New wave of ‘dronies’ seek to make ‘selfies’ obsolete

A dirt bike rider appears to use a self-flying drone to snap a dronie, a photo or video captured by a drone. (YouTube/Zano)

A dirt bike rider appears to use a self-flying drone to snap a dronie, a photo or video captured by a drone. (YouTube/Zano)

As you hike through Algonquin Provincial Park or ski down a powder bowl in Whistler later this year, look out for the drone following you from above.

A new wave of autonomous drones fitted with self-tracking cameras appear destined to change the way we record our memories.

Just as a loyal lapdog won’t leave its owners alone, the devices — capturing photos dubbed “dronies” — are capable of tracking people’s movement. As the subject bikes, hikes or boats along, the recording drones will automatically follow the action.

Dronies swarm Kickstarter

From Lily to Zano, several dronie-inspired start-ups have been littering crowdfunding websites with their pitches. In return, they’re getting enough support from the public to build their self-shooting drones – and still have enough cash left over to buy a real plane.

Available for preorder at roughly $323, Zano is one of the most affordable dronie tools we’ll see on the market.

The company’s launch plans follow an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign. Its creators set a respectable goal of approximately $237,000, but instead raised almost $4.5 million from 12,075 backers.

Slated to ship in July, the Zano is about the size of a grapefruit and can fly for 10-15 minutes.

In order to keep you in frame, it communicates back to your Android or iOS device via a Wi-Fi connection.

At the other end of the spectrum is the US$1,349 Hexo+. While the price tag is a little steep, footage captured by this GPS-linked drone is incredible and it’s available for order right now.

While both the Zano and Hexo+ drones are more expensive than your typical selfie stick, it’s hard to argue with such stunning shots.

Beyond selfie sticks

Recently, it’s become the norm to see snowboarders with a GoPro at the end of a pole, or mountain bikers with an action camera mounted to their handlebars. Don’t forget about Fido; pet owners are even attaching action cameras to their dogs.

Selfie sticks, however, can get in the way of action. Cycling star Alberto Contador appears to haveslapped down a fan’s selfie stick during a stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia.

They’re also illegal at several tourist hotspots,in Canada and across the rest of the world.

That raises questions around regulations: How will we prevent Johnny’s and Jimmy’s dronies from colliding in the terrain park? Can Janey’s and Sally’s drones avoid each other along the mountain bike path?

It’s already bad enough that commercial passenger jets are having near-misses with drones during takeoff and landing.

Stunning photos taken by two Russian daredevils on Shanghai Tower

Wow – these photos are unbelievable!

I’ve trespassed walked through unlocked doors a few times to get cool shots, but this is taking daring photography to new heights.

Now, this Russian daredevil duo has climbed a 650-meter skyscraper in China to take some incredible photos. See more here:




Stunning photos taken by the two Russian daredevils atop Shanghai Tower.

Latest Photoshop lets you design objects for 3D printers


If you’re itching for an easier way to design and turn your 3D model creations into something tangible, Adobe may have the solution.

The latest iteration of Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) now supports 3D printing, the company announced Thursday.

If you’ve been living under a rock, 3D printers create objects in real life by printing layer upon layer of material to construct an item.

The sector is growing so quickly, International CES in Vegas had a section dedicated to 3D printers, which have come down in price to as little as $495.

“Before today there was a gap between the content produced by 3D modeling tools and what 3D printers need in order to deliver high quality results,” Adobe Creative Media Solutions vice president Winston Hendrickson said in a statement.

“Now, by simply clicking ‘Print’ in Photoshop CC, creatives can bring 3D designs to the physical world.”

Don’t have a 3D printer? Users will be able to upload their work to third-party printing services such as Sketchfab to have their creations become a reality.

Other features announced Thursday include Perspective Wrap, which will give users the power to change the viewpoint of objects in Photoshop.


Olympus launches new Stylus Tough cameras at CES

Olympus-TG-830Skiers and snowboarders hitting the slopes this season might want to pay special attention to a couple new cameras launched by Olympus at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Two new models – the Stylus TG-830 iHS and the Styuls TG-630 iHS – made their debut in Las Vegas.

Obviously, these cameras are designed to take great shots with above-average 16-megapixel back-side illuminated CMOS sensors and their latest TruPic VI image processors.

But it’s what’s wrapping all that technology that makes these cameras stand out.

Both are able to withstand an array of abuse that the elements can throw their way whether you’re carving down the slopes or hiking up a mountainside. (more…)

And the most popular location to Instagram a photo is…

Most_popular_Instagram_locationsThe world’s largest photo-centric social media platform has released a list of the most popular places in the world to post a photo in 2012.

