iPhoneography

I recently discovered the art of iPhone photos or as it is know “iPhoneography”. There are a number of books, magazines and web resources. I begin this journey with a few simple apps. I have the hipstamatic app it creates retro style images. Fisheye simulates a fisheye lens but I will probably use my olloclip rather than simulate the lens. PicsArt allows me to layer my images and add effects. Then I have 2 adobe apps, lightroom and PS Express.

Now the apps are important but I also have photos for my library and iCloud share. I use instagram to share my images. I am just getting started in this adventure and below are my first 2 attempts at iPhone Art… or iPhoneography. If you like them please follow me on instagram @PD_Images

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FitBit Flex

When I started this blog I wanted to do something fun.  I somehow lost interest over time and I sure that happens to everyone.  But I want to do something that I can maintain.  I like new gadgets and love testing them.  I doubt I ever get picked to be a real reviewer or get those free items to review them but that should not stop me. I found a new gadget I really like… No a group of object.  So I am making a new run at keeping this blog going.  I am not just going to review the product but my progress using it.

So I purchased a FitBit Flex and FitBit WiFi scale. First I wan to talk about the FitBit Flex activity band.  I found it easy to use.  It comes with a USB charger, 2 bands and the USB wireless dongle.  You simply chard the device, install the sync software and then create your online profile.  The flex is easy to use because you jus put it on and you are ready to go.  Tap it twice to get your current status.  Tap it quickly for about 2 seconds to put it in and out of sleep mode.

You can at any time sync it to your PC/MAC using the wireless sync adapter or your smart phone. The software sends your info to the online profile you create and give you the current stats.  It tracks these daily so you can see where you are.  It tracks your steps, distance and sleep.  I have to say it is not always accurate just typing this I am most likely getting some steps in according to my flex but I think overall it will motivate the user to get up and move.  It should also be noted that you can get different color bands for your flex.

The FitBit scale is the second gadget.  It links through your WiFi Network and transmits your weight and body fat to your online profile.  It will allow up to 8 different users.  The operation is simple and is a great addition to your flex band.  The scale is sleek and clean looking in black or white. The online profile allows you to add friends and share info with them.  You can share the number of steps, sleep, weight ect.  The system has a dashboard that you can customize with different tiles.  You set goals and you are awarded badges for meeting and exceeding your goals.  In addition to the dashboard you have a log for food, sleep, activities, blood pressure, glucose levels and journal entries.  This allows you to track your entire fitness goals in one simple program.

 

One thing many people want is a support system or a buddy to workout with.  This is like a social media app and allows you to invite friends.  You can congratulate your friends when the get badges or taunt them as you beat their goals.  It creates a completive buddy system online or support system depending on how you use it.   There are also groups you can join on this site so there are a lot of support systems in place to help you be more successful in your goals.  The software is very user friendly overall.

So….no I am not a fitness person.  In fact I have been told by my doc to loose weight, exercise and eat better.  As a diabetic I struggle with this so I bought this to help me.  So far in the month I have had this device I’ve kept on track.  In fact I have gotten several badges for exceeding my goals.  So this device is helping me a lot.  I have decided to share some results this next year to help me keep going and may to get me to use my blog a bit more.  So if you get a fitbit friend me and help me do better!
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DXG-5F9VK HD 1080p 3D Camcorder

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A 3D camcorder for under $200 US, are you kidding? Yes this is a sub $200 3D camcorder. I first saw this when I was looking for a pro model camcorder to do stock videos with. I dismissed it as I really needed a camera with a high quality lens and sound recording ability. Later I decided to revisit the possibility of 3D video just for fun. The price was right so knowing it was just a fun toy I took a chance on it.

The camera is light weight and I’m sure for most this will be a good thing. I like my cameras to be a bit heavier as the weight helps to steady the camera. The controls are simple as is the menu. It stores video on SD media, I used a class 10 16gig scandisk for my testing. It has an almost instant on. Just flip the lens then open the view screen. The view screen is in 3D, no need for 3D glasses. The only issue is when the lens is open you can’t tilt the screen too much.

The camera has really good image quality. It may be a bit awkward at first because of the stereo lens but that isn’t too bad. Video is sharp and crisp with very nice color and contrast. I was shocked to see what this camera could do. The only real issue I had was a choppy zoom. I really wish the zoom was smooth but for the price and the image quality I can deal with the slightly jerky zoom.

The microphone is stereo and located in the front part of the monitor door. This does well as long as the sound that is right in front of the user. If there was one thing that would really make this camera sell better that would be the addition of an external microphone, but they did not add the plug. Since I did buy this camera to just play around, for me that missing feature was not a big deal.

So here are the pros
· Good image quality
· Light Weight
· Simple Operation
· Live 3D viewer
· Good Color

Here are the Cons
· Choppy Zoom
· No external Microphone jack
· Limited viewer tilt
· Average to poor images in low light

Conclusion – If you want a fun little camera to create 3D video with this is the camera for you. It has a low price and great image quality. I really enjoy using this camera. If you need features like an external microphone and smooth zooming then you may want to look at some other cameras. Again I would recommend this to users who want a fun camera or those who want to dabble in 3D. It would be hard to beat the quality at the price of this camera.

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Nikon Coolpix AW100

A while back I wrote about the GoPro camera.  I have used my GoPro for many things and intended to use it for some underwater shots while on vacation.  After reading reviews I found it was limited on quality underwater.  Further research lead me to the Nikon Coolpix AW100.  Water proof up to 33ft and shock proof up to 5 feet.  This camera was made for mild sports action yet still remains stylish.

