Monday, 08 February

11:00

Corvids could save forests from the effects of climate change [Ars Technica]

A raven with a large seed, about to bury it in a field. (credit: Callum Hoare / Flickr)

To you, crows and jays might be noisy, obnoxious birds who eat garbage. But for large-seeded trees like pines, hickories, oaks, and chestnuts, they could be life-saving heroes. That's because these birds can actually relocate forests that are threatened by changing climates and habitat loss.

In a new paper published in ornithology journal The Condor, a group of US scientists describe how corvids' unique food-gathering strategies have transformed forests around the world. Now, environmental scientists are actively using the animals as part of their reforestation strategies.

Scatter-hoarding

Corvids, a family of birds that includes crows, ravens, jays, magpies, and nutcrackers, are called scatter-hoarders. They roam large territories to scavenge seeds, fruit, and even meat, storing as many morsels as possible to eat later. That's the "hoard" part. But they don't have one giant stash full of loot the way squirrels do. Instead, they hide each treat in a separate place, occasionally moving it around to prevent other animals from finding it. That's the "scatter" part. Corvids are incredibly intelligent, with excellent visual memory, and scrub jays can remember up to 200 different cache locations at any given time.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Fidelio X2 audiophile headphones - Used/ Very good from Amazon warehouse deals - 128$ [Slickdeals Frontpage RSS Feed]

Fidelio X2 audiophile headphones - Used/ Very good from Amazon warehouse deals - 128$

Thumb Score: +14
Amazon Warehouse Deals via Amazon.com has Philips X2/27 Fidelio Premium Headphones (Used Very Good - Like New Condition) on sale from $127.82. Shipping is free. Thanks StrykerEureka

Note, item will come in original packaging; packaging might be damaged unless otherwise stated such as minor cosmetic imperfections etc.

Video Games at Toys R Us: ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection (PS3) $9.99 & More + Free In-Store Pickup [Slickdeals Frontpage RSS Feed]

Video Games at Toys R Us: ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection (PS3) $9.99 & More + Free In-Store Pickup

Thumb Score: +24
Toys R Us.com has a few Video Games on sale. Select Free store pickup, otherwise shipping is free on orders $19+. Thanks Discombobulated

Note, availability for store pickup may vary by location
[LIST][*]ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection (PS3) $9.99[*]Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash (Nintendo 3DS) $14.99

Best Buy $4.99 Blu-ray sale 30 Titles including Moonrise Kingdom, Dallas Buyers Club and more. [Slickdeals Frontpage RSS Feed]

Best Buy $4.99 Blu-ray sale 30 Titles including Moonrise Kingdom, Dallas Buyers Club and more.

Thumb Score: +15
Best Buy.com has select Blu-Ray Movies on sale for $4.99 listed below. Select free in-store pickup to save on shipping, otherwise free shipping on orders $35 or more. Thanks crabcakes & skuidsaas

Note, availability for in-store pickup may vary depending on location.

Example Blu-Ray Selection[LIST][*]Dallas Buyers Club

Makita 18-Volt Cordless Hammer Driver-Drill & Impact Driver Combo Kit w/ 2 Lithium-ion Batteries, Charger, 21-Piece Insert Bit Set $149 + Free Shipping Homedepot.com [Slickdeals Frontpage RSS Feed]

Makita 18-Volt Cordless Hammer Driver-Drill & Impact Driver Combo Kit w/ 2 Lithium-ion Batteries, Charger, 21-Piece Insert Bit Set $149 + Free Shipping Homedepot.com

Thumb Score: +12
Home Depot.com has select Power Tool Kits on sale listed below. Shipping is free, otherwise select free in-store pickup as an alternative option. Thanks GoodDay

Note, availability for in-store pickup may vary depending on location.[LIST][*]Makita 18V LXT Cordless Combo Kit w/ Ultra Magnetic Insert Bit Set (XT211-B-31893) $149 (Pictured)

Amazon Warehouse Deal: Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker - Used Very Good $61 Shipped [Slickdeals Frontpage RSS Feed]

Amazon Warehouse Deal: Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker - Used Very Good $61 Shipped

Thumb Score: +48
Amazon Warehouse Deals via Amazon.com has Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-In-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker (Used Very Good - Like New Condition) on sale from $60.58. Shipping is free. Thanks persian_mafia

Note, item will come in original packaging; packaging might be damaged unless otherwise stated.

