Apr 042012
 

Photo from Glyn Dewis

Have you ever wanted to achieve the look above demonstrated in this photo by Glyn Dewis?

If so please read about his technique on his blog here.

 Posted by at 1:23 pm
Apr 032012
 

I have a camera mount that I bought cheaply of eBay some while ago for the mounting of a camera (still or video providing it has a standard tripod mount thread) on a motorbike or bicycle. It doesn’t have quite enough range of movement to suit my current motorcycle, a Honda Valkyrie, with all the other things that I have mounted on the handlebars.

Existing mount

Existing mount

I therefore went looking for a now one with more range of movement. I found one that had much more movement and looked very flexible as it would fit onto tubes of up to 40mm in diameter and so would be suitable for mounting on handlebars, risers or engine bars.

New mount

I mounted it onto the risers to get a lower view of the road ahead and it looked great, locked on easily and didn’t mark the chrome.

Video camera mounted right side

Video camera from rear

 

Unfortunately this mounting was not very successful as it was too flexible in one of the joints and it did not keep the camera still. The joint in question is shown in the photo below, there is no way to tighten this joint as it is spring loaded and the spring tension is too light to dampen any vibrations.

Joint highlighted

This is an example of the video shot with this mount (it is low quality on purpose) and it has had YouTubes’ image stabiliser setting applied.  I hope that it doesn’t make you feel too queasy watching it.

This is an example of a video shot with the old mount.

I have not singled out the eBay supplier of this new mount as I don’t think that it is fair as there are many suppliers on eBay offering this mount.  My advice would be not to buy this type of mount for a video camera if you want to mount it on a motorcycle. It may be suitable for mounting on a car or bicycle but I haven’t tested it.

 Posted by at 12:11 pm
Mar 012012
 

580EX-IIHere is a free video that I can recommend that you watch if you are interested in taking photographs using Canon Speedlites.

Syl Arena the author of the Speedliters Handbook recently ran a tutorial session at  B&H Photo‘s event space in New York. The event was videoed and B&H have made the entire 1 hour 43 minute presentation available to watch online for free.  You can watch it below.

 Posted by at 1:11 pm
Nov 102011
 

What focal length lens to use for a flattering portrait shot?

The conventional wisdom seems to suggest that 50mm is ideal on a full frame camera. Personally I prefer somewhere between 70mm and 100mm. I recently came across a comparison done across a wide range of focal lengths on Stephen Eastwood’s website. I won’t plagiarise his page here but encourage you to look at the photo below and to read the article on his website.

Focal length comparisons

I hope this gives you something to think about and to try next time that you have to take a portrait shot.

Whilst you are at it have a look at Stephen’s main website he is an excellent portrait photographer in my opinion

 Posted by at 12:00 pm
Nov 062011
 

This post is about getting photos onto the iPad.

The easiest way is to take a photo with either of the cameras already present in the iPad but the quality of these leaves much to be desired. The second way is by uploading them to the iPad from iTunes from your computer. It is the third method that I am going to write about, that is the use of a camera connection kit and uploading the photos direct from your camera to the iPad.

The official Apple iPad Camera connection kit costs £25 and is available direct from Apple here. You get two adapters one with a USB connector on to plug your camera cable in to and the second has an SD card slot in it. Alternatively you can purchase a camera kit made in China from eBay such as this one for around £4. One of the advantages of the eBay one is that it is slightly larger and it has both USB and SD card slots in the same adapter , there is a small slide switch on the side to select which input to use.

Apple connectors

eBay adapter

The adapter just plugs into the port at the bottom of the iPad. It is then just a matter of putting in your SD card or connecting your camera to the USB interface.

Once you have connected to the iPad you will see a screen like this

Import screen

As you can see the iPad recognises and imports both RAW (it knows my Canon 40D RAW files anyway) and JPG files. You now just select the Import All button on the iPad and your images will be imported.

On Import

You get the option to delete the files from your camera / memory card if you want to. Your images are stored in the ‘All Imported’ folder on the iPad.

Album screen

Finally you can view both the RAW and JPG images on your iPad.

Image display

When you get back to your computer you can then import the photos as you normally would through your file browser interface.

This is an easy method of getting your photos onto your iPad and displaying them immediately on a 1024 by 768 screen and of course you can zoom into them as normal on the iPad. I found this a really good £4 investment and even the official Apple one at £25 is not too bad either.

