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Social Media & My iPhone Camera

This last year I found myself on the road a lot.  I use some social media like face book to keep up with friends and interests.  Don’t share a lot of images or post my location because it leads to more targeted ads.  I also find it had to take my camera on the road with me.  I already have to take 2 laptops so to pack in a DSLR in my carry on gets to be a bit much.

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Still I want to take images on the road.  I decided to make some social media changes.  I changed my Facebook account to only my hobby interest.  I removed most of my personal information.  Deleted post that were not related to my hobbies.  Moved most of my professional contacts to Linkedin.   I decided to use Instagram for my photos.  Since the images I get are mostly from my iPhone I thought this was a good compromise

 

Now I take my photo and edit it in tIMG_1019.jpghe instagram app.  It actually does an OK job.  I use it mainly for snapshots to document where I’ve been or for goofy images.  I do try to post on a regular basis and I also use the instal reel app on my MAC.  I don’t use it for anything other than travel snaps while I am on the road for work.  If I’m working on a photo project of course I use my DSLR and Photoshop.

IMG_1304.jpgThe biggest disadvantage of my iPhone is the limitations of the lens.  The overall camera is actually decent for a phone.  To give myself a few more options I got the olloclip.  It’s a snap-on lens device that gives me 4 options.  Wide angle, fish-eye and 2 Macro lenses in one small package.  I can easily place this in my backpack and when I have time outside of work to site see I grab it and go.

IMG_1070.jpgThis little system will never take the place of my DSLR but it will give me some options when it comes to sharing my travel with my friends and family and instagram followers.  There are times I really wish I had my DSLR but when it is just not possible I have my olloclip and iPhone.  The images here are some of my instagram photos.  I haven’t had the account long but I hope to keep adding images from my travels.  Thanks for the read, follow me on instagram @PD_Images

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Recycle Images to create Graphic Novel looking pictures

I had a hard drive crash on me.  I was able to recover a lot of the data I thought I lost.  I found some images I hadn’t looked at in quite some time and thought….  What can I do with these.  So I began to play around with photoshop and this is what happened.

PDI_0306.jpgI took a normal looking image like this one and turned it into something out of a graphic novel. I know may people will say yes you posterized it or used poster edges but that is not the case.  Those filters don’t get the same effect.  In fact I used about 8 layers to get the final product.  I also find that you can’t use the same process on every photo.  Each time you begin the process changes slightly to make the image look correct.

Below is the final result of this image.

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As you can see the entire photo is changed and it looks very much like a graphic novel image.  I combined different artistic, stylize and blur filters to get the effect above.  Here is a sample of the number of layers I used.  The final result has about 3 additional layers.

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Here is another before and after…

PDI_0263.jpgGasMask_Graphic Novel.jpg

And 2 more full size examples….

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I really enjoyed creating these and writing this article.  Makes me think I could do a online graphic novel using real people since I can’t draw…  Again thanks for reading this.

I’m planning to write another post soon about the lens baby system and embracing the blur….

Nikon AW100 – Sports Camera

A while back I wrote about the GoPro camera. I have used my GoPro for many things and intended to use it for some underwater shots while on vacation. After reading reviews I found it was limited on quality underwater. Further research lead me to the Nikon Coolpix AW100. Water proof up to 33ft and shock proof up to 5 feet. This camera was made for mild sports action yet still remains stylish.

The camera looks like a simple point and shoot. Many of the features you would find on most with a couple differences. First the button for the shutter and video are separate. Each has a unique texture so you can feel what is what. Next the batter and memory card door had a rubber seal but also uses a double lock to be more secure from accidental opening. Next the camera has a built in GPS allowing you to GEO tag your images or use it as a functional ground GPS. Finally you will find a underwater setting in the presets for diving.

Dolphin Flight - Discovery Cove, Orlando FL

Going through the presets and doing some tests I found the “simple” mode to be annoying. I switch it over to “auto” for playing. During vacation I used several presets like “underwater”, “Beach” and “Night Portrait”. These are easy to change using the scene mode button on the back of the camera. All in all I found the scenes to be quite adequate for most of my images. Remember this is a point and shoot. The zoom range work well for most situations. The one drawback was the speed between shots. The manual boasts 2.5 frames per second but even with my extreme 30MB/s SD card I could not get shots that quickly.

