Monthly Archives: March 2016

Google Photos introduces non-destructive editing on Android

Yay! Previously, editing an image on Android would generate a new copy with edits baked in, whereas on iOS & Web edited images were written in place (recording edits as metadata while retaining the original pixels). Per the team post:

Sometimes it takes multiple edits to get a photo just right – or you change your mind and decide the original was perfect just the way it was.

With today’s update for Android, editing is now fully reversible and non-destructive. So you can save your edits or save a new copy of the photo – either way, the original photo will remain untouched.

This update (v1.17) is rolling out now in the Play Store.

The Google Nik Collection plug-ins are now free to download

Power to the people!

Starting March 24, 2016, the latest Nik Collection will be freely available to download: Analog Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro and Dfine. If you purchased the Nik Collection in 2016, you will receive a full refund, which we’ll automatically issue back to you in the coming days.

We’re excited to bring the powerful photo editing tools once only used by professionals to even more people now.


Google Photos introduces smarter albums

Watch this:

The team post offers a nice summary:

You take a lot of photos, but you don’t always have time to organize and share them. Picking out the best photos and making an album – especially after a trip – is time consuming. More often than not, you never share those photos and they end up sitting on your phone or computer.

Starting today, Google Photos will suggest a new album for you after an event or trip, curated with just your best shots. It’ll add maps to show how far you traveled and location pins to remember where you went.

You can customize it, add captions, and turn on collaboration to let others add their photos. Before you know it, you’ll have a beautiful album ready to share.

You should see the change automatically as long as you’re on the latest version of the app.



Hi from Nepal, everyone!

I’m enjoying some very rare downtime & connectivity before getting some shut-eye in advance of our 48-hour hackathon. I have so much to share, but uploading through a cocktail straw is nobody’s idea of fun, so most will have to wait. In very brief: Yesterday we celebrated Holi at an orphanage; today we helped villagers rebuild (such a minor contribution, really, but it felt good to help such welcoming folks); and tomorrow we get busy trying to create technologies & services that might be of use here & beyond. It’s such a privilege to come here and learn. I’ll share more as soon as time & tech permit.


[Photo courtesy of Alex Osterloh, with whom I treated myself to a dawn fly-by of Everest, below]

A video posted by John Nack (@jnack) on

Check out Google’s Chrome Music Lab

I’m eager to show the Micronaxx this marriage of educational experiments with boundary-pushing Web tech:

According to the team blog,

You can play with sound, rhythm, melody, and more. Chrome Music Lab is all built for the web, so you can start playing instantly, whether you’re on a tablet, phone, or laptop. Just like today’s Clara Rockmore doodle, the experiments are all built with the Web Audio API, a freely-accessible, open web standard that lets developers create and manipulate sound right in the browser. We’re also providing open-source code so that others can build new experiments based on what we’ve started.


“Magical weapon for ultimate selfies”: Yours for just $1,000

In the land where beautification app Meitu “has acquired a user base of over 900 million,”

[T]he obsession has spilled over into the virtual world with a selfie camera that automatically perfects your face in every photo you take. The camera, made by Casio, is nicknamed zipai shenqi (which means the magical weapon for ultimate selfies) in China. It gets rid of blemishes and makes your face slimmer, skin whiter, and eyes bigger. You can see it in action in the video above.


Tour Ireland’s 1916 Rising with Google

At Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in SF, the 1916 commemorative floats helped us educate our sons a bit about the Easter Rising of 1916. 100 years after the events, you can tour Dublin and learn more about the participants through this beautiful tour powered by Google & narrated by Colin Farrell.

At each location, visitors to the website can see how the area looks today in Google Street View, while also having the option to view photos of how it looked during the rising, with supplementary audio options also available at a number of different locations.



Amazing time lapse ages a child 65 years in 5 minutes

Intriguing work by Anthony Cerniello:

Kottke writes,

Last Thanksgiving, Cerniello traveled to his friend Danielle’s family reunion and with still photographer Keith Sirchio shot portraits of her youngest cousins through to her oldest relatives with a Hasselblad medium format camera. Then began the process of scanning each photo with a drum scanner at the U.N. in New York, at which point he carefully edited the photos to select the family members that had the most similar bone structure. Next he brought on animators Nathan Meier and Edmund Earle who worked in After Effects and 3D Studio Max to morph and animate the still photos to make them lifelike as possible. Finally, Nuke (a kind of 3D visual effects software) artist George Cuddy was brought on to smooth out some small details like the eyes and hair.


Photographing a solar eclipse from space

There’s a little black spot from the Sun today…


PetaPixel writes,

[NASA satellite] DSCOVR snapped its first photo in July 2015, so this view of a total solar eclipse is the first of its kind. Since the DSCOVR has a fixed view of Earth as it rotates on its axis, this is the first time the shadow of an entire eclipse has been documented in a series of photos.

In August 2015, DSCOVR also captured an amazing series of images showing the moon passing across the face of the Earth.

“It’s kind of like Google Cardboard—with fries.”

