The best photos taken of planet Earth last year will transform the way you see the world

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1st Max Rive 8396

The natural world is a stunning place.

Every year, the best landscape photography shows off Earth’s beauty. The following photos are some of the winners from the 2017 International Landscape Photographer of the Year contest.

They highlight powerful mountains, scenes of isolation, worlds of color and light, and the abstract loveliness found in landscapes all over the world. Winning photos were shot in the wilds of Patagonia, the mountains of Iceland, and in the desert-surrounded lakes of Brazil.

They show the world in ways that will make you want to get up, pack a bag, and go exploring.

SEE ALSO: A remarkable picture of a single glowing atom just won a photography prize — here are the most eye-catching images from the competition

Cristiano Xavier of Brazil won the aerial photography award with this stunner from the Lençóis Maranhenses in northeastern Brazil.

Brazilian photographer Marcio Cabral won the long-exposure award for this galaxy-revealing shot from Veadeiros National Park in Brazil.

Huibo Hou, who’s based in San Diego, won third in the "Photographer of the Year" competition. Here, she shows the otherworldly Bisti Wilderness Area of New Mexico.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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How to Compress Time Into One Photo

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Throughout the history of photography, many photographers have blended multiple exposures into one final image. Obviously, they didn’t shoot the exposures at the same time, but at some interval to achieve something.

One really common purpose is to remove people by shooting several photos and making sure that all areas are covered without any people and then blend all the images into one image. Another purpose of shooting multiple images is bracketing for HDR. Yet a different purpose is to compress a long time into one photo.

Italy Manarola Day to Night

In this article, you will learn how to make an image that compresses a long time-span into one image. It is a bit like a time-lapse movie sequence, but instead of making a movie you create one final image.

Like in time-lapse photography you will shoot several photos shot over a period of preferably several hours to see a change in the scenery. To make it more interesting, you shoot the photos during a change of light, like from daylight to nighttime. When you put such photos together, you get something really fascinating.

Required Gear

To be able to make such a photo you must have a camera and a tripod or similar device. While you shoot, you need to avoid touching the camera more than you have to. Therefore a cable release or remote trigger is recommended.

You will be standing still for several hours and the temperature will most likely change quite a bit. Remember to bring clothes for a change of temperature.

Australia Sydney Harbor View Time Compressed

Where to Shoot

In theory, you can shoot these kinds of photos anywhere and of anything. But since you are putting a lot of time into one single image, it is recommended that you have an excellent composition of an interesting scene.

When to shoot

You should shoot when the light changes the most, which is from daytime to nighttime or the other way around. It is this change that will make it into a remarkable photo. If you just shoot for four hours around midday, you will get a midday photo.

How to Shoot

When you shoot photos that you intend to blend into one final image, it is essential that you make sure to have an almost identical composition in each frame. You can do that by stabilizing your camera, typically on a tripod. Minor pixel shift differences can be handled later in the post-processing phase, but big differences in the composition will be really hard, if not impossible to blend.

You can either use a remote control to trigger the camera for each shot or put the camera into a time-lapse mode. The advantage of triggering the shutter release remotely yourself is that you can time your shots if something interesting happens.

As the light changes, you will need to change the camera settings.

During the daytime put your camera in Aperture Priority mode at ISO 100 and set the aperture around f/8. This mode makes sure that the images have the same depth of field and therefore are identical, except for the change of light. Do a couple of trial shots to make sure you don’t blow out the highlights or the shadows. If the image is too bright or dark, use the exposure compensation to adjust.

As it gets darker, the camera will make longer exposures and when you hit the 30-second mark, you will need to increase the ISO. You will typically end up at ISO 800 or 1600.

Sweden A Mountain Sunset in Sweden

You most likely want to switch off autofocus before it gets dark. It depends on the scenery. City photos often offer good low light autofocus points, while the contrast disappears in landscape photos and makes autofocus impossible. Alternatively, you can use Back Button Focus.

How many photos do you need?

You need at least two different photos, but any number larger than one will work. For my photo of Sydney, I used a couple of night shots. For the morning part, I only used two.

If you shoot the “many people” variation, you will need photos with interesting people in all those areas you want to be populated with people. For the photo of Manarola, Italy I used approximately 60 photos from a batch of around 200.

Switzerland Montreux Compressed Time

How to handle high dynamic range?

Some situations are hard or impossible to capture in one exposure because the dynamic range gets too high. Typically this happens in nighttime city photos or if the sun enters the frame. The difference between the strong light source and the shadows is too great to capture in one single exposure.

In these situations, you must either switch to Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) or do some manual exposure compensation.

