This is a scam

PSA to other photographers, if you receive this email it is a scam. 

Have you received a job offer that just seemed to easy to be real? Did the potential client offer you the job straight away? Did they seem very trusting in you and offered to send payment in advance? Sorry folks, it's a scam. This scam has absolutely nothing to do with Hypebeast, Photoserve, or any other legitimate company. From reddit, here's a summary of how this scam works. 

(1) The scammer sends you a very real looking, but fake, check (often it’s a fake “cashier’s check”).

(2) You deposit the check into your bank account, and within a couple of days your bank makes some or all of the funds available to you. This helps trick you into the false belief that the check was real. (Note that by law, under most usual situations, your bank must make some or all the funds available to you within a few days, BUT THIS IS NOT the same thing as the check or the funds being “verified” or the check “clearing” the bank.)

(3) For various and often complicated reasons, depending on the specific story line of the scam, the scammer will ask you to send someone (who is either the scammer themselves using an alias or an accomplice of the scammer) some of the money by Western Union, or MoneyGram, or even gift cards like iTunes gift cards.

(4) Usually within a couple of weeks (but it can take as long as a couple of months) your bank will realize that the check you deposited was fake, and your bank will remove the funds that you deposited into your account and charge you for a bounced check fee. If you withdrew any of the money that you deposited, such that your bank account balance goes negative when the bank reverses the deposit, then you will owe that money back to your bank, and your bank may charge you an overdraft fee.

This scam is also very popular on Craigslist in which a buyer will offer to send you money. In our case regarding a photography gig, the scammer will get in touch with you about an upcoming gig. Maybe it's a shoot for a popular website such as Hypebeast or maybe a wedding, anniversary, birthday party or bar mitzvah. They will offer some details about the shoot to make it seem real. They will give you some possible dates and specifics about the images. 

Here's a sample text of the email they send. They might also claim to be working with Highsnobiety, and any other number of sites.

Hello,

I saw your portfolio on photoserve.com and would like to learn more about your services. I’m looking for an experienced photographer to work with on an ongoing blogging and articles. I blog for various online platforms and would love to collaborate with photographers on genre such as beauty, vintage, art, lifestyle, and outdoor.

I am compiling shots for hypebeast.com “fashion page” segment and the online fashion magazine is looking for professional and reliable photographers who want to create stunning images- Hypebeast is particularly looking for outdoor and urban looks.

If you’re interested this project, it is important to understand few details about the project. These are:

  1. You will be required to work with 2 models.

  2. There will be 3 outfits per model, 5 looks for each outfit, which totals 30 looks/images.

  3. Outfits/Wardrobe will be supplied by us.

  4. Location, date, and time will be fixed by you.

  5. We want 30 professionally taken pictures in High Res Digital Copies.

  6. Delivery date: August 21.

  7. Compensation: $2000 ($500 upfront and $1500 final payment).

  8. You will hold full image right (Licensor)

As the photographer we want you to handle other aspect of the gig and dictate the creative direction. If you can handle this, please reply with your full name (Business name), phone number, and address (to be written on your check and contract). Click of the link for a sample of my work: https://hypebeast.com/2017/7/pam-2017-fall-winter-froglife-collection-perks-and-mini. I will forward a contract to be signed by both parties.

 

If you think others will benefit from this post, please feel free to share. Thank you.

 

 

 

Star Wars Original Trilogy Unaltered

As if we are living in an alternative universe, one thing that does not exist in our world is an original unaltered high definition version of the original Star Wars trilogy. The special edition versions are available on Blu-Ray or via streamable purchase but if you prefer your Star Wars without the added and altered scenes then there is no commercially available product for you buy. George Lucas has even said the original versions “don’t exist anymore” suggesting the original negatives were cut during the specialization process. I don’t really mind that Lucas wanted to edit his movie but I do feel that us fans should be able to choose the original versions. When an artist releases their work out into the world and becomes a cultural experience, it becomes a part of history and should be preserved. When Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, this took Lucas out of the picture and a new hope was created that Disney would find it in their hearts, or in their financial interest, to release a modern high-def release of the original trilogy.  

There has been no official word from Disney about this possibility, but in the meantime there are some hard-working fans who have personally recreated these sought after versions. A leader in this arena is Harmy who has most recently posted his 2.5 version of Episode IV. Harmy has created the high-def versions by using the 2004 DVD release, the current special edition Blu-Ray releases, as well as rare sources like recordings of a television broadcast and film print scans. The source materials also have their own issues, for example the 2004 DVD release was wrought with color correction issues, so Harmy has even had to fix the source material. In some cases, multiple sources were masked and combines to recreate parts of one scene. A tremendous effort by Harmy that is a service for all Star Wars fans.

