PhoozL Interiors Photo Contest

This week’s PhoozL Photo Contest was on the topic “Interiors” and offered a wide array of interpretations of that theme. Here is an except from my Judge’s comments:

“This was an interesting and varied group of images, making the judging process challenging. There were unique and challenging concepts of ‘interior’ and strong compositions telling interesting stories. I had never, for example, considered the inside of automobiles as interiors, as a number of participants did.”

“The primary contest description from me was: ‘Interiors: Light, on Forms, In Space; in a manner that defines an interior.’ And those were the key criteria for judging the contest. Let’s take a look at the winners I’ve picked through that lens, as well as a few other filters that I explain with each selection.”

Here is the link on Phoozl to read more, to see the winners, and to read the critiques of them. Thanks to Harald Johnson for inviting me to participate in this PhoozL event.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2013.   Website: CDTobie.com   Return to Blog’s Main Page

Mac Edition Radio Interview with C. David Tobie & David Saffir

MacEdition

Harris Fogel  caught up with David Saffir and myself at PhotoPlus Expo, and spent an evening discussing color management, as it relates to photography, mobile, and video. Here’s a MacEditionRadio.com audio interview that captures some of that conversation. Thanks, Harris, for an interesting evening, and a very professional interview!

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2013. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Time Lapse Photography – Give It a Shot for Free

Time lapse photography consists of a series of still images, taken at intervals, which can be played back as a fast-motion video. Timelapses can be taken with a wide range of cameras, and don’t necessarily require much special equipment. This article will serve as an intro to the basics of low-cost time lapse.

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Can I Shoot Time Lapse Without Buying Any Special Hardware?

That really depends on what you own now. In order for images in a time lapse to register correctly with one another, it’s necessary to have your camera stable while you shoot the series. This typically means using a tripod. For DSLRs, this could mean a serious tripod, but for test purposes, or for simple web-grade time lapses, a low cost tripod and camera holder such as the Joby Mpod Mini Stand is fine. Using a stand that only holds your phone horizontally will avoid Vertical Video Syndrome, and assure your videos fit on-screen appropriately.

Image Courtesy of Joby

Image Courtesy of Joby

Can I Shoot Time Lapse Without Buying Any Special Software?

Some cameras have the ability to shoot multiple exposures over time built into the camera firmware, and available in the camera’s menu options. For more flexibility, some type of external timer and trigger system is typically used. Triggertrap’s iPhone and Android apps are free, and offer simple time lapse functions that can be used with the phone’s internal camera, as well as a broader range of functions for triggering external cameras. So its possible to be creating sample time lapses instantly, at no cost, if you have some system for holding your phone steady. Applications from freeware to top-end Adobe apps, can be used to composite your time lapses once shot and edited.

Image Courtesy of Triggertrap

Image Courtesy of Triggertrap

What Types of Time Lapses Can I Shoot?

Triggertrap has multiple modes, including standard, even interval time lapses, TimeWarp, which speeds up as it shoots, DistanceLapse, which shoots the same number of frames per block, mile, or kilometer, even if the conveyance carrying the camera slows down and speeds up with traffic. These three modes are available for your smartphone camera, as well as external cameras. Star Trail mode, creating night shots with the stars rotating around the north (or south) pole, and a bulb ramping mode, which is more advanced than we will cover here, are only available for external cameras.

Image Courtesy of Triggertrap

Image Courtesy of Triggertrap

Traggertrap can also be triggered by sound (great for fireworks, gametrails, etc) vibration (which could use the same examples as sound) or even facial recognition, all of which work with internal phone cameras as well as external cameras. It also offers two HDR modes, which are designed for merging multiple exposures into single images with an increased dynamic range. The HDR functions are external-camera-only.

Where Would I Go from There?