How a “No Spending Limit” Credit Card Affects Your Score [Lifehacker]

If your credit score is solid, you might qualify for a “No Preset Spending Limit Card” (NPSL). However, credit limits matter when it comes to calculating your credit score . So how does an NPSL card impact your score? It’s tricky, but Credit.com explains the basics.

Read more...











Quickly Clean Snow Off Your Car By Putting a Tarp Down Before the Storm [Lifehacker]

No one likes digging out the car after a storm, so if you have a moment before the snow starts, put a tarp or car cover down over your car. When the snow stops, one pull will leave your ride clean and snow-free.

Read more...











That Last Bit of Honey in the Jar Is Destined for Cheese [Lifehacker]

We all the know the moment when you get down to “that last bit” of honey in a jar. It may not seem like enough to do much with, but a tablespoon or two of honey is a perfect partner for almost any cheesy plan.

Read more...











These Ultra-Cheap Flash Drives Connect To Your Android Devices Too [Lifehacker]

You spend a good chunk of your computing time on phones and tablets these days, so why should your desktop be the only one that can use external storage? These flash drives include a microUSB connector to interface with your Android phones and tablets, and you can pick one up for just $12-$17.

Read more...











Use Backwards Planning to Make Sure Your Projects Are Done On Time [Lifehacker]

When you’re planning a project, the best place to begin is the beginning, right? If you’re up against a deadline, you might actually want to reverse that. Start with the deadline and work your way backwards.

Read more...











Where Are the Raspberry Pi Zeros? [Slashdot]

mikejuk writes: The Pi Zero was supposed to be available from November 26, 2015. It is now the start of February and all of the stockists, including the Pi Swag Shop, are still showing out of stock. That's two whole months, and counting, of restricted supply which is more than an initial hiccup. Of course you would expect enough to be made available initially to meet the expected demand. The Pi sells something in the region of 200,000 per month so what do you think the initial run of the Pi Zero actually was? The answer is 20,000 units. Of which 10,000 were stuck to the cover of MagPi and "given away" leaving just 10,000 in the usual distribution channels. And yet Eben Upton, founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, commented: "You'd think we'd be used to it by now, but we're always amazed by the level of interest in new Raspberry Pi products," Well yes, you really would think that they might be used to it by now and perhaps even prepared for it. At the time of writing the Pi Zero is still out of stock and when it is briefly in stock customers are limited to one unit.A victim of its own success, yes, but the real victims are the Raspberry Pi's competitors.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Why Facebook Really Shut Down Parse [Slashdot]

New submitter isisilik writes: For those working in the 'aaS' business the Parse shutdown was the main topic of conversation this weekend. So why did Facebook decide to shut down their developer platform? The author claims that Facebook never wanted to host apps to begin with, they just wanted developers to use Facebook login. And he builds up a good case.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hackers Leak DHS Staff Directory, Claim FBI Is Next [Slashdot]

itwbennett writes: On Sunday, the name, title, email address, and phone number of more than 9,000 DHS employees, with titles ranging from engineers, to security specialists, program analysts, InfoSec and IT, all the way up to director level was posted on Twitter. 'The account went on to claim that an additional data dump focused on 20,000 FBI employees was next,' writes CSO's Steve Ragan. The hacker told Motherboard that the data was obtained by "compromising the email account of a DoJ employee, although he would not elaborate on how that account was accessed in the first place."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Giving up on morality [Joho the Blog]

Here’s something I took from Heidegger that may not be in Heidegger:

The basis of morality is the recognition that the world matters to each person, but matters differently.[1]

After that, I don’t know what to do except to be highly suspicious of anyone who cites moral precepts.

It turns out that I don’t find morality to be a very useful category since the way the world matters to us is so deeply contextual and individual: whether you should steal the loaf of bread has less to do with the general principle that it’s wrong to steal, and more to do with how hungry your family is, how much money you have, your opportunities to earn more money, the moral and legal codes of your culture, how kind the baker has been to you, what you know of the baker’s own circumstances, etc.

“Do unto others…,” Kant’s Categorical Imperative, the traditional Jewish formulation of “Don’t do unto others what you would not want done to you,” all are heuristics for remembering that the world matters to others just as much as it matters to you, but it matters differently. Trying to apply those heuristics without recognizing that the world can matter differently can lead to well-intentioned mistakes in which you substitute how your world matters to you for how theirs matters to them: you don’t believe in accepting blood transfusions so you refuse to give one to someone who believes otherwise.

