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Posted in Featured, Photo Stories | 0 comments

Sunrise  – Early Morning Solitude

Sunrise – Early Morning Solitude

Early morning on a campout, before anyone else is up, is a great time for photography.  No interruptions. Just me and my camera.  Many times its me, my camera, and a tripod. In this case, it was me and my camera phone.

This photo was taken on an early spring campout at a local resevoir.  Some of the best sunrises are in the spring, and this one was spectacular.  Nobody was fishing yet, and there was no wind to disturb the surface of the lake.

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Pick of the Week – Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer

Pick of the Week – Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer

The Polaroid name is a blast from the past.  Some of us remember waiting for a photo to develop after it popped out of the camera, giving us the only “instant” photos of the film era.  Now Polaroid has their ZIP mobile printer.  The ZIP is in the same realm as Fuji’s Instax SP-2 Printer.  First, I’ll give you the rundown of the Polaroid offering.  And at the bottom of this article, I’ve got a quick comparison between

Polaroid Instant Print

Now you can get the functionality of Polaroid instant print cameras for your camera phone or any other device. This standalone mobile printer is designed to print color photos from a variety of sources. It features its own rechargeable 500mAh lithium polymer battery. After just 1.5 hours of charging time, it is ready to print 25 sheets before needing another charge. A standard micro-USB port – and included USB to micro-USB cable – means no special (read: expensive) adapters or cables needed. Simply plug it into your computer or a wall outlet (with optional adapter).

ZINK Zero Ink Paper

Forget messy ink cartridges and ribbons. This mobile printer is smart enough to understand that you’ll be taking it on the most outrageous adventures around the globe! That’s why it prints your photos onto ZINK photo paper, which, when subjected to heat from the printer, activates unique color-forming molecules embedded in the paper’s layers. The resulting prints measure 2×3″, feature deep, vibrant colors, are completely smudge-proof, and sport a peel-back sticky paper for even more fun. Your Polaroid ZIP mobile printer ships with 10 premium ZINK sheets; refills can be purchased on Amazon.com.

iOS & Android. Bluetooth & NFC. And more.

Sending your photos to the mobile printer is super easy. Simply connect your iOS or Android smartphones, tablets and other devices over Bluetooth or NFC, and print wirelessly from anywhere within range. Your purchase of the Polaroid ZIP mobile printer also includes a FREE download of the Polaroid ZIP app for iOS and Android devices. With a few finger taps, you can edit your photos before printing. Add emojis, voice recordings, general text, links and a lot more.

Polaroid ZIP

Fuji Instax SP-2

Printer Cost 129.99 195.77
Film Cost 9.99 / 20 sheets 11.49 / 20 sheets
Print Size 2x3 2x3
Battery Rechargable Rechargable
Device Support iOS and Android iOS and Android
Weight 6.6 oz 6.5 oz

 

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Pick of the Week – Kodak Ektra Smartphone

Pick of the Week – Kodak Ektra Smartphone

ektra-camera-ui-mockup_landscape

Kodak Ektra Smartphone

On October 20th (2016), Kodak issued a press release, announcing their new smartphone.  The Kodak Ektra. This device, which seems more camera than phone, seems wonderfully retro.  It has dial controls on the screen for intuitive control of the camera’s features, and sports a number of photo modes for many of your shooting situations.  They are also releasing some interesting accessories (see the photo with the case below) to further enhance that retro style.

