Teen Photographer Captures Incredible Moon Photo with His Phone

18-year-old Vijay Suddala created a stunning composite image of the moon from his home in southern India with just a $150 telescope and his smartphone.

The teenager used an Orion Skyscanner 100mm telescope, Svbony Barlow lens, 10mm eyepiece, and a smartphone adapter along with his Samsung Galaxy M21 to capture the celestial image.

Speaking to PetaPixel, Suddala explains through step-by-step how he created his impressive HDR image using four images.

“Get your telescope aligned with the smartphone’s camera lens using a smartphone adapter. You’ll see a perfect circle on the smartphone’s camera view and you can use a distant object to check your focus,” explains Suddala.

“Point to the moon and snap pictures making sure it’s not overexposed. You can use ProCam X mobile application to change the ISO and shutter speed of your phone. Find a setting that best suits your smartphone.”

Orion Skyscanner 100mm telescope

Suddala then captures the upper, middle, and lower parts of the moon to make the whole image sharp, and leaves a common area between all of the moon shots. Finally, he captures an overexposed photo of the moon.

“Once you get three or five single shots of the various parts of the moon you get them into a software called ‘Microsoft ICE.’ What it does is stitch them according to the common areas and get a complete image of the moon,” says Suddala.

“I get the stitch into Photoshop and the first thing I do is apply auto-color, noise reduction of a factor of 8, unsharp mask until you feel the sharpness is sufficient or good looking. You can adjust the black areas of the moon with curves adjustment.”

The smartphone astrophotographer then adds another image of a full moon for the HDR look using guides in Photoshop to align the two images.

“Use the elliptical marquee tool to cut the moon into a perfect circle. You can remove the bad edges with chromatic aberration by applying gaussian blur,” adds Suddala.

“You should align the overexposed photo of the moon layer with that of the above layer perfectly. This will give a nice glow to the moon,” he continues.

“For the clouds, I capture them in the daytime and convert them into black and white by removing the saturation. Then I load the layer of the Moon with the glow and the black and white clouds in Photoshop and change the blending mode to ‘lighten.’ That’s it.”
Anyone Can Do It

Suddala, who does all his astrophotography work on a smartphone, believes anyone can take exceptional images of the moon, even on a budget, and credits YouTuber Alyn Wallace for learning the technique.

“I used to have a pair of binoculars when I was a kid which I bought from a store. I used to watch the moon and I also used it for terrestrial viewing.

“When I was 12, I bought a Celestron 50mm refractor and watched the rings of Saturn for the first time with it. I also used it for lunar observing, but I got bored with it after a year or so because the views were not that pleasing.

“Later, when I was 15, I bought the Orion Skyscanner 100mm tabletop reflector telescope. That’s the same telescope I used for making the composite.”

More of Suddala’s work can be seen on his Instagram.

Matt Growcoot


The hidden hell of the Maldives and the startup that is trying to save paradise

Paolo Facco

On many islands in the Maldives, rubbish is burned in the open. Making plastic-producing companies accountable can be a way to finance environmentally friendly waste management.

When we think of the Maldives, we imagine white sand beaches and clear waters. This, says Paolo Facco, is the picture that luxury resorts send to the world, but in the places where people actually live, garbage turns the paradise setting into a burning inferno.

"Resorts have a lot of money and manage to deal with their garbage (where this garbage ends up is another matter... but at least it's not visible). If we go to the capital Malé or other atolls where locals live, the situation is totally different: in On many islands the garbage is collected and simply burned close to the beach."

"It's a shame. The Maldives has an incredible ecosystem, it's a paradise", laments the representative of Adelphi, a think-and-do tank based in Berlin, Germany, which since March 2021 has been working together with the NGO.

Zero Waste Maldives to help the archipelago better manage waste, with support from the United Nations Development Programme. This startup's proposal is to implement an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy in the Maldives, which obliges "producers of plastic goods or companies that produce plastic packaging materials to assume responsibility for managing the waste generated by its products".

Speaking on the sidelines of the Oceans Conference, Paolo Facco says that the first step was to understand the local reality - how much plastic is generated and who are the decision makers. Now, this startup is working directly with the Maldives Government to define an action plan that makes the private sector responsible for managing the waste that the consumption of its products ends up producing. For example, "if a company places a PET bottle on the market, it has to pay a specific fee to ensure the collection, transport and recycling of that bottle."

"This concept has been applied for decades in several countries in Europe, in countries like Spain, Germany or France, but in developing countries it is difficult because they do not have a good waste management system", he explains. The Maldives has a particular characteristic that makes everything more difficult: it is an archipelago made up of more than a thousand islands, about 200 inhabited, so "the transport of materials between different islands is very expensive, since it is done in small boats and the price of gasoline is very high", explains Paolo Facco.

"We live in a plastic-based economy, where everything has to be packaged, and people can't deal with the garbage they produce," he recalls. Waste management is expensive and governments in many countries do not have enough money to implement sustainable systems, so holding the private sector to account can help.


Kodak 400TX Single-Use Camera Review. Fun and Easy to Use!