This gets messy fast: You believe in the efficacy of blood transfusions, so you give one to someone who for religious has stipulated that she does not want one. You are not treating her as an autonomous agent. Are you wrong? Once she’s under anesthesia should you let her die because she does not want a transfusion? I have my own inclination, but I have no confidence in it: Even the principle of always treating people as autonomous is hard to apply.

It’s easy to multiply examples, and very easy to find cases where I condemn entire cultures for how their world matters to them. For example, I’m really pretty sure that girls ought to be educated and women ought not to be subservient to men. I’d argue for that. I’d vote for that. I’d fight for that. But not because of morality. “Morality” just doesn’t seem like a helpful concept for deciding what one ought to do.

It can be useful as a name for the topic of what that “ought” means. But those discussions can obscure the particularities of each life that need to be as clear as possible when we talk about what we ought to do.

None of this is new or original with me. Maybe I’m just an old fashioned Existentialist — more Kierkegaardian and Satrean — but I feel like I could carry on the rest of my moral life without ever thinking about morality.

(No, I am not sure of any of the above.)

 


[1] That the world matters to us is certainly Heidegger. That it matters differently to us is more ambiguous. It’s captured in his notion of the existentiell, but his attempt at what seems to be a universal description of Dasein suggests that there may be some fundamental ways in which it matters in the same ways to us all. But it’s been a long time since I read Being and Time. Plus, he was a Nazi, so maybe he’s not the best person to consult about the nature of morality.

The post Giving up on morality appeared first on Joho the Blog.

Hold Your Nose And Take A Bite: The Odd Appeal Of A South Korean Fish Dish [News : NPR]

Hongeo is skate fermented in its own urine and served sashimi-style. Despite its powerful ammonia smell, it's a beloved delicacy in parts of South Korea, and a vital part of the local fishing economy.

At Least 24 Migrants Die After Boat Capsizes Off Of Turkey's Coast [News : NPR]

The boat had been heading for the Greek island of Lesbos, reportedly taking a new route to avoid "intensified security measures to prevent migrant crossings."

Take a virtual tour of Mars with this new 360-degree image from NASA [The Verge - All Posts]

NASA published a 360-degree image on the Curiosity rover's official Facebook page last week that was meant to let viewers "explore Mars" with their smartphones. It was a great idea, and it teases at how, someday relatively soon, we'll be able to explore other planets virtually well before any of our descendants get a chance to do it in person.

Unfortunately, the rover isn't equipped with a camera that can shoot 360-degree video, let alone three-dimensional VR. So the spherical image had to be hand- (or computer-) stitched by someone at NASA from dozens of high-resolution images. The result was messy — the images were stretched so badly Mars looked almost unrecognizable.

A much better version of the one released last week

Luckily, a...

Continue reading…

The 10 best Super Bowl commercials — and the two worst [The Verge - All Posts]

Super Bowl 50 disappointed most of us not high on the Rocky Mountains. However, the event did excel in its secondary function as a royal rumble between the world's largest brands and commercial factories.

This years ads felt fresh compared to the crops of years past. The "dead child" count was kept to a zero, and the obligatory drunk driving commercial was fine — actually, it was good!

I've compiled my picks for the 10 best ads, below, and tagged on the two worst for good measure. Share your favorites in the comments.

Best commercials:

10. Amazon Echo - #baldwinbowl

This isn't an especially good ad. But, it features Missy Elliott and Jason Schwartzman, and I will watch both of them read the phone book. In fact, Netflix should...

Continue reading…

President Obama will ask Congress for $1.8 billion to fight the Zika virus [The Verge - All Posts]

President Obama plans to ask Congress for $1.8 billion to help fight the Zika virus. If approved, the emergency funds will be used to support mosquito control programs and vaccine research, as well as health services for pregnant women with low incomes. So far, only a dozen cases of Zika have appeared in the United States, and there's been only one known case of local transmission in Texas. However, additional funds will go to countries that are currently experiencing Zika outbreaks to help stop the spread of transmission.

Continue reading…

The closest thing to a Ferrari family car is now the GTC4Lusso [The Verge - All Posts]

The FF is dead; long live the GTC4Lusso.