So, where in the world do most photos get posted from? You’d be surprised.

No, it’s not Times Square in New York City. Nor was it the site of the Closing Ceremony from this summer’s Olympic Games (though the Spice Girls concert got a lot of people Tweeting).

The most popular place in the world to post an Instagram photo from was the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand.

According to a post on Instagram’s blog, more than 100,000 pictures were snapped at the BKK airport in 2012.

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iPhoto for the iPad – photo editing at your fingertips

iphoto_screenshot_ipadAs an avid yet amateur photographer, I’m always spending hours refining and improving my photos. From lighting up dark shadows to darkening overexposed whites, it’s a tedious task sometimes hunched over the keyboard and mouse, staring at the screen.

I’ll admit I was skeptical about iPhoto on my iPad. Could the iPad really do a good job editing photos. Heck yes.

I use this card reader attachment from Apple to import all my photos into iPhoto, then begin fixing and tweaking photos using the array of editing tools that are as easy to use as it was to use finger paint in kindergarten – without the mess.

The app is also responsive to the strength of your touch, adjusting how hard different effects are applied.

In certain modes, you can drag your finger up/down or left/right to adjust lightness/contrast, etc.

While the app has most mainstream tools you could want for photo editing, it also lets you easily share shots on social networks  – along with the option to send photos to Flickr.


Instagram backtracks on change that could let them sell your photos

national_geograpic_instagramInstagram is backstroking out of stormy waters after it botched a proposed change to its privacy policy and terms of service.

Users were outraged earlier this week after the photo sharing service – recently acquired by Facebook – gave users a heads up about major changes.

Instagram’s very wordy terms of service seemed like the company could soon sub-license and sell photos, and use the images in advertising.

A senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation told CNet that the new agreement would leave the door open on unspecified future use for a user’s photos.

But since then, Instagram’s co-founder Kevin Systrom wrote a blog post which seems to sort out the contentious changes.

Systrom says the proposed changes made it seem like Instagram was going to sell user photos without any compensation – but that is not true and “it is our mistake that the language is confusing.”

So he goes on to say that Instagram is working on coming up with “updated language” in the terms of service to make sure people get it.

But the Instagram co-founder also goes on to say that Instagram is a business, and they’re going to explore ways to make money.

So while everyone from Tiffani Amber Thiesson to National Geographic was up in arms over the proposed changes, they were all complaining about a service that is free – and ad-free too right now.

It’s hard to whine about a service you don’t pay for, or have to put up with seeing ads to use.

Considering Instagram is owned by Facebook, would you be opposed to seeing ads similar to “Sponsored Posts” in Facebook? Or something like “Your friend John Doe likes Company XYZ’s feed?”

Coming soon: a camera you can wear

Is it too obvious to take a photo while holding up something like a digital camera or a smartphone? Have you wanted to be more inconspicuous while snapping some shots?

A company out of Sweden has a solution: a camera you can wear. And as wild as that idea sounds, they’re actually one step closer to making the project a reality.

Memoto’s wearable camera project has surged past its goal on the community fundraising siteKickstarter. In fact, Memoto raised the amount of funds it needed from the public in just five hours and wound up with more than ten times the amount of money it sought to raise.

So, what exactly will this wearable camera be like? Can you get away with sneaky photos nobody will realize you’re taking?

The camera, about the size of a postage stamp but a little thicker, is designed to snap onto your clothes.

Read more

Did Nokia fake it in ad for new Lumia 920 phone?

It appears Nokia has faked part of a video that seems to be captured by its new steady-shooting flagship smartphone, the Lumia 920.

The phone features snazzy new camera technology called PureView. It’s designed to capture incredibly vivid high resolution images.

By using something Nokia calls “floating lens technology” the phone is said to take in five times more light than other smartphones and offer image stabilization to reduce camera shake.

In a statement, Nokia’s vice president of Smart Devices said PureView will capture pictures “usually only seen on a standalone SLR camera.”

But when filming a promotional video for the new Lumia 920, it seems they used a standalone SLR camera to capture images that the smartphone did, according to the Verge.

Nikon releases Android powered camera

Almost all people use their phones to take pictures. And many of these phones are running the popular Android operating system.
But not often do you hear about a camera – not a phone, but a camera – running Android.

Until now.

Nikon is rolling out the world’s first Android-powered Wi-Fi camera, with hopes of making the camera (and your pictures) more connected with the web.

From the front, the Nikon S800c looks like any other silver-metallic point and shoot. It’s small, slip and can fit in your pocket, though its 10x zoom can extend for tight shots and other types of closeups.

But flip this camera over and it looks less like a camera and more like a phone, with a 3.5-inch screen coating the rear.

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