Cliff de Wit, a former Microsoft South Africa director and now chief technology at Altron’s Netstar, is passionate about many things: skills development, the internet of things, artificial intelligence … and even astrophotography.
He joins TechCentral’s Duncan McLeod in the TC|Daily studio for a wide-ranging — and fascinating — discussion on some of the latest technologies Netstar is exploring that take the company’s offerings well beyond the traditional tracking and recovery of vehicles it’s traditionally known for.
Well known in developer circles — he maintains a keen interest in software development as well as in education and skills development from his Microsoft days — De Wit chats about how Netstar is taking the vast amount of information the company collects daily, and refining it into something forward-looking, useful and actionable.
He also takes us into the world of astrophotography, and much more besides.
Don’t miss the discussion — and do subscribe to TC|Daily if you haven’t already done so (details below). The full-resolution Milky Way image taken by De Wit that he speaks about in the interview can be found here.
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As a teenager growing up in Peckham, an ethnically diverse area of London, the photographer Nadine Ijewere observed the way that the women around her dressed. The neighbourhood “aunties”, as all older women were known, paired Nigerian patterns with Gucci handbags and Burberry motifs; they would style their afro hair in a way that was almost sculptural. Ijewere was interested in fashion photography, but she began to notice that the prints and hairstyles she saw everyday didn’t appear in magazines. She didn’t understand why these “pieces of art in themselves” were not more visible. At weekends, she would take photographs of her friends, many of whom were of mixed heritage like her, in the local park.
In 2018, at the age of 26, Ijewere became the first black woman to shoot a Vogue magazine cover, featuring the singer Dua Lipa draped in white feathers. Ijewere soon became known for her ethereal backdrops, her work with mixed-race models and her meticulous attention to black hair. In 2020, she did another photoshoot with Vogue, which accompanied a piece praising Nigerian “aunties”. The women in the shoot wore traditional head wraps and metallic floral and chequered prints in clashing colours. “I looked at those photographs and saw the women I grew up with,” Ijewere said. “I saw my heritage. And it was special.”
Almost 50 years before Ijewere’s “auntie” shoot, another black photographer, Armet Francis, took a photograph in Brixton, a neighbourhood not far from Peckham. In the picture, a stylish young black woman wearing a lilac suit leans back on a wooden chair in the middle of a road, an umbrella in hand. She looks aloof and carries herself with confidence, seemingly oblivious to the dreary weather and the workaday setting. Francis had been commissioned by a fashion magazine, but wanted to be subversive: instead of shooting in a studio, he went to Brixton Market, in an attempt to record the “proper reality of everyday black life”.
Since the mid-19th century, black photographers have sought to capture images that reflect the lives, preoccupations and personalities of black subjects. In the process, they have worked to rectify centuries of hackneyed representations. Francis was one of a small group of photographers to do this in Britain. In the 1960s, he moved away from the fashion industry towards a lifelong project: documenting the experiences of the African diaspora in the Americas and Britain. He had been struck by the fact that one rarely saw black people featured in magazines, beyond reports about famines in Africa. He wanted to photograph the black diaspora in all its vibrancy: “to me, they are home pictures,” he said.
In 20th-century Britain, black photographers were seldom published widely, and discrimination against them was common. James Barnor, one of Francis’s contemporaries, only attained mainstream recognition as an octogenarian. Now his work stands as a vital historical document of black societies as they changed. In the 1950s, Barnor witnessed Ghana’s independence movement; during the swinging Sixties, he photographed members of the African diaspora in London.
Both Barnor and Francis explored black identities as they fractured, shifted and evolved across continents. Many of today’s black photographers draw on their work, consciously and subconsciously – especially those working in the fashion industry. According to Antwaun Sargent, the curator of an exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery about a new generation of black fashion photographers, these young artists are attempting, like Barnor and Francis, to “make beauty from their real, if once unseen, reflections”. Sargent believes that “these image-makers are in the best position now, over any generation that came before them, to make a lasting impact.”
