Composition Checklist for Beginners

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At a recent meetup with several photographers, during a discussion on composition, one of the beginners commented: “Why isn’t there a composition checklist for all the things we need to think about?” It was a good question and was the inspiration that prompted this article.

It’s not about the gear

You can have the most expensive camera gear and the most amazing light. You could be in a fabulous scenic location, or shooting a stunning model. There are many situations that might provide you with the opportunity to shoot breathtaking images, but if the composition is not spot on, then it doesn’t matter how fancy or expensive your gear is.

Composition Checklist for Beginners - flower blooming

The reverse is true also, you can craft amazing images with beginner grade gear (even your cell phone) if your understanding of composition is good. When you know the rules and guidelines, can work them to your advantage, and even push the barriers and be really creative. No one will care what gear you used to get the shot, they will go “Wow, you must have an amazing camera!”

Learn the composition basics

Even though there are many different kinds of photography, whether you do street, landscapes, macro, studio or anything else, there are a lot of basic composition concepts that apply. Not every concept will need to be considered for every image but having a good understanding of the basics will get you a long way.

Truly understanding composition was one of the major steps in my photography making a big step up in improvement. Like every new idea, you have to put some effort into learning the idea, practicing, learning from your mistakes and practicing again and again. When you can frame up a well-composed shot without consciously thinking about what you are doing and why then you can really start to think about new ways to frame and shape your images.

First, you have to master the basics.

roller derby - Composition Checklist for Beginners

Getting Started

First of all, these are not rules. While there are some guidelines you should consider when creating an aesthetically pleasing image, it is entirely possible to ignore them all and still make a stunning image. It is, however, a lot easier to do that when you know what the guidelines are first. So this is a list of concepts you should consider for each image, not rules you absolutely have to follow.

Some things are easy and obvious, or so you might think. Yet the number of images with noticeably crooked horizons you see posted online is a testament to the fact that this stuff is not always obvious, and is hard to learn. Be kind to yourself and take it in stages. Maybe even write your list down and carry it in your camera bag as a handy reminder.

Also, every image will have different elements in it, and different concepts will apply. So pick and choose the ones that work for you and the scene in front of you. As an example, there are things you would do when framing up a landscape that won’t apply when shooting street photography shots.

So be sensible, pick a few that make sense to you or that apply to the way you shoot. Then practice them until it’s like breathing – it just happens automatically when you pick up the camera and frame a shot. When you get to that stage, add some more concepts to your process, and absorb those the same way.

Composition Checklist

So here is the checklist of things to look for in your composition as a starting point.

  1. Is the horizon straight?
  2. Is the subject strong and obvious within the image?
  3. Are the edges of the frame clean? Is anything poking into the frame that distract the viewer? Are there elements of the image that lead the eye out of the frame that could be positioned better?
  4. Is the background clean – are there distracting elements like a car parked in the background, or a fence or a house that doesn’t fit? Can you move or change the angle to remove that element?
  5. Is the foreground tidy? Are you shooting a landscape or natural scene where there might be branches or leaves or twigs in the foreground that could be tidied away?
  6. The position of people in the shot. Do they have a lamp post or a tree growing out of the top of their head? Have you chopped heads, feet, arms, or legs off?
  7. Eye contact – when shooting a group of people, do we have eye contact with all your subjects?
  8. Camera position – are you at the right height/angle for the best composition?
  9. Point of focus – when taking photos of people/creatures/animals have you focused on the eye? Do you have a catchlight in the eye?
  10. Is the Rule of Thirds being used effectively?
  11. Do you have a sense of scale – particularly valid for large landscape scenes?
  12. How does the eye travel around the image? Where does it go first? Where does it end up? Is that the story you want to tell the viewer?
  13. Lens choice – does the lens you are using affect the composition in a positive or negative way? Would a different lens be worth considering?
  14. Less is more – what truly needs to be in the frame? What can you leave out?
  15. Is it sharp? Do you want it to be?

Considering Composition in More Detail

#1 – Is the horizon straight?

It would seem fairly easy to notice if the horizon is straight when you are taking a shot. It is also extremely easy to fix in post-processing, yet so many images are posted online that have crooked horizons, varying from a little bit to quite a lot. Our brains automatically hiccup when they encounter it, so it is a genuine composition issue that needs to be resolved.

