Tag Archives: photography

Howl in Delight at Some of the Best Astronomy Photographs of 2019

The winners of the 2019 Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year have been announced. This year’s crop features a stunning images, from auroras and sunspots to galaxies and nebulas—along with a perspective of a lunar eclipse unlike anything we’ve seen before.

This is the 11th running of the contest, which is held by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in cooperation with Insight Investment and BBC Sky at Night Magazine. A record 4,600 entries were submitted this year from 90 countries. For this year’s contest, the organizers introduced a new category: The Sir Patrick Moore prize for Best Newcomer category, which, in its inaugural year, was awarded to two different photographers.

“Into the Shadow:” The overall winner of the competition, and winner of the Our Moon category.
Image: László Francsics, Hungary

Hungary’s László Francsics won top prize for his photo, “Into the Shadows,” earning him £10,000 ($12,350). The image depicts 35 phases of the total lunar eclipse on January 21, 2019.

“In a year that celebrates 50 years since the first lunar landings it is fitting that this year’s overall winning image captures such a dynamic and captivating view of our Moon,” said competition judge Oana Sandu from the European Southern Observatory in a press release. “A worthy winner indeed.”

“Sky and Ground, Stars and Sand:” Co-winner of Best Newcomer. Taken in north-central China.
Image: Shuchang Dong, China

Prizes in the Best Newcomer category were awarded to Shuchang Dong for his beautiful monochrome photo of sand dunes and stars in north-central China, and to Ross Clark for his image of the Orion constellation.

“The Jewels of Orion:” Co-winner of Best Newcomer. The image features a strip of the Orion constellation.
Image: Ross Clark, UK
“Shells of Elliptical Galaxy NGC 3923 in Hydra:” Winner of Galaxies category.
Image: Rolf Wahl Olsen, Denmark

A stunning photo of the crescent Moon taken during the daytime by Rafael Ruiz was awarded runner-up in the Our Moon category, while a visually intense photo of stellar prominences shooting up from the Sun like fireworks, snapped by Alan Friedman, won top prize in the Our Sun category. Winner of the galaxies category went to Rolf Wahl Olsen, who snapped a cool pic of elliptical galaxy NHG 3923.

“A Little Fireworks:” Winner of Our Sun category. A vivid close-up of the solar horizon, with what appears to be fireworks.
Image: Alan Friedman, USA
“The Watcher:” Winner of the Aurorae category. This photo was taken on Mount Offersøykammen in Norway.
Image: Nicolai Brügger, Germany

Other winners included Ben Bush for his photo of himself, his dog Floyd, and the glorious sky above, Andy Casely for a series of images depicting a global dust storm on Mars, László Francsics for an infrared version of Saturn, Wang Zhen for a stunning starscape taken in Mongolia, and Ignacio Diaz Bobillo for his photo of nebulae, among other contest winners.

“The Return of Green Lady:” Highly commended photo in the Aurorae category. The image was taken at Limfjord, Denmark.
Image: Ruslan Merzlyakov, Latvia
“Ben, Floyd and the Core:” Winner of the People and Space category. The image shows the photographer and his dog, Floyd, underneath Mars, Saturn and the galactic core of the Milky Way galaxy.
Image: Ben Bush, UK
“Death of Opportunity:” Winner of Planets, Comets and Asteroids. The images show the progress of the global-scale dust storm that struck the planet in 2018, knocking out the NASA Opportunity rover.
Image: Andy Casely, Australia

“Every year the standard rises, and entrants continue to find creative new ways to express their artistry,” said Tom Kerss, a contest judge and an astronomer at the Royal Observatory, in a press release. “This year’s selection contains so many unique approaches to astrophotography—real love letters to the art form, which stay with you long after you’ve seen them. I’m looking forward to the discussions these images will inspire about our shared sky, and the ever-expanding field of capturing and interpreting it. With such a beautiful collection to talk about, the competition really has become astrophotography’s ‘World Cup’.”

