Archive for April, 2011

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GALLERY: Nikon D7000 Test Shots

April 26, 2011

One day, when I’ve got some time, I’m going to sit down and write a short (maybe) post about how my photography went from a curiosity, to a hobby, to a habit.  I don’t suppose that it will be all that different from most enthusiasts’ stories, but it’s mine, and it’s pretty enjoyable, and if nothing else, hopefully you’ll identify with it.

I attempted to get out this weekend to take some shots with a new camera… but between a dental emergency, a sudden desire to re-sod my backyard, and a holiday… my time ended up being spoken for.  I am slowly combing through what images I did take however and these three jumped out at me…

Oh… and because Lightroom 2.7 wouldn’t support the images from the D7000, I had to upgrade to LR3.3 — I haven’t messed with it to have an opinion on the upgrade yet.  But I’m sure I will soon…

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LINKS: Stunning Time Lapse "The Mountain" by Terje Sorgjerd

April 18, 2011

Time Lapse photography can be gimmicky and silly.  They often tend to focus more on the nifty fact that one can capture faux-motion using still images (even though that’s really all a non-digital movie camera is) instead of what’s actually in the image — the framing, the color, the look, the emotion.

It’s not that I think most Time Lapse work is bad, so please don’t be offended.  It’s just that I consider myself quite the authority on sub-par Time Lapse work since every piece of Time Lapse work I’ve ever done myself has been exactly that… sub par.  It’s just not my gig… but let me tell you something, when you see a piece that’s done right… a piece that’s composed of individual frames which on their own are works of art… you’ve got something special.

Terje Sorgjerd is one of those guys.  He’s found his niche, and man… it’s breathtaking (and I don’t throw that word around often).

I’ve seen Terje’s work before — his piece from a month ago on the Aurora Borealis was equally stunning, but this piece seems to have hit a chord with the world.  It was featured on the Today Show and is now hitting the front pages of some pretty reputable news sources.  The video is embedded below, with Terje’s commentary quoted after the fact.  Also note the luscious score from Ludovico Einaudi as well.

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

This was filmed between 4th and 11th April 2011. I had the pleasure of visiting El Teide.
Spain´s highest mountain @(3715m) is one of the best places in the world to photograph the stars and is also the location of Teide Observatories, considered to be one of the world´s best observatories.

The goal was to capture the beautiful Milky Way galaxy along with one of the most amazing mountains I know El Teide. I have to say this was one of the most exhausting trips I have done. There was a lot of hiking at high altitudes and probably less than 10 hours of sleep in total for the whole week. Having been here 10-11 times before I had a long list of must-see locations I wanted to capture for this movie, but I am still not 100% used to carrying around so much gear required for time-lapse movies.

A large sandstorm hit the Sahara Desert on the 9th April (bit.ly/​g3tsDW) and at approx 3am in the night the sandstorm hit me, making it nearly impossible to see the sky with my own eyes.

Interestingly enough my camera was set for a 5 hour sequence of the milky way during this time and I was sure my whole scene was ruined. To my surprise, my camera had managed to capture the sandstorm which was backlit by Grand Canary Island making it look like golden clouds. The Milky Way was shining through the clouds, making the stars sparkle in an interesting way. So if you ever wondered how the Milky Way would look through a Sahara sandstorm, look at 00:32.

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LINKS: Stunning Time Lapse “The Mountain” by Terje Sorgjerd

April 18, 2011

Time Lapse photography can be gimmicky and silly.  They often tend to focus more on the nifty fact that one can capture faux-motion using still images (even though that’s really all a non-digital movie camera is) instead of what’s actually in the image — the framing, the color, the look, the emotion.

It’s not that I think most Time Lapse work is bad, so please don’t be offended.  It’s just that I consider myself quite the authority on sub-par Time Lapse work since every piece of Time Lapse work I’ve ever done myself has been exactly that… sub par.  It’s just not my gig… but let me tell you something, when you see a piece that’s done right… a piece that’s composed of individual frames which on their own are works of art… you’ve got something special.

Terje Sorgjerd is one of those guys.  He’s found his niche, and man… it’s breathtaking (and I don’t throw that word around often).

I’ve seen Terje’s work before — his piece from a month ago on the Aurora Borealis was equally stunning, but this piece seems to have hit a chord with the world.  It was featured on the Today Show and is now hitting the front pages of some pretty reputable news sources.  The video is embedded below, with Terje’s commentary quoted after the fact.  Also note the luscious score from Ludovico Einaudi as well.