You can take the time to set the camera up so it is completely level. When shooting a panorama, timelapse, video and similar things, it is worth the extra effort. For general purpose use, it can be easily edited in post-production.

tilted horizon example - Composition Checklist for Beginners

The horizon is about 3 degrees tilted down to the left – just enough to make your brain twitch.

#2 – Is the subject strong and obvious within the image?

There are some composition concepts that are fairly straightforward and obvious, like point #1 above. Then there are some that are more open to interpretation.

This point could be considered one of those things. However, I then propose this question to you. If the subject is not strong or obvious then how do we know what the point of your image is?

Composition Checklist for Beginners - green garden image

There are a lot of competing elements in this image, where do we start?

#3 – Are the edges of the frame clean?

Are there things poking into the frame that distract the viewer? Look for elements in the image which lead your eye out of the frame. Could they be positioned better?

Running your eye around the edge of the frame when composing your shot is a valuable step that can save you a lot of time. This is one lesson I personally had to learn the hard way and it applies to most general styles of photography.

Are there things poking into the frame from outside it that impose themselves on the image and distract the viewer? Are there blurry elements in the foreground that you could move or change your point of view to reduce their impact? Is there half a car or a building partially visible in the background perhaps?

Quite often when you are framing a shot, you are focused so intently on the subject, that you may neglect to see the whole image. So you may miss these extra details that can make or break the shot.

purple flower - Composition Checklist for Beginners

The extra leaf and bud in the top left corner are distracting.

#4 – Is the background clean?

Are there distracting elements like a car parked in the background, or a fence or a house that doesn’t fit? Can you move or change the camera angle to eliminate that element from the image?

This is an extra step on top of point #3 above – putting more effort into assessing the background.

Are you taking a nice landscape and there is a farm shed clearly visible? Perhaps there is a truck parked in the distance or a vehicle on the road you need to wait to move out of frame. Are the colors harmonious? Is the sky doing nice things? Is the sun a bit too bright in the clouds?

colonial mansion - Composition Checklist for Beginners

This lovely colonial mansion had a very modern hospital and school behind it and was difficult to frame it up to reduce those jarring elements.

#5 – Is the foreground tidy?

Are you shooting a landscape or natural scene? Are there branches, leaves, or twigs in the foreground that could be tidied away?

This is particularly relevant in nature and landscape photography, but still worth remembering in general.

Is what you have in the foreground adding to the image or distracting from the subject? Is there rubbish or stuff on the ground that looks messy? Are there twigs too close to the lens so they are blurry? Can you move any branches or things out of the way or do you need to change the angle of shooting instead?

Composition Checklist for Beginners - red mushroom

Look at all the mess of cones and twigs in the foreground, all blurry and untidy.

#6 – The position of people or the subject

Do any people in your image have lamp posts or a tree growing out of the top of their heads? Have you chopped heads, feet, arms, or legs off awkwardly?

Often a problem for posed outdoor shots, this is essentially a specific element of point #3 above – checking the background in relation to your subjects.

Is the camera straight, is the angle flattering? Are people squinting into the sun? Is the lighting good? Do you have all their body parts within the frame? Is everyone looking in the same direction or interacting in the desired manner?

cat photo - Composition Checklist for Beginners

His eyes are sharp but I cut his front paws off, not good.

#7 – Eye contact

When shooting a group of people, do we have eye contact with all the subjects?

Quite often when shooting people they will generally be looking at the camera. However, if some are and some are not, it has a weird kind of dissonance to the viewer. So make sure you have some way of engaging the people so they look at you and take several shots.

If worst comes to worst you can work some Photoshop magic to blend a few frames together if it’s a critical image.

Composition Checklist for Beginners

Notice they are not all looking at the camera.

#8 – Camera position

Are you at the right height and camera angle for the best composition?

Being at eye level with your subject makes a big difference to the feel of an image. When photographing people, the camera angle does have an effect on how flattering the shot might be to the subject.

You may want to push some creative boundaries and do something different for a particular scene. Street photography is one genre where the height and angle can directly impact the story you are telling.

