I Love LightDims

You might remember my rant from a few weeks back on the unnecessary LEDs on many consumer electronics that keep me up at night. While some of these devices allow you to turn off their annoying LEDs, there are many more that do not! In the past I've used everything from electrical tape to gaffer's tape to cover up these LEDs. While an inexpensive tape solution certainly gets the job done there are two problems with it. The first is that black tape doesn't look great over your expensive gear. The second is that sometimes you do actually need to see these status lights. For example, I have tape over the VERY BRIGHT LED on my AirPort Express. However, if I plug it into a connection in a hotel room I sometimes need to see the status light to see what's going on. Yep, I've just been peeling back the tape to take a peek. 

 

LightDims are better

When I wrote my rant, one of my readers chimed and suggested that I take a look at LightDims. I did. I ordered both versions. These "stickers" come in two flavors. You can get the set that simply cut down on the brightness, effectively dimming the LEDs or you can get the total blackout set. There are situations where I would want to use one or the other. 

I gotta say it. I'm in love with these! I've replaced the unsightly tape on most of my gear and used the nicely precut LightDims instead. They really work! My bedroom is now completely dark at night just the way I like it.

You can order LightDims here starting at $5.99 for a set of 100!

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LIVE: Ask a CS Evangelist – again

 

Join me, Jason Levine (Video Evangelist), Greg Rewis (Web Evangelist) and Paul Trani (Flash Evangelist) for a another LIVE Creative Suite Q&A session Today!

We will show our Top 10 Favorite Features of Adobe Creative Suite 5 and 5.5

Date: Today, Thursday, April 28, 2011

Time: 11:30 AM EDT (GMT-4)

Where: Online in our Connect Room

Cost: Free

Registration: Here

Will there be demos?: Yep

Will there be prizes?: Yes!

What questions can I ask?: Pretty much anything you want, but let's keep it Creative Suite related 🙂

Lessons Learned on The Flash Bus Tour

I had the great pleasure of attending the Flash Bus Tour put on by none other than Joe McNally and David Hobby aka The Strobist. I couldn't pass up an opportunity to learn from these "flash" experts! The day was packed with different lighting setups and live examples.

 

         

David Hobby almost never wears long pants 🙂

 

David Hobby took the morning and started off by deconstructing a couple of his recent shots.

 

Joe McNally aka Numnuts

Joe McNally took the afternoon and showed how much POWER there is in shooting with speed lights. Drew, I think it's a little close 😉

So that's how they do that Justin Bieber look!

 

Amazing what you can do with 3 Nikon Speedlights and shooting in TTL.

 

Audience participation

 

Great Q&A at the end.

 

My take-aways

 

While I own 3 speedlights, I always looked at them as the lights I would use when I travel and don't have the ability to take my "big lights". However, after watching Joe and David I'm really starting to think about using my speedlights more often. As a matter of fact in a recent shoot I did, I decided to use a Nikon SB 900 to augment my natural light setup. I'm having a blast with the possibilities and want to thank Joe and David for not only putting on a great show, but also for bringing the tour to Michigan!

Stuff we mentioned Live on The Grid yesterday

photo by Brad Moore

First off I want to thank everyone that participated online in yesterday's The Grid LIVE show! The response was amazing! We mentioned quite a few products yesterday and I've gotten questions from people as to what they where so here's my list:

 

FlilterStorm Pro

The App that Scott showed that gives you Photoshop Like editing capabilities on your iPad

Get it here from the iTunes

 

The Eye-Fi Pro X2 Card (the one that handles RAW)

Get it here for $92.99 (was $149)

The Eye-Fi Mobile X2 Card (the cheaper one that doesn't do RAW)

Get it here for $79.99

 

 

The Nikon 4T-4A Wireless Transmitter

The one that looked like a walkie-talkie (or C4 detonator) that has the 500 foot range and was used during the Olympics.

