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Photograph vs. Snapshot

The definition of Snapshot:

  • An informal photograph taken quickly, typically with a small hand-held camera. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/snapshot
  • A snapshot is popularly defined as a photograph that is "shot" spontaneously and quickly, most often without artistic or journalistic intent. Snapshots are commonly considered to be technically "imperfect" or amateurish—out of focus or poorly framed or composed. Common snapshot subjects include the events of everyday life, such as birthday parties and other celebrations; sunsets; children playing; group photos; pets; tourist attractions and the like.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snapshot_%28photography%29

The definition of Photograph:

  • A picture produced by photography.
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/photograph?s=t
  • A photograph (often shortened to photo) is an image created by light falling on a light-sensitive surface, usually photographic film or an electronic imager such as a CCD or a CMOS chip. Most photographs are created using a camera, which uses a lens to focus the scene’s visible wavelengths of light into a reproduction of what the human eye would see. The process and practice of creating photographs is called photography. The word "photograph" was coined in 1839 by Sir John Herschel and is based on the Greek φῶς (phos), meaning "light", and γραφή (graphê), meaning "drawing, writing", together meaning "drawing with light".
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photograph

Strange, I must be taking a lot of snapshots but wait snapshots are photographs right?
As a photographers we must think about what we say before we say it and remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A “snapshot” may be more sentimental then a so called professional photograph. In my opinion, we can not degrade a person’s work and “snapshot” seems to be, in this context, really degrading even arrogant. We should cultivate a spirit of sharing and teaching. What does a professional photograph (or photographer for that matter) mean anyways?

If you are wandering why I wrote this? Just an incident that happened not so long ago, I was present not involved but it got me thinking on how I criticise other’s photographs and photographers, I am hoping I never come across as anything else than helpful and encouraging.

VW POLO 1,6 TDI 10000km later the good, the bad and the ugly

VW POLO 1.6 TDI

It’s been 10,000 Km, nearly 5 months and a few dents, the VW POLO 1,6 TDI still impresses every day. I still have 5,000km to go to the 1st service though and I will report on that too in due time.

The car’s 6,2 L/100km average consumption is a bonus that cannot be ignored, most of which is done in relatively heavy traffic. To give you an idea on the traffic I face every day, it is mostly highway and my 84km daily commute of which 60% is done at 80km/h average and the rest at 20km/h when I am lucky.

Considering my daily commute, I am doing it in relative comfort, the driving position, thanks to both the height and reach steering wheel as well as the height and distance adjustable seat, is very good. The semi-automatic air conditioner works well too, though I tend to forget it’s not automatic and end up freezing my feet. One of the best things of my daily commute is the radio, a Caska Multimedia system, I walk in, fire up the Bluetooth streaming and voila I am listening to my favorite podcast or an audio book. It helps to ease the near 1 hour drive.

The panoramic sunroof is great at speeds bellow 80Km/h, above that and in traffic I keep it tilted up, leaving it open is just too noisy.

The good:

  • Nimble in traffic and in town
  • Fuel consumption
  • Comfort
  • Cruise control
  • Speed warning
  • Hold hill assists
  • The boot open remote
  • Traction control
  • Holds the road like if it was supper glued to it
  • Torque, torque and torque

The bad:

  • The dashboard windscreen reflections
  • The chrome ventilation reflection on the side windows
  • No automatic headlights
  • No automatic wipers
  • No automatic air conditioner
  • Speedometer more than 10% out, then again it avoids speeding tickets.

The ugly:

  • The remote central locking, I cannot get used to it
  • Onboard computer gets the average consumption completely wrong

 

Shooting Pilates, Yoga and similar sports

Pilates shooting from the mat. Marsha Forbes and Gregory Hart.

We cannot call  Pilates or Yoga a fast sport, which in itself is a good thing, it gives you the time to get the “shot”. But how do you go about shooting such a sport in an uncontrolled environment? This is a rare sport that can be shot in a photography studio but what if you are commissioned to shoot a workshop in a relatively small, dark room, full of distractions and the client ordered me to be as unobtrusive as possible? Have you ever hear of an unobtrusive photographer?

The first answer lays in the light, as always with photography. Let me elaborate, on camera flash in closed quarters creates harsh light, even with a diffuser. This is something you definitively want to avoid at all costs, so the answer is to diffuse big lights. The room we were using was to large for small diffused flashes, at least mine would not cut it in these conditions. So I took two 300W strobes along, strategically positioned them in the room to have a “sunlight” effect, as in light coming down casting a shadow on the mat, pointing them at the ceiling, now I was lucky that the ceiling was white. They where about 30 cm away and the ceiling made for a rather pleasant diffuser. Originally I used my remote RF trigger, however the light was no good, it was time for plan B… Off came the RF trigger and on came my small flash set at –2EV, to give it a horizontal light. This resulted in good lighting conditions, there were still some shadows on the walls but not as disruptive, I was relatively happy with the results.

Small room, 1.6x cropped camera and being unobtrusive are not synonymous of each other, I am sure you would agree. With the light issue out of the way, the lens issue came. Most photographers will tell you, use a 24-70mm or a 50mm lens for this type of shoot. Let us do some math, room size is about 4mx5m I have bodies everywhere and I have an effective 38-112mm or 80mm, I can tell you that with these lenses you will not get a full body shot. The funny part is I have not used a “portrait” lens to do portraiture in years. I use my trusty 16-35mm (25.6-56mm effective), it’s a wide lens but you can manage it’s distortion if you know it well. Mind you, it does fall in the 24-70mm category.