Before British-Ghanaian photographer Campbell Addy first encountered Barnor’s work in 2018, he had only seen photographs that looked at Africa through a white lens, focusing on poverty, slavery and war. Barnor’s photos were different. They showed contemporaries of Addy’s grandmother in Ghana and of Ghanaians moving to London. Addy hadn’t seen anything like them before: “It was classy, it was fashionable. It was beautiful. It was modern.” Barnor made Addy feel seen “in a way that only those who have been detached from their culture can understand”.
As a child, Addy moved from Ghana to south London. For a while after his arrival, his new friends would make fun of his accent. Eventually, the accent disappeared, but the feeling of difference remained. He was also frustrated when he visited Ghana: he didn’t know Twi, the main language spoken in Accra, well enough and couldn’t quite grasp the cultural nuances.
Addy’s dual identity has helped him draw on different cultural traditions in his work. “Ignatius”, an early photographic series, pays homage to Ignatius Sancho, the first known black Briton to vote. But elements of the styling and set design nod ironically to the British royal family.
In 2019, aged 26, Addy shot Naomi Campbell, one of the world’s most-photographed black women, for the Guardian. Later, reflecting on the shoot, Campbell noted that it was the first time she had been photographed for a mainstream publication by a black photographer in her 33-year career. To her, “there was something in that moment that felt sacred.”
Addy and Ijewere are just two members of a new generation of black photographers opening up opportunities for black artists working in fashion. Ijewere is establishing her own studio in south London, where she hopes to give younger photographers the space and equipment they need to start out. Addy knows that there is much work to be done. “Black photographers are doing well right now,” he said. “But I sometimes fear we will get smudged out of history. And I don’t want to be a trend.” The best way to make sure this doesn’t happen? “We need to keep on being visible,” he said. “People will look at our work and know that we exist.” ■
The exhibition “The New Black Vanguard” runs from October 28th to January 22nd 2023 at the Saatchi Gallery in London. It features the work of 15 young black fashion photographers, including Nadine Ijewere and Campbell Addy
In his latest column for AP, nature photographer Marsel van Oosten reveals how facing his fears and leaving his comfort zone led to success
I often hear that I have a very recognisable style. When asked what it is, people often use words like ‘simple’, ‘clean’, ‘graphic’, ‘uncluttered’, and even ‘sterile’. I agree with all those words because they perfectly describe the artistic form that I am trying to create in my work.
As a photographer, you not only need to decide what you want to photograph but also how you want to photograph it. Every photographer has his own preferred way of shooting – one that gives the best and most pleasing results. For me, that means simple, clean, graphic and uncluttered images. As a result, I always find myself drawn to subjects with a strong, graphic shape, in a habitat with as little distractions and visual clutter as possible. For that reason, I prefer photographing deserts over grasslands, and dead trees over live ones. I didn’t always know this.
Golden snub-nosed monkeys, Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi, China. Nikon D810, AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, 1/125sec at f/11, ISO 3200
If you have a particular style, it’s usually the result of certain preferences you have as an artist. Then, once you’re very comfortable with that style, you become extremely efficient and almost go into autopilot. Everything is easy because you’re in an environment that fits your photographic style, so you immediately know what to do. You work fast and efficiently and become very productive. Whereas if you’re suddenly in an environment that you are not very familiar with, or even dislike, that’s a whole different ball game.
Abandoning the comfort zone
Many years ago, my wife Daniella and I went on a trip to Costa Rica. We both love the wilderness and a rainforest is as wild as it gets. I had just started in photography and was excited to photograph the wildlife. But, as much as I enjoyed the experience, I wasn’t inspired to take any photographs. I checked my Lightroom catalogue to see how many images I shot on that trip: ten. It was a pivotal moment in my development as a photographer as it forced me to figure out why I was not inspired. Conclusion: too much visual clutter.
