Category Archives: photography

Are you going to stop using Instagram now that Facebook has acquired them?

I’ve barely had a chance to get acquainted with Instagram now that I have it on my Android phone, and now Facebook has acquired them.  I read over the past few days the negative response to the acquisition.  Now long time Instagram users are pondering whether Facebook will totally foul up the popular social photo sharing service.  At least this takes the heat off new Android users of the service that have been maligned because they use Android phones rather then iPhones.

How do you feel about Facebook taking the service over?

Do you fault the Instagram crew for selling for $1 billion?

Are you likely to abandon Instagram now that Facebook owns them?  I am guessing that most will continue to use the service.  Every day I read at least five status updates about how much Facebook stinks yet nobody seems to leave.  I know a few people who actually did try to leave Facebook for Google Plus, but returned because nobody is using Google Plus.   Despite the acquisition I suspect Instagram will still be heavily used.  For the better remains to be seen.

What will be interesting to watch is if rivals to Instagram will see an uptick in usage.

These are cross platform so you can get them on iOS or Android,  I suspect they have the greatest chance in seeing an increase in usage since iPhone users may ditch Instagram, and want something new.

  • EyeEm – touted by Leo Laporte on a recent iPad Today webcast as having a nice UI
  • PicPlz
  • Pixlr-O-Matic – I have used this and it is pretty cool.

Below are some Android alternatives:

 

Instagram Signup Page Announced

Instagram is coming to Android
Instagram is coming to Android

Instagram set up a sign up page for their Android app that is in development.  I wrote about this a few weeks ago.

I’ve been waiting for Instagram to come out on the Android platform for a while.  I’d see so many of my friends taking, and sharing interesting photos from their iPhones.  I wanted in on the fun.  I switched to OS X on the desktop, and iOS on the tablet, but still have my Android phone – a beautiful Samsung Galaxy S II that has me locked in for another 2 years.  So as far as Android is concerned I say BRING ON THE APPS!  Android obviously has its problems with market fragmentation, but there are a ton of users, and devices out there.  Let’s show the developers that it’s worth hanging in there to develop for Android.

Instagram Finally Coming to Android

Instagram is Coming to Android

I am pretty excited about this.  Instagram is finally coming to the Android platform.  I’ve been an Android user for the past 3 years, and have watched all along as really cool apps have been released only for iOS.  Android has some cool, and very useful apps that I use daily, and also enjoy.  Perhaps it’s just a case of the grass being greener on the other side of then fence.   I’ve seen my fellow photographer friends constantly posting Instagram photos.  I wanted it too!

It was announced at SXSW on Sunday that Instagram will finally be coming out for Android.  It will share photos to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr among others.

Finally – Some New Stuff

After too long of a layoff I finally ventured out last Saturday night to Peddler’s Village in Lashka, PA – near New Hope.  It was very cold, but I had a blast getting reacquainted with my camera and new monopod.  I also met a few new cool other photographers there through a meetup.

I am still in the process of editing shots for the blog, but wanted to at least post one here for now!

 

 

Absentee Blogger

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Hi All – I know.  I have been an absentee blogger.  I’ve been consumed with some family matters recently, but am looking forward to getting back to shooting, and experimenting in the digital darkroom.  I have been shooting at a few Philles games I have attended recently, but nothing beyond that.  Tonight I’ll be shooting down at Citizen’s Bank Park as the Phillies face off vs the Boston Red Sox, and am hoping that Cliff Lee can make it 5 wins in a row for him.

Later this week I am hoping to get back into some regular posting with some articles I have been cooking for a while on how I process in Lightroom, and some more HDR goodness.  I am also going to post some photos of some old Kodak Brownie cameras a friend recently found in going through an attic.  It’s amazing to see how far technology has come.

Until then keep shooting!

