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GoPro HERO7 Black, Silver and White revealed: All the specs

GoPro, the action camera company that started it all, isn’t scheduled to unveil its latest generation of action cameras until later today, but someone seems to have been a wee bit too excited and pushed the “Publish” button a bit early. Thanks to that, we’re getting an early look at the GoPro HERO7 generation that has not just one, not even just two, but three cameras. Make no mistake, their difference goes beyond mere looks.

There are three HERO7 action cameras being launched this year: Black, Silver, and White. More than just aesthetic differences, the three cameras are color-coded for their specific capabilities, following the tradition GoPro has already set in their previous camera generations.

The HERO7 Black is the crème de la crème as far as features go. It’s the action camera for pros who want Hollywood-level footage. That’s no problem for the Black’s 4K 60 fps recording capabilities. That too much? You can also go lower at 2.7K for 120 fps. And if you really need super slow-mo, there’s 1080p at 240 fps too. And it isn’t just video either. The HERO7 Black records stereo and raw audio and can even support an external mic.

• Record 4K60, 2.7K120, and 1080p240 Video

• Capture 12MP Photos at up to 30 fps

• HyperSmooth Video Stabilization

• Vertical Portrait Mode for Social Media

• SuperPhoto Auto HDR Photo Enhancement

• 33′ Waterproof without a Housing

• Touch Zoom Framing via Intuitive 2″ LCD

• Face, Smile, and Scene Detection

• Live Streaming, TimeWarp Video

• Voice Control, Raw Photos, and Much More

Though not as capable, the HERO7 Silver doesn’t lag too far behind. It’s 10 megapixel sensor (versus the Black’s 12 MP) is still capable of 4K recording but capped at 30 fps. No super slow-mo either as its fastest frame rate stops at 60.

• Record 4K30, 1440p60, and 1080p60 Video

• Capture 10MP Photos at up to 15 fps

• Built-In Video Stabilization

• Vertical Portrait Mode for Social Media

• 33′ Waterproof without a Housing

• Touch Zoom Framing via Intuitive 2″ LCD

• Voice Control, Time-Lapse Capture

• Photo Timer for Individual/Group Selfies

• GPS Performance Stickers & More

A step lower is the HERO7 White, but don’t be quick to knock it for that. Its 10 megapixel sensor may only be capable of 1080p60 video but it shares many of the same qualities as Black and Silver. That includes built-in stabilization, a vertical capture mode that’s perfect for social media, a 2-inch touch screen, and, of course, a level of ruggedness that makes it impervious to water under 33 feet. And that’s without a waterproof case! In other words, while the Black is for the pros, the White is for the hobbyist who wants to get his feet wet. Literally even.

• Full HD 1080p60 Video

• 10MP Photos at up to 15 fps

• Built-In Video Stabilization

• Vertical Portrait Mode for Social Media

• 33′ Waterproof without a Housing

• Touch Zoom Framing via Intuitive 2″ LCD

• Voice Control, Time-Lapse Capture

• Photo Timer for Individual/Group Selfies

With a new range of HERO7 cameras for every kind of user, GoPro is set to recapture the action camera market that has been filling up with rivals and knockoffs. All that’s left now is to wait for GoPro to actually announce the HERO7 Black, HERO7 Silver, and HERO7 White and see how much they will cost.

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Photoshop Black And White Conversions – Luminosity Blend Mode

Photoshop Black and White Conversions – Luminosity Blend Mode

Written by Steve Patterson.

As we continue our journey through the many ways of converting color photos to black and white in Photoshop, we’ve so far looked at how to convert a color photo from the RGB color mode to the Grayscale color mode, how to desaturate the color in the image using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, and how to replace the original colors in the image with a black-to-white gradient using a Gradient Map.

In this tutorial, we’ll look at our fourth way of converting color photos to black and white, this time using the Luminosity layer blend mode, which deals only with the brightness values in the image, ignoring the color information. At the end of the tutorial, we’ll see how to improve on the results using a couple of additional blend modes, and how to target specific areas of the photo with a layer mask!

