Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Apple iMovie Rant

One would think that getting
Video from your iPhone 4 into iMovie would be a snap; however, for the uninitiated it's a total nightmare.

You'd assume that it would simply be a matter of plugging in your phone, firing up iMovie, and importing the video directly - nope. In fact, what the procedure seems to be is that you import it into iPhoto, then re-import it from there into iMovie, which of course makes another copy of the video file. Can you drag and drop the video file between the two applications? No. Can you drag the video file from the iPhoto library in Finder? Nope - you can't even look at these files in finder directly without doing a work-around and accessing the file location from within iPhoto... and if you manage that, you still can't drag and drop the file to import.

Finally I discovered a way to get around this silliness. You open up the Image Capture application which recognizes your plugged-in iPhone contents and allows you to actually import video to a folder of your choosing. Then you can import it into iMovie from there... as a video file is clearly an image that I want to capture... not a series of images at 30fps that I have already captured. That just makes perfect sense and is totally intuitive - not.

- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Photography Retrospective 1999-2009 — A Decade of Change

There are few mature vertical markets that have undergone such significant change in a single decade as that of photography. This, of course, is a result of the impact of the digital revolution. Despite the fact that the Charged Coupled Device, or CCD was invented in 1969 (for which Canadian inventor Willard Boyle was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics), and is responsible for digital photography’s birth, it wasn’t until this past decade that widespread consumer adoption of the digital platform fuelled so radical a reformation in the industry.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Managing Your Photographs

In the last few issues, we’ve been exploring what’s important to consider when buying a new digital SLR camera, and subsequently reviewed the Nikon D5000 with these elements in mind.
Once you’ve made your purchase however, you’ll most likely soon find yourself with hundreds, if not thousands of photos littering your hard drive. Given they’re so easy to shoot, and cost next to nothing to save, you’ll inevitably soon discover your image collection has become unwieldy if you haven’t taken appropriate steps and applied tools in support of its management.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Nikon D5000 Full Review

Over the past two months we’ve been exploring various aspects of what to look for in purchasing your very first digital SLR camera. With so many models on the market aimed squarely at the budding enthusiast, I thought it best to review one of these for the publication.

To this end I contacted Nikon, who were kind enough to send me the D5000 – an upper entry level camera which when paired with the higher-end kit lens (the 18-105mm f/3.5-4.5 they additionally included), retails at approximately $1139.99 CAD.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Buying Your First DSLR Part II

Last month we began our exploration of the DSLR world by outlining some basic facts required to make an informed decision regarding your first camera purchase. We discovered megapixel count isn’t particularly important, RAW format availability on your camera is, and discussed various desirable lens attributes – noting that generally the unit offered as part of a camera kit possesses few of these.
This time around, we’ll continue our examination with an in-depth assessment of key elements to look for when making a selection from among the often dizzying array of available models.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Adobe Releases Photoshop Elements & Premiere Elements 8 Today

Now that the NDA (non-disclosure agreement) has been lifted, I can share with you some of the interesting features that Adobe's consumer level image and video editing applications have to offer this time around. On Sept.17, I attended a press conference in which Senior Solutions Architect, Colin Smith took us on a tour of the apps, and I have to say, despite the fact that I generally use their pro-level software, there was a lot to be impressed with.

The new image cataloging  functionality in Photoshop Elements 8 featured facial recognition, enabling users to easily add meta-data to their images. Once the application knows a face, it searches for all other occurrences of it within your catalog and tentatively tags it as such. E.g.: If you identify an image as containing Sally's face, the application will go through every other image in your collection looking for similar features and ask you "Is this Sally?" to confirm additional images that it thinks depict the same person. This is a HUGE time saver for those of us who don't have all of our images properly tagged with who's in them (i.e. most of us).

Other cool features Photoshop Elements 8 is debuting include Photomerge Exposure, which allows you to take a variety of exposures of the same scene and combine them in a high dynamic range composite — but in an intuitive and easy-to-use manner that'll be no problem for your grandmother to accomplish.

Recompose allows a user to take elements out of photos, reposition items in them etc., all so quickly and easily you'll wonder why you ever learned to use the clone stamp! Well, that's a little bit of an overstatement, but it certainly does a great job for basic edits. Again, the target audience will be very pleased with this new ability.

Elements 8 also features what they're calling Quick Fix Previews which enable the user to see a variety of variations of the same image using different levels of the tool they are currently employing. For example, people don't have to understand what saturation is when they are using that tool, instead, they'll see which version looks better from the choices available and simply select that.

For Premiere Elements 8, they've added some equally impressive features, including some very cool motion-tracking functionality, Smart Trim, Smart Fix and even Instant Movie which generates an entire movie on the fly from a selection of your clips — even applying theme music, transitions and effects. Very cool indeed.

I'll be providing a complete review in an upcoming issue of TechKnow magazine; however, I figured I'd post my first impressions here. Stay tuned for the full scoop!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Photographing a Two Year Old

Well, yesterday I had the pleasure of chasing an almost two year old boy around his grandmother's house trying to get some decent images for her to give to her granddaughter as a present. Quarters were quite cramped and I didn't have the space to set up proper backdrops as there was no place to put the stands. Perhaps I'll bring some gaffer tape with me next time and just try to tape it to the ceiling — live and learn.

As a poor substitute, we set up a chair against a neutral-toned  wall, a soft-box as the key light, an umbrella and reflector as a fill and a Nikon SB-800 filling in shadows from below. Then we tried to get Christopher to sit and smile for the camera so we could dial in the lighting... he thought it a better idea to throw trucks at the camera man!

Ultimately we ended up going outside and watching Chis trashing his Nana's, and her neighbor's respective gardens, tromping through them in pursuit of his soccer ball.

Every time I went to capture an image, wee Christopher would run up to me, grab my finger and haul me to wherever he felt I should rather be. This of course made photography a little difficult. When I wasn't being led around, Chris thought it a good idea to charge directly at the camera.

Finally, we went back inside and I set up a collapsible green screen chroma key background from Botero
and figured I'd be able to just drop any background behind Chris after extracting him using the Primatte filter in Photoshop. Well, unfortunately the space constraints again came into play as we had to deal with significant green spill on the subject. As a result, I had to spend several hours cleaning up each image.

The finished products turned out great, but with significantly more effort required than I would normally spend on a project. Moral of the story? Be prepared. Know where you're going and what the constraints are before you get there. Having a portable studio is great, but sometimes it's just time to whip out the SB-800s and capture what you can. Often it's better to just have clients come to your own space where you know what you're dealing with and can have everything dialed-in before they arrive. Next time I think I'm just going to have folks come down to the studio.