U.S. Nuclear Bomb Test Footage is Now On YouTube

Between 1945 and 1962, the United States conducted 210 atmospheric nuclear bomb tests. For each of those tests, the government used multiple cameras filming at 2,400 frames per second to document things. Over 700 of the films have been declassified so far, and they’re currently being uploaded to YouTube.

The videos are being uploaded by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory of Livermore, California, which conducted the original nuke tests. Researchers and film experts are going through the roughly 10,000 films that were previously classified and stored around the country in high-security vaults.

So far 6,000 have been found, 4,000 have been scanned, and 750 have been declassified.

Since the film reels weren’t stored properly, they’re in the process of decomposing and losing their images, so a team is working to digitize and preserve the data so that the footage is preserved for the future.

64 of the nuclear bomb explosion videos can now be found through Livermore’s YouTube account, and some of the footage is awe-inspiring and terrifying:

The tests in these videos were all done after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Preserving this footage for posterity is important due to the fact that the United States no longer conducts nuclear weapons testing, but instead uses old testing data and new computer modeling for research.

You can find the entire collection of videos over on the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory YouTube channel.

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Creepy Portraits of a Chef Wearing His Menu Ingredients

MENU is a new photo series by photographer Robert Harrison and chef Robbie Postma, a duo who decided to combine food and portrait photography in a strange and creepy new way. The photos show Postma wearing his menu ingredients on his face.

Postma is the chef for the cafeteria at the Dutch advertising agency J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam.

After breaking down menu items into their base ingredients, the duo carefully arranged the raw, unprocessed food onto Postma’s face. Everything was carefully planned and prepared, and the full project took a full year to complete — a single shot sometimes took 9 hours to prep and shoot.

“MENU is what happens when food meets photography on the dark side,” the duo says. “Served on the closest place you can get to a chef’s mind: on his face. The results are startling.”

“Every grain of rice was added by hand, without the aid of digital manipulation,” the image and culinary artists write. “MENU is hand crafted. Just like the best food.”

VEGETABLES. Ingredients: Variety of carrots, radish and courgette.
SEAFOOD. Ingredients: Octopus ink, lobster, mussels, mackerel skin, octopus suckles, sea urchin, razor clams.
WINE. Ingredients: Glass & red wine.
MEAT. Ingredients: Charcoal, smoke, aged prime rib.
SPICES. Ingredients: Vanilla, rock salt, star anise, coriander seeds, nutmeg, mace, white pepper, red peppers, cardamom, cinnamon, curry powder.
STARCH. Ingredients: Black rice, white rice, yellow peas, Borlotti beans, quinoa, wheat.
SWEETS. Ingredients: White chocolate, dark chocolate, raspberries.
COFFEE. Ingredient: coffee beans.

You can find more information about this project over on its official website.

(via Adweek via Laughing Squid)


Image credits: Photographs by Robert Harrison and used with permission

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The 2009 Air Force One Photo Op That Caused Panic in New York City

Back in 2009, someone had the bright idea of doing an iconic photo shoot showing Air Force One flying low over New York City. The airplane triggered panic among New Yorkers who thought it was another 9/11-style terrorist attack, causing people to evacuate buildings and run for their lives.

The photo shoot was approved by the director of the White House Military Office at the time, Louis Caldera, to create a new, eye-catching official photo of Air Force One. So at about 10 a.m. on Monday, April 27, 2009, the Boeing VC-25 (a military version of the 747) was flown low into New York City while being trailed by two F-16 fighter jets.

It made three passes over the Statue of Liberty, making extremely sharp turns through the air.

The public wasn’t given any advance notice of the photo shoot, and there was a period of hysteria when people began noticing the low-flying airliner. People on the street began screaming and running for cover, and some buildings in NYC immediately issued evacuation orders.

Here are a few videos by bystanders that captured how people reacted:

It turns out neither then-NYC governor Michael Bloomberg and then-US President Obama had known about the photo shoot until after it happened. Obama was reportedly furious and ordered an investigation into how it came to be.

“It was a mistake,” Obama said. “It was something we found out about along with all of you. And it will not happen again.”

“Why the Defense Department wanted to do a photo-op right around the site of the World Trade Center catastrophe defies imagination,” said Bloomberg. “Poor judgment would be a nice ways to phrase it, but they did.”