On average most people tend to stand and shoot from that position, but what if you get down really low?  What if you find some stairs or some way to get higher up?  What if you shoot straight down on top of your subject rather than side on?

Start to think more creatively about how you use composition to evoke a mood or tell a story about a scene.

white swan - Composition Checklist for Beginners

This image works because I was flat on the shore at a similar height to the swan. Had I been standing you would not have seen the wonderful curve in the bird’s neck.

#9 – Point of focus

When taking photos of people, creatures or animals have you focused on their eyes? Do you have catchlight in the eyes?

If you have a subject with eyes in the image that is looking at the camera it is important to have the focus point on the eye. Faces of people, birds, and animals are very dimensional and it can be easy to get the focus point on the tip of the nose or forehead or somewhere else. So if you have a living creature looking at your camera, focus on their eye.

Another trick to make them look alive and engaged is to angle your shot so that there is some light reflected off the dark iris. This is called a catchlight and is important especially for animals and birds that have large dark eyes. Fashion photographers use fancy round beauty dish lights to give a distinctive ring effect in their shots.

Composition Checklist for Beginners - cat photo

The nose is sharp but the eyes are just a bit out of focus which is not desirable.

#10 – Is the Rule of Thirds being used?

While the Rule of Thirds is more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule, it is a good one for a beginner to take on board. It is easy to remember and does help you create a more dynamic and interesting image when used well.

So if you intend on using it, add it to your mental checklist.

birds - Composition Checklist for Beginners

The subject in this image is more or less in the middle, but if you crop it to use Rule of Thirds the image doesn’t work as well.

#11 – Do you have a sense of scale in your landscape scenes?

Big mountain vistas are lovely. But sometimes they can become bland and uninteresting because they lack a sense of scale to truly appreciate them.

One recommendation is that a foreground element can be used to both ground the image and provide scale for the big vista behind it. Some photographers like to use themselves as a prop to help add scale as well.

Composition Checklist for Beginners - man in landscape scene

#12 – How does the eye travel around the image?

Where does your eye go first? Where does it end up? Is that the story you want to tell the viewer?

What do you have in the image to engage the eye? Are there different elements or points the eye can travel around? Does it have contrast? Are there elements that lead the eye out of the image? Are there elements that lead the eye into or around an image?

spider web in a tree - Composition Checklist for Beginners

#13 – Lens choice

Does the lens you are using affect the composition in a positive or negative way? Would a different lens be worth considering?

This can cross the boundary between a technical consideration and a creative one. Sometimes there may be a valid reason to use a specific lens, a faraway subject likely to fly away demands the use of a long lens. A tiny flower might be better shot with a macro lens. Telephoto lenses compress the elements in an image, making them seem closer together. Wide angle lenses create a lot of distortion around the edges, especially at minimal focal lengths.

Beyond that are the creative choices. Yes, you could shoot the front of this house with a wide focal length, but what if you put a zoom on and highlighted the fancy door knocker or handle? Is the lens you are using giving a flattering look to the person you are shooting?

Composition Checklist for Beginners - large eagle wings spread

A different lens would have allowed me to zoom out far enough to get this entire bird in the frame *sigh*.

#14 – Less is more

What truly needs to be in the frame? What can you leave out?

A mistake a lot of beginners make is to include too many elements in an image. It can be cluttered, messy, and confusing as to the point of the image.

Sometimes that can be used to advantage in things like street photography, but usually, less is more. A strong obvious subject and minimal distraction around it is a very aesthetically pleasing combination but it can be difficult to learn how to frame images up this way.

Composition Checklist for Beginners - landscape scene

So much going on here, its a bit overwhelming with no clear subject. It’s a pretty scene but is the composition effective?

#15 – Is the image sharp?

Do you want it to be? Not every image need to be 100% sharp. You can use aperture to creative effect by selecting a narrow depth of field. ICM or Intentional Camera Movement adds blur and movement as well. Use of specialty lenses like those from Lensbaby gives you many different ways to add soft focus or special effects to enhance your image.

Many street shots have blurred movement and creative focus elements, either the photographer or the subject (or both) may be moving.

Some people insist that images be absolutely as sharp as they can be, but that is a creative choice up to you, the photographer.

