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Author: Ian Burley

Photobucket free account users left high and dry

Potentially millions of users caught out by Photobucket’s radical change to its Terms of Service

Photobucket is currently subject to a storm of social media protests

Photobucket is one of the biggest online services for storing your photos. The company claims to have around 100 million customers and to host some 15 billion images. Unfortunately, many of those customers are discovering that their photos hosted on Photobucket but also linked to and displayed on third party sites, are no longer visible. Instead, they have been replaced by a generic graphic explaining that 3rd party hosting has been temporarily suspended. Photobucket users are, unsurprisingly, furious. The change means millions of images on third party sites from blogs to discussion forums and even on e Commerce sites like Amazon and eBay, are now not being shown.

 

What’s happened is that Photobucket changed its Terms of Service for users of its free service accounts. From this month users of basic free Photobucket accounts can’t deep-link their images on third party sites. The problem is that the block is retrospective and very few Photobucket users noticed the radical change buried deep in the Terms of Service, never mind the potential consequences.

At the time of writing the only obvious way to reverse the effects of the image ban was to upgrade to a paid-for Photobucket Plus account, which costs $399 per year.

Are you affected by the Photobucket policy change? Let us know what your thoughts are in the comment section below.

Relonch announces $99 a month camera

California start-up gambles on $99 a month camera as a service offering

Not since the Pentak K-01, almost five years ago, have I seen anything quite as bizarre as the Relonch 291 camera; a $99 a month camera. But in this day and age being bizarre is not necessarily an indicator of guaranteed failure. As we know only too well from this year, it’s been difficult to predict winners, no matter how bizarre. However, the Pentax K-01 was both bizarre and a failure.

But back to the camera, or should that be the service? If you go for the Relonch 291 you will be, in one way, getting the camera for free. Instead you will be paying $99 per month for the service that the camera is entirely dependent on. That service is called Pictured Technology. It receives all your photos via an LTE (4G) mobile data connection. It then automatically massages them into shape digitally. In theory, you get an online portfolio of perfect photos without going anywhere near image processing software. To manage your account and view your photos you will use a Relonch app.

Pictured Technology image processing is, we’re told, clever enough to convert camera images like that on the left into results like that on the right

Simplicity is the name of the game here. The camera, appears to be a re-purposed Samsung Galaxy NX disguised in a stitched leather jacket. It has only one button; the shutter release, apart from the power switch. There is no rear screen (one of the more striking features of the Galaxy NX which had a massive 4.8 inch LCD). Thankfully, there is an electronic viewfinder and, if our hunch is correct, like the Samsung Galaxy NX, it will be an SVGA 800×600 pixel affair, which isn’t really cutting edge any more. The Galaxy NX also sported a 20 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor which is, presumably, shared with the Relonch 291.

A noticeable aspect of the launch news is the dearth of technical information about the hardware. It may be that Relonch aren’t keen to dwell on a set of specifications that betrays the camera’s three year old bones. That word, ‘bones’, is pretty apt, too, since the Galaxy NX was a commercial failure. Samsung, itself, killed off its camera division two years later. It doesn’t look like you can change lenses, which you could with the NX. In fact without any obvious controls it also appears that the Relonch 291 doesn’t even have a zoom lens.

Clearly, Relonch are gambling on the 291 becoming a must-have style accessory, a high-tech-low-tech fashion icon. The target audience has been identified as those who would like good photos but not have to think about the technical side of making them good. What we have here is a camera that should deliver much better quality photos than a smartphone, with even more simplicity. In many ways it will work like a smartphone camera, sending images to the cloud but your $99 a month pays for the premium photo processing service that Pictured Technology is being portrayed as being. Whether or not the extreme simplicity of the camera itself will be a hindrance or not remains to be seen. But Relonch have really taken ‘point-and-shoot” to its extreme.

Tell us what you think of the Relonch 291 and if it could tempt you to sign up for $99 a month.

