DJI Unveils the Fly Drive: A Portable 2TB HDD with a Built-In microSD Slot

As affordable drone cameras get better, one of the main issues confounding drone videographers is storage. When you’re shooting at 4K that little microSD card fills up fast, which is why DJI teamed up with Seagate to create the Fly Drive: a portable 2TB hard drive complete with a microSD slot.

The Seagate Fly Drive is a DJI-branded hard drive that will let drone operators unload footage more easily both at home and in the field.

When you get home or if you’ve run out of space on your microSD card, just connect the Fly Drive to your computer and then pop the card into the Fly Drive’s built-in UHS-II memory card slot to dump your footage. The drive’s built-in USB-C cable supports both USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3, and you’ll be able to drag and drop files from your micro SD to either the hard drive or your computer.

The Fly Drive is available in sizes up to 2TB—enough to hold 60 hours of 4K/30p footage or more than 250 flights on the Mavic Pro—and if you want it for yourself, you’ll be able to pick one up starting “this summer” for $120. As a bonus, every Fly Drive purchase comes with 2 months of access to Adobe Premiere Pro CC… just to get you hooked.

To find out more about this new drone drive, head over to the Seagate website by clicking here.

(via DPReview)

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Playing World War II: Photographing an Ultra-Realistic Reenactment

Have you ever wondered what World War II was like? Last month I got a little closer.

I was one of three photographers invited to cover a semi-live fire reenactment. There were times everything looked very real and other times it looked like a bunch of older kids in the woods playing war.

It started one night last year when I went to a singles party at my friend Tim’s house. No one else showed up. I forgot what he said but he put a VHS tape into his VCR and hit play.

He had told me about his World War II reenactment group but I had no idea how big it was. The tape was more than a few years old but described an annual weekend where fellow World War II reenactors, drawn together by this historical fascination, engage in battle in the woods of Eastern Missouri. He invited me to go and I said what we say these days when we aren’t sure… “I might go” or “that looks good I’ll have to see.”

Fast-forward to March 25, 2017. The event is called “Weldonkrieg” and is a private WWII tactical battle weekend. Since the event is private and has the permission of the US Army Reserve Training station in Weldon Spring, MO they can engage in a semi-real battle using movie-blanks for ammunition. It only takes one battle to be able to ID friend-or-foe by the sound of the weapon.

Where to Start

To participate you need to be part of a “Unit.” For example, there was an Italian Machine Gun unit. They were from Kansas City. In addition to having a “Unit,” you could only bring in clothes, guns and vehicles from World War II. Reenactors with guns used either movie blanks (gun shells with gunpowder but no bullet) or, in the case of machine guns I think it was propane, to fire the guns.

Units often stay in touch and coordinate online. There’s a lot of shopping for WWII uniforms, guns, vehicles and other period items to build an authentic “character.”

Imagine a military parade ground with Allied and Axis troops standing at attention while the exercise commander speaks in front of a German tank. Now you are getting the idea. I took a few pictures of the Germans after the meeting. One asked me “how long have you been in your unit?” I wasn’t sure whether he was just making conversation or gaining intelligence (in a fun reenactment kid of way). I responded, “not sure but I’ve been all around.”

Riding In

Before long I’m riding in the back seat of a jeep from the war period. We’re all in uniform. The guy riding shotgun had his M1 rifle at the ready. The US Army Reserve Training facility road In Weldon Spring, MO went from blacktop to gravel. We were part of a loose convoy. A jeep trailed us with two gunners and a driver—I found out later it was a father and his two sons.

Our radio crackles and soon we see other jeeps stopped with GI’s jumping behind the vehicles for cover. We hear a machine gun rattling and only faintly see German vehicles.

I grab my Canon 5D Mark II with a 35mm f/2 and a WWII canvas satchel carrying my 85mm f/1.8 and follow a small group into battle. This was the first of many scrimmages or “exercises” against the Axis reenactors.

I chose the body and two lenses because I didn’t want to be weighed down. I also wanted the sharpest images possible. The lens choice was also as close to what they used back then as I could think of. These would be their choice for body and lens for the same reasons I chose them—small, light and quick in response.

Into Battle

The battles began with distant pops of gunfire as our troops slowly engaged the enemy and ended with groups of helmet-less reenactors watching and cheering from sidelines. The helmet-off shows others you are dead. It’s purely an honor system.

At one point a stout German was running across a road while shooting cover fire with his machine gun. A group of “dead” troops cheered him on. “Go go go!” He began laughing.