My mom was always taking pictures of us as we grew up. It was standard procedure to grab a snapshot before we could scurry about and enjoy vacations. Eye rolls were aplenty, but I quickly picked up her fascination for photography. 

My mom didn’t trust an eight-year-old with her prized Vivitar. Instead, she stocked up on disposable cameras for me whenever they were on sale. The Kodak 400TX single-use camera bridges my childhood and the nostalgia of learning black and white photography in college.

Kodak’s single-use camera is simple enough for anyone to enjoy. It’s great for weddings, parties, and other events, and can also be used outside for landscapes and street photography, making it a perfect travel buddy. Plus, it’s only $13 for 27 exposures. Is it worth the splurge? We think so.

The Big Picture

The Kodak 400TX single-use camera is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. It’s so simple that anyone can use it. Even professionals will enjoy the throwback and reminiscing of days spent in the darkroom. The fixed plastic lens doesn’t create the sharpest images, but images are sufficient. And if you love grain, you will adore this little gem. It’s a great camera to throw in your bag when traveling or headed to a party. The price is $13 for 27 frames, making it an inexpensive way to play with film photography.

We are giving Kodak’s 400TX camera four out of five stars. You can pick one up for $13 at Adorama or Blue Moon Camera and have a blast.
ProsAnyone can use it
Black-and-white film
Tri-X is so forgiving it’s hard to get an unusable frame.
On-camera flash is excellent for events
Loads of fun
ConsThe flash on one of the cameras would not turn off, although the images were fine.
Not the sharpest, which is to be expected from a plastic lens
I prefer finer grain with more contrast, but that’s being picky
Gear Used

The Kodak 400TX camera was not used with any additional gear. We sent it to Blue Moon Camera for developing and scanning.
Ease Of Use

Kodak’s 400TX is one of the most straightforward films to use. With a speed of 400, the Kodak 400TX single-use camera offers a lot of versatility. It has a fixed 30mm f10 lens with a shutter speed of 1/125th of a second. The camera is small, lightweight, and easily fits in the palm of your hand. It is as simple as pushing the button and advancing the film.

Need more light to capture a precious moment at an event? The on-camera flash is accessible within seconds to grab those memorable portraits. One of the cameras I received had a flash that wouldn’t turn off. It fired for every image after I opted to use it halfway through the roll. Other than being a bit flat for my liking, the images are fine. Tri-X 400 film is very forgiving.

The disposable camera’s simplistic design makes it the perfect option to throw in your bag and take wherever you go. It’s compact enough to not even know it’s there. It is a great companion to document loved ones during events and freeze moments in time during your travels.

Photographers of all ages and skill levels will enjoy this camera. It’s great for travel, landscape, portrait, and event photographers. You could send it to any lab of your choosing; Tri-X doesn’t require anything special for processing. But, we recommend sending it to Blue Moon Camera in Portland, Oregon for developing and scanning.

Image Quality

The Kodak 400TX single-use camera produces images with smooth gradient transitions and beloved grain. Images are not overly sharp due to the plastic lens paired with more prominent grain. Contrast can be played up or down, depending on the overall light of a scene. Harsh light or use the flash in dimly lit areas will provide the best contrast, and this will give images a bit more pop. Even so, I’d still utilize a magenta filter if I were creating prints in the darkroom to get the deep blacks I love.
Extra Image Samples

From day one, The Phoblographer has been huge on transparency. Nothing from this review is sponsored. Further, lots of folks will post reviews and show lots of editing in the photos. The problem then becomes that anyone and everyone can do the same thing. They’re not showing what the product can do. These photos are completely unedited.

Who Should Buy the Kodak 400TX Single-Use Camera? 

In today’s world, the Kodak 400TX single-use camera is a very welcome blast from the past. You can’t help but enjoy yourself using it. 
I would recommend it to anyone who wants to dip back into film. Photography enthusiasts and even young kids will have a lot of fun with this camera. The 400 ISO film is versatile for landscapes, street photography, portraiture, travel, and event photography. 
It’s the perfect addition to table decor at weddings and other events. It’s an inexpensive option for portrait photographers to add analog into their sessions. 
Plus, it’s the perfect size to throw in your bag when traveling. 
Tech Specs Tech specs are summarized from the manufacturer. ISO 400 27 exposures Fixed 30mm f10 lens 1/125th of a second Minimal focusing distance of 3.3 feet Built-in flash Optical viewfinder


This AI imagery tool can transform famous paintings into different styles


A couple of weeks ago, we reported on Google’s AI tool that can turn any text into a photorealistic image. Well, it turns out Google isn’t the only tech company vying for a slice of the AI image generator pie. Meet OpenAI, a San Francisco-based company that created its first text-to-image system back in January 2021. Now, the team has unveiled its latest system, called ‘DALL·E 2’, which generates more realistic and accurate images with 4x greater resolution.