Here once again is the photo I’ll be using throughout these tutorials so we have an easy way of comparing the results of our black and white conversions:

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Add A New Blank Layer Below The Background Layer

The first thing we need to do with our Luminosity technique is to create a new layer. If we look in our Layers palette, we can see that with our photo newly opened in Photoshop, our document contains just one layer named Background. This is the layer our photo is sitting on:

The problem is, we need the new layer to appear below the Background layer. It’s a problem for two reasons. First, by default, Photoshop adds new layers above the currently selected layer, not below them, and second, Photoshop doesn’t allow us to place anything below the Background layer (since, after all, it’s supposed to serve as the background for the document).

Step 2: Fill The New Layer With White

We’re going to be changing the layer blend mode of the image to Luminosity, and the way the Luminosity blend mode works is that it blends the brightness values of the layer with the color of the layer (or layers) below it. At the moment though, the layer we just added below the image is blank, which means the Luminosity blend mode won’t work since it will have nothing to blend the brightness values of the image with. Let’s fill the new layer with white.

With “Layer 1” selected in the Layers palette (selected layers are highlighted in blue), go up to the Edit menu at the top of the screen and choose the Fill command:

This brings up Photoshop’s Fill dialog box, which gives us an easy way to fill the layer with a color. Set the Use option to White in the Contents section at the top of the dialog box:

Step 3: Change The Blend Mode Of The Photo Layer To Luminosity

By changing the blend mode to Luminosity, Photoshop blends only the brightness values (whites, blacks and all the shades of gray in between) with the white-filled layer below the image, effectively hiding the color and giving us a black and white version of the photo:

To bring the original color back at any time, all we need to do is change the blend mode for “Layer 0” back to Normal:

Instantly, the full color version of the photo returns:

Switch back to the Luminosity blend mode so we’re once again seeing the black and white version of the image. Up next, we’ll see how to improve our black and white conversion using two other blend modes, and how to limit the areas of the image that are affected with a layer mask!

If you find that the black and white version of your photo is either too light or too dark, we can easily lighten or darken it by combining the Luminosity blend mode with a couple of other blend modes. As we learned in the Five Essential Blend Modes For Photo Editing tutorial, Photoshop’s Screen blend mode can quickly brighten a dark image, while the Multiply blend mode is great for darkening an image that’s too bright. Let’s see how to use these two blend modes to improve our results.

Step 4: Combine Both Layers On To A New Layer

Photoshop won’t allow us to use more than one blend mode with a layer, so let’s combine our two existing layers on to a new layer above “Layer 0”. With “Layer 0” selected in the Layers palette, press Shift+Ctrl+Alt (Win) / Shift+Command+Option (Mac) to quickly combine both layers on to a new layer. You should now see a new layer named “Layer 2” sitting above the original two layers. The new layer contains a copy of our black and white image:

Step 5: Change The Blend Mode To Either Screen Or Multiply

If your black and white version is too light, change the blend mode of the new layer to Multiply:

This will instantly darken the entire photo, bringing out image detail that may have been hidden when the photo was overly bright. Unfortunately in my case, the Multiply blend mode makes the image too dark:

Let’s try lightening it. To lighten a dark image, change the blend mode of the top layer to Screen:

The entire photo now appears lighter than it was originally, although again in my case, the overall image is too bright:

One specific problem with my black and white version that I’d like to be able to fix is that the girl’s grandfather appears darker than the other two people in the photo. The Screen blend mode was able to brighten him, but since it affected the entire image, it made the rest of the photo too bright. Let’s see how we can easily target just the girl’s grandfather without brightening any other areas using a layer mask!

Step 6: Add A Layer Mask Filled With Black

Since the top layer is currently hidden from view by the layer mask, even though it’s set to the Screen blend mode and should be lightening the image, my photo appears unaffected and in its original black and white form in the document window:

Step 7: Select The Brush Tool

To brighten only the girl’s grandfather, all I need to do is paint over him with white on the layer mask. For that, I’ll need Photoshop’s Brush Tool, so I’ll select it from the Tools palette. I could also press the letter B on my keyboard to quickly select it with the shortcut:

Step 8: Paint With White On The Layer Mask

Photoshop uses the current Foreground color as the color for the brush, so press the letter D on your keyboard to quickly reset your Foreground and Background colors if needed, which will make white the Foreground color. If you look at the Foreground and Background color swatches near the bottom of the Tools palette, you should see the Foreground color swatch (top left) set to white. The Background color swatch (bottom right) will be set to black:

With the Brush Tool selected and white as the Foreground color, simply paint over any areas that you need to brighten (or darken, if your top layer is set to the Multiply blend mode). Since we’re painting on the layer mask, not the layer itself, we won’t see the white. Instead, we’ll reveal “Layer 2” in those areas, which will lighten (or darken) the areas we paint over.