The image quality during daylight was above average to outstanding in the point and shoot category. I think the color and contrast in the daylight images were spot on. I also could not see any real issues with noise in these images. I was a little disappointed in the night images. They seemed to have a lot of noise and took time to fix in photoshop. I would say a 5X7 would be the largest you could get a usable print from using night settings. Overall for a point and shoot the camera performance was above average. ** note I tested the zoom lens but did not use the digital zoom feature.

Video was also handled very well with this little camera. It takes 1080p HD video with great color and contrast. I also took several night videos and amazingly the quality of night video was much better than the photos. I was able to snorkel taking video and stills again with great results. The camera was easy to manage underwater. I did notice one difference here that should be noted. Using the underwater mode the still images look nice, corrected color but to me look a bit dull. The video looks great, especially compared to the GoPro but the color looks off a bit. I have included a video shot entirely using the AW100. (stills and video use the Coolpix AW100, Edited in Final Cut X Pro)

My overall opinion of the Nikon AW100: If you need a camera that can take some light abuse and for all weather situations I would recommend you check this camera out. The image and video quality are excellent in most situations. The controls are simple to use and it has safety locks keeping the camera weather tight. The drawbacks are minimal unless you plan to do lots of low-light images. For under $300 (USD) this camera is well worth a look.

Thanks for reading!

Models

Over the years I have had the chance to work with many different models. Some turn out to fall into the diva category. Some turn out to be flakes but to spite all that most, I’d say 90% do a great job. That 90% are also the ones that realize it is a job.

When it comes to trade it seems to be simple but then as a photographer I have the impression that the model is either new or is trying something new. That is not a big deal because they have not been convinced that every shot has to look like a glamour shot. Far from that in commercial photography I want more natural looks, honest expressions and most of all I want the image to look real.

My issue lately has been finding paid models. Most likely because of the market I live in. Small market, limited choice and most are asking more than a large market rate. Because of the market size I have little choice here. My current dilemma is the need to complete a project but finding the model that fits the look. I found 10 in the area and sent requests to shoot on a specific day. From the 10 requests I sent out I got 3 responses. 2 of the 3 were to say they were currently booked. These 2 models are now on the list of models I would contact again just for the fact they took the time to respond to my request.

The 3rd model said she could do the project. Great news, looks like I may have this in the bag! We went over the rate, the looks needed, she had a location that fit the style. So far everything is good. Sent a copy of the release to complete with a photo ID required this was all good. At this point I am thinking I have this in the bag. Last thing to do is nail down the schedule. I sent her the time start time and let her know we could actually start any time after that, just let me know what works. I get back a response for a different day all together. I sent back an email to explain that the shoot was for the day listed on the casting call. Model response “I have plans that day so we need to change the date.”

I had to expand my search, look in other markets and now looks like I will have to travel about 3 hours if I want to do the project. But the good new here is the area I am traveling to has a workshop going on, so those who attend workshops… New review coming soon! I think this blog was more of me bitching that being constructive…. LOL

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Creative Photo Editing

Sometimes you just have to get a bit creative to give your image that little extra spark. Maybe add a motion blur or zoom blur. Change the color a bit or in this case I did all of the above. First I desaturated the color making it almost black and white. Next I made a second layer and masked out my model. Then on the base layer I darkened it to give it a night look. Next on my mask layer I added a zoom blur and a motion blur centered on the area where the model would have been. Next I used a plugin to add a night vision effect. I then added a film grain to the top layer before setting the opacity to 90% and flatting the image. This is the result. Have fun with photo editing, there is a lot you can do it just takes a bit of trial and error!!
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad, Thanks – Allen

The iPad is a great tool not just a fun new toy!

So I recently bought an IPad.  I thought it would be fun and I haven’t bought “new” technology when it was first released in a LONG time.  I usually wait a while until everyone else has one.  For example IPhone came out and everyone rushed out to get one what did I get… a blackberry.  For some reason this was different.  I saw the ad read the hype and just decided I think I’d use that!

As a photographer I already found it useful.  I uploaded samples of my images, my calendar, email and of course music.  I was at a workshop that I will be reviewing in a couple weeks (when I have time to finish a few more images) and a photographer took out his IPhone to show some samples.  So I took out my IPad to do the same.  The Model said and I quote “No way! You didn’t just whip out an IPad”.  It was a hit, everyone stopped to look at the thing.  I have since used it for another client to see samples.

