Clone-like, Colombian spiders named for Star Wars’ Storm Troopers

The genus Stormtropis is a nod to the iconic series.

A newly-discovered species of bald-legged spiders in Colombia gets its own genus, Stormtroopis.

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This robot brain can teach other machines to pick up unknown objects

With all the progress we've seen in artificial intelligence over the last few years, you could say that machines are getting smarter all the time.

Even so, most of the robots in our factories still require a fair amount of preprogramming for them to recognize the objects they handle. 

That could soon be a thing of the past as researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a system that allows robots to identify, pick up, and handle objects they haven't encountered before.

According to The Robot Report, "the team’s major insight was to look at objects as collections of 3D keypoints that double as a sort of “visual roadmap.” 

The two most common approaches for robots picking up objects are pose-based systems (which estimate the object's position and orientation), and geometry-based general grasping algorithms.

These can work well under certain conditions, but both have their drawbacks. A system based on poses can't cope well with objects that are very different shapes, and grasping approaches can't position objects with much subtlety. 

Visual roadmaps

The new system, which is called kPAM (Keypoint Affordance Manipulation), enables robots to carry out tasks like hanging mugs on a rack or putting shoes on shelves, without having seen the objects before. 

The study's senior author, Russ Tedrake, explains that "understanding just a little bit more about the object — the location of a few key points — is enough to enable a wide range of useful manipulation tasks."

Robot hand

Researchers at the same laboratory created this robot hand recently.
Image credit: Jason Dorfman / MIT CSAIL

The Robot Report says that "the team next hopes to get the system to be able to perform tasks with even greater generalizability, like unloading the dishwasher or wiping down the counters of a kitchen."

While kitchen-cleaning robots sounds like an attractive proposition, the technology developed in this study could have a huge impact on factory machines, reducing the need for pre-programming, and making the manufacturing process more efficient. 

Still, the technology is still in its early stages, so we aren't likely to see kPAM integrated into factory machines for a few years at least.

Via The Robot Report


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Try Using Kodak Yellow in Landscape Photography

In today’s photo tip, let’s talk a bit about color. Color can make or break an image, depending on how it is used. This article will discuss a color concept that is a big time compositional rule – but may be new to you… To get more engaging, better landscape photography – include people wearing “Kodak Yellow!”

landscape with yellow

Interesting side note on color: Did you know that the colors yellow, red, and orange are used in fast food restaurants because those are the colors that stimulate hunger?

Back to our photo tip…

We all know that putting people into landscape photography can make it more interesting and visually engaging to the viewer. People are simply more easily engaged by other people than by trees.

It’s human nature. As viewers we are hard wired to try to figure out what they are doing. It’s a survival thing.

But that is only true if they are seen!

Wide expanses of grass and trees (shades of green) can do a terrific job of camouflaging a person wearing green!

By the way, green is NOT a good color to have people wearing if you are doing outdoor portrait photographs. While I have seen photos of people wearing green that I loved, most any other color will work better.

When film ruled the day, Kodak film was – and still is – sold in little yellow boxes. That’s where the term “Kodak Yellow” came about.

Kodak yellow was just a catch phrase we used to remind us that when we insert people into our landscape photography, we need to have them wearing yellow!

Here’s another historical side note: Kodak film was much better at recording warm (yellow/red) tones. Fuji film (sold in green boxes) was better at the cooler greens and blues of landscapes!

All things being equal, we just matched up the color of the box to our subjects! It was an easy way to determine what type of film to use.

I’ve heard of photographers who will carry a selection of yellow windbreakers in their car, just so they can have people in their landscapes wearing them! It’s the only way to ensure you will get subjects wearing yellow if you are using “found” people and not professional models.

Consider this, if having the subjects wear Kodak yellow is important enough that top professional photographers consider yellow windbreakers as part of their camera gear…

Don’t you think that including subjects wearing yellow in our landscapes can move us one step closer to winning photo contests?

Don’t discount entering photo contests! The prizes can amount to thousands and thousands of dollars worth of camera gear, trips, cash, and can get you published! If you’ve been bitten by the photo bug, you are shooting anyway, why not enter?

Keep in mind – the color yellow contrasted with all the greenery of landscape photography, “POPS” out of the frame and immediately draws the eye into the composition! This is a big time compositional rule.

Here is an important photo lesson. Pay attention to ALL the details in your photography!

It’s all these little things that will separate you from the crowd and start making you a contest winner. Pay attention to color. Include people in your landscape photography and have them wear yellow. You might even consider including a yellow windbreaker or two as part of your camera gear.

About the Author
Dan Eitreim writes for ontargetphototraining.com. He has been a professional photographer in Southern California for over 20 years. His philosophy is that learning photography is easy if you know a few tried and true strategies.

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Best movies on Amazon Prime Video: top films to watch in Australia right now

UPDATE: The uplifting 1980s classic The Karate Kid has been added to our list of the best movies on Amazon Prime Video in Australia – find out why you should watch it on on Page 2!

When it comes to streaming media, Australians now have access to an incredible wealth of video content that can be instantly viewed with only a few screen taps or button presses. 

Much like Netflix, Stan and Foxtel Now, Amazon Prime Video has a huge selection of movies on offer, with something for absolutely everybody. The problem is, the sheer amount of titles in the service's content library can be a little overwhelming for those who want to jump in and start watching immediately. 

If you're sick of browsing endlessly, you've come to the right place – we've done the job for you, selecting a number of fantastic films (as well as some delightfully trashy ones) for every occasion, so all you have to do is sit back and start your viewing odyssey.