You can change the size of your brush as you paint by pressing the left bracket key ( [ ) to make the brush smaller or the right bracket key ( ] ) to make it larger. We can also control the softness or hardness of the brush edges from the keyboard as we paint. Press Shift + left bracket ( [ ) to make the brush edges softer, or Shift + right bracket ( ] ) to make them harder.

Here, we can see the girl’s grandfather becoming lighter in the photo as I paint over his face and shirt:

If we look again at the layer mask thumbnail in the Layers palette, we can see the areas we’ve painted over with white. The rest of the layer where the mask is still filled with black remains hidden from view in the document:

Step 9: Lower The Layer Opacity To Fine-Tune The Results

If you find that the areas you’ve painted over are too light or dark compared with the rest of the image, simply lower the opacity of the layer to fine-tune the results. The Opacity option is directly across from the blend mode option at the top of the Layers palette. The lower you set the opacity, the more transparent the layer will become, allowing it to blend in more with the image below it.

In my case, the girl’s grandfather is too light after painting over him on the mask, so I’m going to lower my opacity down to 70% to reduce the brightness a little:

Thanks to that little bit of extra work with the Screen blend mode and a layer mask, all three people in the photo now share similar brightness levels:

Up next, we’re going to switch modes (as in “color modes”) and take our Photoshop black and white conversions into the Lab (rocket science degree and propeller hat not required)!

Gopro Hero 11 Black Review: Worth The Upgrade In 2023?

The GoPro line of cameras has always been known to be action-oriented, and such has been appreciated by outdoorsy folks. However, that hasn’t stopped a multitude of users from buying GoPros for their day-to-day shooting. Unveiled a couple of months ago, the GoPro Hero 11 Black is the latest iteration of its action camera. While not exactly a leap in terms of design, the GoPro Hero 11 does bring improvements in some areas, including a new sensor, improved stabilization, and more. But does the Hero 11 perform as per expectations and can daily joes consider buying it? Well, I took the GoPro Hero 11 out for a spin, captured some footage around the area I live, and this is what I found.

GoPro Hero 11 Black Review (2023)

Since Hero 11 offers a plethora of shooting modes and opportunities, I took the time to divide this review into sections. Depending on which mode you want to see, choose it from the table below and jump to it.

GoPro Hero 11 Black: Specifications

Before we dive into the other more important stuff, including my opinions, check out what’s new in the Hero 11 below:

Dimensions (W x H x D)71.8 W x 50.8 H x 33.6 D (mm)


Image Sensor1/1.9″ CMOS


Max Photo Resolution27.13MP (5568×4872)

10m (33ft)

What’s New in GoPro Hero 11 Black?

Another significant addition to the Hero 11 is the ability to record in 10-bit color. This is a much-needed bump for professionals who want to take things further with color grading. 10-bit color naturally gives better freedom in color correction and editing. However, be aware that you will require a beefier than normal PC to properly do the post-processing.

GoPro Hero 10’s HyperSmooth 4.0 was seen as a big improvement on the stabilization front. The Hero 11 takes things further with the new HyperSmooth 5.0 feature. HyperSmooth works by intelligently zooming in when detecting shakiness. By zooming in, the Hero 11 is able to stabilize jittery footage easily. Check out the footage we have attached in the video samples later in this review.

For those unaware, Horizon Locking makes sure the horizon stays level when the camera is being tilted in all sorts of directions. GoPro Hero 11 Black now allows for full 360-degree Horizon Locking, meaning you can tilt your camera whichever way and the horizon remains stable. This is an addition to the HyperSmooth 5.0 engine and is sure to help produce consistent videos.

Besides these notable features, the Hero 11 also comes with three new night modes to improve Time Lapse experiences. The beautiful Star Trails mode uses the Earth’s rotation and stars to capture light trails across the sky. The Light Painting mode helps you create brush stoke effects with moving lights and the Vehicle Light Trails lets you use nighttime traffic for trails.

GoPro Hero 11 Unboxing

The Hero 11 also comes with two clamps that can attach to the Gumby and the GoPro for further mobility. This means I could strap on the GoPro Hero 11 on almost any surface, including railing, tables, bike helmets, and more. If you are in the business of recording a lot of POV stuff, you can use this to its full potential. Further included in the package is a USB-A to Type-C cable, a small pouch, and well, the camera itself.