Ferrari's FF is currently the most "practical" car in the automaker's lineup — and I use that term loosely, considering that it's still a little three-door hatch that only seats four. But at the Geneva auto show early next month, Ferrari will show the GTC4Lusso, which is a reworked FF with a little more horsepower from the V-12 engine (680, up from 651) and a 0-62 mph time that's 0.3 seconds quicker. Now, you'll be able to make that sprint in 3.4 seconds, all while carrying the spouse, a kid, a dog, and a few sets of skis.

That's not the biggest news, though: the GTC4Lusso has both all-wheel drive and rear-wheel steering, paired in a new system that Ferrari calls "4RM-S." (The FF had AWD, but no...

Continue reading…

The first ever Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray player has gone on sale a little bit early [The Verge - All Posts]

Samsung's UBD-K8500, the first Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray player, has gone on sale a bit earlier than expected. The device was announced at IFA last year, and scheduled to hit stores around March. However, there have been scattered reports that certain shops have already got the player in stock, while customers who preordered the device from Best Buy have been told it's now shipping on February 10th. One store in Santa Monica which advertised the player on Friday seems to have sold out that same day, according to a Facebook post.

If you can find something to play on it that is

Why exactly the shipping date for the UBD-K8500 has been pushed forward is anyone's guess, although it's certainly not to keep up with a rush of 4K content. Although...

Continue reading…

On Our Radar: Feminist News Roundup [Latest Articles]

Happy Super Beyoncé Monday! To get our daily feminist news roundup in your inbox, sign up at the link below this post. 

• Before her Super Bowl performance, Beyoncé dropped a surprise new single and video over the weekend—“Formation” already has eight million views (and counting!). [YouTube]

• Also, her dancers during the halftime show wore outfits inspired by the Black Panthers and took a minute to pose with a sign demanding justice for Mario Woods, a San Francisco man shot by police. [SFist]

• In a New Hampshire rally over the weekend, Madeleine Albright came down hard on young women who are voting for Bernie Sanders. So did Gloria Steinem during an interview with Bill Maher. [New York Times]

• Speaking of which, young people are indeed more likely to be voting for Bernie Sanders—in the Iowa caucus, 70 percent of millenials voted for Sanders. [Guardian]

• The new curvier and taller Barbies are certainly not a “revolution,” writes Raina Lipsitz. [AlJazeera]

• An interesting-looking new comedy, Parched, centers on the stories of Indian women who are terrorized by the men in their lives. [PS Mag]

On the Media host Brooke Gladstone talks about her fear of boredom and her approach to editing in this great interview. [Longform] 

by Sarah Mirk
View profile »

Sarah Mirk is Bitch Media's online editor. She's interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

10:00

Experience the early days of flight in Edwardian England. [Boing BoingBoing Boing]

2016-02-08-podcast-episode-93-the-old-flying-days

In the early days of English aviation, journalist C.C. Turner seemed to be everywhere, witnessing bold new feats and going on some harrowing adventures of his own. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll sample Turner's record of those exciting times, including his own clumsy first attempt to fly an airplane and a record-setting balloon voyage to Sweden.

We'll also ponder the nuances of attempted murder and puzzle over a motel guest's noisemaking.

Show notes

Please support us on Patreon!

Walken Closet was my favorite Superbowl ad [Boing BoingBoing Boing]

walken closet

We should all have a Walken closet, obviously, even if the verdict's still out on a Kia.

Runner up: Helen Mirren's Bud-branded drink-driving PSA.

https://youtu.be/Rb2VXVmUga4

Corruption crisis in world spinach capital [Boing BoingBoing Boing]

graft

Most of the top officials in a Texas city described as "the world's spinach capital" were arrested last week on corruption charges.

A federal indictment accuses Crystal City's administrators of taking bribes from contractors and of supporting a gambling ring operated by a criminal nicknamed "Mr. T." The mayor, city manager, mayor pro tempore, and at least three current and former councilors have been charged.

Fox News reports on the details of the allegations…

Crystal City Mayor Ricardo Lopez took $6,000 from Nguyen to buy a vehicle, the indictment alleges. In return, he allegedly waived some taxes for Nguyen and had employees close competing casinos that violate state law but exist informally throughout South Texas. Lopez allegedly told city employees inspecting Nguyen's property to "make it easy."

City Manager William James Jonas and Mayor Pro Tempore Rogelio Mata are accused of giving a contractor a $12,000 payment "in exchange for payments and other things of value."

And Lopez, Rogelio Mata, current councilman Roel Mata and former councilman Gilbert Urrabazo are accused of voting to keep Jonas as city attorney and city manager at a salary reported by local media to exceed $200,000. In exchange, Jonas provided payments and other illegal benefits to the four leaders, the indictment alleges.

