Category: Photography

How to create a Slow Motion Wedding Photo Booth

http://vimeo.com/72365593

I watched this wonderful video yesterday and came to wonder how easy it would be to recreate without a huge budget.

The guys who did this had access to a Red Epic which shoots HD up into hundreds of frames/second (This camera was used on Prometheus, Hobbit and the like)
Even they were limited (to 160fps) by a limit in the amount of light available.
These 160 fps videos are then played back at quarter speed.

So, what about that budget – There are going to be two problems.
1. finding an affordable camera with the right specifications
2. dealing with a requirement for serious amounts of light.

1. Finding a camera – Most consumer cameras with high frame rates or fps drop off in resolution as the frame rate climbs.
Interesting cameras to look at include;

Panasonic Lumix FZ200, which can shoot HD (720p) videos at 120fps and VGA-level (640 x 480) movies at 240fps
Nikon 1, which shoots 640 x 240 at 400fps
Sony A77, which shoots 1080 at 60fps for super smooth slow motion
Note, there are tricks employed by manufacturers to give higher frame rates. Lots of reviews should be read and tests performed in selecting your camera.

Make sure to consider file formats, access to bright lenses, high ISO performance, frame rate (fps), resolution etc.

Another thing to consider is the availability of software to interpolate between our frames.
This offers the advantage of increasing the range of cameras to choose from and presumably reducing the need for such high shutter speeds.

vision Effects’ Twixtor, a plug-in for Adobe’s After Effects, is the best-known program for creating slow-motion videos from standard footage. It can produce stunning results with the right sort of input, such as high-quality videos from a Nikon or Canon digital SLR.

Unfortunately, Twixtor costs more than most digital compacts (just over £200) while After Effects costs £911 at Amazon.co.uk. This is not a good option for amateurs.

However, anyone who fancies this sort of thing could try the free, open source slowmoVideo.

Jack Schofield
Friday 11 January 2013

Wanted: a cheap compact camera for shooting slow-motion videos

2. Lighting – We have a couple of ways to ensure we have enough lighting.
Being video we must have a continuous light source which ideally doesn’t run too hot (though our subjects won’t remain under lights for more than a minute or two.
It is difficult to describe what lights will be needed since a Sony A77 will be able to handle low light better than a Nikon 1 or Panasonic Lumix due to it’s clean high ISO

You might choose to spend a few dollars on some halogen work lights, but this is going to generate a ton of heat.
You might opt for LED, but this would prove expensive and you would need a lot of them.
You could go for the large banks of lights commonly used in TV Studios for the last couple of years.
You could even manufacture your own lights from a skip full of fluorescent lights.
Problems to solve here include cost, brightness, running cost, convenience (size/weight), suitability (flouroscent lights may cause flickering on video).
This whole area is a bit of a minefield and since your camera, budget and needs will be different to the next person, you will simply need to experiment until you find a solution.

Luckily, here in Australia, we have copious amounts of continuous daylight.
A large scrim or diffuser (or even a large white outdoor tent) might be all we need to get started.

Choosing a Wedding Photographer you can brag about

The Wedding Photographer, arguably one of the most important investments of the whole event

Unfortunately wedding photography is an area where couples cut corners or
hire
use that friend who loves photography.
This often results in photos that tarnish the memory of this once in a lifetime event.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on wedding photography then spend time researching just what you can get within your budget.
A small investment in time will help you choose a great wedding photographer.

1. Talk to married couples about their photographer.
What sort of result did they get? Were they pleased and are they still pleased weeks, months or years later? Can they remember (or do they care) how much they invested?

2. You would expect a high price to indicate a good wedding photographer, but this is not always the case.
Interview your photographer and ask for testimonials from past clients (if clients are delighted with their wedding photographer at least a few should be happy to write a testimonial).

3. Ask for guarantees.
Will the person you meet with be your photographer?
What will happen in the case of illness, poor weather or equipment failure?
Is he/she a well regarded member of a pro organisation like the AIPP (Australia), BIPP (UK) or RPS (UK)?
Do they carry public liability insurance to protect you and your guests?
Do they provide a written contract of what they will deliver and when?

Unfortunately, most photographers who fulfil these criteria have long since realised that catering to budget conscious clients is unsustainable without cutting corners.

4. Look for your photographer through one of the organisations listed above and view their site or blog (where available) to get a feel for their work?