Composition Checklist for Beginners - motion blur from moving water

A bit of slow shutter speed on the waves for a soft creative swirl effect.

Summary

Some of the items on the checklist are basic sensible things that apply to most images. Some are more advanced technical considerations. Others may only apply if you are considering trying some more creative approaches to your composition

There are many other specific technical concepts that are not covered in this composition checklist. When you are ready for them, you can find plenty of information here on dPS to guide you.

This list is designed to cover the most basic ideas and thoughts that a beginner might need to keep in mind when first starting to think about properly composing and framing up their images. Good news, if you have made the step to start making your images with deliberate intention, that means you already have your feet on the path to becoming a better photographer.

Pick a few key items from this composition checklist that apply to your style of photography and try to remember them deliberately everytime you shoot. Eventually, it will become so automatic, you adjust for them without thinking, your mental muscle memory will have kicked in.

Are there any key concepts you feel should be included in this list?  By all means, let me know in the comments below.

The post Composition Checklist for Beginners appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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What happens when you pair 140-year-old lens with $15,000 RED cinema camera

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What happens when you pair 140-year-old lens with $15,000 RED cinema camera

In Mathieu Stern’s videos, we’ve seen some fantastic vintage lenses paired with modern cameras. In his latest video, he pulls off another unordinary combination of camera and lens. He mounts a lens that’s older than the Eiffel Tower on a $15,000 RED Dragon camera and shoots video in daylight and in low light. The results are wonderful, and you can check them out in the video.

The lens Mathieu uses in the video is a 135mm lens from a large format wooden camera. It was made in 1880, ten years before the Eiffel Tower was started to be built. For creating this video, Mathieu teamed up with French movie producer Paul Ménagé. He helped him shoot the video with his RED camera that can record 5K footage.

Mathieu tested the lens in a forest in daylight first, and then moved to a low-light setting to see how the lens and the camera will perform together. When adapted, the lens that’s almost a century and a half old works pretty well on a modern cinema camera. You can check out the footage in the video above, and here are a couple of stills too:

Mathieu tested it before on his Sony A7II, and it also did pretty well. But I’d say this camera and lens combo is even more unusual, and the results are pretty impressive.

[Shooting a Video with a 137 Year Old Lens | Mathieu Stern]

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Passengers reveal the most annoying things people commonly do on planes (EXPE)

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airplane passenger

  • Expedia released the results of its 2018 Airplane and Hotel Etiquette Survey on Monday, which revealed some of the most annoying behaviors on airplanes.
  • Respondents said they were bothered by smells, noise, contact, and unwanted conversation, indicating that what travelers want is personal space.
  • From pet peeves cited by 18,229 respondents, Expedia came up with the five most annoying types of airline passengers.

As airlines increase the number of seats on their planes and maker them smaller, the potential for passengers to feel like their personal space is being invaded has increased. 

Flying is stressful to begin with, and after dealing with long security lines, expensive food, or a crowded seating area, passengers can be put on edge and become more likely to display or notice inconsiderate behavior. Expedia released the results of its 2018 Airplane and Hotel Etiquette Survey on Monday, which revealed some of the behaviors that bother air travelers most. 

"Whether you’ve been on one vacation or 100, you’ve likely experienced some form of annoying behavior while traveling," Expedia global head of communications Nisreene Atassi said in a press release. "At Expedia, we want to ensure that every leg of a traveler’s journey is enjoyable. Our goal with this study is to better understand travelers’ biggest pet peeves and offer tips to help them maximize comfort and minimize annoyances."

The survey collected responses from 18,229 people across 23 countries. While the responses pointed to a wide range of irritating behaviors, a common theme seemed to be a preference for minimal interaction with other passengers. Respondents said they were annoyed by smells, noise, contact, and unwanted conversation, indicating that what travelers want most is personal space.

From there, Expedia came up with the five most annoying types of airline passengers. Here are the top five, along with the percentage of respondents who cited them.

SEE ALSO: A toddler was filmed screaming for 8 hours on a flight — and the footage reveals a mounting, divisive issue for air travelers

5. Audio Insensitive — 29%

4. Personal Space Violators — 34%

3. The Inattentive Parent — 39%

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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KORG are about to unveil their DIY Prologue boards for synth hacking

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KORG’s analog flagship synth, introduced earlier this year, hinted at a tantalizing feature – open programmability. It seems we’re about to learn what that’s about.

