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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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Review of Knoll Light Factory for Photoshop

I was given the opportunity to try a new plugin for Photoshop by Red Giant Software called “Knoll Light Facotry for Photoshop”. It’s a pretty nifty plugin that gives you access to over 100 preset types of flare and lens reflections. These open up a new creative angle for your images. They can add a whole new dimension or they can enhance flare already there. You can even build up your own presets using custom elements and settings. The claim is that the effects are based on real physics and I have to say that as a non-physics major, I think they look really good. You judge for yourself.

Some of the product highlights are:

Here is a screen shot of the user interface in CS5 Photoshop. You can see that it’s very clean and easy to understand. One of the best features for me is the real time preview of the effect as I dial in different adjustments or add/delete elements of an effect.

Knoll Light Factory Plugin UI

Knoll Light Factory Plugin UI

The system requirements are pretty easily met by any recent OS and hardware. For my demo, I used a MacPro dual quad workstation with 14 gig of RAM. I did run LR3 and Cs5 in 32 bit mode to get a better handle on how the software would perform under memory constraints. The performance was very good, no slowing that I could detect and no stability issues of any kind.

Apple Macintosh

Mac OSX 10.5.8 and later
Intel Mac
1 GB of RAM
30 MB of Hard Drive space

PC / Windows

Windows XP 32-bit/64-bit
Windows Vista 32-bit/64-bit
Windows 7 32-bit/64-bit
Intel or AMD processor 1.6 GHz or higher
1 GB of RAM
30 MB of Hard Drive sp

For this demo, I used and image I shot at Disney’s California Adventure of a Dobro player. The lighting was good and bad, good that it was shade but bad in that the shade did not do justice to the chrome resonator of the Dobro. Enter Knoll Light Factory. I used Lightroom 3 to dial in my basic adjusts which were a preset called “Heritage” from Power Work FLow 3 , fill light, contrast and dialing down the red channel a bit. Nikons run a bit hot on the red channel and I almost always bring it down a touch. If you have not seen PWF3 from Seim Effects, you should check out Gavin’s work. Also, his podcast is pretty cool so check them both out.

Once I had the basic edits in place, I opened CS5 Photoshop and loaded up KLF. What I wanted was a starburst flare on the chrome, it would be a low key effect but very effective at drawing attention to the metalwork.

Here is the basic image before I applied the KLF effect.

Prior to Knoll effects added

Prior to Knoll effects added

And here is the image after the effect as been applied. The effect took less than 2 minutes to decide on, place, adjust and save out. Now you would be very hard pressed to know that I was in total shade shooting this.

After Knoll flare applied to metalwork

After Knoll flare applied to metalwork

After working with the plugin for a few weeks now, I have to say that I’m pretty happy with how easily I can add/enhance flare in my images. One must like flare in images to really enjoy this plugin so it’s not for everyone, I mean, after all, major camera makes spend alot of money to PREVENT lens flare but there are those of us artists who really like it and will use it with abandon given a chance :) So whether you are an artist of flare or curious, I would suggest to get the demo and try it out.

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Wayfarers Chapel

When someone says “wedding”, many people think large church, large party, large cake and super size me of a day. With some, this could not further from the truth. I had the the good fortune to shoot a wedding a the Wayfarer’s Chapel in Palos Verdes, California.  This location is just on the outskirts of Los Angeles. California and provides an intimate venue for the unique  smallish wedding, about 100 guests The chapel does not discourage same gender marriages or commitment ceremonies. All wayfarers who wish to commit themselves to each other are welcomed . The price to use the Chapel for a wedding is 2.500.00 which includes the minister. For an additonal 400.00, you can have a candlelight service.

Architecturally, the Chapel is mostly glass, much like a outside hot house but in a area with tall pine trees surrounding it and the ocean just across the road. There is a garden in the back and a covered walkway to view the ocean or to have pictures taken with the ocean and cliffs in the background. There is a tall tower and bells that rise above the church.

The chapel has very different looks depending on whether you see in the daytime, late afternoon or at night. Each has it charm and appeal and with the shots below you can get a sense of each “look”.

