Strobist info: Single SB-900 full power/85mm, on stand (at kid height) into a soft-silver umbrella camera left. Minor ambient coming from camera way right (err, the kitchen) and camera high-back left (err, the TV).
Strobist info: Single SB-900 full power/85mm, on stand (at kid height) into a soft-silver umbrella camera left. Minor ambient coming from camera way right (err, the kitchen) and camera high-back left (err, the TV).
I hate using a flash. I hate the way it looks. I hate the harshness - the way everything washes. I hate red eye.
Of course, that's because I have no idea how to use a flash properly and as a result I've got pretty good at taking photos in extremely low light conditions.
Time to learn.
Yesterday I ordered a Nikon SB-900, along with a lightweight stand and a shoot-through umbrella. The flash was due to arrive today - we did have two UPS deliveries from Amazon, annoyingly both for my wife ;-)
I guess I'll have to wait until Friday.
I'm really looking forward to working my way through the Strobist “assignments” and improving my photo knowledge toolkit - wish me luck…
Kris Krug just kicked off Gnomedex here in Seattle with a great presentation on photography.
Read. Absorb. Enjoy.
I've uploaded some photos from Google I/O to your favourite photo sites. I can't believe I took so few pictures…
I think this is it - the Canon Vixia HF10.
I've been looking for an HD camcorder to replace my trusty, and seven year old, Canon Elura 2 and this looks like the right one.
I hate flashes. I really do. I hate the antiseptic feel; the hard shadows; the unnatural light. You'll never see me use a flash.
Of course, this is because I have no idea how to use a flash properly.
I think I've popped the little built in flash on my D200 about three times and hated every single moment of it. As a result I think I've got very good at hand holding the camera - sometimes up to half a second. The stabilization in my primary lens doesn't hurt either (neither does my 80mm 1.8f lens).
But I think I might be missing out.
I need to learn how to use a flash properly.
To this end, I've been reading Strobist a lot recently and man are there some great photographs there. And of course it all looks very geeky and fun.
Check out more of the photographer's work - isn't it astounding?
I think I've been too much of a no-flash snob.
Hmmm. My birthday is just around the corner…
I've finally finished with the photos from Steve and Rachel's wedding. You can find them on Flickr.
During the wedding, Julian was also wandering around with a camera and captured this one of me! Nice shot, little dude.
Today we had the honour of attending the wedding of our long time friends, Steve and Rachel. What a wonderful time! Much merriment was had by all and I sincerely wish them the best that life can give in their future lives together.
Also, a few months ago they asked me if I would take the photos of their wedding. Talk about nerve-wracking! 'Twas a good job I picked up that extra 4GB CF card as I ended up shooting over 500 frames…
It's going to take me a while to delete all the rubbish and make the rest look halfway decent, but I know that some friends will be wanting to see some right now, so here's a few rushed shots…
More on Flickr in a couple of days…
Update: The photos are now up on Flickr.
What a great way to start the week. Andy Summers was at Google in NYC this morning to talk about his new book I'll Be Watching You - Inside The Police 1980-83 and his photography. We video conferenced into the talk.
This was a double treat for me - first, I'm a huge fan of Andy Summers the guitarist and second, I had no idea that he was such a great photographer.
The talk was very amusing too - with lots of small anecdotes about life on the road.
Anyhow, just one more great thing about working at Google :-)
The talk should be up on YouTube later - I'll update this post when it's available.
Update: The video is now available.
When browsing my most popular photos on flickr, this one brought a tear to my eye. Again.
To all of Julian's wonderful teachers - Thank you.
Rock! This completely takes the ideas that other products such as Microsoft's Photo Story 3 have run with and raises the bar through the roof.
Animoto is an interesting product, from an interesting group of people:
Animoto Productions is a bunch of techies and film/tv producers who decided to lock themselves in a room together and nerd out.
Their first release is Animoto, a web application that automatically generates professionally produced videos using patent-pending technology and high-end motion design. Each video is a fully customized orchestration of user-selected images and music. Produced on a widescreen format, Animoto videos have the visual energy of a music video and the emotional impact of a movie trailer.
The heart of Animoto is its newly developed Cinematic Artificial Intelligence technology that thinks like an actual director and editor. It analyzes and combines user-selected images and music with the same sophisticated post-production skills & techniques that are used in television and film.
Despite the buzzword and PR heavy description, it looks like they're onto something. Man, they even have a press kit!
“Chang Cheng”, by Penelope Loom
Since somebody asked…
Simple really :-)
So I took some photos of the band Breadline, a local blues band, just over a year ago when they were performing at a local bar.