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

This was filmed between 4th and 11th April 2011. I had the pleasure of visiting El Teide.
Spain´s highest mountain @(3715m) is one of the best places in the world to photograph the stars and is also the location of Teide Observatories, considered to be one of the world´s best observatories.

The goal was to capture the beautiful Milky Way galaxy along with one of the most amazing mountains I know El Teide. I have to say this was one of the most exhausting trips I have done. There was a lot of hiking at high altitudes and probably less than 10 hours of sleep in total for the whole week. Having been here 10-11 times before I had a long list of must-see locations I wanted to capture for this movie, but I am still not 100% used to carrying around so much gear required for time-lapse movies.

A large sandstorm hit the Sahara Desert on the 9th April (bit.ly/​g3tsDW) and at approx 3am in the night the sandstorm hit me, making it nearly impossible to see the sky with my own eyes.

Interestingly enough my camera was set for a 5 hour sequence of the milky way during this time and I was sure my whole scene was ruined. To my surprise, my camera had managed to capture the sandstorm which was backlit by Grand Canary Island making it look like golden clouds. The Milky Way was shining through the clouds, making the stars sparkle in an interesting way. So if you ever wondered how the Milky Way would look through a Sahara sandstorm, look at 00:32.

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TECHNOLOGY REVIEW: Blogsy for iPad

April 15, 2011

Let me start of by saying, I’m writing this post on a computer… an actual PC machine with a real keyboard, on the WordPress site.  Why?  Because it’s simply the easiest and best way to do it when we’re talking about working with pre-formatted blogging tools.  But… remember this post from yesterday?  That was written, formatted and uploaded using the Blogsy app on my iPad.

I love my iPad and use it for countless tasks, both professional and personal.  There are some limitations to it, and while I’m not here to discuss the iPad, per se, some of the usability issues which are inherent to the iPad, seem to plague Blogsy as well.  That said…

Blogsy is far and away, the best blogging app on the market for the iPad.  I’ve tried most apps out there, including the actual WordPress app, which is passable, but fails in many areas where Blogsy succeeds.

I opted to write the post from yesterday in Blogsy because it included a number of different formatting variables which I wanted to test out.  I’m fairly particular about formatting and was curious how this new tool would handle it.  It contains an image in the upper left, with the text wrapping around it, some links, a quoted section and some bullet points.  And when all is said and done, as a viewer, I wager you would never be able to tell that it was not created on a PC with the full WordPress interface.

One note… I’m sure I’m not going to cover every aspect of this app, and encourage you to watch the plethora of how-to videos available on the Blogsy site.  They really provide a good idea of the handling of the product and found my assessment in line with what was being presented.

APP OVERVIEW:

Despite all it does, the Blogsy app is very clean looking.  It allows you a lot of screen real estate to get your content onto the window, and when you need one of the ancillary functions, it neatly slides into view from the right.  More on this below…

The important thing to notice is there are two “modes”.  A Rich Text format (or “Visual” as WordPress calls it), and HTML.  You do ALL of your editing of text in the HTML mode, then swipe across the page with your finger and it will flip the page and show you what it will look like to your reader.

Across the top, you have all of your standard formatting tools which are fairly self explanatory.  These can be implemented from both the Rich Text page and the HTML page.  I ended up applying the bullets in my post in the HTML side of things and only found out at the end I could do it on the Rich Text page and see immediately what it looked like.

Getting back to the tools on the right side of the frame.  It is here that you can do a variety of things really in quite a simple way.  You can navigate to a webpage and drag the URL (and thus the link) into your post, linking your selected text – even opting to “open in new window” — this is the kind of details most apps leave out.  Boo them… Yay Blogsy.  You can also drag YouTube Videos and photos from your Flickr account over into the post as well.  Both can be placed anywhere by just dragging to your desired locations (novel idea, huh… odd most apps don’t do that) and you can select to resize and format in various way.

When all is said and done… you flip back to the Rich Text page and decide if you like what you see:

Post in HTML Format

Post in Rich Text Format

If you’re done editing, you progress into another area that I am a stickler for… Categories and Tags (and other data of the meta variety).

If you click the gear icon in the upper left corner, you can add, apply or unapply various settings.  For me Categories and Tags are big.  I was able to see all of my settings from my WordPress blog.  [Note:  Syncing with my blog on WordPress was fairly painless… so painless that I neglected to mention it until now.  So… yeah… painless.]  In this menu you can also allow or disallow comments and other various options.  Again… this is the sort of detail that I find a lot of iPad apps leave out.  They sort of take whatever the masses agree are the most popular setting, and force you to use them.

