AI Is Already Changing The Way We Think About Photography

AI is rapidly changing the way we think about photography. Just a couple of years from now, most advances in the photo space will be AI-centric, and not optics or sensor-centric as before. The advancement in photography technology will, for the first time ever, be untethered from physics, and will create a whole new way of thinking about photography. This is how it’s going to happen.

Processing power

Just six months ago we saw the first glimpse of AI entering our consumer world when Apple introduced A11 Bionic neural engine chip, which powers current generation of iPhones. The A11 is important because the chip is specifically designed for tasks such as image–and face–recognition, AR applications, etc. In applications like this, it’s way more effective.

I then wrote that the Google Pixel line would introduce it’s own hardware chips, designed for specific tasks, and that indeed happened sooner than anyone—including me—expected, as the Pixel 2 featured dedicated image enhancement chip to help with image processing on the fly. What made it intriguing is that when Pixels were announced and shipped, there was no mention of the feature, and only sometime later did Google admit that the Pixels had a dedicated chip which would be “enabled” sometime in the future (if you own Pixel 2 today, this hardware feature is already enabled).

Then came Chinese smartphone maker Huawei with the P20 Pro, featuring 4 cameras — 1 in front and 3 in the back. In addition to achieving the highest DxO Mark score to date, the Huawei P20 Pro is packed with AI features, such as real-time image scene recognition, meaning it can discern 500 scenarios in 19 categories, such as animals, landscapes, as well as an advanced night mode, where the AI assists in processing noisy photos, making them almost perfect. The Verge has great coverage with image samples to provide a good overview of this photo powerhouse.

As the next generation of smartphone products are developed, many manufacturers are focused on image capture and real-time processing, partially because it’s a great marketing differentiator, but also because advances in this area are clearly visible to the consumer.

Catering to the pros

But in professional and semi-pro setting, there are several other developments that are key to image quality. First of all, is the processing part, that has to happen right after the photo has been taken. Advances in RAW processing have been steady and predictable (but yet, very welcome by everyone), but AI is ready to supercharge this process. Recently PetaPixel featured a research paper named “Learning to See in the Dark” by Chen Chen, Qifeng Chen, Jia Xu, and Vladlen Koltun, that covers techniques of recovery of extremely underexposed RAW files.

For the consumer it means that AI-assisted software can create high-quality images way beyond the current physical limit — allowing smaller sensors (such as found in drones or mirrorless cameras) to leapfrog current top-end DSLR’s.

In other applications, it might allow tiny security cameras to yield high-quality imagery, increasing overall surveillance.

Photo optimization

One intriguing technology I had a chance to see recently is AI-powered upscaling, far beyond in quality than what is currently available to the public. A team of AI developers at Skylum is putting finishing touches on technology that will allow smartphone images to be upscaled and printed at an incredibly high resolution and sharpness. As I’ve previously pointed out, not everyone has an iPhone X in their pocket — hundreds of millions of people today are buying brand new phones that use 4-year-old technology, so having sharper, crispier photos from outdated smartphone sensors will allow millions of people future-proof their precious moments.

Thousands of kilometers from Skylum AI research lab is another startup, that stealthily applying quantum mechanics research to RAW files, is promising to compress your photos up to 10x without loss of data.

A year ago Apple introduced HEIF, High Efficiency Image Format. If you use iPhone with iOS11 you are likely using HEIF without even knowing it. HEIF allows for higher quality images (compared to JPEG) at about half the size, allowing to keep twice as many photos as before. Dotphoton, a small startup from Switzerland, is aiming to up HEIF format and is focusing on the professional applications, from aerial footage to professional photographers.

After a long technological hiatus in image tech, we are yet again seeing an explosion of interest in the space. Photography plays an important role in every tech company, but nowhere it is more important than in the smartphone race. And as September edges closer, Google and Apple will both be aiming to announce cutting-edge photography advances. Yet, an influx of smaller players are innovating at a rapid rate and raising the stakes for everyone.

 

 

Via: Forbes, Writer: Evgeny Tchebotarev

Days Inn Hires “Sun-tern” for $10,000

Your camera roll is probably already full of hundreds of sunset photos you’ve snapped while looking for the perfect pic, so why not get paid for it?

This summer, Days Inn is looking for an aspiring photographer to travel across the United States for one month to take sun-themed photos of the great outdoors — photos that will eventually be featured as art in their hotels.