The city's logo incorporates Popeye, the spinach-munching cartoon sailor, and a huge spinach festival is the town's major tourist draw.

Creatures avoiding planks [Boing BoingBoing Boing]

creatures avoiding planks

Creatures Avoiding Planks is a web toy demonstrating natural selection. Wee blobby creatures wander around avoiding floating planks, which kill on touch. If one lives long enough, it reproduces, passing on slight variations of its own movement behavior to the offspring.

The brilliant work of @hardmaru, I can't watch it anymore because I feel so sorry for them.

Free DVD rental or $1.50 off Blu-ray/Video Game Redbox code (Multi-use, up to 5x) [Slickdeals Frontpage RSS Feed]

Free DVD rental or $1.50 off Blu-ray/Video Game Redbox code (Multi-use, up to 5x)

Thumb Score: +58
Redbox.com is offering $1.50 off Blu-ray/Video Game Rental or DVD Rental for Free w/ promo code CHAMPION. Thanks crabcakes

Note, only valid online or with the Redbox App. Multiple rentals have to be made in individual transactions.




Deal Editor's Notes & Price Research: Promo code is valid today only. Refer to forum thread for more information.

LEGO Star Wars Jango Fett (75107) for $14.73 at Walmart or Amazon [Slickdeals Frontpage RSS Feed]

LEGO Star Wars Jango Fett (75107) for $14.73 at Walmart or Amazon

Thumb Score: +23
Walmart.com has LEGO Star Wars Jango Fett (75107) on sale for $14.73. Select free store pickup. Thanks Vu2
Note, availability for store pickup may vary by location.

Amazon.com has has LEGO Star Wars Jango Fett (75107) on sale for $14.73. Shipping is free w/ Prime or on $35 or more.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS3) $18 [Slickdeals Frontpage RSS Feed]

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS3) $18

Thumb Score: +31
Update: Price is now $17.99.

Amazon has Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS3) for $16.06> now $17.16 > now $17.99. Shipping is free with Prime or if you spend $35 or more. Thanks NotTheBees

Deal Editor's Notes & Price Research: If you don't have Prime, there's a free 30-day trial with free 2-day shipping, video streaming & more available.

India Blocks Facebook's Free Basics Internet Service [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader writes: India's leading telecom regulator, TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), has today voted against differential pricing, ruling with immediate effect that all data prices must be equal, and that companies cannot offer cheaper rates than others for certain content. The call is a significant blow to Facebook's Free Basics (previously Internet.org) initiative and Airtel Zero – projects which work to make internet access more accessible by providing a free range of "basic" services. The watchdog confirmed that providers would no longer be able to charge for data based on discriminatory tariffs but instead that pricing must be "content agnostic." It added that fines of Rs. 50,000 – 50 Lakh would be enforced should the regulations be violated.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

09:00

Escape to the Light [mingthein.com: the reader portfolio Pool]

Tony Harratt Photography has added a photo to the pool:

Escape to the Light

From my "Dark Matter" project

gristle.02 [mingthein.com: the reader portfolio Pool]

thegreatamphibianpling has added a photo to the pool:

gristle.02

My model, Lynne, has an extremely fine-boned face - very like Billy Piper only more so. I thought it would be interesting to see what the deadly too-close and too-low camera position did to such a delicate face. I went for a long exposure and Lynne did a hand blur to add some energy to the shot.

Grand Canyon [mingthein.com: the reader portfolio Pool]

dasar has added a photo to the pool:

Grand Canyon

get_DSC9347

Kurbagalidere - IV [mingthein.com: the reader portfolio Pool]

esintu has added a photo to the pool:

Kurbagalidere - IV

This photo needs e-odour attachment technology for full effect. Fortunately for me, I think I have a permanent olfactory memory attached to it now that will come up whenever I see it.

Kurbağalıdere, Kadıköy, İstanbul, Turkey

_2080091.E.jpg [mingthein.com: the reader portfolio Pool]

Aditya Santoso has added a photo to the pool:

_2080091.E.jpg

Olympus digital camera

Arch Nemesis [mingthein.com: the reader portfolio Pool]

icypics has added a photo to the pool:

Arch Nemesis

Rialto Market, Venice, Italy

flame [mingthein.com: the reader portfolio Pool]

ah_mud61 has added a photo to the pool:

flame

38/366 - Kurbagalidere - I [mingthein.com: the reader portfolio Pool]

esintu has added a photo to the pool:

38/366 - Kurbagalidere - I

38/366 - This photo needs e-odour attachment technology for full effect. Fortunately for me, I think I have a permanent olfactory memory attached to it now that will come up whenever I see the photo. A few more of these to come soon.

