Tag Archives: video

Shooting a veggie a day

So today was a practice day for me. I have been threatening for weeks and weeks to shoot some food and today was it. Or at least some of it. I used a 50 dollar battery operated LED video light, a mirror and a home made silk that uses Toughspun. I spent about ten dollars for the various veggies and fruits which is cheap for models. I used a c stand to hold my video light attached to my monopod stand which doubled as a boom. The mirror provided some light from the side and underneath the glass. My post processing was done in Lightroom using a preset that emulated Kodachrome 25 since I wanted that very contrasty punchy look. You can see from the set shot that I didnt do anything special other than clean off the end of the dining room table.

I used my D300 with two lenses. My first lens was a favorite of mine, the 17-55 F2.8 and the second was a Lensbaby composer at F4. My ISO was 400 and I shoot from 1/60 to /1/160. No flash was used, just the video light which I got from Amazon for something like 50 dollars plus 30 for a battery and charger.

When you are shooting something like this, it can be trickier than people at times as the still life does not move at all unless you move it. So you are always on the look out for reflections, lines, composition and so on. You need to worry about color and texture plus what props you are using. Lighting becomes critical for shadows and highlights.

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Posted in commercial photography, editing, equipment, photography, Shooting Food, studio, technique, training, video Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Important things to remember

Just a short piece today.. I found an awesome short video that reminds us of the important things. Enjoy!

 

Posted in ramblings Also tagged , , |

Always give more than expected

One of the tenets of customer service is to always deliver more than what is expected. I’ve been shooting some volunteer work with a group called “Operation Love Reunited” and part of the deal is I send out an “album” to the deploying service member at no cost. While thats nice, the folks left at home  always want to see the images. Sometimes they want to buy a few but the reality is that many of the families are young, on a very limited budget and are not in the position to pay for more than a few prints at a very substantial discount even for that.

The rules say a small album like a slip cover album and that just bugged me. As a professional, I wanted the work even as pro-bono to reflect my standards or at least, better than snapshots. I always shoot the mini-session as well as I would for any paying customer. I use the same gear, I behave the same  and I treat them as a “real” client which in my mind, they are. I touch up the images and apply treatments to some here and there and it offended me to just use a slip cover album. I’ve settled on using MyPublisher.com and their soft side 5×7 books. It’s a nice compromise between the Little Kisses and a slip cover album.

I still wanted something nicer for the family to share other than a gallery. I bought Proshow Producer not long ago for a project but I had really not worked with it much up to now. I decided that a nice slide show would be a nice touch to the shoot and if I did it right, it would not take too much time to set it up. It would be a very nice vehicle to show off my images and skills to someone who might want to hire me for something else. And it would give the family a really nice memento of the shoot.

So with that thought, I used the final images for my last OpLove shoot and spent about 10 minutes setting up fast slide show with some music that Tara and her husband feel is special to them. I paid attention to the lyrics and tweaked the order of images to better reflect the spirit of the images with the lyrics.

In the end, it took about 20 minutes to build the slide show, add the music and send it on it’s way. Thats as much of a testament to the software’s design as it is my skills 🙂 ProShow is very easy to use but very powerful when you need it to be. And the extra book on using it is available on the Kindle so I have it on my iPad now for some light reading. I plan to make alot more use of this app in the near future. Also, since it’s a Windows app, I use VMware’s Fusion to run a virtual XP session on my Mac to run this app. Works like a charm and did not miss a beat.

So without further ado, here is Tara’s new OpLove video.

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Posted in photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Lights, Camera and Action!!

Back of a Blu-ray Disc. I took this.
Image via Wikipedia

Oh yeah.. baby loves video 🙂  So I finally bite the bullet and bought ProShow Producer by Photodex. I used some images from the Westcott photoshoot at Photoshopworld as a test for a quick and dirty slide show. I tossed this together without reading ANY docs, just ran the wizard, clicked around a bite and off we go. In less than an hour I had pretty much made this show which included finding music on the internet.

Now I need to really dig into the software. It can do so much like layers and masking on the slides.  It’s a lot easier than Premier and I like the end results more than Animoto. A cool part is that it has a kick butt “create” menu panel. Anything you would like to export the show into is there. BlueRay, DVD, self contained EXE, Flash, Youtube, Facebook and more.  Way cool and one of the best export panels I’ve seen for video like this. Right now I have it running in Fusion on my MacPro in a Windows XP image and it works just fine. It would be nice to have an OSX version but this is very workable for now.