The camera looks like a simple point and shoot. Many of the features you would find on most with a couple differences. First the button for the shutter and video are separate. Each has a unique texture so you can feel what is what. Next the batter and memory card door had a rubber seal but also uses a double lock to be more secure from accidental opening. Next the camera has a built in GPS allowing you to GEO tag your images or use it as a functional ground GPS. Finally you will find a underwater setting in the presets for diving.

Dolphin Flight – Discovery Cove, Orlando FL

Going through the presets and doing some tests I found the “simple” mode to be annoying.  I switch it over to “auto” for playing.  During vacation I used several presets like “underwater”, “Beach” and “Night Portrait”.  These are easy to change using the scene mode button on the back of the camera.  All in all I found the scenes to be quite adequate for most of my images.  Remember this is a point and shoot.  The zoom range work well for most situations.  The one drawback was the speed between shots.  The manual boasts 2.5 frames per second but even with my extreme 30MB/s SD card I could not get shots that quickly.

The image quality during daylight was above average to outstanding in the point and shoot category.  I think the color and contrast in the daylight images were spot on.  I also could not see any real issues with noise in these images.  I was a little disappointed in the night images.  They seemed to have a lot of noise and took time to fix in photoshop.  I would say a 5X7 would be the largest you could get a usable print from using night settings.   Overall for a point and shoot the camera performance was above average.  ** note I tested the zoom lens but did not use the digital zoom feature.

Video was also handled very well with this little camera.  It takes 1080p HD video with great color and contrast.  I also took several night videos and amazingly the quality of night video was much better than the photos.  I was able to snorkel taking video and stills again with great results.  The camera was easy to manage underwater.  I did notice one difference here that should be noted.  Using the underwater mode the still images look nice, corrected color but to me look a bit dull.  The video looks great, especially compared to the GoPro but the color looks off a bit.  I have included a video shot entirely using the AW100. (stills and video use the Coolpix AW100, Edited in Final Cut X Pro)

My overall opinion of the Nikon AW100:  If you need a camera that can take some light abuse and for all weather situations I would recommend you check this camera out.  The image and video quality are excellent in most situations.  The controls are simple to use and it has safety locks keeping the camera weather tight.  The drawbacks are minimal unless you plan to do lots of low-light images.  For under $300 (USD) this camera is well worth a look.

Thanks for reading!

The Art of Stop Motion – MAC fun with iStopMotion

The Fly Empire - Bug Wars

This is a follow up to a previous blog post on iStopMotion. I thought I would look into what it takes to produce a short video. So let’s start with the basics. First you will need some sort of concept. Just because these are not live actors doesn’t mean you don’t need to create a script and plan out the movie before shooting. The concept for this short is “Bug Wars”. We will be using some plastic bugs and creating a battle. The concept is simple enough. There isn’t a script but we will need to plan this out so we know what to shoot and what to do. This can be done by making a shot list or creating a storyboard so that everything in organized.
Step 2 would be to assemble the characters for the movie. In this case I have picked up several packages of fake bugs. Looking at the storyboard I will need to cut a few of them up so I can have some parts for the splatter scenes. I also need some additional items for props. I got some chunks of paper, plastic, wrappers and an old plastic cup. These will make great objects for my bugs to crawl over and add to the overall look and feel of the film. Now that most of this has been collected I need to build a location. Using dome old cardboard boxes I constructed a crude set for this fun film.

Clone Roaches - Bug Wars

It is time for the fun and hard work to begin. I had to make sure my lighting was even. I chose to use overhead lighting for this. It does make the image a little flat looking abut it is also easier to film. I have also used key lighting (main light to one side) but this will work best for this adventure. Setting up is important as well.

 

Look at the stage and the props through the camera. Get them all in place and make sure everything is how you want it. Once it is set you need to lock the camera down. You need to make sure that the camera and object don’t get moved until filming is complete. If you plan to have different camera angles the I suggest shooting everything you want at each angle then assemble it all in post production.
Don’t expect to be a fast process at 12 frames or more per second you will be taking a bunch of images. I also would stress that your finished size will be 1920X1080 max (in most cases) if not smaller so don’t think you need to set your camera on “full” or “raw” size images. You should get great results on smaller jpegs.

The set of Bug Wars

This is also important so you don’t fill your memory card and risk moving the camera to change it. Another item to point out is to keep in mind your depth of field. You can do some amazing effects like shooting a close-up at f2.8 to put the background out of focus. Just remember when you pull back to change the f-stop to f5.6 – f11 if you want more of the objects in view.

 

As I created this movie I used the onion skin so I could make sure I didn’t move items too much. I think this is a feature that really makes a difference. The only drawback is you have to accept the image and if you forget to do that you loose the frame. I also setup the grid to 16 squares. This is something you don’t really need to do but it helps direct the motion the way you want. In closing just remember this is a long process and the results vary but it is fun creating this type of animation. Next time I’ll talk about how I import iStop Motion into iMove and complete the post production work.
Thanks For Reading!!


Create & Be a Cartoon Character with ToonCamera app for iPhone!

If you have seen those TV commercials that have cartoon like people and wondered how they created those realistic looking toons then this is your lucky day! There’s an app for that! The ToonCamera app for your iPhone does a good job creating cartoon like images or video without the need for expensive editing programs. There are several modes from color to line (pen & ink) style. This app is easy to use then import into your iMovie for editing. This fun little app has many possibilities and turns the everyday into a bit more fun and exciting. This app has simple controls and does have its limits but for less than $1 (USD) you really can’t go wrong. Go ahead you know you want to be a cartoon character!!
Thanks for reading!

The following movie was shot using ToonCamera and iMovie both on the iPhone 4S