Once you are comfortable with the concepts of time lapsing, the next likely step is to get a Triggertrap Mobile Dongle and Camera Cable (total cost at the Triggertrap website of slightly over $30US) to control your real camera wirelessly from your smartphone. As well has adding new functions that only an external camera is capable of, and improved resolution and sharpness, the biggest plus to time lapsing with a DSLR is the increased light sensitivity; evening is the most exciting time for urban time lapses, and the low light sensitivity, and better handling of light sources within the image frame without halo effects, offer much improved night-shots using a DSLR instead of a phone-camera. While add-on wide-angle lenses make wide angle possible with phone-cameras, telephoto lenses on DSLRs offer a whole new range of opportunities.

Image Courtesy of Triggertrap

Image Courtesy of Triggertrap

Where Does It End?

Who says it has to end? With the beauty of landscape time lapses with clouds rushing by, rivers and roads with cars and watercraft moving through, and all the interesting activities of urban locations, the possibilities are endless. And that is before even considering the human factor. Documenting the ebb and flow of people in a subway station, or cars at traffic lights from above, are just a few suggestions. Then there are bulbs popping up and flowers bursting open and birds building nests, for macro photography lovers. Even the traffic on an anthill can be mesmerizing when time lapsed.

What are the Other Hardware Options?

If time lapsing becomes a serious interest, than advanced tools can be added that enrich the time lapse experience. The first addition is typically a dolly track. Dynamic Perception makes a series of professional track systems that allow your camera to move gracefully during a time lapse, adding dimensionality, as close-up objects move against the background during the process. 3 axis robots, such as those built by Emotimo allow an even wider range of motion, moving from the landscape to the sky vertically, or panning side to side during a time lapse. Combining both allows a camera to move past an object while swiveling to keep it in the center of view, much as a person does when walking or riding by an object of interest.

Image Courtesy of Revolve

Image Courtesy of Revolve

Tiny tracks and robots are becoming more available for low cost alternatives to this type of pro equipment, such as Glidetrack’s Mobyslyder and the Revolve Camera Dolly.

Image Courtesy of GlideTrack

Image Courtesy of Glidetrack

Editing and Color Managing Your Time Lapses

One of the advantages of time lapse work over most types of video, is that it is actually a series of still images. This means it is possible to shoot in RAW mode, and gain the advantages of better highlight and shadow control, as well as making it easy to color manage one shot, and then apply those color corrections to all the images in the series. Shooting a SpyderCube or SpyderCheckr can help you determine the settings for your time lapse work, and SpyderLensCal can assure that your focus is in exact zone desired. Back in the studio, those Cube or Checkr shots can then be used for RAW adjustment before creating your time lapse from your individual images.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2013. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Color Analysis of the iPad Mini and Retina iPad Mini

Note: I am republishing this article, as it pertains equally to the new Retina Display iPad Mini, which shares similar screen color with the non-Retina version.

Characteristics of the Fourth Generation iPad with Retina Display

There are not too many surprises with the fourth generation full size iPad (wouldn’t it be great if Apple gave these products functional names?). Its largely a refresh for the sake of updating the processor and moving the connector system to the new Lightning Connector. Both worthwhile improvements, but not anything to concern us here. Still, there are more questions to be considered with the new iPad mini.

Characteristics of the iPad mini

The screen of the iPad mini offers the pixel-count of the pre-Retina iPads, in a smaller form factor. Not retina resolution, but somewhere in between the non-Retina full size iPads, and the Retina versions, by way of its decreased screen size. Many will choose to live with this enhanced, but not “Retinaed” resolution (yes, I just turned Retina into a verb) in return for the convenience of the smaller form factor and the lower price of the new mini. But what about its color characteristics for serious uses? Has Apple taken a step backwards there as well, in order to make the new mini more cost competitive in its (already populated) size range?