My overall experience of unboxing the Hero 11 was clean, organized, and most of all easy. This is the one area where I did not need action, and I’m thankful I didn’t. This is the reviewer’s packing by the way, and the retail packaging will look slightly different.

GoPro Hero 11 Design

The Hero 11 is the newest GoPro action camera but that doesn’t mean it comes with any specific changes. And to solidify that, the Hero 11 comes with little to no design changes. The exterior of the GoPro Hero 11 is the same, except you get an 11 printed on the side. The camera features a compact, rectangular design same as found in the Hero 10.

Besides that, the camera has mounting tabs, side covers, and the same overall design. Carrying forward the same story, the GP2 processor from Hero 10 has not changed, but the Hero 11 does come with an upgraded Enduro battery. It was previously available as an accessory but is now included in the box. While the capacity remains the same at 1,720 mAh, GoPro has upgraded the chemistry, which should make it last longer.

As for portability, the Hero 11 retains its slim design. This meant I could easily put the camera in a pouch or my sling bag and take it with me anywhere without hassles. The small profile of the Hero 11 can be taken in person or just tucked in your bag. While the Gumby mount can get a bit weird to carry, it was portable enough.

Overall, the Hero 11 doesn’t really pack a lot of design improvements. However, if you’re someone getting it for the features, sure do.

GoPro Hero 11 Camera UI/UX

GoPro Hero 11 comes with largely the same user interface found in the Hero 10. The overall menu design is simple with handy menu buttons for everything. You get your traditional sliders for when you want to switch FOV modes. Other options, including those to switch video modes and adjust image settings, are easy to reach and neatly organized. Overall, the GoPro Hero 11’s UI is simple and easy to use, even for newbies.

GoPro Hero 11 Camera Performance

The GoPro Hero 11 comes with a variety of video modes to fit the video needs of content creators and general users. While my use of the GoPros isn’t expansive, I took the camera out for a few trips around my area. I’ve categorized the various video modes below, so browse through them depending on what you’re looking for.

HyperSmooth Stabilization

Nobody likes a jittery video and a shaky experience. As mentioned above, the GoPro Hero 11 comes with a new HyperSmooth 5.0 engine for better stability. As such I decided to test it out. My testing condition was a normal walking pace going down an empty road. I made sure not to rush a lot and maintain an even pace. I shot both videos in 5.3K @ 60FPS. After going through the before and after videos, I was blown away by the difference.

As you can see yourself, the video with any stabilization off is extremely jittery and almost looks like I’m doing it on purpose. While the video quality does look nice, it’s not exactly useable in this state. Turning on HyperSmooth 5.0 makes a world of difference. The video now is extremely stable with little to no jitter whatsoever. It’s almost unbelievable how stable the video becomes even though I’m walking at the same pace. The video quality remains vivid with beautiful color accuracy, proper light reproduction, and overall detail. If you’re looking for super stable videos, buy the Hero 11 with prejudice.

360 Horizon Lock

Save for adrenaline junkies, Horizon Lock is one of the few features that some folks might not use at all. However, it’s still a handy feature for when you want to use it. Nonetheless, I tried the Horizon Lock and was fairly impressed. I recorded a video with the same 5.3K/60FPS setting and maintained an even level of scenery with some tilts here and there for other elements.


GoPro Hero 11’s new 8:7 sensor not only brings better image quality but as mentioned enhances the FOV. This, in turn, brings an upgraded version of Super View called HyperView. HyperView takes the now taller sensor and puts it into a 16:9 format. The result is extremely wide videos. To test HyperView, I thought the best way would be to get into a car and see how far I can stretch it.

The resulting HyperView video is a good combination of a big FOV and quality. The entirety of the car cabin is fully visible with a clear cover of the outside. In the second half of the video, I took the camera out to capture more of the area, and the same effect was reflected.

As expected, there is some visible distortion on the sides because of the 12mm coverage. Furthermore, there is some graininess in the video but nothing major. A small thing to note is that the built-in mic also recorded ambient sounds decently. Overall, I quite enjoyed testing the GoPro Hero 11’s HyperView mode and plan to use it again on hiking trips to capture the amazing and vivid scenery.