How to blend the photos

You can use any layer-based photo editing tool to blend the photos together. I will demonstrate using Photoshop, but Photo Affinity, GIMP or any other similar photo editing tools can do the same.

UK Lake District Time Compressed

The overall process is to pick one of the good photos from the shoot as the base photo. Then you handpick a set of other photos that you want to blend into the base image.

The technique you are going to use to blend is called “Layer Masking”.

Step 1

Put all the photos you have picked into an empty folder on your computer. JPEGs are fine, but you can also use RAW files.

Step 1 image folder with images - How to Compress Time Into One Photo

Step 2

Pick your base photo and open that in Photoshop.

Step 3

Pick another photo with different light. Load that in into Photoshop by dragging the file onto the base image. Position the photo and press enter.

Notice that you now only see the top layer.

Step 3 image drag layer into place - How to Compress Time Into One Photo

Step 4

Add a mask to the top image, by selecting the top layer and clicking Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All. You have now added a Black Mask. Notice that you can now see the lower image layer again.

Step 4 image The black layer mask - How to Compress Time Into One Photo

Step 5

Select the layer mask by clicking on the black mask and then select the brush tool. Select white as your brush color and set the opacity to around 50% and hardness to 0%. You want to work with a BIG soft brush for most stuff. When you need to do more detailed work, increase hardness to around 50%.

Step 5 image Select a brush - How to Compress Time Into One Photo

Step 6

Start painting in some areas and see how the image changes. Each time you click the mouse and paint in an area, the more the top image becomes visible. Play around until you see something you find interesting.

Step 7

Add more photos by dragging them into Photoshop one at a time and make sure the new layer is the top one. You can drag it to the top of the stack if it is not. Then repeat steps 4-6 again.

The final image

In the end, you will end up with several layers containing photos from which you have used bits and pieces, to create your own unique and quite fascinating image. In the image of the idyllic alp town of Hallstatt in Austria, I used 18 photos to create my image.

Tutorial image 3 An example of layers

Austria Hallstatt Day To Night

Additional things to consider

8-bit or 16-bit?

Normally you should never use 8-bit mode for image editing, but if you are blending 20+ photos, you will run into serious performance issues at 16-bit, even with a high-performance computer. One workaround is to use 8-bit at the cost of image quality. You can change the mode by going to Image > Mode > 8-bit/Channel. The downside of using 8-bit is that you may end up having banding which is when you can see the colors transition from one to the other (they do not graduate smoothly).

Alignment

You have probably had to adjust the camera while shooting and most likely you will find that the images are slightly misaligned. It may not be more than a pixel or two.

Tutorial image 1 Move tool

You use the Move Layer tool to micro adjust the misaligned layer using the arrow keys.

Addition tip – try to make more than one final image from the same photos, by switching around the night and day photos.

The post How to Compress Time Into One Photo by Jacob Surland appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Amateur Astronomer Discovers Unprecedented Breakthrough By Capturing First Ever Supernova Birth

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What great accomplishments have you achieved? Eat a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts all by yourself in 30 minutes? Drink 3/4’s of a bottle of Tito’s Vodka and then later urinate on your nightstand because you drunkenly thought it was the toilet? While you may have been proud of these achievements, they’re not exactly progressing humanity. One amateur astronomer actually accomplished something that will benefit humankind and it has never been done before.

Victor Buso bought a new camera and went to a rooftop in Rosario, Argentina to capture some photos of space. Buso, who is a locksmith by day and an amateur astronomer by night, made an extraordinary and unprecedented discovery that huge astronomy observatories around the globe missed. On September 20, 2016, the 58-year-old Buso used his 15.7-inch Newtonian telescope to discover the birth of a supernova, a phenomenon that humans have never documented before.

With his amateur equipment, Buso was able to see a spiral galaxy called NGC 613, which is over 86 million light years away. Over an hour and a half, Buso snapped photos of the galaxy. Oddly, a bright light appeared directly below the spiral and it kept getting brighter and brighter. Buso knew this was not normal so he reached out to fellow amateur astronomer Sebastian Otero. He agreed that this was something incredible and they reported the discovery to the Transient Name Server, a database of observations of transient astronomical events like supernova.

Once the report was published, professional astronomers with better telescopes and access to observatories were able to verify and document the supernova. The professional astronomers confirmed that it was a supernova and named it SN 2016gkg. However, this was special because Busa had captured the birth of a supernova. Nobody on Earth has ever documented a galaxy moments before a star exploded. Buso’s discovery was published in the scientific journal Nature where it was celebrated as a “serendipitous discovery.” Scientists estimate that the star that exploded and caused the supernova was approximately 20 times the mass of the Sun.