5. Look at some of the other options such as ‘photo booths’.
‘Photo Booths’ (aka ‘smile booths’ or ‘crazy booths’) are simple studios, often with themed props, that offer social photography for weddings and events.
In some cases the guests simply shoot themselves with a remote control, but the best photo booths have a dedicated photographer and produce high quality images.
These images can be posted to Facebook adding a live social element.
Captured images can even be added to your wedding album or printed for your guests.
An example of this is the recently launched ‘myphotoroom’ in Adelaide
They offer fun, quirky and unforgettable images of your guests instead of the cheesy posed shots which are so typical of many weddings.

6. Consider hiring someone to tutor you in photography so that you are better equipped to understand the pitfalls of shooting a wedding and better qualified to choose a photographer.

Congratulations and hopefully these simple tips will help you find a friendly and experienced wedding photographer.

Happy XNY – I’m starting a thing…

My signature for Christmas, as of just now, is going to be Happy (or Merry) XNY

I just don’t like the full ‘Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’ greeting anymore so I simmered it down to the most basic I could imagine using (in actual fact it could become :-) XNY, but there has to be something to make it clear to all)

To see if this greeting is already popular with a quick Google Search today (for Happy XNY and Merry XNY) revealed nothing.

Perhaps by next year I will have forgotton all about this new greeting with the world never noticing, but if not – this post is ground zero (off I go to hit send on the first ‘Happy XNY’ signed message)

 

Jaycar Techview Camera Review

After some shopping around for security cameras I recently opted to try out the Jaycar Techview QC3834 for it’s low cost and wireless capabilities

Like many devices this new range of wireless IP (QC3834 – QC3836 – QC3832) cameras is almost fully Mac compatible despite no information about Mac installation

Readers may not be familiar with some of this terminology, so before I go into any further detail about setup I will give a few definitions

  1. IP Address
    An IP address is like a unique numbered seat at the blackjack table – without a seat you are not part of the game (every device that needs to download, upload or share data with the internet or locally with another device needs a seat at the table)
  2. Router
    A router is a device that moves data around and delivers it to the appropriate device (the router is equivalent to the dealer at the blackjack table who collects and distributes chips (data) between players and the house)
    Most of us have Modem/Routers which would be plugged into our phone line or Cable internet
  3. DHCP
    DHCP or Dynamic Something Something Protocol is like the Maître d’ who decides where you sit at the table. For many reasons your seat number (IP Address) might change or be reassigned to other devices – as you can imagine this would make it difficult for the dealer to assign chips to the right seats

To set up this camera we are going to need to assign an IP address that can’t change – since our IP Camera Viewer relies on that address to show us the feed, but first we are going to need to work out which IP address is assigned automatically by our router when we plug it in to our existing network and then fix a different address that is not part of the normal pool of IP addresses (my router has been reconfigured to automatically dish out addresses from 1 to 200 out of 255 available leaving me with 55 manually selectable seats)

That last point is important, your router must have a range of addresses that are not part of the pool – if you are not able to set this up for yourself, get some help or risk temporarily breaking your network. Once that is set up, read on…

Step 1 – Log-in to your router and make a note of the currently assigned range of (just the un-named ones) IP addresses – this process should be easy but will vary depending on the brand of your router (Look for a button that says ‘DHCP Client List’ or similar)

In my case my router is accessed by opening a web browser on my computer and typing 192.168.1.1 using ‘admin’ as the user name and ’admin’ as the password (you might open a web browser and instead type ‘routerlogin’ or ‘192.168.1.254’ or something else. Don’t guess – if the login information is not printed on the back of the router or in the instructions then it will be available by searching online for the model and brand of your device)

Step 2 – Plug the camera into power and then plug it in to your router using a network (ethernet cable)

Step 3 – Refresh the window in your web browser – a new item should appear. This new item might be called ipcam_xxxxxxxxxxxx (the x’s represent numbers that are unique for each device)

In my case this was followed by a newly assigned IP address – 192.168.1.4

Step 4 – Type whatever IP address was shown into your browser and click enter

Login to your camera setup with username:admin with password:admin and you will be able to see a range of options under 3 headings at the top right

Step 5 – Click ‘Device Management’ then ‘Basic Network Settings’
In the window that appears you must;
Untick the dhcp server box

Type an IP address that is not part of the pool and is not assigned to another device already – in my case I used 192.168.1.225

Type the Subnet Mask, gateway, dns server and port then click ‘submit’

I wasn’t sure what to enter for DNS yet (this will be important to access the camera from anywhere that isn’t our home network), so I just put 192.168.1.225 for now

The subnet mask and gateway might be different depending on your routers default settings, but in my case the subnet mask is 255.255.255.0 and the gateway is 192.168.1.1