“Infrared Saturn:” Winner of Robotic Scope category.
Image: László Francsics, Hungary
“Across the Sky of History:” Winner of Skycapes category. The image was taken in the Mongolian region of Ejina.
Image: Wang Zheng, China
“Statue of Liberty Nebula:” Winner of Stars and Nebula. The image shows a pair of stellar nurseries.
Image: Ignacio Diaz Bobillo, Argentina

Eleven-year-old Davy van der Hoeven from the Netherlands won top prize in the Young Astronomy of the Photographer of the Year category. His photo, “Stellar Flower,” shows the stunning Rosette Nebula.

“Stellar Flower:” Winner of Young Astronomy Photography of the Year. The image is of the Rosette Nebula.
Image: Davy van der Hoeven, age 11, Netherlands

Runner up in the Young Astronomy of the Photographer of the Year category went to 14-year-old Matúš Motlo from Slovakia, who captured sunspots on the Sun.

“AR 12699 Sunspot:” Runner up, Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year.
Image: Matúš Motlo, age 14, Slovakia

Congratulations to all of these winners. The photographs will be displayed at the National Maritime Museum in London starting on September 13, 2019.

Source: Kotaku.com

Cosplay Looks Totally Different Through The Lens Of An Instant Camera

Cosplay ShowcaseKotaku’s Cosplay Showcase is a feature that highlights the unique work of cosplayers, artists and photographers as they seek to tell new stories and push the boundaries of the craft.  

We’re so accustomed to modern cosplay photography being slick and bright and clean that it’s easy to settle into the idea that’s the only way to take photos of people in costume. But this series of shots from this year’s DragonCon shows that a change of hardware can make a big difference to how we see cosplayers on the internet.

These photos were all taken by the forever-excellent Anna Fischer on a pair of Fuji Instax, cheap instant cameras that basically work like an old Polaroid. You point, you shoot, the photo gets shot out a few moments later. There’s absolutely nothing there to help adjust the image, no focus or white balance or anything, which by modern cosplay photography standards should be a disaster.

And yet, these images are fantastic. They arrive at the complete opposite end of the creative spectrum we’re used to when viewing cosplay con galleries online. By using such a simple camera, one whose snaps we normally associate with fond memories and personal keepsakes, these photos end up looking like something you’d see pinned to a cosplayer’s mirror, a reminder of a great day or an old friend. That’s partly down to the technology being used, but also, Fischer tells me, because of the camera itself; cosplayers reacted and posed differently, a bit more candidly, when having their pictures taken on a small toy camera instead of by something more modern and professional.

Or, if you’d prefer, they also look like a collection of cosplay photos from the 1970s, if cosplayers in the 70s had travelled into the future and got access to 2019’s references and building materials.

You can see more of Anna’s photography at her personal site and Facebook page. And if you recognise (or are!) and of the cosplayers featured here, let me know and I’ll add a credit ASAP.

Source: Kotaku.com

Photographer Captures The Hidden Beauty Inside Stripped Down Gaming Consoles

Image: Richard Parry

What do the guts a Game Boy look like? In a new art series called Assembly Required, photographer Richard Parry takes apart old video game consoles to document all of their internal components, revealing the mesmerizing machinery inside their familiar plastic shells.

Parry, an electrician by trade, started with the original Game Boy, the finished image of which he shared on Reddit in early May. It shows the yellow model from Nintendo’s 1995 “Play It Loud” campaign divided into roughly seven different layers, starting with the dot-matrix screen and working all the way down to the double AA batteries that power the system. Each piece, from the circuit board to the individual screws, is set against a crisp, cerulean background that makes everything pop.

Commenters immediately began trying to work out how Parry had put it together. Was it a collection of computer-generated 3D models? Maybe he’d taken a series of photographs and then digitally stacked them to make everything look like it was levitating in mid-air? The truth turned out to be more low-tech.

Image: Richard Parry
Image: Richard Parry

The process starts with Parry hunting for an older console on Ebay. “I try to get broken items first because they likely won’t survive the process and some of these older items are quite precious now,” he told Kotaku in an email. “I’ll disassemble them and work out which elements belong on what layer and how to present them in an accurate but also aesthetically pleasing way.” He then arranges each piece on a sheet of see-through acrylic, holds them in place with glue, and creates the stacks seen in the finished piece.

