Tag Archives: Toolbox

Unfiltered: Photographers React to Instagram’s New Terms

It was a holiday surprise that few anticipated, and even fewer appreciated, as Instagram changed its terms/conditions of service on Monday, Dec. 17. Before the announcement, 2012 had been a landmark year for the photo-sharing service: in April, the service was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion, seeing a proliferation of users. Publications like TIME, National Geographic and the New Yorker have integrated Instagram in their editorial work — TIME has twice featured Instagram photographs on our cover this year — once for our Wireless Issue and another to lead our print coverage of Hurricane Sandy.

Instagram’s strength lies in the application’s no-fuss, integrated and intuitive interface — camera software tied to your phone (and now your Facebook account) that allow users to visually document everything from important world events to their breakfast. But as photographers adopted Instagram for creative and even professional purposes, questions arose about ownership, property rights and profitability.

According to the changes, effective January 16, 2013, any photograph posted on Instagram’s service can be repackaged and sold by Instagram for advertising purposes without the user’s knowledge or consent.  In addition, by agreeing to the new terms, users are responsible for any legal claims that may result from the promotion or use of their images.

Long story short: Instagram can use your content to increase their revenue, and if a legal claim is brought against the company regarding how these images have been used, you (the user) might be responsible for the damages.

Adam McCauley

UPDATE (Tues, 5:25pm EST): Instagram has posted a statement responding to user feedback.

LightBox will be updating this post throughout the day as more photographers weigh in. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

At the Fights: How Howard Schatz Gets His Best Boxing Shots

In his six-year journey to comprehensively capture the world of professional boxing, Howard Schatz learned that the sport is one of courage, but also of constraints. Boxers risk getting injured, knocked out or killed when they step into the ring, all while navigating limited space, compared to the size of a basketball court or football field. Plus, they’re somewhat limited in their motions, too. “Some sports require several movements, like basketball—players jump, run, turn, pass, shoot—but boxers are essentially just ducking and throwing punches,” Schatz says. “I was interested in the tremendous challenge of making a photograph of boxers because of this limited range of human motion.”

That interest inspired his newly-released tome, At the Fights: Inside the World of Professional Boxing, in which Schatz chronicles the industry and its most prominent players—from boxing champions and club fighters to managers and promoters—over 256 large photographs.

The majority of the photographs were taken in a single frame, even if their special-effects aesthetic suggests otherwise. “I had to find a way to make a photograph that had the energy and power that boxing has,” Schatz says. “I always say that what boxers do has movement and depth, while the resulting image is still and flat.”

To make images that exuded the dynamism inherent in boxing itself, Schatz experimented with flash, lighting, shutter speed—and even threw water, salt and powder on the athletes—to create the stroboscopic effect.

For a portrait of Argentine boxer Sergio Martinez (slide #1), Schatz timed how long it took him to complete two jumps of the rope—.6 seconds—and then set off a strobe light to go off every .01 seconds, creating 60 flashes, while he photographed him. A special light that went off at the half-way mark added extra drama.

In another shoot with Amir Khan, the photographer set up his camera 40-ft. away from the boxer and had an assistant throw salt on him. Schatz then asked Khan to swing at the salt—hard enough to hit his camera—creating a spray effect that resulted in a highly energetic shot.

Schatz began exploring with these different methods after a Sports Illustrated shoot of baseball player Albert Pujols a few years ago. Photo editor Steve Fine had asked him to do a stroboscopic study on the great hitter, and Schatz was disappointed by the fact that he needed to create two frames—one for the bat, and one for the player—for one picture. Ever since, he’s relished at the idea of playing scientist in the studio. “I photograph to surprise, delight and amaze myself, so this constant, unending learning process has been enjoyable,” Schatz says of photographic journey of making the book. “It’s been a phenomenally rich education—a thrilling experience.”

Howard Schatz is a New York-based photographer. See more of his work here.

Live From Mars: Interactive 360 Panorama from the Curiosity Rover

Image Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

A note to viewers: LightBox suggests viewing the panorama in full-screen mode. For visitors on a mobile device or tablet, we recommend utilizing our versions optimized for a fully immersive experience: 

iPAD version iPHONE version

Taking pictures on another world has never been just point and click. For decades, unmanned probes from Earth have been venturing to distant planets, moons and other bodies—and for just as many decades, the images they have sent home have been composed and transmitted in a decidedly painstaking way. That is especially so in the case of the 360-degree panorama NASA is now releasing of the Curiosity rover’s landing site in Mars’s Gale Crater.