Kurbağalıdere, Kadıköy, İstanbul, Turkey

DSCF8490 [mingthein.com: the reader portfolio Pool]

mblsha has added a photo to the pool:

DSCF8490

P1070045 [mingthein.com: the reader portfolio Pool]

mblsha has added a photo to the pool:

P1070045

Kurbagalidere - II [mingthein.com: the reader portfolio Pool]

esintu has added a photo to the pool:

Kurbagalidere - II

This photo needs e-odour attachment technology for full effect. Fortunately for me, I think I have a permanent olfactory memory attached to it now that will come up whenever I see it.

Kurbağalıdere, Kadıköy, İstanbul, Turkey

Nothing sits.. everything moves... [mingthein.com: the reader portfolio Pool]

George Pancescu has added a photo to the pool:

Nothing sits.. everything moves...

Balea, Fagaras massif, Romania

A clear sky in Fagaras mountains is the perfect moment to gaze at the millions of stars, that would otherwise be impossible in a light polluted environment.
So I decided that it was too hot inside the chalet and needed a "chill".. and that resulted in about 140 images and a total of an hour. Of course, it was not as simple as that, because at about half an hour into the shooting, I decided to check a photo for clarity - and guess what.. the focus had somehow shifted (tripod movement I guess..) and all the photos were blurred! Half an hour of shooting and about 70 photos, all lost :).
So.. reset the camera and start all over again - Fagaras really gave my the chill I needed :)).

140 images, taken at an interval of 3 seconds apart,
f/4, 20secs, ISO 3200. The light in the scene comes entirely from the chalet.

Photographing concerts [Ming Thein | Photographer]

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This is a slightly unusual topic for me: concert photography is something I’ve done quite a bit of, but never generally publicise because it falls out of my preferred commercial work. I started with being interested in the music first, in the mid 2000s; I shot a number of small venues locally, and these actually formed some of my earliest work – licensed to musicians and the like. Sadly, musicians are much like photographers: 99.99% of us are broke, but there are a small number of rockstars who make it into the big leagues. There are a few more who do okay and get by; we’re thankful we can sing for our supper and not drive a desk. That said, I have never (and will never) be on the other side of the microphone.

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After a hiatus of a decade with a couple of relief points, I recently started again. Initially because a friend who owned a jazz club here in KL invited me to the club’s birthday party, and I happened to be in town and free that night. Being the place where I initially cut my teeth in exchange for unlimited martinis and a place to decompress from my day job, I packed a couple of cameras and headed out the door. After a few minutes of practice, I picked up the rhythm again.

Since posting a couple of those images elsewhere, I’ve received a number of emails asking for advice on shooting concerts – hence this post. The images are a selection of work from various eras in my career – you can probably tell by the change in style and watermark. Interestingly, I think there’s both not that much scope for individual style and more than you’d think – this sounds contradictory, but allow me to explain. Firstly, the lighting in all of these situations is fixed; there’s no way you’re going to be allowed to use a flash (or at least not for very long). You must make do with what you’ve got. In addition, unless you’re in a smaller venue or have all-access, your vantage points are going to be restricted, which in turn restricts your angles, compositions, spatial alignments, and perspectives that will work compositionally. At larger events, you may only get three or four songs from the pit, and absolutely zero stage access. In fact, these days, stage access has become increasingly rare – unsurprising as I’ve seen far too many ‘informal’ or ‘public’ events get mobbed on stage by amateur photographers completely blocking the musicians from the rest of the audience.

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Here’s my checklist before shooting a concert.

Permits and access
If you’re going as an attendee, make sure photography is permitted beforehand. This sounds rather basic, but in recent times big name artists such as Taylor Swift have been doing all sorts of silly things to ‘protect their public image’ – the reality is that they’re also missing out on a lot of free press in the process. There are other artists who encourage sharing/recording/photography, and this makes sense philosophically: as an artist, you should support fellow artists if you want them to support you.

