Thursday, March 9, 2017

Shoot better smartphone images

Before the Spring Break, Personal Technology columnist Geoffrey Fowler was motivated to help readers take "better vacation photos." Offering 28 ways to improve their picture with two ideas being to upgrade to a camera, "you can get a pocket-size camera like Sony's RX-100 V." Or his last tip was if no money was concern, Canon's $3,500 5D Mark IV with a 35mm Sigma fixed focus lens for $900.

Hey! What about the Sony and Olympus Lens cameras (see earlier blogs) that use your smartphone as the viewfinder and use bigger sensor, interchangeable lens, and will fit in your coat pocket?

Confusing? Take better pictures with a smartphone by not using it and getting a camera? Hey there are some great photos being taken and the smartphone is with you and ready when you see the photo. He did add that pictures of food should be eliminated except if they were tied to special events like photo of a birthday cake with message on top.
Couldn't pass until I took a photo!

Reading the article I agree that people take too many boring photos. He points out how you need to get close and see people's faces, viewers really don't care what shoes you were wearing, they like seeing the smiling face.

He left out how you get a bigger image holding the mobile photo horizontally not vertically. It's a larger photo and easier to read when it is taken horizontally, not to mention the tablet and pc.

"Smartphones have made use all photographers, but they didn't come with instruction manuals," he says in the introduction. This is why I'll be teaching seniors how to take pictures with their smartphone in the fall at the Northeast campus of the Tarrant County College in the Fall. Class will be posted this summer at in the Continuing Education/Senior Section. Classes only run for two weeks.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Gear for mobile photography (iPhone and Android)

Some new products are out there to take advantage of the smartphone, and there is a resurgence in film and prints. Interesting times.

Smartphone with Insignia Mobile Photo Kit
The Wall Street Journal reported on five companies making "instant cameras" and writer Michael Hsu says "I blame my iPhone, which makes snapping (and hoarding) mediocre photos all too easy. But darn, it is only a print, he then  recommends using the Google PhotoScan app to copy the print into the smartphone so it can be shared.

Sorry but I don't understand instant printing, seems like more trouble than simply using your smartphone intelligently. It was nice in the film days, when it took hours or days to see what the film camera had taken. With digital you see it immediately, but take time and edit out duplicates, mediocre shots and those photos taken just to remember where you parked the car.

Then FastCompany magazine issues their "Design Awards" which includes a photo software app, Infltr by Yooshr that offers 7 million filters. But looking at the reviews, most users give it only one star. Saying it is too complicated with several steps and only a slight variation from one "filter" to another. The one five star review liked how it made their mediocre shots stand out and look different.

If it's a good photo you don't need a filter. These modifications, filters, only make a good photo better.
The professional iOgrapher gear

(Other honorees mentioned by FastCompany include the Experience Design by Adobe for all-in-one digital design, Graava Camera from Matter that's an action camera with AI (automatic?) photo-editing, and Giphy Cam from Giphy to record your life in Gifs. (Don't think you'll be making many prints with a Gif file, but they do take up less space in the cloud.)

What I do like is the new how-to book from iOgrapher creator David Basulto saw a need when he was teaching high school media classes in California for his students to shoot videos. Good video. Initially he had the130 students share four DSLR cameras only on weekdays because he used the gear to help the school coaches video tape games. Talking about it is one think, but you learn best by doing it.

His guidebook, Life, Camera, Action: How to turn your mobile device into a filmmaking powerhouse is available from Kindle. A handy guide for any smartphone videographer, who wants to get the most from their smartphone. Basulto also has some interesting videos and podcasts showing how to take advantage of smartphones and tablets.
He was surprised by the interest and growing sales, Best Buy liked it and ordered a kit with a couple of lenses for each of it's thousand stores. The business was profitable and is growing. But Best Buy didn't like that it only worked on iPhone.

He is more than a teacher, he has been a TV producer in Hollywood, a journalist reporting on new products for a trade pub and uploading podcast interviews with professional videographers. He saw how all the students had smartphones, iPhones, and iPads. And knew that he'd been able to use his iPad when he covered events for the magazine.

He knew these mobile devices can do professional work.

Then with help from one of parents he lucked into an easy way to make the "bracket" by molding cases to fit around an iPhone and iPads. This enabled the students to hold their smartphone securely, there was even a tripod mount, and shoes on top for mounting professional lights and mic. The picture quality was there, and with iMovie and FilMic apps downloaded onto every students phone. They can all shoot movies.

Simply filling a need for teaching he has been surprised to have major TV networks buy the brackets. Boeing liked being able to have quickly produce a training film, TV corespondents could do it all. No need for a camera crew.

Basulto covers all the products he makes and tells how to take advantage of them, Reminds me of when I started making the Domke camera bag. He focused on Apple's products, but now has a frame for Android phones.

So they now have in their stores for the same price their own brand, the Insignia Mobile Photography Kit. It includes a tiny LED video light, shotgun mic, tiny tripod with bracket for any smartphone, a close-up lens, wide-angle lens and fish-eye lens, a remote tripper and a storage pouch to hold everything.

This kit also goes on sale, Best Buy has it on sale this week for $20 off the normal $99 and I wanted to check it out. It includes everything anyone might need. But will the results look as professional as iOgrapher?