Most of the films on this list, which has been curated by TechRadar editors, are backed up with ratings from IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes – so that you don't have to sift through the muck. That said, if you want to switch your brain off and get stuck into some cheesy, low-brow entertainment, we've got that stuff, too. 

We'll keep this best-of list up to date with the latest movies that are must-watch, so make sure you keep checking back to see all the great stuff that's been added. 

We're obsessed with science fiction and high tech futuristic worlds here at TechRadar. Here are our picks for the best science fiction movies currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. 

Jurassic Park

Image credit: Universal

One of director Steven Spielberg's finest crowdpleasers, Jurassic Park is an undisputed classic. Based on Michael Crichton's novel of the same name, Jurassic Park imagines a world in which dinosaurs have been brought back to life through the magic of cloning from prehistoric DNA. Dr. Hammond (Richard Attenborough) invites his grandchildren, his lawyer, two dinosaur experts (Sam Neill and Laura Dern) and a mathematician (Jeff Goldblum) to experience his extraordinary theme park before it opens to the general public. Of course, things don't go smoothly, and before long several aggressive dinos are on the loose and on the hunt. Featuring revolutionary visual effects that still hold up after 25 years, Jurassic Park is a heart-pounding cinematic triumph. 

IMDB Rating: 8.1/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

Salyut-7

Image credit: Magellan TV

This big-budget Russian space movie tells the true story of a properly dramatic mission to rescue a damaged space station, lest it fall to Earth upon the heads of the innocent, or, worse, be captured by the Americans and returned to Earth to study advanced Russian space technology.

A grizzled veteran cosmonaut is paired with a younger engineering genius and sent to the unoccupied station, which includes an exciting Interstellar-style 'match rotation with the out of control station and dock with it' sequence. From there, it's a claustrophobic race against time and uncooperative machinery as they try to bring the station back to life. Everything goes wrong, badly, and the ride is part gripping action and part engineering ingenuity.

Most of the drama is set inside the cramped station, offset by the obligatory cuts to ground control where the supportive Cosmonaut chief battles the government man who thinks the whole mission is folly.

It's truly the Russian Apollo 13, with all the tension of catastrophic equipment failures in confined spaces set against technically incredible sets and effects. It's truly beautiful to watch — all the space sequences are state of the art — and aside from some minor red flag waving, is played with a very straight technical arrow.

IMDB Rating: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Serenity

Credit: Universal

The theatrical conclusion to the beloved (yet short-lived) television series Firefly, Serenity tied off the various loose ends left behind after Joss Whedon's space cowboy show was axed. Led by Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), the crew of the Serenity cargo ship are known for engaging various smuggling adventures and shady dealings across the galaxy. 

However, trouble comes looking for them in the form of an assassin (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who's after River (Summer Glau), a gifted telepath and one of the crew's members. Like a cross between Star Wars (particularly the Han Solo parts) and Cowboy Bebop, Serenity is a crowd-pleasing sci-fi actioner with plenty of heart. 

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

War of the Worlds

Credit: Paramount Pictures 

Tom Cruise will do anything to protect his family from a full-scale alien invasion in War of the Worlds, director Steven Spielberg's adaptation of H.G. Wells' classic science fiction novel. Spielberg, known to be a master of suspense, ratchets up the tension to near unbearable levels in the film, with numerous dread-filled set pieces on offer that rival anything from his illustrious filmography (that includes Jaws, Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan). 

Using imagery inspired by the 9/11 attacks (the invading Tripods blast humans into white ashes) and Hurricane Katrina (desperate people turn violent against each other in an attempt to survive their horrific circumstances), War of the Worlds is a far cry from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

IMDB Rating: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 75%

Men in Black

Credit: Sony Pictures

Fresh off the success of the global phenomenon Independence Day, Will Smith went straight back to work on another sci-fi film about aliens, albeit one with a much lighter tone and an emphasis on comedy. 

Starring alongside Tommy Lee Jones, Smith led Men in Black to huge dollars at the box office, leading to two more films and an upcoming reboot starring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. 

The original film, however, is still the best, offering great mix of comedy and genre-based hijinx, similar to the likes of Ghostbusters. Now go and watch it, lest Big Willy let his noisy cricket get wicked on ya.

IMDB Rating: 7.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Need some kid-friendly entertainment that will keep the young ones entertained? Here are some of the best family movies that Amazon Prime Video is currently streaming. Don't worry – all of these picks are child friendly. 

The Karate Kid

Image credit: Sony / Columbia Pictures

One of the most beloved family films of the '80s, The Karate Kid tells the story of Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), a teenager who moves from New Jersey to California and finds himself the target of bullies at his new school. Turns out these bullies all train at the local Cobra Kai martial arts school under a brutal teacher.  During one beating, Daniel is rescued by the handyman from his building, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), who then vows to train the boy in the Okinawan art of Karate so that he can compete against his tormenters at an upcoming tournament. An uplifting story anchored by the heartwarming friendship that develops between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi, The Karate Kid is true classic for young and old. 

IMDB Rating: 7.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Credit: Sony Pictures

Before Phil Lord and Chris Miller hit it big directing The LEGO Movie, the duo released Cloudy wth a Chance of Meatballs, a surprisingly hilarious, clever and visually inventive animated kids film that even grown-ups can enjoy. In an effort to save his struggling community, wacky scientist Flint (Bill Hader) invents a machine that can turn water into food. While the machine is initially a success, it somehow ends up in the atmosphere, causing endless amounts of food to rain down on the city, causing all sorts of chaos in the process. 