The photo shoot was “crass insensitivity,” said George W. Bush homeland security advisor Fran Townsend. “I’d call this felony stupidity. This is probably not the right job for Mr. Caldera to be in if he didn’t understand the likely reaction of New Yorkers, of the mayor.”

Caldera said in a public apology issued the following week, saying, “I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.” Less than two weeks later, he resigned from his position.

In case you’re wondering, the photographers did get the shot they were looking for. Here’s the photo and a couple of others that were released by the U.S. government after the incident:

It’s estimated that the cost of this photo shoot was $328,835.

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C-Log is Coming to the Canon 5D Mark IV

If you use the Canon 5D Mark IV for shooting serious video projects, here’s some news that may be music to your ears: C-Log, Canon Log Gamma, is coming to your camera.

C-Log is Canon’s Log Gamma curve that allows you to capture maximal dynamic range from the camera’s sensor in a limited bit-depth video file (as opposed to raw data). The resulting video looks flat, lacking contrast and saturation, but you’ll have much more flexibility to produce the exact look you’re aiming for when processing afterward.

Here’s a short 49-second video by DPReview that offers a quick look at using a log gamma curve:

Canon Rumors is confirming with certainty that C-Log will indeed be added as a feature in the Canon 5D Mark IV through a firmware update.

Instead of a simple update you can do yourself at home, this C-Log upgrade might be something that may require sending your camera to a Canon service center.

“There is no mention whether or not this will be a service you will have to pay for or not, or if future EOS 5D Mark IV cameras will ship with the feature,” Canon Rumors writes. “While we cannot confirm this information at present, we wouldn’t be surprised.”

Canon may make an official announcement for this C-Log upgrade at NAB 2017 in Las Vegas next month. No word yet on when the firmware update will arrive or whether other Canon cameras such as the 1D X Mark II will receive similar upgrades.


P.S. In other news, the iPhone can now shoot with a log picture profile using Filmic Pro version 6, which was just launched last week.

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This Timelapse Shows a Cell Dividing Over 33 Hours

What to see what cell division looks like? Documentary and wildlife filmmaker Francis Chee captured it beautifully on camera. The amazing 23-second time-lapse above shows a frog egg dividing over 33 hours.

Chee shot the photos using a custom designed microscope based on the “infinity optical design” he built himself. Custom-made LED lights were used to illuminate the egg.

The microscope camera rig was placed on an anti-vibration table. Chee says that the tricky variables in the project included: ambient temperature, egg collection time, egg handling, the type of water, the camera quality, and more.

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Comic: That’s a Moiré in Photography

♫ When the spacing is tight / And the difference is slight / That's a moiré ♫

xkcd’s comic today, titled “Color Pattern,” is about the famous moiré pattern in photography, the interference patterns that appear when certain patterns are overlaid on each other.

Here’s the short song in the strip (including what appears when you hover your mouse over it on the original page):

When a grid’s misaligned
with another behind
That’s a moiré…

When the spacing is tight
And the difference is slight
That’s a moiré

You may recognize that as a parody of the famous song “That’s Amore,” sung by Dean Martin:

“Photographs of a TV screen taken with a digital camera often exhibit moiré patterns,” writes explain xkcd. “Since both the TV screen and the digital camera use a scanning technique to produce or to capture pictures with horizontal scan lines, the conflicting sets of lines cause the moiré patterns. To avoid the effect, the digital camera can be aimed at an angle of 30 degrees to the TV screen.”

Moire patterns on a screen. Photo by Michael Mol.

Moiré patterns are a type of aliasing, and traditionally anti-aliasing filters in cameras help combat moiré. In recent times, however, more and more digital cameras are omitting the filter for sharper images at the expense of more moiré.

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Camera Settings for Concert Photography Beginners

This guide is intended for concert photography beginners. If you have a DSLR camera and are interested in how to control your camera settings to take great photos at concerts, this guide is for you. If you’re an experienced photographer who just hasn’t shot shows before, there may be some helpful info in here along with plenty of stuff you know already.

First of all: there are no perfect camera settings for concert photography. They just do not exist.

Every situation calls for different camera settings based on a countless number of factors How much light is there? Is the subject moving? How much of a depth of field do I want? Is it okay if my photos are grainy?