Self-portrait in Shaanxi, China, at the exact location where Marsel van Oosten shot the award-winning ‘The Golden Couple’ image
For the next ten years I stayed far away from forests. The ‘cleaner’ the landscape, the more inspired and happier I was. But, after a while, my decision started bothering me. Every now and then I saw beautiful images taken by other photographers in dense forests and realised that I was running away from a challenge. Years later, I saw a very bad photograph of golden snub-nosed monkeys, in a brochure, somewhere in China.
They were the most fascinating looking monkeys I’d ever seen, and when I learned that they were endangered I knew I had to photograph them. Lichens are the main staple of the monkeys’ diet, and dead trees have the greatest lichen coverage. Unfortunately, those are being taken by the timber industry. The monkeys are also eaten by the local population. Anyhow, the problem was: they live in dense forests.
I absolutely love forests from a nature-loving perspective, but a forest is nothing but clutter. For the first time in my career, I had to think long and hard about how to face my fears, and how I could overcome my ‘clutter-phobia’. No more relying on intuition… it was time to get way out of my comfort zone.
Golden snub-nosed monkey with baby. Nikon D810, AF-S VR 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, 1/250sec at f/5.6, ISO 160
In an effort to get control over the immense clutter in the backgrounds, I decided to use a polariser to limit the amount of reflections off the leaves, and to use flash to create separation between the subjects and the forest behind them. Flash enabled me to control the ambient lighting and get sufficient light on the monkeys while, at the same time, being able to underexpose the backgrounds using polarisers, decreasing the amount of reflections.
This proved to be the recipe for my project, and many of the images I shot there are among my favourites. One of them even won me the grand title Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Had I decided to stick to my standard routines, and comfortably continue on autopilot, this would never have happened. If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
Marsel van Oosten at work in China
As told to Steve Fairclough
Featured image: ‘The Golden Couple’, overall winner in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition in 2018. Nikon D810, AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, 1/320sec at f/8, ISO 1600
Marsel van Oosten
Marsel van Oosten was born in The Netherlands and worked as an art director for 15 years. He switched careers to become a photographer and has since won Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Travel Photographer of the Year. He’s a regular contributor to National Geographic and runs nature photography tours around the world. Visit www.squiver.com
Whether you’re new to wildlife and nature photography or looking to improve your skills, we have plenty of tips and techniques to help you on your way. Take a look here.
See more of Marsel van Oosten’s columns:
You need better backgrounds
Why scale is important
How to pre-visualise a photograph
Making the most of bad weather
Why planning is important in photography
Why you should photograph wildlife at low angles
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Bruce Presents Astrophotography – Virtual Zoom Webinar
The night sky has long held us captive with its beauty and wonders, only to disappear with the coming of the sun. But photography, beginning with the first pictures of the Moon in the 1800s, has enabled us to see into the dark reaches of space, capturing a moment that can be shared anytime. Advances in photographic technologies have given way to Astrophotography, the imaging of astronomical objects, celestial events, or areas of the night sky. Modern Astrophotography is not only dazzling to behold, but also provides important data and research support on objects invisible to the human eye such as dim stars, nebulae, or galaxies.
Reservations at Brucemuseum.org
Carina Nebula, photo by NASA’s James Webb Telescope
Support for Bruce Presents is generously provided by Berkley One. Learn more here
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) – Lorain Fought – or “Rain” as she prefers to be called – is a four-time breast cancer survivor, two of those times with breast cancer and she is currently battling lung cancer.
Despite the many different bouts with this disease, Rain doesn’t let any of this stop her from continuing to enjoy her life.
As she continues to take up many of her passions, including one that has garnered her both local and national attention.
“I just don’t want to sit around the house,” says Fought. “I want to do something. I got to keep busy. I want to enjoy everything that’s on this Earth, one way or the other.”
After multiple fights with cancer, Fought is not letting this disease wear her down.
She continues many of her passions. One of them being photography.
Something she got back into when she got on Facebook and her friends told her how good she is at it.
Fought says, “And I’m like, ‘You know, maybe a calendar. Maybe make a calendar.’”
And since then, Rain has been churning out a calendar almost every year.
Rain says she provides roughly 150 calendars each year and they go out fast, as people love her wildlife photos.
