Logitech Harmony Link Turns Your Mobile Device Into A Universal Remote

I've been a fan of the Harmony One for some time now. It's actually my favorite off the shelf universal remote. While it's not perfect, it offers the best universal, multiple device experience I've seen to date (aside from the Bose Lifestyle T20 RF remote). Recently I stumbled upon the Harmony Link. This small module connects to your WiFi network and basically serves as an wireless IR repeater to send commands from the Harmony Link App running on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Android device to your audio and video equipment. In essence with the Harmony Link, your mobile device because your touch screen universal remote that does NOT require line of sight.

 

Straightforward setup

The Harmony Link comes with an AC adapter and USB cable. Dont' worry about the USB cable being short because you only need it for the initial setup and you can plug in the Harmony Link to any AC plug near your computer long enough to set it up and then relocate it near your TV when you're done. Since Harmony prides themselves on having a large database of remote codes, you merely need to collect all the Make and Model Numbers of your gear. Then you simply download the Harmony Link setup app on your Mac or PC. The 1st step is to join the Harmony Link to your WiFi network. Then walk through the setup by entering plain English to identify each device you want to control. If there is a device that you have that Logitech doesn't know about, it will prompt you to get the original remote so that you can teach the Harmony Link the commands it needs to know. 

 

The Harmony Link App for iOS

The next step is to grab the App for your mobile platform. I downloaded the Harmony Link App for iOS (see my review here). Once you have the App and your mobile device is on the same network as the Harmony Link module it will see it. Then just log in with the same user name and password that you used during the initial setup.

iTunes

 

How does it work?

Once I got the device setup and the App installed on my iPhone 4s and iPad 2 I took the Harmony Link for a spin. I configured three "activities", "Watch TV", "Watch DVD/BD" and "Watch Apple TV" my only challenge is that my Sony Google TV has the worst input switching implementation ever. Unlike most TVs that either have a direct Input button (ie. HDMI 2) or the ones that simply go "Input Next", mine brings up an on screen menu and while that's not the end of the world, after choosing the Input you have to click "OK". This isn't a standard thing and therefore it threw my Harmony One and of course the Harmony Link for a loop. To make matters worse each time the menu comes up on screen it doesn't highlight the current input, instead it starts at the top. I was able to get it to kinda work but I need to put a call into their tech support to get the best setting.  Outside of my weird Input problem on this one TV, everything else worked perfectly. I was able to easily control my Sony Google TV, TiVo Premiere XL, Sony Blu-ray player and Apple TV. When I done watching tapping a single button on my iPad or iPhone turns everything off. Since this is working via WiFi you don't have to worry about pointing your phone or tablet at your screen (great for turning off the stuff that was left on upstairs or downstairs without having to make the trip. There goes that little bit of exercise you were getting 🙂 ). Also the Harmony Link works in cabinets and has two ports for IR blasters to get to hard to see IR ports. 

 

What could be better?

While the Harmony Link does work as advertised, there is room for improvement. The first thing is that if you have more than one mobile device or other Harmony remotes, those other remotes/mobile devices don't know that your gear is on if you started with a different remote. For example, let's say I turn everything on with my iPhone 4s and then later pick up my iPad. The iPad doesn't know what activity I'm using or which gear is on or off. It would great if each remote/device could read from the Harmony Link to see the current status/activity. Also if you've got any AV gear that uses RF instead of IR you're out of luck. Another drawback in general is that since it's using your phone or tablet this means that it's 100% touch screen and that's not a good thing because it means always having to look at your display to see the button you want to use. On the Harmony one, there are physical buttons that you can use without looking. Lastly can we kill the green LED that's always on?

 

The Bottom Line

I'm one step closer to having the perfect universal remote. I would actually like to see an upgraded Harmony One that allows for the button customizations of the Harmony Link App and offer WiFi connectivity. If you're in Remote Control Hell and you have a smartphone or tablet, then you should take at the Harmony Link.

You can get the Harmony Link for $99.89 here.

What’s In My Studio?

 

 

 

Updated: March 7, 2016

I remember when I first started out in Photography and wanted to get serious about it, I had lots of questions about what to buy? No one wants to make a  large investment in the “wrong gear”. I often get questions from New Photographers or Photographers looking to set up their 1st studio, asking what equipment should they get? That’s a hard question to answer without knowing what you plan on shooting the most, your space and your budget. My primary focus is Portrait – (Beauty, Fashion & Glamour). Rather than trying to address every single situation individually I thought it would be easier to share with you the equipment I use and then you can take it from there. I had a 4,800 sq foot studio space and yes I LOVED IT! If you see something you think you’d like to have in your studio then you can just go ahead and get it.