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Posted in Business Aids, commercial photography, editing, editing software, photography, technique, video, wedding photography, youtube Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Photoshopworld 2010

So I survived Vegas with it’s 30 dollar lunches, 25 dollar shots of Scotch and my cheap room at Mandalay bay. I guess it all balances in the end since I did not give a nickel to the slots. The keynote was awesome, the Tweet up was alot of fun, the Expo was crazy good fun and I did sneak out early because of the holiday and trying to fly home on Friday.

I split my time with several class this time. I noticed that in 2007 which was the last time I was there at PSW, I saw 95% software based classes. This time, the tracks were split between real photography classes and software like Painter, Photoshop and such. I ended wishing I could attend them all but settled on a mix of classes

My preconference class was “The Art of the Digital Canvas” with Faye Sirkis and I had high hopes for the class since I really wanted to see how to make CS5 work with the new bristle brushes. But, the class fell short of my expectations between a lack of real meat in the class and technical issues with CS5. The good news is that was the only class that fell short in my opinion. The two classes I took with Joe McNally were awesome to be in and Joe has a very good sense of presentation with humor and solid information.  I took a Fashion Portrait class with David Cuerdon who I found relatively recently on Kelby’s training site and have decided that I really, really like his style and teaching methods.. The fashion class was a wealth of info on how to shoot and more importantly, retouch the shots effectively.

Zack Arias did a couple of classes but the one I went to was “Stuff you need to know to be a photographer” and as always, Zack did a bang up job of getting down to the nuts and bolts of being successful as a photographer and to figure out what is really important to you and and your craft. A hint, passion only gets you so far as a photographer.

I did the concert and event photographer on something of a lark and it was very interesting to hear how it works behind the scenes as it were. Also the choice of gear, how to get the pass and what to expect as a photographer at a concert. Alan Hess did a very good job at showing the class the real world of Concert photography and proving that yes, you can have fun while working for a living 🙂

Here are some random shots from the trip. I split my shooting between my Canon G11 and my D300. Both worked well but the Canon struggled with the low light in the classes. The D300 would work but only but shooting at 2.8 with ISO 3200 or 6400. I was really wishing for a FX camera and ISO 25,000 🙂 The NAPP Keynote was completely shot using the G11 and it did very well considering I had the zoom maxed out and the lighting was so bad. The class shots of Joe McNally were taken with the D300 at ISO 6400.

Zack Arias

Zack Arias

Mac Classic and Photoshop V1

Mac Classic and Photoshop V1

Metal prints were the hot item

Metal prints were the hot item

Scott giving away his Flying V to Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen

Scott giving away his Flying V to Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen

JohnnyL Adobe GM Digital Media

JohnnyL Adobe GM Digital Media

Photoshop Keynote

Photoshop Keynote

Scott Kelby and NAPP (KISS cover ala Spinal tap)

Scott Kelby and NAPP (KISS cover ala Spinal tap)

Scott Kelby and NAPP (KISS cover ala Spinal tap)

Scott Kelby and NAPP (KISS cover ala Spinal tap)

Scott Kelby and NAPP (KISS cover ala Spinal tap)

Scott Kelby and NAPP (KISS cover ala Spinal tap)

Home Base

Home Base

Mandalay Bay Lobby Entrance

Mandalay Bay Lobby Entrance

Photoshop TV LIVE

Photoshop TV LIVE

Joe McNally

Joe McNally

Small Flash Class by Joe McNally

Small Flash Class by Joe McNally

Joe McNally in action

Joe McNally in action

My view while blogging at Mandalay Bay

My view while blogging at Mandalay Bay

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Posted in commercial photography, event photography, photography, technique, training, Travel, venue Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Free is always good

Just a quick post today with some free links from CreativeLive. If you have not heard of them, you need to. They have been putting on some amazing training sessions live on the internet with an option to buy it for a very cheap price. How cheap? How about three days of  Vincent Laforet and his class on shooting movies with HD DLSRs of  for 120  bucks? Oh yeahh..  champagne info and beer prices.

So here are are few more to check out – These are free for now!!!

Creating PDFs and eBooks with CS5

Photoshop CS5,  0 to 60

Watercolor 101

Right now I’m watching a three day treat with Zack Arias called

Studio Photography with Zack Arias

If you have not been to one of Zack’s training classes, you owe it to yourself to get this one given how cheap it is and the amount of information he presents.