“I love wildlife. I love nature. I love everything, I think,” says Fought. “So, I’ll go out in the woods and like – for this calendar here – some of the pictures, I sat for probably 10 hours.”
Rain’s photos are not just for calendar use though.
As her work has been featured on many publications and media. Both locally and nationally.
“And I’ve been published in ‘Birds and Bloom,’ ‘Wild and Wonderful West Virginia,’ the bird digest out in Marietta. Also, the Chicago Tribune, the Columbus News,” says Fought.
Rain says that the calendars are also more than a hobby, as she uses these for herself to track her treatments.
“If you look through mine, which you did, you’d see CAT scans, doctor appointments, blood work. You’d see all of those appointments in there,” says Fought. “And I know people do it on their phones, but I’m old school. I use a calendar.”
Fought says that the photos found in these calendars will also be used in “thank you,” “get well,” and other greeting cards at Memorial Health Systems.
The Top Ten Aaron Reed Photography Blogs of All Time
Is Aaron Reed’s Fine Art Photography Blog the most interesting of all time? Do you think blogs are a waste of your time? No one reads blogs anymore right? If you answered yes to any of these questions you need to heed the famous words of ICE CUBE and Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself.
Currently, roughly 409 million internet users read about 20 million blog pages monthly. 53% of marketers prioritize blogging as their primary content marketing strategy. When it comes to fine art photography, EVERYONE knows Aaron Reed is the business, even the most interesting man in the world.
Searching through an extensive catalog of blog posts can be quite boring though, so I have gone the extra mile (I’m always looking out for you guys) and have created this list of my top ten photography blog posts of all time. No time to read? Too Tired? No problem, I’d be happy to read them to you for $250 an hour. Call it the worlds most expensive bedtime story.
Okay, without further ado, the moment you have all been waiting for, here is my top ten list as determined by you, the sad lonely people who actually read my blog posts.
1. Fine Art America? I Don’t Think So.
Fine Art America is a POD (Print On Demand) company and online marketplace that sells the work of more than 500,000 artists around the world. Fine Art America offers various forms of art including wall art, prints, posters, tapestries and apparel. Have you been looking for a shower curtain with a boat powered by butterfly wingsfor your newly renovated bathroom? You got it! A rainbow zebra coffee mug? Of course you can, go treat yourself!
2. Aspen Tree or Birch?
Where do we come from? What is the meaning of life? Is it an aspen tree or a birch? These are the questions that have plagued mankind since the dawn of time. Without a doubt, both are beautiful trees, loved by nature photographers, hikers and all seekers of fall color around the country. But what is the difference? Is it the way they taste? The sound that each makes when they fall in the forest and no one is there to hear their cries? Let’s dig a little and see if we can find out.
3. What Are Peter Lik Style Prints?
In reality, there is simply no such thing as Peter Lik Style Prints. There are acrylic face-mounted photography prints, produced by thousands of photographers around the world and there are acrylic face-mounted photography prints produced by artist Peter Lik. These truths are separate from each other, as one style does not belong to the other.
4. Ansel Adams | Black and White Photography
Ansel Easton Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984) was a landscape photographer and environmentalist known for his black-and-white images of the American West. He helped found Group f/64, an association of photographers advocating “pure” photography which favored sharp focus and the use of the full tonal range of a photograph.
5. Imitation Is Not The Sincerest Form of Flattery
Flattery, is often used in a dishonest way, as a means to achieve what someone wants for themselves. An employee, hoping for a promotion, may compliment the bosses new suit. A waitress, may use flattery to increase the chances of being tipped. Even laughter, when used correctly can flatter and therefore influence a person’s opinion of you.
6. My Scandalous Affair With The Sony A7RIV
As described in my previously released, highly debated and riot inciting story about the FUJI GFX100 and Sony A7RIV, I explained my history with the Canon EOS system and a little bit about myself as a landscape photographer. I have been a Canon shooter since I began my adventure with photography, beginning with a Canon 40D, then a 50D, a 5D2, a 5D3 and finally a 5DSR.