Port number was set to 80

At this point it should be possible to type 192.168.1.225 into any browser on my network to view the camera feed or further change the settings
In addition I also downloaded an iPhone/iPad App called CamViewer (free) and a Mac App called Security Spy (Paid) and was able to view, control and record from the camera

You might also like to set up the camera with WiFi so that it can be plugged in anywhere within the range of your network – this is done under ‘Wireless LAN Settings’ and though my network did not show up I was able to type it’s name (and password in the ‘Share Key’ field) to connect easily

Viewing from the internet is also possible, but I’m still not quite there on the right settings (DNS, Open Ports, Firewall etc) to make this work

One important thing to keep in mind though is that the correct settings will mean anyone can view the feed from this camera – to prevent this be sure to click ‘user settings’ and type a password in the first password field and, if you wish, change your username (don’t forget to click ‘submit’)

So, what do I think of the camera?

I don’t have a great deal of experience with security cameras, but my photographic background means I know enough to say that it is good value for money but will not wow you with the quality

Of the 3 cameras that are available I chose the QC3834 which also offers PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom), I’m sure the other two are almost identical except for the housing

Picture Quality – At 640×480 (max) the picture quality is adequate and colour is good. I’m sure there are much better cameras out there, but few will offer IP network connection at this price point

Focus – The camera appears to be fixed focus and due to it’s small sensor images are reasonably sharp at any distance

Low Light – The camera will automatically turn on it’s LED illuminators as the light level drops. The led’s can be turned off in the web view and if there is some light this might be preferred since the led’s create quite a hotspot.
Subjects that approach the camera will be overexposed very easily by the LED’s and strong light sources within the frame and close to the camera are best avoided

Options – The web view allows a few things to be controlled including;

4 user presets for position
Image flip or rotate to support surface or ceiling mounting
Vertical Patrol
Horizontal Patrol
Illumination on/off
Alarm (motion detects and triggers via an external alarm socket)

Since my goal is exterior security I have to decide whether to return this camera and exchange it for the outdoor version, but I really like the ability to control the Pan Tilt and zoom. Perhaps I can purchase a weatherproof dome enclosure separately

Snapseed – Nice Photo Editor for iPhone

Having had a quick play you when I first downloaded Snapseed months ago, I finally got around to giving it a proper go over the last couple of days.

It really is quite an amazing little app with a lot of options that I was surprised to find on an iPhone app, including such things as control points and a ’tilt shift’ effect.

Below are a couple of images created in Snapseed with the untouched images included at a lower Resolution for comparison.

20121123-203332.jpg

20121123-203853.jpg

20121123-203347.jpg

20121123-204023.jpg

Easily removing ghost text while scanning

When scanning pages from books and magazines it is common to see a ‘ghost image’ of the text from the back side of the page being scanned.

There is an easy fix for this and it’s so obvious you will kick yourself

During the scan, simply place a sheet of flat matte black paper immediately behind the page you are scanning.
This destroys the contrast of the ‘ghost’ text or images rendering a much better quality scan with little to no visibility of the reversed image from the page behind and no visibility of the next page either (I have seen people use white paper, but this only solves part of the problem)

The one downside is that it reduces the contrast of the scanned image too, but that is easily fixed by adjusting the highlights – for example (if I remember correctly) by dragging the right hand slider to the left in the Photoshop ‘Levels’ tool

Please link to this one if you find it useful

Offline Media with Lightroom broken in Windows 7 – You Couldn’t make this up!!

I have a client with years of images across a dozen or so large hard drives.
Long story short – after a few false starts I have taken to adding each drive of images to a Lightroom Catalog on a donated PC under Windows 7 before transferring them somehow to a Mac formatted 8TB drive (I can’t afford to tie up any of my Macs with this task and besides there seem to be some issues with copying large NTFS drives to the Mac)

Drive 1 was added to the catalog without incident, then disconnected in readiness for drive 2

Drive 2 was connected, import selected and images started to stream into the catalog.
WHOA!! wait a minute – the wonderful feature of Lightroom where offline drives and their capacity can easily be seen in the left sidebar is showing only one drive

It should be showing two drives (drive 1 should have a red light and every image and folder should have a question mark while drive 2 should have a green light)

Instead it is intermingling online and offline folders. A little experimenting shows that renaming the drives (they are both My Passport drives – of different capacity) does not help

I suspect that connecting all the drives at once would work, but that’s a lot of spaghetti (12+ drives)
I also suspect that connecting all 12 drives one at a time would have every drive intermingled within lightroom

Changing the drive letter and starting again seems to solve the issue. I just have to remember to choose a different letter for each drive

This is crazy – how are normal people supposed to deal with these types of issues?
(the Mac has always been able to distinguish between even identical drives)

Still, I’m sure the problem doesn’t exist in Windows 8

Create like a professional. Pay like a student.