Earlier Testing

The answer is yes, and no. As we know from previous testing, the Retina iPad screens (and the iPhone 5 Retina screen as well) have been updated from the earlier, twisted, sub-sRGB color space of early iOS devices, to a color space very close to sRGB. The gamut plot below shows the iPad 3, with sRGB overlaid, as that order provides the clearest indication of their match.  The green primary of the iPad 3 actually exceeds sRGB by a bit, but overall this is a great match.

sRGB gamut over iPad3 gamut

We have also studied the gamut of earlier iOS devices, and seen how this gamut effects their display of web images (in sRGB) and web videos in Rec-709, which shares a number of key characteristics with sRGB. The image below is the second generation iPad, overlaid on the third generation iPad, showing the smaller and twisted gamut of the earlier screens. There is no doubt that the color accuracy of the sRGB-sized recent devices is superior to the older devices.

iPad2 gamut over iPad3 gamut

Color of the iPad mini

With that background information in mind, lets look at the gamut of the iPad mini in relation to sRGB. First, its important to note that the white point (global color tone) of the iPad mini is close to the target value of 6500K, and the gamma (ramp from black to white) is very close to the target value of Gamma 2.2. In the image below, you will recognize the earlier, sub-sRGB gamut, and twisted primaries, with the added twist of primary green, and well as primary blue, being offset sufficiently from the sRGB primaries to lie outside of sRGB, making color correction that much more difficult.

iPad mini gamut in blue, compared to sRGB in red

Conclusion

Yes, this gamut looks quite familiar, as you can see by comparing it to the previous illustrations. The iPad mini does indeed revert to the smaller, twisted shape of the earlier iOS gamut. Apple seldom takes a step backward in their relentless move forward, but here we have one example of it. So, if you were considering getting an iPad mini for use as a photo or video portfolio, please note that these color deficiencies will effect your results.

It is quite likely that in the next generation of iPad mini, Apple will move the device forward to a full sRGB gamut (and who knows, perhaps Retina resolution as well). So at this time the larger gen 3 and gen 4 iPads are the optimal iPads for display of critical color. It is possible to color calibrate the iPad mini with Datacolor’s SpyderGallery application, to produce corrected color (within the limits of the reduced gamut) in the Gallery viewer, or in other Apps if you launder your images through SpyderGallery. But for color critical uses, it may be worth holding off for a generation, to see what Apple has up its sleeve next time for the iPad mini.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2013.   Website: CDTobie.com   Return to Blog’s Main Page

To Power, Filter, and Protect – CagePro for your GoPro Camera

Tehkron has announced a new cage for the GoPro Hero3+ cameras called CagePro, which serves multiple purposes.

CageProHeader

Protection

We all know the types of abuse GoPro cameras see; its all in a day’s work for a GoPro to be used in high activity, accident-prone situations. So an outer cage for the GoPro is a useful tool unto itself.

CageProFront

 

Support and Attachment

Convenient attachment methods for GoPro cameras can also come in handy, since crazy action angles are what GoPro is about. A second version of the cage is available with a top handle, offering even more options for support and attachment.

CageProHandle

 

Power

Perhaps the most unique feature of CagePro is that it holds standard batteries (the same batteries used in the Canon 5D Mk ll and lll, and 7D) to provide long-life power to your GoPro. Anyone who has spent time working with GoPro videography will instantly understand the value and convenience of this option; not only can you power your GoPro for longer, you can interchange batteries with your DSLR cameras, which you may be using on the same shoot.

CageProBat

Filtration

GoPro cameras are used in uncontrolled situations, and typically they adjust to bright conditions by shortening the shutterspeed. As we learn from our DSLR video work, this is not ideal. In the DSLR video world, we would compensate for this by adding a neutral density filter to the camera to allow shutter speed and aperture to not be sacrificed for the sake of not blowing out the highlights. The 62mm front threads on the CagePro housing allow ND and other filter types to be mounted. Again, if you have 62mm threaded lenses, this will allow you to interchange components with your DSLRs and your GoPros.

The Last Word

Is CagePro an accessory you can’t live without? That will depend on your particular brand of action videography; but I can see a lot of value in this product for GoPro shooters. At prices of $150US and $180US for the cage or the cage plus handle, this is an affordable addition to the action shooter’s gear.

All Images Courtesy of Tehkron

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2013. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Gear Organization – What’s Inside Your Camera Bag?

