My iPhone has become my point & shoot camera for the most part. It's a good camera and while I do own "better" point & shoot cameras, my phone is always with me. Therefore it wins by default. I've also seen several attempts at adding lenses to smartphones and in most cases I'm left scratching my head trying to understand why anyone would want to do this? After all If I'm going to carry big lenses or if the photography is that important to me, then I'm also going to carry a decent camera body to go with those lenses. I recently made one exception to this rule.
We often use point & shoot cameras and smartphone cameras because they are CONVENIENT and self contained. However, if I can carry a Macro lens and it adds no extra weight or fuss then I'm interested. The Easy-Macro is just such an accessory. The easiest way to describe it is that it's a Macro lens on an elastic (rubber) band. When not in use you can carry it on the supplied card in your wallet or purse. I got this lens a couple weeks ago, stuck it in my wallet and forgot about it. Last night while on the plane I noticed it and decided to give it a spin. It installs in two seconds. Just stretch the band around your phone and position the lens over your built-in lens. That's it. You're ready to do a little Macro photography.
Shot taken up close withOUT the Easy-Macro
shot taken up close WITH Easy-Macro
The Easy-Macro won't replace any of my Nikon DSLR lens any time soon, but for quick up close detailed shots with a smartphone it's easy, low cost and nice to have.
You can get the Easy-Macro here for $15.
I’ve been creating Photo Books in other applications for quite some time now. While I’ve always gotten the books printed that I wanted, it was always a chore managing the photos in my App of choice (Lightroom) and then exporting/importing them into another App or Service just to layout a book. That all goes away for me with the introduction of the Adobe Lightroom 4 Beta. One of the books that I do/update on a regular basis is my “Portfolio” book. People are always impressed when I show them my Portfolio as an actual professionally printed book. Since my photos are all in Lightroom I decided to recreate my Portfolio book in using the New Lightroom 4 Book module. Laying the book out was pretty straight forward and once I got into the swing of switching layouts between single photo pages and 2 up photo pages (the two formats I use the most), I got the book laid out pretty quickly. One of the things I appreciated over other methods and software that I’ve used in the past was the ability to use “typography”. I had access to all my fonts and the same typography controls over size, leading, tracking, kerning, etc. as I would in Photoshop or Illustrator.
After the book was laid out I had the option of sending it right up to Blurb for printing or exporting it as a PDF. I choose to have it professionally printed as with my previous versions. I got the books back pretty quickly. Even though Blurb is based out of California, my books were printed in New York and once shipped arrived at my door two days later.
As far as cost goes they cost about what I was paying for my other books even though I added more pages this time and went with a hard cover vs. a soft cover.
The quality and color is what I expected it to be and very on par with with my other books.
Saving a few bucks – you have the option of turning on or off the Blurb logo page in the back of your book. If you leave it on your printed book will cost less. The difference was about $19 for my books. It wasn’t worth the savings since these books are for me. However, if I were doing a book for a client I’d pay it not to have the Blurb advertising in it.
All in all I’m very happy with the results of my 78 page Portfolio Book and I’m glad that the Lightroom team built this feature in (finally!) Download the Public Beta of Adobe Lightroom 4 here and give it a spin.
Use Blurb Promo Code: LR4BOOK for 20% off your next Lightroom Photo Book now through 12/31/2012!
The iPhone Book 5th Edition is Now Available for Pre-Order! It has gone to press and should be shipping shortly. It covers the latest enhancements in iOS 5 as well as the new iPhone 4s. Tons of tips and tricks and how to's. You can pre-order your copy here.
Usually when something big in tech or photography happens my friends start asking me "did you order one?" This time the big news is the newly announced Nikon D4 DSLR camera. Let me start by saying that I've always had Nikon D3 envy, but just couldn't justify the price. I don't need the high speed because I don't shoot sports. My D700 has served me quite well and I really have no complaints with it. My desire to replace it only stems from the desire of having a full-frame camera that also does video. I have a Nikon D7000 for travel and currently a D5100 in studio for doing video. However, I find that I don't shoot much video with it because what I realized is that the times I want to shoot video is usually while I'm shooting stills. This would mean putting down my D700 and walking over to my D5100 and shooting video. In reality the moment would then be lost that I wanted to capture on video. What I want is one camera that does both. I've been waiting for the D700 replacement (the rumored D800). However, there's one problem with the D800 and that is according to ALL the rumors it will be a 38MP camera! While I'm assuming that Nikon will allow you to "turn down" the megapixel setting to a lesser resolution, it would mean that for me 99.9% of the time I would be shooting at that lower resolution as I have no desire/need to process or house 38MP RAW files. Since the D4 is here (shipping in February) I started looking at it as the answer to my quest.
