Monday, December 31, 2012

366 Day project is a wrap.

As I wrap up my last log post for 2012, I find myself in India with my family.  With a new location many photographic opportunities should present themselves.  While traveling here we made our way to Heidelberg, Germany.  I managed a few photo's there, but as always when one travels with family your attention has to be on them as well.  Below are the photo's to end the year.  Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and view my photographs.

December 25  Calgary International Airport.  The deicing machine sprays the wings of our plane.
December 26  Heidelberg, Germany at the home of my wife's Cousin Biju.  I noticed this bowl of oranges on the counter and take an image.  A little post in Snapseed for the Photo of the Day.
December 27  We go in to Old Town Heidelberg and walk around.  Though it is rainy and overcast we have a great time touring the Castle and Cathedral.  I took this photo of the candles on a unique stand and again used Snapseed to create the final result.
The next two photo's were taken from the Schloss Heidelberg looking at some views over the city.  Both were taken with the iPhone but minimal post was done in Snapseed.

These two photo's were taken using the Canon 7D and the 24-70 mm lens at 6400 ISO, 1/25 sec and f3.2 handheld.  The sky came out a wonderful colour in the first and I used the arch for the Christmas market to frame the castle in the second.

December 28 In Biju's home they have these tins on the shelf and I used them as the subject for the Photo of the Day.
I also had the unique opportunity to attend the showing of an exhibition entitled "The Birth of Photography" at the Reiss-Englehorn-Museen.  Here they had the original photo that started photography by Joseph Niepce in 1826.  Seeing the original of this remarkable photo and the story behind it gave me a better appreciation of it.  I purchased the book of the exhibition as there were many great original pieces there and it was special to see them in person.
December 29, 2012  Frankfurt airport. The 747 that will fly us to India.

December 30  Bengaluru International Airport.   This wall carving of an Indian goddess had it's hand extended with an offering.  iPhone photo with Snapseed.
Sunset after our first day in India.
December 31  The sunrise with the palm tree Silhouette makes the project complete.  Below are some other photo's taken on my morning walk.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's Christmas day.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas.  Here is a photo from yesterday of a lovely box of Pears I received from my dear friend and wonderful photographer, Parish Kohanim.  They are delicious and I loved the presentation so took a photo with the iPhone and cropped and framed with Snapseed.  No addition post was done.

I will be blogging as I can through the next month so I hope all of you will have a great New Year.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It's a time for family.

Today's Photo of the Day is of my two boy's once again.  They both have enjoyed my Instagram 366 project and have participated by being subjects and making suggestions. Both of these were taken at our church as they at the rehearsal for the annual Christmas pageant that will go on tomorrow evening.  These were both shot with the iPhone with only the crop and frame being done in Snapseed.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

10 days to wrap this year up.

Well I am in the home stretch of this years Photo a Day exercise.  This year I made it an Instagram 366 with the idea of using the iPhone for the images created this year.  While I will still be shooting everyday till the end of the year however I will only be blogging until the 25th after which I will do so as I can while I travel for the next month. 

So here is my photo for today.  While waiting for my boys at their dress rehearsal for their concert in the evening I noticed this table decoration and snapped a couple of images.  The first is the original file.

Here is the photo after I post processed it first using Snapseed and then finishing it up with Jazz.
While downtown I also shot this photo of the Chevron Building.  I liked the warm glow of the glass and the angles and lines.  This was finished in Snapseed with the minimal post processing.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A quick look at "Light Camera"

One of the newest apps to hit the market is Trey Racliff's "Light Camera Mark I".  It is being marketed as a limited addition app with intentions of only selling 50,000 downloads. Some have wondered how they intend to limit an app and Trey has said that when it reaches the prescribed downloads they will just raise the price to something astronomical so as no one will want to buy hit.  He then plans to release future version, ie. the Mark II, Mark III etc. as improvements are made.  Thus one might consider this version the beta.  He says some updates and upgrades will be available, but you would have to purchase future versions to get all the benefits.

So is this version worthy of downloading now or should one wait for a different Mark later on.  In playing with it today I had a few observations.  If you are new to iPhone camera apps it has a lot of fun features to work with.  If you like previewing your shots and rotating the filters in to see the look that you can achieve this app is the one for you.  There are 10 filters that provide a nice variety of looks.  In addition there are also 11 effects and 9 frames available.  These are adjusted by a wheel that you can spin which dials in which ever one you have selected.  Now while this is a nice feature there are two things I find a little problematic.  First the dial and center menu wheel are so close together that it is easily activated while trying to adjust between actions on the wheel.  The other small factor is that on the dial there are only three notches and though a little window at the top shows the name of the action I think it would be better if there had been numbers so once one became familiar with the number to a look it would be quicker to access.