Music photographers are often asked specifically “what settings do you use?” Any concert photographer, or any photographer in general, knows that the answer won’t be very helpful, because your settings change constantly depending on the situation. What is helpful is getting a basic understanding of how each setting works, to what limits you can push each setting to, and a baseline to start shooting at.

A lot of photography beginners are drawn to concert photography, because it’s an alluring place to start! You get up close and personal with bands that you enjoy, have the opportunity to capture tons of “photo-worthy” moments, and get to work on your photography too. Despite the appeal to beginners, shooting a concert is one of the toughest set of conditions for any photographer. Very little light, constantly changing lighting conditions, and quickly moving subjects make it very tough to get great photos.

When you first start out in concert photography, you’ll likely begin with small local shows to build your portfolio. Sometimes these have some of the worst lighting conditions, making it really tough. But the good news is no one cares if you bring your camera in there, and you’re shooting for yourself so there’s no pressure and you can experiment at your own pace!

Thankfully, with the right camera and lenses for concert photography, along with the proper settings, you’ll be able to take some great live concert photos in no time. If you don’t have a “fast lens” yet, the Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 is a solid budget lens to start with as your first lens for shooting concerts.

A Quick Look at Basic Camera Settings

Camera mode: Manual
Shutter Speed: 1/250 or faster
Aperture: Wide open (f/1.4-f/2.8)
ISO: As high as possible; 3200 max
White Balance: Auto WB
Autofocus: AI-Servo
Drive Mode: Continuous
Metering: N/A
Image Quality: RAW

Camera Settings for Concert Photography

All of your camera settings combine to result in a properly exposed image. Having a basic understanding of the exposure triangle is important, and helps you understand how you’ll need to change your settings for the situation.

Basically, the exposure triangle states that getting the correct exposure depends on three things:

ISOHow sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light
Shutter Speed – How long the shutter is open to let light in
Aperture – The size of the opening in your lens, allowing light in

In concert photography, you’re constantly battling to let in the most light possible. So you want your aperture wide open, ISO high, and shutter speed low… but if you go too far there are consequences for each of these settings. We’ll go through each setting and the repercussions of pushing their limits below.

Camera Mode: Manual

Shooting in manual mode gives you the most control over exposing your image correctly. You want to be able to change your settings quickly to combat changing lighting conditions, especially when shooting concerts.

You may see some people recommend AV (aperture priority) or TV (shutter priority) modes for shooting shows, but I recommend against them as you really want full control over aperture, ISO, and shutter speed to adjust to the situation. There are too many factors to just “lock-in” your aperture or shutter speed and not worry about them. The other upside is that shooting manual will quickly force you to learn how each setting affects your image and you’ll become a better photographer because of it!

Shutter Speed: 1/250 or Faster

You ideally want your shutter speed to be as fast as it can be without having to push the limits of your other settings to get a bright enough image. If you reference the exposure triangle above, you can see that if you have a slow shutter speed, you’re allowing more light into the sensor resulting in a brighter image.

But if your shutter speed it too slow, you get motion blur when subjects move in your frame. This is a big problem in concert photography, where your subjects are constantly moving and you really need to freeze motion. When the most iconic moments of a set are a big jump or a swinging guitar, you do not want those images to come out blurry.

1/250 is a good baseline, but not a hard rule. It will capture most motion well, and let in enough light so you won’t have to push your other settings too far. If it’s a brightly lit show, and conditions allow you to increase your shutter speed to something like 1/400 or 1/640, you’re going to freeze motion really well.

In extreme low light conditions, you may have to lower your shutter speed below 1/250. You can do this, but I’d be very careful about going any slower than 1/100 even if the subjects aren’t moving much. It’s hard to tell on your camera’s preview screen if you’re getting a small amount of motion blur, but it will really suck if you get home and look at them and they all lack sharpness.

Here are a couple good examples of “freezing motion” for an iconic moment.