I was following two GIs when they spotted a US jeep shooting at the enemy but it was backing up. We watched, crouched on a ridgeline. We heard a German charge on Allied positions. They yelled as they fired. We ran at them, 90 degrees to their left. BANG BANG BANG! My ears rang. A German laying in the leaves pointed at me and another guy, showed two fingers and then made a gesture saying we were dead.

I put down my helmet and packed up my camera making a few pictures as he crept by. A few moments later, he was dead… helmet off.

When I was killed for the second time, I walked into the woods to see what I could see. An Italian Machine gun unit sat waiting for prey. They said, “Hey can you get a picture of us?” Sure. There’s nothing odd about this; party pics in the middle of gunfire in the woods.

They were from Kansas City, just a group of friends who wanted to learn more and enjoyed participating in this, although they usually wage war at similar events in Kansas.

As Real as…

Throughout the day I was blown away. Everything looked so real.

At times you could tell it was 2017—the German on Facebook Live, the Jeep commander making a picture or two as the convoy was stuck in traffic. Other times, it seemed very real—the GI who kept a naked b/w photo of a woman in his helmet, the kid cleaning his M1 rifle outside the barracks at the end of the day or the smoking of cigars and passing around a flask before battle.

The reenactors enjoyed bringing little details to their presentation, and at the end of the day they gathered in small circles around the barracks or near the jeeps and told stories of generals and battles they had read about.

The goal of the event was not battle or guns but living history. How better to learn about a period in time then reliving it as best as one could.

I forgot to charge my camera the night before and by mid-afternoon it was very low. I told my jeep driver I was walking back to barracks.

I walked on gravel and then on blacktop for I don’t know how long. Tired from all of the walking and intensity. Sore from old boots and activity. Wet from a light rain and sweat under a wool jacket and wool pants. I ate a Hershey bar for energy and then ate a cold can of SpaghettiOs. I kept walking.

Then I heard a motorbike behind me. It was a German. I waved my arms, then stuck out my thumb. He said something then motioned me in the sidecar. That is the story of how I got home after the war.

Well, I wasn’t home yet. I said my goodbyes after dinner and loaded up my old Honda Accord. It was kind of an odd moment. I was loading this damp US military wool jacket uniform and my Canon camera gear, made in Japan, into a Japanese made car. It was a little jarring for a moment, but then I put on some music and drove home.


About the author: Dan Gill is a photojournalist and commercial photographer based in Columbia, MO. He’s shot pictures and video for The New York Times, covered mid-Missouri for the Associated Press, taught photojournalism at Saint Louis University and gave a TEDx talk last week coming out on video soon). His work can be found at dangillphotos.com and follow him on Instagram @dgstl.

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Why Printing Your Photos Will Make You a Better Photographer

Print your photos. This little piece of advice goes far beyond the simple joy of holding a photograph in your hand. In fact, printing your photos will make you a better photographer and help you hold on to the fulfillment that comes from taking pictures. Here’s why.

This newest ode to printing—certainly not the first such video we’ve shared—comes to us from photographer and filmmaker Peter McKinnon, who was apparently in a nostalgic mood this past weekend, remembering his days in the darkroom.

Photography, he says, used to be a two part process—Part 1: take pictures; Part 2: develop and print them. With the advent of digital photography, that second part was warped into post-processing and online sharing, but McKinnon believes something was lost in the transition.

“Where I love Instagram, and I love digital, and I love where everything’s gone,” says McKinnon. “It got me thinking: ‘People don’t print their work enough, and there are SO many benefits that come from printing your stuff out.’”

The two benefits McKinnon touches on in this video are (1) Printing helps you understand your photography much better, and (2) Printing your photos lets you ‘re-discover’ that second half of the photographic process.

Both of these things help you to improve your own photo taking and, as a bonus, draw more joy out of your photography.

1. Understand Your Photography

Believe it or not, your photography will take on a whole different character on the printed page than it does on a smartphone, laptop, or even a nice 4K monitor. Printing your photos will reveal things about your technique, your gear, and your abilities that you might never discover if you don’t break out of your digital workflow.

2. Re-Discover Another Piece of the Photographic Puzzle

Types of paper, print quality, buying your own printer, finding a frame, signing and numbering a print, and hanging your work on the wall or knowing that work is hanging on someone else’s wall. These are just a few of the joys of photography that many photographers are missing out on in the age of Instagram.

Not only that, printing produces a physical manifestation of your work; something that will last, that doesn’t require a specific machine to read, only your eyes.

In 100 years, someone who stumbles across one of your prints in some attic or storage locker or wherever will be able to see your legacy. Someone who stumbles across one of your discarded hard drives probably won’t.