Both Imagen and DALL·E 2 are tools that use artificial intelligence to transform simple text prompts into photorealistic images that have never existed before. As explained in the video above, DALL·E 2 can also make realistic edits to existing images, meaning you can give famous paintings different styles or even give Mona Lisa a mohawk. The AI system was created by training a neural network on images and their text descriptions. Through deep learning, DALL·E 2 can identify individual objects and understand the relationships between them. OpenAI explains, ‘DALL·E 2 has learned the relationship between images and the text used to describe them. It uses a process called ‘diffusion’, which starts with a pattern of random dots and gradually alters that pattern towards an image when it recognizes specific aspects of that image.

OpenAI says its mission is to ensure that artificial intelligence benefits all of humanity. The company says, ‘Our hope is that DALL·E 2 will empower people to express themselves creatively. DALL·E 2 also helps us understand how advanced AI systems see and understand our world, which is critical to our mission of creating AI that benefits humanity.’

However, despite the company’s intentions, this kind of technology is a tricky one to deploy responsibly. With this in mind, OpenAI says it is currently studying the system’s limitations and capabilities with a select group of users. The company has already removed explicit content from the training data to avoid violent, hate, or adult images being generated. They also say that DALL·E 2 cannot generate photorealistic AI versions of real individuals’ faces.

design: OpenAI


Best lens for wildlife photography in 2022

Best lenses for wildlife photography – When it comes to wildlife photography then getting in close is key. There are many long lenses on the market and depending on your budget and what camera type and brand you own will determine what is available to you.

To help you make a better informed decision we’ve rounded up the very best wildlife lenses from those that are compatible with DSLRs to Mirrorless, and we’ve included all the major brands so there is something in there for everyone.

When it comes to purchasing longer lenses unfortunately prices get pricey! For those on a tighter budget we have thrown in a couple of budget suggestions, but it’s also worth having a look at the second hand market to see what is available. Often you can save at least a third of the full retail price when shopping second hand.

So without further ado, here are our recommendations for the best lenses for wildlife photography:

Best Nikon DSLR lenses for wildlife photography
1. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR – £1,399

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR

At a glance:Minimum aperture f/32
Maximum aperture f/5.6
Lens construction 19 elements in 12 groups (including 3 ED glass elements)
95mm filter thread
Weighs 2300g (including tripod collar)

The versatile 200-500mm Nikon lens is perfect for those wildlife photographers needing to shoot at a variety of distances. The f/5.6 maximum aperture setting will feel slightly limiting in low light but during daylight is more than adequate. Weighing in at 2300g this lens will add a lot of extra weight to your camera bag, however the variable focal length makes up for this.

2. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II – £6,299

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II

At a glance:Minimum aperture f/22
Maximum aperture f/2.8
Lens construction – 11 elements in 8 groups
52mm filter thread
Weighs 2900g

If you’re after high quality imagery then the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II is a beauty of a lens but at just shy of £6,300 it is by no means affordable to most! You can get it cheaper by shopping around and on the second hand market we found one at £3300 making it more of a viable option for some.

There is no doubt that having those extra stops of light up to f/2.8 with the 300mm reach will get you superb results and the 9 blade circular aperture diaphragm helps produce perfect background blur. This lens also uses a 4 stop Vibration Reduction system meaning you can be confident when out in the field that you are eliminating camera shake. Any Nikon user wanting high quality and professional looking results should consider this lens.

Best Canon DSLR lenses for wildlife photography
3. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM – £ 2,200

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM

At a glance:Minimum aperture f/32
Maximum aperture f/2.8
Lens construction – 23 elements in 19 groups
77mm filter thread
Weighs 1480g

You can’t go wrong with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. Their versatile nature makes them not only useful to wildlife photographers but also almost for every other genre of photography too!

This lens comes with a 3.5-stop image stabilisation guard against camera shake and can track with precision thanks to a ring-type USM autofocus system.

The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III USM is also water and dust resistant, which will give you great peace of mind when out in the field in harsher conditions.

4. Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III – £240

Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III

At a glanceMinimum aperture f/45
Maximum aperture f/4
Lens construction – 13 elements in 9 groups
58mm filter thread
Weighs 480g

For those who are just starting out or on a tight budget then the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III lens is well worth considering. This affordable lens is by no means perfect and comes with some restrictions such as its variable maximum aperture range, however when it comes to value for money you can’t argue with what you get. Its lightweight construction and flexible zoom are ideal if you are travelling, and thanks to its integrated AF motor it’s also fast to focus and track moving subjects.

The Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III is compatible with Canon DSLR cameras and EOS-M mirrorless cameras with an EF-EOS M Mount adapter.

Best third party DSLR lenses for wildlife photography
5. Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM S – £1,329

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM

At a glanceMinimum aperture f/22
Maximum aperture f/5
Lens construction – 24 elements in 16 groups
105mm filter thread
Weighs 2860g

The Sigma 150-600mm f/5 – 6.3 DG OS HSM is not only incredibly versatile having a reach from 150mm to 600mm, it is also built to withstand. This is thanks to its dust and splash resistant structure and its oil-repellent coating on the forefront and rear lenses that can be easily wiped to prevent oil and fat from sticking to the surfaces.

The lens comes with an intelligent OS (Optical Stabiliser) function feature that includes 2 modes. Mode 1 is for general photography and mode 2 helps track moving subjects with accuracy making it ideal for wildlife photographers.