IMDB Rating: 7.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%

Despicable Me

Credit: Universal

Love them or hate them, kids (and possibly your mum) can't get enough of these crazy Minions, so why get the family together to watch the first movie in the enormously successful Despicable Me franchise? This animated film stars Steve Carrell as the voice of Gru, a criminal mastermind with an army of Minions to do his bidding for him (if only he could get them to pay attention). Things change, however, when Gru meets three orphaned girls who see him as a father figure. Will the girls (and the Minions) be able to melt this grump's miserable heart?

IMDB Rating: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 81%

How to Train Your Dragon

Credit: Dreamworks Animation

One of the best animated films of the last decade, How to Train Your Dragon surprised everyone with its tale of a young Viking boy who defies his village's dragon hunting ways to become the very first dragon rider. When Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) stumbles upon an injured Night Fury, the rarest and most-feared dragon in existence, he manages to befriend the creature (which he adorably names 'Toothless'), eventually teaching his family a valuable lesson in the process. Packed with incredible action and adventure, How to Train Your Dragon is a classic that can be enjoyed by both young and old. 

IMDB Rating: 81%, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

From suspenseful scares to gruesome gore flicks, Amazon Prime Video has an excellent selection of horror films. Easily eclipsing its streaming competition when it comes to classic fright flicks, browsing Prime's selection is like stepping back in time and into the horror section of your local video store. On top of this, you also have access to some great recent scary movies. Here are some of the best horror movies on Amazon Prime Video. 

A Quiet Place

Credit: Paramount Pictures

One of the best scary movies of the last few years, A Quiet Place sees its characters pursued by blind creatures that hunt solely by sound. The only way this young family, led by John Krasinski (Jack Ryan) and Emily Blunt (Sicario), will have any hope for survival is to remain completely silent at all times. Krasinski, who also writes and directs the film, builds tension with a masterful sense of suspense – every tiny creak or noise could lead to the characters' deaths, forcing the audience to also sit in silence and play close attention. A Quiet Place is the kind of horror film that will have you on the edge of your seat for its entire running time.

IMDB Rating: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

The House on Sorority Row

Credit: Shock

One of the more highly-regarded slasher movies from the sub-genre's golden era (1978-1984), The House on Sorority Row sees a group of sorority sisters stalked by a murderous maniac in a court jester's outfit after one of their pranks goes horribly wrong. Delivering everything you'd expect from a good slasher, including a high body count, shocking kills and a sexed-up young cast, The House on Sorority Row still manages to keep you guessing about the killer's identity until the very end. Just make sure you steer clear of the mediocre 2009 remake. 

IMDB Rating: 6.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 56%

Society

Credit: Umbrella Entertainment

Likely to be the most bizarre horror movie to grace this list, Society is a body-horror / melt film unlike any other. California teenager Bill (Billy Warlock) senses that something is not quite right with his wealthy family, and he's right: it turns out they're actually part of an orgy cult for the rich elite in Beverly Hills, and we wish that were the most shocking discovery made by Bill throughout Society's running time! With some truly disgusting (and mind-blowing) practical gore effects from the great Screaming Mad George (Re-Animator 2, Predator), Society is the kind of horror film that has to be seen to be believed. Not for the squeamish!

IMDB Rating: 6.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 55%

I Know What You Did Last Summer

Credit: Sony Pictures

While celebrating their high school graduation, a group of teenagers (including Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe) accidentally run over a man in the middle of the night. Convinced their lives will be over if anyone finds out about this incident, most of the group makes a pact to dump the body and pretend it never happened. Of course, this is a slasher movie, so that's easier said than done! Exactly one year after that fateful night, a hook-wielding killer shows up and begins to terrorise each member of the group, and now it's up to Julie (Love Hewitt) to uncover the killer's identity before it's too late. Like most teen horror movies, critics weren't so kind to I Know What You Did Last Summer upon initial release (it was unfavourably compared to Scream, which shared the same screenwriter), but it remains a favourite for '90s kids to this day thanks to its potent scares and intriguing mystery. 

IMDB Rating: 5.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 36%

We love a good thriller, which is why we've narrowed down some of the best ones that are now available to watch on Amazon Prime Video. These films will have you on the edge of your seat in suspense, so sit back, try to relax, and enjoy.

No Country For Old Men

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Javier Bardem won an Oscar for essentially playing the human personification of death in No Country For Old Men, a taut thriller from the Coen brothers (The Big Lebowski, Fargo). Every single moment that Bardem is on-screen is filled with dread, as he leaves a trail of bodies across Texas in search of a missing bag of cartel money, which is in the possession of Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin). Can the local sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones) catch up to Llewelyn before his pursuer reaches him? A film that's as bleak and unsettling as the Cormac McCarthy novel that it's based on, No Country For Old Men will surely haunt you for years to come. 

IMDB Rating: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

Switchback

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Without question, the '90s was a true golden era for serial killer thrillers, with films like The Silence of the Lambs, Se7en and Copycat being particularly memorable. However, there were a number of worthwhile gems released during this time that managed to slip through the cracks, with Switchback being one film that's particularly underrated (especially by critics). Frank LaCrosse (Dennis Quaid) is an FBI agent on the trail of a vicious serial killer. Things become personal for LaCrosse when the killer kidnaps his son. Meanwhile, a young medical school dropout (Jared Leto) hitches a ride with a local drifter (Danny Glover) across the American Southwest. As they travel across snowy Colorado, more dead bodies seem to pile up in their wake. How long before they pair crosses paths with LaCrosse? And will he find his boy before it's too late? Also stars R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket), Ted Levine (The Silence of the Lambs) and William Fichtner (The Dark Knight). 