Once all is set… you press the Publish button and you’re done.

WHAT WORKED:

  • The interface is fantastic.  There is plenty of real estate to edit the test of your post.  More so than I even get on my PC interface for WordPress.  The ancillary tools are a single press away, but do not infringe upon your space to work.
  • The method in which you can add images, video and links is very well thought out.  From placement to sizing to the options such as “open in a new window”, you can do just about anything you need to.
  • Intuitive!  I love it when a program thinks like I do.  That’s not to say it will think like you do… but for me.  I expect to find options where I expect to find them (not sure that made much sense… but I’m going with it).  And each option was exactly where I expected it to be.
  • Rich Text vs. HTML – Being able to see what it is you’re going to post, in the format in which it will be posted is big.  There is no guess work.  But if you want to make manual HTML modifications… it’s right there for you to do.

WHAT CAN BE IMPROVED:

  • The folks at Blogsy are very up front about one key feature being missing — the ability to upload pictures from the library on your iPad to your post.  But they say it’s coming and I have no reason to doubt them.
  • Edit in Rich Text – I do wish I could edit the text in Rich Text mode.  When I had dropped in all the bullets and quotes in the post I created using the tool, and then had to edit content, navigating around the HTML code to change a simple typo was a little but frustrating.
  • Undo — I don’t know if there is the required engine on an iPad to have an undo function… but it’d be nice.  I inadvertently deleted some HTML code and had to go back and manually type it in.  I know about as much about HTML as I do about defusing a nuclear weapon, so… there was a lot of guess work.
  • Other blog options:  I use WordPress — so I was fine.  I know Blogger is supported as well.  But there may be other blogging options which would be useful.
  • SmugMug:  I have a Flickr account (which is covered here), but primarily use my SmugMug account for professional things.  I’d love to see that included as well.

WHAT CAN’T BE IMPROVED:

  • It’s an iPad — it’s not a lap top with an external mouse.  Everything takes a little extra effort.  I have big fingers — and you know what they say about a guy with big fingers… that’s right: “Highlighting on an iPad sucks!”  There is a lot of that in this program.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

If you’re on your computer at work/home/studio/library/etc… use the programs provided to you in your browser or on your desktop.  But if you are going to be writing blog posts from anywhere else… this is your answer.  I can say without a doubt that there is no better option.  There was a lot of time spent catering to the small details, while never losing site of the main purpose of writing.

POST SCRIPT:

When I sent out a tweet stating that I was going to be writing this review, the folks (or folk… person, whatever) at Blogsy responded right away and thanked me for doing a review.  They had no idea whether it was going to be a good review or a bad review… but they were attentive and they were listening to their users — this is a great trait in a software company.  I can’t say whether or not they will be there if you want to complain about some aspect of the program, but for me, the fact that in just a few minutes I got a response from them was reassuring.

RATING:

4 stars out of 5 – for now.  But I don’t think it will take much improvement to push this up to a perfect program.

Blogsy for iPad (via iTunes)

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LINKS: The 16 Behaviors Of The Serious Photographer & How it applies to life outside the lens…

April 14, 2011

Notice how the title doesn’t say anything about the “Professional” photographer. It says the “Serious” photographer… Which, if you’re reading blog posts on the subject in your spare time, I will assume you are.

I read a lot of lists… Lists are very easy to digest. They are short and sweet and point out what is important, and ignores what is not. The folks at The Photo Argus are some of the best list makers in the trade. Most of their lists are informative and often entertaining. This one however, was inspiring.

The 16 Behaviors of The Serious Photographer are not difficult. And impart, lessons not only about photography, but about life. Below is their list, reprinted in full. My thoughts, for whatever they’re worth, is below that.

1. Has achieved an easy familiarity with his equipment and the light sensitive materials he utilizes. In other words, he’s gotten enough technique under his belt to operate.

  • Does not get hung up on technique
  • Simplifies: carries no more than is necessary (not ‘dripping with equipment’)
  • Knows the limits of his equipment (and himself)
  • Uses the best gear he can afford

2. Has developed a flexibility of approach to (or treatment of) his subject

  • Prepared: never travels without camera. “Dresses for the occasion” – ready to lie down in mud if necessary
  • Ability to improvise
  • Patience when required

3. Should believe that whatever he sees (excites his eye), he can photograph.

4. Instinctively frames for the strongest possible view; a compositional sense of rightness (Balance)

  • “Composition is the strongest way of seeing” (Edward Weston)
  • Power of Selectivity
  • Includes all that is essential
  • Excludes all that is non-essential

5. Has an Awareness of Light

  • Quantitative
  • Qualitative

6. Realizes that film is cheap

  • Better to overshoot and edit later.
  • Bracket exposure when in doubt.