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Smaller clubs and venues will usually permit photography, and there’s no harm in doing a barter of a few images for entry. I don’t normally encourage work-for-free (or close to it), but the reality is a lot of the smaller places really cannot afford to pay – and you’re getting free access and subject matter anyway. The supply-demand equation is fair, in that sense. Of course, how fair depends on how good a photographer you are. Midsize events may well permit access to certain areas that are off limits to the public if permission is gotten ahead of time.

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Pre-reccie and rehearsals
If possible, visit the location during the rehearsal. This gives you a chance to gauge distances and angles, and areas you can access. Things are a lot more relaxed during rehearsals, so you will have a chance to talk to the artists, have them get comfortable with you (and possible score some work) and you with them. In addition, there are generally no access restrictions so you can get as close as you need to. At this point, the logical question would be ‘why not just shoot the rehearsal and forget the main event?’ – the simple answer is that the atmosphere just isn’t the same, and you of course won’t have any crowd elements.

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Planning and previsualization
Knowing what you’re going to get will, allow you to plan your shot list both for comprehensiveness and so you can move around minimising disruption to the rest of the audience. I would suggest starting in one place and following a route rather than moving around (the exception is if you’re in a separate photographers’ pit, or the stage wings). Knowing what compositions are achievable with what focal lengths from which positions will mean you’re prepared and don’t miss critical moments. I’ll generally try to figure out the best places to put each band member in relation to background elements, lights and each other. That said, sometimes you have no choice because your position is fixed. Lastly, this sounds basic, but memorise the program so you know where to be, when. Be familiar with the music!

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Lens choices
I usually go with a three prime lens setup. Firstly, you need as much light as you can get – especially in the smaller venues, where lighting is generally pretty dim. Secondly, performers move a lot: you’re going to need much higher shutter speeds than you think; high enough that the limiting factor is going to be motion of the subject, and not your hand shake. If you’re shooting slow enough that VR or IBIS is useful, then chances are either you’re making deliberate motion blur, or you might have caught the wrong moment: nothing exciting is happening. I’ll usually go with something wide/contextual that gets most of the stage in at a reasonable standoff distance, then something where I’ll get about a quarter of the stage – enough for two or three performers in context; lastly, something long to punch in for a tight shot. Depending on the size of the venue, this could range from 21/50/85 to 28/105/300 – or more. Zooms are more flexible, but you might run out of light. My current problem is the best performers in my usual range are all manual focus, with the exception of the Q – this means trap focusing and pulling focus with a burst. Live view is just too slow.

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Camera choices
The obvious preference would be for something with strong high-ISO performance, fast AF, a high frame rate, and moderate resolution – this is the kind of thing the D4s and 1DX-class cameras excel at. More resolution is not necessarily a benefit because it means slower frame rates, slower writing, and above all, much more precision in focus and stability required. Elements are generally fairly low frequency (humans) or out of focus, so more resolution isn’t going to show a dramatic difference even under ideal circumstances. However, the reality is that you can use pretty much anything. I’ve shot concerts before with a fully manual film SLR and ISO 800 film; it can be done with care (and if you like results of a certain style)

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Equipment setup
I find the all-or-nothing approach works best. Either the camera is set up in continuous tracking autofocus with spot meter linked to the focusing point, and you pick the performer’s face, let the camera do it’s thing and worry about composition and timing, or you go fully manual. The problem is, I’ve never found a camera that can reliably deal with erratic and energetic performers under lights of changing color*, or erratic exposure. So most of the time I find myself in full manual: keying my exposure to not clip anything and knowing I may have to do some recovery later – do not clip highlights, because this looks unnatural to our eyes; black shadows do not – and adjusting a stop or so as necessary. I’ll also disable auto-ISO because this uses the meter to determine what luminance level the output file should have. Lastly, manual focus: with an optical viewfinder. Live view is just too slow, with or without magnification and/or mirrors. The final trick to make manual focus workable is to pull focus whilst shooting a burst, at the highest frame rate you can. Remember: the subject is moving, so your chances of a hit are actually pretty high.

*DSLRs will frequently experience AF focus shift under tungsten light because the PDAF systems are generally calibrated for a single wavelength.

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Shoot time: timing, gesture, light; being fluid
If what I’ve described previously sounds like a very masochistic way of shooting, it is; however, it’s also yielded the highest keeper rates for me. If you’ve seen one rehearsal, or a song, or know the music or the band’s style, then you’re more likely to know what happens next: which means being able to anticipate critical moments, prefocus at a certain point (e.g. the mic stand location) and know where the key passages or lyrics are. Though pulling focus plus bursts sounds a bit haphazard in terms of timing, these key moments typically last long enough for you to make it work, and anticipation makes it relatively easy to pre-frame correctly. Spontaneous action with a hyperactive band is different, and for that you just need AF and luck (or to know when and where it’s going to happen in advance). I admit I have little experience with this.