 Posted by at 12:16 pm
Oct 102011
 

Photography 1 on 1

This channel is sponsored by Adorama one of the large US photographic stores. It features Mark Wallace as the presenter. Mark covers mainly shooting topics and occasionally editing in Photoshop. The topics he covers are chosen from questions he receives from viewers of his videos. Each video lasts about 15 minutes and they are uploaded to YouTube regularly.

This is a recent video on focus basics.

Photo Gavin

The presenter of these videos is Gavin Hoey a UK photographer. Gavin’s videos usually cover editing in Photoshop and sometimes Lightroom and occasionally he covers practical shooting tips. His videos last between about 7 and 15 minutes depending on the subject covered.

This is a recent video about Time Lapse photography.

Subscriptions

To make it easy to find when a new video is published from each of these presenters you can subscribe to their channels on YouTube. You then receive an email each time a new video is published. Just go to YouTube and create an account if you don’t already have one. Search for one of the videos above and once you have found it click on the subscribe button just above the video and you will start to receive the notifications.

Recommendations

If you have any relevant YouTube channels that you are subscribed to please post a comment and include your recommendation.

 

 Posted by at 8:11 am
Oct 022011
 

photowalkSaturday 1st October 2011 did not start the way I would have liked it to. At about 7.30am we had an enormous thunderstorm with thunder and lightning and lots of rain. Luckily it stopped at about 9.15am but the roads were sodden with large puddles everywhere. Two walkers had sent email cancelling their participation dues to reasons other than the weather and a rewarding thing was I had a walker register late on Friday and another on Saturday morning first thing (a brave soul in light of the weather).

I arrived in Ondara outside the Bull Ring as planned just before 9.30am and no one had yet arrived. The Bull Ring was closed and locked up and the Bull Ring bar had decided not to open due to the weather. Luckily the bar owner was on site and he opened the side door access to the bull ring. The walkers started to arrive in dribs and drabs and we adjourned to the next bar down the road about 50 meters away. By the time 10am came 18 brave walkers had arrived and I had a phone call from 2 more who were running a little late.

Hans-Peter Steudel, one of the walkers had a contact in the Ondara Town Hall and had arranged for the old clock tower to be opened for us at 10.15am to take photos of the clock and from the roof. Everyone set off for the clock tower in the old town and at 10.15am Manolo arrived to open the clock tower for us. Everyone climbed up the steep stairs to the clock floor where he opened the case for us to get some shots of the mechanism. He then opened the roof and allowed two at a time to go up onto the roof to photograph the view and the bell, it was a little precarious standing on the roof tiles with little to hold on to. Manolo explained that he has to wind the clock by hand each day as it is only a 26 hour mechanism. As we left it started to rain and everyone put on waterproofs and covered their cameras. Luckily the shower only lasted 10 minutes and that was the last of the rain that we would see as part of the walk.

After we finished at the clock tower we returned to the bull ring where we had unrestricted access to the entire building and the ‘back room’ areas. Unfortunately due to the rain the ring itself was more like a shallow lake. Everyone spent a fair bit of time here and so I am looking forward to seeing all the images from there and hopefully there will be some unusual ones.

After the bull ring the walkers split up into small groups and walked around the Old Town taking photographs of the people and the area. At 12noon we all returned to the bar near the bull ring for a drink and a chat, many walkers had other commitments and had to leave straight away and so I was unable to get a group photo which was a shame.

The best photos from each of the walkers will be available for viewing on the World Wide Photo Walk website after 10th October. There is a Flickr group with many more photos taken during the walk.

My thanks to the Mayor of Ondara, Manolo, Hans-Peter and all of the walkers for braving the elements and making the day a success. It was great to meet several photographers from the area that I didn’t know, I certainly enjoyed the day and think that they did too.

Some of the walkers

Some of the walkers

 Posted by at 10:42 am
Sep 282011
 

Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor) is a free programme for all Windows computers and is available for free download from here.

This is a great programme for creating panorama images. Until this programme was recommended to me I had always used Photoshop to create my panoramas. Even on a powerful machine Photoshop can take a long time to render panoramas and even with the automatic settings sometimes Photoshop gets it wrong and you have to select a different setting and wait again for it to render. The only disadvantage with ICE is that it doesn’t create the layers and masks that Photoshop does BUT it does do such a good job that on most occasions you won’t need the extra flexibility of Photoshop.

 How to use ICE.