IMDB Rating: 6.4, Rotten Tomatoes: 32%

Munich

Credit: Universal

Though he's established a rabid fan base due to the success of blockbuster films like Jurassic Park, Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark, director Steven Spielberg is arguably at his best when tackling more grown up fare – films like Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan can attest to that. However, there is one film in particular that is arguably the most complex and adult of his entire career, and that film is Munich. Based on the real-life tragedy that occurred during the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics, in which the entire Israeli team was taken hostage and then massacred by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September, the film sheds light on Israel's secret retaliation missions. Allegedly, these black ops saw undercover Mossad agents (played here by the likes of Eric Bana, Daniel Craig and Ciarán Hinds) track down and assassinate the men believed responsible in a rather public manner. Rather than take sides in the still ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, Spielberg questions the cost of vengeance on the conscience and soul of an entire country, asking whether it ultimately achieves anything other than more bloodshed. A riveting film that does not shy away from the story's more harrowing aspects. 

IMDB Rating: 7.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 77%

Collateral

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise plays totally against type in Collateral, a fantastic thriller from visionary director Michael Mann (Heat, Miami Vice). Cruise plays Vincent, a ruthless hitman with silver hair who forces cabbie Max (Jamie Foxx) to be his personal chauffeur for the night as he travels around Los Angeles taking out targets. Can Max make it out of this situation alive? Or will he end up as Vincent's final victim? Using special digital cameras to capture LA at night in all its gritty glory, Mann achieves a sense of realism that makes you feel like you're right there with the characters. Packed with action and suspense, Collateral is an immaculately crafted thriller which shows a much scarier side of Cruise than we're used to seeing. 

IMDB Rating: 7.5, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%

We're serious cinephiles here at at TechRadar. It's not all about Marvel around here – we enjoy a good tear-jerker, too. There are many serious drama films streaming on Amazon Prime Video right now – here are some of the best ones. 

Heat

Image credit: 20th Century Fox

Like movies featuring cops chasing robbers? What about stoic professional criminals in sharp grey suits? Well, you're likely to absolutely adore Heat, a film from acclaimed director Michael Mann (Collateral, Manhunter). As the first film to put Robert De Niro and Al Pacino on screen together (The Godfather Part II doesn't count), Heat is understandably renowned for its powerhouse performances. De Niro plays Neil McCauley, a career criminal whose string of high-profile bank and armoured car robberies across Los Angeles has placed him square in the sights of Lt. Vincent Hanna (Pacino). One way or another, the pair's cat and mouse chase will come to an end – the only question is which man will be left standing once it's all over? Also featuring Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Tom Sizemore and Natalie Portman (among many others), Heat is a must-watch crime film classic.

IMDB Rating: 8.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%

The Godfather & The Godfather Part II

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Two of the greatest films of all time, Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather and The Godfather Part II are now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. The first film charts the rise of Micheal Corleone (Al Pacino), a war hero who takes control of his family's crime dynasty following an attempt on the life of his father, Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). Its follow-up, The Godfather Part II, simultaneously acts as a prequel and sequel, showing us how a young Vito (Robert De Niro) came into power, while also continuing Michael's story from the first film. Both films swept the Oscars in their respective years, and it's not hard to see why – The Godfather and The Godfather Part II are undisputed masterpieces, each telling grand, ambitious stories that deal with big themes on an epic canvas. You'd be hard-pressed to find two finer examples of the power of cinema. 

The Godfather: IMDB Rating: 9.2, Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
The Godfather Part II: IMDB Rating: 9.0, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

The Social Network

Credit: Sony Pictures

Perhaps the best film ever made about the tech industry, The Social Network tells the story of the early days of Facebook, with a mesmerising Jesse Eisenberg playing the company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and Andrew Garfield starring as its co-founder, Eduardo Saverin. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) is known for his fast-talking, witty characters, and he truly outdoes himself here, providing Eisenberg with more snappy verbal barbs than the real Zuckerberg is likely capable of (no Sweet Baby Ray's or smoked brisket discussions to be found here). That said, it all adds up to an immensely gripping film directed with clockwork-like precision by visionary auteur, David Fincher (Zodiac, Fight Club). Throw in some impressive supporting turns from Justin Timberlake (as Napster founder Sean Parker) and Armie Hammer (playing both of the Winklevoss twins), and you have an honest-to-goodness classic. 

IMDB Rating: 7.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 95%

Taxi Driver

Credit: Sony Pictures

Few films in the history of cinema are as powerful as Martin Scorsese's masterpiece, Taxi Driver. Made in the mid '70s, back when New York was a rougher, dirtier place, the film practically oozes a scuzzy, neon-bathed atmosphere all of its own. Robert De Niro plays Travis Bickle, a troubled, lonely Vietnam vet who takes a gig driving a cab because he just can't sleep at night. Though he's disgusted with the Big Apple's sleazy, vice-filled ways, Travis can't seem to stay away from its seedier areas, picking up questionable fares in bad neighbourhoods and frequenting scummy porno theatres in an effort to cure his insomnia. After a failed attempt to start a normal relationship with political campaign worker Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), Travis meets a 12-year-old prostitute named Iris (Jodie Foster) as she attempts to run away from her despicable pimp, Sport (Harvey Keitel). With his revulsion pushed over the edge, Travis stocks up on firearms and channels his immense anger and hatred into a mission to save Iris from her tragic circumstances. Fantastically directed and acted, and featuring the late, great Bernard Hermann's haunting final score, Taxi Driver is a film that every lover of cinema needs to see. 

IMDB Rating: 8.3, Rotten Tomatoes: 99%

Need a good laugh? Amazon Prime Video has some wonderful comedies on offer, with a bit of something for everyone. From the light-hearted, to the pitch black, you're guaranteed to find some laughs below.

