Technology

Kickstarter for BoXZY Rapid-Change FabLab

A few months ago I did some product and team photography for the guys who created BoXZY - an all-in-one maker's dream machine - a mill, a laser cutter/engraver, and a 3D printer, all in one device.  Well, it turns out that their Kickstarter campaign kicked butt and they raised enough money to put this amazing machine into production.  Way to go! BoXZY Rapid-Change FabLab: Mill, Laser Engraver, 3D Printer

Something different - a BoXZY photoshoot

Most of the work that I post on this blog has to do with either Bar/Bat mitzvahs or weddings, with occasional portrait session mixed in.  Few people know that a decent chunk of my photography business comes from commercial photoshoots.  One of the drawbacks of commercial photoshoots is that most of the time I cannot share my work due to intellectual property issues, privacy issues, or NDAs that my clients ask me to sign.  Much of my commercial work is in the area of medical devices and medical education, where IP and privacy are critically important to my clients. This photoshoot was different - I was asked to do a product/team shoot for BoXZY - a fabrication device that allows you to mill, 3D print, and laser etch/cut.  Check out their Kickstarter pagehttps://www.kickstarter.com/projects/boxzy/boxzy-rapid-change-fablab-mill-laser-engraver-3d-p

Dmitriy Babichenko | Pittsburgh Commercial PhotographerDmitriy Babichenko | Pittsburgh Commercial PhotographerDmitriy Babichenko | Pittsburgh Commercial PhotographerDmitriy Babichenko | Pittsburgh Commercial PhotographerDmitriy Babichenko | Pittsburgh Commercial PhotographerDmitriy Babichenko | Pittsburgh Commercial PhotographerDmitriy Babichenko | Pittsburgh Commercial PhotographerDmitriy Babichenko | Pittsburgh Commercial PhotographerDmitriy Babichenko | Pittsburgh Commercial PhotographerDmitriy Babichenko | Pittsburgh Commercial Photographer

Hacking Photography | My Presentation at January 2013 Pittsburgh PUG

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:)

New Version of Lightroom Reporter

I finally got a few minutes of downtime from editing so I made a few updates to my Lightroom Reporter application.  I got a lot of wonderful feedback from my photographer friends; based on that feedback I added a few new features.  You can now report on statistics by camera/lens setting, adjustments and presets used.  If you are interested in trying this app out, shoot me an email.  This is probably going to be the last version I release in Adobe Air - I started learning a programming language called Lua so that I could rewrite this application as an Adobe Lightroom plugin. LightroomReporter, Adobe Air application for retrieving statistics from Adobe Lightroom

iPad for Photographers

A few days ago I was meeting with a client in a coffee shop. When she walked in, I was sitting at a table with my iPad, answering emails. As it turned out she was an amateur photographer and we spent the first 15-20 minutes of our meeting talking about something that all photographers love - equipment. After the obligatory conversation about camera bodies and lenses, she asked me why I owned an iPad - in her opinion a tablet was barely more than a toy, completely useless in photographic workflow. I am a pretty recent iPad owner - I bought it only a few months ago as a present for my 35th birthday. I originally planned on using it to develop iOS apps - I bought a bunch of books, learned ObjectiveC and even wrote a few simple games for my daughter. However, as time went by, I began using it more and more for productivity and photography. My most used app is Evernote - that’s where I keep notes about my projects, client meetings, books I read, location scouting and pretty much everything else. Evernote, Dropbox and Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) take care of all of my productivity needs. I travel a lot for both my job and my business and ever since I bought an iPad, I rarely bring a laptop on short trips. I recently bought a slim bluetooth keyboard which essentially turns my iPad into a small netbook and allows me to type emails, documents and even work with an occasional spreadsheet a lot faster than if I were using the built-in touch keyboard.