Wayfarer's Chapel Alter Window

Wayfarer's Chapel Alter Window

Wayfarer's Chapel Alter

Wayfarer's Chapel Alter

Wayfarer's Chapel Misty Morning

Wayfarer's Chapel Misty Morning

Wayfarer's Chapel at dusk

Wayfarer's Chapel at dusk

Inside Wayfarer's Chapel at night

Inside Wayfarer's Chapel at night

Wayfarer's Chapel Main Window at Night

Wayfarer's Chapel Main Window at Night

The Chapel is very striking at night and at dusk. In the daylight, it’s nice but as a photographer, it can be hard to shoot due to the direct sunlight coming through all the glass windows. If you are considering using this venue, then ask your photographer if he/she has ever shot in this venue before. Photographers are not allowed anywhere except for the very back row so telephoto lenses are the only way to shoot the ceremony.  Given the angles of the chapel, I would also suggest to ask the photographer if they are using a second shooter. Having a photographer at both corners in the back can really help to get a nice shot even with the harsh morning light if your wedding is scheduled for the morning.  And speaking of the weather, the chapel is just across the road from the ocean so the weather can be all over the map and be quite localized. Fog or what we natives call “the marine layer” is often around on the early AM and burns off by mid morning. The marine layer tends to roll back into land in the late afternoon except for a few months in the middle of summer when it stays just off shore.

The grounds provide a wealth of background for nice portraits but you as the bride will only have a two hour window for your wedding and pictures so it can get a bit rushed in the end. So long as your photographer knows this, they can plan accordingly. Also, your photogrpaher needs to know there is NO flash during the cermony.  They will eject the photographer who does not follow the rules about this.

These are some pictures  from a recent wedding I did at the Wayfarer’s Chapel in the early morning.

Ready Room

Ready Room

Front steps Wyfarer's Chapel

Front steps Wyfarer's Chapel

Dad, Elizebeth and Mom - Wayfarer's Chapel

Dad, Elizebeth and Mom - Wayfarer's Chapel

Wayfarer's Chapel grounds

Wayfarer's Chapel grounds

Wayfarer's Chapel Cliff Background with Bride

Wayfarer's Chapel Cliff Background with Bride

The venue is a very nice venue and can provide you with some amazing images with a photographer who can work within the confines of the two hour window and no flash. The parking is good but access and exiting can be dicey with you leaving and the next party trying to come in at the same time. From the Wayfarer’s Chapel you can easily to Torrance, Redondo Beach or Long Beach for a reception.

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Canon G11 Lousy Button Placement Ergonomics

After my bad mouthing the Canon G11 ergonomics, I was asked to show why I’m so bitter about such a lousy design. So here we go. A few close up shots of where my right hand thumb ends up while trying to shoot the G11.

The first picture below is a full back shot of the G11 showing the backside of the video screen and the right hand button controls.

Canon G11 Back

Here is a close up of the offending buttons. As it turns out, my thumb lays right across the control wheel plus the selector button. So I’m always changing settings without knowing it unless I’m very careful in placement and pressure.

Canon G11 controls on back upper right

Now you can see what happens when I hold the camera in my right hand ready to shoot. My thumb which is not excessively large, manages to hit most of the buttons just by virtue of being there holding the camera.

G11 Right Thumb Placement

Here is a side view of my thumb pressing into the buttons.

Sideways G11 Thumb Placement

So hopefully you can see why I’m constantly cursing the design of the camera controls. I dont think the Canon engineers ever had actually USE the camera for any length of time. And trying to hold the camera in the vertical position is even worse. Now you thumb really does have to press down to steady and hold the camera. Did the engineers not even TRY to use the controls?

These shots were NOT taken with a G11, I shot these with my Nikon D90 and a 1.4 50mm lens almost wide open.

The first shot was taken with the G11 siting on the hood of my Explorer and in the shade. I blew out the background and popped the internal flash but dialed down 1.5 stops. I used LR and CS4 for post. I dialed down the saturation to get nice blacks on the body and I touched up the reflection to darken it a bit more.

The lanyard is for the quick release of the LumaLabs camera strap. Works great on the G11, not so good on my D300 with a 70-200 F2.8 lens hanging on it.

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