Role Models

Hot Rod

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Before they exploded onto the scene with their comedic hip-hop group The Lonely Island, Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer released Hot Rod, a hilarious comedy starring Samberg as a talentless stuntman named Rod who believes his birth father was Evel Knievel's back-up. In order to raise money for his stepfather's operation, Rod teams up with his stepbrother (Taccone) and friends (Bill Hader, Danny McBride and Isla Fisher) to host a huge stunt that would see him attempt to jump over 12 buses on a moped. Quirky, quotable and filled with off-the-wall moments (including an incredible montage set to John Farnham's 'You're the Voice'), Hot Rod is a comedy cult classic that was completely misunderstood by critics at the time of its release, but will only grow in popularity as the years tick over. Cool beans? Cool beans.

IMDB Rating: 6.7, Rotten Tomatoes: 40%

The Big Lebowski

Credit: Universal 

One of the Coen Brothers' finest (and funniest) films, The Big Lebowski has continued to grow in popularity since its 1998 release. Jeff Bridges stars as 'The Dude', a laid-back hippie who lives his life without a care in the world – that is, until a case of mistaken identity finds him embroiled noirish mystery involving a rich guy's missing trophy wife, misplaced money, shady pornographers, scissor-happy nihilists and a stolen rug (it really tied the room together). On top of this, The Dude's crazy bowling partner Walter (John Goodman) forces himself into the situation, making everything worse as a result. Surprising and endlessly quotable, The Big Lebowski is a bonafide classic – but that's just, like, our opinion, man. 

IMDB Rating: 8.1, Rotten Tomatoes: 82%

Hot Fuzz

Hot Fuzz

Credit: Universal

Following the success of their classic rom-zom-com, Shaun of the Dead, director Edgar Wright, star and writer Simon Pegg and co-star Nick Frost teamed up once again to bring their hilarious sensibilities to the buddy-cop movie genre with Hot Fuzz. London super-cop Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is involuntarily transferred to a village in the English countryside for making his superiors look bad by comparison. There, he teams up with dim-witted (but well-meaning) cop Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) and together, the pair uncover a murder conspiracy. If films like Point Break and Bad Boys II are in constant rotation at your place, you absolutely owe it to yourself to grab a Cornetto and watch Hot Fuzz.

IMDB Rating: 7.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

Airplane!

Credit: Paramount Pictures

The spoof comedy that started it all, Airplane! is the kind of film that throws out so many gags per minute, that you won't even notice when one falls flat. A pitch-perfect send-up of the Airport disaster movies of the 1970s, Airplane! works because its performers play their roles completely seriously, as if they're oblivious to the immense silliness all around them. If you love deadpan comedy of The Naked Gun and Top Secret!, which were both made by the same people, you'll love Airplane!

IMDB Rating: 7.8, Rotten Tomatoes: 97%

In the mood for some high-octane entertainment? These are some of the most action-packed movies now streaming on Amazon Prime Video in Australia. Adrenaline junkies will get a kick out of every one of the brawny movies listed below. 

The Indiana Jones Saga (1-4)

Image credit: Paramount Pictures

One of the most beloved film franchises of all time (particularly if you pretend the fourth entry doesn't exist) Steven Spielberg and George Lucas' Indiana Jones movies strike the perfect balance between sweeping adventure and historical intrigue. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is a charming archeology professor who spends his time away from campus embroiled in globe-trotting escapades in search of priceless artefacts. Moving from one death-defying chase to another, Indy must fend off an assortment of villains, from power-crazed Nazis to ancient cults. Thankfully, with the help of some friends and his trusty bullwhip, Indiana always manages to save the day. Required viewing for any film fan. 

Raiders of the Lost Ark: IMDB: 8.5, RT: 95%
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: IMDB: 7.6, RT: 85%
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: IMDB: 8.2, RT: 88%
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: IMDB: 6.2, RT: 78%

Lionheart (a.k.a. Wrong Bet)

Image credit: MVD Entertainment US

When Foreign Legion soldier Lyon (Jean-Claude Van Damme) receives word that his troubled brother has been brutally burned alive, he goes A.W.O.L. in an attempt to visit him and his family in America. Unfortunately, his brother dies, leaving his wife and young daughter on the verge of homelessness. Now, Lyon must secretly fight as an underground street brawler in order to provide for his dead brother's family. One of Van Damme's earlier efforts, Lionheart sits comfortably alongside his other classic fight flicks, Bloodsport and Kickboxer. Featuring excellent fight scenes and a surprising amount of melodrama, Lionheart is JCVD at his very best.

IMDB Rating: 6.1

Mission: Impossible (1-4)

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to binge watch the first four Mission: Impossible movies in an effort to witness the escalating lunacy of Tom Cruise as he undertakes death-defying stunts for our amusement! This spy series has gone from strength to strength over the years (well, so long as you don't include M:I-2), with the series' fourth entry, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (pictured) being a particular highlight. We recommend starting with the fantastic first entry, which shows just how much the franchise has changed over the last 20 years.

Watch Mission: Impossible 1-4 now on Amazon Prime Video

The Bourne Saga (1-4)

Credit: Universal

Proving there's no shortage of intense spy action on Amazon Prime Video, the first four Bourne films are now available to stream. Starting with The Bourne Identity, the film tells the story of an amnesiac named Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) who quickly discovers that he's a lethal government assassin before setting off on a quest to discover his true identity. Over the next two instalments, Bourne will take the fight to this creators even further, in an effort to holds those responsible accountable for all the deaths they've caused. In the series fourth entry, The Bourne Legacy, we meet a new superspy named Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) and learn more about the Black Ops program that creates machine-like killers for the government. 