Amidst some other teasers floating around in advance of Berlin’s Superbooth synth conference this week, the newly-birthed “KORG Analogue” account on Instagram showed us what the SDK looks like. It’s an actual dev board, which KORG seem to be just releasing to interested DIYers.

This should also mean we get to find out more about what KORG are actually offering. The open SDK promises the ability to program your own oscillators and modulation effects, taking advantage of the Prologue’s wavetable capabilities and deep modulation architecture, respectively. Here’s a look:

Now, whether that appeals to you or not, this also will mean a library of community-contributed hacks that any Prologue owners can enjoy.

I can’t think of anything quite like this in synth hardware. There have certainly been software-based solutions for making sounds and community libraries of mods and sounds before. But it’s pretty wild that one of the biggest synth manufacturers is taking what would normally be a developer board for internal use only, and pitching it to the synth community at large. It shows just how much the synth world has embraced its nerdier side. And presumably the notion here is, that nerdy side is palatable, not frightening, to musicians at large.

And why not? If this means the average Prologue owner can go to a website and download some new sounds, bring it on.

Curious if KORG will have anything else this week in Berlin. Looking forward to seeing them – stay tuned.

Korg Anaologue Team [Instagram]

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RIP Larry Harvey: Burning Man’s leading light dies at 70

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Larry Harvey, the co-founder of the Burning Man festival who grew it from an event on a San Francisco beach to a desert arts festival of global significance, died Saturday. He was 70.

Harvey had been hospitalized after a stroke on April 4, and had remained in critical condition. “Though we all hoped he would recover, he passed peacefully this morning at 8:24am in San Francisco, with members of his family at his side,” wrote Burning Man CEO Marian Goodall in the organization’s official announcement

Harvey’s story has already passed into countercultural legend. A former landscape gardener and carpenter, he and his friend Jerry James decided to burn a large wooden figure of a man on San Francisco’s Baker Beach in 1986. 

The Burning Man event, repeated annually, began to draw exponentially increasing numbers of attendees — so many that Harvey and friends needed a new location where it could grow relatively unchecked by authorities. In 1990 they found one in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, and the week-long extravaganza of Burning Man began. 

Much of the event’s energy in those early years was provided by the Cacophony Society, a culture-jamming collective of California artists. But it was Harvey who became the face and the driving force behind Burning Man’s expansion. After a particularly anarchic version of the festival in 1996, in which one participant ran his car over a number of people in tents, Harvey oversaw Burning Man’s transformation into Black Rock City — a temporary urban environment with roads, gas lamps and an army of volunteers. 

Harvey was a self-educated deep thinker who would never use one word where a paragraph would do. He was often to be found delivering lectures and giving interviews. But that ceaseless brain provided the philosophy and principles that made Burning Man what it is today — a year-round global network with 85 official regional events on six continents. 

He insisted that the event resist commercialization, so that even now, with around 70,000 regular annual attendees, the only things you can buy with actual money at Burning Man are ice and coffee. He balanced the “radical self reliance” needed to survive in the harsh desert environment with a “gift economy” culture — encouraging participants to offer goods and services freely to others in the name of community. 

Harvey insisted that everyone think of themselves as a participant and a provider; at Burning Man, there were to be “no spectators.” Indeed, the volunteerism rate at Black Rock City — roughly 70% of attendees get involved with one of the events’ many sub-organizations such as the Lamplighters or the Department of Public Works — has amazed the urban planners and city managers who made the pilgrimage. 

Burning Man’s fame soon far outgrew the numbers who made the actual trek to Black Rock. In particular, Silicon Valley took to the event with a vengeance. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos were regular attendees. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were not only enthusiastic Burners themselves, but chose their CEO, Eric Schmidt, because he was the only candidate who had been to Burning Man. 

Harvey allowed and accommodated the increasing number of celebrities (such as Kanye West and Katy Perry) to attend. He weathered storms of grumbles from old-time Burners over the “turnkey” camps that accommodated the rich, pointing out that only 2 percent of attendees were members of society’s wealthiest 1 percent.  He soothed the event’s constant conflicts with its landlords at the Bureau of Land Management, and encouraged the artists whose work has spread out from the festival, now installed in locations such as Las Vegas and the San Francisco Bay Bridge. 

