Posts Published in February 2010

Joby Adds Magnets to the Gorillapod

What do you get when you attach magnets to the Joby Gorillapod? The Gorillapod Magnetic, of course. It’s one of the two new products Joby is unveiling at PMA starting this Sunday (Jessica will be there covering it), with the other being the Ballhead X. The magnets allow the flexible tripod to be anchored to things like poles and doorways, supporting up to 11.5 ounces. However, you probably don’t want the magnets to come too close to your camera equipment, since magnets usually don’t get along with electronics very well. The Gorillapod Magnetic is available at the Joby Store and costs $25.

Photogs Wary of UK’s Digital Economy Bill

Photographers have been buzzing about the Digital Economy Bill, which is expected to shortly become law in the UK. The controversy revolves around the vague provisions for “orphaned works”, which many claim will give the government control of licensing for any photograph deemed “orphaned” after a reasonable search for the owner has been conducted. In the section “Licensing of Orphan Works”, the bill reads,

The Secretary of State may by regulations provide for authorising a licensing body or other person to do, or to grant licences to do, acts in relation to an orphan work which would otherwise require the consent of the copyright owner.

The bill proposes an “orphan works register”, to which anyone can submit photographs they find on the Internet after completing the following steps:

(a) to carry out a reasonable search to find or, if necessary, to identify and find, the owner of the interest,
(b) after the search, to publish notice of the proposal to enter the interest in an orphan works register, in a way designed to bring the proposal to the attention of the owner of that interest, and
(c) to keep a sufficient record of the steps taken under paragraphs (a) and (b) and of the results of those steps.

Once in the register, the photographs can be licensed by the government and used for commercial purposes. Essentially, this means that any photograph found on the Internet can be licensed by the UK if the person who wishes to use the work cannot find the owner after a “reasonable” search.

Here’s some further reading:

Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments!

Image credit: Police guards by italpasta

Taking Photos with Hand Gestures

SixthSense is a wearable gesture device being developed by PhD student Pranav Mistry at the MIT Media Lab that allows the wearer to interact with their environment, treating the real world as a computer display. The above video is of the demo that was given at TED that generated international attention. What we found interesting is how the device allows you to photograph with hand gestures (at 6m25s), and the ability to work with your images on any wall.

Perhaps in the near future we’ll be able to edit and send our photographs on a wall immediately after shooting them using a wearable projector.

Giveaway: “A World in HDR” by Trey Ratcliff

Update: This giveaway is now over. The winners were randomly selected by the giveaway system we used. Here they are: @sam_decker, @jdenham, and @gregoriusness.

Hullo y’all. We’re giving away 3 copies of travel photographer Trey Ratcliff’s latest book, A World in HDR. The book is filled with spectacular HDR photographs of scenes around the world, and also includes a solid tutorial in the back for learning how to create your own HDR images.

The book costs $30 on Amazon, and you can see some sample images and find out more on Trey’s website.

We’re going to be doing this giveaway a little differently: it’s going to be done completely through Twitter using a new system we developed. In the past we asked that you tweet certain keywords, and I used a custom-written program to collect all the tweets. The problem was that it wasn’t very transparent, and you didn’t even know whether we did in fact count your tweet as an entry.

So what’s our solution? Instead of using the behind-the-scenes program I wrote, I turned the system into a Twitter giveaway web app! Everything will be automated, and all you need to do is follow the instructions on the page and post a tweet through the app. When the giveaway is over, the application will randomly select and display the 3 winners using

To enter, simply post a tweet through the giveaway page!

You must tweet through the app in order to enter, since it tallies entries posted through the app rather than search on Twitter for matching tweets. You can also visit the giveaway through the following widget:

The application requires that you tweet, which is a link back to this post. Unlike previous giveaways, you can say whatever else you want. You can even post a normal, everyday tweet through the app as long as the link is thrown in there.

The giveaway ends on the evening of February 21, which is this Sunday. Good luck!

P.S. If you run into any bugs in the app, please leave a comment here letting me know and I’ll get it fixed ASAP! This is the first giveaway ever through the app, but feel free to run your own!

Also, this giveaway is open to international readers as well!

Thanks to Trey for providing the books for this giveaway!

ImageStamper Proves Photo Licenses

ImageStamper is an online tool that acts as your witness when it comes to image rights.

If you’re a photographer, it can verify when you uploaded a photograph, and if you use creative commons images, it can help document the license of the image when you used it in case the owner decides to change the license or remove the photograph in the future.