Watch The Bourne Saga (1-4) now on Amazon Prime Video

Bay Boys I & II

Credit: Sony Pictures

Bad Boys, notable for kicking off the cinematic careers of both Michael Bay and Will Smith, is a stylish, action-packed buddy cop movie in which a pair of detectives (Smith and co-star Martin Lawrence) must take down a murderous drug kingpin. Bad Boys II is like the first film times ten, with Bay dialling up the action scenes, style and running time to ludicrous new heights. Violent, profane and legitimately funny, Bad Boys I & II are must-see films for action fans, even if they were absolutely hated by critics.

Bad Boys: IMDB Rating: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 42%
Bad Boys II: IMDB Rating: 6.6, Rotten Tomatoes: 22%

Top Gun

Credit: Paramount Pictures

If you feel the need, the need for speed, then look no further than Top Gun, the classic fighter pilot action film that made Tom Cruise a megastar. Cruise plays the hotshot pilot Maverick, who must remove the chip from his shoulder that's holding him back from being the ace pilot he's destined to be. Featuring an amazing '80s soundtrack and incredible jet fighter scenes, Top Gun is adrenaline-junkie's dream. Watch it before the upcoming sequel, which is in production right now!

IMDB Rating: 6.9, Rotten Tomatoes: 54%


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Review: Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lens for Canon – At just US$50 could this be the most affordable “nifty fifty”?

The post Review: Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lens for Canon – At just US$ 50 could this be the most affordable “nifty fifty”? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.

The 50mm f/1.8 lens, or as we call it, the ‘Nifty Fifty,’ is one of the most widely used lenses in the market. This is usually the first lens a modern digital camera owner desires to purchase after the kit lenses.

The reasons why this is the most popular lens are fairly simple – the first being affordability, and the second, the ability to produce pleasing bokeh.

In terms of affordability, the Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lens is ideally the cheapest Nifty Fifty. Priced at less than US$ 50, this is less than half of the Canon variant and works on APS-C as well as full-frame cameras.

However, the Yongnuo lens for Nikon costs around US$ 70 as it includes the focus motor. I recently bought one for my Canon 5D Mark iii, so I thought of sharing my views about this lens.

Build quality and ergonomics

The Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lens looks exactly like the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens (discontinued version). The plastic used in the Yongnuo lens feels a bit cheaper though. Surprisingly, the rubber grip is smooth, and the ‘AF and MF’ switch is similar to Canon.

The construction of the lens consists of 6 elements in 5 groups and has 7 diaphragm blades – the same as the Canon variant. This Yongnuo lens is light to carry as it weighs only 120g – 40g lighter than its competitor. Overall the lens looks and feels good at this price point.

Focus speed and accuracy

I have been using this for almost a month now, during the day as well as night time. The focus speed is a bit slow as the lens hunts for focus, especially in low light conditions. If you are shooting stationary subjects, then it is fine, but if you want to nail the focus swiftly, then you might be disappointed.

Though the focus speed is not that fast, the accuracy is fairly good. It takes time to focus but when it does the focus is accurate. I would not recommend this lens for video shooters as it messes a lot with the focus. However, if you are a hobbyist and casually shoot portraits or still objects, this lens can do the job.

Sharpness and Image Quality

Before clicking photos using the Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8, I had much less expectation from this lens. To my surprise, this lens produced amazing sharpness and image quality. I did not compare it side by side with its competitor lens, but I am sure it is on par with it.

The few image samples that you see are all shot at an event during the sunset/evening time. The images are tad sharp, and the colors also look natural. I had done a test on vignetting performance, and at f/4 it was almost gone. This lens worked for me when I was shooting stationary subjects as well as when shooting performing artists at an event.

For me, the bokeh shape was a bit unpleasant at f/1.8, and I’m not sure exactly why. I used this lens at f/2.8 and achieved sharp and crisp images with minimum vignetting and shallow depth of field effect.

Conclusion

This lens by Yongnuo is for someone who has just started with photography or has a tight budget but still wants to achieve the f/1.8 look at 50mm. The focus speed is something that might irritate you, but once it focuses the image quality is quite impressive. I would suggest this lens to someone who shoots still subjects or portraits without much movement. If you are a wedding, event or a professional portrait photographer, you might be disappointed.

Have you used this lens? What are your thoughts?

The post Review: Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lens for Canon – At just US$ 50 could this be the most affordable “nifty fifty”? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.


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Bryan’s Used Gear for Sale, March 2019 Update

As usual, this gear is being sold to fund new gear for review. Check the updated list to see if anything fits into your kit. Most items are like new.
 
Bryan’s Used Gear for Sale
 
Brands available include Canon, Nikon, Sony, Really Right Stuff and more.
 

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Walmart tipped to be building budget Android tablets of its own

If you're in the market for an affordable Android tablet that covers the basics, Walmart might have something of interest: the US retail giant is reportedly prepping a budget Android tablet to take on the iPad.

Bloomberg describes the upcoming tablet as "an inexpensive, kid-friendly" device that's going to carry the ONN store brand that Walmart uses for other products.

According to product filings registered with the US Federal Communications Commission, the tablets will be manufactured in China and come with Google's mobile operating system on board – though perhaps with a Walmart twist.

A Walmart spokesperson did confirm to Bloomberg that such devices were indeed on the way, but we don't have any other details like a price, a launch date or international availability information as yet.

Take the tablets

Another source says the upcoming slate will feature an 8-inch screen, a MediaTek MT8163 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of expandable storage, and is going to come with Android 9 Pie on board.

The choice isn't a huge one for anyone interested in picking up a tablet that isn't made by Apple. Amazon sells some very cheap Fire tablets with its own version of Android on board, while Samsung still offers a few more premium alternatives.

Google itself seems to be moving towards using Chrome OS on tablets, with a side serving of Android apps – as it did with the recent Pixel Slate.