A supernova is a “transient astronomical event that occurs during the last stellar evolutionary stages of a massive star’s life, whose dramatic and catastrophic destruction is marked by one final titanic explosion. This causes the sudden appearance of a “new” bright star, before slowly fading from sight over several weeks or months.”

Popular Science explains just how extraordinarily rare of a discovery that this amateur astronomer made. The supernova only had an observation time of one hour and supernovas are estimated to only happen in a galaxy once every 100 years. Not to mention that Buso was in a city where light pollution severely decreases the ability to see into deep space.

Trained professionals with access to the best equipment on the planet and money funding their research have never made this type of discovery, but some dude on his roof playing astronomer was able to do the unimaginable. An amazing right time, right place scenario, but Buso was smart enough to realize that he had discovered something spectacular and to let the world in on his stunning discovery.

[PopularScience]

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Scientists are beginning to learn how vaping impacts your health — and the results are troubling

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woman vaping vape e-cig e-cigarette

  • A handful of studies published this year are beginning to reveal the health effects of e-cigarettes, and they are not all positive.
  • While some research has suggested that e-cigs may help adults quit smoking conventional cigarettes, other studies have found that they might encourage teens to start.
  • Scientists have also found evidence of toxic metals like lead in e-cig vapor, and a new study suggests vaping may be linked with an increased risk of heart attacks.

Smoking kills. No other habit has been so strongly tied to death.

In addition to inhaling burned tobacco and tar, smokers breathe in toxic metals like cadmium and beryllium, as well as metallic elements like nickel and chromium — all of which accumulate naturally in the leaves of the tobacco plant.

It’s no surprise, then, that much of the available evidence suggests that vaping, which involves puffing on vaporized liquid nicotine instead of inhaling burned tobacco, is at least somewhat healthier. Reaching for a vape pen instead of a conventional cigarette might also be helpful for quitting smoking, though the evidence is somewhat limited.

We don’t have a ton of research on how vaping affects the body and brain. But a handful of studies published this year have begun to illuminate some of the potential health effects of e-cigs.

Vaping every day is linked with twice the risk of a heart attack, while smoking is linked with triple the risk

Vape cartridgeOne of the most worrisome outcomes of that research is a study linking daily vaping to a significantly higher risk of heart attacks.

It is the very first study to show a long-term health impact of e-cigarettes.

The analysis, presented on Saturday at the annual meeting of the nonprofit Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, suggests that people who vape every day may double their risk of having a heart attack compared with people who do not vape or smoke. In comparison, daily cigarette smoking potentially triples the risk.

But the people most at risk are "dual users," or people who use both devices, according to Stanton Glantz, the lead author on the presentation and a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco as well as its director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. People who smoked and vaped every day faced five times the risk of a heart attack as those who took up neither habit, Glantz told Business Insider.

Dual users make up a significant proportion of overall vapers, Glantz said.

”E-cigarettes are widely promoted as a smoking cessation aid but for some, they actually make it harder to quit, so most people end up doing both,” Glantz said. "This is the dominant use."

Still, the study has a number of limitations, most notably the fact that it could not conclude that vaping (or even smoking, for that matter) caused heart attacks — only that the two were linked. Also, only the study’s abstract has been peer-reviewed; the full paper is still awaiting publication. Glantz said one of the reasons they decided to make the abstract public was to get the word out about the findings as soon as possible.

"We’re the first people to show a long term impact of e-cigarettes, and given that it’s consistent with what we know biologically about how vaping effects the heart, we wanted to get this out there," Glantz said.

To arrive at his findings, Glantz looked at national survey data on 70,000 Americans which asked people about their use of e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes. It also asked if they’d ever suffered a heart attack. After controlling for factors that could muddle their results, like hypertension, the researchers found that people who vaped every day were twice as likely to have suffered a heart attack compared with people who didn’t vape or smoke at all. Daily smokers were three times as likely as non-smokers to have suffered a heart attack.

Other studies in animals and cells have suggested that vaping could stiffen the heart and blood vessels, potentially creating an increased risk of heart disease and heart attacks, but this was the first to line up those limited findings with actual health impacts in humans.

The study isn’t the first to suggest that e-cigarettes may come with some important risks.

Some of the same toxic metals that can be found in cigarettes are also found in e-cigs

FILE PHOTO -  Cigarettes are seen during the manufacturing process in the British American Tobacco Cigarette Factory (BAT) in Bayreuth, southern Germany, April 30, 2014. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/File Photo

In 2015, a group of researchers from medical schools across the globe decided to find out just what was inside the vapors that e-cig users were inhaling.

After recruiting 56 daily e-cig users in Baltimore and testing their devices in a lab at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, researchers found that, trapped deep in the aerosol particles that vapers breathe, lurk some of the same toxic metals and metallic elements found in conventional cigarettes, including cadmium and nickel.