Slow Motion

The GoPro Hero 11 can also record slow-motion videos up to 240 FPS. While walking into oncoming traffic is not something I do regularly, I decided to stand a bit closer and record a few videos in slow motion and wasn’t disappointed.


I found the overall output photos pretty satisfactory. The Hero 11 Black has a good emphasis on color accuracy and quality. A thing I have to give GoPro props for is the fact that the quality remains consistent no matter if you are taking normal or wide-angle shots. This meant I could easily switch back and forth between modes and expect the same photo quality. The Hero 11 also handled light quite well, considering it was sunny outside. Overall, I found Hero 11’s photo-capturing capabilities to be good.

GoPro Hero 11 Battery Life

As mentioned above already, the GoPro Hero 11 Black comes with an Enduro battery with a capacity of 1,72o mAh. GoPro promises up to 61 minutes of battery life when shooting at 5.3K @60 FPS. And in our experience, the claims proved to be largely true. I shot the above videos and a combination of photos in moderate weather conditions. I began the session with the GoPro Hero 11 Black at 100% battery. At the end of my recording, the GoPro had 69% battery left. Since I used a variety of video modes rather than a single one, I feel the camera had a good amount of battery life.

GoPro Quik App Experience

I don’t think there’s a gadget left that doesn’t have its own app. I found that the GoPro Hero 11 is one of the ones that do. Called the GoPro Quik, the app is an all-in-one control panel for the camera and everything related to it. Setting up the camera was easy enough for me, even with all the pairing errors at the start.

There is also a handy preview button that lets users view real-time footage from the camera’s viewfinder with ease. However, it goes a step further, allowing me to fully control the camera besides previewing. I easily changed shooting and video modes, switched to the TimeWarp, edit shooting settings including resolutions and FPS. GoPro even offers users to switch to easy mode right from the app in case they can’t locate it in the camera settings.

The Quik App also has what it calls Mural, which is basically a collection of your best photos and videos. The app offers to pull media not only from the camera but your phone too. I combined the images and created a personalized mural, which actually worked well. However, to access the full features like premium video and photo editing, GoPro offers a subscription with its action cameras. Nonetheless, GoPro Quik is a handy and easy-to-use app.

GoPro Hero 11 Pros and Cons

To round up everything we have discussed in this review, check out the pros and cons of the new GoPro Hero 11:

GoPro Hero 11 Black Pricing

Go Pro Hero 11 Black retails at the price of $399.99 on Amazon in the US and Rs 50,499 on Amazon in India. There is also an optional accessory bundle on GoPro’s official site, which costs $549.99 without GoPro Premium and $399.99 with it. However, if you’re willing to look past the “NEW” tag, you can consider last year’s Hero 10 Black. Priced at $384.99 (or Rs 38,000 in India), the GoPro Hero 10 bundle comes with a dual battery charger, an extra battery, and a 64GB SD Card. But considering the GoPro Hero 10 has the same pricing as the new model, it would make better sense for beginners to start off with the latest one and all the new features.

GoPro Hero 11 Black: Upgraded But Is It Enough?

Instant High Contrast Black And White Photos With Photoshop

Instant High Contrast Black and White Photos with Photoshop

Learn how to turn your images to high contrast black and white with Photoshop using Gradient Maps, the fastest and easiest way to create great looking B&W photos!

Written by Steve Patterson.

In this tutorial, I show you how to instantly convert photos to high contrast black and white in Photoshop using a Gradient Map. There are lots of ways to convert images to black and white, but Gradient Maps are one of the best because they are so fast and easy to use, and they give us great results. I’ll show you how to use a Gradient Map, and I’ll show you the secret to why Gradient Maps give black and white photos such a high contrast look.

Here’s an example of what the final high contrast black and white effect will look like when we’re done:

The final result.

Let’s get started!

Download this tutorial as a print-ready PDF!

Which version of Photoshop do I need?

I used Photoshop 2023 but any recent version will work. Get the latest Photoshop version.

The document setup

I’ll use this image from Adobe Stock:

The original photo.

Gradient Maps vs Photoshop’s Desaturate command

We’ll start with the Desaturate command. In the Layers panel, the image appears on the Background layer:

Photoshop’s Layers panel.

Make a copy of the Background layer by dragging it down onto the New Layer icon:

Dragging the Background layer onto the New Layer icon.

And rename it Desaturated. Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) to accept it:

Renaming the layer Desaturated.