On the downside the variable maximum aperture setting between f/5 and f/6.3 (which is determined by where the focal length is set) is restrictive in lowlight conditions, however this lens still works out as great value for money at just over £1300.

6. Tamron 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD – £819

Tamron 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD

At a glance:Minimum aperture f/45
Maximum aperture f/4.5
Lens construction – 17 elements in 11 groups
Minimum object distance 1.5m
Weighs 1135g (Canon fit), 1115g (Nikon fit)

If weight is an issue then the Tamron 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD is comparably much lighter to many of its market rivals. The Canon fit weighs slightly more than the Nikon fit, which comes in at a light 1115g.

Key features of the Tamron 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD are the autofocus system and a moisture resistant construction and fluorine coating aimed to give you peace of mind in bad weather. The lens also has three low dispersion lens elements that compensate for chromatic aberrations.

Finally this lens is compatible with Tamron’s 1.4x teleConverter, which if you want that extra reach but can’t afford to upgrade to a longer lens is a great solution.

Best mirrorless Canon lenses for wildlife photography
7. Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM – £2,980

Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM

At a glance:Minimum aperture f/32 at 100mm / f/54 at 500mm
Maximum aperture f/4.5
No. of diaphragm blades 9
Filter thread 77 mm
Weighs 1530g

For Canon mirrorless shooters the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1L IS USM Lens is an excellent option that comes with a large variable focal length and also produces high quality results.

This lens comes with a 5-stop Image Stabilisation feature giving greater flexibility in lowlight, and includes ASC technology, which stands for Air Sphere Coating to prevent flare and ghosting in images. The Dual Nano USM motor is also worth a mention that enables fast, smooth and near silent AF shooting. It isn’t cheap though at just shy of £3000, however it has much to offer wildlife shooters.

8. Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM – £1,100

Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM

At a glance:Minimum aperture f/11
Maximum aperture f/11
Lens construction 11 elements in 8 groups
Filter thread 95mm
Weighs 1260g

If you need a long reach then the Canon RF 800mm F11 IS STM should be on your list. This lens is aimed at the enthusiast, and ideal for any wildlife photographer needing to keep their distance but wanting to get shots close in on the action – for example on a safari.

On the downside the fixed aperture setting at f/11 will feel restrictive at times, however in good light this won’t be an issue. On the positive side this lens only weighs 1,260g which is incredibly light for a lens with this kind of reach. It also only measures 281.8mm in length making it easier to transport. It’s worth noting Canon makes a similar 600mm model that retails at £860.

Best mirrorless Nikon lenses for wildlife photography
9. Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S – £2,419

Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S

At a glance:Minimum aperture f/22
Maximum aperture f/2.8
No. of diaphragm blades 9
Filter thread 77 mm
Weighs 1440g

The Nikon Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S is an excellent lens and produces superb quality results. This model comes with ghosting, flare and chromatic aberration combative features and is pinpoint sharp thanks to its accurate tracking and AF feature. This lens has a minimum focus distance of just 0.5m at the wide end of the zoom, and 1m at the telephoto end.

The versatile nature of a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is not only great for capturing wildlife – for example bird photography – but it’s also useful for shooting other genres as well so is a worthy investment.

10. Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S – £1,049

Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S

At a glance:Minimum aperture f/32
Maximum aperture f/2.8
No. of diaphragm blades 9
Filter thread 62mm
Weighs 630g

For those Nikon mirrorless users who want to capture the smaller animal kingdom like butterflies and insects then the Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S should be at the top of your list! This professional macro lens produces excellent results and includes Nikon’s anti-reflective ARNEO and Nano Crystal coatings, which combat flaws like ghosting and unwanted image flare.

With a minimum focusing distance of 0.29m the Nikkor Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S lets you get extremely close into your subject, and produces images at a 1:1 reproduction ratio for detailed results.

Best Sony FE mount lens for wildlife photography
11. Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS – £1,700

Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS

At a glance:Maximum aperture f/5.6
Dimensions 111.5 x 318 mm
No. of diaphragm blades 11
Filter thread 95mm
Weighs 2115g

For wildlife Sony shooters who are after a versatile lens the Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS is a strong contender. This lens is fast and accurate to focus thanks to Sony’s DDSSM (Direct Drive SSM) system, and the image quality is also excellent.

This lens comes with an 11 blade aperture mechanism creating desirable bokeh. It’s worth noting though the lens is limited to a maximum f/5.6 or f/6.3 depending on where the focal length is set.

This lens is centre weighted so feels balanced when out in the field, which is reassuring to know. If you want to extend your reach even further the Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 is compatible with a 1.4x or 2.0x teleconverter. This gives a maximum focal length of 840mm (with a 1.4x) or 1200mm (2.0x) at f/13.

Best Fujifilm XF mount lens for wildlife photography
12. Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR – £1,699

Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

At a glance:Maximum aperture f/4.5
Minimum aperture f/22
No. of diaphragm blades 9
Filter thread 95mm
Weighs 1375g

The Fujinon XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is a super telephoto zoom lens capable of producing high quality results. With a 5 stop image stabilisation system this lens combats issues like camera shake and has automatic detection when panning.