Of course, this video (and our summary especially) barely touches on the many reasons to print your work, but it does hit the two big ones. Printing will help you understand your own photography better, and inject some of the meaning back into taking photos.

Check out the full video up top to hear McKinnon wax eloquent about this subject for a full 10 minutes and some change, and then, if you like what he’s doing, definitely subscribe to his channel.

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How to Shoot Minimalist Photos, or: Stop Ripping Off Michael Kenna

The aesthetic of minimalism is very hard to achieve in a world that is full of content and never ending clutter. As photographers, how do we capture a scene in a minimalistic style without blatantly copying artists like Michael Kenna or Hiroshi Sugimoto?

First, know the difference between copying, plagiarism, remixing, and inspiration. Take from the artists you like and make it your own. Personally, I think making a photographic style that is minimalistic your own is very hard without someone else saying that looks like so and so.

Over time, however, your own voice, views and ideas will shine through your work if you know the difference between plagiarism and inspiration. So let’s start from the beginning and refine and reduce as we go.

Minimalism
– Noun
1. A movement in sculpture and painting which arose in the 1950s, characterised by the use of simple, massive forms.
2. Deliberate lack of decoration or adornment in style or design.

Let’s put this dictionary description into terms we understand relating to photography. Minimalism is the act of removing elements or unnecessary structures that take away or distract from the subject, focus or concept. Showing an object or idea in its simplest form. That’s my interpretation of it anyway.

Removing anything that triggers, history, culture, memory or narrative; trying to create a peaceful or overwhelming experience for the viewer so they can be in the moment with the photograph.

This is all well and good, but how do you implement this into your photography without ripping off Micheal Kenna? For me, when I approach a subject or scene I have two thoughts in my mind when capturing a minimalistic aesthetic.

  1. Ask yourself what is the main element of your chosen subject? It could be what materials are used to construct the object, or the joinery that holds it together. It could be the aged or scarred skin of your subject that tells their story. Maybe the changing weather patterns or seasons at a location could be your focus.
     
    Whatever it is, pick the main element that stands out to you the most. Only include that in your frame.

  2. What are you trying to say; what is the message or idea? It could be that you are trying to show the place is strong, peaceful, silent or timeless. You might be trying to showcase a feeling of pride or workmanship. Your idea might be I just want a pretty photo, and that’s OK too.
     
    Whatever your idea or message, think to yourself what’s the main point or goal. Look at your subject and ask yourself what am I trying to say and what is the most basic element that shows that idea.
Roof of Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand

An example of all this together could be: I go to a local gallery and want to focus on the building itself instead of the people or artworks.

  1. The gallery building. Perhaps I could show power, strength, status or protection. So thinking out loud, building? protection? How about photographing the roof?
  2. The building’s roof symbolizing protection. I remove all other elements and distractions from the frame, to do so I photographed straight up. The result a minimalistic photo that captures all the main idea I wanted to convey.

Through stillness and simplicity, you reach minimalism. To be so daring: the silence of zen or god, a space for contemplation and meditation.

Minimalism isn’t about nothing, it’s a void to everything. So pick up your camera and make something with a minimal aesthetic. Who knows you might just end up being the next Michael Kenna.


About the author: A.B Watson is a New Zealand photographer based in Auckland. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. To see more of his work, head over to his website or follow him on Facebook and Instagram. This post was also published here.

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Rare Color Photos from World War II

Due to costs and scarcity, the vast majority of photos captured during World War II were shot on black-and-white film. Some images were captured in color, however, and those rare shots reveal what scenes from the Second World War looked like to people in them.

The Second World War in Colour is a new book published by Imperial War Museums (IWM) that contains many color photos of WWII published for the first time in 70 years.

During the war, the Ministry of Information in the UK controlled the flow of photos to the press. Between 1942 and 1945, the ministry got its hands on 3,000 color photos for record purposes. In 1949, photos from that collection became part of the IWM archives, which has amassed over 11 million conflict photos from World War I to the present day.