From the press release:

At the heart of the KODAK EKTRA Smartphone is a 21-megapixel fast focus camera sensor with f2.0 aperture, and an industry leading 13-megapixel front-facing camera with Phase Detection Kodak Ektra SmartphoneAuto Focus PDAF and f2.2 aperture. The custom built camera app is controlled by an intuitive haptic touch, SLR-style Scene Selection Dial, where adjustments are made in real time via a range of settings including HDR, Landscape, Portrait, Macro, Sport, Night-time, Panorama and Bokeh, alongside a Smart Auto mode which auto-selects the best conditions for your photographs. In Manual mode, more advanced users can adjust exposure, ISO, focus, white balance and shutter speed, with the results being visible on the screen as changes are made.
Kodak Ektra with Case

Kodak Ektra with Optional Case

Kodak Ektra with Optional Case

Here are some of the specifications:

KODAK EKTRA Smartphone key features:

  • ANDROID 6.0 (Marshmallow)
  • Professional results from a 21MP fast focus camera sensor with F2.0, PDAF, OIS, Dual LED Flash
  • 13MP phase detection auto focus front-facing camera with F2.2 PDAF
  • Helio X20 2.3GHz Decacore processor with 3GB RAM
  • 32GB memory, expandable with MicroSD cards
  • Advanced Manual Mode – adjustable on Exposure, ISO, Focal Length (Manual/Auto), White Balance, Shutter Speed, Aperture (fixed f2.0 main camera)
  • Familiar scene selection dial experience – includes scene modes Smart Auto, Portrait, Manual, Sports, Bokeh, Night-time, HDR, Panorama, Macro, Landscape, Film / Video
  • Integrated high quality printing app
  • Super 8 Video Recorder
  • Integrated social media sharing
  • 3000mAh, with USB 3.0 Type C fast charger

The Extra will be priced at £449 when it is released in Europe later this year.  The press release didn’t indicate when it would be released in the U.S, but I was told from the PR person I contacted that it should be sometime in 2017.  This is a camera, which will also let you make a phone call.  And I’m looking forward to getting my hands on one!

 

Learn More and Register for Updates

To find out more visit: www.kodak.com/go/ektra

Register for updates on www.kodakphones.com

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Changing Seasons

Changing Seasons

Summer ends, and then winter sets in.  The cold is not as enjoyable for me as the warm sunny days of summer.  The winter season drastically changes what landscapes are available to photograph.  So autumn is bittersweet.  It is one of the most beautiful times of the year, but it goes by really fast.  There are times however, just when you thing the fall colors are dying away, when mother nature puts on one more show for you.

The leaves have mostly gone from the trees.  A few trees here and there still have some color.  The last color of the season is highlighted with an early morning frost, and a light coating of ice on the trees from the valley fog.  This show is very brief.  As soon as the sun comes out, the frost is gone.  Catch it while you can, and enjoy the fleeting views that mother nature gives us.

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Pick of the Week: Luminar – Macphun’s New Photo Editor

Pick of the Week: Luminar – Macphun’s New Photo Editor

Macphun’s web site describes Luminar with two words, Simplicity and Creativity.  And with the statement: “It’s the most fantastic piece of software we’ve ever created.”

Pre-orders will start on November 2nd, and the release is scheduled for November 17th.  I’ve been using their Aurora HDR software, and if that is any indicator of how valid their Simplicity and Creativity description is, then they may have nailed it.

Luminar sports a user interface that can be changed to support various skill levels and preferences. For those that have had enough with the overload of functionality on the screen of some apps, this will give you just what you normally need.

It supports Filters, Presets, and Workspaces.  35 custom filters are included with it for various looks.  Presets can be created to make that look you want to get on many photos easier to get, with fewer clicks.  And you can share presets with other Luminar users.

You can also share workspaces with other users.  This looks like a quick setup feature, to set up the tools you need for a specific type of job.  Portrait retouching doesn’t always use the same tools and filters as sports photos, or landscapes.  So configure multiple workspaces for your needs.

It also supports RAW files, as any photo editing software should now.

The price is discounted during the preorder period.  Just $59, with an additional $10 discount for current Macphun customers who own any of their other software.  The only downside I can see right now is that Windows users are going to be out in the cold, because like Aurora HDR, this software is only supported on a Mac.  I’m looking forward to getting my copy, and reviewing it here.  Stay tuned!