At 1375g this lens is light enough not to cause too many issues whilst in transportation, and the 100-400mm reach gives most wildlife photographers a decent focal range to play with. This lens is dust and water resistant and will operate in conditions down to -10 °C. A great all rounder for those who need something versatile.

Best Micro Four Thirds lenses for wildlife photography
13. Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4.0 IS Pro – £2,599

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4.0 IS Pro

At a glance:Minimum aperture f/4
Dimensions 92.5 x 227mm
Filter thread 77mm
Weighs 1270g

Weighing in at 1270g the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4.0 IS Pro is an excellent choice for many wildlife pros and enthusiasts. Although Olympus have priced it at £2,599 with some shopping around you can get it around £500 cheaper than their suggested full price.

This lens benefits from Olympus’ sync IS system that provides enhanced camera shake reduction with the correct setup. Finally this lens is dust, freeze and splashproof, and gives a 600mm equivalent reach.

14. Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm F/2.8-4 ASPH Power O.I.S. – £1,399

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 50-200mm F/2.8-4 ASPH Power O.I.S.

At a glance:Minimum aperture f/22
Maximum aperture f/2.8
Lens construction – 21 elements in 15 groups
Weighs 655g

This lens offers micro four third users great flexibility thanks to its variable focal length and wide maximum aperture settings that vary between f/2.8 and f/4 depending on where the focal length is set.

These wide aperture settings will come in handy in lowlight and produce brilliant bokeh when blurring out the background. This lens is weather sealed giving users greater peace of mind when out in the field. It also gives a 100-400mm equivalent.


The Climate Emergency

It's scary to know that this could be our new reality: a submerged planet and an increasingly difficult life. 

As the waters rise, waste and difficulties in obtaining drinking water and food would also multiply. And these are just some of the many problems we would face. 

Do these places you are going to see look familiar to you? 
In reality they are, but the difference is that they are isolated. In 2050, these photo may become real. Many studies estimate that temperatures could rise by 3°C in the next thirty years, which would cause sea levels to rise worldwide. 

To make the population aware of the climate emergency we find ourselves in, Climate Central scientists illustrated what some iconic places on our planet will look like if we don't act.

These photos in a video UPP made for Climate Central make it very clear that we must act!


How to Turbocharge Your Photography Workflow

I recently heard a photographer say he’d spent 17 hours going through 10,000 images, deciding which ones were worth saving. My first thought was, “I hope he’s retired.” My second thought, though, was that he badly needed a lesson on speeding up his workflow. Which led me to write this guide on how to turbocharge your photography workflow.

I started shooting digital for my newspaper in the fall of 1996. By the spring of 1997, I’d been tasked with helping convert the entire department to digital. I quickly learned that the gear was the easy part. It was the workflow — downloading, organizing, renaming, adding valuable information to the photos (names, locations, etc.), and then being able to find the images — that was the hard part.

Over the next half-dozen years, as I left my paper and began a freelance career, I carved out a niche in helping other newspapers make the transition to digital. And again, gear was the easy part, workflow the challenge. My attitude was that with computers and the right software, photographers should be able to handle more photos more quickly than ever before. But that wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

In 2007 I was hired by the Associated Press to lead workflow classes for their photographers at different locations around the world. In addition to this class in Mexico City, I also ran sessions in Bangkok, Delhi, Tokyo and Lima, Peru.

The two keys to any good workflow are that it’s easy to repeat and accomplish whatever goals you have. In a company, that means it has to be designed to fit the company’s needs, and then everyone has to follow it. Both of those can be challenging to accomplish when a large number of people are involved.

For an individual, though, it’s much simpler. I’m often asked what my workflow is, and I am happy to share it. But what really matters is that it makes sense to you and is easy to do. Here are the five basic steps that any photographer can (and should) take to make the process as painless and efficient as possible.

1. Automate the Download

Computers are great at automating things, so why not have them do that? The best photography applications out there can automate the download process. They can create a folder structure, name the folder(s), rename the images, and add important metadata (like copyright, location, and caption information).

If your workflow has you plugging the card in, creating a folder on the computer, and dragging the images to it, you’re not just wasting time, you’re making every step after that more difficult. For years now I’ve posted a PDF on my website titled “Automating Digital Downloads” that explains, step-by-step, how to accomplish this with Photo Mechanic (my favorite), Lightroom and Adobe Bridge. It covers everything from folder structure to captions and renaming (which is critical).

This is the PDF I’ve written explaining how to automate the process using Photo Mechanic, Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Bridge. Click the link in the text above to go to the download location for it.

2. Keep or Delete?

In the early days of teaching workflow, one of the things I always preached was, “Why waste time looking for bad photos?” That meant storage was cheap, so don’t spend time looking for photos to delete. Download, find your best photos, work them up and move on.