This programme is so easy to use that it doesn’t really need this tutorial but I will run through it anyway. On loading the programme this is the window that you see Opening screen

You can drag and drop your images onto the centre grey area of the ICE window or go to File > New Panorama to browse your hard disk and select your images. ICE allows stitching of a large array of image types including jpg and some RAW file types. As soon as the images are loaded the programme goes to work and in literally a few seconds the photographs are analysed and the panorama is created. Until you have loaded some images all the other options, except for Exit, are greyed out.

Ice

Now the images are stitched the other options below the image are now available.

The first choice that you have is to select the type of ‘Stitch’ that the programme has performed, the programme started with the automatic options, analysed the panorama and then decided the best way to stitch the images together. The screenshot shows the other options that the programme could have used and should you want to select one of the other options then the panorama will be automatically re-created with these settings.

The next option available is to crop the image. The image itself is displayed with the crop marks around it and you can re-size the image using the grab handles around the image or select specific sizes by typing into the dialog box. At the bottom of the dialog box the actual image size in pixels is displayed.

The export option allows the changing of image from the default JPEG type to those shown in the screen shot. Scaling and image size can also be adjusted as well as JPEG quality.

The final thing to decide is what you want to do with your panorama image. The ‘Export to disk’ option saves the resulting panorama to your local disk drive. The ‘Publish to web’ option allows you to publish the full sized panorama to the Microsoft Photosynth website, should you select this option then you need the Photosynth software installed on your computer and an account to upload the image to. A nice thing here with ICE if it finds the software is not installed it offers to install it for you and then offers to create an account all without losing your panorama.

Finally there is the information screen that tells you various information about your panorama image.

This is the panorama that that you have seen through the tutorial and a larger version is on my 500px gallery.

If you shoot panoramas either occasionally or regularly I  can certainly recommend this programme to you.

 Posted by at 2:07 pm
Sep 262011
 

SuffusionI thought I would do a little coverage of how I built this website and thought that you may find it of interest.

The site is built on WordPress which started life as a blogging platform but has now evolved into a CMS (content Management System) as well. WordPress is a free programme that comes included with many web hosting packages or it can be downloaded from the WordPress website. WordPress comes with one theme built in but it is themes and plug-ins that enhance WordPress and make it a useable platform.

This site is built using the Suffusion theme from Sayontan Sinha. This theme is also free. It is the most flexible and fully featured theme that I have come across and it is very easy to customise to give the look and feel that you want. Suffusion comes with 17 pre-defined colour schemes and by use of the configuration options it is easy to alter these colours to suit the look that you want. As a result I have used this theme to build several  sites for both blogging and for conventional websites. You can read more about Suffusion’s functionality on Sayontan’s site and also on the WordPress site.

Extra functionality can be added with plug-ins. One that is in use on this site is Photonic also from Sayontan Sinha. This again is a free piece of software (GPL licence) and it allows the automatic integration of Flickr, Picasa and 500px galleries with your WordPress site. It is the plug-in used on this site to integrate images from my 500px gallery in this blog. Again it is easy to setup and use the only challenge was getting a key from 500px support to allow this site to access my gallery, it took about 48 hours to get but now I have it everything is working flawlessly. Once it is setup all you do is add a photo to your online gallery and it will be automatically added to your website.

Dedicated generous people like Sayontan allow pretty much anyone to create a professional looking website. My thanks goes out to him and the other authors of GPL licenced software.

 Posted by at 3:37 pm
Sep 252011
 

Google+ is in some peoples opinion, including mine, the best of Facebook and Twitter combined.

Initially access was by invitation only but as of this week anyone can set up a G+ account and just like Facebook it is free.

Facebook has just this week caught up with G+ in that both allow the restriction of your post visibility if required. In G+ you set up groups and so you could have a Family Group, Friends Group, Work Group etc etc a group in G+ speak is a circle.

G+ is fully integrated with Picasa and so images can be automatically integrated from your Picasa gallery and displayed in your post. The quality of the photos is therefore much better than Facebook.

In a very short period of time, bearing in mind that initially G+ was by invitation only, it has gathered a large membership of photographers worldwide.

Like anything new it will take time to build a large membership but it seems to me that G+ is building a large membership at a pretty rapid rate.

Will it replace Facebook and Twitter? In my opinion probably not BUT I think that it will become a popular place to be.

Give it a try and if you don’t like it you can always delete your account.

Scott Kelby has also written about G+ on his blog.

There is an excellent How to Use Google+ on Colby Brown’s blog.

 

 Posted by at 10:11 am