7. How To Light Artwork In Your Home
You have a fair amount of choices when it comes to lighting, each having its own set of benefits and considerations. The best lighting enhances the artwork, without distracting from the rest of the decor in your room. Before we go any further, lets discuss the various types of lighting available to you.
8. Creating A Custom Las Vegas Photography Gallery
Since then, Helga & Vlajko have continued to add even more fine art pieces of mine to their collection. Now with 35 total pieces of mine on the walls of their home that really does rival any Las Vegas fine art gallery. Please have a look below at some of their choices for this project!
9. The Great American Landscape Painters
Many landscape photographers today, including myself, have found beauty and inspiration in the works of these masters. The composition, light and overall mood created in many of these paintings hold the same allure to landscape photographers of today. Please read on to learn more about the Hudson River School, the movement itself and more about three of the painters who helped cement these works into history.
10. The Best Fine Art Print Mediums Explained
These days, you can have your photographs printed onto almost anything. Care to see your photos printed on a natural plank of wood freshly cut from a tree? No problem. A slab of cold steel? You betcha. How about a t-shirt, coffee cup or a backpack? Consider it done my friend.
You did it!! You have officially wasted a signification portion of your day today reading this blog post and I just want to say thank you! Now grab another cutoff coffee and get back to work!!!
Once you click on the image it may take 15 seconds or more to render!
What some have come to call the Rainbow Mountain is at Old Paria, or Pahreah, which is a ghost town on the Paria River in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in central Kane County, Utah, United States. It was inhabited from 1870 to 1929, and later used as a filming location. it’s on Highway 89 between Kanab, Utah and Page, Arizona. Although a regular vehicle can make this drive rather easily do not attempt it if rain is in the forecast or if it has rained recently. The road turns into an impassible slime pit for hours.
Paria is one of the oddest places on earth. If you like geology, you are going to LOVE Paria! There are more colored layers of rock here than you can shake a stick at. Here you can see the layers of the area that were laid down in beautiful colors over millions of years. Many other places you can see bits and pieces of the rock layers, here they are all exposed in one spot to gape at.
The Outlaw Josey Wales was filmed with Clint Eastwood here in the 1970s. There was a cool old town till some dimwits burned it down about 10 years ago,
80 images cropped a bit. a very large panorama! Once you click on the image it may take 15 seconds or more to render!
Fujifilm has just announced the release of the INSTAX SQUARE Link Smartphone Printer. This new compact printer has been designed to be 100% portable, and the small size and light weight mean that it will easily slip into a large coat or bag pocket, so that it’s there and ready to printing whenever and wherever you are.
The new printer is part of the growing and popular line of Link Smartphone printers and creates INSTAX SQUARE format instant prints that are 1.5 times the size of the INSTAX mini.
As well as the new size in print, the printer packs in various unique features designed to inspire creativity. A new AR (Augmented Reality) print and INSTAX Connect enable smartphone users to create truly individual prints in completely new ways.
As with previous models of the INSTAX printers, plenty of creative options can be reached through the APP. These enable you to add frame templates and digital stickers as well as giving you access to different print mode options.
The App is fully compatible with Android and Apple phones and can be downloaded and installed for free.
The new AR feature is the leading ticket with this new printer, and enables AR special effects, text, images, background colours, doodles and animations to be added. It works by placing a QR code on the photo, unlocking the AR potential.
As ever, INSTAX can also utilise popular smartphone apps using the SQUARE Link App. This enables users to share INSTAX images digitally and again allows the ability to add text and effects before sending them to connected devices.
Along with the special print features comes two print mode options. INSTAX-Rich Mode for deep enriched colours and INSTAX-Natural mode for a more classic look.
The image on Smartphones can also be enhanced with art filters or more traditional development techniques.
“Designed with instant photography and smartphone printing fans in mind, we are excited about introducing the new INSTAX SQUARE Link. The new SQUARE Link combines everything existing customers love about the existing Link formats, now in a SQUARE format – with exciting new features including AR Print and INSTAX Connect, presenting even more options for users to connect, customise, and share images.”
