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The Google Pixel 3 has been my primary camera – and media consumption device, alarm clock, etc. – for over a month now. It will be no surprise to anyone that I'm finding the camera to be really, really good, but there are a few features in particular that stand out to me as excellent. In no particular order, here's what I'm liking so far about the Pixel 3's camera, and one area I'm not as crazy about.
You've heard all the hype about how good Night Sight is, and it's true. Night Sight will allow you to take usable photos in incredibly dim conditions. I think the best compliment I can give Night Sight is that the example image above doesn't convey just how dark the scene in my shot was. The Mexican restaurant looks pleasantly bright and festive – in reality, it was extremely dim (but still festive).
Night Sight is also a great alternative for low-light selfies when flash is a no-no, if everyone in the shot can stay reasonably still. Pro tip: don't blink or move your eyes or it'll make you look a little bit like a zombie. In any case, it's really nice to have a usable alternative to completely destroying the vibe of a mood-lit bar with a smartphone flash.
Finally, Night Sight is also useful for static subjects in any kind of lighting if you want to capture more detail, thanks to its use of Super Resolution (more on that here). The rendering of *individual fibers* in the blanket in the shot above blows my mind. Getting that level of detail out of such a small sensor is a real technological innovation.
|We're weird, okay?|
This was a feature I didn't expect to use much, but it's really helpful when you need it. I've used it on a couple of occasions when there was something in the background I wanted to get into the photo I was taking.
In both cases I considered the shot that I wanted, thought to myself there was no way that I could get the shot, then remembered the wide-angle front facing camera. Boom. Problem solved.
Portrait Mode is of course, not new, but it's been further improved in the Pixel 3. Google used machine learning to train the camera to better 'cut out' things like human subjects. We find that it does a better job with human hair than the iPhone (you can see how the iPhone does here), creating a more realistic effect rather than something that looks obviously digitally manipulated.
|The ability to throw a busy background out of focus – even if the overall effect isn't 100% convincing – is still better to me than the alternative.|
As a side note, my personal smartphone is an "ancient" iPhone SE, which doesn't offer Portrait Mode. I've gotten pretty attached to it shooting with the Pixel 3, and many of my favorite images taken with the camera are Portrait Mode shots. To me, it feels a little bit like Wi-Fi on traditional cameras. When the feature was introduced it was a little gimmicky and not all that useful, but now that it's reliable and much improved, it's becoming something I don't want to live without.
|Out of camera JPEG||"Auto" edits applied in Google Photos|
The thing I'm not as crazy about is more a matter of personal taste – the Pixel 3 tends toward more muted, natural colors. Plenty of people will prefer that, but I'm partial to a little more warmth and punch in my images. Colors are a little flat for my taste, and in some instances (backlit subjects are a big one) auto exposure doesn't quite get things right.
In spite of this, I think the greatest testament to the Pixel 3 is that I've been taking more pictures lately. When I'm out and about and see a photo, I don't have to talk myself out of taking a picture because I only have my phone with me. More often than not, I'm finding that I *can* get that photo, or something close to what I envisioned.
|Train track, in operation May–October 1944, leading through the gate to the gas chambers at Auschwitz II-Birkenau|
The Auschwitz Museum has asked visitors to be more respectful after an upsurge of pictures posted on social media showing people posing on the train tracks that lead to the main gate. The Museum is concerned that the tracks, which brought over a million people to their death in the camp during WWII, are being used as a photo opportunity with some visitors losing sight of what they represent.
When you come to @AuschwitzMuseum remember you are at the site where over 1 million people were killed. Respect their memory. There are better places to learn how to walk on a balance beam than the site which symbolizes deportation of hundreds of thousands to their deaths. pic.twitter.com/TxJk9FgxWl— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) March 20, 2019
The Museum used its Twitter page to urge those posting on social media to respect the memory of those who died there, stating that ‘There are better places to learn how to walk on a balance beam than the site which symbolizes deportation of hundreds of thousands to their deaths.’ The posting is accompanied by a collection of images showing people walking along the tracks apparently oblivious to where they are.
Speaking to the Business Insider website the museum’s press officer, Pawel Sawicki, said that posting pictures of people disrespecting the site wasn’t intended to shame them ‘but to raise awareness. People have to be aware of the nature of the place they visit.’
Searching under the hashtag #Auschwitz on most social media sites, such as Instagram above, demonstrates the prevalence of the behaviour the museum objects to, with those posing for pictures seeming to have forgotten what occurred at the camps during the Holocaust.
For more information see the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and museum website.
This week Chris and Jordan take the new Leica Q2 for a spin, and while most of us in the Northern Hemisphere are welcoming spring, they head even farther north than usual to visit ice castles. Because #Canada.
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Harvard University has been sued over its licensing of daguerreotypes believed to be the first images of American slaves. The lawsuit was filed by Tamara Lanier, who says she is the direct descendant of Renty, the man featured alongside his daughter, Delia, in the daguerreotypes. The suit was filed on March 20 in the Middlesex County Superior Court.
