From 1966: first Selfie in space

aldrin selfie

aldrin selfie

Hundreds of photographs from the early years of the space age are for sale, reports the NY Times. They include the first image taken from space, in 1946 — and the first selfie in space, shot by astronaut Buzz Aldrin twenty years later, in 1966.

The vintage prints — not reproductions — are being auctioned by a European collector. Many were “never widely distributed by NASA.”

Here is the full story.


Mixbook wins photo book service test



Imaging expert Sally Wiener Grotta tested the top photo book makers for the Tom’s Guide website, and determined Mixbook provided the best results.

The testing and analyses focused on two areas, Grotta says: the vendor’s software for creating the photo book and the printed photo books themselves. In tallying our results, we gave double weight to our rating of the printed books, “since no matter how good the software is, the end result is what is most important.”

Grotta tested “seven of the most popular photo book vendors: Blurb, Lulu, Mixbook, Mpix, Picaboo, Shutterfly and Snapfish. Our Editors’ Choice Award goes to Mixbook, for its intelligent, versatile and creativity-enabling software, and the excellent quality of its printed book.”
Shutterfly came in second; Lulu came in last.

Also: we agree with Grotta’s opening statement on the overall importance of the medium:
“Is there any better way to share photos and hold on to the memories they represent than a photo book? For consumers and amateur photographers, a book is a great way to store photographs… and for serious and professional photographers, photo books are also important marketing tools, as well as products to sell.”

Here is the full article.

Can legacy systems kill your business?

Business Success Logo

Business Success LogoMany companies can mistakenly overlook their core competency, their true reason for their business success — and in doing so, they can also get mired in the way thing have always been done.

When that happens, they can fail to innovate and flourish… or to even survive.

Is that what’s happening in camera manufacturing? Marketing consultant and imaging analyst Gary Pageau argues that Canon and Nikon are stuck supporting their legacy lens mounts, while others in the industry are looking at new methods for mounting interchangeable lenses, and for making better cameras.

It’s a fine line many companies must walk: you can’t ignore your current profit center, but neither can you bet everything on it remaining highly profitable forever, as Kodak did with film, Pageau argues. His column is here.

25 years of Photoshop

photoshop baby

photoshop baby

How long have you been “Photoshopping” your pictures?

Personally, I first used what is now the leading image editor soon after it launched, when I was a reporter at InfoWorld. Of course, I was only trying it out on a few shots captured with an early digital camera (the venerable Dycam).

Nowadays of course, the software’s name is also a verb, and we’re as likely to read about how some famous shot was or was not ’Shopped beyond all recognition as we are about new imaging techniques in the latest upgrade.

Anyhow, to celebrate a quarter-century of improving pictures, Adobe produced this video showing the evolution of imaging techniques.

The company discusses the anniversary and future plans here.

Also: In this article, Venture Beat interviews Adobe project manager Stephen Nielson.

And here, the New York Times talks with the program’s creator Thomas Knoll, and looks at where Adobe is taking it now with the subscription-based Creative Cloud suite.

photoshop box

Here’s the full press release:
Adobe Photoshop Turns Twenty-Five
A Cultural Icon, Photoshop Shapes the Way We View the World