The service currently only handles photographs uploaded to Flickr, but they’re planning to add support for other photo services as well.

There also isn’t currently an automated way to have your photographs “stamped”, so you’ll have to manually enter them into the ImageStamper system.

Do you think the extra work required by this service is worth it? Would you use it to protect yourself and/or your photographs?

Photo Album Shaped Like a Memory Card

Here’s a bizarre combination of old and new: a photo album that looks like a gigantic SD card. It holds 60 4×6” prints, and will be available from Spinning Hat starting in April for £9.99 (~$16). What would be awesome is if prints from the shop always came in these things.

(via PhotographyBLOG)

Use Bicubic Sharper for Web Resizing

We posted a while back on how to sharpen your photos like Flickr for smaller resolution images. The technique used “Unsharp Mask”, but today we’ll quickly describe how you can ensure sharpness using a simple setting.

When you reduce the size of an image in Photoshop, there’s an option on the Image Size screen that allows you to choose how the image is resampled (shown above). By default, this is set to “Bicubic”, but that’s not optimal for shrinking photographs down to smaller sizes for the web. Instead, you should use “Bicubic Sharper” to preserve the sharpness in your photo.

Here’s a demonstration of the difference. The following photograph was resized from 3883px wide down to 500px using “Bicubic”:

Now compare that photograph with the following version, which we resized using “Bicubic Sharper”:

You can hover your mouse over either photograph to compare it the other (you might have to wait a few seconds to see the change).

To set “bicubic sharper” as your default, go to

Preferences->General->Image Interpoation->Bicubic Sharper (best for reduction)

If you’ve been resizing images poorly in the past, you should now see a noticeable increase in sharpness! Yay!

How Nikons Are Used in Space

Most of you probably know the astronauts on the ISS use a lot of Nikon gear for their photography. The video above shows American astronaut Jeff Williams use one of the cameras onboard as an accelerometer during a reboost, through which the ISS maintains its orbit. It’s pretty neat seeing the camera floating around.

Snapm Helps Amateur Photogs Find Work

If you’re an amateur photographer looking to go pro, finding clients is often a difficult task. Snapm aims to make it easier by offering comparison shopping to people looking for high quality photography by amateur photographers.

It may have never occurred to you to hire a photographer for any reason before because it was always so expensive to hire a professional, and inconvenient to find an amateur. But Snapm opens the doors to the idea of hiring an affordable amateur photographer…

To get listed in the searches, you need to sign up for the service and create a portfolio, which looks like this:

Snapm embraces the startup mantra of “release early, release often”, so many of the features offered aren’t very polished yet. For example, while search returns a list of photographers near you, you cannot currently filter or sort by rate or reviews. However, if Snapm does begin to take off, it might become a great way to land your next gig.

(via Lifehacker)

Top US Patents Captured by Non-American Companies

Just as the Winter Olympics are heating up international competition in Vancouver this week, the U.S. has suffered a bit of a statistical loss to non-American companies on home turf: American-owned companies have captured far fewer U.S. patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2009. U.S. corporations hold about 49% of all U.S. utility patents in 2009, while non-U.S. firms hold the majority.

In a repeat of last year’s trend, major Asian companies, such as South Korea’s Samsung, Japan’s Canon, Panasonic, Toshiba, Sony and Seiko Epson have snagged a spot in the top ten in number of patents issued in 2009, according to the IFI Claims Patent Services ranking.

An interesting note: out of the top 10 on the list, many, such as Canon (viewfinder patent sketch featured above), Panasonic, are diverse companies whose products include printers and televisions, but have a notable stake in the consumer camera industry. Fujifilm, a Japanese-owned company dedicated to consumer camera products alone, placed 19th on the top 50 list as well.

Though the sheer number of patents does imply an accelerated growth and company innovation with an intent to bring the products to a consumer market, the press release notes that America has held its own considering the recession climate that still lingers:

Although the margin of patent dominance between U.S. and non-U.S. firms is slight and has been for several years, there is no uncertainty that foreign firms are adding patents at a frenetic pace.  ”Interest in protecting corporate intellectual property has become intense both in the U.S. and abroad, and as a result we’re seeing an increased level of patent activity,” continued [general manager of IFI Patent Intelligence Darlene] Slaughter.  ”The silver lining may be that the high priority foreign firms place on U.S. patents is a confirmation of the value and importance that the U.S. market represents.”

U.S. companies, IBM, Microsoft, Intel, and Hewlett-Packard held top spots on the rank as well, at 1st, 3rd, 8th, and 10th, respectively.