Shooting such an event is a physical challenge, it all happens low on the mat and that is where you need to shoot, from low on the mat, any less would look wrong. You need to be fit and even if you are you will feel it the next morning. I know I did.

Last issue at hand… Being unobtrusive, well to tell the truth, I was not, I just did my best not to walk on anybody, nobody seem to mind. A tip: Introduce yourself and tell people to ignore you, it generally works great for me.

Photographs published under authorization from Alchemy Health and Fitness Centre, Northcliff.

Living with an Eye-Fi SD Card

Eye-Fi_Pro_X2

Imagine a world where your studio has a large screen and as you shoot the photos are displayed on it, no wires, no heavy grips that drain your camera, just pure freedom of movement. Imagine being on the road and as you shoot you are able to get all these photos on you tablet or phone and upload them to a remote location or edit for immediate sending? Imagine all of this and then add automated geo-tagging and a set of your photos on your camera’s card too.

What if I told you all of this is possible today! What if I told you it’s not that expensive either? Let’s have a look at the Eye-Fi SD Cards in this case the Pro X2.

The installation is relatively easy as long as there is no firewall, Windows 7 will ask you to open the required ports. The software itself is no as intuitive as I would expect it to be but not overly complicated either. I was up and running in about 10 minutes using my laptop as my download station.

Using my laptop: The first thing you will notice is the “lag” between the time you take a photo and the download gets completed. I initially thought something was not working. It transfers both RAW and JPEG with out issues, you just need to be patient.
The Windows software, Eye-Fi Centre, feel a bit like an afterthought, it does the job of getting the photos and configuring the card. Don’t expect more. 

Eye-Fi Center Windows Application

Using my iPad: This was a little more complicated, you’ll need to set the card to “Direct Mode” for that it needs to go back into the laptop’s SD card reader and you will need to install the “receiving” software on your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch and “pair” you card. I had to fiddle a bit to get it to work. My iPad and iPhone did not pick up the Wi-Fi signal of the card. Once it did life was easier though I had to remind my phone about the card a couple of times.
Here is a tip: In the settings on your mobile iOS device, set it to upload on Wi-Fi only! i say that because by default it uses 3G too, I got caught out, here comes the bill.

The good news is the application, at least in the case of the iOS version, gives immediate access to the photos to the “Camera Roll” and “Photo Stream”, this makes it available to most Photo app like iPhoto for iOS, PSTouch for iOS and Android, Snapseed for iOS and Android and Photogene for iOS to mention a few.

I have not tested the automated uploads to and FTP or sharing site, nor have I tested it with video but my experience has not been bad. I will be stretching it a bit on my next photowalk, let see if it’s going to work. I intend to shoot, edit and share during the walk. We will see if this really works.

The good:

  • The technology works
  • Highly configurable
  • SD cards are common in consumer cameras.
  • The optional online backup for only 7 days after the date of upload, premium service cost $49.99 per year adds a few features such as full resolution and unlimited storage for an unlimited time.

The weird:

  • I get an email each time an upload is completed.

The bad:

  • The user interface in both the iOS App and Windows App are a little clumsy
  • The card does not have a stay alive mode and disconnects easily to it’s tethered device causing the tethered device to get confused a times.
  • Slow synchronisation

The ugly

  • Once the initial configuration is made why can’t the configuration be made over Wi-Fi?
  • My Canon EOS 7D does not have an SD slot, there is good excuse to get me a Canon EOS 5D MkIII.

The card has a few other features but I personally will never use most of them nor will most people that would use these cards, one that may come in handy though is the “Endless Memory” feature that allows you to use the card as a buffer.

I’ll tell more of my experiences in a follow up post.

Geotagging Workflow

My geotagging workflow has changed dramatically for my initial post in October 2009, I now only use my iPhone with the Trails app and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4. And it all makes it so easy.

First and foremost, synchronize your camera time with your phone, this is relatively important for the geotagging process to happen correctly. Second, don’t (as it happened to me) forget to start Trails before you embark on your photography journey. I found that on long journeys, 6 hours plus, I needed to recharge my iPhone so I keep it charging whilst in my car.

There are 2 versions of Trails on iTunes, the free but limited Trails Lite GPS Tracker and the paid Trails GPS Tracker, I use the later.

Here are some screenshots from Trails:

038
041
039
 
Trails supplies me with both a GPX (Standard GPS tracking) and a KML (Google Earth) file the later is nice to show a photowalk trail on the web like I did here. The only issue I have with trails is the way to get those files from the iPhone, I need to send them by mail. I may despise iTunes but at least allow me to pull it off as I do other apps, in particular when it is a large file (my record is 8 hours).
 
Once I have the GPX file, I store it in the same folder as my photos to avoid loosing it and open Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4, LR 4 has a new function called “Map”. Import your photos, select all those you want to geotag, click on Map, locate the squiggly icon (GPS Tracklogs) at the bottom next to the lock click on it, select “Load Tracklog…”, locate your GPX file, open and apply. That is all there is to it. you will need internet access to see the Google maps.
 
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Screenshot
Adobe Lightroom 4 Map Screenshoot

You can see a few orange markers these are the newly geotagged photographs, you will need to save the photographs for the tagging to be written to the EXIF data. Also in blue (not shown here) will be the trail.

Happy geotagging