Tag Archives: photography

My review of the iPhone 6

  • iphone 6

    We now have the iPhone 6 and 6Plus to choose from along with the iPhone 5S. I must say I was reluctant to get an iPhone 6 since I find the camera sticking out the back of the phone to be crappy engineering or as Steve Jobs would say “Absolute SHIT!!”. Even after using it, I will still call it a crap design. That lens takes a lot of punishment unless you spend money to put the phone into a case of some kind.

    iPhone 6 back view

    For those of us with “older eyes” the bigger screen is a real treat. I shot with the 6 along with my Samsung S5 and the two were very comparable in overall size and general feel. The iPhone has a nicer feel and heft to it while the S5 feels a bit more “plastic”. I found the colors on the iPhone screen more true to what I uploaded to the computer.

    I actually did a color test of the screen using a Munsell color checker and photoshop. The iPhone screen is a true sRGB and comes very close out of the box to being on the money based on the Munsell color chart

    The feel of the screen is very good and I love that the rounded edges are back in fashion with Apple. I was never a fan of the harsh square angles of the 4, 4x and 5s. I was worried that I would have issues trying to use the phone one-handed but that has been an unfounded fear. The iPhone 6 is just narrow enough where I can use my thumb like I did on the 5S.

    I’m not a fan of the new side lock button, I find it awkward to use and still prefer it being on the top. And I stand by what I say from the beginning when they moved the earphone jack to the bottom of the phone. STUPID IDEA Apple..  when I pull the phone out of my pocket with the ear buds plugged in, I have to flip the damn phone over to use it. Stupid idea..I don’t care if it saved you a mm of room.

    My battery life has been very good, a bit better than my 5S actually. For the most part, iOS 8 has been pretty reliable on my 6. The email client has frozen a few times but over the past few months and few patches, it has not happened.

    I’ve dragged the iPhone 6 around to Disneyland a few times and all over town on various trips. It’s been pretty reliable on the ATT network. I had a Sprint iPhone 6 which lasted four weeks with me. The coverage of sprint was so bad that I gave the phone back. Often times I would have LTE coverage on my ATT phone and + or 1 bar of 3G on the sprint phone. And the phone itself was unreliable on wifi. I don’t know if that was sprint or not, but the ATT phone has not had the issues with 801.x authentication on my corporate wifi that the Sprint version did. Both are on the same iOS and the same patch level so draw your own conclusions.

    My Amazon basics lighting cable still work fine with the new 6 and are half the price of the Apple cable. Not to mention three times as long if I wanted and I did. It’s nice to have a very long cable at times.

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  • Along with the iPhone 6, I use a selection of apps over and over again.Here is a partial list of my “go to” apps I use with iOS8 and my iPhone 6.

    • Instagram
    • Manual
    • Mextures
    • Snapseed
    • Squaresize
    • Manual Cam
    • Image Blender

    Each of these apps have their place and each need to be learned to get the most out of them. You cannot just load up the app expect to get awesome pictures, you need to practice with them to learn how they work, what they do best and what they cannot do.

    I’ve been having fun playing with Moju which is a cool app that gives almost a 3D effect to images. You take a dozen or so and then as you tilt the phone, the images are automatically blended side to side to give that animated 3D lo

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Christmas Photography Tips

Its soon time to end shooting the Christmas lights for the season. So get out for the next week and grab a few shots of your favorite lights to enjoy over the next year. Do not settle for the average under blacked out pictures or the really over -exposed shots where the Christmas lights are burned out blobs. With a few simple tricks, you can nail some pretty good images. Now, with as much of a fan I am about shooting with my iPhone, this is one time I would recommend a DSLR or micro-four-thirds for the best results. You can beat the smartphone into submission but you really need to be able to adjust all aspects plus be able to use a real flash with some gels. I use Rosco for my gels and you can use other brands but that is who I stick with.

Here are a few tips and tricks for getting the “Oh WOW” shots during the holidays:

