Category Archives: Photography

GPS4cam & Pebble Smartwatch Sitting On A Wrist

gps4cam-pebble-integrationGPS4cam is software for your Android or iPhone which allows photographers to easily log GPS locations for their photographs. Using Adobe Lightroom or gps4cam’s desktop software, photographs can easily be geotagged thanks to the data captured via gps4cam.

Now photographers do not need a GPS device as long as they have a smartphone. Photographers do not need to find that new camera with GPS built-in because your gps4cam can handle the task for you.

To get started with gps4cam, open the app on your phone, choose a mode and start a new trip before you start shooting using your camera.

When you are done, simply end the trip and generate a QR code that you need to take a picture of with your camera in either RAW or JPG. The advantage of the QR code is that you don’t have to manually sync your phone’s time with your camera’s time

When you get to your computer, simply run your photos plus the QR code through the gps4cam desktop software. This latter will geotag all your photos with the appropriate GPS locations.

As you can see here, the photos have been geotagged. When you add these photos to a photo management software such as iPhoto, Aperture or Lightroom you can see them on a map.

For Lightroom users, you can use a different workflow if you want to. Instead of generating a QR code, you can use a GPX file to geotag your photos added to Lightroom. You can email the GPX file to yourself or simply store it in your dropbox.

gps4cam pro has a new integration with the pebble smartwatch allowing the users to capture GPS locations or switch modes directly from the watch and lots of other features.

GPS4Cam & Pebble

Previously I have reviewed gps4cam and shared how simple and awesome it is to Geotag photographs from any camera.

At the time I was using it with the Leica M9, which I no longer have. My Nikon D800 has the Eco Pro-F but whenever I use a camera without a GPS, gps4cam is my solution.

When the team at gps4cam reached out to me about their new Pebble integration I was intrigued as I’m sure you are since you are reading this.

For those who do not know what a Pebble is – basically it’s a smartwatch which was originally born through a very successful Kickstarter campaign. The watch uses its own operating system and is compatible with both iPhones and Androids. The operating system is light weight and designed for anyone to create watch faces and apps for it.  Please note that the pro version doesn’t exist yet on android at the time of this review.

When I received my Pebble I quickly installed gps4cam on it and started playing even though I wasn’t shooting anywhere. I wanted to get a feel for what the watch interface could do which would benefit me while out shooting.

Turns out that it’s quite useful in helping to stop looking at the phone to set markers and also to share coordinates with others if needed.

When you first launch the app on the watch it tells you to start the app on the phone. So my first thought was that I wish the app on the watch could start the tracking. Turns out that it’s against policies for developers to do that. Here is an explanation from gps4cam.

“It’s a requirement from Pebble in order to have a fair sharing between apps using Bluetooth to connect to the Pebble smartwatch. If an app uses constantly the Bluetooth connection between the iPhone and Pebble, other potential apps won’t be able to interact with the Pebble”

So that makes sense – although I still wish it was an option. Even if it wasn’t the default option.

While the GPS is going, the watch shows the time which is convenient since the Pebble in the end is still a watch.

If you name the trip (on your phone) then the name of the trip will also show on the watch. Otherwise will show the default unnamed trip titled.

One of my favorite things about the interface on the watch is that I can change the accuracy of the GPS. So instead of reaching for my phone while shooting, I can quickly click a couple buttons on my wrist and go from precision to energy saver if I notice my battery getting too low. Or vice versa if I need precision.

Going along with that – the watch app also shows the accuracy of the GPS so I know how close the coordinents actually are.

pebble-gps4cam

The watch shows elapsed time within 2 seconds of what the phone says after starting the tracking. That is actually the time from the last marker point or “geotag” done on the watch.

By default the “search” or “where I am” part of the watch interface will show the UTM, x and y zones and it defaults to kilometers with no way to adjust for miles. Now, I personally do not use UTM nor do I understand it fully. However, that search screen can be changed to longitude and latitude. After talking with gps4cam about this part of my review, they decided to change the default search screen to longitude and latitude which is far more common for photographers when geotagging photographs.

It’s also worth noting that the search screen also shows altitude with can be useful for hiking.

The Pebble’s middle button is used as a shot marker, or a way to set a geotag point manually. It’s a useful feature to help the gps4cam desktop software sync up the photographs. I use it whenever my location changes enough to warrant a marker. For example, if I am photographing the east side of New York City and my next photograph is on the west side of New York City, I will set a new marker. Using the watch instead of the phone will save the battery life of your phone.

As mentioned my only gripe with the interface is not being able to start or pause tracking from the watch. It’s not gps4cam’s fault for this, though, as they are following the rules set by Pebble. But man that feature would be useful!

