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Posts by: Ellyn Kail

5 Skillshare Classes That Will Help You Accomplish Your New Year’s Resolution

When it comes to improving your skills behind the camera, Skillshare is an invaluable resource. With a community of over four million people from all corners of the globe, they offer thousands of online courses, including dozens taught by some of the best photographers working today. Skillshare students can learn on-the-go, at their own pace, and around their own schedules, so when they gave Feature Shoot readers two free months of unlimited Premium classes, I jumped online to soak up as much knowledge as I could.

New Year’s Resolutions can feel intimidating at first, but successfully realizing an ambition is such a rewarding experience. We put together this list of five Skillshare classes we think will help you achieve your photography goals in 2019. There’s something in here for everyone, whether you’re a passionate hobbyist or a lifelong professional. Happy learning!

The Horrific Brutality of the Meat Industry, in Photos

A group of pigs being held in a pre-slaughter area in a slaughterhouse in Atizapan, Mexico. The law requires that the pigs are taken to the stunning box where an electric shock should be applied. However, in this slaughterhouse, as in others, the pigs are driven to the slaughter area directly without prior stunning and are killed fully conscious.

At the slaughterhouse in Arriaga, Mexico, this horse arrived with a mobility problem that prevented him from accessing the stunning box by himself. He was dragged by a chain attached to his neck and died of asphyxia after being suspended several minutes. This is a practice prohibited by law.

“The meat industry knows the damage that can be caused by images of abused animals,” the photojournalist Aitor Garmendia tells me. “In order that these images never see the light, they have guidelines to prevent cameras from accessing their facilities.” In fact, his work on slaughterhouses, part of a larger project on animal exploitation titled Tras los Muros (Behind the Walls), is the most extensive undercover record of its kind. Starting in 2015, Garmendia traveled to eleven states throughout Mexico to document the transportation and killing of farm animals. “I visited about two hundred slaughterhouses,” he reports. “I entered fifty-eight.”

Make a Stunning Photo Book with This Great New Tool (Sponsored)

I’ve loved photo books ever since I was a kid, so when I learned about Motif Photos, a native extension for Photos on macOS, I knew I had to make one of my own. Motif uses cutting-edge technology to simplify the process of putting together a top-of-the-line photo book, card, or calendar; in minutes, anyone and everyone can use this tool to design the perfect holiday gift. Whether you’re a professional photographer or a hobbyist, this new extension makes it easy to build a beautiful collection of your favorite images.

I quickly downloaded Motif Photos from the App Store, and then I let my creative side take over. The concept for the book was a seasonal collection of winter landscapes from photographers all over the world. I didn’t want anything typical or overly cheery; instead, I imagined a book that reminded me of that sort of pleasantly melancholy feeling I get on chilly December days. I spent hours searching for some of the most magical and surprising images I could find, and in the end, I had a curated collection of almost forty images. Once I launched Motif, it took me less than five minutes to bring my book to life! The extension took care of all the hard work, and it was smooth sailing for me. Let’s take a look at the process.

Tip: Before you get started, it helps to view everything in full screen.

Once you’re ready, open up the album you want in “Photos” and click “File > Create > Book > Motif”.  Motif has hardcover and softcover books in all different sizes. Each of them is affordable, with the least expensive softcover starting at $9.99. I chose a 10 x 10 hardcover for its durability, good size, and trendy square format.

From there, Motif instantly creates your project. They have tons of themes to choose from, ranging from the classic and chic to the hip and unexpected. I almost went with “Pretty in Pink” because the color complemented some of the images I’d curated for the book, but in the end, I settled on “Gold on White” because I wanted to keep everything as simple as possible and bring the images to the fore.

If you, like me, don’t have graphic design experience, I highly recommend you opt to “Autoflow” your book. The Motif technology understands images and formatting, so I trust it to do that part better than I ever could. Don’t worry: they’ll even help you edit your photos! If you have a bunch of images that look similar, like I did, they’ll pick out the best ones for the book. Motif will also analyze every image for printing quality to make sure it’ll look great in the final book.

When it came time to design the cover, I knew exactly what image I wanted to use: a pensive horse seemingly lost in a paradise of snow. I titled my book Winter Landscapes, and while I loved the sophisticated gold, I mixed it up a bit with a deep green for the text to match the trees in the cover photo. The font was perfect for what I wanted, so I didn’t change it.

Here’s where the fun really starts. Motif is amazing when it comes to sequencing images for you, but you can easily change any detail with their intuitive and interactive image tray. The image tray tool is like your own personal photo editor, so you’ll see your best photos have been noted with a checkmark and sequenced beautifully according to their colors, atmosphere, and composition.

When it came to the first page, I went with a classic Icelandic scene. I deliberately chose a few images with an “on the road” theme (i.e. snowy streets, misty railroads) because I wanted readers to feel as though they were “traveling” through the book. From there, we visited a pastel vista from Luxembourg and a lovely polar bear from the Arctic.

One of the page layouts literally made me smile. The image tray tool paired the deer photo with a gray-muzzled golden retriever. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to pair these two animals together, but seeing them there on the pages, I couldn’t ignore the similarities between their expressions. There was also something vulnerable about both of them; the deer looked like he was hunkering down for a harsh winter, and the pup had clearly reached his golden years. They somehow belonged together in a way that was both heartwarming and poignant.

Motif surprised me again with a stunning layout of five images: on the left, a misty swamp, and on the right, a group of images that together formed tapestry of greens and whites. These photographs images were perfectly paired, and they shared similarly moody, wild, and ethereal atmosphere. It was a stroke of genius for Motif to couple the Swedish landscape with an abandoned waterslide; I only realized the parallel lines in these photos when they were presented side-by-side.