Getting a copy of these versions takes some hoop jumping. This google doc will walk you through the process. You will have to download and install software on your computer for the file download as well as create an account on a suspicious but harmless website. Keep in mind that if your end goal is to watch these downloaded movie files on your television then you will need some means to get them from your computer to your TV. You'll either either burn the download onto a Blu-Ray disc or convert it to a movie file for playback. It may look daunting and technically challenging but I promise it’s worth it.

 

Super Mario 64 "Watch for Rolling Rocks: A Press Challenge"

Fascinating video about how far this Super Mario 64 player has deconstructed the video game. For context, an A Press Challenge is playing through a level of Super Mario 64 with as few A presses as possible. What this player does here is way beyond the anticipated quick reflexes and precise movements. He's broken through the matrix and playing an entirely different game.  

Squarespace vs Wordpress: Why I switched

As of this writing, this site is hosted by Squarespace but I was previously on Wordpress with a Prophoto template. I’ll discuss the differences between the two and why I decided to switch.

Design Choices

WordPress offers some very basic designs but most likely you will want to find a template that enhances your site’s look and functionality. There are a seemingly endless supply of templates from free to cheap to not so cheap and also subscription based offerings. With all this choice also comes wasted time weeding through junk. I would definitely skip any free options since the template provider has no obligation to you. If your site should not work then you have no place to turn. Look for a template provider that looks like it’s in the business for the long haul and can provide top customer support. Prophoto templates were well implemented and had good customer support.

Squarespace has a limited choice of templates but they are all nicely designed and are easily customizable. You can take the tour of their design on their site which are organized by type such as restaurants, photographers, musicians and so on. If you see something close to your liking then it’s likely you can tweak it enough to achieve your desired design. Even though there is less choice, at least you know every choice will work. You won’t waste time weeding through a load of junk. 

With either Squarespace or WordPress you can always hire a web designer to help you build your site if you need something very custom. If your site requires very specific design and features then neither Squarespace or WordPress is the right choice. 

Setting up your site

Getting your site up and running with Squarespace is very simple with a few caveats. Sqaurespace provides the hosting so you don’t need to find a separate hosting vendor. Squarespace will provide a custom domain name with the annual subscription but if you already have your domain name registered then you point your domain to your Squarespace site using domain mapping. Squarespace can provide a custom email through their integration with Google's G suite service. G suite is $5 per month per user including 30GB of Google Drive online storage. You can also migrate a current custom email address to G Suite if you desire. Alternately, your domain registrar might provide email or you can use a service such as Yahoo Business Email or Office 365. In short, Squarespace is easy to get started with if you are not already tied to a domain name and custom email address. If you already have a custom email address and domain name, you have a few options and technical hurdles to overcome.  

Using WordPress and a custom template means you are likely dealing with three to four entities to manage your site. You will need your own hosting and custom domain name as well as your email address. This might be provided by one or three companies. WordPress is free and your hosting company will likely have simple instructions to install. Then you just need to install the custom template onto your WordPress site. This process isn’t terribly difficult but the problem becomes what to do when something is wrong and you’re not sure who is to blame. For example, if you site loads slow, is it your hosting, something wrong with your template, or possibly a rogue plugin?  

Ease of use

This is where Squarespace and WordPress really part ways. I really can’t oversell how easy it is to design a site using Squarespace. In fact, ease of use is so obviously and clearly the main goal of Squarespace and it shows. Everything is clearly laid out and explained. Plus you can see the changes you make to your site as quickly as you make them. Squarespace help provides useful videos guiding you through the process.

WordPress is a Frankenstein nightmare. When you install a template with WordPress you will see the template and all it’s options. The problem now is that some of your content will be managed by the basic WordPress options and some by the template. For example, since I was using a photographers portfolio template I had the option to load a gallery of images via the templates gallery feature. However, images that went into blog post were added via the WordPress images library. All blog post are added via the basic WordPress editor but the look and style of the blog page is edited via the template. WordPress also has something called widgets which mostly add content to the sides of your design. Widgets are a part of the basic WordPress install but may be utilized by the template. I was always looking through all the editing options trying to find where to edit some part of my site before I remembered it was a widget. Fonts are not edited globally through your site so you will have to copy and paste styles from one area to the next. For example you can not easily set your headers and menu to the same color without a series of steps. 