Since my initial review of gps4cam, Adobe Lightroom has come out with a feature to import GPS data directly to your images. gps4cam is also now compatible with that, so sync up your Dropbox and import the GPX file(s) to Lightroom and watch the magic happen.

gps4cam instructions

I highly recommend that if you are a gps4cam user to pick up a Pebble watch. In fact, inside of gps4cam Pro is the ability to get a discount on the Pebble watch.  Why? Because your typical camera GPS isn’t also a watch.  Wearable technology can be a beautiful thing.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,
Scott

Slower Shutter – Long Exposure Photography Calculator

slower-shutterI am a big fan of simplicity in mobile apps, and Slower Shutter fits the bill perfectly.

Slower Shutter is an iOS developed by Mike Wong (formerly of onOne Software and now Lynda.com) The app has a very basic purpose which is to calculate the exposure time, with up to 16 stops of light reduction while using neutral density filters.

If you’ve been to my website before then you likely know that I wrote an eBook on long exposure photography.  In the eBook I mention a couple neutral density filter calculators.  One of the calculators is actually a part of a larger app, called PhotoPills.  One of my favorite apps, but why open that app only for neutral density timing.  That’s where Slower Shutter comes in.  It’s simple, elegant and does the job well.

Mike started his adventure at Untitled Apps with the goal of creating Slower Shutter (rumor has it a game is next), and he used the education provided at Lynda.com to learn how to develop the app.

In the video below I want I will share how to use the app to calculate your long exposures.

As you can see, Mike made it super easy to use. To get started, pick the shutter speed of your camera (before a neutral density filter), then pick the amount of stops for light reduction from the neutral density filters. When you are happy with the new shutter speed displayed, click Set Timer. Once you’re ready push the timer to start the timer.

It is that simple.

I hope you check it out as the app is only $0.99 in the iTunes app store.

Once you have the app downloaded, check the the long exposure photography tips page on the Untitled Apps site. I offered Mike a variety of tweetable tips for him to share with the app users. I hope you’ll utilize and share some of those!

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,
Scott

Subscribe to my newsletter for something special.  I will be sending out a bunch of redemption codes for Slower Shutter, so you could download it for free!  Only a few redemption codes are remaining.

The Arcanum Is Photography Education With A Twist

the arcanumI am delighted to share a fun announcement with the community. I was invited by my friend Trey Ratcliff to be a Master at his new online education school called The Arcanum.

I wrote about learning photography in my eBook Absorbing Light. The Arcanum is just another way to learn. It’s a school unlike any other school or photography.

What Is The Arcanum?

“A very old… ancient, in fact… way of learning and growing your Art through a Master & Apprentice relationship, powered by a NEW kind of academy. Imagine a type of Hogwarts, online in Augmented Reality, where you always have a connection to your Master and your fellow Apprentices. Get your head around that, and you’ll see where this is going…”

My View On The Arcanum

Trey & Peter On The Arcanum

The Arcanum is not your typical school

It’s not a place where you are lectured and sent on your way.

Or a place where you are given a book and meant to figure it out.

The Arcanum is where you take the fun of community, the pleasure of photography and the desire to learn and combine it into a gaming style platform structured to help you grow.

The Arcanum is filled with engagement between apprentices, masters and everyone is there together with a purpose. We each have our own goals and every master is there to help apprentices achieve theirs.

That’s why I’m happy to be an arcanum master. Please join myself and the other masters to make photographs, learn and accomplish.

See you there.

How I Decide Between Photos in Adobe Lightroom

Everyone has their own workflow for managing and editing their photographs. When I use Adobe Lightroom, I use the comparison view.

How I Decide Between Photos in Adobe Lightroom

In Lightroom’s grid view you can show the Toolbar (T key) and then there is a compare view icon near the bottom. If the Toolbar is hidden then you can simply select two photos and hit the C key. That will bring up the compare view.

As you can see it’s a very simple method of culling through multiple photos that look very similar. You can make zoom in to see fine details between both and decide which to work on.

I use the starring system to identify photos to edit, but you might use colors or flags.

Either way, use a system that is best in your workflow.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,
Scott

UltraLight Camera Cover Review – Hold On To Your Fanny!

mindshift gear

The UltraLight Camera Cover is a product from MindShift Gear, the sister company of Think Tank Photo. This is my first MindShift Gear product review, and I’m very excited about this because of many reasons.

For one, Think Tank Photo has always made amazing products. Since branching out with the sister company, MindShift Gear has released some really interesting and innovative products for photographers to store their cameras and accessories.