The daguerreotypes were commissioned in 1850 by Harvard professor Louis Agassiz, a Swiss-born Harvard professor who sought the images in support of polygenism, a flawed theory that human races have different origins. The commissioned images were taken by J.T. Zealy in Columbia, South Carolina. A total of 11 slaves were photographed, including Renty and Delia, who were stripped naked and imaged from multiple angles.
The images were apparently lost for years before turning up in the Harvard University Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology's attic in 1976. Since their discovery, according to the lawsuit, Harvard has used the images of Renty for profit, including as the cover image for the book From Site to Sight: Anthropology, Photography and the Power of Imagery, which was published by the Peabody Museum and sold by Harvard.
According to the lawsuit, Lanier had repeatedly reached out to Harvard over the images, but the university failed to address her concerns. Lanier reportedly provided Harvard officials with proof that she is one of Renty's descendants but was unable to get a response. The lawsuit seeks to have Harvard turn over the images to Lanier's family and to pay an unspecified amount in damages.
At this year's Game Developers Conference (GDC), Epic Games showed off a new pair of demo videos that show just how capable its Unreal Engine has become thanks to advanced ray tracing technologies.
The first video, seen above, is titled Rebirth and showcases just how photorealistic scenes can be when developed with the gaming engine's technology. The demo, designed by the studio Quixel, highlights how realistic the lighting technology inside Unreal Engine 4 has become.
The demo was created by just three artists who developed it all using a standard version of Unreal and real-world scans from Quixel's Megascans Icelandic collection. The result is a stunning showcase of textures and details that rival reality, as seen in the gallery of screenshots above, captured from the 4K stream.
The second demo is a teaser for an upcoming movie titled Troll. Still in the works, the movie is a collaboration between Deep Forest Films and Goodbye Kansas Studios. The short glimpse we get of it once again highlights just how realistic the animated lighting is in the scene, with the face of a woman being dynamically illuminated by little fire fairies of sorts.
As for what this means in the world of photography, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Aside from the inevitable point in time when we can no longer tell a rendering from an actual image — if it's not already here — the ability to replicate precise lighting situations could open up the door to new software and technology that could not only help to simulate lighting setups in the digital world before testing them out in the real world, but also open up the door to adding realistic lighting to scenes and portraits in post-production.
Keep in mind that unless you're viewing the videos in Google Chrome or Mozilla Forefox on a 4K monitor, you won't be able to see them in their 4K glory. Even in 1080 though, the videos look incredible.
Less than a day ago, it was revealed more than 20,000 Facebook employees had access to over 600 million user passwords that were stored in plaintext on Facebook's servers. Now, it's being reported that Instagram too has suffered from a bug that inadvertently exposed users passwords in plaintext.
According to an exclusive report from The Information, Facebook informed affected Instagram users about a security flaw that caused passwords to be shown in plaintext when users opted to use Instagram's 'Download Your Data' tool, a tool that ironically enough was created to help users see just how much information Instagram (read: Facebook) has collected on them.
|A screenshot of the text shown after users request a download of all the data Instagram has collected from them.|
In an email sent out by Instagram to affected users on Thursday, passwords were exposed in the URL that was sent when a data download request was made. This means if the download link was viewed on a shared or public device, it would be possible for anyone to see the affected users' password. In a statement to The Information, an Instagram spokesperson said the issue was 'discovered internally and affected a very small number of people.'
Regardless of how many Instagram users were or weren't affected by this bug, such an issue shouldn't be possible if Instagram were properly keeping passwords hidden with the proper encryption technology, as the passwords should never be able to be seen in plaintext — anywhere. In a statement to The Information, principle research scientists at security firm Sophos, Chet Wisniewski, said:
'This is very concerning about other security practices inside of Instagram because that literally should not be possible. If that’s happening, then there are likely much bigger problems than that'
The 'Download Your Data' tool has since been updated to fix the issue, but it might be a good idea to change your Instagram passwords regardless as a precaution.
We've added Panasonic's new Lumix DC-S1 / DC-S1R to three of our buying guides. Both are listed in our 'Best Cameras over $2000' guide, with the S1 being considered for video and the S1R for landscapes. While we'll have more detail when our reviews are published, these guides provide quick overviews of both models.
YouTube Photoshop tutor Colin Smith has shared a video in which he demonstrates ten tips for making the application run more smoothly.
His tips on the Photoshop Cafe YouTube channel include ways to streamline the program’s interface as well as methods to assign more memory to help with intensive tasks. One of the best tips shows how to avoid processes that use more memory than is necessary when we are copying one image on to another.
The tutorial is aimed at new users, but out of the ten tips there is bound to be one or two that even more advanced users aren’t aware of or hadn’t thought of. Smith claims his final tip will solve 99% of problems most users have with the software. Below is a rundown of the ten tips and their respective timestamps in the video:
0:48 - Remove the welcome screen
1:30 - Shrink the New Document window
2:00 - Increase recent documents up to 100
2:48 - Increase how much RAM Photoshop uses
3:20 - Fix varies display issues
3:50 - Go back to legacy compositing
4:20 - Tweak your scratch disk settings
5:42 - Don't copy and paste
6:43 - Free up resources
7:44 - The 'fix all' solution (and bonus tip)
For more Photoshop tutorials, head over and subscribe to the Photoshop Cafe YouTube channel.