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Beautiful bokeh: all about the blur

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By AKHRAM MOHAMED, Chief Technology Officer of Huawei in South Africa

Up until a few years ago, only photography hobbyists and professionals had heard of the term ‘bokeh’. However, when the bokeh effect became a feature on smartphone cameras in 2016, the word started to become more familiar, even though many people were still not sure of its meaning and why it was so coveted. So what exactly is bokeh? And how does it create beautiful photos?

Blurred lines

Bokeh is all about blur, specifically the aesthetic quality of the blur. The term comes from the Japanese word boke, which means ‘blur’ or ‘haziness’. 

Bokeh is very popular in the photography world, and for good reason, as it makes the subject of your photo – whether it be a person, a building, an animal, or fauna and flora – really stand out. For example, if you’re wanting to emphasise the cuteness of a three-year-old in a bunny suit, or the fragility of a tiny flower in a vast field, then bokeh is an excellent choice of technique to really draw people’s attention to your chosen subject. With this effect, the subject of your photo is crisply defined against a blurred and out-of-focus background, which helps them really stand out.

From A to Z

Boh-keh? Boo-kay? Boh-kuh? Bok-uh? The question of how you pronounce this word is a tricky one. Photo Techniques Magazine popularised the term in 1997 when one of their writers added the ‘h’ to the original Japanese term, so that English speakers would move away from incorrect pronunciations that rhymed with ‘smoke’ or ‘joke’. The correct pronunciation of the word, according to Photo Techniques Magazine, was bo-ke (rhyming with ‘bouquet’).

Fast forward two decades, however, and the debate is split wide open again with the arrival of bokeh features in the smartphone camera. Only a few weeks ago, Apple was mocked online for their pronunciation of the word – ‘boh-kuh’– in one of their TV advertisements.

So what’s the real deal? Linguists will tell you that there is no ‘uh’ sound in Japanese, and the Japanese pronunciation of this word is bo-ke.

How do you get bokeh?

As previously mentioned, portrait photography shows bokeh very well, as do close-up nature shots. Bokeh can get you rich, beautiful photos if you get it right. Achieving the best bokeh with your professional camera is mostly about the lens you use. A fast lens that has a wide aperture – which needs to be purchased as an extra to your expensive professional camera – works best. You’ll need to invest some time in learning the technique too, though.

Bokeh is much simpler with a sophisticated smartphone camera and the new Huawei P30 Pro really stands out here. There’s no need for additional lenses and you don’t have to have an advanced knowledge of photography. It really is as simple as pointing and shooting.

The depth perception of the Huawei P30 Pro’s Huawei ToF camera allows it to simulate the large aperture effect. It works in tandem with the device’s portrait algorithm to support precise image segmentation and softer, more natural bokeh. From a shirt’s crease to facial contours to a single hair— the HUAWEI ToF Camera can highlight any subject from the background and achieve a rich yet delicate bokeh with multiple layers.

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GoDaddy mixes marketing with web builder

GoDaddy has introduced powerful marketing tools that help entrepreneurs expand beyond selling on social media, writes BRYAN TURNER

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GoDaddy has launched Websites + Marketing to the South African market, pairing a drag-and-drop website builder with a suite of marketing tools designed to help small businesses with little to no marketing know-how reach new customers.

“Website builders are enabling or allowing entrepreneurs to get online in an easier way by themselves,” says Selina Bieber, regional director for Turkey and the MENA at GoDaddy, during a recent visit to Johannesburg. “Getting an online space has a stigma of having to get professionals for help or having to overcome technical struggles to get a website working. After this, what’s next on their evolutionary journey for them? Before Websites + Marketing, that bridge didn’t exist.”

These features help entrepreneurs move from a platform where many South Africans start: social media. A website is the next logical step for entrepreneurs once they reach scale, where they ask the question: “What should I do next to achieve my goals?”

“There’s a step before a website, that is people starting off on social media,” says Bieber. “For example, one of our customers, confetti.events, has a very successful business. It’s an event planning business that she ran on Instagram, and then built a website with GoDaddy with the website builder platform. She was at the point where she needed to take this step. We’re here to show these entrepreneurs that it’s possible to take the next step, and we understand it’s still difficult, which is why we offer a little bit of guidance by integrating what they already have. This creates something that’s more meaningful that they own, and can track and control.

“When you look at it from a small business perspective, the platform is intuitive. So entrepreneurs can go to your website and it tells you ‘90% of your profile is complete’, like on LinkedIn. The thought process that accompanies the users is what makes Websites + Marketing so strong. So it works on the entire spectrum of website owners, whether they’re established or just starting. As GoDaddy, we can help you with the next step in your journey online, and we shouldn’t think of it just as a website. This is actually talking about an online presence. Looking at our entry into the local market, we’ve obviously been around for years in terms of having customers from all over the world, but when we look serving this market specifically, we’ve really tried to connect with the local market and the local customers.”