EtCeteraHeader

Why will we pay a small fortune for a camera bag, but nothing for the organizers we put inside it?

Heads turn when I pull out a serious camera bag. But once I open it, the magic ends. I have random cases and pouches from companies ten years dead, and even an old electric shaver kit inside. So one of my 2013 New Year’s Resolutions was to improve the quality of my gear organizers this year. Given the state of the calendar, I needed to move quickly.

What’s Out There for Organizers?

After looking at the choices out there, I began to realize why I was still using such a motley crew of random containers: everybody wanted to sell me a camera bag, but no one wanted to supply organizers to go inside it. Perhaps because they were convinced that no one would pay for organizers when they have a random set of small, low cost cases already. However, I stuck with my resolution, and moved forward.

What Did I Choose?

I simplified the process by acquiring the entire Gura Gear <www.guragear.com> line of organizers: their Et Cetera Cases bundle, and their Et Cetera Pouches bundle. It seemed simpler to try all three sizes of each, and find out if I might need more of a particular size, then to attempt to guess what sizes and quantities would be needed in advance.

The Gura Gear Et Cetera Pouch Set

The Gura Gear Et Cetera Pouch Set

How Are They Constructed?

Gura Gear’s cases and pouches are well designed, bringing the durable materials and quality details that we expect from their camera bags down to the smaller scale of organizers. Fronts are transparent, to simplify finding what you need without opening more cases than necessary. Zippers are high quality, and zipper pulls are color-coded. Interior dividers are adjustable, and larger cases have interior edge bands as well. All the cases have a small strap loop, which can be used to secure them. The pouches are similarly made, with shallow edges instead of the deeper sides of the cases. Both cases and pouches have tape loops at each end of the zippers, which function as pulls, and could be also be used for securing the pouches (which do not have straps) if the need arose.

What’s the Value of This Design?

This type of organizer is not intended to become a freestanding camera bag; it’s designed to live inside a camera bag or gear case, so the fewer extra features on the outside, the better. Slick, smooth, and uninterrupted is the goal for an internal case; long straps, pocket flaps, and other interferences are not desirable.

photo 2

Medium Et Cetera Case, showing zipper tabs, zipper pull, loop handle, and card holder

What Sizes for What Gear?

Both the cases and the pouches come in Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Baby Bear sizes. The simplest solution is to gather all your gear, and test how it fits in the various cases, and what breakdowns naturally occur. Batteries and chargers in one case make sense for some users; others will take batteries on-site where there is no electricity, and not want to backpack the chargers into such sites. Breaking down chargers and cords together makes a different type of logic, but then all the parts for a given set of lights can’t be broken out from other lights or from camera battery chargers. In many instances more, smaller, cases offer more flexible packing options than fewer, larger ones, and reduce the number of times gear needs to be rebundled before packing. I suspect that in the long run the greatest advantage of dedicated gear containers for me will not be time savings on site-time, but savings on prep time, and greater assurance that I have what I need.

Large Et Cetera Case, as my Capture Calibration Case

Large Et Cetera Case, as my Capture Calibration Case

How Did It Work Out?

The cases and pouches proved ideal for a wide range of gear. The largest case is ideal for the multiple SpyderLensCal units I use for video focus pulling, the multiple SpyderCube units I use for lighting set up, and the multiple SpyderCheckrs I use to for White Balance with the gray cards, and color calibration with the color cards. The pouches proved equally ideal for cables, converters, dongles, and small gear. If I have a complaint, it would be that none of the containers, except the largest case, is more than 7 ¾” long (20cm), and I seem to have a lot of items just a bit longer than that.

Small Et Cetera Case, filled with chargers and related cables

Small Et Cetera Case, filled with chargers and related cables

What Other Storage Solutions Might I Need?