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Feb. 19, 2015 — Adobe Photoshop, the imaging software that continues to redefine creativity in the digital age, turns 25 today. Photoshop touches virtually all the inspirational imagery that surrounds us: the high-impact logo on your morning cup of coffee; the new app you download on your iPhone; the sleek design of your running shoes; the Hollywood blockbuster that you’ll see tonight. Photoshop continues to blaze a trail, with amazing new features added in every release and new mobile apps that extend the power of Photoshop to iPhone, iPad and Android devices.
“For 25 years, Photoshop has inspired artists and designers to craft images of stunning beauty and reality-bending creativity,” said Shantanu Narayen, Adobe president and chief executive officer. “From desktop publishing, to fashion photography, movie production, web site design, mobile app creation and now 3D Printing, Photoshop continues to redefine industries and creative possibilities. And today that Photoshop magic is available to millions of new users, thanks to Adobe Creative Cloud.”
Photoshop is one of the most recognized software brands in the world with tens of millions of users, and is the go-to application for digital image manipulation across all media: from print, to film, to the Web. Photoshop features — such as Layers, The Healing Brush, Content Aware Fill and Camera Raw — have empowered creatives to produce their best work. Photoshop technology is also at the heart of Adobe Lightroom, essential software for both professional and amateur photographers. And to meet the needs of today’s visual artists, Photoshop and Lightroom mobile apps enable creatives to work on image files seamlessly across desktop computers, tablets and smartphones.
Photoshop’s success helped Adobe deliver the creative industry’s most comprehensive set of tools. No other company serves the creative industry with such a wide range of products and services. In addition to Photoshop, applications like Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Dreamweaver and others have pushed creativity forward, no matter what the media. And today Adobe Creative Cloud services, such as Behance and Creative Talent Search, are helping a new generation of creatives find a global audience and market for their work.
The secret of Photoshop’s massive popularity has been its constantly evolving capabilities and an incredible pipeline of deep image science. This pipeline of innovation is now getting to customers faster than ever before, with Photoshop and Lightroom desktop and mobile apps constantly updated, as part of Adobe Creative Cloud.
To celebrate this Photoshop milestone, Adobe is showcasing 25 of the most creative visual artists under 25 who use Photoshop. To be considered, artists upload their projects to Behance and use the tag “Ps25Under25.” In the coming months, those selected will take over the Photoshop Instagram handle (@Photoshop) for two weeks and present their work for the world to see. Fredy Santiago, a 24-year old Mexican-American artist and illustrator based in Ventura, California will be the first to display his incredible images, beginning today.
The company is also launching an advertising campaign, “Dream On”, for The Academy Awards — as a tribute to 25 years of amazing art created in Photoshop. The TV commercial includes incredible work from Photoshop artists and iconic images from major motion pictures that used Photoshop in the making, including Avatar, Gone Girl, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Shrek.

How It All Began
In 1987, Thomas Knoll developed a pixel imaging program called Display. It was a simple program to showcase grayscale images on a black-and-white monitor. However, after collaborating with his brother, John Knoll, the two began adding features that made it possible to process digital image files. The program eventually caught the attention of industry influencers, and in 1989, Adobe made the decision to license the software, naming it Photoshop and shipping the first version in 1990.
“Adobe thought we’d sell about 500 copies of Photoshop a month,” said Thomas Knoll, Adobe Fellow and Photoshop co-creator.  “Not in my wildest dreams did we think creatives would embrace the product in the numbers and ways they have. It’s inspiring to see the beautiful images our customers create, the careers Photoshop has launched and the new uses people all over the world find for Photoshop every day.”

Sitcom satirizes “Fauxtography”

faux tography

faux tography 2

A comedy series on the Web laughs at the difficulty a would-be pro shooter faces in light of phones and Instagram.

The developers behind “Fauxtography” say their show features “a 20-something photographer struggling to find his way in the Instagram Era – where anyone with two thumbs and a phone is now a “professional.”

Five episodes are up on YouTube here.
(via Petapixel.)

Feds’ new rules for flying cameras

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 7.12.03 PM

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 7.12.03 PM

Flying a remote quadcopter with an onboard camera can be fun, and potentially profitable. But possible regulatory issues have blocked many a business plan: which way would the Department of Transportation finally rule?

Well, we still don’t know the answer to that, but at least were starting to get some guidelines: the DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration proposed a framework of regulations that would “allow routine use of certain small unmanned aircraft systems in today’s aviation system, while maintaining flexibility to accommodate future technological innovations,” the agencies says in a press release that presumably covers both quadcopters with cameras and more-standard non-seeing remote choppers. The FAA proposal offers safety rules for small UAS (under 55 pounds) conducting non-recreational operations. The rule would limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations.”

“Technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace and this milestone allows federal regulations and the use of our national airspace to evolve to safely accommodate innovation,” the FAA adds.

The public will be able to comment on the proposed regulation for 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register, which can be found at

There’s more information here.

