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I Soar

Published by Diana Tula · November 28th 2012

It’s great to watch videos made by photographers as you can witness photographs literally come to life. Today we’d like to share with you a story behind a short film “I Soar”, inspired and based on a poem by Diane Ward. “I Soar” is a collaborative art project by photographer Steven Dempsey and composer Glenn Scott Lacey. Their collaboration resulted in a masterfully assembled creation — from words to sound to visual medium.


In Steven Dempsey’s words... About a year ago, Glenn Scott Lacey and I pulled our talents and experience together and created Americonic Films. Since then we have shot commercials, documentaries and are currently finishing up a music video. All of these endeavors were shot using a DSLR. Technology today enables filmmakers like us to create moving images of extraordinary quality with traditional still cameras.

Although everything we do together is creative, we wanted to do something that was purely artistic. We stumbled upon Diane Ward's beautiful poem "I Soar" quite by accident on YouTube. We were struck not only by the words, but also by the honesty of the poet's reading and immediately wanted to create a short interpretive film. We had found our art project! Glenn contacted Diane in Liverpool and she was very receptive to the idea. 

How it all began

Glenn, a professional film composer, wrote and produced music to the poem keeping Diane's original reading intact. Chris Stewart, whom Glenn worked with on a feature film, performed the violin solo part to Glenn's prerecorded orchestral tracks in his studio as we watched via a Skype session.

It was a wonderful creative challenge for me to shoot the images to fit the already produced and timed audio track. I worked with Glenn to plan a framework and list of moments that would honor both the sweeping and intimate imagery of the poem.

We cast actress Britt Harris as the young woman. I knew from working with her in an Americonic Films commercial project earlier in the year, that she had a timeless quality and the depth to convey the emotions of the work. She is also a trooper, Glenn and I like to work by talking through and setting up the situation of the shot and then letting everyone's creativity get to the reality of the moment. So improvisation and trust are key to the way we work.


We scouted locations and the area in Oregon where we shot. We loaded up the truck with gear and headed out at 4am,  just the three of us, Glenn, myself and Britt. For the way we work it's important to keep the crew to the absolute minimum. We try to strip away all the artifice and pretense of movie making and it allows us to be fluid and open.

Several of the shots were changed to locations that we happened upon that day. We passed a barn that felt perfect for the father's collapse. So we pulled up to the house and Glenn knocked on the door and asked the owner if we might shoot a short scene on their property.

From the truck I spotted the location of the shot with Britt sketching the singular tree. They had cut the hay into long sweeping rows and the sky was perfect for the mood we were after. We pulled the truck over to the side of the road and Glenn and I lugged the equipment and dolly out into the field while Britt changed her dress in the truck; no fancy dressing rooms. We all were very excited about the location and what it meant for the film. Two hours later when we passed by the same field, tractors were almost done picking up the rows of hay and the beautiful cloud cover had dissipated. Again, keeping the production small and being open allowed us to capture a beautiful moment that we couldn't have otherwise planned.

Casting Evie

The young girl, Evie, was cast through a friend of a friend from a Facebook post. We needed a certain age that could play the young version of Britt. Though the little girl didn't have previous acting experience she came from a very creative and talented family. Glenn prefers working with child actors that have absolutely no acting experience. We have cast young actors in several commercials and films that aren't tainted with acting lessons. As is the case in this film, the girl isn't acting, she is playing with her real father who we smartly cast to be the father in the film.

Glenn never instructed her on how to act, the performance all came out of the real interactions with her dad. Evie enjoyed the experience and told  her parents that she wants to be an actress, she has since been going on auditions for other parts. One interesting thing to look for in the shot where the dad lifts the little girl is the shadow of the action on the tree. The shadow represents the scene as a memory.


After all the footage was shot Glenn did an edit to which we made small adjustments and collaborated on the final picture. The decision to make the film black and white was again to impart a timeless feel. Everything was shot in natural light to the same end. What's so interesting to us is that we received more than one comment on how people liked the colors in the piece. It may be that the black and white allows them to see a color pallet that they imagine based on their memories of an earlier time. 

The project was very fulfilling, and we find it important to take the time from commercial work to make films that have personal meaning for us. It was also rewarding that Diane had such a positive reaction to the film and felt we did her beautiful poem justice.

This entire short film was shot with Canon 5D mark II camera. Thanks to Steven Dempsey for sharing this beautiful story and video with us. You can add Steve to friends, follow his photographs and get in touch by visiting his 500px page.

We believe that photographers make great videographers. Last time we shared with you “Hyperlife” by Guille Ibanez, a time-lapse capturing the hustle&bustle of Hong Kong. Do you have a video that you’d like to share or you’re in a process of planning a shoot? Let us know, email We’re always open to your ideas and collaborations, and would love to feature you on our blog.


The world’s best photos now on 500px iPhone app

Published by Diana Tula · November 28th 2012

World’s best photography is now available in your pocket with 500px iPhone app. Indulge in an all-new iPhone experience designed from the ground up. The new iPhone app offers tappable menus that fade way, endless stream of retina-ready photographs, unique full-width Flow timeline, activity push notifications and much more. Not a photographer but a photo admirer? Enjoy community & editors’ curated galleries, and be the first to discover new talent and fresh photos wherever you are.