It sounds as though the Walmart ONN Android tablet will be designed along similar lines to the now discontinued Tesco Hudl tablet: something cheap enough to tempt you into an impulse purchase as you browse the store.

Via 9to5Google


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How to Improve Your Photography by Changing Perspective

The post How to Improve Your Photography by Changing Perspective appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

Sometimes I find myself stuck in a bit of a photographic rut, and it seems like no matter what I do I just can’t quite find interesting subjects to take pictures of or compelling scenes to capture. Even worse, when I do think I’ve stumbled across something that would make a good picture, I’ll start clicking away only to be disappointed with the results.

One trick I’ve learned over the years to dig myself out of these pits is to change my perspective. By looking at familiar subjects from a different angle, or under a different light, I often find myself seeing it almost for the first time. It’s a fun exercise and doesn’t involve much effort. It can transform even the most boring scene or bland subject into something worth photographing and framing.

There is any number of ways you can change your perspective on things to get a good photo. I’m going to examine four of my favorite techniques and show you an example of each one. Hopefully, this gives you some ideas to try out on your own and start turning the mundane into something magical.

Look at the lighting

Not long ago I was walking around a pond near my work with my Fuji X100F when I stumbled across the following scene. As you can see, it really wasn’t much to look at whatsoever. I noticed two brown leaves among a sea of dull green leaves, but nothing stood out to me as photo-worthy.

A few minutes later the sun poked out from behind the clouds. I decided to take a look at this same scene from a slightly different perspective, and with a bit of a change in lighting as well.

Instead of shooting from above with the sun behind me, I shot from below with the sun behind my subject.

That simple change made a massive difference.

The result is one of my favorite leaf photos I have ever taken.

One morning in May, I used the same technique to get this shot of a butterfly.

I put myself in such a position that the sun would be behind this particular butterfly. It not only gave an incredible glow to its wings but made the dew on the grass glow and sparkle in a way that makes the scene seem almost magical.

Normally, I incline to take pictures like this with the sun behind me, not behind my subject. However, this was a good reminder that sometimes creative lighting choices yield amazing results.

You cannot overstate the effect that lighting has on your photos. Even the word photograph itself means to draw with light. Even so, I often think of lighting in terms of formal portraits or other contrived situations. It doesn’t immediately cross my mind to alter the lighting when I’m trying to capture casual shots in an interesting manner.

The next time you feel a bit of a slump coming on, try looking at everyday items and situations from a different perspective. A perspective where the light is altered, and see how it changes everything right before your eyes.

Another tip is to try creating your own lighting, like in the shot below. It is nothing more than a jar of pasta in my kitchen that I set on top of a flashlight. However, the result was something interesting and unexpected that brought a big smile to my face.

On a similar note, this purple vortex was shot using pretty much the same principle. It might look like something out of a movie or painting, but it’s just a plastic bottle with some purple water that I lit with a flashlight.

The original setup is far less dramatic and quite boring – not the type of scene that seems ideal for an interesting photo. However, with a bit of light manipulation, even scenes like this can result in a magical picture.

Get closer

When I first started taking pictures, I didn’t realize how much I could change the impact of my images by moving myself around a bit. Sometimes I would end up moving to shoot a subject or a scene from a different angle. However, the proverbial light bulb really lit up when I realized how moving closer to my subjects could have resulted in such a dramatically different outcome. This has come in to play when taking pictures for clients – such as this one that I shot at 190mm with an aperture of f/4.

The picture is fine on its own. However, when I moved closer, I found the resulting image more intimate and personal. It was almost like I had caught the two in a bit of a private moment. I shot this image at 150mm with an f/4 aperture. While the focal length was shorter, the image feels more comfortable and natural because I was physically closer to the couple.

I didn’t zoom in to get this shot – I zoomed out. But, I moved a lot closer to them. Not only did this give me a more personal picture, but it also helped the couple feel more comfortable with me. Instead of being remote and distant, I was now able to talk and joke with them. This enabled them to let down their guard and smile a bit more naturally.

Of course, the converse of this is true as well. Sometimes you might find that moving farther away can give you a better shot. The point is that a simple change in perspective can profoundly impact your pictures. Also, if you are working with people, it can change the entire mood and tone of the photo session as well.

Re-frame your subject

When you don’t want to move back and forth but you want to kick your pictures up a notch or two, try moving your subject around. Such that they are in a slightly different spot with slightly different surroundings. Take this photo from a maternity session as an example. The expectant mother is in a garden leaning against a brick outcropping.

Like the couple in the earlier example, this picture is fine on its own, but it feels like it’s missing something. By moving my subject to a nearby flower bed and shooting a similar photo, we were able to add an entirely different dimension to the photo. As a result, I captured an image that feels much more personal and intimate despite a similar pose and expression.

A simple re-framing of the subject, and even adding foreground and background elements, can have a huge impact on the resulting images and the story you want to tell or emotions you are trying to convey. This works with more than just people too, such as this image of the moon. It’s not bad. The subject is sharp and in focus. However, the picture isn’t all that compelling. It’s just a big white circle against a black background. As a result, the image is somewhat lifeless and uninteresting.

Now contrast that image with another one that I captured months later just after sunset. This time I composed my shot so there would be some tree branches in the foreground. This simple compositional decision made the final image far more compelling than just a shot of the moon in the sky with nothing else around it.

Above and below

There is one final tip that can help make your pictures a lot more interesting (or just more fun to look at). Examine your subject or the scene from a vantage point that’s either much higher or lower than you might be accustomed. That may involve climbing up on a ladder or crouching down to the ground. The more creative you can get, the more compelling your results can be.

