I remember when I first saw the above photo on Westscott’s website, I immediately and without hesitation said “WOW!” I love continuous lighting and the thought of having an LED light panel that would be easy to travel with was intriguing. I recently put the 10×10″ model to the test. Here’s a short video of my setup:
The Flex LED is 5,600 daylight balanced. The Flex™ 1-Panel Daylight kit includes a mounting bracket and a 1/4 stop diffusion panel. The dimmer goes from 5% to 100%. The panel is water resistant and the kit also includes a 16′ extension cable.
Here’s a production shot from my test shoot:
The mounting bracket includes a “clip” style mount instead of a traditional light stand mount. That’s both a plus and a minus. However, since the panel is so light you should be able to attach it to any light stand or any other suitable stand. I also clipped it to a chair back at one point to light the background. In the picture above I simply clipped it to the light stand holding my Westcott Skylux LED and Rapid Box Octa XXL softbox which was powered off at the time.
The above shot was captured with my Nikon D810, 70-200mm VRII f/2.8 lens at ISO 200, 190 mm, f/3.5 1/80 sec. Although I prefer bigger, softer main lights for portrait work I was impressed with this light for its size and incredible amount of output. It was soft enough with the diffusion panel on front.
The Bottom Line
The Westcott Flex LED is another great tool in my lighting arsenal and it’s probably the first LED light that I feel very comfortable in traveling with and knowing that it won’t take hardly any room in my carry-on luggage. The “clip” means that I can probably get away without having to carry or find a light stand too. While the price may seem relatively high, it’s actually on par with high end name brand speed lights from the top camera manufacturers. However, the fact that it’s continuous lighting means that I can also use it for video recording too making it more flexible than a speed light.
I’m headed back to Atlanta from Amsterdam today. The flight time is just over 9 hours. I did my usual downloads from my TiVo DVR the night before so that I would have some shows to watch and of course I have my MacBook Pro so that I can get some writing done. The last thing I expected on this Delta flight was to have WiFi internet all the way home! Sure I get my hopes up each time I board an international flight by looking for the familiar WiFi stickers found on 99% of all Delta domestic flights and like always there were no stickers present on this flight. However, once we got up to 10,000 feet I noticed that my phone was asking me to login to my corporate IPASS account (a roaming partner of Gogo). I just figured someone on the plane was faking a Gogo hotspot. However, it worked! I was blown away because I figured I wouldn’t see this until at least 2016. I asked the flight attendant just to make sure and she confirmed that “some” planes have it now and that we were “lucky” today. Lucky indeed!
So what does it cost to enjoy this international benefit? Since I have a corporate plan from work that covers Gogo InFlight WiFi I didn’t even think that about a cost difference at first, but as I started writing this I figured my readers would want to know. I went back to the regular logon page and the prices are high indeed. $19.95 for one hour and $39.95 for the whole flight. While I appreciate this being a work perk, I gotta say that I would gladly pay $39.95 for WiFi on this 9 hour flight. The amount of stuff that I can get done (including this blog post) is worth it to me. The next question is how fast is it? Gogo inlfight wifi in the states uses a celluar system (plane to ground) and from I can see it’s based on 3G technology. When it first came out the speeds were decent, but lately they have been slow to almost unusable. Still slow is better than nothing, so I use it all the time.
Since connecting to the ground over the ocean is not feasible, any plane offering international service requires satellite connections instead. One of the first thing I did was run 4 consecutive speed tests to get an average speed and while it’s not screaming fast, it’s faster than the domestic service. I’ll take it!
The Bottom Line
I remember wishing for WiFi on long haul flights for years. It almost brings a tear to my eyes to see it finally making its way into my life and I commend Delta for making these investments to make air travel a little less painful.
Looking forward to seeing many of you at Professional Imaging in the Netherlands this weekend. Should be a lot of fun and a lot of great information passed on from the very talented list of instructors. I’ll be teaching my photography workflow using Lightroom and Photoshop CC. If you attend the show be sure to stop by and say hello. Also if you have any “must shoot” location recommendations be sure to leave a comment below.
I’ve been a Netflix subscriber for years and I have also tried a trial subscription to Hulu Plus. The thing that turned me off of Hulu (and still does) is that you pay the monthly fee ($7.99) and yet they still play ads. Also not to mention that during my trial period all the ads were bought out by the presidential candidates of 2012. I just couldn’t take any more. Three years later I’m willing to try Hulu Plus again, but is it worth it? I’d gladly pay more per month to eliminate the ads. Many of you have Hulu, Netflix or both. Tell me why?
What if you could only have one. Which would it be Netflix or Hulu Plus? Also now that HBO Now is coming soon, would you pick HBO over Netflix or Hulu?