7. Approaches his subject with respect

8. Is his own severest critic

  • Ruthless in editing; end result that is much stronger
  • Aware of when repeating self or copying others.
  • Concern for his work to be of Highest Possible Quality
  • Remembers that “Artsy” rhymes with “Fartsy.”

9. Takes care not to abuse the Power of Photography.

  • More than the power to record, it can interpret, convey a message, evoke emotion, inspire, depress, etc.
  • Understands that photographs can lie like hell
  • In portraiture: the power of choosing the right (or wrong) instant (or angle, or lighting) etc.
  • Flatness of camera (monocular) vision vs. human (bi-ocular), three dimensional vision
  • Time exposure: film records passages of light over time. Biological vision systems do not.

10. Is gracious enough to accept and acknowledge successful ‘Accidents’

11. Understands the difference between “Looking” and “Seeing”

  • “Many look, but few see.”
  • In seeing, one perceives (visually comprehends).

12. Strives for Perfection, but hopes never to achieve it

  • The dullness (non-controversial) nature of perfection.
  • “You’re only as good as your last photograph.”

13. Has enough self-understanding to know what he’s trying to do with his photography

  • Understands the connection between his photographs and himself.
  • Realizes the danger of too close an association with any one: school, system or guru
  • Knows that at some point, he must go his own way.

14. Has at least some passing familiarity with the history and Big Names in Photography

  • Enrichment of one’s own experience by discovering the work and writings of past kindred spirits.
  • No need to replicate unknowingly what’s been done before his time.

15. Should be reconciled to spending a lifetime in the determination of What Makes a Picture

  • No formula solves the problem.
  • Same question as “What is Art”?
  • Pattern picture, for example, must be more than a pattern to be good.

16. Is sufficiently free from dogma to disregard any (or all) of the above which do not apply to his own special situation

Okay… So… Sure, adhering to these may make you better at your craft. But don’t these resonate in some other more profound way? To me the answer is a resounding yes. Some of the major points I’ve pulled out from this are:

  • Study the basics. Expertise in anything is built on a solid foundation.
  • Be agile… What you plan for in life rarely will happen exactly as you expect it.
  • Be aware of your surroundings (both literal and metaphorical)… They have more effect on you than you realize.
  • Always have a backup plan.
  • Be tough on yourself… When you work to satisfy yourself, you’ll satisfy others in the process.
  • Your actions may not always be interpreted as you intended. Be aware of this.
  • Sometimes… Things go well and you had nothing to do with it. Give thanks and don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
  • You’re always “learning”.
  • Be humble… Always. It is possible to be humble and confidant at the same time.
  • Learn the about the past. Its reach always extends into the present and future.
  • Search out your greater purpose
  • Understand that nothing that is “concrete” ever is.

Original Post (via The Photo Argus)

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Flickr Photo Group — Looking for participants…

April 1, 2011

Writers have writers groups… I’ve been involved in them, and they’re wonderfully helpful for spurring creativity, and finding constructive criticism. I’m thinking about starting a small one (maybe 10 folks to start) for Photographers.

Who is welcome:

  • Anyone from Professionals to Hobbyists to Amateurs – a good mix would be best.

What is required:

  • A Camera, obviously.
  • A Flickr account.  These are free and easy to manage.
  • A Twitter account is recommended.  Not everyone loves twitter, I understand, but it really is a great way to communicate.  You can find me at @topical_optical

How it works… what’s asked of you:

  • Every week, you must upload at least two images, but not more than five.  These must be images you have taken over the last week.  They don’t need to be dramatic or exotic… just new.  Heck… take a picture of your kitchen table, but make it the best picture you can.  We welcome post-processing (Lightroom, Aperture, Photoshop, etc.) or “au natural”… whatever your style is.
  • On the Flickr group, you must use the comment section to offer constructive praise and criticism.  This should be detailed and informative.  Not just “I really like this image… beautiful”.
  • Respect. If you are a professional that has been capturing images on a $4,000 rig for 30 years… be mindful that some of us are not at that level.

What is this meant to do:

  • Force you to get out and shoot something new every week
  • Force you to critically examine the work of others
  • Force you to take critical examination of your own work
  • Meet interesting folks
  • Have some fun

Interested?

  • Hit me up on twitter: @topical_optical
  • Email me: contact[at]garretthauenstein.com
  • Comment on this post