Let me be the first to say/admit that I DON'T NEED A $6,000 CAMERA BODY! Nope, not on any level. It won't in any way positively affect my photography enough to offset the cost. The rumored D800 will likely be half the price and more in line with the D700 pricing that I'm used to. With that said, I'm going through with it and have ordered a D4 anyway. Another thing besides all the D4 goodness and video capabilities that intrigues me is the New Nikon WT5 Wireless Transmitter. Not only do I have a desire for a full-frame Nikon 1080p video capable DSLR, but I definitely have a strong desire for getting fast wireless tethered shooting! This video really got my attention and it's probably what pushed me over the edge:
Q. Couldn't you just wait and see what the D800 really has to offer and make your decision then?
A. Asking me that question shows you don't really know me. I rarely wait to see what's coming if there is something in front of me that does everything I want.
Q. Will the D4 make you better photographer?
Q. Is video really that important to you?
A. Hmmm… yep.
Q. Are you going to sell your D700
A. Normally that would be the plan, but I've decided at least for now to keep the D700 as my backup body in studio. I may change my mind down the road. However, since I won't have any need for the D5100 anymore my buddy has already called dibs on it.
Q. Don't you get all your gear for free anyway?
A. LOL, you don't really think that do you? Um no! I wish!
Q. You're not even a full-time photographer. Isn't this overkill.
A. Yep and your point?
Q. I thought photography was just your hobby and you do it for fun.
A. It is and I like to have a LOT of fun.
Q. Couldn't you find a better use for that money?
A. Yep. Life is short, might as well get what you want when you can.
Q. I don't really see how you can justify a D4 given that you don't make your living as a photographer.
A. I know, right?
Q. If you couldn't justify a D3 then how can you justify a D4?
A. Good question. The D3 never offered enough features over the D700 that I would use to justify the difference in price. The D4 does against the not yet announced D800.
Q. There's no reasoning with you on this purchase is there?
A. Not really.
Q. Where did you pre-order it from?
I get asked the question "how long have I been doing photography?" all the time. Even though I get this question regularly I have to pause and think about it for a minute because it depends on what the person is referring to. I've always had an interest in taking pictures ever since I was a kid. So do I count my Kodak Instamatic experience complete with flash cubes? Probably not what the person is thinking. I then answer for about 5 to 6 years. Last night I spent some time in Adobe Lightroom 4 Beta and while I don't organize my folders by year, I can certainly see why someone would want to use that method. Instead I organize by the folder for a particular shoot. If I do a shoot with Jane Doe, then that shoot goes into the Jane Doe folder. If I do another shoot with Jane Doe then it goes into the "Jane Doe 2" folder. That has worked well for me as I'm usually looking for a picture of a person, not necessarily a year that I took it. With that said, I was curious to see what photos I took when and since I have one catalog for my "Model" Shoots containing every "edited" picture I've done, I decided to create "Smart" Collections to separate them out by years:
It was really fun taking a trip down memory lane! Some of the photos I looked at and cringed and others I said, "hey that wasn't bad for a beginner." The photo above of Mya was my first "solo" shoot. I say it that way because it wasn't my first shoot ever. I had actually started shooting portraits in 2006, but back then I was merely tagging along on other photographer's shoots. My first shoot ever was along side Scott Kelby. Scott visited me back in 2006 and he had set up a shoot for his upcoming iPod Book at the time (I was technical editor). We rented Andy Greenwell's studio here in Michigan and Andy setup the lights, Scott found the model and I just basically observed and got a shot here and there. The reason that I don't really count that as my first shoot is because I didn't do any of the work. I just pointed my camera and fired after I asked "hey what settings are you using?"
I finally got up enough nerve to try my own portrait session in 2007. My sister recommended that i use Mya (friend of the family) and Mya agreed to let me photograph (experiment with) her. I had no studio, no professional lighting and a consumer grade DSLR. The shoot took place in my living room. I had a Nikon D80, 18-200mm Nikon lens and an SB 600 speedlight. I also used a Westcott pop up background. My SB 600 speedlight was mounted on a stand and shooting through a diffuser. Quite honestly I had no idea of what I was really doing from a settings stand point. I just kept adjusting things until I got a half way decent image. That session showed me that I had a LOT to learn!
In 2008 I decided that I needed a larger space than my living room. So I did a timeshare with other photographers. I also started buying more gear including lighting. According to Lightroom I shot more portraits in 2008 than any other year. This probably due more to being less selective about the number of images I kept vs. doing more shooting.
Between the years of 2009 and 2011 I would say was the timeframe that I learned most of what I know.
Not only did I improve my photography skills and lighting skills, but I also improved my editing skills in post.
I'm always learning from the photographers that I admire. Videos, seminars, books and group shoots are ways that I learn the fastest.
The number one lesson that I can say that I've learned and constantly remind myself of is "Less is more – Only show your best work." This is one that I have to credit Scott Kelby for. He basically beat it into to me and I finally got it. I now limit my galleries to 24 images. If there is a new image that I want to put in, then it has to be better than one of the ones that's already there and it replaces it.
Although I have my own studio now and a few years of shooting under my belt, I'm always learning something new just about every time I pick up my camera. I invite you to go back through your work and feel free to share some links in the comments below. Tell us your experiences over the years and perhaps some of the things you've learned.
