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Photo Party at the Ex

Published by Jen Tse · August 25th 2011

EDIT: Please make note of the time change.

Summer may be on its way out, but we're still in the mood to party—when are we not?

Join us next Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 12 noon for the second ever 500px Photo Party (i.e. photo walk) in Toronto. Once again, the event will be hosted by Andrey Tochilin and Jen Tse, but this time, we're hitting up the Canadian National Exhibition! We're particularly excited about shooting the Air Show, among other great festivities on the Ex's closing weekend.
Who: Your AWESOME self (and your camera, of course)
What: 500px Photo Party at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto
Where: At the TTC loop/GO station CNE Entrance (directions here). Andrey and I will be wearing 500px t-shirts.
When: Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 12 noon
Why: Fun times at the Ex with cool 500px-ers!

Click here to RSVP on the Facebook event page.

The general admission price to the Ex is $16. However, we will be giving away $10 gift certificates to Gelaskins.com to everyone who comes to the party. We recommend that you buy your ticket online to avoid waiting in line at the gates.

Like last time, we will be holding a contest, this time to give away a Manfrotto 190XB tripod with 496RC2 head (retail value $229.99) generously supplied by Henry's. All you have to do is show up to the walk, grab some swag, take some awesome pictures, and meet some other great photographers. Then, upload your best shots and write about your experience on your personal 500px blog (http://500px.com/YOUR USERNAME/blog). After the event, just send the link to your blog post to jen@500px.com, and we will select one lucky winner.

This party will be a last hurrah while it's still t-shirt weather in Toronto. Speaking of t-shirts, those who order 500px owl shirts before the party will be able to pick them up at the event—just mention CNE pickup in the comments section, where you indicate your size. We sold almost 100 shirts in less than a day...get yours while you still can.
     

Limited Edition 500px Owl Shirts For Sale!

Published by Jen Tse · August 24th 2011


You've seen the freshest photos, and now it's time to wear the freshest threads from 500px. Show your love for photography and/or cute owls with our limited edition t-shirt! We have only 250 for sale (17 were sold while I was writing this post), and will never be printing this design again.

We will also pick three lucky people at random to receive a Gelaskins iPhone skin in the package with their shirt. So when you receive your shirt in the mail, don't throw away the envelope without checking for a surprise inside...

Details:

$24.95 CAD each.

Available sizes: Men's M, L, XL, 2XL. Women's S, M. Sizes run a bit small, so order a size up if you're waffling between two sizes.

Printed on black 100% preshrunk cotton shirts for a great fit even after washing.

Free international shipping.

IMPORTANT: Please indicate your size (eg: Women's medium) in the comments field when filling out your payment and shipping information.
     

Interview with Johannes Heuckeroth

Published by Jen Tse · August 23rd 2011

Every day we see stunning photos from our peers in the 500px community, but not often do we turn the lens back upon the photographer. The Portrait series focuses on remarkable 500px users who may have something to teach us about their field of photography. This week's feature is Johannes Heuckeroth.

Tell us a little about yourself, Johannes.

Hi, my name is Johannes, I am a 26-year old guy from Germany. I am currently studying design (graphic design and interaction design) and I love photography. 

How did you get into architecture and landscape photography?

I am fascinated by nature, no matter if in real life, photography or a motion picture. So when I started photography in 2007 the first thing I wanted to shoot was nature. Capturing the beauty of life seemed to be a meaningful target. An another aspect is the freedom and silence you can find in nature. Standing alone on top of a mountain, waiting for the sunset—I love this.

Architecture is the second big theme in my pictures. I can't tell you how it started—maybe I was a little tired of natural landscapes and wanted to experience the human-built ones. I am highly addicted to aesthetics, so I wanted to photograph contemporary architecture.  
What gear do you shoot with? What’s your setup like?

I am using a Canon 5D Mark II, and in most cases, the 17-40 f/4. If necessary, I use a tripod. 

The locations you choose to capture are stunning. How do you find them?

Browsing through the web helps a lot. I am keeping my eyes open, and I always have a list of architecture spots I want to visit in the future. I like doing a lot of research before I visit my target so I can focus on my subject when I am there. To find interesting architecture spots, I can recommend MiMoa.

Your post-processing really makes these photos—which programs do you use? How long do you spend editing a photo? Any techniques you'd like to share?

Post-processing is a very important part of my work. Knowing your skills and the possibilities of post-processing helps a lot, because when you are at the scene, you can focus on your subject. 

I am using Lightroom for RAW developing and Photoshop for finishing the pictures. The time I need to work on a photo varies, with the average time being 1-2 hours. Some extreme examples from my 500px stream include this photo, which was very work-intense (choosing the right pictures, stitching, and so on). It took about 8 hours all in all.