But his mind was forever on the philosophy behind the event and the good it could do in the world at large. Burning Man was never just a party or an arts festival to Harvey; it was what anarchists call a Temporary Autonomous Zone, a space to try different ways of living, that would inspire change back in the “default world.” Harvey called Burning Man a “hundred year movement,” and felt that regional events known as “burns” would soon overtake the need for one central Burning Man.

And still it grew.

Every year Harvey designated a theme for the event — from the simple (“Floating World,” a nod to the prehistoric lake bed of Black Rock) to the historical (“Da Vinci’s Workshop”) to the obscure (“Caravansary”). Some themes were more successful than others, but they all inspired jaw-dropping art and playfully improvised theme camps.

Harvey had initially set up Burning Man as a private corporation — one that began to take in more than $10 million in annual ticket revenue. (Its expenditure often matched that, not least because the BLM kept raising its land use fees). Facing down criticism on this front, Harvey turned the organization into a nonprofit. He ceded day-to-day management to Goodall, his dear friend and colleague for 22 years, and designated himself Chief Philosophical Officer. A sign above his office door read “Larry Harvey does not exist.”

But he did. He most definitely did, and he changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who have attended the event and found it to be transformational. He is survived by a son, a brother, a nephew, and a hundred-year movement. 

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A new kind of probiotic could change the $38 billion market by relying on real science — and Cameron Diaz and Peter Thiel are into it

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tongue pills vitamins supplements mouth

  • Seed, a new company with some big names behind it, is about to break into the $38-billion probiotics industry
  • They aim to rely on real science to create their product, a probiotic designed to support the vibrant ecosystem of bacteria in your gut.
  • Seed’s scientific advisory board includes a microbiologist who chaired the World Health Organization panel that first defined the term "probiotics."
  • Investors include actors Cameron Diaz and Jessica Biel as well as entrepreneur Peter Thiel.

Seed, a new company with some big names behind it, is about to sprout onto the $38-billion probiotics scene — with a product that is designed to improve your digestion and health based on scientific research.

As supplements, probiotics are largely unregulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. That means that most of them don’t have any proven scientific results.

Seed aims to be different.

Backed by Cameron Diaz, Jessica Biel, Karlie Kloss, and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, Seed is slated to launch this week with a probiotic that is informed by peer-reviewed scientific research. The product’s ingredients were selected based on results of clinical trials.

The company is being steered by a team of scientists who study the microbiome, the delicate ecosystem of bacteria blossoming in our gut. Probiotics are meant to foster that ecosystem.

Ara Katz, one of Seed’s co-founders and CEOs, told Business Insider that the company wants to "improve the standards of probiotics and bridge microbiome science — not the commercialization and the dilution of the term, but actually reclaim the term ‘probiotics’ for science."

Still, Seed’s probiotics are not drugs. As such, they cannot make claims to treat or prevent any condition or disease. But they can claim to improve overall health — which the probiotics industry thus far has largely failed to demonstrate it can do.

Here’s what to know about the new supplements and what they may be able to do for you.

Other probiotics likely never make it to your gut

abs situps workout fitness exercise woman gym sit upsFor years, pricey pills that claim to improve digestion and wellness by fostering the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut have dominated the supplement scene. Probiotics are a big business, with a market that some analysts have said could rake in $64 billion in ingredient sales over the next four years.

But while the probiotic industry has boomed, the bacteria in our guts have failed to respond in kind.

Most scientific studies suggest the pills do very little to help our stomachs and may not even provide any measurable benefits to our overall health at all. That’s because very few of the beneficial bacteria in the supplements make it to our guts or stick around long enough to have an effect, Ian Orme, a professor of microbiology at Colorado State University, told Business Insider.

But a new kind of supplement could change that.

Synbiotics are the future of the probiotics industry

prescription-pills-medicine-in-handSeed’s supplement isn’t just a probiotic. It’s a synbiotic, meaning that in addition to beneficial bacteria, it includes another ingredient called a prebiotic.