In other words, what you’re looking at in these images is a jazzed-up photograph. There’s post-processing in Parry’s methods, as he gets rid of any visible glue and removes any haze that comes up in the acrylic, but these are authentic looks at the insides of video game consoles. “I think people are interested to see what’s inside of these items they’d spent so much time with,” he said.

Image: Richard Parry
Image: Richard Parry

Parry’s subsequent pieces have taken the same approach to the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and even the Wii. His latest, a pink PS2 slim, is one of the more stunning. “I tried to pick the most culturally relevant consoles first. Nintendo consoles are great because they really took risks with their console design and they show up great on film,” he said. “I’ve avoided more modern consoles because they’re all just black boxes and they don’t look especially interesting.”

In addition to looking more interesting on the outside, Parry also thinks the internals of the older systems look like works of art in their own right. “I love the older consoles, they’re so simple, it’s like every component is fixed to the main circuit board. They’re so simple in their construction it’s no surprise they’re still running 20 years from when they were built.”

You can find more of Richard Parry’s work over on his Instagram.

Source: Kotaku.com

Upcoming Pupperazzi Is Like Pokemon Snap With Dogs

Pupperazzi was announced yesterday by indie studio Sundae Month and it looks to be a game where players will run around and just take photos of cute, cool and funny looking puppies. Sounds like we need to start game of the year discussions a bit earlier than usual.

Players will share the photos in-game via social media and will have to make choices on not only what dogs they photograph, but where and how they snap the pics. Pupperazzi will feature a single-player campaign, but you don’t have to play alone.

The game will also support local multiplayer, allowing dog photographers to compete with one and other. Players will also be able to upload photos they love and share them for other dog watchers to appreciate.

No specific release date was given beyond 2019. But later this year you can start taking photos of digital puppies.

Source: Kotaku.com

Upcoming Pupperazzi Is Like Pokemon Snap With Dogs

Pupperazzi was announced yesterday by indie studio Sundae Month and it looks to be a game where players will run around and just take photos of cute, cool and funny looking puppies. Sounds like we need to start game of the year discussions a bit earlier than usual.

Players will share the photos in-game via social media and will have to make choices on not only what dogs they photograph, but where and how they snap the pics. Pupperazzi will feature a single-player campaign, but you don’t have to play alone.

The game will also support local multiplayer, allowing dog photographers to compete with one and other. Players will also be able to upload photos they love and share them for other dog watchers to appreciate.

No specific release date was given beyond 2019. But later this year you can start taking photos of digital puppies.

Source: Kotaku.com

My Journey To Photograph All The Wildlife In The Division 2

I remember the first time I saw a deer run past me in The Division 2. It immediately made the game feel different than the previous The Division. Sure, that game had some dogs in it. But now I could encounter deer. I wondered what else was roaming the streets of D.C.? To find out, I began my journey to photograph every animal in The Division 2. It was harder than I expected.

Deer

I can’t tell you what kind of deer this is specifically, but it is certainly a deer. These were relatively easy to photograph. They regularly run around the world, occasionally even running into buildings even.

That image of a deer at the top of this post came from a random encounter. I found a deer stuck on some geometry, at night, next to a spotlight on the ground. It was perfect timing. I snapped a picture and then the deer kept staring at me. It didn’t move or leave. It just stared. I left the area but I don’t know if that deer ever escaped their fate. Maybe I should have shot it?

Dogs

Everyone loves some good pups. Sadly, it is true that you can’t pet these lovable hounds, but even if you could I don’t know if it would be possible. These dogs are super jumpy. Which is fair. They live in a world where every day hundreds of people shoot guns all the time. I would be jumpy too.

This habit of quickly running away made the process of getting a good picture of a puppy trickier than I expected. I would see them all the time, but they would run the moment I loaded up the photo mode. Sometimes they would run the moment I got them in focus like they knew what I was doing.