 

 

Cameras

Nikon D810 DSLR Digital Camera (Body Only) –  – My primary studio camera

Nikon D600 DSLR Camera (Body Only) – My travel Camera and backup body

Nikon WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter – For shooting wirelessly to my iPad or remote triggering from my iPhone.

Meike D600 Battery Grip – I love battery grips when doing portrait or extended location shoots.

Camera Straps

Your DSLR most likely came with a camera strap and in big bold print it advertises the brand and model of your camera. It’s like saying to the world, “hey, I’ve got an expensive camera right here. Come steal it!” I prefer something a little less flashy and more versatile.

Up Strap – I like this one for travel and photo walks as it will NOT slip off your shoulder.

Black Rapid R-Strap – I like this one for photo walks and when I’m using longer lenses, heavier bodies.

OP Tech Super Classic 3/8 – I also like this one for travel.

Point & Shoot Cameras

Canon S95 – My point & shoot primarily used for concerts where DLSRs are prohibited (I’d either get the Nikon Nikon 1 V1 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 10-30mm and 30-110mm Lenses (Black) or Canon PowerShot S100 Digital Camera (Black) now)

iPhone 6 Plus – Yep, I use this one almost as much as my DSLRs because it’s always with me. While the S95/S100 is a better P&S camera, the iPhone is ALWAYS with me. I even created an “iPhone Photography Portfolio” here.

Spiked

Lenses

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Lens My primary lens

Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 – An older lens I got off eBay a few years back. The current Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Autofocus Lens (Black) replaces it.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Zoom Lens – My main travel lens

Nikon Telephoto AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D IF Autofocus Lens  Mine is the older version, today I’d get this version. – I use this mostly in natural or low light situations and portraits

Nikon AF-S Zoom Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF Lens – My wide angle lens mostly used for landscape shoots.

Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8G ED DX Fisheye Nikkor Lens – Mostly used when I travel and do landscape shoots

Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro Lens – I use this for those rare occasions when I shoot closeups on products, hands/nails and jewelry.

Mamiya 72mm Rubber Lens Hood – for my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII Lens.

 

Lighting & Light Modifiers

I use Elinchrom for my strobes and Westcott for my continuous lighting. I use Nikon speedlights for air travel or my Elinchrom Quadra kit for local on location shoots. With each lighting system I use a variety of modifiers. My favorite is the Octa softbox.

2 Elinchrom Digital Style Combo 600RX Two Monolight Kit with EL Skyport (120VAC) – Portrait lighting <- I want 2 more of these

1 Elinchrom Style BX 500 Ri Compact MonoLight (90-260VAC) – Portrait lighting <-but I’ll probably just go with 2 more of these instead since they’re so much cheaper.

1 Elinchrom Midi Octa Light Bank for Flash Softbox

1 Elinchrom 39″ Mini Octa Lite Bank Softbox Softbox for on location shoots

1 Elinchrom 27.5″ Rotalux Deep Octa Softbox – great for quick falloff of light

1 Elinchrom Rotalux Softbox 27 x 27″ (69 x 69 cm) Softbox

1 Elinchrom 17″ White Minisoft Reflector for Elinchrom Beauty Dish and Impact 18″ Diffuser Sock

2 Elinchrom Rotalux Softbox for Flash

1 Lastolite Kickerlite Floor Level Softbox – 3×4′ (91x122cm)

Elinchrom Ranger Quadra Head S Pro Set – For my on location shoots.

Elinchrom Skyport SPEED Transmitter to trigger the Elinchrom strobes

2 Westcott Spiderlite TD6 2 Light Perfect Portrait Kit Deluxe (110V) – For Portrait and Product shots – Continuous Lighting

I still have some Westcott Spiderlite TD5’s that I primarily use for video or backup.

1 Westcott SkyLux – used for portraits, product shots and video shoot

1 Westcott Flex light – 10″x10″ panel

1 Westcott Flex light – 1’x3′ panel

Westcott Ice Light – used for portraits and creative lighting.