Next up were pages 14 and 15. The cutting-edge technology over at Motif paired up two vertical frozen landscapes, which I had hoped for from the start! That layout was followed by two sublime and mysterious photos in which all shapes and forms seemed lost in blankets of fog. From there, we went straight into another Icelandic vista across and a serene forest, and I decided to add an almost abstract crop of tree branches into the mix. As we drew to the end of the book, I wanted the images to start to feel airy and delicate, as if we were heading into the eye of a blizzard, and Motif helped me tap into that vibe.

Before checking out, I gave myself a full run-through of the entire book to make sure it was just right.

I eagerly awaited the arrival of my book, and within a few short days, I found it right outside my doorstep. The packaging was beautiful, and the book itself knocked my socks off. I grew up looking at art books, and this one instantly stood out as pretty and sophisticated. The colors came to life on the printed page, and together, the images helped tell a story about frosty and enchanted winter days. I made a cup of hot tea and spent quite a while thumbing through the volume over and over again.

Winter Landscapes is now proudly displayed as the pièce de résistance of my bookshelf, and I know I will return to it many times throughout the upcoming months, curled up on the coach and watching the snow fall outside my window. I also created a Motif Photo book for my husband, and the process was so intuitive and quick that I know I’ll be making more in the future. Using Motif was such a fun, easy experience from start to finish, and I am delighted by the results.

Cecilia Has a New Line of Camera Bags Out Now

Mercator Camera Backpack

Tharp Camera Messenger Bag

The team at Cecilia has outfitted photographers for five generations; in fact, the legacy of this family-run business dates all the way back to 1848, less than a decade after the introduction of the camera itself. This year, Cecilia has launched a brand new line of bags specifically designed for photographers and explorers on-the-go.

The Beauty of the Aging Body, in Photos

Merle Sparlin

Ione Buie

Warren Dalton

Over the course of nine years, the Missouri-based photographer Anastasia Pottinger has worked with models over the age of one hundred years old. She’s spent time by their sides, listened to their stories, and recorded the details of their skin in black and white. Now, you can find her photographs of fourteen of these centenarians collected in the new book 100: What Time Creates, published by Marcinson Press.

Gynecological Tools Throughout the Years, in Photos

Fergusson’s Speculum, Duke University’s History of Medicine Collections, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, c. 1880.

Birthing Stool, Private Collection, c. Unknown.

Vaginal Tube & Wire Work Speculum, Duke University’s History of Medicine Collections, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, c. early 20th century.

In the last couple of years, Lindsey Beal has found herself in some of the country’s leading medical libraries, where she’s examined gynecological tools dating back centuries. “I was often required to wear surgical gloves when handling the items, as if I were using the items medically,” she tells me. “[That] directly connected me to the history and use of the items by placing myself in the shoes of the practitioner.” But Beal isn’t the typical researcher; she’s not a medical historian but a photographer, artist, and educator, and her project Parturition provides an intimate visual account of women’s health throughout the years.

Timeless Photos Capture the Poetry of the Human Form

Edward Weston wrote more than once about photographing the “quintessence” of every subject, whether it be the human body or a botanical specimen. Exploration of sensuality and melancholy–A State of Nature, a new project from the photographer Daniel Dorsa and the producer Tina Michelle Chen from the ROOT Creative team, is a contemporary look at the timeless principles artists have grappled with for generations; decades after Weston, they set out in search of those elusive but “quintessential” truths about our bodies, our relationships, and our desires.

The Secret Life of Alpacas, in Photos

According to Andean mythology, alpacas are gifts from the gods and goddesses. They arrived in our world under one condition: we must always treat them well and tend to their needs. Many centuries later, the photographer Daniel Gebhart de Koekkoek pays homage to these age-old animals with Better Living with Alpacas, a new calendar in which he imagines the secret life of a few mischievous fellows.

Poignant Photos of a Man in the Final Year of His Life

Hugo, the oldest man in the town of Las Cascadas, spends time sitting in his couch watching how the wind moves the trees on his farm on a cold winter day on July 25th, 2016.

From his farm in southern Chile, Hugo says the Osorno Volcano is majestic, imposing, and the most beautiful in the world. While this view has been with him every day, he often confuses it with other volcanos.

Years ago, two men, Hugo Küschel and Teodoro Hofmann, lived in the village of Las Cascadas, Chile. Here, they tended their farms, raised their families, and became dear friends. Teodoro passed away in 1978, but more than thirty-five years later, his granddaughter, the photographer Constanza Hevia H., would meet Hugo for the first time. By then, Hugo was the oldest man living in Las Cascadas, and he and his wife Wilma spent their time inside their house, where the photographer became a regular visitor. “One day, I asked Hugo if he was afraid of death,” she says. “He told me, ‘Look, I look at it in this way: tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, one has to leave this earth.'” The Time I Have Left is her record of Hugo’s memories and the final chapter of his life.

Poetic Photos from an Anti-Drilling Protest Camp

Last year, the photographer Ben Terzza spent many evenings exploring the Bury Hill Wood in Surrey, England. During one quiet sunset, he happened across a Fallow Deer, accompanied by her fawn. “These woods are quite secluded so there’s hardly anyone ever up there,” he remembers. All was peaceful, but the meeting was bittersweet, tainted by the knowledge that the landscape was at risk. Over the summer, Terzza would help tell the story of a place called Leith Hill, looming plans for drilling in the area, and the protest camp fighting for its future.

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