For more details check out the INSTAX SQUARE Link Printer page at fujifilm.com
Eleonora Strano is a Franco-Italian photographer based in France. Her work explores themes such as isolation and invisibility whether it is geographical, cultural, environmental, social, political or visual. Her images are often imprinted by nostalgia, memory and time. In 2019, her work was exhibited at Espace de l’Art Concret in Mouans-Sartoux, as part of “Des marches, démarches” curated by FRAC PACA, and has been part of Jeune Création in Romainville, Circulation(s) in Paris and the 37th edition of the Festival international de mode, de photographie et d’accessoires in Hyères. She was nominated as one of the 31 women photographers to watch for in 2019 by the British Journal of Photography, one of the 250 photographers of 2020 by the PhMuseum, and has been listed as one of the 150 emerging European photographers of 2021 by GUP Magazine. Eleonora Strano is a member of Eyes on Talents, Hans Lucas, Women Photograph and Blink, and works in the South of France. In parallel to her work with the media as a photojournalist, she develops artistic projects among which is a photographic commission launched by Université Côte d’Azur in Nice, Villa Arson and Académie 5 about biocontrol. She is currently working on her next project about shipwrecks, memory and the Anthropocene in Saint-Pierre et Miquelon for which she was the recipient of the BnF grant Radioscopie de la France.
This very interesting region in Norma contains many HII features as well as many other interesting objects. Below you can see an annotated version with the most clearly visible objects identified, except for the HII region in the bottom left corner. I couldn’t find out what this is called, so if anyone knows please let me know in the comments below Somehow these objects and this fov get rarely imaged, which made it all the more interesting for me to try and get a nice image out of this.
Most eye catching are the RCW objects, which are different types of objects. Let’s have a more detailed look at each of them.
RCW 103 Supernova Remnant
RCW 103 is the brightest region of hydrogen gass in this image. It is a supernova remnant of a star that went supernova around 2000 years ago at a distance of 9000 light years from earth. It (probably) has a very interesting neutron star in the center: This might very well be the slowest rotating pulsar we currently know of. “The source exhibits properties of a highly magnetized neutron star, or magnetar, yet its deduced spin period is thousands of times longer than any pulsar ever observed.” http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2016/rcw103/
RCW 104 and Wolf-Rayet 75
Wolf-Rayet stars are extremely hot stars. Their surface temperatures range from 30,000 K to around 200,000 K, hotter than almost all other stars. They have broad spectra, but lack in hydrogen. They cause strong stellar winds, thus shaping their environment and feeding it with material. In this case we can see such a star (WR 75) in the middle of the HII region known as RCW 104 which is shaping and ionizing the surrounding hydrogen gass.
RCW 106 is a cloud of hydrogen gass and dust. In fact, it contains so much dust that much of hydrogen gass and a lot of stars are hidden from sight in the visible light. RCW 106 contains some very massive O-type stars. These stars (probably) form in the most dense areas of the gass and dust cloud and they live only briefly. They burn through their fuel in tens of millions of years.
RCW102 is another interesting gass cloud that’s a mixture of ionised hydrogen gass and dust. Neighbouring RCW 102 we can find the bright planetary nebula RCW101, Menzel 3 or the ‘Ant Nebula’.
RCW 101, also known as Menzel 3 and the Ant Nebula
Menzel 3 is a young bipolar planetary nebula that is composed of a bright core and four distinct high-velocity outflows. It is expanding at a rate of 50km/s and located at around 8000 lightyears from earth.
Open star clusters
There are numerous Open Clusters like NGC6115, Ruprecht 116, Ruprecht 176, Pismis22 and many more. Ruprecht 176
Apart from the Ant nebula there are two more planetary nebulae that can be seen in this image. They are Pe1-4 and WRAY 17-74.
Image taken with monochrome Nikon D600 on a APM107/700 with Riccardi reducer and modified Nikon D600 on a TS Quadruplet 480/80, mounted on Fornax 51 and guided with MGEN.