1 Westcott Eyelighter – My NEW favorite reflector for portrait work!

1 Lastolite Triflector MkII Kit – White/Silver – used a lot in my portrait work

1 Westcott Shallow Softbox 54 x 72″ (137 x 183 cm)

1 Westcott Shallow Softbox 36 x 48″ (91 x 122 cm)

1 Nikon SB900 Speedlight – For travel (get the Nikon SB-910 AF Speedlight i-TTL Shoe Mount Flash now)

1 Nikon SB800 Speedlight – For travel (get the Nikon SB-700 Speedlight Shoe Mount Flash now)

2 PocketWizard Plus II Transceiver / Radio Slave for the Nikon Speedlights

wpid11853-TLW4651_sm.jpg

1 Westcott Terry White Travel Portrait Lighting Kit <- Yes it’s named after me! Woot!

1 Lastolite Ezybox Hot Shoe Softbox Kit – 24×24″ for Travel <- my old travel kit

1 Westcott Rapid Box 26″ Octa for Travel

1 Zumbrella shoot thru umbrella for Travel

2 sets of ExpoImaging Rogue FlashBender Kit for Travel

2 Matthews 24×36″ Flags

1 Westcott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella (White Diffusion)

1 Westcott Reflector – 48×72″ – Gold, White (white on one side, gold on the other)

1 Lastolite HiLite Illuminated White Background (6 x 7′) – for high-key fashion work. I put the cheapest strobe that I could find in it and set it to slave.

2 Lastolite TriGrip Diffuser, Two Stops – 48″ (1.2m)

A variety of different light stands, but I did invest in a couple of good ones on wheels: Avenger A5033 Folding Base Wheeled Studio Stand

and a great 40″ Boom Arm

 

Tripods

Manfrotto Tripod (mine is discontinued, this one is the closest to what I have – Manfrotto 055CXPRO4 4-Section Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs (Black)) – This one stays in the studio, but I rarely shoot portraits with a tripod.

Gitzo GT1542T Series 1 Traveler 6x Carbon Fiber 4-Section Tripod w/ G-Lock – This is the one that I travel with for landscape shoots/long exposures. It also doubles as my light stand in a pinch.

Manfrotto 131DDB Tripod Accessory Arm for Four Heads (Black) and Gitzo G065 Laptop Platform – Laptop stand/support on the road when shooting tethered.

Kirk BH-1 Ballhead with Quick Release – Supports 50 lbs (22.6kg) – the one I use in studio (Although the Kirk Ballheads are top notch, today I’d probably go with The Really Right Stuff ballheads because most of my friends use these and therefore it would be easier to use a buddy’s tripod that’s standing next to me.)

Kirk BH-3 Ballhead with Quick Release – Supports 15 lbs (6.8kg) – the one I use for travel

iStabilizer Mount for Smartphones – iPhone photography and video work

 RAM-B-121 UN9U iPad mount for my tripod.

Backgrounds

Westcott 5501 Modern Vintage Background (9 x 12′, Onyx) I have all 6 designs, but I use Onyx the most.

Westcott Masterpiece Collapsible Reversible Background – 6×7′ – Black / White

4 Westcott X-Drop Backdrops and Stand

Mist X-Drop Kit, Quarry X-Drop, Saffron X-Drop and Slate X-Drop

My custom scenic backdrops like this one below come from Vision Bedding

wpid9386-KandiceLynn10Egypt-1_sm.jpg

6 Rolls of Savage Seamless Paper  (Fashion Gray, Canary Yellow, Blue, Coral-Pink, Black & Cocoa) Savage Seamless Background Paper (107″ x 12yds, #56 Fashion Gray), Savage Seamless Background Paper (107″ x 12yds, #38 Canary), Savage Seamless Background Paper (107″ x 12yds, #31 Blue Jay), Savage Seamless Background Paper (107″ x 12yds, #3 Coral), Savage Seamless Background Paper (107″ x 12yds, #20 Super Black), Savage Seamless Background Paper (107″ x 12yds, #80 Cocoa)) – these are permanently mounted on the walls of my studio

 

 

Camera Bags

ThinkTank International Airporter – my main on location travel bag

ThinkTank Streetwalker Hard Drive Backpack – my larger backpack for air travel to hold my camera gear and computer gear as a carry-on

Kata R-103 – My smaller backpack when I don’t need to travel with as much gear.