Panorama using Lightroom and Photoshop

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I was just tinkering around in Lightroom today with some photos I took several years ago in Lake Tahoe. I had always intended to do a panorama, but somehow forgot.  In trying to breathe new life into the old photos I came up with this stitched together panorama of 6 photos. I exported then into Photoshop by selecting Merge to Panorama in Photoshop.   I then applied some blending, and effects in Nik’s Color Efex Collection and came up with this. Not too bad especially considering that my camera was a Pentax Optio A10. I had damaged my Canon 20D early in while on vacation …more on that in another post.

My Recipe For Good Photos – Part 1 – Composition and Knowledge of Your Subject

I know many people that like to take photos, but always lament the fact that they never end up getting the image that they pictured when they took the shot.   That’s happened to me too.  I wrote about this in another post. Many times I would get on location, set up my tripod or get ready for hand held shots, and begin firing away.  Sometimes I would get good shots, and other times I’d be very disappointed with how things turned out.  Over time I have learned a few things.

Composition is what I go for first.  You want to adjust the position of your subject so it draws the viewers eye into the image.    I usually go with the rule of thirds for placement of my subject first, or where it feels right.  If you are at a scenic location that has been shot to death you can try to inject some new life into the scene by taking the shot from a different view.  Looking at a mountain range – perhaps hike up that trail a bit to get a different perspective.

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Are you shooting flowers – then perhaps get low to shoot them head on or even at an upward angle to show them to your viewer differently.  You can even tinker with depth of field to isolate your subject.   An unexpected composition can take a ‘meh’ image and turn it into a wow image.  Depth of field will also allow you to clean up your background.  If you have a subject that is against a busy background it can get lost.  However if you change your vantage point or induce blur by shooting so the background gets a nice “bokeh” effect then you can really enhance your image.

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Perhaps you can add some depth to your image by placing objects in the foreground to complement your subject or provide a sense of space.

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You may also find that you have to adjust your position to get a composition you like.  I shoot a lot of baseball for fun, and have found that the best vantage point for getting a good composition is not from my seat.  I have taken more than my share of shots from my seats, but find that if I can get closer – perhaps standing on the concourse in the infield I can get a much more intimate shot than I would from the stands.    Being in the ballpark I find that there are endless subjects to photograph.  The grunting expression on the pitcher’s face as he fires the baseball in to the batter.  The expression on the batter’s face as he watches his fly ball, wondering if it is going out.  Then you have the expressions of the fans in the stands watching the fly ball, and the change in their expressions as they realize that “that ball is outta here.”  You can also capture the crowd as they are shown on the scoreboard, and watch the expressions of the kids in the crowd as they ask a player for an autograph or when the teams mascot gives them a hug.

Know your subject.  If you shoot sports try to know where the plays happen so you can anticipate the shot you want to capture.  If you shoot scenics then scout the location in advance so you know how the light will paint the scene, and where your best vantage point will be to shoot your subject.  Preparation is everything.

In part 2 of this series I will discuss getting the right exposure.

Lower ISO Plus EV Makes For Better Images, and Easier Noise Reduction

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I attended the Phillies-Braves game last night in Philadelphia, PA (Citizen’s Bank Park).  I have been shooting there for fun for the past couple of years. and have experienced a variety of shooting conditions.  Lighting comes in to play especially when you are shooting from a distance.  I don’t have the fortune to be shooting on the field so I tend to shoot from my seat or lurk on the concourse.   I try to shoot at 1/1600 shutter speed so I can freeze the action, but to do this during night games I need to shoot at a high ISO.  For professional use this would most likely be a non-starter as the digital noise would add too much “grain” to the image.

I generally shoot around ISO 800-1000 when the night games begin (around sunset), and can get some decent shots especially if the subject is relatively close (<200 feet).  As the sun sets I have to drastically increase my ISO;  usually to 3200, and then the custom settings of H1 and H2 on the 50D which work out to be 6400, and 12800 ISO respectively.  The problem I face is purely digital noise, and the ability to freeze action.  I shoot with a Canon 55-250mm EF-S  f/4-5.6 IS.  It’s pretty good for a consumer grade lens, and since I am not shooting professionally I have held off getting a nicer 70-300 f/4 or the beautiful 70-200 f/2.8…well I also have held off due to the cost as well.