UltraLight Camera Cover

The UltraLight Camera Cover was my first choice for a product review. The bag is not so much as bag as it is a cover as it is a fanny pack. Yes, I said fanny pack in the same review as the word camera. Go figure! I guess the more technical term for a fanny pack is a lumbar waist pack, so we can also go with that.

The camera cover is just that – a camera cover, but with the added benefit of weather resistant eco friendly materials and a waist belt for more comfort.

think-tank-photo-pro-belt

In the photo you see of me photographing the couple, I am wearing a Think Tank Photo belt with some of their modular bags attached. What you don’t see is the UltraLight Camera Cover because it’s actually folded into itself as a tiny pouch and clipped to the Think Tank Photo belt using a carabiner. You read that right. When the camera cover/bag is not in use then it is “Ultralight” and small enough to stay out of the way.  You can see the small pouch near my right front pocket.

mindshift-gear-ultralight-camera-cover

So why did I want this bag? For days where I want to stay very light with no bag. For days where it might rain, but it might not. For days where I am walking non stop with nothing but a camera and extra memory cards and batteries in my pocket. That one chance that I get tired and want to put the camera away – now I can because I don’t have a bag, but I do have the UltraLight Camera Cover. This puppy is staying with me on those days.

This puppy is my new go to daily carry along. Better safe than sorry, and thanks to MindShift Gear there is a solution like the UltraLight Camera Cover available.

It comes in multiple sizes depending only your camera, so be sure to read the details on the product page to determine the correct model number for your camera/lens combination(s). It also comes in black or a blue. The cover is available directly from MindShift Gear and also select dealers.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,

Scott

LumoPro C-Stand Review

C-Stands are amazing products. They are just like your average light stand, but they’re far sturdier allowing you to hold heavier lights and modifiers.

I have always used standard light stands because I have never needed a C-Stand. However, when I was building my standing desk I wanted to heavy duty light stand for the frame of the desk.

lumopro-c-stand

So I contacted my friends at LumoPro to see if I could try the C-Stand for use in the standing desk and for my photography in general.

I am happy to share that the LumoPro C-Stand is everything I hoped it would be. It’s extremely strong with no wobble like a standard light stand.

lumopro c-stand in black

My cat ringo checking out the new c-stand

The way a C-Stand works is this… The legs look like a spider’s legs, with angles instead of straight folding legs like a standard light stand. The legs fold flat instead of folding up towards the stand’s pole. The pole also is removed and inserted into the legs for portability.

Due to the leg’s angles, it’s easier to drape sand bags over them for when needed.

The pole itself has multiple extensions which allow it to reach 105″, which is amazing. With it I have no concerns about reaching the heights I have not been able to reach with standard light stands. Even with all that metal, the C-Stand really isn’t that heavy. In fact, even with the attachments for my standing desk, I can still carry it around the house without a problem.

Although the product photo is shiny metal, the stand I received is a nice matt black color, so light will not be reflecting off the stand, if ever the chance occurred.

The LumoPro C-Stand is my latest addition to my studio work arsenal. I will be using it for:

I’m sure I will find more uses for the C-Stand as well. For $99, this puppy is a must have for anyone who needs a heavier duty light stand. As mentioned, it’s still easy to transport to don’t have any reservations about that. Pick one up and try it.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,
Scott

Photography As A Hobby & Doing More With It

photography-hobby-doing-more

Photography started for me as a hobby and turned into what Shirley calls a “super hobby”, and now I am a part-time professional.  You can also call me a freelance photographer.  Whatever the terminology you use, photography is still my hobby, which I have the pleasure of also getting paid for.

When I was asked to be interviewed on the Cross Link Radio podcast I knew it would be fun and very different than the typical photography podcast.  Mainly because Shirley is a dental hygienist and her show is all about health in general.  On Fridays the topic is hobbies.

So in the interview we talk about photography for health as photography as a hobby and how to do more with it.

The embedded player above will let you listen to the entire interview, and it’s about 30 minutes long.

If you have any questions about what was discussed in the interview please comment and let me know.

Thanks for reading and listening,
Scott

When You Need A Creativity Boost

Since photography is art it’s inevitable that all photographers will at some point get into a slump. A point where you’re shooting less and feeling uninspired.

When that happens you need a creativity boost.

creativity-boost

The photograph you see here might look like a simple closeup of a camera, but really it was something I really needed.

It’s been a while since I really went out and photographing things for myself so I decided one day to try something new.

I grabbed my Nikon 105mm Macro lens and attached it to the Nikon 1.7x extension.

I put my camera on a tripod, set it for a 2 second timer, got my exposure, framed the shot and captured a fun closeup of one of my vintage cameras.