I’d also suggest framing a little bit looser than normal – say think of an 85 as a 105 – I won’t go so far as to call it cropping because the perspective shouldn’t fundamentally change, but the reality is it’s very, very difficult to be simultaneously aware of all the moving elements in the scene whilst focusing on the key performer. So leave yourself a bit of room to trim afterwards.

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Lastly, as mentioned by Ken in the comments: hearing protection. Some sort of attenuating ear plugs are best, because you still want to hear what’s going on…

At last, we come to the whole objective of concert photography: for me, every frame has to have some sort of gesture or emotion or feeling – the music has to be in the image. The audience has to feel what you felt and heard; this means taking some time to listen and get a feel for the artist. Timing is critical: there must be some sort of gesture in every frame; facial expression, lip movement, hands, body language – all of these details are critical. Something as simple as a hand on an instrument can be a powerful frame, but only if the hand gesture is the correct one (preferably with a decisive finger shape and some tension or action). In good production design, the lights, effects and props are complimentary to the music; the whole show comes together as greater than the sum of its parts. Our challenge is to encapsulate that in an image. The good news is that somebody has already thought out the lighting for us, and it’s isolating the subject already. The bad news is we have no flexibility, and the performer may well improvise.

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I’ve always felt that to a large extent the music and production design dictate the style of the presentation; to a much larger extent than say a freely posed portrait. In essence, it’s a posed portrait in which you can’t move the subject and the lights have been set up for you – you can only move yourself, and if you deviate too far from the initial set design, then there’s a visible disconnect betweens the mood of the image and the mood of the performance and music. For example, my own speciality is jazz concerts. Our expectations of jazz photography have been influenced by decades of photography in dim clubs where high speed film in monochrome was really the only option; however such images also don’t work so well in color. I suspect it’s because monochrome is a better medium to convey the melancholy or ‘hard’ passages – and so has stood the test of time. I need to challenge myself and challenge that too, I think.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly: remember to enjoy the music! MT

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Bespoke Queenstown landscape and The Lisbon Masterclass (9-14 Mar 2016) are now open for booking

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Ultraprints from this series are available on request here

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Filed under: Articles, On Photography

Why isn’t the Super Bowl always in a tax-free state? [Philip Greenspun's Weblog]

Forbes calculates that players in the Super Bowl will, on average, be worse off financially for having shown up to play (spending 7 days in California subjects them to state income tax on a portion of their 2016 earnings). Rather than force players to take a cut in spending power, why not always have the Super Bowl in tax-free Florida, Nevada, or Texas? It would be sold-out regardless of location, right?

Separately, if you want to fly on a mostly empty plane, buy a ticket during the Super Bowl. JetBlue BOS to DEN at 7:45 pm was not a popular choice for others!

Report: more than a third of police forces may destroy civilian complaint records [Boing BoingBoing Boing]

police

Following the release by hackers of a tranche of police union documents, The Guardian's analysis reveals that "more than a third of police departments allow or require destruction of civilian complaint records."

contracts obtained from the servers of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) found that more than a third featured clauses allowing – and often mandating – the destruction of records of civilian complaints, departmental investigations, or disciplinary actions after a negotiated period of time.

The review also found that 30% of the 67 leaked police contracts, which were struck between cities and police unions, included provisions barring public access to records of past civilian complaints, departmental investigations, and disciplinary actions.

Samuel Walker, a professor in criminology at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, said there was “no justification” for the cleansing of officers’ records, which could contain details of their use of force against civilians.

“The public has a right to know,” Walker said. “If there was a controversial beating, we ought to know what action was actually taken. Was it a reprimand? A suspension?”

It's not just darkness clauses. Other union rules include a clause in Independence, Missouri's pre-2007 contract, where officers “involved in a shooting incident” could not be interrogated for at least 12 hours. The Guardian has many similarly ugly unions contract clauses on offer. A union spokesperson's excuse is blandly familiar: if the complaint isn't substantiated when the police investigate themselves, it should be expunged to protect the officer's reputation.

Leaked police files contain guarantees disciplinary records will be kept secret [The Guardian]

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