“Print it or lose it” – Internet co-inventor warns of digital image dangers

Kodak ESP 3.2 printer
Kodak ESP 3.2 printer“We stand to lose a lot of our history,” warns Internet pioneer Vint Cerf. Future generations may struggle, he says, as technology advances so quickly that old files may be inaccessible.

The Telegraph UK  reports on Cerf’s speech at the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in San Jose, California.

Noting “the quantity of documentation from our daily lives which is captured in digital form,” Cerf says we “don’t want our digital lives to fade away. If we want to preserve them the same way we preserve books and so on we need to make sure that the digital objects we create will be rendered far into the future.”

Now a vice-president at Google, Cerf says technologists need to create digital formats which can still be accessed in thousands of years. He recommend a system which will not only store a digital format but preserve details of the software and operating system needed to access it, so it can be recreated in the future. “We have various formats for digital photographs and movies and those formats need software to correctly render those objects,” the Telegraph quotes him as saying. “Sometimes the standards we use to produce those objects fade away and are replaced by other alternatives and then software that is supposed to render images can’t render older formats, so the images are no longer visible. This is starting to happen to people who are saving a lot of their digital photographs because they are just files of bits. The file system doesn’t know how to interpret them, you need software to do that. Now you’ve lost the photograph, in effect. If there are pictures that you really care about then creating a physical instance is probably a good idea. Print them out, literally.”

A selfie stick for your, er, backside



Okay, it’s for your butt.

Yeah, kids today… For some reason, they’re obsessed not only with “selfies” but with their rear ends (and those of others, judging by how a Kardashian photo recently “broke the Internet.”)

So, selfie sticks with which you hold a camera a yard away while aiming it at yourself are big. What’s the logical evolution of that trend? Right, not this thing — but here it is.

The Belfie is specifically designed to take “rearview” shots. Business Insider reports developer polled more than 10,000 selfie fans, and found many wanted to “highlight their assets from behind, but had difficulty maneuvering this type of shot with a traditional selfie stick.”

If for some reason you actually want one, they’re $80 (!) here. (But seriously, this could be high-margin impulse buy for camera stores to stock.)

Skydio’s smarter quadcopters see where they are going — funded $3 million



Start-up Skydio is making flying cameras that are almost impossible to crash — and the proof of concept has won them $3 million seed funding.

“Drones are poised to have a transformative impact on how we see our world,” the new firm says. “They’ll enable us to film the best moments of our lives with professional quality cinematography — and they’ll also change the way businesses think about monitoring their operations and infrastructure. This grand vision is starting to come into focus, but existing products are blind to the world around them. As a consequence, drones must fly high above the nearest structures or receive the constant attention of an expert operator. “Flyaways” and crashes abound. These problems must be solved for the industry to move forward.”

Skydio says it will offer “safe and intuitive” drones “for a much broader audience and a much broader set of applications.” Their flying camera will be “aware of its surroundings” and so be “far easier to control, safer to operate, and more capable.”

How will it work? By using it’s camera not just to record images, but to ‘see’ where it’s at. “Almost all the information a drone needs to be good at its job can be found in onboard video data; the challenge is extracting that information and making it useful for the task at hand. That challenge, and the incredible capabilities that are unlocked, are our focus.”

Here’s a cool video demonstration.

And TechCrunch has more on the company here.


Swarm of “incredibly cheap” camera drones

apex flyfrog

apex flyfrog

“A swarm of incredibly cheap camera drones is buzzing your way,” reports Quartz from the Hong Kong Toy and Games Fair. “2015 will be the year of the super-cheap camera-equipped drone, capable of traveling up to several hundred meters and priced so low that consumers could potentially buy them for $100 or less.”

The report notes the Flyfrog quadcopter will be sold by manufacturer Apex Toys in Shenzhen to distributors for just $27 — and it can fly up to 50 meters, controlled by a phone, and take 10 minutes of video.

“This flood of inexpensive, camera-carrying drones is sure to be welcomed by tech enthusiasts who don’t want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a professional-grade aerial photography kit,” the report concludes.

The full story is here.