By using a fast shutter speed, I was able to freeze-frame this jumping shot; one of the coolest moments of the show. (Hoodie Allen in Silver Spring, MD)
Settings: Shutter Speed 1/400, Aperture f/2.8, ISO 2000
Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II
I cranked my shutter speed to 1/1000 for this photo because I didn’t want the confetti falling down to be blurry. Shooting in manual and being able to change my shutter speed quickly let me get this moment. (Hoodie Allen in Seattle, WA)
Settings: Shutter Speed 1/1000, Aperture f/2.8, ISO 1000
Gear: Canon EOS 6D, Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II

Aperture: f/1.4-f/2.8+

To shoot concerts, you really do need a specialized “fast” lens that allows for a low f-number aperture. They’re often really expensive, but there are lens options for nearly any price. These lenses let in more light so that you won’t have to make your shutter speed really low or ISO really high (we’ll get to that in a moment) to get bright enough photos. You can see the correlation back up in the exposure triangle chart.

You’ll often shoot “wide open,” meaning the lowest f-number your lens allows for. The one downside of this is that the lower f-number you’re set at, the smaller depth of field you’ll have, and your image isn’t as sharp as a higher f-number. This can result in you missing your focus point, but good lenses and cameras make this less of an issue.

Having a low depth of field can be an awesome effect to utilize, even if it means missing a few more shots. It can make your photos stylized and more interesting, especially if you’re up close to your subject. It effectively separates your subject and the background. Here are a few examples.

In this image, you can see how the subject’s entire body is in focus, while the hands ahead and behind his depth of field plane, as well as the cloud and building in the back are blurry. (AFI in Brisbane, Australia)
Settings: Shutter Speed 1/2000, Aperture f/1.8, ISO 100
Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM
You’ll notice that the drum set and back of the stage behind the subject are blurry, as well as the front of the stage with the mic cord. There is a very narrow plane of this image that is in focus – maybe 6 inches or so. You can identify this by noticing how the subject’s face and shoulders are in focus, but the closest end of the microphone as well as his left elbow are out of focus. (Letlive. in Perth, Australia)
Settings: Shutter Speed 1/500, Aperture f/1.4, ISO 1000
Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon 35mm f/1.4L

ISO: 500-3200

The effect of ISO on your photos is pretty simple; if your ISO is high, you’ll get grain or noise in your photo, if it’s low then you won’t.

If you’re struggling to take bright enough photos, ISO may be the first setting you want to adjust. A little extra grain in your image beats having a blurry photo of the most important photo of the night that you’d get from having your shutter speed too slow. Usually you’ll be shooting with a wide open aperture so you can’t adjust your setting further to get more light; that leaves ISO.

Some cameras handle high-ISO grain better than others. If your camera doesn’t handle ISO well, you’ll end up with a photo that has large, ugly grain that destroys detail and makes it unusable. Some impressive DSLRs performers on the Canon side include the Canon EOS 6D and Canon EOS 5D Mark III. With cameras like these, you’ll be able to adjust your ISO to high levels like 6400 without ending up with an image that is too grainy to use.

Regardless of your camera, I suggest starting your ISO at 500 or so, and then quickly adjust the setting up to 2000 if you need your image to be brighter. Your sweet-spot should be between 100-1250 before you start getting noticeable grain. You’ll want to test your camera out to see how it looks at higher ISO levels than that – if it doesn’t look great you’ll want to start adjusting your shutter speed or aperture to get additional exposure stops.

Here are some examples of high ISO photos:

You can clearly see the grain in this photo, it’s especially evident in the midtones. Even with my shutter speed very slow and my aperture wide open I had to crank up my ISO a lot. Thankfully it’s still a usable image, since the Canon 6D performs pretty well with a high ISO setting. (PVRIS in San Antonio, TX)
Settings: Shutter Speed 1/160, Aperture f/2.8, ISO 5000
Gear: Canon EOS 6D, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
Here’s an image on my old Canon 5d Mkii, which didn’t handle high ISO as well as my current camera. You can clearly see grain throughout the image, which I believe detracts from how this photo came out. (Our Last Night in Paris, France)
Settings: Shutter Speed 1/320, Aperture f/2.8, ISO 1000
Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

White Balance: Auto WB

Leaving your white balance on auto is the best thing you can do as a beginner. As you get a grip on the rest of your camera’s settings, you can start learning a bit more about how white balance works, and how you can adjust it to get consistent colors throughout your entire set of images. However in situations like concerts, the lights are often changing colors which make this less of a benefit. As long as you are shooting RAW and not JPEG, you’ll be able to adjust your color temperature and tint in editing software like Adobe Lightroom.