Even on Earth, you have to be selective when you photograph a landscape. After all, no matter how glorious your picture of one part of the Grand Canyon is, it by definition leaves out countless other, equally glorious parts. The only way to capture the whole sweep of the place is to take many small images and bit by bit, piece them all together. That’s hard enough when the camera is in your hand. Now imagine doing it when all of your hardware is 154 million miles away and the data has to be streamed back you in a comparative trickle that, even moving at light speed, takes 17 minutes to get here.

(See more: Inside Look at the Mars Curiosity Rover)

But NASA did just that to produce its full pirouette picture of the Marscape that surrounds Curiosity. The panorama was built from 30 smaller images shot by the rover’s Navcams—or navigation cameras—on Aug. 18 and Aug. 7. Each picture has a resolution of 1,024 pixels by 1,024 pixels, and all of them have been combined in such a way that the seams connecting them disappear. The lighter colored strip at the top right of the image is the rim of Gale Crater—chosen as the landing site because it was once a deep sea. Also visible is the peak of nearby Mount Sharp, which rises 3.4 mi. (5.5 km) into the rust-red sky. The portions of the picture in the Martian sky that appear gray are parts of the mosaic that have not yet been added, but will be the next time NASA updates the image.

As their name implies, the Navcams are used mostly for reconnaissance purposes—scouting out where the rover will drive and mapping the best route to get there. They were thus not designed with beauty in mind—and that means they shoot only in black and white. The cameras mounted atop Curiosity’s mast capture the full range of desert-like colors that define the brutally beautiful Gale Crater environment. The entire suite of on-board cameras will have a lot of work to do in the two years ahead—and every picture they take will be one worth saving. Once the rover starts rolling, after all, it will never be staying in any one place for long.

(Related: Window on Infinity: Pictures from Space)

Google Street View Goes to Antarctica

A note to viewers: TIME.com suggests viewing the panorama in full-screen mode. For visitors on a mobile device or tablet, we recommend utilizing our versions optimized for a fully immersive experience: 

iPAD versioniPHONE version

Above: The interior of Shackleton’s Hut displays the host of supplies used in early 20th century Antarctic expeditions—everything from medicine and food to candles and cargo sleds can be found neatly stored inside. You can immerse yourself in all of Google’s newly released imagery here.

Though Google first grabbed panoramic Street View images of Antarctica back in 2010, the search giant recently returned to the world’s least-populated continent to capture historic sites such as the South Pole and the insides of buildings that have battled the elements for more than a century.

Taking a virtual look inside places that provided shelter for Antarctica’s earliest explorers, such as Shackleton’s Hut and Scott’s Hut, is like stepping back in time. “They were built to withstand the drastic weather conditions only for the few short years that the explorers inhabited them,” says Google. “But remarkably, after more than a century, the structures are still intact, along with well-preserved examples of the food, medicine, survival gear and equipment used during the expeditions.”

Street View photos are normally gathered using specially modified cars, trikes and even snowmobiles, but the latest crop of immersive imagery was collected using only “a lightweight tripod with a fisheye lens,” according to Google. In an area as unforgiving as Antarctica, Google says it “worked with this technology because of its portability, reliability and ease-of-use.”

(Photos: Captain Scott and Captain Shackleton: A 100-year-old expedition)

The end result may not be quite the same as being there in person, but it’s definitely a historically interesting step forward. And it’s a lot warmer, safer and less expensive, too.

“After months of want and hunger, we suddenly found ourselves able to have meals fit for the gods, and with appetites the gods might have envied.”—Ernest Shackleton

For more about how Street View works, head over to Techland.