The frames function does have a nice variety but could use a few more variables.  The effects though I am less likely to use.  The Morning Star effect as seen in the photo below has some potential as do a few of the others, but there are a few that are just a little hooky such as the hearts and stars.  The real problem is when you try and adjust and move the effect.  It is suppose to be a simple drag or pinch yet it does not respond very easily and if it goes to far one has no easy way to revert back to the previous version except by rotating the dial to a different effect and then returning.  This can get very frustrating when you are working on some fine positioning.

The final three items are that you have to remember to save at the end of your work as there is no warning that your information will be lost if you forget to and move on to another photo. Next you have no way to crop the image so you have to make sure you have framed the shot exactly the way you want it.  Lastly only the final image you created is saved and thus you can only work on that one in the future.

One of the ways around the last two are to do as I do, shoot in the native camera on the iPhone (sorry it is not available for Android yet), do the cropping in another app such as Snapseed and then use Light Camera to create your final look. As such it becomes just another tool in the box rather then the workhorse. The images immediately below were created by shooting with the app and using the features it provided.  I am happy with the result and made the first my Photo of the Day.

While playing around with that app I also wanted to try Wood Camera once again as they also did an update  adding a few new features.  There are some similarity between the two with the main being the ability to view the scene with the filter in place before taking the photo.  This is done by selecting the filter as you slide a menu along the bottom.  Although not as slick as the wheel in Light Camera it works well.  However there are 32 filters to choose from and when you take the photo the scene as it appears in front of you is saved to your camera roll.  However if you want the effect achieved by the filter saved to the camera roll you must do this manually.

Wood Camera does offer you the ability to crop, add effects (25 of them) and frames (16), plus adjustments to brightness, contrast, saturation and hue.  This gives you a fair amount of options and and tools to achieve your vision.  Here are two examples and after using it a bit more today I think I maybe using Wood Camera a little more often.

Even though I continue to play with the iPhone and experiment with new apps I am starting to play with my DSLR as well.  Today was playing with the extension tubes on the Canon 7D and the 24-70mm f2.8 lens.  Again I used the hibiscus plant that had a bloom today as a subject (as seen above) and tried a few different variations of tubes.  This one had just two tubes and the lens was at 70mm, f8.0, 1/160 sec at 800 ISO. I downloaded the file and re-sized it before uploading it to my iPhone where I cropped it in Snapseed and added the frame with Light Camera.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

New apps, new sharing sites.

There is a kind of serendipity when you view one of your new photographic hero's on-line and then one of the apps you use produce something that mimics what he his doing.  Today on Chase Jarvis Live I watched a photographer whom I first discovered one year ago.  Ian Ruhter was his guest and he demonstrated his wet-colloidal plate process.  It was very interesting, especially when you get to step inside the camera.  I learned a lot and the process and am encouraged as I hope to explore it in the coming new year.

I had barely finished watching it when I got notice that Hipstamatic has released a new pak for their app called the Tintype Snappak.  With a lens and two film stocks that are suppose to mimic the old style look of tin and cyanotype photo's.  I decided to play with it tonight and used this little troll that I received at a PhotoPlus booth a number of years ago as the subject.  I moved it around a light source getting a variety of shadows.  The look is not bad and one of the things that Ian mentioned about his process, the incredible shallow depth of field he has with the Camera Truck, seemed to be mimicked perfectly by the app.  SO I can see myself playing with this Pak on the iPhone on my upcoming trip to India.
The other day I talked about Instagram and their proposed changes to their terms of service.  Now while this really does not scare me that much I still think it is prudent to keep an eye out for new options.  One that I doscovered is called Pheed.  The big difference here is that there is no camera involved with the app itself.  You just choose the images in you library and upload and share them.  Now there are two methods that you can choose, one is a free Pheed which means any one can view your posts anytime fro  anywhere.  However an interesting feature is that you can have a premium feed where users will have to pay a fee to access your content.  This would mean you could share specific items or genre and make some money from those accessing it.  I believe that Pheed would take a share, but if one had a unique project you could set the channel for premium and promote it as such.  I still need to do a little more research, but this has some unique potential.

I also downloaded Trey Ratcliff's The Light Camera.  I have not played with it much other then a quick look, but one of the interesting features is the ability to dial in filters and see the look before you take the photo.  Now the WoodCamera app offers something similar but it is not as seamless or friendly as this app looks to be.  Once I shoot a test with it I will share it here with you.