 

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Take Your Images from “Meh” to “Wowza” With These Basic Compositional Skills

Take Your Images from “Meh” to “Wowza” With These Basic Compositional Skills

Composition and the skills related to creating compelling composition in photographs are something photographers spend a lifetime honing and improving. It is composition that plays a large part in setting one’s own style or signature ‘look’ in photographs and makes an image go from a snapshot to a thought provoking experience. You can spend years journaling, reading and studying composition. But, overall, a photograph with good composition has four basic elements all working together:

  • A clearly defined subject and background
  • Balance
  • A point of view
  • Simplicity

To begin, let’s look an amateur photo I took some years ago. At the time, I thought I was taking a great image. But when we evaluate it according to the standards of composition, it turns out to be nothing more than a mediocre snapshot. Why is this? First, there is no clear subject and background. One could argue that the trees are the subject, or that the building is the subject. Is it the red or green parts of the building?

Busy Photo Example

Example of Busy Composition

For the viewer, the question arises, “What am I supposed to be looking at?” And if this happens, your image has failed. Second, the image is not balanced. It is just one big blob of “stuff” going on. There is virtually no negative space, and no breathing room for the eyes. It’s busy and unfocused. Third, while this image has a point of view (that if a tourist looking upward from the street), it is not an unusual or compelling point of view. It is that which any of us see most of the time on any given day. Had I climbed to the rooftop across the street, or climbed one of the trees and taken a photograph, the point of view would at least be different. Finally, as we have said, this image is not simple. It’s crazy busy.
With a poorly composed photograph as a backdrop, let’s look at a much better one. And as we go through it, I will bring in a couple of other elements that you can be thinking about as you start to intentionally compose your own images. Looking at this image there is no question that the bicycles are the subject and that the sunset is the background. So, right off the bat, this second image is a million times better than the first. Just this simple “detail” is powerful. (This is why sunset images are so popular as nature does a lot of the composing for you!).

Bikes at Sunset

Family fun bikes at sunset.

An additional element that adds interest to the subject is that the bicycles are at opposite angles to one another. The one on the left leads the eye to the darker parts of the image, and the one on the right leads to the brighter parts. By capturing the bikes like this, the eye travels around the image in a natural way. In the Paris image, the eye does not “travel” at all. Instead it rests in one spot like a stunned starfish on the beach; lost and confused.

The sunset image is balanced in at least 2 ways: (1) by the use of light and dark tones and (2) by another object (the rock formation) to the right. The darker tones at the bottom of the image add weight and serve to steady the image. And of you look carefully, you will notice that some vignetting has either been applied around the edges in post-production, or as a result of the lens (some lenses have a bit of a fall off that can be a good thing). The small peninsula to the right that is just a smidge higher than the bike wheels offers balance so that the ‘weight’ of the bikes does not overpower the image. Although, even if this image did not have the rocks, but instead continued on with negative space, it still would work as a well composed image because the image is further balanced by tonal contrast.

The point of view of this image is subtlety different. It is not exactly from the bikes’ perspective, but it is not from the usual height of your average adult either. It looks like the photographer either knelt down or placed the camera on a tripod about 3-4 feet high. The result is a point of view that not commonly seen. This makes the viewer spend more ‘time’ on the image and makes the photograph more interesting. The other strong element in this image is that it has a clear foreground, middle ground (the ocean) and background (the horizon). Landscape images tend to offer this for you naturally, but this can be created by creative application of aperture, particularly with a prime lens.

The simplicity of this sunset image is obvious; two bikes overlooking the beach. With not much else going on, it allows the mind of the viewer to begin to create a story for the image. Why are the bikes there? Whose are they? And so on. The large sky is essentially good use of negative space. Negative space is one of those “issues” in photography. Some say not to have too much, others have mostly negative space in their images. But an image, like the Paris one above, with no negative space is unlikely to work.

Making images that contain strong compositional elements is mostly a matter of awareness. Take your time and try to address these 4 basics, and you will see a major improvement in your images.

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