The possibilities for gear storage and transport are infinite. But the one item clearly not covered by this type of case and pouch system is media storage wallets. For video shooters using drives, these cases could be ideal, but for still photographers using cards, a wallet makes the most sense. Gura Gear offers a series of such wallets, as do a number of other companies. Keep the juggling act of card changing in mind when you shop for a wallet design. Avoiding wallets with awkward roll-up functions or zippers makes the process of pulling out a wallet and swapping cards as simple as possible. Having separate sections for different types of cards, or for full and empty cards, is another key feature.  

At What Cost?

Dedicated organizers are not inexpensive; especially not well designed ones. Purchasing a full array of dedicated cases and pouches runs more than a low priced camera case. However, the more I work with the Gura Gear Et Cetera organizers, the more I appreciate the value of having the right case for every use, and the same system for all cases. It saves a few seconds identifying the right container, and a few more with the smooth-working zippers and pulls. And it makes it easy to purchase more cases exactly fitted to need and size, as more gear is purchased, or to move into video work. Compared to the cost of their contents, the cases are a steal. For my review of Gura Gear’s Bataflae Camera Packs, please click here.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2013. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Top Ten Reasons You Should Be Shooting Video

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Your Camera Can Do It, So Why Can’t You?
Most recent model DSLRs shoot excellent video, as do many of the smaller Mirrorless cameras. So the only thing keeping you from shooting video, is learning how to put your camera in Video Mode.

Your Lenses Can Do It, Too
Many DSLR and Mirrorless Lenses are great for starting out in video work. Yes, there are some limitations, but you can learn about these as you go along, and make your future purchase choices accordingly.

Your Current Gear is Not a Bad Starting Place
Whatever you currently own for batteries, bags, tripods and continuous lighting can be used for initial video work. Yes, there are a few items that pop to the top of the list as early gear additions, such as a video pan head if you currently use ball heads, and continuous LED lighting, if you currently use strobes or SpeedLites. But there is not reason, particularly for outdoor shooting, not to start with that you have.

Video Editing Software is No Longer a Big Expense
Final Cut Pro X is a full video editing suite with most of what an intro user could ask for, at the amazing price of $299US (the previous version of Final Cut was $1000). iMovie is now free with the purchase of a Mac, and shares much of the Final Cut interface, so starting with iMovie and moving to Final Cut is painless. Other editing apps are dropping in price under the pressure from the new price-points on the Apple software, so Windows users are in line to save money as well.

Video Is Becoming Mainstream, and Easily Distributed
Not that long ago, only pros shot video, and only corporations had much use for it. The distinction between a magazine, newspaper or book, and a website, blog or e-book is blurring quickly. Electronic media can use video where traditional media used only images. And the democratization of the web means that individuals and small outfits are frequent participants, as well as the big corporations. So your motion work can find hundreds of new locations to be used, and to be seen, which did not exist a few years ago.

Bandwidth is Making Video Viewing Easy
The days when it was a lot of work to get digital footage onto your TV or Computer are fast disappearing. We now think nothing of streaming a Netflix film instead of playing a DVD. And we watch video on an increasing number of devices; phones and tablets being the most prevalent.

Social Video is Growing
More and more social media locations are now accepting video. Your work can be placed on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or a number of other locations, or linked to from more common video locations such as YouTube.

Still is Starting to Look Less Interesting
A well shot and edited image, carefully printed at a larger size, is still a wonderful thing. But the number of people who will see your prints is shrinking, and the number who might see your images digitally is growing. In electronic form, resolution is replaced, to some degree, by motion. People are coming to expect their images to move; and to have sound.

Dimensionality Can Increase
We work hard to add depth and dimension to our still images. But there are other techniques, available in video, which can add further dimension not possible in still images. Once you learn to use these techniques, you will miss them when they are not available; you’ll start thinking as a Director of Photography, not just a Photographer.

The Future Awaits You
Digital photography has been an adventure. But its reaching a more static phase in its life, where an increase in resolution or dynamic range is about all we can expect to see over the next few years. But digital video is growing at a mad rate. We can look forward to many improvements, and growth in the aesthetics of video, as well as the delivery techniques for motion. If you’re the type of person inspired by a challenge, then motion is the biggest challenge available in photography today.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2013. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page