 

Press release issued by Relonch:

Relonch Camera-as-a-Service Lets Members Have Remarkable Photos

World’s first camera-as-a-service model aims to deliver an experience that will make you reconsider how you capture everyday moments

PALO ALTO, CALIF., December 13, 2016 — Today, Relonch unveiled its camera-as-a-service at the company’s showroom located in the heart of Silicon Valley on downtown Palo Alto’s main drag. With the press of a single button, Relonch 291 takes photos that automatically upload to Relonch’s server over LTE for processing and distribution. This simple sequence solves for what Relonch refers to as the “chain of pain” associated with producing professional-looking images. You won’t need to fuss with confusing camera settings, tedious file downloads, manual image sorting and laborious photo editing.

“There’s nothing valuable about owning a camera that collects dust on the shelf or that you don’t know how to use” said Relonch co-founder Yuri Motin. “Our aim is to eliminate the countless complications associated with photography so we chose to create the camera as a service model rather than just hardware or software. Our service gives members the ability to solely focus on the experience, on the moment itself.”

Do you want to try it? Sign up for a three-day test drive by visiting the showroom. If you’re already a believer, register online to become a member. The service will be available globally in 2018 and includes:

  • a camera that is preset to take great photos;
  • an algorithm-based approach to developing photos called Pictured Technology; and
  • a mobile application for receiving and storing your Relonch images.

CEO and co-founder of Relonch Sergey Korzhenevich explains, “Even high-end cameras tend to disappoint most people because pictures rarely capture what they actually saw. Relonch members could be camera savvy but don’t need to be because our preset camera and Pictured Technology takes care of everything.”

Pictured Technology is the Relonch approach to photo processing. Every object within a frame is processed independently based on the company’s professionally edited photo stacks and algorithms. Members will see a great difference between Relonch photos and ones where you apply a single filter to the entire photo. Given that lighting conditions are factored into the algorithms, photos actually look like what you pictured.

“The nuances associated with capturing outstanding photos make it hard for average photo enthusiasts to find true satisfaction. We know that will change if they switch to our camera-as-a-service model,” added co-founder Nikolay Babich. “All you need to do is believe that you can take remarkable photos of your everyday life and find value in the simplicity of our process—one-click, automatic upload, and next-day delivery of photos.”

The Relonch mobile application is where you’ll receive your processed photos. You’ll no longer need to sift through thousands of raw image files to find the best ones. Relonch will select and process your photos for you. Each morning, Relonch will directly deliver your best photos to the Relonch app. In addition, members will be able to select their favorite photo of the day to create a personal collection of your best 365 images, highlighting your life’s best moments over the course of the year.

About Relonch

Founded in New York City, Relonch, Inc. is reinventing the photography experience with the world’s first camera-as-a-service. Relonch has reduced the complexity of professional photography to a single shutter button. See more on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or in person at the company’s showroom.

Here is a gallery of Relonch product images as well as lifestyle and service example images.

Image post processing; see how an image is developed

Revealed! Image post processing: The development of a photograph from the camera through the post-processing to the final result, stage by stage

If you have ever wondered how an image that caught your eye started out, how the photographer made it the striking image you see through image post processing; this article aims to give you some insight. Do you have some great images you’d like to share with our readers with in the same way? Let us know!

 

The before and after view above demonstrates my thought when I had finished knocking this image into shape; it was so different to how it started out from the in-camera image I had snapped. It was very simple to do, talk a matter of minutes and didn’t even involve any cropping of the scene. I thought it would be fun to reveal what I did to obtain the effects I achieved. To find out what I did, stage by stage, click on the gallery thumbnails below:

 

A top tip for this kind of project is – experiment! Try the effects sliders, in both directions, though make a not of where the starting point was just in case. Don’t be afraid to wind back some of the effects later on if, combined with other applied later, they become to severe.

If you have a good example of a dramatic transformation from dull unprocessed camera image to eye-opening masterpiece, let us know and we’ll feature it in an article just like this.