Raccoons

Trash pandas, as the internet loves to call them, aren’t nearly as numerous as dogs or deer. These critters are a bit more sneaky. I did notice more of them at night, but that might just be a coincidence. Trying to grab a nice photo of them was difficult because, like dogs, they are very jumpy. But they are also smaller and harder to spot, which makes getting a good photo of them hard.

This is because the photo mode in The Division 2 takes a few too many seconds to open up and the camera is limited how far it can move around the area. So to get this photo, I had to creep up, open photo mode, move the camera as close as it would let me and zoom in. If I wasn’t close enough I had to creep up closer and repeat the process. Eventually, I got a nice photo of a raccoon finding some lunch on top of a trash bin.

Foxes

Even quicker and jumpier than dogs, these little wild and red pups were hard to spot as I was running around. When I did spot them, I would sometimes spook them just by walking closer to them.

Though I also had to deal with something most wildlife photogs don’t have to deal with: Numerous armed enemies roaming around, shooting the moment they saw me. There were a couple of times where I spotted a fox, walked closer and got my camera ready when suddenly gunfire would start peppering my location. The fox was gone and I had to duck behind cover and kill a dozen armed thugs before I could continue my safari. But after a few frustrating encounters, I took a nice photo of a lovely little fox.

Bald Eagles

Of course, you can find these patriotic birds in The Division 2. They seem to be somewhat rare or at least in my time with the game they don’t pop up often. So it took me some time to finally snap a photo of one of these majestic birds. I hope that as humanity dwindles and kills itself in this wasteland, the eagles and other animals prosper. Take the world back, eagles. It’s your turn after we screwed everything up. Sorry.

Vultures

I spotted many of these in Dark Zones, which make sense. These zones are filled with lots of dead bodies and decomposing corpses. It must be a wonderful smorgasbord for these ugly birds. But in the Dark Zone it can be difficult to get a good photo, considering all the other players running around and shooting people.

At one point I found a vulture, moved closer to capture a photo of it and then a random player jumped out from behind a building and shot me in the face two-hundred times with an SMG. The vulture flew away and I bled out in the streets as a jerk took all my loot. Later on, I was able to find a vulture in a more quiet area and got a nice picture.

Frogs

On the one hand, frogs in The Division 2 are fairly easy to find. Most ponds and small bodies of water in the game will have some frogs hanging out in them. The trick is getting a good photo of a frog. You see, in The Division 2 frogs are apparently able to teleport through space and time. This made it hard to snap a good picture of these little amphibians.

I also found frogs sometimes hopping through the ground or nearby logs. I ended up spamming a bunch of captures and found one worth sharing.

Fish

I was searching for another animal, who I’ll talk about later, and was having no luck. So frustrated and needing a break, I left my character standing in some water and grabbed a drink. When I returned and sat down, I sipped my lovely cup of tea and noticed something in the water. Or actually, multiple somethings.

There, beneath the surface, were fishes. They look like perch to me, but I’m probably wrong. Like the frogs, these fish have the ability to teleport, but unlike the frogs, they move faster. A lot faster.

Goats

I almost missed the goats in The Division 2. They only appear after upgrading The Campus settlement. They can be found in the back corner of the area, near the main entrance. I only found them because I was walking around the camp, looking for something else.

Suddenly, I found a few goats just chilling in a small pen. After snapping a quick photo, I left and re-visited other areas of the map and looked closer. I didn’t want to miss any other animals who might have been overlooked.

Chickens

Near the goats, I also found a metal pen containing some chickens. Like the goats, I was shocked that I had missed these creatures and almost didn’t include them. Getting a good photo of these little flightless birds was hard. The fence they are surrounded by makes it difficult to get a good and clean photo of them. So, excuse the wire fencing in the image. I did my best.

Rats

Look, I know rats aren’t the most exciting or cutest critters in the world but they are still animals and I wanted to capture every animal.

As far as rats in games go, these rats look pretty good. In fact, most of the animals in this game look impressively detailed, considering you rarely get a close look at them.