To remove the color, go up to the Image menu in the Menu Bar, then to Adjustments:

And choose the Desaturate command:

Choosing Desaturate.

Photoshop instantly removes the color from the image, leaving it in black and white.

But the result is not very impressive. There are no dark shadows or bright highlights to give it that high contrast look we’d expect from a great black and white image. Instead, it just looks like what it is; an image with no color:

The black and white result using the Desaturate command.

How to convert an image to B&W with a Gradient Map

So let’s compare the result from the Desaturate command to what we get using a Gradient Map.

Turning off the Desaturated layer.

Step 1: Reset Photoshop’s Foreground and Background colors

Before adding the Gradient Map, make sure in the toolbar that your Foreground and Background colors are set to their defaults, with black for the Foreground and white for the Background:

The Foreground and Background colors.

Step 2: Add a Gradient Map adjustment layer

And choose a Gradient Map adjustment layer from the list:

Adding a Gradient Map adjustment layer.

And instantly, we get a much higher contrast black and white image, with darker shadows, brighter highlights and more overall detail:

The black and white result using the Gradient Map.

Comparing the results

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the results from the Desaturate command (left) and the Gradient Map (right).

It’s easy to see how much better the Gradient Map’s black and white version looks, even though it took the same amount of time. The higher contrast makes the image pop, with more detail in his face and hair, and more obvious textures in his sweater and in the background:

The Desaturate command (left) and the Gradient Map (right).

How Gradient Maps convert images to black and white

So why are Gradient Maps so good at creating high contrast black and white images? There’s really two reasons. And the first is because of how a Gradient Map works.

I cover Gradient Maps in much more detail in another tutorial where we learn how to color grade images with Gradient Maps. But long story short, a Gradient Map takes the original colors in your image and replaces them with the colors from a gradient.

In the Properties panel, we see the gradient that the Gradient Map is using. And by default, it’s based on our Foreground and Background colors, which is why we reset them to black and white:

Photoshop’s Properties panel showing the gradient.

Gradient Maps replace colors based on their brightness. So because we’re using a black to white gradient, the darkest colors in the image are being replaced with black or dark gray. The brightest colors are now white or light gray. And the colors with their brightness somewhere in the middle are now a shade of gray from the midtones in the gradient:

The original colors are replaced with the gradient colors based on their brightness.

Why do Gradient Maps create high contrast images?

So that’s why the image was converted to black and white when we added the Gradient Map. But why does the black and white image have such high contrast? Why is the contrast with the Gradient Map not only higher than the desaturated version, but even higher than the original image? The reason is because of an option found in the Gradient Editor.

Opening the Gradient Editor The Smoothness option

And here in the Gradient Editor, just above the gradient preview bar, is an option called Smoothness. By default, Smoothness is set to 100 percent. And that means that Photoshop is trying to smooth out the transitions between the different colors, or in this case the different shades of gray, in the gradient:

The Smoothness option in the Gradient Editor.

How Smoothness affects contrast

But this smoothing feature also increases the contrast in the gradient. It’s enhancing the difference between the dark and light tones by pushing darker tones more towards black and lighter tones closer to white. And this is what’s giving us that higher contrast look with our black and white image.

Watch what happens to the image if we lower the Smoothness down to 0 percent:

Lowering Smoothness to 0 percent.

Suddenly we lose the higher contrast, and the black and white image now looks more like the result from the Desaturate command:

Lowering the Smoothness value lowers the contrast.

But when I increase the Smoothness back to 100 percent, the higher contrast returns:

Increasing the Smoothness value increases the contrast.

Expanding and contracting the shadows and highlights

If you pay attention to the gradient preview bar as you increase and decrease the Smoothness value, you can actually see what’s happening to the gradient. Notice how far the darkest shades on the left and the brightest shades on the right are extending inward towards the midtones with Smoothness set to 100 percent:

The shadows and highlights expand with Smoothness at 100 percent.

But as you lower the Smoothness value, those darkest and lightest shades get pushed back toward the edges, which brightens up the midtones. And at 0 percent smoothness, we get a more natural transition from black to white:

The shadows and highlights contract with Smoothness at 0 percent.

Without smoothing, the Gradient Map (right) looks closer to the desaturated image (left).

The result with Smoothness reset to 100 percent.


And there we have it! But Gradient Maps can do so much more than convert images to black and white. They’re also great for adding creative color effects to your images, which you can learn all about in my Color Grading with Gradient Maps tutorial.