This one was easier, it only took about 5-10 minutes.

I don't use any filters, actions or presets—every picture gets its own processing. There are no special techniques I use. Most things are done with the standard tools in Photoshop/Lightroom. 

If you could travel anywhere in the world to shoot architecture or landscapes, where would you go?

Oh, difficult question. There are so many awesome spots. For landscapes, I definitely want to visit Iceland—an unbelievable country. Also Patagonia would be wonderful. For architecture: I've seen a lot of great photos from Dubai. To me it seems like an El Dorado for architecture photographs. Also I want to visit and shoot every building built by Zaha Hadid. I love her work. 

What challenges have you experienced while shooting or processing?

Every new subject is a unique challenge: finding the right perspective, the right way to shoot it, finding the right way to process it. I can't give you any specific situation. 
Which photographers or artists inspire you the most?

I am getting great inspiration from photographers like Thomas Birke or Jens Fersterra, who shoot urban scenes in megacities. 

What advice do you have for photographers who might want to try architecture and landscape photography?

Take your camera and do it. Get inspired by quality work from great photographers like those I mentioned above. Familiarize yourself with techniques, so you don't have to think about it and you can focus on your subject. 

For more of Johannes' photography, check out his 500px page and his website.
     

What's New from 500px HQ: Horizontal Theme and More Portfolio Settings, T-Shirts Are Here!

Published by Jen Tse · August 22nd 2011

We have a beautiful new theme called Horizontal ready for you all to try out. The name is quite self-explanatory, and it is available in both white and black. Check out an example on white or on black.

Now you can further customize your porfolio with new basic settings: you can choose to display or hide your location, area of specialization (based on the categories you've sorted your photos in), and profile photo. Awesome account users can now also customize portfolio metadata by adding a title, keywords, and a description to enhance search engine optimization and yield better results in searches.

And while we're on the topic of portfolios, we're inviting users to share theirs in the comments below. What have you shot and uploaded lately? Show us your very best!

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The Owls Have Landed

Ladies and gentlemen, you asked, and our supplier has delivered. New limited edition 500px t-shirts are in, featuring our favourite animal and unofficial mascot. We gave away 50 shirts during Photo Hack Day this past weekend in NYC, and will be giving away 150 at Photoshop World in Las Vegas for everyone who signs up for an Awesome account.

That leaves us with around 250 shirts (in both men's and women's sizes) that will be for sale to 500px users. Again, this owl design is limited edition and won't be repeated, so be at the ready to grab yours in your size. We have yet to set up a web store or any formal method of distribution, but we will have more details about pricing, payment and shipping in the next week or so. Hoo, hoooo...
     

What's in Your Bag, Christopher Boffoli?

Published by Jen Tse · August 22nd 2011



What makes a great photographer? Besides a good pair of eyes, great intuition, some technical know-how, and sometimes sheer luck, no great photog can do what they do without their gear. And the contents of a gear bag can say a little, or a lot about a person.

The What's in Your Bag series features remarkable photographers from the 500px community and gives us a peek into what they consider their essential tools on the go. This week's feature is Christopher Boffoli, a 500px success story who uses tiny plastic figurines and real food to create masterful scenes with macro photography.

After uploading photos to 500px, his work went viral in more than 50 countries, and an editor in Europe bought his images for syndication. Since then, he has done interviews with press across the globe and has been contacted by literary agents and galleries. He was also featured in a recent interview with the Toronto Star, on Oprah's website, and on the NBC Today Show.

Who are you, Christopher?

I am a writer, photographer, filmmaker and artist. My work has appeared in newspapers, magazines and online publications around the world. I currently reside in Seattle, Washington, USA.

What's in your bag?

I tend not to store my gear in a bag, nor do I shoot out of one bag. I've got large storage drawers in my studio and will tend to assemble whatever I need for an assignment/shoot. There is quite a bit of diversity in the way I shoot so the kit will be very different based on whether I'm doing editorial shots for news, portraits, commercial and/or macro food work, HD video, etc.

The other thing that I wanted to say right off the top, which is going to seem really paradoxical given this feature, but that is really important to me, is that I think gear is over-emphasized. All too often when I encounter other photographers, especially if they're guys, all they want to talk about is gear. And sometimes I see certain editorial photographers here in Seattle who are covered with all manner of belts, straps and gear belts with accessories that would make Batman envious.

While I obviously understand that the equipment we shoot with is tremendously important (and I appreciate the technology that makes my work easier than it has ever been in the past) I think it is also vital to remember that we should never let gear get in our way. Sometimes making do with less helps us to be more innovative. I constantly remind myself that what I'm shooting with is never more important than who or what is at the end of my lens.