Bees

There are bees in the game. I don’t know what else to tell you about them. I guess I could make a Bee Movie joke. I won’t. But I could have.

Dragonflies

Yup, these are flying around the world too. Like frogs and fish, they seem to teleport and disappear randomly. Luckily, nobody cares because they’re just dragonflies.

Cats

Go to hell, cats. I don’t understand why cats hate me in The Division 2, but they do. I spent hours looking for cats. Sometimes I would see one, get close, ready my camera and discover it was actually a fox. They are similar sizes in this game and even have similar animations. Eventually, I gave up looking for cats. I figured I would photograph everything else and maybe come back to them.

Then, randomly, while in the middle of a mission and not even looking for any animals, I spotted a small animal near me. I stopped dead in my tracks. I crept up, slowly. I stopped. My heart was racing. I got my camera out and snapped like 20 pictures. I finally had captured the elusive cat. In retrospect, it makes sense that cats would only show up when they wanted to. I’ve owned many cats and this is common cat behavior.

Pigeons/Ducks

I saw pigeons, but could never get my camera out fast enough to snap a pic. They are so small that I was never able to pick them out from afar. I gave up on pigeons. They look like pigeons.

Ducks might exist in the game. I hear them, I think. I don’t know. Ducks are turning me into a maniac. I spent too much time wading through ponds and pools, looking for ducks and came back with nothing. I never even spotted one. Maybe they don’t exist? I don’t know. I’m moving on with my life.


I was surprised by how many different types of animals I found while exploring The Division 2 and who knows, there might be a few I missed. It wouldn’t surprise me. As I learned with the goats and fish, it can be very easy to overlook or never see animals that are right there, waiting to be photographed.

Source: Kotaku.com

Real Life Museums Make Great Levels in The Division 2

The Division 2 is set in Washington, D.C. and that city is famous for all of its wonderful museums. Because Ubisoft is focused on making their game worlds feel real The Division 2 is also filled with many of these museums. These places make up some of the best levels found in the game and they are impressively authentic to the real locations they are inspired by.

In The Division 2, there are a handful of missions that lead players into some of the various museums dotted around D.C. Usually, these museums are overrun with deadly enemies, which does make it hard to explore them. But after all the bad folks were killed, I was able to snap some photos of these incredibly detailed museums.

One of my favorite museums is The American History Museum. This location is based on the National Museum of American History, located in D.C. You can find different elements of the real world location recreated in the virtual version of the museum. Like this cool looking train!

When you first arrive at this place it isn’t exactly tourist friendly. The militaristic True Sons have taken over the site and are using it as a prison for their enemies. Your objective is to get in, kill them and get some intel.

Exploring The American History Museum, I loved how varied the environments were. As I moved through the building I encountered old statues, exhibits about the Thirteen Colonies, the Western Expansion and eventually I reached a large jungle-filled-section of the museum all about Vietnam.

This area really surprised me. Suddenly I was no longer in the urban streets of D.C. but instead, I was creeping around the jungles of Vietnam. Of course, if I focused on the walls or other details I could tell I wasn’t actually in the jungle, but the change of scenery was still a great way to transform the entire feel of the mission.

The Vietnam section of the museum is based on a similar area in the real world counterpart of The American History Museum. Ubisoft even included the helicopter that is found in that exhibit.

The jungle section of the mission culminates in a battle using a giant turret against waves of True Son soldiers. It almost feels like an entirely different game during this climactic fight.

This is the brilliance of these museum levels. They change up the look and feel of the game. I also love how these museums feel like real places, largely because of Ubisoft’s attention to detail.

Another favorite museum level of mine found in The Division 2 is the Air & Space Museum. Here, you can find old planes and drones…

…but keep exploring this museum and you will also find space capsules, a shuttle that has seen better days and rockets.

Easily my favorite section of the museum is when I rounded a corner and abruptly I found myself on Mars. I wasn’t expecting this at all and it caught me totally off guard. I ended up dying in this area the first time I entered because I forgot that I was in the middle of a deadly combat mission involving heavily armed soldiers. Whoops!