  1.  So unless you have a full frame (FX) rig, embrace the grain and shoot at a high ISO. These images were shot at ISO 2000 or higher and I used Noiseware afterwards in post to clean them up.
  2. Read the manual and learn how to shoot on a custom white balance. My D300 shoots nicely at 3000K and while this worked for the normal light bulbs, the LEDs were all over the map as are some of the small lights. So be prepared in post to work it out.
  3. Gel your flash. I cannot stress this enough. You need to color balance the “daylight” flash to something closer to the Christmas lights or you WILL get that vampire look. I used a 1/4 cut CTO (color Temperature Orange) but I should have used 1/2 cut CTO. The 1/4 cut and 1/2 cut refers to the density of the color on the gel sheet. 1/4 is lighter than 1/2.
  4. Shoot with a stablized lens or use a Pentex with a stablized body 🙂 I shoot Nikon so it’s VR lenses for my. The new Olympus for example, has 5 axis stabilization. It’s pretty amazing what you can do with it at night by hand.
  5. You want to drag the shutter a bit when using the flash to get the pretty background lighting.
  6. Dont forget to shoot wide and get some details. Some folks really put in the effort on their lights and it shows in the details.
  7. Be ready for the unexpected shot. I had “Santa” come cruising by on his motorcycle as part of the visiting crowd.
  8. Shooting manual is where it’s at to get the best shots. Very little about shooting Christmas lights at night is considered a “normal” photography so most camera automatic settings are wrong. For much of the time I will shooting at ISO 2000, 1/40 second and 5.6 aperture. The flash power would vary from 1/128 to 1/32. This strikes a nice balance between depth of field, shallow depth of field, higher shutter speed to combat shake and noise at the higher ISOs. Newer camera or FX cameras can shoot from ISO 6400 to 50,000 without much noise now.
  9. Get pictures of the faces. The expressions on the kids faces are priceless and are the money shots from something like this.
  10. I dont have to contend with snow but snow works like a giant reflector. You will need to really pay attention to your settings when popping off the flash to avoid blowing out the image.

I have some shots here from around my own neighborhood. Enjoy the holiday and Merry Christmas from us to you.

Lights, Lights and more Lights

We dont need no stink'n snow

Adoration

Window Lights

Impromtu Carolers

Blue Lights

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Cheap Third Hand Style of Clamp

As humans, we have two hands. But, every time you think two are enough, you need a third one. You can buy 3rd hand tools which is just a couple of clamps mounted on a bendable shaft of some kind. But being cheap, I decided to see what I could do with a few bits and pieces I had laying around the garage. I had a bag of plastic clamps I bought at Home Depot, some leftover aluminum clothes line wire, a few wooden clothes pins and gaffers tape. I was able to pot together a clamp in ten minutes that would hold a light flag or reflector or even a lightweight subject like a flower.

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So many words and a new book for iPhone photography

I’m in the last few laps of editing for my new iBook on Successful Iphone Photography. The writing of the book is easy, the editing will kill you. But I’m having a fun with this project. I’ve tried to put in imaginative images that I’ve taken with my iPhones and have gone outside the box to get some cool shots. This book is not a vanity project or an “art” project. God knows there are enough of those around. It’s just “here is how to get solid images from the iPhone”.

 

Here is a preview of some of the images being used in the book. None of these are traditional iPhone images but I have some of those too in the book. These are images to get you thinking about you can do with your own phone. The only limit is what you put on yourself.

 

Double shot of coffee

Nothing like a cup of joe in the morning ?

iPhone 4S using a Hoya R72 IR filter for infrared

Who says you cant shoot IR on the iPhone

Half a Moon with the iPhone

I had several people call me out and say there was not any way this could have been an iPhone shot. I have the EXIF data and the original file. Go ahead, make my day

Using Movie Filmmaking rigging and a iPhone

This was taken using suction cup, ball heads and rigging that I normally attach movie cameras or DSLRs to cars and trucks. This was a fun shot complete with the gaffers tape holding the neutral filter stack over the olloclip lens on my iPhone

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Practice, Practice and more Practice

One of the things that any professional photographer will do is constantly practice their craft. Practicing may not be dragging out the strobes and the fancy background, it can be as simple as just bringing a camera on a family walk.  For myself, I always have a camera with me whether it be my iPhone or my  “professional” camera. I find that like anything else, constant practice with my chosen equipment helps me on the job when I’m shooting for you and being paid for it. I personally and ethically believe that when I’m shooting “for real”, it is not the time for me to be practicing while on your dime. Any true professional would agree with that statement and when you are shopping around for a photographer, it’s something to consider.

You might question the use of an iPhone for practice but when I have limited equipment, I find that I get much more creative to get the most out of the camera and myself for that matter.  It’s no longer having a two thousand dollar lens or a five hundred flash, it’s all about me and what I can do with what I have. This translates directly into better pictures when I do have my expensive equipment handy.

I also practice with my normal shooting equipment but I may limit myself to a single lens or a certain setting to better learn how my equipment works under a wide variety of conditions. This works to your advantage as I can be shooting rather then messing around with the camera and constantly looking at the view finder while missing key shots. This becomes critical for events like weddings where things can be moving at a quick pace under a wide variety of conditions.

Here are some practice images that I took while on walks with the family using my main camera and a single lens.  I also use these images to push my post processing skills and learn new techniques.

Sara Portrait in Oak Canyon Nature Center Anahiem

This was taken at the Oak Canyon Nature Center in Anaheim right at dusk. I also used a technique in my post processing to give a soft glow to the image while keeping the eyes sharp.