Then I got my first truly high-resolution camera, a Nikon D800 (36 megapixels). Shooting RAW, each time I pressed the shutter button I was creating a file around 50MB in size… which made me change my tune and flipped that part of my workflow upside down. Now, after downloading, I still go through and look for my best photos. But as I do that, I mark them (“tag,” “flag,” whatever your software calls it). I’m overly generous doing that, not looking at images critically and marking any image I may have a possible use for (I shoot a lot of “before” and “after” photos for teaching).

Once I’ve marked them, I tell the software to select the photos I didn’t mark (“Untagged,” in Photo Mechanic terms) and delete them. That means that on most shoots, I end up keeping about 25% of what I shot. Going through 1000 images takes me less than an hour.

3. Master Files

The goal here is to always work on your images non-destructively, meaning the original pixels remain untouched. That could be through a catalog program (like Lightroom or Mylio), where the edits are virtual, or saved with Layers or as a DNG file (with more traditional editing programs, like Photoshop or Adobe Camera Raw). All of those mean that whatever you’ve done can be undone easily, allowing you to go backwards or forwards without starting all over again, from that “Master” file.

If using a catalog program, then you should have a way of marking your very best images (color or number rating) so they can be easily searched for and found. If you use a folder-based workflow (like I do), then those best images should be saved as PSD or DNG files. In that case, for me, it makes sense to save those “Master” files back into the folder with the RAW or JPEG originals.

Here’s a contact sheet (in Photo Mechanic) from some bird photography I did earlier this week. The image marked yellow was one I chose to edit, the red one is the version after being edited and saved as a DNG file, and what I used to generate a lower-rez version with PM to share on Instagram.

4. Create Smaller “Best Of” Collections

Obviously, any time you need to find one of your best photos, you don’t want to search the entire archive. So easy access to smaller sets, or collections of images, is important. And once again, how you do this will depend on whether you use a catalog system or folder-based (like with Photo Mechanic or Bridge).

Each trip I take, or workshop I lead, results in a folder of my favorite images. I do everything date based, starting with the year, making it easy to sort and find chronologically. Here’s the folder with my favorite 56 photos from the Canadian Rockies photo trip I recently led.

Catalog. Lightroom calls this ability to group virtual images together “Collections.” The advantage of a catalog is that you only need one original. You can then have as many virtual copies of that image in as many different collections as you like without copying it over and over. The disadvantage is that you need to be very careful to keep that catalog, as well as the original files backed up in multiple locations. Otherwise, a hard drive failure or other loss could be catastrophic, since all the work you’ve done lives in that catalog.

Folder-Based. On the other hand, a folder-based system means that as you create different collections, you’re copying that original (and edited version) to multiple locations, which automatically creates multiple backups. The advantage here is that those original files live in multiple different places. The disadvantage to this system is that it requires more storage capacity (hard drives).

Here you can see the folder structure for my long-term archive. I use Mylio to synchronize the images to other devices (from hard drives to my phone), as a way to both backup the files and make them easily accessible.

Regardless of which system you use, creating smaller collections of your best images will make it much easier to find the ones you want, quickly. For instance, right now I’m building a “Best of 2022” for my very best photos from this year. I also have a “Best of 2000-2021” which is the cream of the crop from each of my yearly “Best of” collections. And in early 2023, I’ll select the very best from 2022 and add them to that larger collection, then change the name to, “Best of 2000-2022.” This is how my system looks right now:
2022 ALL. Contains dated folders for every day I’ve taken pictures this year.
2022 Best of. Every couple of months I go through my recent shoots and add some photos.
2022 Trips. I create “best of” collections from every trip or workshop each year. So far:2022 April Georgia
2022 May Palouse 1
2022 May Palouse 2
2022 June Canadian Rockies
5. Storage and Backup

Whenever I’m asked how many backups people should have, my answer is always, “However many lets you sleep soundly.” In other words, there’s no magic number, just whatever makes you feel comfortable your photos could survive a disaster. But the rule of three is a good starting place. One copy on your primary hard drive (I use a RAID array, mirrored, as that primary drive). One copy on a second hard drive you can connect and backup to regularly (in other words, at home). And a third hard drive that’s kept off-site, whether at a friend’s home, an office, or a safe deposit box, that you can easily bring home, back up to, and then return to that off-site location.

If you have high-speed internet, then taking advantage of a cloud option is a good idea as well. However, considering the amount of time it would take to download everything from the cloud, I hope to never need it.

The second part of backup is to ask what you really need backed up. After all, should my home be destroyed, I don’t care about recovering every photo I’ve ever taken, just the best ones. My backups focus on those best-of collections (and that’s what I back up to the cloud as well).

And thinking long-term, past my lifespan, what photos are truly the most important? My family photos, not my career ones. So that collection/folder is the one I put the highest priority on. I want to make sure my kids have those photos once I’m gone.

Here’s part of my own backup strategy, a Pelican case (waterproof) that I keep at home with hard drives containing all of my best images throughout my career. That includes scans of film-based photos prior to 1997.

Remember, the key to any good workflow is that it works for you. If you struggle to follow a routine someone else suggested, that’s not a good workflow. Sit down with a sheet of paper and start sketching out plans until you find one that feels like a good fit. Set a date that you’ll start using that plan. Then make a list of those steps, put it next to your computer, and start following them every time you download and work on photos from that date forward.