And yes, these videos are iPad friendly. I download them to my iPad and play them during my “school time” which is really my lunch break 🙂

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Posted in Business Aids, commercial photography, equipment, osx, photography, technique, training, video Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Time Lapse or Interval Recording

The new cameras that are out now have so many features and options that many of us just work out how to take the basic picture and call it a day. But there are some cool things if you dig a bit into the menus. You need to be a bit curious and willing to put in a little bit of time.

For example, on my Nikon D300, I can set up the camera for “Interval Recording” or what we all know as “Time Lapse” photography. This is where the camera takes a picture every X amount of time and then the stills get strung together as a movie. It’s a bit like stop action movies. And if you think about, digital camcorders and HDDSLRs are doing this at 30 images a second or more so it looks very smooth. We want to go the other way though in time lapse, we want to compress a given amount of time into a much smaller amount of time. For example, in my test video below, I shot for three plus hours at a frame every five seconds. This gave me something like 2,000 images at the end of the three hours. I used Apple’s QuickTime to stitch it all together as a movie. Then I imported it into iMovie and crop it a bit and added a sound track plus the eye candy at the beginning and end of the movie. My total time was under an hour to make this two and a half minute clip. And this is just the first test to see how well it worked. There are all kinds of applications for this style of photography, I know a wedding photographer who records the entire wedding and shows off a two or three minute clip which contains the entire cermony and the clients love it.

My equipment was pretty basic.

Nikon D300
17-55 F2.8 lens
Flashp Point carbon fiber tripod
Flash Point ball head
Carton of steel BBs to hang under the tripod

Software was also basic stuff

Apple Quicktime Pro
Apple iMovie

The settings were pretty straight forward. I set the camera to manual mode and locked the shutter to 1/125 and the aperture to F8. I like the ISO be auto-adjusted so the camera could compensate as the afternoon started to go twilight. I had the rig on the hood of my truck away from bikes, skateboards and little hands.

The Nikon D300 only does 999 images and then you have to reset it and start it over. You can get around this by using an external timer but that cost money and up to now, I had not spent anything. Go to Instructables to see how to make a TI graphing calculator into an interval timer. You can also find interval calculators for the iPhone such as this one by ClamClam Video.

I set up the D300 to shoot the smallest JPEG (2144×1424 pixels) which still exceeds the HD standard of 1920×1080 at 24 FPS. This gives me just a touch of room for some minor cropping which I did in my sample below.

Here are some pics taken with my G11 when I was setting up and testing the D300 before I shot the actual afternoon event. The first one shows the settings in the Nikon LCD window.
Interval Configuration

This one shows the basic set up using the carbon fiber tripod, ball head and D300 with battery pack.
Nikon D300 Interval Test

When you open Quicktime, you want to choose “Open image sequence”. You go to the directory of the images and select the first one. You then select the frame rate you want to use. The selection of 24 frames per second is standard for film and digital recordings use as high as 30 frames per second. Alot of web sized video use 10 or 15 frames per second. In my case, I could go as low as 12 frames a second and still have a decent frame rate for the video. I saved the file as the default MOV file because I knew I was going to put it into iMovie for further editing and clean up. I wanted as much data as I could get and I exported it from iMovie for YouTube.

Overall, my test was a success and very easy to accomplish. I already have plans to use this trick again in a more production manner and I can see how one might make a reel from it using several shoots tied together.

In the end, the only reason I did this was because I was curious about it and I thought it might be fun. You should try it. You might like it 🙂

You can see some very cool timelapse reels here at 599productions.com

Addendum-

Here is a way cool DIY to make a tiny circuit that will trigger your camera based on the difference from the first press of the shutter and the second one. it will run till the battery runs out.

How To Build The Smallest Intervalometer In The World

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Posted in editing, editing software, equipment, event photography, Hardware, photography, technique, youtube Also tagged , , , , , , , , |

Free Videos: AdoramaTV with Mark Wallace

It’s bigger.. it’s better.. and it’s a FREEBIE!! It’s the new AdoramaTV show starring Mark Wallace. OK, perhaps it’s a bit much but Adorama as funded ALOT of shows featuring photographer Mark Wallace who will present shorts on equipment, techniques and product reviews.

Some will say it’s selling out to the “man” but I say it’s good business for Mark. From what I have heard, Adorama is pretty much letting Mark do what he does best and not trying to steer him to certain products etc. The quality is not bad, not the best but certainly better than alot of what passes for video on Youtube. The audio is too hot much of the time and the lower thirds are kinda of cheesy but it’s not too bad considering. Mark is saying that there should be three videos a week at least and for fifty weeks!! That is a heckva alot of video production and he talks about it on a podcast produced by our friends over at studiolighting.net. Mark goes into alot of detail on the effort it takes to produce this number of videos plus still do his normal business to avoid losing clients. Anyone willing to do all that work just to give it away deserves some positive karma and some to Adorama for funding it for Mark. After all, one of the best things about photography is just how many people are perfectly willing to share techniques, tips, styles, blogs, actions and more for free.

iPad Photography Applications

After watching this one, I’m much more interested in getting an iPad to try out.

Here is another sample of the Adorama video series, this one is Color Management Tools.

Color Management Tools

Any time you can get someone of Mark’s caliber speaking for fifty videos and they cost you nothing, it’s one heck of a deal. Even more so since I’m customer of Adorama and have been overall happy with their service. There have been some hickups but nothing I would call a deal breaker by any stretch. Skype is free too but I hate them with a passion so Adorama has nothing to worry about from me 🙂

Posted in commercial photography, equipment, photography, reviews, technique, video, youtube Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Shadow Boxes and Simple Views

I’ve been toying around with the blog trying out some different plug ins and tools. One that I really love is a widget built into CS4 called “Zoomify”. You can buy it but a simple version is included in CS4. I also love “Shadowbox” which gives a nice semi-transparent black background for displayed images. My new best friend is called “Simpleviewer” which gives a way to have a single image anchor a flash or other type of slide show in the shadowbox.

Here is a sample post of my family decorating our Christmas tree with the slide show made in CS4 using the Simpleviewer script in Photoshop. You could make the slide show in Lightroom and use Shadowbox also and I plan to put together a demo of that also in a different post.

This is a very cool way to gen up a slide show of the newest wedding shoot or other shoot without making your blog run pages in length.

Where did I find all of this information? Well, my buddies over at Kelby Training have a new online session with RC (Rafael Concepcion) on setting up WordPress for photographers. Actually, there are two of them and I went straight to the 2nd one which has all of this information plus more. If you want to learn it fast, spend the twenty bucks for a months subscription and watch it a couple of times. Well worth the money.And there are alot more there to watch.. I’m just warning you 🙂 I have a yearly subscription myself so I get nothing out of recommending them other than a warm fuzzy for helping you.

Posted in editing, editing software, photography, training, workflow Also tagged , , , , , , , |

Life is not just still life

I dug this out of the archives from a couple of years ago. I had an idea for doing a series of podcasts on travel photography and used Disneyland as my first podcast. I really hate the “kodak” shot which tend to be very boring images. So I took several of my favorite shots from the park, added video and a voiceover to give an idea of what can be done with very little effort on the photographers part and without annoying the rest of the family with the “wait here for a minute”. I never pursued the podcast any further but one of these days I might goof around some more with it. Video was alot more work than I thought it would be and between gigs, kids and life, I just dont have alot of time to good with it.

I used iMovie on my Mac to make this flicks and kept things simple. I used two different video cameras, a Sony Hi8 and a Sony MiniDV. Neither are state of the art even then but they were useable and still are but look pretty low quality compared to the new HD rigs.

So here is my first attempt at making a video podcast. I had alot of fun making it and learned alot in the process. There is some good information on shooting pictures at Disneyland so I hope you find something useful in also.

Its interesting to watch these now with the current technology like the RED being used to shoot a “video” of a wedding and then printing stills from the video because the quality is so high. Of course, the camera and support equipment will set you back 20 thousand dollars or more but in the near future, I think at least the high end weddings will be shot on video and then the stills will be taken from the video stream instead of having both a videographer and a still photographer present. I see the high end wedding being shot with two video cameras to get the angles and pull everything else from that. Might be sooner than I think with the newest DLSRs shooting HD video now abet in a primitive form.

Here is a second podcast I did on some basic photography equipment for the new shooter. Again, this is about 2 years old since it’s referencing my old Nikon D80. But the ideas are still valid and very useful for the new shooter. If you know much at all about photography and shooting with digital, you probably already know most of what I talk about. Enjoy!

Posted in Hardware, photography, ramblings, video Also tagged , , , , , , , , |