Saturday, August 15, 2009

'And I a smiling woman. I am only thirty. And like the cat I have nine times to die. '


Listen.

NB: One of my fist attempts with my new flash bounced off the ceiling. The room was pretty dark with a red tinge because of the red curtains, so I think it worked really well!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It was meant to be all about light

Shame on me, I am 8 months late. Back in December I posted that I wanted to play more with light this year, specifically flashes and studio lighting. It's only now in August that I've purchased my first external flash unit. The Speedlight 430 EXII already looks promising. Just sticking it on auto on my camera has produces some very nice portrait shots, I have to say it does make a lot of difference. As far as the settings on the back go though, am flumoxed, so I bought a book with pictures in it. Eventually I'd like to get a transmitter so I can fire the flash off the camera, and the Blue Peter girl inside me likes the look of these DIY light modifier kits.

First though I'll inspect my picture book! Look out for better lit shots!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

This is not a phone: Photography Applications for the iPhone

The other day I received my shiny new iPhone. The underlying reason for me getting Apple's finest was primarily because my two-year old Nokia N95 had been held together by sellotape for the past six months as the back and battery kept falling out at inappropriate moments and also because I was spending a fortune by being on the internet too much reading emails etc. The iPhone's high contract price was counterbalanced by free web access and there was no clip-on back to fall off! Plus it looked snazzy. I was happy.

But then I came to download a selection of Apps and I discovered that this wasn't really a phone. What it was was another tool I could use to better my photography. The Apple App Store is bulging with photography widgets from filters to create fun photo effects to more serious tools to get your shutter speed spot on. Here's a few I like so far:


Pre-Photoshoot Research

Not a photography app as such but GoogleEarth will easily help you scout locations before a shoot. More specific is FocalWare which promises to be a God-send. It calculates the Sun & Moon location, in relation to due North. This provides an exact means of researching and preparing to photograph a subject with specific lighting or placement of the sun/moon in the scene.

The Photographer's Notebook
Photographers tend to take notes. Often in a small leather bound or occasionally hard backed notebooks recording location data, camera settings used, and other bits and pieces to recreate good shoots or remind of the mistakes made in previous ones. Everytrail (free)is a geotracking application records your movements, takes geotagged photos, to which you can make notes and immediately upload it all to everytrail.com. Originally used as an online tool for travel storytelling, it also offers photographers the chance to take reference photographs, tagged with location data, and record and share the settings that they were taken in. These can all then be plotted on a google map.

Alternatively Photojot is similar to the above but with a nifty sunrise / sunset calculator. It has specific fields to fill in camera settings but doesn't have the sharing facilities as EveryTrail.


Calculators for those complicated things

Can't get your head around manual exposure settings? Use a calculator! ExposureCalc will let you select from a range of different light settings and will give you the different values you need to create a good quality photograph. Photocalc on the other hand is a bit more detailed, providing depth of field (DoF) and hyper-focal distance calculations, exposure reciprocation, and flash exposure calculations. If you want a good all round tool which also tells you when the sun will rise and set then PhotoBuddy is your, er, buddy.

Getting it straight
As in your camera on your tripod (if you are one of those people who don't like to straighten things digitally afterward). Use the iHandy Level Free. It's free, funnily enough.

Photo Editing
If you want to actually use your iPhone as a camera (and it's not a great camera but sometimes it's just easy) you can edit your takes directly on your iphone. There are tonnes of apps for this, but my favorites so far are Tiffen Cool fx, offering nearly 100 different filters which can be applied and saved as “virtual” layers and images are saved out as new files; Lomo and ToyCamera (don't think just shoot); MagicTouch - what it says on the tin, basic retouches such as blemish removal, change eye colour, clone stamp, lighten selective areas etc.

Don't believe you can do much with phone cameras and software. Believe. Check out Tony CeCe's and Greg Schmigel's work, as well as the iPhone Photography Awards.