In time, it will become second nature. What about your older photos? There’s no reason you can’t go back and start shifting them into your new workflow (collections/folders, renaming, batch captions, etc.) when you have time. It’s mostly about better organization.

If you’re doing photography for fun and find the workflow part painful or frustrating, you’re doing something wrong. And in my experience, most of the time that pain comes from a poor workflow. Fix your workflow, then start having fun with photography again.
A Note About Photo Mechanic

I’ve outlined what I consider a good, basic workflow above. My personal one incorporates all of that, but I’m going to take a moment now to explain why my primary tool for achieving it is Photo Mechanic.

When I started shooting digital in 1996, I was using a Kodak DCS camera (a converted Nikon N90s body) and Kodak software that was clunky at best. Enter Dennis Walker. He started a small company, Camerabits, and created a much better software solution for handling those image files, Photo Mechanic.

As news organizations around the world converted to digital, all of them also adopted Photo Mechanic. A browser, not an image editor, it was that key step between the camera and Photoshop that took care of the download, captioning, renaming, and organizing/sorting, among other things. It was (and still is) the fastest program (that I know of) for doing that, which is why every news organization I know of still uses it.

When people ask me why I use it instead of something else, I explain that it’s the hub of my digital workflow, so speed is essential. Every image I shoot comes into my system through it, is managed with it, and goes out through it. I spend more time in Photo Mechanic than with any other piece of software, and have used it so long it’s second nature.

There are keyboard shortcuts to about anything you’d want to do — I only need the mouse when I want to click a specific area to check sharpness and zoom to 100%. And that’s where one of the big speed gains happens, when zooming. If you shoot RAW, when you click an image to get a larger preview (or zoom), most software takes a moment to process that RAW data. Photo Mechanic doesn’t. It simply takes the JPEG that’s embedded in every RAW file and uses it for the preview/zoom. That, of course, is much faster than processing the RAW data.

Think about how many times you look at a preview of images, or zoom in. If you’re saving one or two seconds each time you do that, it adds up quickly. Simply said, it’s the best, fastest program I’ve ever found for managing images.

Here’s my basic workflow:Put card in reader, Ingest (download) with PM, having it create folder structure, caption and rename.
Browse through photos, “tagging” (“t” key) all that I want to keep.
Invert the selection (“Select untagged”) and delete.
Go through a second time, now marking my favorites with a yellow mark (“2” key).
Sort by “Color Class” to view those images.
Zoom to 100% to check sharpness (“z” key), find the very best and give them a red mark (“1” key).
Use the “e” key to launch any of those images into Adobe Camera Raw (set in Preferences) to edit, saving back to the original folder as DNG files (non-destructive, edits intact).
Use Cmd/Ctrl-S to save any of those images out as JPEGs at whatever resolution I need for Instagram, Facebook, or any other use requiring JPEGs (and PM can convert the color space to sRGB at the same time, which is important because I shoot in AdobeRGB).
At a later time, I’ll use Cmd/Ctrl-Y to copy any favorites to the “2022 Best of” folder.

“4 TB MAIN” is an eight-terabyte mirrored drive attached to my home computer. That’s where I keep all the images I need immediate access to, and where all current images are downloaded to via Photo Mechanic, using a date-based system. As a RAID array, that means it has two four-terabyte hard drives inside, and they “mirror” each other. So if one should fail, the other still has everything intact.

What else do I do with Photo Mechanic?Create galleries for my website.
Open images into other editing programs (DxO PureRaw 2, PhotoMatix Pro, Nikon NX Studio, etc.).
FTP images to various clients.
Run slideshows.
Burn images to disc (CD, DVD, Blu-ray).
Import and embed GPS coordinates.
Show on a map where those photos were taken.
Use Code Replacement (automates the input of names/teams/numbers in sporting events) when doing work for wire services.
Manage/change Metadata/IPTC information like Keywords.
Search even large folders of images (thousands) quickly.
Sort by almost any criteria imaginable, from ISO to resolution to camera to focal length…
Change capture dates and times (if I didn’t set the camera properly when traveling).
Create “Snapshots” to further automate things like captioning, renaming, gallery creation, FTP transfers, etc.
Have multiple contact sheets open at the same time.
And there’s much, much more.

If you don’t take a lot of pictures, or do much with them, then you probably don’t need Photo Mechanic. But if you do, and aren’t happy with your current system, then you might want to give the 30-day free trial a go. It’s not for everyone, but if it works for you like it does for me, it’s well worth the cost (and is regularly updated without asking for more money).

Reed Hoffmann


Jason Momoa in Portugal at the Oceans Conference

Carcavelos in Portugal, June 26, in superhero blockbuster Aquaman, popular Hollywood actor Jason Momoa plays the role of protector of the deep, but with the world's oceans under threat in real life, he is also taking the fight off-screen.

"Without a healthy ocean life, our planet as we know would not exist," Momoa said with the sea behind him as he took part in an event on a Portuguese beach ahead of the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, which starts on Monday.