So, on to explaining the contents of the image above:

1. Spring-loaded, 42" 5-in-1 reflector. Essential for outdoor portrait work. The results are so much better than using fill flash, which I think always looks fake. Also unzips for use as a diffuser. A piece of white foam core makes for a decent reflector in a pinch.

2. Rocket blowers. The one with the red bottom has a built-in HEPA filter. No use blowing more dust into your camera.

3. Singh-Ray Variable neutral density filter. Can dial it down 8 stops. Expensive but handy for shooting wide open portraits in bright light.

4. CF cards. I love that these keep getting larger and cheaper. Pay attention not only to the storage size but the transfer speed. Occasionally I forget these in pockets and they go through the wash. I'm always amazed that they still work on the other side. Solid state memory is amazing.

5. Remote shutter and timer. Way overpriced for what it is. But very handy for macro work and long exposures.

6. Chargers.

7. Mountainsmith Borealis AT pack. This is my travel bag. It holds 2 DSLRs, a few lenses, and everything else I need when I have to travel across the world. It's really mostly for transit as its size makes it impractical to wear while shooting. It also makes you a target for theft if you wear it out in the street in the developing world. But it offers lots of space and still fits in overhead compartments on airplanes. Best bag for getting from point A to B.

8. Canon 5D Mark II. I shoot with a pair of these (the other was used to shoot the image of my gear). When shooting editorial images it is impractical to change lenses on the fly. So I'll usually put with a wide-angle on one and a telephoto on the other. One goes on each shoulder and I'm good to go. I like to use Up-Straps as they have a rubber pad that is non-slip and distributes weight well. They also weave kevlar into the straps so not only are they incredibly strong but they are almost impossible to cut.

9. Battery grip for the Canon 5DM2. I use it less for the expanded battery space than I do for the extra shutter button when shooting vertical.

10. Canon 70-200 2.8L II Telephoto. The editorial workhorse of the arsenal. Heavy but built like a tank. Great water and dust resistance.

11. Canon 2x Extender III. I use this most often when shooting SWAT team stand-offs where the police keep the media way back. Doesn't really offer the best quality for shooting wildlife. But for editorial work it is fine.

12. Canon 580 EXII flashes and Speedlite transmitter. I prefer to use available light whenever possible. But there are times when it is helpful to be able to add a bit of electronic light.

13. Lenses. (From left to right and top to bottom): Canon 85mm 1.2L (my favorite portrait lens. Expensive and heavy but stunning bokeh, light sensitivity and color reproduction), Canon 24-70 2.8L (the wide-angle I use most for editorial/photojournalism images), 100mm 2.8 macro (This lens was used for every image in my Disparity "Little People" images). Not pictured (as it was used to shoot this image) is the Canon EF 16-35mm wide-angle.

14. Manhattan Portage bag. Machine washable, small and light. This is what I'll usually use when I'm street shooting, whether I'm in a village in Burma, in the desert in Jordan, or on a ranch in Patagonia. Lots of little pockets. Holds a surprising amount of gear. Doesn't look like a camera bag so it doesn't attract attention.

15. Media credentials. Essential to getting closer to where the news is happening.

16. Sound gear. Audio-Technica wireless lavalier microphone and receiver, a Sennheiser MKE-400 micro boom with a "dead cat" wind screen, and an Olympus digital recorder for interviews and for recording ambient sounds, say at night on the streets of Saigon.

17. Apple iPad 2 with photo adaptors. Astounding battery life and versatility makes this an essential piece of kit for travel. I've been a diehard Apple user since we had the very first Macintosh at home when I was a kid. Their modern product lines are better than anything they've ever made.

18. Apple 13" Macbook Air with 1.8GHz Dual Core i7 processor and 256GB solid state memory. I tend not to do a lot of heavy duty editing of images when I'm on the road, mostly because I have long days of shooting and it is all I can do to get back to the hotel, download images off the cameras, clean my gear and charge batteries. But when I do need the horsepower, I like knowing I have a super-thin, super-light laptop that can handle it. I tend to upgrade computer equipment every year or so. I like having the latest technology.

19. Apple iPhone 4. Another game-changer. Whenever I arrive at a news scene I'll usually shoot a quick iPhone image and send it off to my editor. The fact that I can also shoot 720p HD video clips and e-mail them to my editor, almost in real time, is huge.

20. Other World Computing (OWC) bus-powered, 500GB pocket drive. Best portable backup from the road. I also use OWC Mercury Elite drives in my studio. They're very well-made and highly reliable.

21. Tripods. A Gorillapod (tricky to pose sometimes but great for wrapping around railings), Manfrotto sticks and heads, a carbon fiber set and a heavier set that's a bit more steady for macro work.

For more of Christopher's photography, check out his 500px page and his website.
     

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