Here are some of the color WWII photos that can be found in The Second World War in Colour:

An Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) ‘spotter’ at a 3.7-inch anti-aircraft gun site, December 1942. Photo courtesy IWM.
A crew from the 16th/5th Lancers, 6th Armoured Division, clean the gun barrel of their Crusader tank at El Aroussa in Tunisia, May 1943. Photo courtesy IWM.
Nurses and convalescent aircrew at Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Hospital at Halton in Buckinghamshire, August 1943. Photo courtesy IWM.
Lancaster Bombers nearing completion in Avro’s Assembly Plant at Woodford near Manchester, 1943. Photo courtesy IWM.
A 5.5-inch gun crew from 75th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment, Royal Artillery, in action in Italy, September 1943. Photo courtesy IWM.
General Dwight D Eisenhower and his senior commanders at Supreme Allied Headquarters in London, February 1944. Photo courtesy IWM.
Private Alfred Campin of the 6th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry during training in Britain, March 1944. Photo courtesy IWM.
British paratroopers prepare for a practice jump from an RAF Dakota based at Down Ampney in Wiltshire, 22 April 1944. Photo courtesy IWM.
An Air Raid Precautions (ARP) warden inspects damaged buildings in Holborn, London. Photo courtesy IWM.
The RAF’s top-scoring fighter pilot, Wing Commander James ‘Johnnie’ Johnson, with his Spitfire and pet Labrador ‘Sally’ at Bazenville landing ground, Normandy, July 1944. Photo courtesy IWM.
Dutch civilians dance in the streets after the liberation of Eindhoven by Allied forces, September 1944. Photo courtesy IWM.
Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery explains Allied strategy to King George VI in his command caravan in Holland, October 1944. Photo courtesy IWM.
British soldiers admire the Caryatids on the Acropolis while sight-seeing in Athens, October 1944. Photo courtesy IWM.
Members of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) preparing parachutes for use by British airborne forces during the invasion of Europe, May 1944. Photo courtesy IWM.

“The images in this book show the vivid hues of the flames and fabrics, the intense blue skies, the sun-tanned faces and the myriad of colours of military camouflage,” says book author Ian Carter. “Black and white photography puts a barrier between the subject and the viewer, colour photography restores that missing clarity and impact.”

“As the most destructive war in history gradually fades from living memory, it becomes more important to take away the remoteness and bring the Second World War to life.”

The Second World War in Colour can be purchased from the Imperial War Museums online store for £14.99.


Image credits: All photographs from The Second World War in Colour and courtesy Imperial War Museums

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Photographer Uses ‘Science’ to Find the ‘Perfect’ Portrait Angle

Is there such a thing as the ‘perfect’ portrait and headshot angle? When you’re dealing with something as subjective as photography, probably not. But that didn’t stop Ed Gregory from YouTube channel Photos in Color from applying some ‘science’ to try and find that perfect shot.

Gregory decided to try and find this ‘perfect’ portrait angle by applying—in broad terms—the scientific method to a photo shoot.

So he lined up a model under clam shell lighting, got out his Nikon D800 and an 85mm f/1.8 lens (set at f/8), and established some basic parameters for shooting 16 portraits from different angles and heights. This way, he could compare these shots and, hopefully, uncover that perfect portrait angle he’s after.

He took 16 photos in total, starting at eye level and dead center, and then moving in 2-foot increments to the right, 8-inches up, 8-inches down, and 16-inches up. The final grid looks like this:

Then, after taking the portraits, he applied the same very basic global adjustments to every single photo so the only difference between them was the angle he was shooting from. The final portraits all look more or less the same, processing wise.

So… what did he learn?

In short, he learned that having a slight downward angle on your subjects tends to be flattering no matter the side-to-side angle you shoot from. Three of his four favorite photos was shot from 8-inches above eye level.

He also classified his ‘findings’ based on the emotion or impression each angle gave. Photos taken from lower down were more ‘intense,’ and images from higher up were more ‘innocent.’ And the father off to the side the camera was, the more ‘dynamic’ the portrait as compared to the very ‘honest’ look you get shooting straight on.

Ultimately, it’s very difficult not to criticize the video based on the misuse of the term ‘science.’ There’s nothing scientific about subjective terms like ‘honest’ and ‘innocent,’ and this isn’t exactly a golden example of experiment design. There wasn’t even an explicit hypothesis being tested… and repeated use of the terms ‘science’ and ‘findings’ make a useful video sound more like a gimmick.

But if we look past this, Gregory has created a very systematic and relatively well-controlled comparison of different camera angles that can help you find your personal favorite angles and understand how moving the camera around will impact a headshot.

For that reason alone, the video is worth watching.

(via ISO 1200)

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The Evolution of Canon EOS Cameras Over the Past 30 Years

The Canon EOS (Electro-Optical System) ecosystem was born 30 years ago with the introduction of the Canon EOS 650 35mm SLR on March 2nd, 1987. Since then, over 70 EOS cameras have been launched. Here’s a 1.5-minute video by Digital Camera Warehouse that shows the evolution of EOS cameras over three decades.

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