 

As the new Days Inn “sun-tern,” not only will you get an all-expenses paid trip across the United States for one month this summer, but you’ll also get paid $10,000 after completing the assignment.

Here’s everything you need to know about landing this dream job.

 

The Responsibilities:

Yes, if you love to travel to new places and take hundreds of photos along the way, this “job” is for you. Pretty much all you’ll need to do as the Days Inn sun-tern is travel to cities across the U.S. for one month and capture as many photos of sunsets and sunrises as you possibly can.

To help you find those moments, Days Inn will provide prepaid experiences along the way, including a sunset sail in Miami and sunrise yoga in San Diego, plus opportunities to go zip lining and on hot air balloon rides in between.

Since you’ll be staying at Days Inn hotels throughout the month-long gig, your trip will be determined by where they have hotels, but beyond that, the brand is open to working with the sun-tern to build the ideal itinerary together.

The Perks:

In addition to being paid $10,000 upon completing the assignment, your travel expenses for the one-month trip will be completely covered by Days Inn. Plus, your original photos will be featured on the walls of Days Inn hotel rooms throughout the U.S., as well as on the hotel’s website and social accounts.

 

Who Qualifies:

To qualify for this job, you must be a U.S. resident who is at least 21 years old and has one month free to travel this summer. Other than that, the requirements are pretty flexible. While the ability to take a decent photograph is necessary, you don’t need to have a photography degree to qualify. What’s more important for this position is that you’re open to new experiences and are passionate about travel and enjoy spending time outdoors.

 

Where To Apply: 

To apply for the sun-ternship, visit daysinn.com/suntern between now and May 20 to submit your best original outdoor photograph, along with 100 words on why you’re the best person for the job.

Original Post:  Koko News 5

 

Augmented Realty & Nature Photography: The next really big thing

A couple years ago I attended Photo Plus Expo in New York City and had the chance to meet Jim Malcolm from Human Eyes, a company that is in the business of augmented reality.  At that time in 2016 our conversation was casual as we discussed the technology and the potential future of AR in the photography industry.

Vuze+ VR Camera and Kit by Human Eyes

In 2017 at the same trade show, I saw him again and his excitement was visible. He said “this is going to be the year”.   A few months later, he emailed me again asking if I would be at the Consumer Electronic Show, because AR is starting to take off.

Since that email, the industry blogs I follow have been blowing up with news and chatter about Augmented Realty and Virtual Reality.

Overall spending on AR/VR is forecasted by the IDC to reach $17.8 billion globally in 2018.  This is an increase of nearly 95% over the 2017 numbers.  The International Data Corporation is predicting that spending in America alone,  will reach $6.4 billion.

So how does this affect us as nature photographers and what do we need to be looking for?  At the heart of what we do, we are storytellers.  AR/VR will become a new tool that we’ll be able to utilize to tell the story of our adventures, our photographs and our journey.  As the industry is looking more towards influencer marketing and grassroots to tell their own story, AR/VR will be the next big wave for those who want to build their platform and have brand sponsorship.

Be prepared for a hefty price tag.  The Vuze + (created and distributed by Human Eyes) runs at $1,1,95 for the bundle. Before you run out and grab your 360 degree camera and VR/AR headset, it’s going to become important to learn about the production of this new technology.  As Mr. Malcolm advised me, there’s a right way to record VR and a wrong way.  However, the possibilities are endless for those who take the first steps into this exciting new territory.

Nikon Is Number #1?

Nikon D850

It is perhaps no surprise to any of us that the top spot for sales with full frame cameras went to Nikon and their newly released D850.  When they rolled out the D810 in July of 2014 the industry was filled with talk about the impressive ability to capture a dynamic range that had previously been unattainable, with the only hope of achieving such range with the medium format cameras.

With the newly released D850, sales were backlogged and still being filled.  At the time of this blog post, Amazon is just now shipping orders placed before Christmas.

 

Read the press release from Nikon below:

MELVILLE, NY – Imaging leader Nikon attained the #1 position for both market share and revenue for December 2017, in the full frame digital camera with interchangeable lens (DCIL) category in the U.S.1The overwhelming success of the powerful new Nikon D850 DSLR as well as the acclaimed D750 DSLR helped contribute to the brand’s strong growth within the full frame camera segment for December 2017. According to The NPD Group, Nikon achieved double-digit unit and dollar sales growth within the full frame camera segment in December 2017 vs. December 2016.2This market category comprises all full frame digital cameras with interchangeable lenses (DCIL), including DSLR and mirrorless cameras. December is a significant month for sales because of the large volume of units sold during the holidays; industry-wide, DCIL full frame unit sales for the month of December 2017 were almost equal to unit sales from January through March of 2017, according to The NPD Group.3

“Nikon has returned to an emphasis on high-end products for advanced and professional users. These users appreciate Nikon’s full frame offerings because of their amazing image quality, reliability, low-light capability and high-speed performance,” said Bo Kajiwara, President and CEO, Nikon Inc. “Nikon is an innovative, diversified company with a clear, long-term strategy to thrive into 2018 and beyond.”

Since the beginning of 2017, the camera industry has seen strong growth in the full frame segment, with consumers gravitating toward Nikon’s innovative offerings for advanced and professional photographers. The month of December alone saw an overall increase of 69% in units and 59% in dollars compared to the same period in 2016.2 Nikon specifically experienced an 81% increase in units, and 88% growth in dollars for this segment.2

For the month of December, the top two selling DSLR cameras in this segment were the Nikon D750 and the Nikon D850.There has been exceptional demand for the extremely versatile, highly acclaimed D850, which is the ultimate combination of speed and resolution. This 45.7-megapixel full frame DSLR is a tool for serious photographers with robust construction, unparalleled imaged quality and proven reliability. Both the D850 and the D750 have won a myriad of industry and consumer accolades, and both are perfectly complemented by the vast NIKKOR lens system, which offers the best in optical excellence.

“Premium segments are leading the imaging market, as consumer demand for features like full frame are on the rise,” said Ben Arnold, executive director, industry analyst for The NPD Group.

Kajiwara also added, “We want to sincerely thank our customers and our fans for making this achievement possible.”

Think Printing Photos Is Declining? Think Again…

The Pew Research Center reports that roughly three-quarters of Americans own a smartphone. In addition, 92% of young people 18 to 29 carry a cameraphone. A report by F/22 Consulting and Photo Imaging News, Expanding the U.S. Photo Printing Market,* estimates that Americans captured 1.2 trillion images in 2016.

In total, 85% were taken with smartphones. These captures translated to 176 million print orders as well as 8.2 billion printed units, including prints, wall art, photo books and personalized gifts. PrintingRise-PullQuote“The number and quality of photos captured today (especially on smartphones) is nothing short of staggering. And it’s a global phenomenon,” says the recently published analysis by Don Franz and Frank Baillargeon. “Mobile adoption, equally staggering advances in intelligent and automated photo management, and new mobile photo printing business models represent an unprecedented foundation for substantial and sustained growth of demand.”

What does this surge in digital capture mean for the photo printing industry? For companies on the front line of digital print fulfillment, the numbers are good.

Fujifilm North America Corporation

Fujifilm has been on the pioneering end of digital delivery since the late 1990s. “We were the first company to develop and implement a distribution fulfillment system that allowed consumers to order their prints online and pick them up in the store,” says Manny Almeida, president, Imaging Division, Fujifilm North America Corporation.

Fujifilm-output-2
© Fujifilm North America Corporation

“The U.S. market saw its peak in photo printing in 2003,” he says. “There were 860 million rolls of film sold that year, with an average of 27 prints per roll. That’s almost 19 billion prints. Today, the print market is certainly not that big. But the print category is still $1.5 billion, and the decline is beginning to plateau. At one time, prints were declining at a rate of 30% per year. Over the last year or two, it’s been declining at 3.5%. So it’s really starting to flatten out.

“Printing is different today,” adds Almeida. “There’s a myriad of personalized photo products; over 400 different products available from Fujifilm alone. So while orders for 4×6-inch prints are down, overall printing is up. We have higher value orders. An average order 15 years ago would be in the $8 to $9 range, today it’s around $2

“The important part for us at Fujifilm is that there is opportunity in photo printing. It’s not like it was 15 or 20 years ago. It’s a different opportunity but still a tremendous opportunity. People don’t necessarily want to print a whole bunch of 4×6 prints, but they want to create photo products such as wall décor and products they can give as gifts. The printing industry is about figuring out what consumers want and how they want it.”

*Article by Kim Brady from direporter.com and Expanding the U.S. Photo Printing Market, by F/22 Consulting and Photo Imaging News