There has been a lot of confusion out there in the market about Adobe's plans to move to the cloud "Creative Cloud." The 1st question that I get practically every day is "Will I have to run my Apps in the Cloud or can I just download them and install them as I do today?" The answer is that CS6 will be available as a stand alone installable App just like CS5 and CS5.5 are today. You will NOT have to use Creative Cloud or buy a subscription if you don't want to! Subscription is an alternative method to having a big cash outlay to buy Creative Suite. It's an OPTION (like leasing a car vs. buying one). Even with Subscription you're downloading the Apps and running them on your local machine and not in the cloud. The choice is yours. Now with that out of the way, here is a link to the recent policy changes that spell out upgrade paths for CS3 and CS4 users.
Yes, CS5 and CS5.5 users can upgrade too. It was never an issue for current users to go to CS6.
In this episode of the Adobe Creative Suite Podcast I'll give you a walkthrough of the top new features of Lightroom 4 Public Beta!
Here are some of the top level features of Lightroom 4:
• Robust Video Support
• Manage images by location with the Map Module
• Simplified Basic Adjustments
• Powerful new Shadow & Highlight controls
• Additional local adjustments including Noise Reduction and White Balance
• Soft Proofing Reinvented
• Elegant Photo Book creation
• Email from directly within Lightroom
• Publish videos directly to Facebook or Flickr
• Enhanced DNG workflows
• Adobe Revel (Carousel) export workflow
Download the Public Beta of Lightroom 4 here.
More in-depth info here.
Join Lightroom Product Manager Tom Hogarty for some LIVE Webcasts over at Kelby Training – Schedule Here.
During my Video above I show the NEW Map Module. While it's great to have a GPS attached/built-in directly to your camera or occasionally take smartphone pics to use as reference, it may be more convenient to use GPS Data Logger and then merge the GPX Log File in Lightroom after your shoot. Here's a cool one for iOS:
See more of my Adobe Creative Suite Videos on my Adobe Creative Suite Podcast and get the App here. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App! My iOS App is a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. I also have an Android version:
It's been a while since I did my Nikon GPS Smack Down. Back then I chose the Solmeta N2 as the winner for overall best GPS for Nikon DSLRs. Since that time Solemta has come out with another new model, the N3 and I got a chance to try one out. Like previous model the Solmeta N3 plugs right into your compatible Nikon DSLR and geotags (adds longitude/latitude and heading) your photos as you take them (both JPG and RAW support). However, unlike the previous model you now have to choose between the one for professional DSLRs like the D700, D3, D4, etc. and the prosumer models like the D5100, D7000, etc. The reason you have to choose is because the interface cable is now hardwired in. This has it's advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that the connection is perfectly secure. The N2 allows you to plug in a cable to match your camera, but the connection could easily get damaged if you bumped/hit it the wrong way. The new connection is very well designed. The disadvantage (at least for me) is that if you have multiple camera bodies of different types you'll now need one of each type to go with your camera as opposed to just ordering the additional cable. This will only affect a small percentage of people, but it is a slight step down in convenience for me. Another small but notable cable improvement is that the cable is now coiled instead of being too long or too short. It will be just right for however you attach your GPS (in the hotshoe or on the strap).
This model uses a 3-axis electronic compass like their top of the line model the Geotagger Pro. The N2 uses a 2 axis compass. The first thing that impressed me was how fast it was ready to go. By the time I tuned the camera on and was ready to snap the 1st picture it had already locked on to a satellite and was providing the location info to my Nikon D700. The other big difference is that this model gets its power directly from the camera. The other models have internal batteries that you charge and then only after they run down will it get power from the camera. While having a built-in battery does provide for potentially longer shooting, the N3 is designed to use less power, sleep and take advantage of the Nikon GPS power saving features. I haven't had it long enough to compare battery life, but I did notice that it went to sleep a few seconds after I turned the camera off and was ready almost instantly when I turned the camera back on.
The GPS data shows in Lightroom 3 and allows you to click the arrow/button to take you to that spot on Google Maps.
GPS units work best when used outside, but if you are going in and out of buildings a GPS that only works outside isn't much use to you. The N3 has an Indoor Fixed Mode that will use you last known location to continue tagging photos as you take them inside.
One of the usual concerns pro photographers have is that the model for the pro cameras use the 10 pin terminal port. That port is also often used for cable releases (remotes). While Solmeta does sell a Y splitter cable so that you can use your existing cable release, the also have a port on the side for use with a basic remote too.
I have mixed feelings about this model. I'm happy with the speed and accuracy, but I'm less happy about needing a specific model for your camera. Luckily the N2 and Geotagger Pro are still available as options. Solmeta has positioned the N3 right between the Pro and N2 and it's priced at $189. You can't go wrong with any of these models as they are all solid performers.
In this episode of the Adobe Creative Suite Podcast I'll show you how to create colors that look good together using Illustrator's Color Guide feature.
See more of my Adobe Creative Suite Videos on my Adobe Creative Suite Podcast and get the App here. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App: