S. We previously featured Kordan’s photos of an ice cave being lit by a flare and the Milky Way mirrored on flooded salt flats.

    Image credits: Photograph by Daniel Kordan and used with permission

  • Huawei Announces the Folding Mate X2, Featuring a Leica Quad-Camera (3707 characters)

    Mon, 22 Feb 2021 12:04:00 -0500Huawei Announces the Folding Mate X2, Featuring a Leica Quad-CameraPetaPixel

    Huawei continues to push ahead along with Samsung in the folding devices space with the announcement of the Mate X2. With massive screen real-estate and a camera array branded with Leica, the phone appears to be on the cutting edge, if it wasn’t for one major, glaring issue.

    The phone’s raw specifications look very impressive. It features an 8-inch wide inner screen with a resolution of 2480×2200 pixels and an outer 6.45-inch screen with a 2700×1160 pixel resolution. Both screens are OLEDs with 90Hz refresh rates which are not the 120Hz some might want but is still plenty swift. The folding design improves on the company’s previous Mate X and Mate Xs as it now opens from the inside rather than the outside, along with a hinge that Huawei says it has “perfected” and allows the device to fold cleanly with an “imperceptible” gap.

    The Mate X2 uses the Kirin 9000 chipset, Huawei’s in-house flagship processor, which the company says will be the final phone to feature it thanks to US trade sanctions. It also features 8GB of RAM, a large 4,400mAh battery, and fast charging up to 55W.

    Packed with over 15 billion transistors, the ultra-compact 5nm Kirin 9000 5G SoC is streets ahead when it comes to high-speed data processing. Consisting of two big cores plus a tiny core, the reimagined NPU pushes AI processing to a new level, while the 24-core Mali-G78 GPU offers heightened image processing. This chip brings greater performance for whatever task you ask of it, from intensive gaming to complex film editing.

    The quad-camera array comes courtesy of a partnership with Leica and features a 50-megapixel “Ultra Vision” wide-angle f/1.9 aperture and optical image stabilization (OIS), a 16-megapixel “Cine Camera” ultra-wide angle with an f/2.2 aperture, a 12-megapixel telephoto that represents 3x optical zoom and an f/2.4 aperture and OIS, and an 8-megapixel “SuperZoom” that promises 10x optical zoom at an f/4.4 aperture and OIS. Huawei says the Mate X2 also supports a 100x digital zoom (but did not provide example images of that for what are obvious reasons: those photos probably don’t look very good).

    The Mate X2 also features a macro mode that allows photos to be taken at a close focusing distance of just 2.5 centimeters (~0.98 inches).

    Below is a series of photos taken at three focal lengths to give an idea of the Mate X2’s zooming capability. The first is at 1x, the second at 3x, and the third at 10x.

    While not mentioned specifically, the camera likely digitally zooms between the optical 3x zoom and the 10x zoom, which likely means that the quality of photos taken in that range will be significantly worse than when it can use a dedicated camera and lens.

    Huawei says the Mate X2’s autofocus is powered by a mix of phase and contrast detection but did not offer more details other than that.

    So what is the “glaring issue” initially mentioned? Unfortunately, Huawei devices have a lack of Google apps. For now, it runs on EMUI 11.0 based on Android 10 and will be among the first phones to be updated to its HarmonyOS in late April.

    The Mate X2 will go on sale in China starting February 25 and is available in four colors. The 256GB model will cost 17,999 yuan (~$2,785) and the 512GB version will be available for 18,999 yuan (~$2,940). There is no word on if this device will be available in any other markets, and at the time of publication, neither the United States nor European Huawei websites featured any notice of the phone’s announcement.

    (via Engadget)

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