The title of this post is the subject field from an item landing in my inbox a few days ago.

Adobe have announced pricing of just $14.99/month for students or teachers to access their entire library of software.

Join Adobe Creative Cloud™ to get access to every Adobe® Creative Suite® 6 desktop application, plus online services* and other new apps. All this for less than the cost of Adobe Photoshop® CS6 alone!

Make an impression with awesome portfolios and projects across print, web and video. For a limited time, you can have it all with an Adobe Creative Cloud™ Student and Teacher Edition membership at just $14.99 per month for the first year.† Hurry, offer ends November 30, 2012.

Creative Cloud includes;
Photoshop
Photoshop Extended
Photoshop Lightroom
Illustrator
InDesign
Adobe Muse
Acrobat X Pro
Flash Professional
Flash Builder
Dreamweaver
Edge Animate
Fireworks
Adobe Premiere Pro
After Effects
Adobe Audition
SpeedGrade
Adobe Prelude
Encore
Bridge (included with download of other apps)
Media Encoder (included with download of other apps)

Device and PC sync
Cloud storage
Business Catalyst
Typekit
Story Plus

Wow. I think this is a great step for adobe and will stop a lot of students starting off as software pirates.

Until now it has been prohibitively painful for students to setup a licence for adobe products, not to mention expensive.

Learn more at the following links;
Creative Cloud
Buying guide

Not a student?
Click here

10 things you should know about your iPhone camera

Apple’s iPhone is one of the worlds most popular cameras, yet most users are unaware of many of the features Apple have included.
The following list offers a range of useful tips and tricks to help you shoot better and faster with the iPhone

1. Get to ‘Camera’ quickly when your iPhone is asleep

It is easy to get to your iPhone camera from sleep.
Just press the home or wake/sleep button, slide the camera icon (iOS 5+ required) and you are straight into your camera.

2. ‘Half Press’ - lock focus and get more immediate shutter response
Your iPhone camera can perform a ‘Half Press’ similar to a regular camera.

First, frame your shot.
Then press and hold the on screen shutter button and the iPhone will focus but will NOT release the shutter until you then release the shutter button.

3. Real Shutter Release button.
The + volume control button can act as a shutter release button affording a more secure grip and less chance of camera shake

4. Cable Release.
The + volume control button on your Apple headphones can act as a shutter release

5. Shooting at reduced resolution.
When file size is all that matters your iPhone camera is ready to take low resolution images.
Simply open the ‘Messages’ App, start a message and tap the camera icon – from here images will be captured at a low resolution (1024×768 on iPhone 4S at time of writing).
These images can be emailed from ‘Messages’
That’s right, the ‘Messages’ app can send to email addresses. Or they can be copied and pasted into mail, pages, keynote etc.

6. AE/AF Lock.
Often a camera will make an incorrect exposure decision due to an abundance of bright or dark tones in the image (it can also fail to focus correctly).
AE/AF Lock allows you lock the exposure based on the brightness values elsewhere in the scene and at the same time lock focus on that part of the scene.
To use AE/AF lock, tap and hold on dark objects to brighten and lock exposure (focus will be locked too).
If you tap and hold on light objects the image will darken instead.
Ideally you would locate objects that are the same distance as your subject and with balanced tones (neither too dark or too light), then touch and hold on the screen in this area to activate AE/AF Lock

7. ‘Rule of Thirds’ – Compositional aid.
Under the ‘Options’ button it is possible to activate a ‘Rule of Thirds’ grid. This grid overlays the screen and assists with composition (objects of interest should intersect with the lines rather than appearing within the boxes of the grid)

8. Stabilisation – avoiding camera shake.
There is a built-in stabiliser that is always active to minimise blur caused by camera shake.

9. Getting to ‘Camera’ when the iPhone is NOT asleep
The quickest way to get to the camera when the iPhone is not asleep is using a variation of the first tip.
Simply press the sleep/wake button twice and then slide the camera icon (this requires you to have the lock code active)

10. Zoom In
The iPhone camera has a little over 3x zoom Simply spread two fingers on screen to activate (unfortunately this is a digital zoom and will reduce your capture resolution to less than 1 Megapixel at maximum zoom before extrapolating back up to a 3264×2448 file)