Plugins are another option in WordPress. Most seemed to geared toward improving your site’s SEO but their are also social network plugins, analytics, and really anything you can imagine. They of course come with yet more options.

I could go on but I’ll stop there as I think I’ve made my point. I suppose you could argue that WordPress is giving you the most options to build your site and get exactly what you want. In practice, I found this was not true because there are too many pieces of the puzzle to make it all fit. I wasted so much time trying to find a good template, then constantly trying to find where certain parts of the site were edited, and installing and deleting plugins. It’s just not worth it. Sure you could bump up against the limits of the Squarespace editor and it doesn’t offer any third party plugins but the loss of options can be freeing. 

Security

I have no idea the security of Squarespace. I googled around and couldn’t find anything about Squrespace sites having malware, viruses, or any other security vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, I am intimately aware of WordPress security as my site was hacked and infected when it was on WordPress. To summarize, I was infected, lost Google traffic, then paid a service to have my site cleaned and monitored. I then deleted all my plugins. This is my experience and yet another reason I left WordPress.

Future proof

For the most part, once you get your site designed you will just have to add content as needed. There are however web standards that change like we’ve seen from mobile and high resolution displays and it’s important to keep up with these changes. I found that WordPress was very slow to provide solutions to changes on the web. For example, responsive design (a site will automatically change it’s layout to fit the screen) is becoming more popular as people are accessing the web on a growing number of screen sizes. Some WordPress templates have this feature but some do not. My template provider offered an outdated mobile design that I chose not to use. This forced me to use a font size that was too large for desktop displays so that it could be readable on mobile displays. Squarespace sites are all responsive designs and automatically vary the font size for the display. WordPress/custom templates were also slow to offer support for high density displays such as those found on current MacBook Pros. Squarespace had high density display support more than a year before my template service offered it as a paid upgrade. I’d recommend Squarespace over WordPress if you want to stay current with web technologies.  

SEO

I confess the main reason I picked WordPress over any other website platform was that I understood it to have the best SEO, or search engine optimization. In short, this is howto optimize your site in order to have high Google rankings. Good SEO means more people will find your site. Now, I actually can’t tell you if WordPress actually does have the best SEO. I could compare my traffic before and after I switched to Squarespace but there are too many variables to make a fair comparison. In the end I switched to Squarespace because I felt I could spend more time improving my SEO by updating my site with more images and writing more instead of troubleshooting a WordPress site.

Conclusion

In short, I prefer Squarespace over Wordpress because it is far easier to use and design a site.

80MP Medium Format Leaf Credo Sample Image

Occasionally, I have a client request to shoot with a super high resolution medium format digital back. In these cases, the client needs the ultimate in detail and resolution either to show the super fine detail of a product and to have the greatest printing resolution for making large high quality prints. In the past, I’ve used the Hasselblad H3D or the Phase One Mamiya body with a IQ180 digital back. More recently, I shot with a Leaf Credo 80 on a Mamiya body. Regardless of which camera gear, I’m always amazed at the quality and detail these camera will output.

This image is captured with an 80 megapixel sensor which outputs a 240 megabyte tiff file measuring 10328x7760 pixels.

First, the full view of the image, a cross section of metal pipe.

High Resolution Product Photo

Cropped to 100% view.

Macro image photograph

Again the full size image showing the zoomed area.

Product photo OC

The full area you see is about 3.5 by 2.5 inches. The 100% crop is showing an area about 1/4 inch across, the typical length of a red ant. The camera is mounted with a Mamiya 120mm macro lens to achieve such close focus and incredible detail.

These cameras are pricey. A basic kit starts at $35,000 plus a few thousand for each additional lens. Luckily, professional rental houses will rent these camera kits for about $800-$900 per day, provided you have the proper insurance. There are less expensive kits to purchase for as low as $10,000 but those sensors have much lower megapixels.

Please get in touch if you are in the market for high-resolution photography.

Collection of Recommended Articles

Here are some articles that stuck with me long after I finished reading them. The Chameleon

On June 8th, an administrator rushed into the principal’s office. She said that she had been watching a television program the other night about one of the world’s most infamous impostors: Frédéric Bourdin, a thirty-year-old Frenchman who serially impersonated children. “I swear to God, Bourdin looks exactly like Francisco Hernandez Fernandez,” the administrator said.