Another app that I love is called AirDisplay. Basically this app allows me to extend my laptop’s screen to the iPad. I am used to working with dual display setups - both my office and my home computers are outfitted with 24-inch + 19-inch dual displays. It is especially useful when working in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Premier because I keep toolbars on the smaller screen giving the actual media (images or video) more real estate. When I go on trips that are longer than 2 days, I usually bring both my 15-inch MacBook Pro and my iPad. When the two are connected using AirDisplay, I can edit photos and videos on the go using the same configuration I always use. You can find a nice AirDisplay tutorial at http://www.howtogeek.com/?post_type=post&p=100886. App #3 on my most used list is SplashTop - it allows me to remotely control my computers from anywhere with internet connection. It’s really useful when I forget a file on my office desktop or when I need to run a Windows-only application remotely. Next on my list is iPhoto. Yes, I did say iPhoto. While I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop on my laptop and desktops, I prefer iPhoto on my iPad. In conjunction with the camera connector kit iPhoto allows me to quickly preview photos from on-location photoshoots and to give quick demos of my work to potential clients. Finally, I use my iPad for remote shooting. I won’t go into too much detail on this subject - you can read about it in excruciating detail in this tutorial. If you have any other cool uses for your iPad, please let me know - I’d love to get more mileage out of my tablet.

Remotely controlling your camera

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.

Remotely Controlling Camera

Saving corrupted video

Dmitriy Babichenko PhotographyCheck 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:)

Old School...

Large Format Film Holders
Today I found a couple of large format film holders while cleaning my basement. I wonder how many photographers of my generation (for the record, I`m 34) have ever used a large format camera?

Photography, Software Engineering and LightBox

Dmitriy Babichenko | Pittsburgh Photographer Sometimes having two jobs sucks. However, more often then not, being a software engineer and a photographer is actually a pretty decent combination. Being a photographer helps me step back from the code and think about problems creatively. Being a software engineer helps me gain a very technical perspective on photography (yes, I am a geek and I actually know how CMOS and CCD sensors record image data). Another advantage of being a software engineer is that I can write software that helps me run my photography business. Over the years, I’ve written scripts, applications and even Photoshop plug-ins that managed my backups, batch-processed image files and geo-tagged vacation photos. My ability to write my own software saved me countless hours of dealing with repetative and boring tasks and allowed me to concentrate on things that I actually enjoy doing. Recently I found myself using Lightbox2 photo gallery more and more, both on my blog and on some of my clients’ websites. Lightbox2 is a JavaScript library that can be included on any web page; it allows you to create attractive image galleries with minimal knowledge of HTML. Quite a few of well-known websites use Lightbox2 or similar solutions to display image galleries - Wired.com, Lifehacker, Lensbaby and many others. If you have to deal with a small number of images, it’s pretty easy to follow examples from Lightbox’s website and hand-code your gallery. If you have a blog or a website that’s based on the WordPress platform, you can install LightBox2 as a WordPress plug-in and WordPress will pretty much take care of everything for you. However, if you have a custom blog like I do, than you can use one of the handy scripts that I wrote to simplify my life. Below, you’ll find two scripts - one is written in ASP.NET, another one in PHP. They do the same thing - if your website is running on a Microsoft Windows Server, use the ASP.NET script. For Linux servers, use PHP. Simply download and extract the files below (the ASP.NET script has two files) and upload them to your web server. Once the files have been uploaded, you can access them through the browser by typing http://[your website address]/LightboxGenerator.aspx for ASP.NET script or http://[your website address]/LightboxGenerator.php for PHP script.

Using online resources to drive your business

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.

Website saga continues

After more than a week of phone calls, threats, emails and a consultation with an attorney, I finally got US2.net to admit that they screwed up. Somehow their billing department thought that I hadn`t paid my invoices in months (which they admitted was a mistake on their part due to a new billing system). So, without letting me know and without giving me a chance to backup my data, they deleted all of my websites and databases. Today I managed to get in touch with their Windows support manager and he told me that they found my website in their backups, but not my database and promised to do everything he can to get my site up and running today. Given their track record, I have my doubts, but I`ll keep my fingers crossed just in case. If I don`t get a copy of my database so that I could restore it to this new site, I`ll most likely take US2 to court. Meanwhile, I am going to move on and try to at least re-post photographs that used to be in my blog. Also, I lost all the client feedback/testimonials from the last 5 years. I am going to try to contact my clients and ask them to re-submit their feedback. So, if you are or at some point were my client, I would really really appreciate if you could go the the "Testimonals" section of this website (About -> Testimonials or click here) and submit your feedback. Thank you for everyone`s patience.