Thursday, July 28, 2011

The illusive iPad

illusive iPad

I've been receiving a lot of e-mails about the gear I use when shooting "On Location", such as:
  • What's your "fave" lens?
  • What camera do you like?
  • Which light modifier do you like?
  • How many lights do you use?
  • What kind of flashes do you use?
On and on and on, but there really isn't one answer because each question begs another question.  However, I can say that one of my "must have" tools is the iPad with the Camera Connection Kit.

Drew iPad

Last Christmas, as a present, Drew and Teresa bought me the iPad with built-in 3G and the Camera Connection Kit.  I played with the iPad when it was released in April of 2010, but was planning to wait for the Motorola Xoom, since I'm not an Apple Fanboy.  However, after having it for six months, I can't imagine not having it in my backpack.  It's small, lightweight, has excellent battery life compared to a laptop and can access the internet a majority of the time.  I brought it along on our Hawaii vacation, which allowed me to keep my family and friends abreast of our adventures.

Like any chip-based device, software applications dictate utility. So what are my favorite Photography Apps for the iPad?  Well, I must've downloaded a bunch of free apps and paid up to $4.99 for others, but I've pared it down to these apps:

Easy Release: A Release Form for Models and Property.  You can fill it out on the iPad , insert a sample image from the shoot and have the Model sign the form.  Once everything is done, you can generate a PDF and e-mail it to anyone.

 LightTrac: Excellent for determining the path of the sun from Sunrise to Sunset from anywhere.  AS I mentioned in my Hawaii Vacation post, I used LightTrac to determine when I needed to wake-up and capture a Hawaiian Sunrise.

Snapseed: Photo Editing software by NIK Software.  I'm biased since I use NIK Software's Capture NX2 and Color eFex Pro 3.0 for all my photo editing on my computer and laptop.  This has to be my Favorite app for the iPad by far.  It uses the same kind of "select" points for creating masks as Capture NX2.  This is what the app's User Interface (UI) looks like:

The first screen, above, is the initial page where you can access editing tools, but the real powerful tool is the Selective Adjust.  You can add a point anywhere, increase/decrease the size and the change the Brightness, Contrast and Saturation.  On the image below, I added a Control Point on Darnah's hair and bumped up the brightness.

The next image, below, allows you to add some pretty cool filters.  This image of Darnah was completely edited using Snapseed.

Once you are finished, you can print it, upload it to FLICKR, or Facebook, or e-mail it.

Flickr Studio: This app access my FLICKR account and let's me view photos from my photostream, my contacts, and FLICKR's Interestingness page.  What I like is the "batch" function for uploading photos when the Internet is not available.  I can also batch tag, resize my images, and reorganize them via this app.

Epson iPrint: I purchased an EPSON Artisan 800 Photo printer, with Wi-Fi, last year to print small images ( 4x6 and 5x7).  The EPSON iPrint app lets me print any photo, or web page from my iPad to the Artisan over my Wi-Fi network at home.

Impression: Watermarks, something I forget to do when posting my images on the web.  I find logos distracting regardless of how discrete or well-designed.  The app is very easy to use and comes with a decent array of fonts to use.

Earlier in this post I mentioned that I was waiting to purchase a Motorola Xoom.  Well, we purchased one at work and as soon as I compared it to the image quality of the iPad, the iPad won hands down.  Aside from using the iPad as an ePort of my pictures, it allows me to review images during a shoot.  Whenever Rob and I shoot together, you can bet that after the shoot, while waiting for our food, we'll be downloading our images to our iPads, editing them and posting.  It's the perfect tool for the "Virtual" Generation.

I have a shoot coming up July 31, so what will I take?  I can tell you without a doubt, my iPad!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hawaii Five-O Yeah!!!

It has been 10 years since we went to Maui, and at that time C.J. was 15 and Drew was 6.  The boys remember the trip, but we really didn't do any sightseeing.  So for this trip I decided we would go to Oahu and have the full "tourist" experience.

Usually Teresa, Drew and I vacation, but this year I invited my son C.J. and his girlfriend to join us.  I booked the trip from Saturday to Friday.  Why Friday?  Well if you live in Southern California then you know about Carmageddon.