I have a variety of smaller bags, but the 3 above are the ones I use the most.

 

Studio Music System

Music is a very important part of my shoots therefore the sound has to be good (sometimes loud) and able to be heard throughout the building. Therefore I stream the same music to via AirPlay to 4 different speaker systems located throughout the building. I’m using an older MacBook Pro for this task that either plays Pandora Radio or music from my iTunes Library)

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air – speaker in the main studio area

3 Bose Soundocks with AirPort Express Base Stations (1 in the green room, 1 in the reception area and 1 in my office). Now that the iHome iW1 has shipped I would go with 3 of those instead of the Sounddocks if I had it to do over again.

 

Misc. Gear

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 – I couldn’t imagine doing photography without it!

Adobe Photoshop CC for all my retouching and compositing needs.

Long USB Cables for Tethering – When I shoot my D4 I’m usually tethered via Ethernet, but I also use USB tethering on other bodies.

Parrot AR.Drone 2 – for aerial photography/HD Video and behind the scenes shots

HyperDrive ColorSpace – multi-media backup device for backing up memory cards while in the field on those occasions that I don’t have my laptop and my iPad doesn’t have enough room.

NIK Plugins.

3 Apple TV 2 Set-top boxes – My photography is on display throughout the studio both in print and electronically via HDTVs and Apple TVs driving them.

Apple The New iPad 64GB WiFi+4G Verizon – I use it for portfolio display, image review, model releases and variety of other tasks. See how it fits into my workflow here.

Apple 15.4″ MacBook Pro Retina Display Notebook Computer

Dell U2412M 24″ FLAT WIDESCREEN LCD MONITOR – used when I tether and it rotates to either portrait or landscape orientation.

Wacom Cintiq 24HD My main display/tablet for retouching.

Wacom Intuos5 Wireless Digital Tablet

AV Cart on Wheels – My studio tethering setup is on this cart with a long enough extension cord to reach any of my shooting areas.

AirPort Extreme Base Station – this one access point has been amazing as it provides WiFi for the entire building.

2 BlowIt Fans – great because they mount on light stands

Fog Machine – Do I need to explain this? 🙂

Mac Mini Mac OS X Server with a Drobo 5D attached. There’s also a Drobo FS on the network for additional backups of the main Drobo – Network backups for every shoot I do before I leave the building

ExpoImaging 72mm ExpoDisc Digital Warm Balance Filter (Portrait)

Solmeta N3 – GPS for geotagging integrated with my Nikon DSLRs

Trampoline for those high jump shots

Zacuto Z-Finder 3 – Great for shooting DSLR video and keeping things in focus by giving you a great view finder.

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport

Sekonic Light Meter – I rarely use it, but I have one just in case. Today I’d probably buy the Gossen DIGISKY Flash and Ambient Light Meter because it can trigger the Eincrhom strobes

Iron, Ironing board,  & a steamer.

A variety of props and furniture.

 

The Bottom Line

The list above represents equipment that I’ve acquired over the past 4 years. By no means do you “need” all of it, especially if you’re just starting out. Take from it what you will and keep in mind that I didn’t start with it all on day one! That’s the thing about photography, “there’s always something to buy!” No one ever told you to get into photography because it would be a “cheap” hobby! 😉

See more of my photography here.

So What’d You Get?

receivegift

photo compliments of iStockphoto.com

It's that time of year again. My annual "So what'd you get?" I've been reviewing my favorite gadgets, services and photo gear all year long. Now it's your turn! Tell us what you got this holiday season (tech wise) that you're excited about? Use the comments section below. Tell us what it is, why you like it and provide links if you can? Did you get or give anything from my holiday gadget gift guide?

 

Hey! If you got an iDevice as a gift, check out 20 Must Have Apps here.

Continue Reading »

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All My Readers!

I just wanted to take a moment to not only wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season, but also to thank you for all your support and encouragement throughout the year! Looking forward to a great 2012!

May all your tech holiday wishes come true!

 

Terry

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qcmCUsw4EQ

Last Minute Holiday Gift Ideas

Last minute gifts

You forgot _______________. It happens. That relative or friend walks through the door that you totally forgot to get a gift for and you feel bad. Yep, it happens. Personally, I wouldn't sweat it. However, for those of you who do (you know who you are) here are a couple of things you can do to save the day.