I'm testing it out. I enjoy using the iOgrapher case and telephoto lens for my iPad, now have accessories for my Google phone and Kindle Fire! Too bad the Insignia mobile photo kit only has wide-angle lenses, guess they thought you could zoom in digitally with the phone, but this isn't great for image quality or producing a professional looking web video.

iOgrapher was first, now comes a hoard of cheap copies, trying to cut into the market. I like the niche Basulto has created. I don't think the average smartphone user sees the potential, or wants to take time editing video. The iOgrapher product didn't sell well in the store, except for me, I didn't see anyone checking out the Insignia product.

Most amateurs don't realize for web viewing the smartphone is a professional tool. It's all you need.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Trying to keep it simple - - -

The fire was burning in the fireplace and the family was here for the holiday, capture the moment. Don't just take a group shot, make a video of two brothers jamming.

Make it good!

Using my iPad, I want to have good lighting, good sound and not shaky! But I don't need to spend several hundred dollars on a video camera and I don't need to edit it in a computer. Use the apps: FilMic Pro and iMovie is all it takes.

The challenge here is to compare. Is this being cheap and too amateurish? Or, does it look professional? The same rules apply whether it is a smartphone or a digital camera.

With video it is hard to keep it simple.
Here's what was used:
iOgrapher with 2X telephoto lens
RodeMic Go with ipad/iphone adaptor
Savage LED-204 light

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Best way to copy from a smartphone?

Sometimes you simply need a photo of a price tag or remember where you parked your car, images that will be deleted he phone in a brief time. But now there are apps to make better copies of contracts, posters, and old family prints. Keepers! Enabling you to pull up family and friends pictures taken at those memorable events.
Print to Smartphone

Google introduced in November PhotoScan app which takes out reflections by shooting four images and stitching it together. It is also a larger image that what you'd take with a single photo.

As a former newspaper photographer, I have always been interested capturing the moment, to show/preserve a moment in history. Remember the moment! Often families only remember what they see in the photo.

I have been scanning negatives, and prints to digital images. Saving the files on DVD discs, external hard-drives and the cloud. Google is also trying to help share the images digitally, but keep it simple.

Using your smartphone PhotoScan app starts with a full frame shot, then shows four buttons for you to move the phone around. This eliminates reflections on the glossy prints. It comes down to using a flat bed scanner or your smart phone.

The smartphone is faster and the program reminds you to tag people in the photo, and if some cases the program will recognize people and automatically tag them!

Photos then get uploaded to Google Photos where they are saved in multiple servers, safe for future viewing. Now I need to get all the photos I've burned on DVD uploaded, have to get an external DVD reader/writer, the DVD is history!

Other options coming out are aimed at speed, Epson's FastFoto FF-640 scanner lets you stack prints in and then automatically scans everything in the stack. Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern said in December 21st article "FastFoto isn't perfect though. The scanner jammed repeatedly  when trying to scan older, smaller square prints."  Forcing her to scan them individually!

Other options is to pay someone to scan them, many drugstores and camera shops now offer is option. But it can quickly be more expensive than the $650 Epson FastFoto scanner.

Once scanned it is great to be able to access photos on your smart-phone, but as a back-up, take advantage of the photo albums. Some cost only $20 and don't need electricity. Just insert digital files in templates and also write some captions for future generations to enjoy.
Google PhotoScan created a 4x5 inch 300 dpi file. 4.53 meg

Flatbed scan 4.3 meg file
Closeup of flatbed scanner of same print. Took longer to input into computer, Google photo then automatically uploaded it to the cloud.(No color correction or manipulation done on these prints.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tis the season and there are gifts for all smartphones

We have new smartphones coming on the market offering better ways to capture events, but there's now added accessories for smartphone owners to improve their shooting. "Be professional" as the endcap display in Best Buy promotes.

Well, holding the camera steady is good. Not sure this makes you a professional.

Last year it seemed that everything was for iPhone only, now that extra lens, external mic, tripod mount, short table-top tripod, filters will fit on any smartphone.

Lots of little items and now the problem is how to keep them with you and find them when you want to use it.

A Domke Wrap does it! The camera bag for a smartphone Pro.

This material began some 35 years ago as a replacement to the lens pouch, it was a lot easier and safer to get the lens wrapped than having to try to fit in into a sock or small sack. Photographers discovered this "wrap" could also cover a view camera lens!

It wasn't just for wrapping either. It could be an envelop to drop all those small screw drivers, wrenches, clamps, mounts, cords, etc. For some is was their traveling tool bag.

Now with the smart phone, it is a simple way to get to that extra lens, mic, clamp, etc. Fold it together and slip it in a coat pocket, or in a bag with your tablet, in the glove compartment?

Its a great way to keep the growing number of accessories in one place and easy to find. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Mobile Apps Buyer’s Guide

Finally  guide to find apps and get in control of shooting with your smartphone! this is for the professional

Mobile Apps Buyer’s Guide

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The camera sees you.

Article in Wall Street Journal, Selfies Proves a tool for IDs, tells of how a Russian start-up NTechlab offered photos of people showing them at a big electronic music festival. "they didn't have to bring a camera or even their phones."

Just send them a "selfie" and they'd find you at the concert!

Founder Alexander Kabakov says, "simply owning a smartphone means you can't opt out of surveillance. There is no private life."

Ntechlab beat Alphabet in 2015 identifying celebrities in one million photos at University of Washington's Megaface Challenge.

Readers have made some interesting comments online, suggesting we watch Tom Cruise in his movie Minority Report and/or we all need to start wearing a burqa!