Get it here for $699

 

The Cameras I Used

Nikon D7000 (the body with TWO SD Card Slots)

Nikon D700 (Full frame DSLR with CF Card Slot)

 

 

Shuttersnitch

The App that Terry was using on the iPad to import images wirelessly as he was shooting with either the Eye-Fi card or the Nikon WT-4a

See my review here

Get it from the iTunes

 

 

The FREE Eye-Fi App for both iOS and Android

Although I prefer Shuttersnitch, the Eye-Fi App is FREE and does import your shots

See my review here

Get it from the iTunes

Get it here for Android

 

 

 

The NEW Photosmith App (Lightroom features on the iPad)

This is the App that Scott mentioned that will let you rate, sort, manage Collections, add metadata to images on your iPad and then SYNC via WiFi back to your Lightroom Catalog on your computer!

Just came out Today! Get it here from the iTunes

 

Catch the replay

If you missed yesterday's LIVE broadcast you'll be able to catch the replay that should be posted later today on the site as well as on iTunes as a downloadable podcast to watch offline here:

The Grid

Terry White Live on “The Grid” TODAY!

Hey guys, today I'll be LIVE on The Grid at 12 Noon EDT (GMT -4). We have a couple of fun topics to discuss and I'm really looking forward to it. Be sure to tune in LIVE if you can!

Check it out here

Eye-Fi Enables Direct Mode and Releases Mobile Apps

 

I’m liking Eye-Fi on a whole new level these days. This company and their products  have come a long way since I tested/reviewed the first card back in 2007. They’ve delivered on their promise to enable Direct Mode transfers from their X2 cards and they’ve released Mobile Apps for both iOS and Android platforms. This is great news for photographers as it gives you a way to shoot wirelessly from your camera to your tablet device or even your smartphone. Although I was quite content with the testing I had done thus far with the Pro X2 card going through my MiFi mobile hotspot, I’m even happier that I wont need it (the MiFi) anymore to shoot to my iPad 2.

Upgrade your Firmware

The first thing you’ll need to do is download the new Eye-Fi Center Application from their site and upgrade the Firmware of your Eye-Fi X2 card. I and others had problems doing the upgrade as it would immediately fail no matter what. The work around seems to be delete your existing Eye-Fi account (back up your photos first of course) and then create a new account and you should then be able to successfully upgrade your card.

 

Enable Direct Mode on your Card

Once your firmware is up to date you should then be able to Enable Direct Mode on your X2 card. You will see the SSID (network name) of the card as well as the password for the card’s network. To save time you can turn on Direct Mode while the card is in your computer and then connect your devices to its network. This is what I did with my iPad 2 to enable me to easily see the password while I was keying it in on the iPad.

 

Download their App

If you have an iOS or Android device you can download their FREE App for your device and log into your Eye-Fi Account. Once you log in you can then enable your card to transfer to the App directly.

 

A Tip

By default your images will just import and show in the grid. I want to see my images full screen and have them auto advance as i shoot. This is not really called out in the preferences. However if you go to Application Preferences and turn on “Full Screen”, your images will not only go to full screen as they come in, but they will also auto advance! YAY!

 

See more about the Eye-Fi App

I did a more complete review of the Eye-Fi App here.

 

How fast is it?

In my testing I used my Nikon D7000 (a 16.2 MP Camera) and I used the first card slot to shoot RAW to my regular 16GB SD card and I put the Eye-Fi Mobile X2 card in the second slot. I set the camera to shoot BASIC JPG to the second slot. This means that it’s transferring a 16.2 MP Basic JPG image to the iPad.

See the speed for yourself here:

 

The Bottom Line

Before you can say it, yes I wish there was a Compact Flash option (adapters aren’t supported with the X2 cards). However, if you’ve got a camera that shoots to an SD card, this solution totally rocks! If you got a camera with two card slots, then it gets even better as you’ll be able to shoot RAW to one card and your smallest JPG to the Eye-Fi card. I’m loving my D7000 even more now!

You can get the NEW 8GB Eye-Fi Mobile X2 Card here for $79

You can get the 8GB Pro X2 Card (which handles RAW) NEW LOWER PRICE here for $99

You can get the Nikon D7000 here 🙂

You can get the FREE Eye-Fi iOS App here: Eye-Fi - Eye-Fi

You can get the FREE Eye-Fi Android App here

If you want MORE OPTIONS check out the Shuttersnitch App here. Yes it works with Direct Mode too!

LIVE: “Ask a CS Evangelist” Session Today!