WiFi connected webcams are nothing new. When someone enters this category I quickly look to see if they’re adding anything new or if it’s just a me too product. In most cases there isn’t a whole lot that’s new, but companies do sometimes find a way to improve on an already crowded product category. The Simplicam + Closeli is a standard WiFi connected webcam with a nicer design than most. It has a well thought out base/stand as well as things like a 10 foot “flat” USB cable so that you can more easily hide it in your home. This camera can be monitored from your iPhone, iPad, Android device or web browser.
The setup process is pretty straight forward. Just plug the supplied “short” USB cable into your Simplicam and the other end into your Mac/PC. The software mounts in a volume on your computer that you can run from there. Once you’re in the setup utility you’ll use it to connect the Simplicam to your WiFi network. You’ll also create an account on Closeli.com where you’ll get a year of included cloud recording service. Closeli like others has different plans so that you can go back and review footage from your camera based on motion and sound detection. They also bring “face” detection to the table to distinguish between someone actually entering the room vs. the cat running by. You can get push notifications of any of the aforementioned types of activity. You can also schedule times when notifications need not be received (you’re home) or when the camera should be off. Notifications or not you can see what’s going on in the room on demand by just firing up the Closeli app on your mobile device or logging in with your web browser on your computer. You can export clips or still grabs as need. If you need to talk to the people in the room remotely you have two way audio. Yes there is also night vision.
Here’s a video review of the product.
The Bottom Line
While I haven’t reviewed any of the newer cameras in this category lately, I would say that just looking at the specs alone Simplicam brings at least two things to the table over the competition and that’s face detection (a beta feature, which can also be set up to recognize specific faces and can tell you when an unrecognized face enters the room.) and a lower priced cloud storage/recording service. The 720p 107° view camera is also better than my older cameras.
Yesterday when Apple announced the new MacBook I was mildly interested. After all my 2nd computer is a MacBook Air. I’m always attracted to electronics that are thinner and lighter in weight. However, as they started to reveal the specs I quickly began to realize that this wasn’t going to be a product for me. I also had to remind some of my friends that not every product created is for every user. This is why Apple now has three different products in their notebook lineup (MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro). I’m mostly a pro user and this is NOT a pro machine.
Could it be an upgrade for my MacBook Air Mid 2012?
My 2nd computer that I use mostly around the house is approaching the 3 year old mark and that’s like 3 hundred years old in computer years right? My MacBook Air currently has 8GB of RAM, a Core i7 processor, 512GB SSD and a 13″ display. I always said that I would upgrade it the minute Apple created a 13″ MacBook Air with 16GB of RAM. That day still hasn’t come yet and the New MacBook isn’t an upgrade for me either, so I continue to wait. First off, I don’t want a smaller display. While I don’t connect a lot of peripherals to my MacBook Air on a regular basis it’s still good to know that I can easily connect an external display/projector, Wacom tablet and Thunderbolt hard drive and insert and SD memory card without any fuss.
Then who is the new MacBook for?
When I think of the New MacBook I immediately think of students and perhaps office workers/managers. These are folks who primarily use web based apps (so the browser is their main app) and productivity Apps. They do email, they write, they store things in Dropbox and they move around from location to location, classroom to classroom, meeting room to meeting room, a lot. However, most of those users will still tell you that they need to plug in an USB thumb drive from time to time.
The Bottom Line
If you’re disappointed in the specs of the new MacBook, remember that this is Apple’s “low end” notebook. It’s probably not for you and never was intended to for you. You walk past things in the mall every time you go there that aren’t for you, but you don’t complain you just keep walking. This is no different. This NEW MacBook feels more like an upgrade to the iPad user that’s hit the wall. If you think about it, it’s like an iPad with a keyboard/trackpad instead of a touch display, that can run Mac OS X instead of iOS. It has a 12″ display instead of a 10.1″ display. Yep, it’s an upgrade to the iPad in almost every way. Feel better now?
In the meantime I’ll keep working happily on my MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.
Now that we have all the details of the Apple Watch including the “all day” (18 hour) battery life and pricing, I’m curious as to how many of my readers will be getting the Apple Watch. This will also help in determining the level of interest in 3rd party apps?
Please take a moment to answer my one question poll:
I’ve reviewed tripod mounts for smartphones before, however the good ones I’ve looked at in the past were fine as long as you only wanted to mount your smartphone horizontally. Horizontal mounting is desired by film makers for sure. There are times when you may want a vertical mount especially if you’re shooting stills or time lapse. For this I turned to the good folks over at Arkon (the makers of mounts for just about any device) and sure enough they had one that was exactly what I was looking for. It had to be able to rotate between horizontal and vertical orientation and it had to be big enough to accommodate my iPhone 6 Plus (with my clear case).
The Arkon Universal Smartphone Holder Tripod Adapter fits the bill nicely. Not only does it rotate between horizontal and vertical orientations, but it also pivots more like a ball head. As you can see in the above photo it also works great if you have a GorillaPod tripod. The Arkon Universal tripod mount for your Smartphone is great option to have in your camera bag or your computer bag because you never know when you want to shoot something that will be difficult to shoot handheld.