Chadourne was incredulous: thirty would make Francisco older than some of her teachers. She did a quick Internet search for “Frédéric Bourdin.” Hundreds of news items came up about the “king of impostors” and the “master of new identities,” who, like Peter Pan, “didn’t want to grow up.” A photograph of Bourdin closely resembled Francisco—there was the same formidable chin, the same gap between the front teeth. Chadourne called the police.

“Are you sure it’s him?” an officer asked.

“No, but I have this strange feeling.”

This story is also the basis for the 2012 documentary The Impostor, currently on Netflix.

 

The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever.

They also refer to it as “The Incident” or “That Incredible Series.” It’s the only time anyone can remember a local recreational bowler making the sports section of the Dallas Morning News. One man, an opponent of Fong’s that evening, calls it “the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in a bowling alley.”

Bill Fong needs no reminders, of course. He thinks about that moment—those hours—every single day of his life.

Most people think perfection in bowling is a 300 game, but it isn’t. Any reasonably good recreational bowler can get lucky one night and roll 12 consecutive strikes. If you count all the bowling alleys all over America, somebody somewhere bowls a 300 every night. But only a human robot can roll three 300s in a row—36 straight strikes—for what’s called a “perfect series.” More than 95 million Americans go bowling, but, according to the United States Bowling Congress, there have been only 21 certified 900s since anyone started keeping track.

 

The Innocent Man, Part One & Part Two

On April 12, 1987, Michael Morton sat down to write a letter. “Your Honor,” he began, “I’m sure you remember me. I was convicted of murder, in your court, in February of this year.” He wrote each word carefully, sitting cross-legged on the top bunk in his cell at the Wynne prison unit, in Huntsville. “I have been told that you are to decide if I am ever to see my son, Eric, again. I haven’t seen him since the morning that I was convicted. I miss him terribly and I know that he has been asking about me.” Referring to the declarations of innocence he had made during his trial, he continued, “I must reiterate my innocence. I did NOT kill my wife. You cannot imagine what it is like to lose your wife the way I did, then to be falsely accused and convicted of this terrible crime. First, my wife and now possibly, my son! Sooner or later, the truth will come out. The killer will be caught and this nightmare will be over. I pray that the sheriff’s office keeps an open mind. It is no sin to admit a mistake. No one is perfect in the performance of their job. I don’t know what else to say except I swear to God that I did NOT kill my wife. Please don’t take my son from me too.”

 

Beyond Recognition: The Incredible Story of a Face Transplant

Two teams of surgeons begin the procedure in tandem: one group carefully strips the donor’s face of every necessary component, while the other removes the damaged layers of tissue from the patient. "You have what is basically a mask from the donor and you bring that into the patient’s operating room," says Maria Siemionow, MD, who leads the Cleveland Clinic’s face transplant program. The next step is critical: surgeons hustle to reconnect the arteries and veins from that mask with the patient’s blood vessels. If they do it right, that white mask flushes with pink. "You don’t know until you see the blood coming back," Siemionow says. "That’s how you know the face is alive, and the surgery has worked."

 

A Murder Foretold

 Rodrigo Rosenberg knew that he was about to die. It wasn’t because he was approaching old age—he was only forty-eight. Nor had he been diagnosed with a fatal illness; an avid bike rider, he was in perfect health. Rather, Rosenberg, a highly respected corporate attorney in Guatemala, was certain that he was going to be assassinated.

This incredible true story would make a riveting Hollywood thriller.

 

The Case of the Vanishing Blonde

After a woman living in a hotel in Florida was raped, viciously beaten, and left for dead near the Everglades in 2005, the police investigation quickly went cold. But when the victim sued the Airport Regency, the hotel’s private detective, Ken Brennan, became obsessed with the case: how had the 21-year-old blonde disappeared from her room, unseen by security cameras? The author follows Brennan’s trail as the P.I. worked a chilling hunch that would lead him to other states, other crimes, and a man nobody else suspected.

 

Raising the Dead

Shaw touched down on the cave's sloping bottom well up from where Gomes had landed, clipped off the cave reel, and started swimming. There was no time to waste. Every minute he spent on the bottom—his VR3 dive computer said he was now approaching 886 feet—would add more than an hour of decompression time on the way up. Still, Shaw felt remarkably relaxed, sweeping his light left and right, reveling in the fact that he was the first human ever to lay line at this depth. Suddenly, he stopped. About 50 feet to his left, perfectly illuminated in the gin-clear water, was a human body. It was on its back, the arms reaching toward the surface. Shaw knew immediately who it was: Deon Dreyer, a 20-year-old South African who had blacked out deep in Bushman's ten years earlier and disappeared. Divers had been keeping an eye out for him ever since.