I processed the photograph in Adobe Lightroom with basic contrast, highlights and shadows adjustments. I then added a fun vintage split toning effect to the entire image. It’s subtle but adds that bit of old to a new photograph.

It’s a simple shot, but one that made me think and try something new. Now it has me thinking about the possibility of extending the macro lens out in the elements.

I call it a successful creative boost.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting,
Scott

Hey Nikon – Why I Almost Got A Sony A7 & Why It Was Sent Back

Hey Nikon - Why I Almost Got A Sony A7 & Why It Was Sent BackThis was intended to be a review, but because of what you are about to read, it won’t be a review. Instead it is a sort of public service announcement to anyone considering the Sony camera system and using a Mac.

Nikon and Canon are both feeling the pain caused by Sony releasing the A7 series. These cameras are compact yet full frame. To kick Nikon and Canon when they’re down, companies like Metabones have created adapters to accept lenses from other brands.

For Canon users, the Metabones adapter will allow you to use your lenses normally, with autofocus, image stabilization and so on. For Nikon users, you are stuck with only manual focus. But that’s not the end of the world because focus peaking is amazing, and Sony did a fantastic job with it.

With that said, it shocks me that Sony did not include a method to specify which lens is attached to the camera and what the F-stop range is. Because without it, the EXIF data has no clue what aperture is set. Not super important, but useful at certain points. In addition, software like that exists because Leica includes it in each of their cameras because none of their lenses have autofocus.

Sony did take the step to put Wifi in the camera, but why no GPS? In fact, Sony has their own App system where you can log into their store and install effects, wireless remotes and more. So why not software that syncs the GPS from a phone? That would make geotagging easy? Well, it doesn’t exist currently, but that’s where GPS4Cam comes into play.

The biggest issue at hand, and the one that caused me to write this is that the camera I received crapped out on me within an hour.  I noticed the firmware version was not up to date so I downloaded the latest firmware and after the first try installing it, the camera died.

Sony designed its firmware updates so that you have to plug the camera into your computer via USB instead of putting the firmware on the memory card.  Why try to change a system that camera companies have been successfully doing for years?  Well, I guess they figured they innovated with the full frame mirrorless camera that they would try with their software too.  They failed.  The camera went from functioning hardware to a really beautiful looking paperweight.

Turns out that Sony didn’t think ahead with their firmware software.  So if you are running a 64-bit Mac computer (which is most new computers these days), then the update will brick your camera. Sony apparently didn’t leave this as an issue for 64bit Windows. Maybe they’re trying to sell more computers.

So the camera was sent back.

The lesson I learned here is this.

Sony might have innovated with the camera design, but they failed on so many fronts.  The camera could have been perfect in so many ways, but it’s missing very important things for photographers.  Some of which I mentioned her and some I haven’t brought up.

It is time for Nikon and Canon to listen up.  Your financial charts are going on a downward slope.  You know it and we all know it.  So start paying attention to what your customers want.  Your customers are buying Sony A7 series cameras with the intention of using their Nikon and Canon lenses on it.

You know this.

So why would you not design a camera to compete with it? Why allow your customers to go somewhere else?

Stop being ignorant and failing hard.  Start opening your eyes, listening to your loyal shooters, and release a fullframe mirrorless camera that has all the features that people want.  Keep the menu systems the same, make fantastic products and watch your financial scale change direction.

Nikon, I have been using your equipment since I was little.  My father and grandfather also used your equipment.  In fact, both of their cameras are sitting behind me as I type this. So when I tell you all of this, it’s from the heart.  It’s because I want to stay using your cameras.  I do not want to go to Sony.  I want to use my amazing Nikon glass on a Nikon body that is compact and fullframe… not a tiny sensor like what’s in the Nikon 1.  I also want that camera to be included in NPS, which I am a member of.

So please listen to what I’ve shared.  Feel free to contact me if you have questions.  I am happy to talk.

However you do it – be smart about it.

Thanks for reading,

Scott

Komodo Dragons

If you’ve been following me on social media or reading my blog for a while then you likely know that Komodo Dragons are my favorite animals.  It wasn’t until 2013 that I had an opportunity to photograph these beautiful creatures.

Now it’s 2014 and I’ve had so many more opportunities.

So I thought that I would share some of my favorites with you.

komodo-hanging-out

Komodo Dragons are super smart.  As soon as I walked up to him, it was as if he knew I was in awe and he immediately perked up and walked over to me.

komodo-dragon-stare

This Komodo Dragon was also intrigued by me and came up very close to see what I was doing.

komodo-dragon-sleeping

This Komodo Dragon was so tired that he just laid there for the time I was photographing him.

So there you go… my favorite photographs of my favorite animals.

What’s yours?

Scott