Interactive Panorama: Step Inside the Large Hadron Collider

A note to viewers: LightBox suggests viewing the panorama in full-screen mode. For visitors on a mobile device or tablet, we recommend utilizing our versions optimized for a fully immersive experience: 

iPAD version iPHONE version

Above: The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) is one of two main detectors at the LHC. It weighs 12,500 tons, measures 69 ft. (21 m) in length and is a key research tool for 2,000 scientists hailing from 37 countries. It was built above ground and lowered into place—a sensible strategy for so massive a piece of hardware. Here it is seen in 2008, just before it was completed. (Panorama by Peter McCready)

There’s something almost ironic about the disparity of scales between the Large Hadron Collider and the subatomic particles it’s built to study. The collider itself measures 17 mi. (27 km) in circumference, sits 380 ft. (116 m) below ground and cost $10 billion to build. Its detectors and magnets alone weigh tens of thousands of tons. As for the particles that are produced by the proton collisions that take place in the LHC tunnels? They are so tiny and evanescent that they flash into and out of existence in just a few trillionths of a second. But you can learn a lot in that flicker of time.

In order to create the quantum crack-ups that are the whole reason the LHC was built, swarms of protons are sent whizzing around the subterranean racetrack in opposite directions until they attain 99.9999991% of the speed of light. When they collide, they briefly recreate the conditions at the moment of the Big Bang—in manageable miniature—and generate some of the primal particles produced then too. The Higgs boson was one of the most sought-after of those particles, but it had eluded detection for nearly 50 years. When its existence was at last proven in the LHC and announced on July 4, champagne corks popped both within and without the physics world. And with good reason.

(Related: Jeffrey Kluger’s interviews the physicists who discovered the Higgs boson)

It’s the Higgs that is responsible for the existence of mass in the universe. No Higgs, so the theories go, no stars, planets, moons, meteors, dogs or humans. Had the boson never been found, the universe would hardly have dissolved into nothing, but the standard model of particle physics—one of the great pillars of the field–would have. Now it’s been saved, and scientists can go on to use the LHC—and the Higgs—to solve some of the universe’s other great mysteries, like dark energy, dark matter and the mystery of gravity. It takes a very big machine to fill that very big order. The LHC, by all appearances, is up to the job.

To see additional immersive panoramas of the LHC, check out this week’s TIME Magazine iPad Edition, available from the Apple App Store.

A portfolio of Peter McCready’s panoramic work is available on his website.

Game Changer: MediaStorm Launches Pay-Per-Story Video Player

MediaStorm broke new ground in digital publishing on Tuesday with the launch of a pay-per-story video player, one of the industry’s most exciting attempts to capitalize on the strength of multimedia productions. Now in its seventh year, the Brooklyn-based multimedia studio has developed an industry-wide reputation for producing strong online documentary multimedia. Before the launch of their new player, which was two years in the making, all content on their site was available free of charge. Now users have to pay $1.99 to watch full stories. As has been MediaStorm’s tradition, half of all revenue generated is shared with the photographers whose work is featured.

Users can watch the trailer for free, but then are prompted to pay to watch the full video. Registration and payment takes about two minutes to complete. “Everyone was initially against it,” says Brian Storm, MediaStorm’s founder and executive producer, of the staff’s resistance to charge for content. “Everyone wants people to see their work, but the reality is if a million people watch our story, it costs a ton of money…we have got to diversify our revenue and say, ‘This is worth your money.’”

By charging for its videos, MediaStorm is sending a message to its viewers that their content is worth more than just their time. Storm’s ultimate goal in launching the player is to advance the way the organization is telling stories—to do more of it, and do it better.

More importantly, Storm feels strongly that this player could be an integral part of how visual journalism is viewed and shared on the Web. MediaStorm has already licensed the player to the Guggenheim Museum and NGOs, and has further plans to make it available to others.

“If we figure this out and share it with others, that’s what success looks like,” Storm says of the player. “Helping the industry get better at what we do.”

Beyond that, the success of the player stands to have big implications for the cadre of visual journalists who could use it to get their stories out there. “That’s Yahtzee. That’s the Holy Grail. This is one step in the process of building that solution,” Storm says.

What it really comes down to for Storm is promoting visual journalism – regardless of whether that originates in or outside of the walls of his company. “The playback of our content is central to who we are, so to take ownership of that and innovate around it was a critical move,” Storm said. MediaStorm Developer Shameel Arafin and Interactive Designer Tim Klimowicz crafted a player that allows full control for branding and video playlists among other functions.

The coding that MediaStorm used to build the player allows the company incredible control – like knowing where their content is being used and viewed, and retaining the ability to turn it off remotely if the player is being misused.

The launch of the player coincides with the publication of two gripping stories in which award-winning photographers Phillip Toledano and Maggie Steber documented the death of one of their parents.