When I started a few years back I found that after sunset I couldn’t get any decent shots because I would have to slow the shutter speed down to 1/1000 or slower which resulted in unappealing blur.  Of course I was shooting in program mode.  Then I decided to try using Tv (shutter priority) mode, and was able to get slightly better results, although when zoomed all the way in at f/5.6 I was still getting the exposure indicator flashing in my viewfinder – not such a big deal as I was able to sufficiently pull it up a bit in processing.  Of course I tried to be selective as to what shots I would choose to do this for as sometimes you could introduce more artifacts – color shifts, and more pronounced noise.

Over the past 6-8 months I have gotten better at reducing noise in Lightroom 3.  Although I will admit depending on the subject it has resulted in some soft looking photos with a slightly painterly look due to the NR smoothing details out.  So back to square one – how to overcome this?  Recently I started using the Nik Dfine 2.0 NR plug-in for Lightroom, and it has performed pretty well.  It analyzes the photo, and finds out where the most likely areas to contain noise are located.  It reads points on the image, and then applies a NR profile to the image which in most cases does a nice job.  Occasionally I have been required to apply some additional points for NR, but the time spent in this part of the workflow has been minimal.  It also seems to produce more pinpoint NR than Lightroom does.  I am able to reduce noise in the areas of grass and dirt on the field, but keep the NR to a minimum on the faces of the people in the stands.  This is key especially when shooting from a distance.  If you are heavy handed in your NR you can effectively render the facial features invisible.

Fast-forward to last night.  I started using exposure compensation over the past few months to expose to the right side of the histogram.  Sometimes this does result in some blown highlights, but it has also been easier to pull the exposure back down during processing, and retain detail than it would be to increase exposure to gain shadow details that had been lost.  The past few games I have attended I shot with +2/3 EV at ISO 12800.  I managed to get some shots, but for the most part details in faces were lacking.

Last night I decided to try something new.  I kept the ISO at 6400 shooting in HQ  jpeg mode, and applied +2 EV, and I think it made a difference.  You can see in the photo below the difference in noise between the 3200 and 6400.  ISO 12800 drastically increases the noise so I kept it at ISO 6400 since I was able to get a brighter image than at ISO 3200 with the same EV.

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I have decided to do some more experimentation with ISO and EV settings combined with a more robust NR process to see what I can come up with.  I may do some tinkering in RAW mode as well to see if I can more selectively boost exposure, and control noise manually.  I have found that the more intimate you are with how your camera responds to light the better your images will be.  Keep shooting!

Sleep On It Before You Take Photos

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Ah!  Vacation.

I found myself driving northbound on California route 89 entering Lake Tahoe a few years back.   As I rounded the rolling, and steep curves winding into the Lake Tahoe basin area I was amazed at how blue the lake appeared.  I had never seen anything like it in person before, and my mind’s eye immediately began to visualize the photos I would take over the next week.  What a great place to be a photographer.

Slowly navigating the road in a clockwise fashion around the lake, and up the western shore I found myself continually looking through the trees for a glimpse of the next great view.  At every pull-out I stopped to take in the vista, and snap away furiously with my Sony Cybershot DSC-S85, a nice point and shoot for it’s time.  Look at that tree!  Look – a boulder!  Amazing views.  A day later upon review of the images on my laptop from the deck of my condo I came to a realization.  Don’t rely on images you take on the first day of a trip.

I have this theory that when you get your first look at a new place that your eyes, and brain haven’t caught up with each other yet.    So whatever tree or boulder you just photographed because it looked great – well..there is a good chance upon review you will find several things wrong with the composition the next day.

The photo above was taken on the approach to Emerald Bay.  Funny how it looked so good at the time.  You can see several trees, and branches obstructing the view, but at the time – WOW!  It wasn’t until the next day when my irrational exuberance had calmed down, and I was better able to think about my shots before taking them.  My suggestion is to use your first look at a new location as a chance to scout out shooting locations.  Wait until day two to take the shots you want to hang on the wall.