You don’t have to have big files, smaller 600X800 72dpi files look great.  The only issue I have with the picture manager is that you can’t arrange your folders the way you want them.   I really see this as more than just an organization tool.  I can see this as being a stepping stone to a new breed of electronic portfolio.  Sleek look, lots of great apps and easy to use the IPad gets a gold star!!

Grunge Motel Workshop Review

Danny's Grunge Motel Workshop Review

Before I start the review let me just say workshops and training are different for each person.  You get out of them what you put into them.  That being said please use your own judgment on how the content best fits your needs.

The “Grunge Motel” workshop is unique for a workshop.  Many times workshops are all about portraits, glamour, products or fashion.  This theme was one I just wanted to do.  It doesn’t fall into the everyday images we tend to shoot.  So let’s set the stage for this experience as it is.  Start with a rundown motel that, when you see it, the last thing on your mind is stopping.  You walk in and you really don’t want to even touch ANYTHING!!  Imagine stained carpet, curtains that are painted to the walls…  furniture that is just falling apart in fact there was one room condemned by the city.  Now add a beautiful semi-nude/nude model to the mix and…

Jessica Vaugn

Well, before I get ahead of myself lets talk shop!  The workshop is done by Danny Griffin and is semi-private with only 2 participants per workshop.  You can see his work at www.dannygriffin.net.  We start with a handout going over the basics of the type of lighting, the mood, what we want to accomplish.  Then it is how to set your camera for this style of imagery.  Then we are introduced to model Jessica Vaugn.  You can see her portfolio at www.jessicavaugn.com or find her on several modeling sites.  She brings a variety of lingere’ and lets you pick the looks you want to shoot her in.  To top it off all of the items have a photo of her on the front so you can see exactly what she looks like wearing the item.

We began the shoot by setting our white balance.  A good idea for any shoot however most people tend to rely on “auto” white balance.  If you don’t know how to set this on your camera I suggest reading up on it and getting a grey-card.  The shoot lasted about 2.5 hours with several changes.  Between changes lighting modifications were made.  Most images are done with a single mono-light but we did add in a reflector as needed.  We( I ) also shot a few images using natural light.

Danny used a very experienced model as Jessica needed little direction to give us incredible images.  We used every aspect of the room, all the furniture, rather Jessica was on the bed or standing on the night stand. (luckily some of it was nailed to the wall!)  Safety was a concern as it should be in any shoot, but there was no stopping her from climbing on things to give us something different.  It helps to have a model that is experienced and willing to give her all!  We were not disappointed, she delivers.

Upon completion of the shoot we went back to the studio to edit time images.  Danny looked over our images and helped us pick out a few for editing.  He gave us a mini critique of our shots and some pointers on how to improve them.  He provides a layer file and gave step by step instructions on how to finish an image.  It took roughly 30 – 40 minutes to edit the first one and I was able to complete a second one while watching the other participant work on his.  Some of the others have taken even less time to do now that I know the steps and have the provided sample file.  I did learn some KB shortcuts (THANK YOU!) and how to use some tools I’ve never tried before.  My weakest area is photo finishing so this was a very useful learning tool for me.

Danny did allow us the freedom to try new things, we were not tied to a set agenda.  I was able to pop out the “Lens Baby” for a few.  In fact Danny barrowed it for a couple shots himself.  Towards the end while the other participant was shooting I put on my 35mm F/1.8 and got some nice natural light shots.  This was very different for me to shoot as I normally shoot commercial type images, 90% of them on white.  I wanted to do this workshop because it is so different in style and creativity.  It is not the everyday images I am use to.  Think outside the box, be creative and look at what you can accomplish.

Ok, now for the wrap-up… I don’t put a rating on my reviews because training and learning are different for each person.  If you are looking for something creative and different then this workshop is for you.  Don’t sign up thinking you are going to be in a controlled studio environment because you won’t!  Be ready to step outside the box and have fun.  The price for this workshop… we shot for 2.5 hours (shared time) so model fees alone would be at least the cost of this workshop.  Top that off with the instruction and a lesson in photo editing (Damn I need to learn those CS keyboard shortcuts!!) and you have a very reasonable price.  Total time was about 4.5 to 5 hours.  Workshop is highly recommended.

Still not sure… After posting some of the images I have been contacted by 3 different models wanting to do a similar shoot.  I have 2 of them scheduled in 2 weeks from this posting.  Lesson…the door to the studio lets you out if you just walk through it.  Take the chance and let it payoff in the end!!