Three sisters at Oak Canyon Nature Center Anaheim

This image was also at the Oak Canyon Nature Center and originally was more cyan or blue than the the finished print shows now. The sisters were in a cool shadow at dusk which does not lend itself to warm tones.  So post processing turned it around into a warm summer’s night as it was and gave the nice warm tones. Again, a professional can adjust to conditions both by shooting differently or by making critical adjustments in the processing of the image.

The final practice image shows how I can take a blah scene and literally change seasons with some judicious post processing. the original image is on the right and the changed image is on the left. This was practicing some advanced post coloring techniques.

Oak Canyon Season Change comparision

As you can see,  as a professional, I practice constantly just like any other professional. This way when you hire me, I can be ready to produce very high quality art and results without dithering around trying to learn on your dime and missing the images you hired me to produce.

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Why Choose a Professional Photographer?

[dropcap_1]T[/dropcap_1]here are many reasons to choose a professional photographer and there has been much written about the why’s and how’s  but there has been one specific reason has been overlooked by many on both sides.  A professional photographer can help you fill your walls. What do I mean by that? I mean that while many people consider an 8×10 print “large”, it is really quite small when placed on a wall in the typical room. It is fine to hand to someone or to have on a desktop or even on the shelf but on a wall, but you need to have a much larger print to really show off the art and to provide visual balance.

Here is a sample of using a cluster of three prints over a couch to provide an easy to see and easier to appreciate set of images of a bride. The images were chosen to complement the color of the room and special software was used to mock up the room before any orders were placed. The now has a close up of the bride, a full shot of the bride and a very pretty detail shot of the bride’s hands. All of these images are art that can stand alone but together, it’s a very powerful set of images where the sum of the total is greater than the individual prints.

Three images over red couch mock up

We can easily provide this mock up of virtually any style of print in a representation of different rooms. We can even takes pictures of your actual rooms and then mock it up for you.

The art does not have to be single print, the image can be broken up into multiple piece to provide an artistic flair for displaying the image. A professional photographer can work with you in order to decide what style and type of print will work in your space.  And materials!  Oh yes, we have a large selection now to choose from ranging from the traditional canvas print to the newest metal prints where the image is actually bonded and printed onto a piece of metal for a spectacular look.

Multi Panel Chinese Bride in bedroom mock up

Art can go into any room in the house. It can be a bedroom, a kitchen, a dining room or living room. You can even buy art from a professional photographer or commission special art for the “Man Cave” such as NASCAR photos or whatever your heart desires. With the new metal prints, you can get away from the “softer” images like the big canvas prints and get a more masculine feel. There is also special items like the WallRider which is a skate board deck with a print on top of it. Anyone with a liking of extreme sports would love something like this. So ask your photographer about anything special you might have in mind since today anything is possible from having pictures printed on a child’s set of blocks to having the image printed to fill an entire wall in a house.

Wallrider Skateboard Deck Tribal Olivia

If you want to play with your own designs and you have Photoshop, you can buy the PSD files here at Ariana Falerni Design. This is where I bought my room files from for the images I’ve used in this post. They are very easy to use and very high quality.

 

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Why You Should Be Printing Some Photographs

On a recent trip to Disneyland and to Chicago, I was struck by how prevalent the use of smart phones, in particular the iPhone was being used for photos. People were taking photos of themselves, where they were, friends, short video clips, long video clips, video conferencing to friends while on the road and more. Heck, I had a Nikon D700 with me and I still used my iPhone to snap a few shots of Chicago. What I did not see were any people sharing PHOTOGRAPHS, only electronic images. No wallet prints, no small albums or any other printed media. People were passing around their phones and other devices.

John Hancock Tower Chicago

In talking with a some of these people, I  learned that very few of them actual printed the images on to paper, ever. The images lived on the phone, Facebook, Flickr or home computer. They were  looked at briefly online and then never seen again as new images take their place. And unlike photo albums of years gone past, nobody pulls out their cell phone or laptop at home to look at pictures.

As it turns out, very few people are printing any of their photographs any more. That’s a real crime in of itself,  but it also goes to show that prints should be part of your collection. Yes, you can have a thousand images on your phone or tablet but what good are they if nobody ever sees them?  What good are they if the kids can’t see pictures of their vacation because they don’t know where the images are out on your hard drive, they don’t have access to your computer or they dont know what widget the images are on? How can they share with friends at school about where they went on vacation or show off to neighbors?

We re losing something precious by not printing photographs. Facebook is well and good but we humans are tactile bunch. W want to touch and hold in our hands things like prints. And it’s not the glow of a tablet, we  want pictures that do not require software, hardware, power supplies, dim rooms and all that goes it with the digital generation of viewing pictures.