The Mars section of the museum, similar to the Vietnam area in the other museum, almost looks like a different game. At least briefly. Then a bunch of shotgun-wielding soldiers rushed me. I don’t think shotguns are on Mars. At least not yet.

Another great moment in the Air & Space Museum is when players enter a large planetarium. This section, like most of the areas in the museums, is actually based on the real-life planetarium found at the actual National Air & Space Museum in D.C.

This area is almost overwhelming to fight in as planets and stars whiz by, as well as bullets. Getting to fight in a giant planetarium is another reason I love the museums in The Division 2. It helps make these missions more memorable and interesting.

These aren’t the only museums in the game. In my time with The Division 2, I’ve encountered others including a museum focused on indigenous peoples and another location focused on media and news history, based on the real world Newseum. All of these museums are filled with an incredible amount of detail and care. They make the world of The Division 2 feel more believable and immersive.

An example of how much detail Ubisoft put into these museums is how many of the exhibits actually have placards with writing about the various topics. So while you play The Division 2 you can learn a few things too!

Some may think The Division 2 is just a boring military shooter, but the museums are a great example of how colorful and fun the game can get. Maybe some of the themes and story elements are heavy-handed and gross, but this is also game where I got to explore museums and fight bad guys in planetariums.

These moments show how the game isn’t always grim and really help make these missions stand out from the others.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Rise Of The Video Game Selfie

Photo modes have been around for some time now, appearing in various video games. From Far Cry New Dawn to Spider-Man to Assassin’s Creed Origins, it seems more and more video games have been giving players the ability to become virtual photographers.

Using these tools, some players have created incredible and gorgeous pictures. While photo modes have become all the rage, the selfie has also been popping up in more games lately too.  

For some folks, selfies are stupid. The knee-jerk reaction for many is to roll their eyes or laugh at people who take selfies. This anti-selfie attitude permeates throughout much of the internet and by extension, the gaming community.

I too once hated the selfie. I saw it as something dumb or immature. A selfish action. I would think “Hey, just enjoy the world. Stop taking photos of yourself.” In recent years, I’ve had a change of heart. Are there selfish assholes taking selfies all the time? Probably. But many folks take selfies as a way to feel more confident or express themselves. Honestly, selfies don’t hurt anyone and I just moved on. There are better and more worthwhile things to hate in the world.

Freed from my hatred of selfies, I’m happy to see more games adding selfie features. I can’t figure out the very first game to include selfies, but one of the first video game selfies I took was in Grand Theft Auto V. I saw an NPC dressed as a zombie and I snapped a quick selfie with the person.

Since then I always get a small kick out of being able to flip the camera around in a video game to take a selfie. I took selfies in Watch Dogs 2, Dead Rising 4, and Red Dead Redemption 2.

It is an interesting feeling to turn a camera around and closely see your character’s face. In games like Watch Dogs 2, you spend so much time looking at your character from behind or controlling them while they are inside a car. Getting a nice, up close and personal look at your video game avatar is weirdly intimate. It also makes these characters feel more human. It seems like everybody today is taking selfies, even RDR2‘s Arthur Morgan.

Video game characters like D. Va and Cassie Cage are also fans of selfies. In fact, my favorite fatality in all of Mortal Kombat X involves Cassie Cage brutally killing her opponent, then snapping a quick selfie of them while their jaw dangles from their skull. This is easily the most brutal selfie I’ve seen in a video game.

Digital selfies have even popped up in video games that were created before selfies were a thing. There is a popular Doom mod that adds the ability for players to stop killing demons and start taking selfies. Sure, it’s a bit silly, but so is the idea of a lone marine killing hundreds of demons while stationed on Mars.

Selfies aren’t going anywhere. Maybe you hate them, maybe you love them. Regardless, selfies have become a popular way for folks to express themselves while snapping a photo. Video games should represent the culture and society they were created in. So it makes sense that video game selfies are becoming more and more common. Video games should change and evolve overtime. This is a good thing.

I say, bring on more silly selfie modes. The world could use a bit more fun.

Source: Kotaku.com