Autofocus: AI-Servo

The Nikon equivalent to AI-Servo on Canon is AF-C. This is a continuous focus mode, which helps to track your subject and focus point as they move through the frame. When shooting quickly moving subjects like concert photographers almost always do, continuous focusing AF is a big benefit.

A helpful technique for concert photographers to learn is back button focus, which allows you to set another button on your camera to be in charge of focusing. Check out my post on back button focusing where I explain it in detail.

Drive Mode: Continuous

Any DSLR will have a continuous shooting mode, where you’re able to take a ton of photos in succession. At first, you’ll probably accidentally take photos when you don’t mean to by pressing down the shutter just a little too long or too hard. You’ll quickly learn how to apply the right pressure to only shoot a bunch of frames in a row when you want to.

This is of course an important mode to capture the iconic moments of a set; a jump, spin, hair-flip, etc. You’ll want to make sure you get the highest point of the jump, for example, and instead of just taking one shot and hoping you got it, shooting in continuous lets you get a bunch of frames of the whole thing so you can select the best one.

Metering: Spot Metering

Your camera’s metering setting has no effect on the exposure you’re shooting in manual mode. If you’re using a different mode, like AV or TV, metering works by automatically changing settings on your behalf to get the correct exposure. However when looking through your viewfinder in manual, the meter can be used as a guide in figuring out how to expose your image well.

When looking through your camera’s viewfinder, you’ll be able to find out your metering easily. When the indicator is to the right, your image is overexposed based on the in-camera meter setting. When it’s to the left, it’s underexposed.

Because there’s so much contrast between the artist and background, some metering modes give you more useful readings than others. Spot metering is typically the most useful mode for concert photography, and it works by assessing how to properly expose only one point; your focus point. This is useful because your focus point will almost always be the artist’s face, which is the part of the image that is the most important to properly expose.

Other metering modes aren’t as helpful in a concert photography context. Evaluative (or “matrix”) metering calculates exposure with your focus point in mind, but also factors in other parts of the image as well. This can be excellent for other uses, but when shooting shows, the only exposure reading that matters is the artist’s face or specific feature you want to expose for. Center-weighted metering measures only the center of the frame. This is also not ideal, because we are not consistently framing our subjects in the exact center.

Image Quality: RAW

RAW images have some huge benefits over JPEG images. RAW files store much more information, which allows you to take your photos into an editing software like Adobe Lightroom and adjust white balance, exposure, and many other settings. This is an incredible advantage! You can get some of your settings wrong, or be slightly off, and still end up with a fantastic final photo. You’re also able to heavily adjust your shadows and highlights and retain a ton of detail, which makes editing much easier. Because of these abilities, RAW files are much larger than JPEG. Despite the size difference, it is not worth shooting in JPEG. SD and CF cards are inexpensive these days, and so are hard drives.

Here’s a non-extreme example of the flexibility shooting in RAW can give you:

(Left) Before: If this was shot in JPEG, a lot of the shadow details would be completely lost in the editing process, as you can see most of this image is very dark. (Our Last Night in London, UK). (Right) After: But after editing, I’m able to bring up my shadows drastically, change the colors, and I’ve kept my highlights from becoming blown out as well. Shooting in RAW gives you tons of flexibility when editing. (Our Last Night in London, UK)
Settings: Shutter Speed 1/640, Aperture f/1.4, ISO 1250
Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon 35mm f/1.4L

Camera Settings in Practice

If you put together everything you’ve learned here, you’ll be shooting while adjusting your settings effortlessly in full manual mode in no time!

When I first get into the photo pit, I’ll usually start with my aperture wide open, my shutter speed to 1/250, and my ISO at about 640. As soon as the set starts, I will adjust my settings to fit the situation – if it’s too dark still and I need brighter images, I’ll turn my ISO up. If it’s too bright, I’ll adjust my shutter speed to be a bit faster. It’s all about experimenting and knowing how changing your settings will affect your final image.

Thanks for reading! I hope this is helpful for those beginners to photography in general, and concert photography in specific.


About the author: Matty Vogel is a music photographer based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You can find out more about him and his work through his website and his blog. This article was also published here.

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