If you found this lesson helpful, be sure to check out my other Photo Effects and Photo Editing tutorials. And don’t forget, all of my Photoshop tutorials are now available to download as PDFs!

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra Revealed: Price And Specs For New Android Powerhouse

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra revealed: Price and specs for new Android powerhouse

Xiaomi has revealed its newest flagship phone, and as expected the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is enough to give Samsung some nightmares. Packing a huge 50-megapixel camera sensor, a periscope zoom, wildly-fast 67W wireless and wired charging, and a tiny rear touchscreen for notifications and selfies, it’s basically everything we’ve seen Xiaomi working on over the past year or so, rolled into one phone.

On the front, there’s a 6.81-inch WQHD+ (3200 x 1440) AMOLED display, in 20:9 aspect with quad-curve design. It’ll hit up to 1,700 nits of peak brightness, Xiaomi says, and has both a 120Hz refresh rate and a 480Hz touch sampling rate.

It’s DCI-P3 and HDR10+ compliant, with a Dolby Vision 360-degree ambient light sensor 2.0, and covered in Gorilla Glass Victus. However it’s the Mi 11 Ultra’s second display that’s arguably more fascinating, even though at 1.1-inches it’s only a fraction of the size. Positioned alongside the camera sensors, the 126 x 294 AMOLED panel is a tiny touchscreen which can be used in always-on mode for notifications and more, as well as to frame selfies when you’re using the primary cameras.

That’s important because, while there’s a 20-megapixel in-display selfie camera on the front, you probably really want to use the sensors Xiaomi has packed on the rear. Pride of place is a Samsung GN2 50-megapixel wide-angle, co-developed by the company with Xiaomi, with f/1.95 optics and – at 1/1.12-inches – the largest phone camera sensor currently on the market.

It uses 4-in-1 Super Pixels, and a Time-of-Flight multi-point laser focus system. Xiaomi says that – with its in-house night mode algorithms – it can deliver images with just 0.02 lux of light. Alongside it is a 48-megapixel 5x optical periscope zoom; that’s capable of 10x hybrid zoom, or 120x digital zoom. The 48-megapixel ultra-wide uses the same Sony IMX586 sensor as the optical zoom; however, it has a 128-degree field of view with AI-powered lens distortion correction.

All three cameras can shoot 8k 24fps video. The 50-megapixel primary camera can do Staggered-HDR, too. Powering it all is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, with 12GB of memory and 256GB of storage as standard. Xiaomi has used its three-phase cooling system for the first time, here, too, promising twice the thermal conductivity performance from a new processor cooler. It runs Android 11 with Xiaomi’s own MIUI 12 interface.

The Mi 11 Ultra uses a ceramic back – in white or black – and is IP68 water and dust resistant. There’s a 5,000 mAh battery, with support for 67W wired and wireless charging: a full recharge using the bundled charger, Xiaomi says, will take just 36 minutes. 10W reverse charging is supported, too.

All in all, the biggest limitation here may well be availability. Xiaomi says that the Mi 11 Ultra will go on sale at 1,199 euro ($1,395) in Europe, though there’s no specific sales information for the US.

Black Markets And The Online Mob

Once the domain of uber savvy hackers and forward-thinking mafioso,

today’s online crime requires little more than a cursory knowledge of

programming and a downloadable tool kit to get started.

Progressive criminals saw the evolution of technology as a means for

upgrading their own malicious activities. Hackers, crackers, phishers,

pharmers and social engineers used their knowledge stores to one-up the

average individual in a vicious game of ‘you are you but I also can be


Identity theft was buoyed by the black market’s supply and demand. Yet

even criminal consumers are a fickle lot, and what was valuable last year

is not so lucrative by this year’s standards. According to Bindview’s

RAZOR research team — a group of people focused on incorporating the

latest up-to-date changes in the threat, vulnerability, and regulatory

landscape into Bindview’s products — credit card numbers were worth

approximately $25 each wholesale and $100 each retail in 2002. Fast

forward to 2005 and they’ve dropped to $1 to $5 wholesale and $10 to $25


Yet ‘products’ such as email addresses weren’t on the map in 2002 but are

currently worth $.01 to $.05 each. A well-programmed bot could find many

hundreds of valid emails a day, turning a tidy profit for black


Criminals themselves saw a shift in who is doing the digital break-ins. A

few years ago, hackers generally were techie types with too much time on

their hands who wanted to make a name for themselves in the hacker

underground. Now, they’re often hackers for hire, making a buck by

stealing corporate information or working hand-in-hand with spammers. And

the kids aren’t missing out on the ‘fun’ either, using plug-and-play

theft kits to make their work easier.