These new items work well with my goal for 2013  to explore and expand my photographic horizon's.  I am trying to bring back the fun and passion that I have always had and tp help grow it and to take you along my journey of discovery.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Watching Shadows.

Sometimes the simplest thing to do is just to sit back and watch how light and shadow play off each other.  Random objects can create the most dynamic patterns and often they happen by accident.  The top two photo's I happened to see when my wife put her glasses on the table after washing them.  There was a wonderful interplay off the lenses, the frames and some water droplets that were still on them.  Here is the original, unaltered image.
Using Snapseed I started by cropping the photo which helped to eliminate the doors in the background and bring more focus on to the glasses.  I did a little adjustment to the brightness and contrast and this time decided to use the Vintage filter style 1 to give it a tone I felt suited the image.  I then added the frame before saving the file and reopening it in iPhoto.  In this app I cleaned up some small spots that I felt might distract before again saving and then sharing as the Photo of the Day.
There was also a hairbrush close by which I slid in to the early morning light beam and cast this unique shadow.  I had to work fast as the sun was moving and I tried a few different positions to see the results.  The image below was the one I settled on and I used the Grunge filter in Snapseed to give me the effect I was looking for.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The future of Instagram.

In some earlier blog post's I mentioned that the only thing that can hurt Instagram would be the actions of the developers and managers.  Well as I mentioned yesterday, there has been an announcement of a change to the terms of service of the popular photo sharing app.  The outrage was instantaneous and with many suggesting they will stop using the service in protest.  After a public out cry there seems to be a change of heart by Instagram, although they have not said what those changes will be.

While I enjoy using the site I am sure there are expenses involved and that Facebook and developers do have he right to make money from the site however they can.  Yet they should really do this in consultation with the users of their service.  I think this is why there has been such an uproar as it has been perceived as a unilateral change with no consideration to the public.

Now I don't think my two cents here will make much of a difference, but on the off chance that someone at Facebook and Instagram are following the hashtags here are my thoughts.  If we are the product and they want to sell us to companies with the hope of them purchasing adds that might relate to us is fine.  Now I don't really pay attention to the pop ups and know that is the price you pay for a "free" service.  They can then decide to offer a pop-up free version for those who want it.

Now the idea that our photographs could be used in selling service and products of corporations that we may not want to use them bothers all of us.  However I would bet that if Instagram offered a cut of the usage rights that many people would gladly accept.  This would be no different then selling Micro stock and any gallery usually collects a fee for selling your photographs.  I know that if my images where being used regularly and I was making money as well it would be welcomed.  I am taking the photo's anyway and unless I have another outlet to sell my photo's (and these photo's would not be shared on Instagram) I would be happy to let them market them for me.  

An area though that I see could be a problem for Instagram and Facebook in this plan is the fact that I would bet that 90% of photo's on the app are not model or property released.  Thus if a corporation decided to use a photo of a recognizable person or certain landmarks that have the right to market their images they could find a heap of legal trouble.  A person could sue all those involved for the use of their image and since most of the people who post photographs don't have much to go after the focus would be the companies using the photo's and Instagram and Facebook themselves.  I believe there are already strong cases against this type of usage so the parties involved should be forewarned.

I will be waiting to see exactly what is announced and the terms of services more clearly explained.  Hopefully there will be some more clarification in the days ahead and they will come forward with an example of how they intend to implement their idea.  If this happens then users will have a clear understanding and can decide for themselves.  If the powers making the decisions choose poorly then my predication of Instagram being a fad may just come true.

I guess it is good that my Instagram 366 project will end in 13 days and before the new terms of service kick in.  It will give me an opportunity to wrap it up and move on to a new project in 2013.  So I will share my before and two after shots created for today's Photo of the Day.  I photographed our musical snowman as the subject for today taking in to consideration the square crop for Instagram.  You can see the full photo in the first image below.
After cropping and doing a little fine tuning with Snapseed I opened the file in the Jazz app.  This image below was actually the second option the app gave to me, but I chose it as I liked the warmth and mood it created.  I did tweak it a bit to make it more to my liking and that is one of the things I like about Jazz.  I gives you suggestions and then you can fine tune it.
This was an earlier suggestion and I liked the grittier feel and I made some minor adjustments to suit the mood.  While I did like it I did not feel it really gave the Christmas spirit so I picked the brighter one.

Monday, December 17, 2012

An alternative to Instagram?