Around 7,000 people, from heads of state to environmental activists, are expected to attend the conference, which was postponed from 2020 to this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dozens of youth activists from various countries clapped and cheered as Momoa, who will soon become the U.N. Environment Programme advocate for Life Below Water, spoke about the problems facing the world's oceans.

"We must seek to right the wrongs we have done against our children and grandchildren, turn the tide on our irresponsible stewardship and build momentum for a future where humanity can once again live in harmony with nature," said Momoa, 42.

Momoa is known for his role as Arthur Curry, a half-human, half-Atlantean character in DC Comics' Aquaman, which takes viewers to the underwater world of the seven seas. Aquaman 2 is scheduled for release in March 2023.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres joined Momoa at the event and apologised on behalf of his generation for not doing enough at the time to tackle climate change, save the ocean and protect biodiversity.

"Even today we are moving too slowly...we are still moving in the wrong direction," Guterres said, also pointing a finger at the fossil fuel industry. "It's time for these behaviours to be seriously condemned."

The ocean covers 70% of the planet's surface, generating over half of the world's oxygen and absorbing 25% of all carbon dioxide emissions but climate change is increasing its temperature and causing sea levels to rise.

Eleven million metric tons of plastic ends up in the ocean each year, a figure that's expected to triple by 2040 unless production and use of throwaway are reduced, multiple scientific studies show.

Carlos Alves de Sousa
United Photo Press


Your Chromebook now works better with your other devices

During CES and I/O this year, we announced a few new Android and Chromebook features designed to help your phone and laptop work better together. Soon you’ll see some of those features roll out to your Chromebooks so you can try them yourself.

Easily access your recent photos

When you’re trying to stay on task, there’s nothing more distracting than switching between your phone and your laptop to get something done. Last year, we introduced Phone Hub, a built-in control center that lets you respond to text messages, check your phone’s battery, turn on tethering and more, all from your Chromebook.

With the latest update, you’ll now also have instant access to the latest photos you took on your phone — even if you’re offline. After taking a picture on your phone, it will automatically appear within Phone Hub on your laptop under “recent photos.” Just click on the image to download it, then it’s ready to be added to a document or email.

No more sending yourself emails with pictures or going through multiple steps to get an image from your phone to your laptop. The next time you’re recapping yesterday’s hike in an email to your friends, you can easily add your best photos to the message, without ever having to pick up your phone.

In Phone Hub, you can see recent pictures that were shot on your Android phone.

Get a Chromebook online with Nearby Share

You might already use Nearby Share to share music, pictures or other files between other Chromebooks or Android devices. Now you can also use an Android phone and Nearby Share to securely connect a Chromebook to any saved Wi-Fi network. So when your friend needs to get their Chromebook online, there’s no need to track down the sticky note with the internet info, or even lift your finger to type in the Wi-Fi password.

To try it out, go to the internet settings page on your Android phone, select “Wi-Fi network” and “Share.” Then tap the “Nearby” tile under the QR code, and select the Chromebook you want to get online. Nearby Share will deliver the Wi-Fi credentials (as in the network name and password), and the Chromebook will automatically connect to the Wi-Fi. And, of course, it will also save for the next time the Chromebook needs to use that Wi-Fi network.

In addition to new features, we’re continuously making improvements to Nearby Share. Now it’s even easier to get started with a streamlined onboarding process, and sharing is up to 10 times faster than before.

Coming soon: connect headphones with a tap

Bluetooth-enabled headphones help you stay connected without wires, but that can be difficult when you can’t figure out how to set them up. We’ve all been there – trying to decipher the deeper meaning of tiny blue pulsing LEDs. With Fast Pair coming later this summer, it’s easier than ever to sync headphones or other compatible accessories to your Chromebook.

Just turn on your Chromebook’s Bluetooth, and it will automatically detect when a new pair of Bluetooth headphones are on, are nearby and are ready to be set up. A pop-up notification will appear and with one tap, your new accessory is connected and ready to go. No more digging through settings or struggling to figure out the right button to press to pair your headphones. Fast Pair also saves the connection to your Google Account, so both your Chromebook or a new Android phone will remember your headphones and seamlessly connect to them in the future.

Whether you want to use new headphones to watch a video, join a virtual meeting or listen to music, Fast Pair will make it hassle-free. This feature will be compatible with hundreds of different headphone models — and counting.

Fast Pair on Chromebook will work with hundreds of headphones, including Pixel Buds.

Plus, share your ideas with Screencast

In case you missed it, earlier this month we announced the new, built-in Screencast app. Screencast lets anyone record, trim, and share transcribed videos automatically uploaded to Google Drive. You can even draw or write on the screen as you record using a touchscreen or stylus to diagram or illustrate key concepts.

Screencast makes it easy for anyone to record instructional videos, software demos, presentations, and more. It will start rolling out this week, so give it a go by tapping the Everything Button and searching for the Screencast app.

Later this year, we’ll introduce even more helpful features that will make all of your devices work better together. In the meantime, we’ll be back to share more exciting Chromebook announcements this summer. Stay tuned.

Alexander Kuscher
Director of Chrome OS Software