First off it may not be too late to get overnight shipping! Be sure to check out my Holiday Gadget Gift Guide here.

 

 

iTunes Printable Gift Certificates

iTunes

When you go to hang up their coat, head to your computer and fire up iTunes. Then go to the iTunes Store and buy a "Printable" gift certificate. You can print it (quietly) on your printer, fold it and stick it in one of those emergency cards that you keep around. Oh yeah, you forgot those too. OK, a handwritten envelope will do. You can then explain to them that with this they can download music, books, movies, apps and more. Whew!

 

Amazon Printable Gift Certificates

amazongiftcert

OK, so the person that just walked in is not into digital entertainment. I get it! No problem. Head over to Amazon.com (here's the link to get you directly to the gift certificates. This way you won't be out of the room any longer than you have to be) and buy a gift certificate and print it out. Now they can go order whatever they want since Amazon sells just about everything.

 

Lastly pride yourself on avoiding the mall 🙂

 

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmast and get back to your guests 🙂

 

 

You might want to avoid shipping those big gadgets anyway 🙂

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhmjJCBQ-cA

My Top 20 Picks for the Photographer On Your Holiday List

While I've already published my massive 2011 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide, I realize that I have quite a few photographers following me here. Therefore, I thought I'd share my Top 20 Picks for Photography Gift Ideas. These are among my favorite and most used products. 

 

 

So here they are in no particular order:

 

Westcott 7' Parabolic Umbrella (White Diffusion)

 

Nikon D7000 DSLR Camera (Body Only)

 

Westcott 5501 Modern Vintage Background (9 x 12', Onyx)

 

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport

 

ExpoImaging Rogue 3-in-1 Honeycomb Grid

 

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Zoom Lens

 

Wacom Intuos4 Digital Tablet (Medium)

 

Nikon SB-700 Speedlight Shoe Mount Flash

 

Nikon SB-910 AF Speedlight i-TTL Shoe Mount Flash

 

Westcott Spiderlite TD6 2 Light Perfect Portrait Kit Deluxe (110V)

 

Elinchrom BX-Ri 500/500 To Go Set – 2 Monolight Kit (90-260VAC)

 

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Software for Mac & Windows

 

Canon EOS 7D SLR Digital Camera (Body Only)

 

Nikon Nikon 1 V1 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 10mm and 10-30mm Lenses (Black)

 

Canon PowerShot S100 Digital Camera (Black)

 

Lastolite EZYBox Softbox – 24 x 24"

 

Lastolite TriFlip 8 in 1 Grip Reflector Kit – 30" (76 cm)

 

Lastolite Kickerlite Floor Level Softbox – 3×4' (91x122cm)

 

Lastolite Triflector MkII Kit – White/Silver

 

ExpoImaging Rogue FlashBender Kit

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTVfFmENgPU

A Rewarding Experience At Help Portrait on Saturday

    

This past Saturday I got to participate in the world-wide Help-Portrait event! Although I knew that Help-Portrait would be worthwhile event to participate in and donate my time, I didn't realize just how special it would be. While it's easy to say we should help the needy, the help usually comes in the form of the basics, food, shelter, etc. Of course food and shelter are MOST IMPORTANT, but there is very little done to replace the other/smaller things that people lose or in some cases would otherwise never have. I saw families that lost EVERYTHING due to the tragedies in their lives. I saw mothers that never had any pictures of their children. 

photo by TV News Reporter/Host/Anchor – Iris Pérez

 

I was thinking about hosting my own Help-Portrait event at my studio, but then I got an email from Miriam Olsen asking if I wanted to participate in their event taking place in Lansing Michigan. I figured since this was my 1st official Help-Portrait event that it would be best to go to one that was already established.

 

Miriam did an EXCELLENT job coordinating all the volunteers and the event went off perfectly. We photographed 196 guests! There were 20 photographers, 62 volunteers, 63 families and over 50 CDs provided in addition to the prints there were done on the spot.

 

It was very rewarding photographing families that were in many cases having their photos professionally captured for the 1st time. Seeing their faces light up when they saw their images and knowing that these photos would be cherished for years to come.

I definitely plan to host my own event next year and I encourage you to host one, participate in one or simply photograph someone in need! I want to also thank Jeremy Cowart for not only coming up with this great idea but also growing it into a world-wide event.

photo by TV News Reporter/Host/Anchor – Iris Pérez

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