Nice guys, great music.
I offered to email them with links to the photos, which I did, and they asked if they could use the photos with appropriate attribution, which I was more than happy to agree to.
There's no link from the pictures to my source images and, to add insult to injury, absolutely no attribution at all. Anywhere.
Update: I'm blind. I'm named as a source for the photos at the bottom of the page, but a link sure would be nice… Ooops!
Via Boing Boing, we find a link to a government poster…
[Photo by Numlock]
At the beginning of a little walk with Julian yesterday at the Seattle Arboretum, we stumbled upon two teddy bears getting intimate in a trash can…
A nice set of photography tips for the upcoming festivities from Digital Photography School
14. Watch Your Aperture
I quite often shoot in Aperture Priority mode on a day like Christmas and am constantly changing the aperture depending upon my subject. For example when taking shots of a Christmas decoration on the tree I'll select a large aperture (a small number like f/2.8) so as to throw the background out of focus, but on a shot taken from the end of the table of everyone sitting down eating I'll choose a small aperture (like f/8 to f/11) so as to have a larger depth of field and keep everyone in focus.
[Tip'O'Hat to Lifehacker for the link.]
Hadley suggested that I enter a photograph that I took of her daughter into Shutterfly's Seasonal Reflections contest.
So with full permission, I of course obliged :-)
Please follow this link to vote for the photograph…
In the “why didn't I think of that” department, here's a neat trick to ensure that your wonderful architecture/landscape/etc… photograph is free of pesky people.
It's basically the inverse of the cloning trick.
[Tip-O-Hat to Lifehacker for the link.]
A friend of mine, Kevin Kennedy, captured this photo of me at the previously mentioned holiday party. Kevin is a D70 guy… He'll upgrade soon :-)
On Sunday morning I picked up my Christmas present to myself, the Nikon 85mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor.
I love the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor (wheee!) lens that I've been using with my Nikon D200 since I purchased it at the beginning of the year, but with it's fastest f/3.5 aperture setting, it can be a tad too slow for the kids in an indoor setting. As someone who hates using flash, this can be a bit of a problem - I've got pretty good at hand holding for up to a half a second…
Plus I really love a narrow depth of field.
The new lens delivers on all fronts.
It's very fast, letting in a bunch more light at f/1.8 and 85mm than my other lens can do at f/3.5 and 18mm and the large aperture can generate a very narrow depth of field.
Also, it's a prime lens, no zoom, which forces you to compose by using your feet…
Anyhow, I took it too our friend Deb's holiday party this weekend for some practice, with some great (IMHO) results. It did pretty well with the daughter and her yoghurt fun too…
I like it. Recommended.
As of today you can download a free thirty day trial of Apple's Aperture, it's photo management software. As a beta tester for Adobe LightRoom, I've been wanting to see how Aperture compares, but haven't wanted to shell out the serious bucks that they're asking for it.
Now I'm a happy camper.
Apple are pulling something really sneaky, and almost unpleasant here. On the sign up form, you fill in the usual info and click a button to have them send you a serial number. It also has the usual checkbox saying something along the lines of “Please spam me with random announcements, offers, etc…”
Of course, everyone unchecks that box. But if you uncheck it in this instance you are not allowed to proceed with the request for a serial number. You get a dialog saying “Before you submit your request, please check the permission checkbox allowing Apple to send you the requested information.”
Bah! So to get the trial, you have to agree to being spammed.
Well, I'm on Apple's spam list already, so I just checked and clicked away…
Thomas Hawk, along with Kris Krug, is one of the photographers that I admire most. Not only does he create such amazing images, he exudes his love of photography. Hell, the man shoots upwards of five hundred pictures a day. I have no idea how he finds the time to go through them (let alone process them) with a job (or two), wife and kids.
Anyhow, in a wonderful post today he responds to the question:
If given the choice to either sleep with Marilyn Monroe or take photographs of her which would I do? The first answer was easy. I'm married and so sex with Marilyn was out. But I'd love to shoot her. So then the question was reasked, if I were ==single== which would I choose?
Just go and read the post…
In this post, he also talks about the problem where people don't like to be photographed because, in their words, they don't look good in pictures.
But the reason why photos don't work for these people is because they don't like having their photo taken in the first place.
If they protest verbally then maybe I get one or two shots of them. If they protest with their body language maybe I get 5 or 10. If they are into instead I might take 50 or 100
When you have 50 shots to cull one or two out from you get much better shots because 48 end up on the cutting room floor. When you have 2 to choose from it makes it harder. My advice to people who say that they never take a good picture is that they especially, instead of shutting down a photographer give them the most time, attention and latitude. This will yield the best possible photos and most great photographers can take a good shot of just about anyone.
Intuitively, this is a great rationale and something that I'll use in the future when friends and family and me to stop taking pictures of them because “I'm not photogenic”.
There have been some nice little mentions of my move by both of the Seattle PI reporters that I follow. John Cook devotes a post to my move, and Todd Bishop mentions my move in the same paragraph as Microsoft executive Rick Devenuti!
Regarding John's post, I've been so busy that I've not had a chance to get back to him - I've got that whole “need to collect thoughts before talking to a reporter” thing going on, even if there's not much to say. Like any decision it was all about evaluating the current situation, evaluating a great offer and integrating all factors, both personal and professional, to arrive at an answer. Oh, and the great food!
I hope that works for John as, like I've said before, I'm incredibly grateful to him for the exposure he has given SwitchGear.
Adobe have just released the latest beta of Lightroom, their digital photography workflow management application. All of you photographers in the audience need to check this out. The differences in performance (on the Mac anyway) are quite striking, as is the updated UI.
Adobe Lightroom - now with PC and Mac feature parity. Highly recommended.
A new “Map” button in the Organize tool and a new “Map” button on everyone's Flickr page results in pretty easy access to the functionality.
I've geotagged a few recent sets - you can check out the resultant map on my Flickr page.
So, what does this mean? Well, for a start, a lot of people are going to now start geotagging their images, which means that you'll be able to search for images by location and there will actually be some results. Image location search just hasn't been interesting before as there really hasn't been any data.
Expect to see a lot of location based image mashups appearing very soon…
The FCC just approved Nikon's WiFi adapter for the D200. It may be a bit big, but I still want one.
Also, while perusing the manual for the adapter, I noticed that in addition to it's wifi goodness, the adapter also has a shutter release button that makes it easier to use the camera when shooting in a portrait orientation.
Sweet! That will be very useful for those tripod moments.
Finally, a service appears that appears to offer decent services for the prosumer photographer.
ImageKind isn't the normal “host your pictures here” site, although it certainly provides those facilities. In addition it provides a mechanism for photographers to sell their work via second-to-none printing on some pretty decent materials (including canvas).
This is pretty cool. You could upload your stuff just to print out your own work (like me), or upload it to sell, or just upload to share. The site goes very deep on the details of the printing process - I learnt a few things.
Anyhow, the site is in beta now, with a few rough edges but appears very stable - they're very responsive to comments or bug reports.
Oh, and you can check out of couple of my pictures at my gallery.
With a nod to the danger of this becoming a photoblog, we had some fun at the beginning of the week. First of all we attended our friend Andrew's birthday bash at Agua Verde in Seattle.
I'd never been to this part of town before, and it was spectacular - right by the water and great food.
On July 4th, Julian and I nipped downtown for the annual Kirkland parade and then we all went along to our neighbour's house for an afternoon party. Their garden is wonderful.
Finally, we had our own “5th Annual Independence Day Celebration” - hosted by the brits. A few of the neighbours and associated kids came along - much finger painting and burger eating ensued, though a bit quieter than in previous years. By the early evening we were on our own, when friends Sam and Jessie turned up and watched the fireworks with us - thanks for coming!
When the fireworks finally appeared I grabbed by tripod and attempted to take some pictures - totally guesswork on my part - I wish someone had posted a link to the New York Institute of Photography's article on shooting fireworks before the the 4th!
Spot me if you can…
A table away from Jeff Clavier. Note to self: must send executive summary ;-) Soccer loving VC == good!
Chris Pirillo posted today about The Myth of the Press Pass: Busted. Although not exactly on the same topic, I'd argue that the value of the pro-photographer is declining.
I would bet money that it never even crossed Chris' mind to hire a conference photographer for Gnomedex. In fact his opening remarks included something to the effect of “expect to be photographed and those pictures to end up on Flickr”. He also cautioned attendees not to take pictures of any of the children that were floating around.
With pictures like these, who needs pro?
This one is destined to replace the “hat” picture on my blog:
Note that these were shot on film and cross-processed…
Anyhow, go and check out his photos on Flickr.
Thanks for the ego-boost, Chris. It's an honour to be listed with those guys.
I don't know about breathtaking, but I think I got a few good shots.
Check them out over on Flickr.
Kosso one-upped me in the meta stakes.
Note, this will be a stream of notes/conciousness, updated as the day goes along.
The first question of the day was “Can we have TVs for the World Cup?”.
At the break before the first session I bumped into Kris Krug, whose photography I am a massive fan of. Cool.
While I was outside and people were taking pictures, Eric Rice quipped “Damn Citizen Paparazi!”
Anyhow, up on stage now is Mike Arrington from TechCrunch.
I'm not even going to try to keep notes about the sessions - I wanna listen, so I'll rely on the few hundred other bloggers in the audience…
Anyhow, the TVs are now live showing the World Cup…
Cool. Now Dave Dederer is singing…
Senator John Edwards is up.
One person asked about having citizen media follow the presidential candidates around during the campaign - unrestricted access. He agreed and said that the candidate that had the confidence and trustworthiness to believe in themselves and willing to let themselves be totally open has the ability to gain massive trust from the country. They would also force the other candidates to do the same or appear false.
Up after lunch, Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon - Net Neutrality.
Earlier this year, shortly after I picked up the D200, I headed down to the local bar to take some pictures of the band that was playing there. I wanted to get some more experience shooting pictures in extremely low light conditions and was very pleased with the results.
Anyhow, the band contacted me today to ask if they could use the pictures in promotional and media materials!
You can see the photo set over on Flickr.
I've been meaning to do something like this, but now I'm absolutely going to do it.
Here is the family of an Argentinian man, photographed on the same day every year since 1976.
[Thanks to Thomas Hawk for the link.]
So I've set up an account on Riya, but have yet to really give it a work out - I'm looking forward to that. Tagging the photos I upload to Flickr with the people involved is a time sink that I could do without, and the service seems cool.
Anyhow, I did just try MyHeritage as a few other people I know have had some fun with it, and I wanted to see which celebrity it thought that I resembled most.
First of all though, a little rant.
They perform a bait and switch in you.
On their home page they have a nice big “Try it out now for free!” button. No mentions of having to sign up. Cool!
I click the button and it takes me through uploading a photo, and then boom! Up pops a “Sign up now, to see your results!” form.
I hate it when web services do that. OK, I'll sign up as I already have some time invested, but you just pissed me off and I am now an unhappy customer.
If you're going to pretend to let me do stuff before signing up (the lazy registration pattern - something that Memeflow does quite well, if you don't mind me tooting my own horn…), then don't turn around and annoy me before I can get anything useful done.
With that out of the way, I uploaded a version of the picture you see at the top of my blog sans hat, and who did I most resemble?
Samuel L. Jackson.
Seattle in a snowglobe.
One of the reasons for taking the photos yesterday was to get a decent one to try the tilt shift technique out on.
I think this one came out nicely. Very the picture large for the best effect.
I was in downtown Seattle today for some meetings and as it was looking like a nice day and I new I was going to be high up in a few of the taller buildings, I brought the camera along…
You can check out the rest of the pictures over on Flickr…
This afternoon we decided to do a little family photo shoot, so I grabbed the camera and tripod and we went for it.
I absolutely love my Nikon D200. Not the least because photographing kids is a lot easier if you can capture five pictures a second and it actually takes the picture the instant you depress the shutter button…
Of course, the downside is that you can fill up a 2GB flash card in no-seconds-flat when you're shooting in RAW.
Anyhow, 125 pictures later and it's off to the PC.
I'm still working on my work flow, but for now (and for those interested) it looks something like this:
I caught the clone meme last week, and having been wanting to try it out ever since.
Well, today was the day. I grabbed the tripod and camera and ordered Julian around, getting him to stand in different locations throughout the room.
Oddly, he actually did as he was asked.
The technique I used is basically the same one as described over here.
First I took a picture without Julian in it, and then took a bunch of other pictures with him in various locations.
I then stacked them up in layers in photoshop, with the layers where Julian was closest at the top of the stack.
Then for each layer I created a selection around Julian and generated a mask for the layer based on the selection, followed up my hand touching-up the mask to get the blend as invisible as possible.
The big things to make sure you mask right are the shadows and reflections (notice Julian's reflection in the television).
Anyhow, you get the idea. 'Twas fun.
Those of you in the game development community are aware of the big push towards high dynamic range (HDR) lighting that attempts to capture the full range of lighting behaviour rather than limiting ourselves to a low eight bit range.
At least during frame generation anyhow.
What you might not be aware of is the push towards using HDR in the digital photography space.
Typically, an image will be captured multiple times at multiple exposure settings and these images are blended - pulling out the highlights from the low exposures and the shadows from the high exposures. Photoshop CS2 has the capabilities to do this.
I'd been meaning to try this for a while, so here's another nudge. Added to the todo list…
Yup, a complete CES roundup in one minute and forty seconds!