 

Join me, Jason Levine (Video Evangelist), Greg Rewis (Web Evangelist) and Paul Trani (Flash Evangelist) for a LIVE Creative Suite Q&A session Today!

Date: Today, Thursday, April 21, 2011

Time: 3:00 PM EDT (GMT-4)

Where: Online in our Connect Room

Cost: Free

Registration: Here

Will there be demos?: Yep

Will there be prizes?: Yes!

What questions can I ask?: Pretty much anything you want, but let's keep it Creative Suite related 🙂

 

Triple Your MiFi Battery Life

I love my MiFi 3G hotspot! I use it all the time. The only thing that can be a bit of a drag is when it runs out of battery power. If I’m near an outlet I can just plug in the supplied USB adapter and run it all day. However, if I’m in a seminar or other setting where I don’t have immediate access to an outlet the battery can only last about 4 hours tops. That all changed when I “super sized” my MiFi Battery.

A 3300 mAh Extended Battery Lasts me all Day!

As long as I have a good 3G signal, my MiFi will now last me all day with this battery. It’s designed to replace the stock battery and battery cover. This way it charges internally and as far as your MiFi is concerned it doesn’t see any difference. The good folks over at The 3G Store sell both Verizon MiFi 2200 and Novatel GSM MiFi 2352/2372 Extended Batteries for $90.

Yes it makes the MiFi about twice as thick, but it’s worth it if you need to be mobile and connected for several hours throughout the day.

By the way, you can get an unlocked MiFi GSM 2372 Mobile Hotspot here On Sale for $226.

Thanks David for Turning Me On To The X-rite ColorChecker Passport

I was walking the Photoshop World show floor with Jason Lykins and he asked me “do you use one of those?” We had just passed by an X-rite ColorChecker Passport on display and I said “nah.”  Although I’m sure I’ve seen this product in passing before as well as magazine ads for it, I never paid any attention to it because I thought it was just another color chart.  Man was I wrong! Fellow photographer, Photoshop World Instructor and good friend David Cuerdon was in the break room and it just so happened that he had one and said “you want to see a demo?” (this is what we do in our spare time). I thought, yeah sure. The missing piece for me that this thing integrates directly into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. He showed me how it works and I didn’t even let him finish talking. I got up, went back to the show floor and bought one on the spot.

 

The problem with RAW files

I shoot in RAW probably 99% of the time. While I’m quite comfortable achieving the end result that I want, it can be a challenge while shooting tethered and having the model/client seeing the images as you take them. If you’ve ever noticed this, as your image come in you see a great looking shot for a split second and then you see one that’s not as “colorful”. For that split second you were seeing the JPG preview. That’s the one where your camera made decisions for you on color, sharpness, etc. You can achieve these results by either manually tweaking a color profile in Lightroom or picking one of the default ones to more closely mimic the JPG preview. There’s even a better way!

 

This is where the ColorChecker Passport comes in

Take one shot under the same lighting conditions that you plan to do the rest of the shoot in with your subject holding the ColorChecker Passport (or simply place it in the shot). Bring that one shot into Lightroom and Export it to the ColorChecker Passport Lightroom Module. It will automatically and in the background process the RAW file (after it converts it to .DNG) and upon successful processing it will create a Custom Color Profile for you to use in Lightroom. Although it even automatically installs this Profile you’ll need to relaunch Lightroom before Lightroom sees it. Once Lightroom offers the profile as a choice you can then choose that Profile for this shot. Once you have the Profile chosen  you can then save it as a Develop Preset. Now that you have this perfect preset, you can use it to AUTOMATICALLY ADJUST ALL INCOMING SHOTS whether you’re shooting tethered or just importing from a card.

The card even has White Balance Squares for both Portraits and Landscapes. Rather than just giving you Neutral White Balance you can (optionally) adjust to warmer or cooler by just clicking on the next square in the row. You can also add it to the Develop Preset to auto adjust as you bring the shots in.

 

See it in action here:

 

The software brilliantly identifies the color swatches AUTOMATICALLY and adjusts for what they should be as they are known values:

 

The Bottom Line

My life just got a little easier with this great tool! It’s now a part of my ever evolving workflow.

You can get the ColorChecker Passport for $99 here from Amazon or here from B&H Photo.