They also found potentially unsafe levels of several other dangerous substances such as arsenic, chromium, and manganese.

They published their findings earlier this week in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

"These heating coils, as currently made, seem to be leaking toxic metals — which then get into the aerosols that vapers inhale," Ana Maria Rule, an assistant scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who led the study, said in a statement.

Despite these findings, it remains unclear what inhaling these levels of substances does. Still, consistently inhaling high levels of these metals has been tied to health problems in the lungs, liver, immune system, heart, and brain, as well as some cancers, according to the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

"We’ve established with this study that there are exposures to these metals, which is the first step, but we need also to determine the actual health effects," Rule said.

The largest report on the health effects of vaping found that e-cigs could help adults quit smoking — but may encourage teens to start

A salesman displays electronic cigarettes during the first international fair of electronic cigarette and vapology

A large recent report on the health effects of vaping from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that e-cigarettes may be helpful for adults looking to quit smoking. One of the reasons may be that vaping not only exposes people to fewer of the cancer-causing substances in conventional cigarettes but may also be less addictive.

But while adults sometimes use e-cigs as a tool to quit smoking, young people may end up using them to start, the authors of the newest report concluded.

As a result, "e-cigarettes cannot be simply categorized as either beneficial or harmful," David Eaton, a vice provost at the University of Washington at Seattle who led the committee that wrote the report, said in a statement.

Eaton said that in certain circumstances, such as when teens use them and become addicted to nicotine, e-cigarettes "adverse effects clearly warrant concern." But in other cases, like when adults turn to e-cigs to quit smoking, "they offer an opportunity to reduce smoking-related illness."

We need more research on regular vapers

Most research surrounding e-cigs has focused on so-called cigalikes, first-generation devices that look like regular cigarettes and include a disposable mechanism preloaded with liquid.

But people who vape every day typically use reusable devices they can tweak to match their preferences. These devices, known as mods or "tank-style" devices, come with a battery, a mouthpiece, and include a tank to be refilled with liquid.

Nailing down the precise health effects of these devices is a tall order — the outcomes could vary as much as the devices, with users being able to modify things like the nicotine content, heat, and inhalation time. But researchers will need to tackle this obstacle before we know the real effects of these devices.

"Direct sampling from e-cigarette consumers rather than purchasing e-cigarettes from a store or company is thus needed to assess typically used devices," Rule wrote in her paper.

SEE ALSO: Vaping instead of smoking still exposes you to toxic metals like lead — here’s how worried you should be

Join the conversation about this story »

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Hey Nokia, stop ruining our memories

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At last year’s Mobile World Congress, HMD Global — the current owner of the Nokia brand — played a nostalgia card by launching a rehashed version of the legendary Nokia 3310

This year, the company’s doing the same with the Nokia 8110, also known as the Matrix phone, or the bananaphone, but the effect is just not the same as the first time around. 

I was excited about the revived 8110. After all, it’s the phone that everyone wanted to have, not only because it was Neo’s phone, but also because it was the top phone in Nokia’s lineup, and Nokia phones were the best in the late nineties. And although it may seem normal now, cashing out north of a thousand dollars for a phone in those days was considered…well, if not crazy, then extravagant at the very least. 

With the new Nokia 8110 4G, Nokia’s done the same thing as it did the with the 3310 — it launched a cheap-ish dumbphone (the 8110 4G retails for 79 euros ($97)) that sort of looks like the original.

But therein lies the problem: The 8110 4G is nothing like the original. The two-decade-old 8110 was a heavy beast, built like a brick house. Holding it in your hand gave you that special feeling of owning the best, most expensive phone around. The 8110 4G is a cheap, plastic phone with a slider, a flimsy one that’s quite hard to open and even harder to close with one hand. 

The trick worked with the 3310 because the original 3310 was a cheap phone for the masses. Its toughness and longevity made it legendary, but it was not a top phone in Nokia’s range; it was an entry-level device. So while the revamped 3310 feels quite different in the hand, it’s at least in the same ballpark. 

The 8110 4G, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of its older brother, especially in the yellow, bananaphone color. I reckon it made little sense for Nokia to try to position the 8110 4G as an expensive phone (and maybe bring that spring-loaded slider that was only there for the movie version of the phone), but hey, that’s what the original was. And I don’t think anyone who held the original 8110 in their hand will be happy with the new one. 

Nokia, the brand, has numerous fans, especially in Europe, and I’ve already seen folks wondering when the new Nokia will revive another legendary phone, the 7110, or even the Communicator. But if the brand’s just gonna do plasticky, toy-like version of all those devices, perhaps it’s best if they don’t do it at all. 

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