These two shots are the same sleeping infant. However, I took one from a very low angle and the other from directly above. Neither one is better or worse than the other, and that’s not the point. Instead, both pictures showcase the same subject in different ways. Thus, they convey different meanings to the viewer.

The same scene from a different angle feels more personal and intimate, even though almost nothing about the baby has changed.

On a similar note, I did a family photo session for some clients recently where they wanted a picture of all their hands together. After discussing some ways to accomplish this, we decided to shoot the hands from above. It involved a tall ladder, and all the family members crowded around a tree stump. They were thrilled with the result.

It all came about because I shifted my vantage point to directly above instead of my normal inclination to take photographs from my eye level.

Finally, one more example involves nothing more than a washing machine that my father had rigged to run with the lid open. I held my camera directly above to get this picture of the spin cycle in action.

While it may not be as special as an infant or three generations of hands together, it’s an interesting image of a familiar situation made possible by shifting perspectives.

Hopefully, these images give you a sense of what’s possible by changing a few simple things with your photography. You don’t need expensive gear or fancy studio setups to accomplish some interesting results. Often you just need to adjust your viewpoint or find ways to use the light differently.

I’d love to see some of your examples and read your tips on this same idea. If you have any thoughts or images about this, please share them in the comments below!

The post How to Improve Your Photography by Changing Perspective appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.


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Bring new life to your old black and white photos with this colorization software

CODIJY Photo Colorization: Pro Studio

Get a lifetime license for just $ 25.

Bring new life to your old black and white photos with this colorization software. Get a lifetime license for just $ 25.

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Snapchat could be about to get into gaming in a big way

Could a big selection of mini-games tempt you to spend more time inside Snapchat? According to an anonymous source "familiar with the matter", Snapchat is planning to announce a new gaming platform as early as next month.

Cheddar reports that developers will be able to build games that live inside the Snapchat app, though what exactly they might look like and how they might work isn't yet clear.

It's a rumor we've heard before, with a Snapchat gaming platform launch initially tipped for the end of 2018. That didn't happen, but it sounds as though the new features are ready to go in 2019.

An announcement will be made at the start of April at a Snapchat content and developer summit, according to Cheddar, with games made available at some point after that.

Playing the game

The signs are there: last year Snapchat parent company Snap acquired a small Australian gaming studio, and it's also been rumored to have made other similar acquisitions lately.

The Snapchat also has previous form for this, with little augmented reality games called Snappables appearing inside the app in early 2018. It sounds like the new titles would be much broader in scope.

Snapchat could certainly use something to keep attracting users in its battle with Instagram, having seen its popular Stories format stolen by other apps. Games could be accompanied by advertising or in-app purchases, boosting revenue for Snap.

If and when Snapchat launches a new gaming platform, we'll let you know. It's possible there might even be games for the Snapchat Spectacles.

Via The Verge


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Errol Spence vs Mikey Garcia live stream: how to watch tonight’s boxing online from anywhere

Ding ding – it's fight time! The welterweight title is on the line in Texas tonight, with Errol Spence Jr defending his belt against the awesome Mikey Garcia. And with this handy guide we'll tell you how simple it is to get a Spence vs Garcia live stream no matter where you are in the world.

Garcia is ascending two whole weight classes to take on Spence Jr in a title bout for the latter's IBF welterweight belt. Spence is arguably the world's best fighter at his weight, so the appeal for legendary fighter Garcia to show him who's boss is easy to see.

 Garcia (39–0, 30 KOs) has an undeniably stunning record and is taking a big risk by moving up in weight category to take on the welterweight champ. While Spence Jr (24–0, 21 KOs) holds the experience in his favour as the resident in the weight class he also has an extra benefit as this is his turf in a more literal way – he grew up in Texas. That should mean he has the crowd behind him too during this super fight.

Both fighters are undefeated and are both ranked in The Ring's top 10 pound-for-pound fighters – but someone will almost definitely lose their perfect record. While Garcia has won titles in four weight classes, Spence holds the world title in the welterweight arena where some of the greatest talent in boxing currently exists. 

As a measure of this fight's importance, WBA regular welterweight champion and legend Manny Pacquiao will be attending this match to watch it live. And you can watch it live too as if you were right there with him. To catch everything online, you've come to the right place. Read on to find out how to stream Spence vs Garcia live anywhere in the world.

  • Motor racing fan? Find out how to get an F1 live stream no matter where you are

Watch a Spence vs Garcia live stream from anywhere in the world

Keep scrolling to see how to watch the boxing in the US and UK (spoiler alert…it's absolutely FREE in the UK). But if you're a resident of one of those countries – or any other, for that matter – who is worried about being away from your country and missing your domestic coverage of the Garcia vs Spence Jr fight, then fear not, there's a way to watch that doesn't involve trying to find a grainy, illegal feed.

How to stream Errol Spence vs Mikey Garcia live in the US

How to watch Garcia vs Spence Jr for FREE in the UK


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Lensbaby Spark 50mm f/5.6 Selective Focus Lens for Nikon F – $39.95 Shipped (Reg. $89.95)

B&H has the Lensbaby Spark 50mm f/5.6 Selective Focus Lens for Nikon F available for $ 39.95 with free shipping. Regularly $ 89.95.
 
Product Highlights
 

  • 50mm Lens with Fixed f/5.6 Aperture
  • Sweet Spot Selective Focus Lens
  • Multi-coated Optical Glass Doublet
  • Compatible w/ Lensbaby Optic Swap System
  • Compatible w/ Lensbaby 37mm Lenses
  • Focus from 13″ to Infinity
  • Manual Focus
  • Fits Nikon F-Mount DSLRs

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