Prebiotics are designed to keep helpful microbes alive. The combination of the two is synergistic, meaning each ingredient is designed to enhance the other’s effect — hence the term syn-biotic.

Studies suggest that synbiotics accomplish their goal using a one-two punch: while the probiotic settles in and pushes out the "bad" bacteria, the prebiotic — essentially a sugar — acts as its food supply, ensuring the supplement sticks around and does its job.

"There’s kind of a notion that it’s two products in one," Katz told Business Insider of Seed’s supplement.

In the first large-scale clinical trial of synbiotics last year, researchers working in rural India found that newborns who were given a synbiotic were at a substantially lower risk of developing sepsis, a potentially fatal condition characterized by severe infection.

Some small studies have suggested that synbiotics could provide benefits related to a range of other conditions influenced by the gut microbiome as well, including obesity, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. But the FDA has yet to approve any drugs made using those ingredients.

Still, Gregor Reid, Seed’s chief scientific officer and a microbiologist at Canada’s Western University, believes the company is onto something.

"I started on this journey over 35 years ago when people laughed at the idea of probiotics," said Reid, who chaired the United Nations and World Health Organization panel that first defined the term.

"It’s been a long journey but I think it’s exciting that all our work on the microbiome has led to this step. This really is the next phase of probiotics," he added.

The science that went into Seed and future directions for the company

Before coming up with an ingredient list, Seed’s team looked at several peer-reviewed studies on strains of bacteria and kinds of prebiotics (the "food" for that bacteria).

The final product — capsules that are designed to be taken three times a day — reflects that work, Katz told Business Insider.

The company’s prebiotics are sourced from Scandinavian pine bark, Indian pomegranate skin, and a special type of mushroom. Its bacterial strains are the ones studies suggested were the most closely linked with measurable health outcomes.

One of those studies, published last year in the journal PLOS One, suggested that taking one of the strains of bacteria in Seed’s product was linked with reductions in LDL or "bad" cholesterol and increases in HDL or "good" cholesterol.

That promising result could mean that someone taking Seed’s supplement might see moderate cholesterol benefits, but that effect is still untested for Seed’s final product.

Seed aims to finish its own clinical trials on the product this month, Katz said.

"We’re really aiming to raise the bar of how the scientific process is done," he said.

SEE ALSO: Why a pill with barely any health benefits could be the ‘most important’ new supplement in 20 years

DON’T MISS: The $37 billion supplement industry is barely regulated — and it’s allowing dangerous products to slip through the cracks

Join the conversation about this story »

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Brazilian Surfer Rodrigo Koxa Sets New Official World Record For Largest Wave Ever Surfed

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WSL Big Wave Tour Surfing Nazaré Portugal

Getty Image / Pablo Blazquez Dominguez / Stringer

Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa rode his way into the record books back in November when he charged a wave in Nazaré, Portugal so large that nobody in the surfing community could believe what had happened.

Nazaré is a tiny town on the Portuguese coast roughly halfway between Lisbon and Porto, and in recent years the popularity of the town has absolutely exploded after surfers discovered that Nazaré is home to the largest waves in the world. Something that makes this wave even more special is it’s so close to the shore that spectators can actually watch from the shore and get a clear view of the action, which is a surfing photographer’s dream.

The WSL (World Surf League) Big Wave Awards ceremony was held last weekend and the gigantic wave ridden by Rodrigo Koxa at Nazarê was certified as the largest wave ever ridden, at ~80 feet (24.38 meters). This breaks the previous record held by Garrett McNamara at ~78 feet (23.77 meters). By riding this wave, Rodrigo Koxa not only won the XXL Biggest Wave of the Year award but he also surfed his way into the all-time record books:

Here’s another look at that epic wave:

At the WSL Big Wave Awards, pro surfer Ian Walsh won ‘Ride of the Year’ and ‘Tube of the Year’ for his perfect ride at Pe’ahi, Paige Elms won for ‘Women’s Overall Performance’, and Andrew Cotton won ‘Wipeout of the Year’ on a monstrous wave that was also surfed at Nazaré, Portugal. You can check out all of the WSL Big Wave Awards winners by following that link. Each of the awards has links to video of those waves being ridden.

from BroBible.com http://bit.ly/2JELrgv
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