If you’re alone and need a wireless remote for your smartphone, I’ve had good luck with this bluetooth one. Technically all it does on the iPhone is press the up volume button wirelessly which as you probably know snaps a photo.
Get the Arkon Universal Smartphone Holder Tripod Adapter here.
This is probably my third or forth Logitech keyboard for iPad and this one by far is the closest one to being perfect. The Logitech Type+ is a both a bluetooth keyboard and protective case. What makes this one better than the previous models is that Logitech made it even thinner so that it doesn’t add much bulk to your nice new iPad Air 2.
The keyboard layout is also better. With the previous mode I was constantly hitting the the home key (returning to the home screen) when trying to type a 1. They moved the home button up to the row at the top on this layout (thank you!). Lastly I love the way that they integrated the ability to lay the iPad flat over the keyboard when you just want to use the iPad without using the keyboard without having to remove it from the case.
Actually the keyboard is activated when you put the iPad in the “stand” position where it magnetically held in place right above the keyboard. The only thing keeping this case from being “perfect” is that you cant’ use it if you want to stand your iPad up in the vertical position. Sure you can hold it vertically, but you wont be able to stand it that way.
If you have an iPad Air 2 this is the best keyboard case I’ve seen. You can get it here.
If you have the original iPad Air, then I’d recommend this one.
Happy Birthday Adobe Photoshop! That’s right folks, it was 25 years today (February 19, 1990) that Adobe released Photoshop 1.0. It’s hard to imagine that what started out as a product that most people at the time didn’t even understand why we’d need it, would become such a phenomenon that entire industries have been built upon. I of course like many of you begin to think back to the first version of Photoshop that I ever used. For me it was Photoshop 2.0. I only used 2.0 for a short time before getting the Photoshop 2.5 upgrade. I guess I was like most people at the time. I’ll admit that I really didn’t get it at first. I was spending most of my time back then in PageMaker and using clip art. It really wasn’t feasible to use digital photos yet simply because there were limited ways of getting the photos into the computer at a decent resolution. There were no consumer digital cameras! Nope, NONE. No cellphone cameras because there were no cellphones. There were scanners, but they were very expensive if you wanted a good one and even if you paid to have a scan done to your “floppy” disc and brought it home, you’d be hard pressed to have enough memory to do any major work on it in Photoshop. Nonetheless, Photoshop did evolve to the point of becoming a verb “I Photoshopped that” in popular culture. Most designers couldn’t imagine doing their jobs without having Photoshop and as a photographer I haven’t seen or taken a photo that couldn’t be improved in someway by Photoshop.
Thomas and John Knoll, the inventors of Photoshop
I was thinking of ways I could show people just how far Photoshop had come. After all there are many users that use Photoshop that are 25 years or younger as well as users who were babies or kids when Photoshop was released. That’s when it hit me: why not show people what it was like to use Photoshop 1.0 back in 1990? Imagine using Photoshop without layers, with only one undo, and no camera RAW. Also this may be hard to wrap your head around, but Photoshop 1.0 was released two years before there was a standard called JPEG. That’s right. There was no JPEG when Photoshop came out. On your Mac you typically worked with either PICT files or TIFF files. Let’s take a look at what it was like to do editing and compositing:
It’s hard to believe that Photoshop 1.0 originally shipped on an 800k floppy disc. There was no installer. You either ran it from the floppy or copied it to your hard drive.
While Photoshop did work in color it would be another couple of years for me before I upgraded from a Mac Plus to a Mac LC with color monitor.
When I joined Adobe in 1996 it was more than a thrill to be working for the company whose products were constantly evolving. Those were exciting times to say the least.
Terry White presenting at the Photoshop 20th Anniversary Celebration
I’ll be celebrating my 19th year at Adobe this July and it has been a pleasure and an honor to be a part of company and history that has brought so much creative freedom to the world.
Terry White along side David Wadhwani introducing Photoshop CC to the world
One of the highlights of my career was getting the chance to be on stage at Adobe MAX 2013 and introducing Photoshop CC to the world.
I would like to once again thank all the engineers that spend so many hours, nights and weekends pushing Photoshop to the limits and giving us the tools to make our visions a reality. Most of all Thank YOU. Without our customers we wouldn’t be where we are today.
A look back…
Take a look at this video from the early days and also watch Russell Brown, Thomas Knoll and John Knoll discuss how far Photoshop has come (20th Anniversary Video interview).
And while we’re looking back on this 25th Photoshop Anniversary, let’s take a look at my 1st Photoshop episode of my Creative Suite podcast. This episode first aired on February 15, 2006.
Happy Birthday Photoshop! I’m looking forward to the next 25 years of innovation. As a side note and bit of trivia today is also Adobe Photoshop Lightroom’s 8th Anniversary.
Terry White along side David Wadhwani introducing Lightroom Mobile iPhone to the world.