The “fine” motor skills of a young child’s greasy fingers? Yes, that’s just what I want applied to the expensive, fragile phone on which I’m trying to retreat into my own reality. :-p

Still, kinda cool:

AdWeek writes,

The push is tied to the Swedish “Sportlov” recreational holiday, during which many families go skiing. With this in mind, McD’s created a ski-themed VR game, “Slope Stars,” for use with the oggles (though they work just as well with any mobile VR experience). The game can also be played in a less immersive fashion without them. 


Using sensor data to help edit action-cam video

I’m guessing the average GoPro buyer’s life cycle goes like this:

  • Watch amazing GoPro-shot footage.
  • Wow, look at these adventures! If I get one, I’ll have adventures!
  • Go shoot a bunch of footage, sit down to watch it.
  • Wow, this is… dull. But hey, I’m gonna get around to watching it & editing down to the good parts… [never].
  • Also, I don’t have a lot of adventures.
  • These new cams are cool, but I didn’t really use my current one, so…

And thus to address their “Achille’s heel,” GoPro just spent $100M+ buying Stupeflix, makers of the excellent Replay movie-making app (Apple’s 2014 App of the Year) as well as video editor Splice. Congrats to the makers of these excellent tools. I’m really eager to see what they can do together & with GoPro.

Meanwhile GoPro competitor the TomTom Bandit uses sensor data (speed, G-force, even max heart rate) to annotate what it captures (see below). As someone who knows just how hard it is for software to discern the really important moments in a video (Cf. the movies feature in Google Photos), I’m excited to see richer data sets captured & surfaced to users. Check out The Verge’s review for details.

Screen640x640 0

Google Photos adds Live Photos support on iOS

…plus enhanced navigation (as debuted on Android & Web a few days ago) and more. Per the App Store notes:

  • Improved app navigation, so you can spend less time flipping hamburger menus 
  • Back up and view Live Photos 
  • Reduced cache usage when your device is low on space
  • iPad Split View and iPad Pro support
  • Performance improvements

Also, you can download Live Photos as ZIP files (one JPEG & one video each) via


An incredible, marble-powered sound machine

Martin Molin’s contraption brought a ridiculous grin to my face:

NPR writes,

The “Marble Machine” is a musical instrument by way of a Rube Goldberg contraption, the love child of a barrel organ, a kick drum, a vibraphone and a bass — all powered by hand-cranked gears and 2,000 steel marbles. […]

The video, beautifully filmed and edited by Hannes Knutsson, gives you a real sense of the instrument’s size and engineering complexity in all of its carved wooden parts, which Molin built after drawing his design in 3-D software — the various elements are programmable, and Molin can change keys midsong. You can see videos about the process of creating the machine on Molin’s own website.

[YouTube] [Via Reza Aslan]

Check out Adobe’s 360º light-painting booth

Photographer Eric Paré created this 360-degree light painting photo booth for Adobe’s MAX show last fall:

PetaPixel writes,

The rig was built using 32 DSLR cameras, which were connected to be triggered in perfect sync with one another. Surrounding the photo booth was a dark black tent that helped keep light out. Nearly 1,000 attendees entered the booth over the 3 days of the conference, creating 4,000 sets of images.


Google Photos navigation gets faster, clearer

Obvious Always Wins” — my boss 

Now available on Android; coming soon to iOS & Web:

A new bottom bar makes it easy to move between the Assistant, Photos, and new Albums view. So you can spend less time flipping menus, and more time looking at your photos.

You’ll also notice that – based on your feedback – Collections has been renamed to Albums, and features a new scrolling carousel on top with easy access to your shared albums, people, places, things, animations, collages, movies, and device folders.

These changes make Photos faster and easier to use than ever, and will be coming soon to iOS.

I’ve been testing these features for a while & think you’ll really like them. The bottom nav bar auto-hides when you scroll, so it doesn’t get in the way.



Workflow win: Google Photos gets fast Web editing

I’m delighted to say that you can now edit multiple images sequentially via

Just open up an image, click the pencil icon, make your edits, and then use left/right arrow keys to move among images. (Previously you had to keep hitting Save, exiting the editor, navigating, and re-entering the editor.) This is a much, much faster way to move among images, apply Auto Enhance, and make other tweaks. You can also now choose among new aspect ratios when cropping.

More refinements are on the way, so check it out and let us know what you think!

Aspect Ratio

Photography: A world in flames

Beautiful, terrible images from firechaser Jeff Frost & team:

FIRE CHASERS – 4K download [exp 03/15] from Jeff Frost on Vimeo.

US wildfires burned 10 million acres in the US last year exceeding six billion dollars in costs, making it the most destructive annual natural disaster in the world. Fire Chasers plunges deeper into California wildfires than ever before with unprecedented access granted by CalFire and the breathtaking imagery of acclaimed film and photo artist, Jeff Frost. This visually groundbreaking project follows the intersecting lives of firefighters and those who record their fury; an epic adventure film with a vital message.

Coffee table photography book to be released through

[Vimeo] [Via]