“We’ve been able to reach millions of viewers by distributing our stories for free,” Storm said. “But the reality is, no company or industry can sustain itself for long without producing a product for which people are willing to pay. Our industry is in need of a sustainable business model that will allow us to continue to report and produce compelling stories.”

Ultimately, Storm’s goal is that people will continue to log in, watch the story and learn.

Brian Storm is the founder and executive producer of MediaStorm.

TEAM Animals: Leopards and Chimps and Birds, Oh My!

Photographs of elephants deep in the Ugandan jungle, leopards in the Ecuadorian rain forests or jacquacus in a national park in Peru have never been seen like this before. Caught without the presence of a human photographer, animals were captured alone in their homes as part of an initiative by TEAM, the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network. Since 2007, TEAM has installed cameras in the middle of remote areas all over the world to collect data on local animals and climate with hopes of monitoring local trends in tropical biodiversity to provide early warnings about climate change.

The result is a series of candid black-and-white images that give a truly up-close look at animals in their natural habitats. The process begins with camera installation, itself a laborious task: fieldworkers go into the jungle or forest without trails, often walking for days to get to the desired location. After installing the camera in a predetermined location, the workers test its functionality and return 30 days later to retrieve the technology. Cameras take between 3,000 and 20,000 images at each installation site and record the time, date and moon phase, as well as the f-stop and exposure of the film, while workers later identify the species and group series.

TEAM hasn’t discovered any new species to date, but they have found animals previously unknown to a particular area. For example, in Costa Rica, the Central American Tapir was thought to be locally extinct from that site, but TEAM captured photos of the tapir with babies. Likewise, TEAM was able to confirm the presence of elephants in areas of Uganda thought to be without the mammal for years.

In the future, TEAM hopes to expand the number of sites from 17 to 40 locations. At a macro level, the organization disseminates information to global leaders and plays an active role in the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. On a local level, TEAM works with partners to develop products that help them manage their forests and parks, including changes in the abundance of species and overall animal communities. And only five years into the project, there’s no telling what information—and images—are yet to be discovered.

The Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network is a partnership between Conservation International, The Missouri Botanical Garden, The Smithsonian Institution and the Wildlife Conservation Society, and partially funded by these institutions and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. More information about TEAM can be found here.

Legacy in Leaves: The Vietnam War Remembered

When Binh Danh was a child he noticed the impression of objects left on a grass lawn over time. This observation, combined with an early fascination with science and a personal legacy of war—Danh immigrated to the States as a child refugee from Vietnam—would later coalesce into the series of images for which he is most widely known. Danh appropriates iconic images of the Vietnam War and prints them on organic material such as leaves and grass, using a unique printing process he calls Chlorophyll printing. The images—ethereal and fragile, endowed with a sense of heart-wrenching loss—speak poetically of memory, impermanence and the remnants and aftermath of war.

April 30th marks the 37th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, the official end of the Vietnam War. For Danh, a Vietnamese American, the legacy of that conflict is complex and profoundly personal: photography is his means to connect with the painful shadows of that legacy by empowering a narrative that grounds him in his own identity. “It’s something that my parents I think want to talk about, but it’s difficult for them to communicate because they have such a direct relationship to what happened,” he says.

The artist uses two different processes to create his images. The first resembles traditional black and white printing where a negative is placed on a living patch of grass or leaf. Like the imprint of a hose on a green lawn, light-blocking material removes the green chlorophyll pigment from organic matter. The image transfers when the dark portions of the negative block light, removing the pigment, while the transparent sections keep the underlying portion of the grass or leaf alive. In the second method, grass is cut and layered on a board to form a canvas onto which the artist projects a positive. The clear part of the transparency that lets sunlight through gets washed out, forming an image.

In an ode to the impermanence and fragility of memory, it is impossible to chemically fix the photograph like a silver gelatin print. The artist recommends pressing the material in a book to retain color, and displaying and storing them away from direct sunlight. However, Danh takes this a step further and casts his work in resin, which, for him, becomes a way to preserve the leaf to hold onto that memory. “I feel that when we forget about the memory of war, war can happen again,” he says. “And of course in this country we forget very quickly.”

Binh Danh is an artist presented by Haines Gallery in San Francisco and Lisa Sette Gallery in Scottsdale, Ariz. See more of his work here.