SATURDAY: We arrived at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort and Spa around 9:30 PM.  That doesn't sound late, but Hawaii is three hours behind Pacific Daylight Time.  Teresa upgraded our room and this is the view we had from the 30th floor. Drew was so excited to be in Hawaii that we went down to the beach and for a quick dip at 10:30 PM.  It was a little colder than we expected, but nonetheless it was still warm enough.

SUNDAY: We didn't have any plans for Sunday, except to explore the Resort and book some tours.  The one thing I really love about Hawaii are the clouds, and the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets.  I woke-up at 5:00 AM, pulled out my iPad and opened the LightTrac app.  LightTrac shows you the path of the sun from sunrise to sunset and the approximate times. Yes, this is another shot from our room, but this time at sunrise.  Part of Sunday was spent taking pictures around the resort exploring the many pools and lagoon, and walking to the International Marketplace.  Drew found some cool Oakley sunglasses that he purchased with his own money.

Back track -- I really didn't want to lug around my D700 and lenses, so I opted for my Olympus PEN e-PL1 and three lenses.  Also, I decided I would bring along my Nikon SB-900 speedlight, Manfrotto Nano stand, Pocket Wizards and a collapsible 43" Westcott Umbrella for a few family portraits.  All the lighting gear fit neatly in my luggage.

  Here are a few pictures taken using the lighting gear:

MONDAY: Teresa and I got up early and went for our morning stroll to the on-site Starbucks.  On the way back to the room it started raining and I managed to snap this picture with my iPhone.  It makes sense that people refer to Hawaii as the Rainbow State and that the University of Hawaii athletes are known as the Rainbows.  We must've seen at least 4 - 5 rainbows while we were there.

That evening we attended The Waikiki Starlight Luau at the resort, I brought my 40mm - 150mm lens to see if I could get some photos of the dancers.  the lighting was harsh and as the sun fell, I had to keep bumping up the ISO.  I finally switched the ISO to Auto mode, so these two images of the dancers were shot at 1600 ISO, but the Noise doesn't seem to bad.

TUESDAY: Teresa and I got up early for our 6:00 AM departure for the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Missouri and the Punchbowl Cemetery Tour while the kids went to a local Water Park to see kids closer to their ages.  LOL.  It's hard to imagine what the atmosphere was like December 7, 1941 amid all the chaos.

WEDNESDAY:  Was Drew and Dad day.  We signed up for the North Shore Shark Cage Tour, which is on the Northern side of the island.  We were up and out by 7:30 AM for our 9:00 AM encounter with SHARKS!!!  The pictures from our tour were taken with a disposable waterproof camera, specifically a Fuji 800 ISO 35mm camera.  I haven't used one of these in ages and didn't know what the field of view  was like.  Also, were weren't supposed to stick our cameras outside of the cage along with any body parts.

The weather was warm, the seas were deep cobalt blue, the swells were relatively small and the sharks were plentiful.  The tour guides had a great time joking with us tourists.  As we approached the cage, there were lots of sharks swimming around the boat.  The captain stopped the boat and the First Mate said, "Okay, were stopping here and it's a 50 foot swim from the boat to cage.  Who wants to go first?"

There were 15 of us and they split us into three groups, each group had about 20 minutes of time in the cage.  We also purchased the video of our experience.  It was a fun and exhilarating experience, and for those wondering what type of sharks we encountered, they were Galapagos and Sandbar.

THURSDAY: Our last full day and we decided to end with the LOST Tour.  That's right, a tour of the locales used filming the TV Series LOST.  It also included locations used for 50 First Dates, Godzilla, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Five-O and other movies and shows that used a tropical island as a backdrop.  We opted for the 5 hour tour, but they also have an 8 and 10 hour tour that takes you to some of the sets.  Apparently we were the only three signed up for the 5 hour tour and got to ride in a HUMMER 2, our own tour.  It was a beautiful drive, full of landscapes and seascapes.  A majority of LOST was filmed on a private ranch, so there wasn't a lot of people wandering around.

FRIDAY: Departure day - We left the hotel at 4:00 AM to catch our 6:45 AM flight back to the Mainland.  Everyone had a great time, even Drew. 

One of the main differences between our first trip to Hawaii and this trip was my photography.  I don't recall taking many pictures on that vacation, but on this vacation, we'll have plenty to enjoy until our next vacation.