The roots of the solution are based open source software, to encourage rapid growth of the platform through various developers who can contribute freely.

“We believe in an open environment, not a closed environment,” says Arnold Blinn, Chief Product Architect at GoDaddy. “That’s why we encourage platforms like WordPress, because they are diverse and open source. As we leverage open source, we contribute back to open source. We think Websites + Marketing can also play in that play in that game, so we’re figuring out how to do that, and are committed to doing it.

“The platform makes sure that an entrepreneur’s online presence is available everywhere. We know online presence is more than your website. It’s your Facebook page and your Instagram. It’s also the reviews on review websites, and even your own website. That’s bridging this gap to social. It works hand-in-hand with a growth strategy, and our goal is to keep businesses online as they grow.”

Read more about the added offerings of Websites + Marketing.

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Real threats of robots: changing the WAY we work

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With the rise of robots, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), the employees of today are in panic mode about the state of their future career prospects. Will they have a job in 20 years’ time… 10 years’ time… or even next year?

New technology continues to burst out daily to change the way we work, and on the surface, this automation of processes previously done by human hands would seem to present companies with the opportunity to downsize. The spectre of an apocalyptic, dwindling future workforce is naturally terrifying for most people, especially in Africa, which is traditionally manpower-centric.  But, the reality is that these super-intelligent machines and robots might well be doing humankind a massive favour.

“Machine learning will enable technology to replace the work of hands and the workplace of the future will probably include much more head-work, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that machines will reduce the number of jobs available,  they will change the way we work and the definition of what ‘work’ is,” says Deseré Orrill, Chairman, OLE!CONNECT, a company that is a pioneer in the field of personalised, data-led marketing.

Orrill is a successful global entrepreneur who is currently completing her MBA in Design Thinking, and it’s fitting that she will deliver the welcome address and Chair, the Future of Work session at AfricaCom 2019 at the CTICC on Wednesday 13 November 2019.

Orrill will also moderate the discussion on Creating a Culture of Lifelong Learning, a topic, which big hitters Simon Rey (Ecobank), Yumna Tayob (FNB Bank) and Hendrik Malan (Frost & Sullivan) will all weigh in on. It’s an issue that is crucial to Africa’s harnessing of its human potential, and the panel will share their insights into how education and reskilling are key to Africa making the most of its human capital, as well as the importance of ensuring effective lifelong learning in the modern economy.

Future of Work @ AfricaCom 2019 will seek to unpack a wide range of issues at the top of the agenda for business owners and industry leaders. In the African context this includes coming to grips with digital literacy for the modern workforce, building a solid talent pipeline and succession planning through reskilling, as well as strategic workforce planning to harness AI in order to improve organisations, as well as their employees.

However, it’s not just employees who face challenges in the new workplace frontier, as employers have to get a handle on issues such as, understanding what the future of work means for employees AND themselves, how to achieve executive support for new workplace initiatives, and how technology can play a game-defining role in human resources.

The battle between old school and new school has plenty of spark points in the modern work environment. Business leaders will benefit from the discussion about harnessing workplace technologies, as well as using design thinking to create an integrated digital workplace. Discussions and presentations will include Leveraging New Ways of Working to Create Sustained Results in Africa, as well as a discussion on Closing the Skills Gap: Preparing for an Uncertain Future, moderated by Mooketsi Bennedict Tekere, CEO, Ngwana Enterprises with Devaan Parbhoo, Manager, Learning Design & Learning Development at Santam.

Humans in the workplace complete tasks with hands and heads but, also with heart.  Orrill highlights the fact that AI and ML cannot replicate human creativity, sensitivity and sensibility, which are essential ingredients in all creative and caring professions, along with those where human intuition and the fabled ‘6th sense’ play a role. 

“These functions and skills just can’t be replaced by machines, although machines and AI can certainly offer incredible support to the humans involved in these professions.  We also believe robots and automation will contribute to the creation of positive, dynamic and fluid workplaces of the future,” says Orrill. “In fact, in advanced economies where greater use of robotics, automation and AI is prevalent, unemployment today is at the lowest it has been in decades. So, the future of work is not a gloomy wasteland… on the contrary, it’s a bright and promising place.”

To share in this vision for a optimistic new working world, and to keep on trend with workplace best practice, and cutting edge insights, take your place at Future of Work @ AfricaCom 2019 at the CTICC on Wednesday 13 November 2019.

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