500px for iPhone Features:

  • Enjoy a world of incredible images in your pocket — the greatest photos, anywhere.
  • Interact with the community by commenting on photos, liking them, or adding them to your favorites for later viewing.
  • Stay up to date on your friends' activity using Flow, now available for the first time on a mobile device.
  • Browse through incredible community-selected galleries and 500px editors' curated selections.
  • Receive notifications when the community members interact with you and your photos.

All this only from 500px for iPhone. Try it for yourself, available for download at the App Store.

Looking for explained iPhone app navigation and more details about the app? Read latest TechCrunch article by Sarah Perez or visit 500px Apps page.


Hengki Koentjoro

Published by Diana Tula · November 27th 2012

Today we'd like to introduce you to Hengki Koentjoro, fine art photographer from Jakarta, Indonesia. His beautifully composed black and white photographs have a striking surreal quality that transport the viewer into a parallel reality. Enjoy his underwater and on land photographs.

Hengi’s first camera was a present from his mother — Kodak Pocket. He has been photographing since the age of 15 and now he shoots both Nikon and Canon, a Nikon D700 and Canon 5D on 35mm lens. To get to know Hengki Koentjoro better, follow his new photographs and add him to friends visit his 500px page.

Our blog is a place to promote 500px photographers and their brilliant photos. Every week we do a mini feature introducing you to a photographer from 500px community and his/her body of work. This could be you, email us and let us know about yourself and your work.

Thanks for reading!


Colours of Autumn

Published by Diana Tula · November 26th 2012

Want to get featured on our blog? Every Monday a theme is announced and you have until Sunday to submit your entry. Upload photos to your 500px profile, then email us the links. You may already have a photo that suits or you can see it as a weekly photo challenge. This week's theme was: Colours of Autumn. For announced new theme and deadline continue reading.

New theme is: Reflections

Theme is open to interpretation so get creative, get snapping and send us the links to Deadline is December 2nd at 12pm (EST).

Big thanks to everyone who participated! Did you know that on average we get over 100 entries per theme? We would like to celebrate your contribution and thank you for your hard work. Every week we add a random draw giveaway, giving a chance to everyone who enters to win 2 months of Awesome membership. One lucky victor is announced every Monday on the blog. This week’s winner is Dave Pluimer.


Pixel Hack 2012

Published by Diana Tula · November 23rd 2012

What is Pixel Hack?

Pixel Hack is an annual local event hosted by 500px. Bringing together talent from the Toronto development and design community to envision and create great apps using open rich media APIs with just a bit over twenty-four hours to spend. It’s a perfect environment with free food&drink for great minds to mix, mingle and innovate.

Hack Day Recap

Pixel Hack was a huge success! The event was last weekend Saturday November 17th to Sunday 18th with over 100 attendees, 31 hours of coding and designing and 19 final hacks presented. We are overjoyed with the number and quality of hacks submitted, you can check out all the apps on Hacker League page.


Apps were judged by a panel of 5 tech-savvy judges who after much thought and deliberation announced the winning apps, teams and individuals. Join us in congratulating...

Overall Winner: Camo —Andrew Sibley and Tyler Ball.

Best Business Idea: 500px - InSitu — James Cam and Garth Gutenberg.

Best Design: Travelby500px — Bartek Ciszkowski and Scott McAllister.

Best Windows 8 app: Gridpix — Kare Desu and Sinthushan Sivapatham.

Winner of SendGrid and Aviary: PixelCard — Eugene Yagrushkin, Arseniy Ivanov and Katerina Lyadova.

Best use of Why Can’t I hold All These APIs — Adam Shutsa.

Though this hack wasn’t submitted for judging, a special win goes to our very own business developer Dustin Plett who under an hour hacked a new business idea with a $4 kisses sign.


To our sponsors — Canon, Aviary, Context.IO, GelaSkins, Henry’s, Jet Cooper, Microsoft, Moo, SendGrid and La Cantina. Thank you for your generosity, Pixel Hack would not be possible without your support.

To our panel of judges — Andy Yang, Oleg Gutsol, Russ Martin, Jon Lax, and Erin Bury for contributing your time, arbitrator skills, and for being awesome.

To Roxy 500px executive assistant and Dustin 500px business developer, who opened and closed the event, prepared nifty swag bags, ordered food, drink, coordinated with sponsors, arranged everything which needed to be arranged, and hustled and bustled to ensure everyone’s comfort and content. You are our stars.

To Extreme Startups and landlords of The Burroughes for providing us with prime Toronto downtown location and great space.

To everyone who attended! We are looking forward to seeing you again next year!


Wish you were there? Relive the event with us with photos and videos from Pixel Hack day. Here are some photos from Pixel Hack 2012 photographed by our COO Evgeny Tchebotarev:

For all photos from this set visit Evgeny's 500px page. Also check out time-lapse videos from Day 1 and Day 2 filmed by our software developer Vova Drizepolov. Want more photos? Search Instagram for hashtags #pixelhack #pixelhackday #pixelhack2012. If you're interested to see how last year's Pixel Hack went visit last year's recap.


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