I had an appointment with my eye surgeon.  I have been seeing him for about 4 years as I have an optic nerve that has shifted and thus we are monitoring it with appointments every 6 months.  Most of the time it is just different tests to check my field of vision and pressure, however today was one where they dilated my eyes for another exam.  Everything seems to be stable and after the appointment I headed home.  Fortunately it was an overcast day and wearing my sunglasses I had no problem with the drive,  However this evening I really noticed the effects as the sun set and the lights on the Christmas bulbs became stars.  I wanted to see what my eyes looked like so I checked in the mirror and was surprised.  I then figured I would create a quick record shot.  The following are two versions as I had used the forward facing camera which has a lower resolution.  The top was done with Snapseed.
The second is done with Tadaa and the options available with this app.  I was forced to do this as the previous image was to small with the cropping done in Snapseed.  This was the first time I had to play with the features Tadaa has to offer and I must say it is more powerful then I thought.  Unlike Instagram there are more choices and you can mix and match options.  Now with some of the changes to the terms of service of Instagram coming in the new year, I can see others looking for options and Tadaa could very well be a choice.  From a post processing point it is a more powerful app.
I also had to make a delivery over to the gym at SAIT of some disk's for one of our models for my classes.  For over 10 years the Campus Centre and the Alberta College of Art and Design were basically my life.  I worked for 6 years with the basketball team and then attended ACAD for another 4.  I knew these areas like the back of my hand so it was interesting wandering the halls once again., even if it was for a short time.

I snapped a couple of quick shots as I walked over the Plus 15 the Campus Centre and the ACAD over the LRT station.  I liked the warm light that was coming into the stairwell and composed this shot using the railing  as a focal point.  Some post processing using Snapseed and iPhoto finished the shot for my Photo of the Day.

A look at the entrance to the ACAD from the plus15 walkway. I used the cable to add a leading line to the door.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas decorations.

With Christmas closing in it was time to get the decorations up.  This gave the opportunity to create a few different photo's of a few of the decorations.  The first on is of a snowflake we have that is made of little mirrors.  As I was looking at it I was paying attention to what was being reflected and if you look closely you will notice that it is the paper star that is in the bottom photograph.

A little post production was done in Snapseed on all three images.  However my Photo of the Day which is the top one I also used iPhoto to eliminated a few distracting bright spots and then Jazz to add some softness on the edges of the snowflake and the frame.

 Finally I would like to wish a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my followers and thank you for your support over the past year.  I look forward tp sharing more through the rest of 2012, and into the new year.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

It's about family.

One of the most difficult things I have to do is find balance.  It is a tight line between work, business, family and personal time and one that I know I am not the only to struggle with.  I find at this stage in my life that my  family and teaching at SAIT take priority and a lot of personal stuff gets sacrificed. I don't want this to sound like a complaint as i have had more life experiences earlier in life then many others will ever have.  Just at this time I have new a different priorities then I did years ago.

Now I try to be a good father and am there for my boys for most of their activities and when they need me.  Still I know there are others out there who I think do so much more for their children.  So I do the best I can and hope that they are getting what they need.  Now I am a very proud Papa as both my boys are happy and well adjusted.  Cool has always been sort of a level headed, happy go lucky kind of boy who works hard and does well in different activities and school.  Luke though a little more reserved seems to follow in his brothers tracks, especially in excelling at school.

From 11 months old he has been using the computer and his big brother has helped him the along the way.  I know there are people who would not agree with letting their children have so much screen time, but I can honestly say it has helped them both.  Luke especially as though he is only in Grade 1 he is reading and comprehending at a grade 4 level.  He also has a thing for numbers and this Friday he was assigned his login for a website that the school is using for all the students for Math.  Well Luke has taken to it and spent more then 5 hours on it today just chugging through the various levels and excelling on each of them.  We have only had to help him when some of the explanations were not as clear or different from what he knew.  Once it was explained he just continued to motor through.

I hope it does not sound like I am bragging, but it is days like today when you realize that the sacrifices and decisions you make are paying off.  I wanted to record and share this and thus my Photo of the Day is of Luke working on his math.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Something tropical.

With winter a week away it is sometimes nice to see something that makes us thing of more tropical locals.  Today I was picking Cool up from the last stop of his choirs school tour and there was a large fish tank with saltwater fish in it.  I remember seeing fish like these when I dived the Great Barrier Reef in Australia back in 1990 and it was fun to snap a few shots through the glass.  As usual I post processed in Snapseed and posted them to Instagram with the top being the Photo of the Day.

We did have  a lovely sunset tonight with one lone cloud capturing the suns last light.  Here is the capture I achieved.