”The ease with which data can be stolen depends on the tools being used

and the thief’s level of sophistication in traversing through the

network,” says Jim Hurley, senior director of RAZOR Research, for

Houston, Texas-based Bindview. ”Creating a breach ranges in difficulty

from being intimately familiar with the innards of OS design,

construction and network protocols to having absolutely no knowledge —

because you don’t need it with the vast availability of pre-built tools.

Sniffers, keyloggers, rootkits, loaders, Trojans and virus kits are but a

few of the many offerings on thousands of accessible sites.”

In the recent past, online theft and criminal activity poured forth from

crime is far from being country specific. If you know how to compile a

program, you can make changes to the source code of an application and

make it do something else.

Just as online auctions launched a flurry of overnight entrepreneurs, so

has the prevalence of online crime kits. You don’t need a long list of

contacts to get started on the dark side. Once a would-be criminal has

found themselves some interesting information, it’s not that hard to find

a buyer using Web sites, bulletin boards, IM, email, cell phones and of

course, the very lucrative Web auction ring.

Make no mistake, though the hierarchy has shifted from organized crime

families, it is very much alive in the form of organized Web auction

rings — well-oiled machines that include many layers of people

performing very specific roles and functions. From the top down they

include the inner ring, evaluators, inspectors, enforcers/contacts,

trusted fences and the buyer and seller.

Web auction rings, otherwise known as Web Mobs, have proved to be a very

nasty problem for Federal investigators due to their cross-country

logistics. Once sufficient evidence has been gathered to crack an auction

ring, authorities must work within international boundaries, time zones

and with foreign legal statutes.

”What’s not well known is they’re not in the business of stealing things

and theyre not hackers,” says Hurley. ”It’s best to think of them as a

fence between the buyer and the seller. They’re not technologists and

they don’t care to be, they just want to make sure that their activities

are not traceable and these are the organizations that are operating

around the world.”

So what’s for sale in this more accessible market? Falsified deeds, birth

and death records, letters of credit, health insurance cards, source

code, diplomas and even people are available for the right price. The

anonymity and relative ease of criminal activity is gaining in

attractiveness to the barely skilled programmers looking to cash in.

The modus operandi of today’s cyber criminal includes commonly known

tricks of the trade, starting with the path of least resistance, i.e.,

social engineering. According to Hurley, criminals go after their victims

using a predictable set of steps: reconnaissance, target, evaluate the

environment, install new service or backdoor, cover your tracks, hit pay

dirt and run or decide to hang around to exploit and reuse the target,

keep ownership of the device, or not, and then move on to the next


With so much information so relatively easy to get to, it’s a feast of

sorts for the would-be Web Mobber. Using established channels spanning

international date lines, and employing thousands of zombie machines,

it’s more difficult than ever to locate these extensive criminal networks

but easier than expected to join one.


So what can be done to protect our organizations from this type of


”There’s what I’ll call best practices and then there’s reality,” says

Hurley. ”Based on our research over the past two to three years, there

are significant differences in performance results that companies are

experiencing with their security programs. There are some common things

that are done very well among the best-class enterprises suffering the

least amount of breaches and damages. But even having said that, there’s

probably no way to defeat a serious security threat today and it wouldn’t

matter what the tool is. The only way to do that would be to unplug the


According to Hurley, the firms that have a good chance of avoiding

victimization are the ones with a very active risk management program in

place. ”An executive team devoted to solving security issues, where the

IT security function isn’t buried in a hole somewhere in IT but rather

implemented as a risk management function, cross-company and


Although the U.S. government has been working in concert with

international authorities to painstakingly dismember online Web Mobs, our

indictments are but a grain of sand in the vast amount of criminal

collectives forming and disbanding in a constant game of hide and seek.

Individually, the indictments are a win, but with the ease and prevalence

of online hacking tools and the lucrative nature of buying and selling

through organized Web Mobs, many more will don the black hats as they

continue to cross-over.

The reality of it is that weve only just scratched the surface.

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