Rocketboom has put up a special feature today - a compilation of photos and short video segments from CES, all spliced together and set to the music of “Dueling Banjos”.
Of course, the reason it completely rocks is that it includes the photos I took whilst down in Las Vegas…
[Thanks to Thomas Hawk for the link.]
I've learned through much trial and error that there are certain things you will just not convince a child of by explaining that “mommy wants a good picture of you” or “grandma and grandpa are going to have this hanging on their wall”. Child photography is mostly about being quick and secondly about playing the psychology game with kids to make it fun for them and not a chore.
[Thanks to Kris Krug for the link.]
In the bar after an interesting band practice.
After incessantly hassling the staff at my local camera store over the past couple of weeks, they finally relented yesterday and gave me the UPS tracking number for the package containing my new camera and lens.
It's been a long wait.
Anyhow, I noticed this afternoon that it had arrived at 1pm, so I sped off to the store to pick it up, along with a new bag, CF card and a couple of filters.
This thing is astounding. Incredible quality pictures and up to 5 frames a second too! I spent most of the evening reading the manual and getting it all set up. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get to do more than test pictures - I think Nabila is getting very bored of me pointing the camera at her…
So Flickr is still carrying around the “beta” label.
Look guys, it works, you're charging for it, it's very popular and someone paid a lot of money for it nine months ago.
Just remove the “beta” label. Please. You released. V1.0 is done.
Then this flickr group pool is right up your alley. There's some wonderful stuff in here.
[Thanks to lifehacker for the link.]
You might think I'm talking about the Xbox 360. Nope. I got one on the first day. Hehe.
I'm talking about the Nikon D200 which I preordered (along with the new 18/200 lens) back in November. The release date was December 15th, and on the photography forums people are starting to get theirs and they've been arriving all over the place since Thursday. But have I got mine? Nope.
I'm telling you, this thing is hotter than the 360! It's out of stock everywhere, and if you want to get one now, well, you'll be waiting well into next year. It's really interesting watching the parallels between the two products.
After multiple phone calls to the local Ritz camera, mine was due to be shipped (ground, sigh…) from the warehouse to the store today. I might get it before Christmas.
[Update] Great minds think alike! Scoble just posted on the very same topic!
I voted for “Heading Home”. The juxtaposition is poignant and it turns out that a lot of other people thought so too…
The Rocky Mountain News story that the picture originated from is here.
I just installed Photoshop CS2 and have been playing around with it. I must say, this looks like a must-have upgrade so far.
Some interesting stuff found that I've found:
You could probably do all this before, but it appears to be a damn sight more accessible. Maybe that's just because I'm a wannabe art dude who's still incapable of figuring out masks…
Anyhow. Tip time.
When doing the digital photo thing, especially when scanning and processing a bunch of old photos, I find myself rotating and cropping images a lot. The tricky thing is the arbitrary rotation - it's very much trial and error.
Well, if you go to the measure tool (right click the dropper - it's the third item), draw a line that you want to be horizontal and then do an arbitrary rotation, you'll see the angle automatically filled in! Just apply and you're done. No more trial and error.
But then you probably already knew that.
A few days ago I posted a call for help regarding my upcoming purchase decision of a digital SLR.
Wow. Canon versus Nikon feels like Apple versus Microsoft!
Most people in the comments (by the way, thank you, thank you, thank you) favour the Canon, but in the grand scheme of things I think it comes down to personal preference and your history with either vendor. If you've got a lot of time and history (especially lenses) invested in a particular vendor, then you're much more likely to stick with them.
After reading the comments and cruising websites, it feels very much like a religious war, similar to the Microsoft versus anyone else debate.
Anyhow, make of that what you will, but I think I'm going to be non-conformist and go with the Nikon D200. I went to the local camera store that I've done a lot of business with (I even bought one of the first digital cameras there back in 1996 - a Casio something-or-other that had a 320x240 resolution - no mega pixel there and no flash - it was useless) and had a long discussion with a Canon owning sales guy who was incredibly passionate about the topic.
He laid out all the facts and led me to the conclusion that the Nikon is better for me.
Respect. Cameras West in Bellevue. Highly recommended.
I'm looking at getting a Digital SLR, and am currently thinking about either the Canon EOS 20D, or the Olympus E-500. Here's a link to a side-by-side look at them over on Digital Photography Review.
My question is what do you guy's think? Is any reader an expert in this area?
The Omlypus is about half the price of the Canon and the features look comparable to me, but the Canon has a lot of favourable reviews and is now over a year old - is something better coming along? I hate buying expensive consumer electronics only to have it be out of date the day after I buy it…
© 2001 to present, Steve Lacey.