Shaw turned immediately, unspooling cave line as he went. Up close, he could see that Deon's tanks and dive harness, snugged around a black-and-tan wetsuit, appeared to be intact. Deon's head and hands, exposed to the water, were skeletonized, but his mask was eerily in place on the skull. Thinking he should try to bring Deon back to the surface, Shaw wrapped his arms around the corpse and tried to lift. It didn't move. Shaw knelt down and heaved again. Nothing. Deon's air tanks and the battery pack for his light appeared to be firmly embedded in the mud underneath him, and Shaw was starting to pant from exertion.

David Shaw's story was also featured on episode 515 of This American Life.

 

Higher, Colder, Deadlier

Mont Blanc is Western Europe’s tallest mountain, and the world’s deadliest. For four young English climbers—friends since boarding school, two of whom, Rob Gauntlett and James Hooper, had already become the youngest Britons to scale Everest—it held the promise of adventure, camaraderie, and escape from mundane worries. But on January 9, as the author reports, two of them plummeted nearly half a mile to a brutal death, leaving questions to be answered.

 

The Curse of Cow Clicker

So it’s ironic that Bogost’s breakout hit—the game that has made him a celebrity within his industry, attracted tens of thousands of players, and even earned him a bit of money—is a cynical trifle he whipped up in a matter of days. It’s a Facebook game called Cow Clicker, and it’s unlike anything Bogost ever made before, a borderline-evil piece of work that was intended to embody the worst aspects of the modern gaming industry. He meant Cow Clicker to be a satire with a short shelf life. Instead, it enslaved him and many of its players for much of the past 18 months. Even Bogost can’t decide whether it represents his greatest success—or his most colossal failure.

 

The Incredible True Story of the Collar Bomb Heist

At 2:28 pm on August 28, 2003, a middle-aged pizza deliveryman named Brian Wells walked into a PNC Bank in Erie, Pennsylvania. He had a short cane in his right hand and a strange bulge under the collar of his T-shirt. Wells, 46 and balding, passed the teller a note. “Gather employees with access codes to vault and work fast to fill bag with $250,000,” it said. “You have only 15 minutes.” Then he lifted his shirt to reveal a heavy, boxlike device dangling from his neck. According to the note, it was a bomb. The teller, who told Wells there was no way to get into the vault at that time, filled a bag with cash—$8,702—and handed it over. Wells walked out, sucking on a Dum Dum lollipop he grabbed from the counter, hopped into his car, and drove off. He didn’t get far. Some 15 minutes later, state troopers spotted Wells standing outside his Geo Metro in a nearby parking lot, surrounded him, and tossed him to the pavement, cuffing his hands behind his back.

Wells told the troopers that while out on a delivery he had been accosted by a group of black men who chained the bomb around his neck at gunpoint and forced him to rob the bank. “It’s gonna go off!” he told them in desperation. “I’m not lying.” The officers called the bomb squad and took positions behind their cars, guns drawn. TV camera crews arrived and began filming. For 25 minutes Wells remained seated on the pavement, his legs curled beneath him.

 

Art of the Steal: On the Trail of World’s Most Ingenious Thief

Carefully, Blanchard entered through the window he had unlocked the previous day. He knew there was a chance of encountering guards. But the Schloss Schönbrunn was a big place, with more than 1,000 rooms. He liked the odds. If he heard guards, he figured, he would disappear behind the massive curtains.

The nearby rooms were silent as Blanchard slowly approached the display and removed the already loosened screws, carefully using a butter knife to hold in place the two long rods that would trigger the alarm system. The real trick was ensuring that the spring-loaded mechanism the star was sitting on didn’t register that the weight above it had changed. Of course, he had that covered, too: He reached into his pocket and deftly replaced Elisabeth’s bejeweled hairpin with the gift-store fake.

Within minutes, the Sisi Star was in Blanchard’s pocket and he was rappelling down a back wall to the garden, taking the rope with him as he slipped from the grounds. When the star was dramatically unveiled to the public the next day, Blanchard returned to watch visitors gasp at the sheer beauty of a cheap replica. And when his parachute was later found in a trash bin, no one connected it to the star, because no one yet knew it was missing. It was two weeks before anyone realized that the jewelry had disappeared.