Last night I gave this presentation to an amazing group of Pittsburgh photographers at the Pittsburgh Pictage User Group (PUG). I am a huge geek and found a great niche for myself and my business - combining photography with engineering and becoming a cross between a photographer and a mad scientist. I build things because I can, because it is interesting and because some of what I build is actually useful to my clients. And because in my spare time I am Batman. Don't tell anyone:)
A few months ago I posted a blog entry about remotely controlling a camera with two laptops and an ad-hoc wireless network. So far I got 27 emails from photographers asking for detailed instructions on how to set this up. Since my original post my remote shooting technique changed a bit - I recently bought an iPad and use it in conjunction with a laptop and a wireless network to control a camera. I wrote a step-by-step manual that hopefully will help anyone interested in remote shooting.
Check out this handsome guy! His name is Jonathan and a few days ago Jenny and I photographed his Bar Mitzvah. When we got to the party, Jonathan`s mom asked me if I could shoot a short video clip of their grand entrance. Normally I don`t shoot event video; I`m not a videographer and the only time I actually do anything with video is during engagement sessions or when I am doing work for my corporate clients. However, since the family only wanted a few minutes of video, I put my second camera on a tripod, put an LED panel in the hot shoe, pointed the whole setup at the ballroom`s entrance and hit "RECORD". Now, my primary job (really, the only job) was to take still photos and that was what I concentrated on. I did not really pay much attention to what was going on with the video rig behind me. When the family`s grand entrance and speeches were over, I grabbed the tripod with the video setup and moved it off the dance floor. As I was dragging it to the corner where my spare gear was stored, I noticed that the camera was off. At a closer look I saw that the battery door was open. I closed the battery door, turned on the camera and hit the "PLAY" button. To my horror I realized that the video that the family wanted so badly was corrupted. I don`t know if somebody accidentally bumped the tripod or opened the battery door with malicious intent, but the result was the same - I had 1.35GB of corrupted video. When I got home I stayed up half the night trying to find remedies for fixing this problem. I found a piece of software for Mac OS called Treasured - it analyzes corrupted video files, sends information about scanned video files to a http://aeroquartet.com (movie repair service) and they (movie repair service) give you a quote for restoring the damaged file. In my case, the quote came out to $119.00. After more searching, I found two open-source scripts (one written in Perl and one in Python) that claimed to be able to fix corrupted MOV files. Neither script worked out of the box; luckily I know both of these programming languages and after about 3 hours of tweaking I was able to get the Perl script to work. Unfortunately, that script only managed to extract the video stream from the corrupted file - the audio was still missing. Finally, I came across two software packages - Grau GbR and Pro Maintenance Tool by Digital Rebellion (actually, Jenny found the later for me). Pro Maintenance Tools managed to recover video, but not audio, and did a much better job of it than my hacked Perl script. Grau GbR managed to recover everything! The only caveat was that the free version of this software only recovered half of the video file. To do a full recovery, I had to buy the full version (good for recovering up to 5 video files) for 29 Euros (approximately $40). They have an unlimited version available for 100 Euros. So, if you ever find yourself in a situation where your camera shuts off while recording, you have a few options: Grau GbR Pro Maintenance Tools iSquint (supposedly works for smaller videos) Python script (did not work for me) Perl script (worked, but did not recover audio) Treasured Good luck:)
Today was my turn to teach a photography workshop at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Jen McKen, Leeane Marie and John Craig taught all the previous workshops, so I had some pretty tough acts to follow. The workshop went really well (at least I thought so). Everyone seemed to be interested and what was really amazing is that people asked me a ton of questions. I really want to thank Bonny McCloskey from the Carnegie Library for helping to organize this workshop series, Travis Neely for allowing me to use some of his photographs and Jen McKen for proofreading my presentation. As promised, here are all the slides from the presentation:
- Canon EOS Utility for tethered shooting
- Breeze Systems DSLR Remote Pro - for tethered shooting, supposedly they have versions for Canon and Nikon
- Long USB cable for tethering from TigerDirect.
- Eye-fi - SD card with built-in wi-fi - great for wireless image transfer
- Pro lab for film processing
- Camera Bags
- Strobist Website - great resource for learning off-camera lighting
- AlienBees - studio flashes and wireless radio triggers
- PocketWizards - wireless radio triggers for flashes, studio lights and cameras
If I missed anything, please feel free to shoot me an email and ask. Don`t forget Val`s Intro to Adobe Photoshop class on April 10th and Advanced Photoshop + Lightroom on April 17th.
Quite a few of my clients have asked me how I put together their wedding slideshows, how to combine video and still images and video clips from different cameras. For production work I use Adobe Premiere, but for quick and dirty stuff I use iMovie. This tutorial will give you a crash-course introduction to combining video and still images in iMovie. If you want to learn more about iMovie, iMovie `11 & iDVD: The Missing Manual is an excellent book that will pretty much teach you everything you ever wanted to know about iMovie. Have fun.
In about a month I am teaching a photography workshop at the Carnegie Library; the subject of my workshop is flash photography. If you are interested in flash photography, this video is definitely worth watching. I thought I knew a lot about flash, shutter synchronization and all the other fun stuff that goes with flash photography. This video really took me to school.
Last Saturday we held the first photography workshop (in a series of seven) at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. The workshop covered the subject of blurry photographs and was appropriately titled “Help! My Photos Are Blurry!”. Jen McKen did an amazing job teaching. She covered pretty much all the reasons why photos are (or may seem to be) blurry. Jen went over proper camera holding techniques, which shutter speeds to use when, selective focus and a bunch of other incredibly useful techniques. You can find more info on Jen’s workshop on her blog.
A few days ago PDN (Photo District News) magazine published an article titled "The Five Biggest Photographers on the Internet". In this article, they interviewed 5 iconic photographers about how they use online resources such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr to drive their business. One of the photographers, Christopher Becker (http://www.beckersblog.com) is my personal icon when it comes to wedding photography and self-promotion. He is an incredibly talented photographer who managed to build an amazingly profitable wedding photography business and is generally considered one of the highest-paid wedding photographers in the world. I decided to learn from TheBecker and from the others and expanded my online presence to Facebook and Flickr. From now on, I`ll be posting my photographs not only on this side and on WideOpenLens.com like I`ve been doing so far - my photographs will also appear in my Facebook album and in my Flickr photostream.
As a professional wedding/event photographer I meet with quite a few brides. While many of my potential clients come armed with a list of questions, some seem to be at a loss as to what they should look for in a wedding photographer. Last night I found an article written by Grant Perry, a wedding photographer from Virginia Beach that every bride should read. Choosing Your Wedding Photographer by Grant Perry