This is something we as photographers need to educate our customers to do  and we need to do it ourselves. When was the last time you made 4×6 prints to show off to friends your last vacation around the dinner table or coffee shop? Did  you just dump a few hundred images on Flickr or Facebook and call it good? People get excited about holding real pictures.. They get excited about real time sharing of stories. They get excited about touching pictures. It’s time to get excited!!  Make some prints and spread them around!!

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Mad Men Themed Photography Shootout

I’m a member of a local of photographers that gather every couple of months for a “shootout” where we have a themed photography event. This month, the event was a Mad Men themed “shoot out” where the group brought in  models, make up artists, photographers and rented a venue for a shoot that was a bit different than the normal “bridal” shoot. This Med Man shootout was held at “The Casino San Clemente” and offered a very different look and feel for the event.

Why are these events important? Because they offer a chance for local photographers to network with each other, to meet fresh faces for models, work with  talented and local make up artists plus to work in a venue that we might otherwise be unaware of. I had never heard of this Casino venue in San Clemente but now I know about it and what it can bring to my own clients looking for something unique.

Our shootouts would be considerably lacking if it were not for our stylists and make up artists. Here is who put together the awesome styling and make up for Mad Men

THE STYLISTS:
Heather Skelton   thesoundoflace.blogspot.com

Kaylee Sizemore   www.thetangledvineonlosrios.com

THE HAIR:

Diego Ortega – Lead Hair Stylist diegoortega.com  Assistant: Tricia Marie

THE MAKE-UP ARTISTS

Jennette Pulecio – Lead MUA and Casting www.jennettepulecio.com   Assistant: Amanda McDaniel

We had the perfect venue for this type of shoot and I highly recommend the venue for any affair that you want space and a cool vintage feel to the style of the venue.

The Casino San Clemente www.thecasinosanclemente.com

 

Here are some of my images that I made at the Mad Men shootout. When shooting this event, I tried to keep storytelling in mind and I tried visualize how they may have looked in the time frame that the series Mad Men is depicting.

A "film still" from Mad Men Shootout[pinit]

Blond bombshell admired by male admirer[pinit]

Don Draper Character from Mad Men photoshootout[pinit]

casino san clemente ball room[pinit]

[pinit]

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The new cool, Vintage Collections and Props

Mad Men is a runaway hit in part for the fantastic  sets, costumes and not in the least, the acting. But there is a deeper part to what we connect to. There is a longing for what we were and what we had in the past. Each generation always looks back and wishes at some level that they had what is now gone.  This drives us today to the point of shows on cable about restoring old stuff to new, picking or the finding of old stuff in barns and garages and the uptick in vintage style photography shoots. it’s fun to dress up as Sam Spade for a black and white shoot or as Don Draper, Peggy Olsen or any of the other cast members from Mad Men. We have vintage style Pin Up photo shoots with cars, cafes or planes and then some retro post processing. We use vintage cars,  motorcycles, cameras, fans, radios and more as props for shoots to add authenticity to the vintage look. Vintage style clothing is making a huge splash in the market along with DIY books on vintage hair styles.

I’m not immune to this, in fact, I was probably ahead of the curve with antique telephones, my collection of vintage movies and restoring old tube radios as a hobby. Now it has spilled over into my photography and I’m not complaining at all. I have put together some images of some recent shoots using my cameras and radios plus a teaser from a Mad Men styled photoshoot I attended recently. So today I was goofing with my 1.4 50mm lens and some of my own vintage items.

The radios work and the camera do to. I love to have vintage items but I also like to use them as they were intended to be used. There is nothing sadder then seeing something stuck on a shelf never to be used again. My cameras and radios take pictures and play but they also serve as props for my themed shoots.

If you would like to set up a themed session, just drop us a line using the modern internet or call us and we would be happy to talk it over and work out exactly what you would like.

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What is old is new again

Kodak Starflex Camera with inserted babty portrait

So I picked up some old vintage cameras this past week to use as props and “frames” for images. They add a really cool look and feel for a fun portrait.  I’m putting together a set of these new “frames” to be options for your portraits. I have some samples here to look at and enjoy. If you have special colors you want to match or even a special camera, let me know and we can work it out. This particular camera is a Kodak Starflex which was a very popular camera in the late 50’s and was considered to  be a ten dollar “point and shoot” at that time. Now it works as a pretty cool vintage  frame for a baby’s portrait.

Here is a different camera with a retro style of portrait.

Kodak Duaflex Camera with vintage hollywood portrait

These cameras live again in photographer by providing a unique and very interesting way to show off your images. And it’s not just portraits, I can also add a bit of flair to a favorite set of wedding pictures like this one with a 1957 Yashica camera with the bride and groom.

If you like what you see, call us up and talk about it. Even if you have existing pictures, we can certainly clean them up and add them to a very unique frame like this.

DSC9893 1957 yashica with bride and groom

 

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