Social Media & My iPhone Camera

This last year I found myself on the road a lot.  I use some social media like facebook to keep up with friends and interests.  Don’t share a lot of images or post my location because it leads to more targeted ads.  I also find it had to take my camera on the road with me.  I already have to take 2 laptops so to pack in a DSLR in my carry on gets to be a bit much.

IMG_1140Still I want to take images on the road.  I decided to make some social media changes.  I changed my Facebook account to only my hobby interest.  I removed most of my personal information.  Deleted posts that were not related to my hobbies.  Moved most of my professional contacts to Linkedin.  Then I decided to use Instagram for my photos.  Since the images I get are mostly from my iPhone I thought this was a good compromise. Plus it is an outlet designed for that purpose.

IMG_1019Now I take my iPhone photos and edit them in the instagram app.  It actually does an OK job.  I use it mainly for snapshots to document where I’ve been or for goofy images.  I do try to post on a regular basis and I also use the instal reel app on my MAC.  I don’t use it for anything other than travel snaps while I am on the road for work.  If I’m working on a photo project of course I use my DSLR and Photoshop.

IMG_1304The biggest disadvantage of my iPhone is the limitations of the lens.
IMG_1070The overall camera is actually decent for a phone.  To give myself a few more options I got the olloclip.  It’s a snap-on lens device that gives me 4 options.  Wide angle, fish-eye and 2 Macro lenses in one small package.  I can easily place this in my backpack and when I have time outside of work to site see I grab it and go.  It has a lanyard that the unit just snaps on and off of.  It really is a nice add-on if a camera phone is your only option.

This little system will never take the place of my DSLR but it will give me some options when it comes to sharing my travel with my friends and family and instagram followers.  There are times I really wish I had my DSLR but when it is just not possible I have my olloclip and iPhone.  The images here are some of my instagram photos.  Taken with my iPhone 6s plus.  I haven’t had the account long but I hope to keep adding images from my travels.  Thanks for the read, follow me on instagram @PD_Images

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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Wow…Been a While!!

Sometimes we have the very best intentions and then it goes terribly wrong…. I’m not sure what happened I just one day stopped blogging and forget it was even here until I got my renewal notice. That was just sad on my part. I know I don’t have many followers if any but still I should at least try to keep this current. I mean you never know when the Zombie Apocalypse will happen and there should be some history of what life was like. That being said I’m not sure my history will do much beside cure insomnia.

Ok, this being a technology blog lets think about what is next. I am toying with the idea of working on 3D video. After all I just upgraded to a new 3D TV so I should have some video to go with. I am currently looking at the Go Pro 3D and this off brand camera. If I do the Go Pro I have other uses as I currently have ½ of what I need. But this system doesn’t shoot in real 3D it is the red and green. I’m still checking to see if Adobe Premier or Finalcut Pro could use it to do real 3D. Getting mixed answers. The other camera shoots in the real 3D format. The drawback is I could only use it for 3D. Decisions, Decisions… So stay tune for my decision, samples and reviews.

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


Still Images in Motion with iStopMotion

I embark now on a new bit of photographic fun. Not only photo’s but video as well. I decided to play with iStopMotion. This was a very fun tool to use. The interface is simple and takes very little time to learn. Like those Claymation holiday movies this program creates a video from still frames. You position your character/object then snap an image. The program imports the file (if you have a web Camera/live view video camera you can see the image preview) then you move your character/object a little and take a picture. Repeat this process and your character comes to life.

The program has several tools to assist you like color correction and tilt shift controls. You can use a grid layout to help track motion. The program can also be use to capture time lapse photography. Additional tools like onion skin lets you overlay the current image over the previous on to insure you movement is fluid and not off. One of the other useful tools is the robo sync. You can for instance record an actor then use the footage to mimic the actors motion with the character/object. The program also comes with some preset foregrounds and backgrounds. Over all I say if you enjoy those old Claymation movies and want to create your own then you need to try iStopMotion.

Below is my first sample movie. I used iStopMotion then imported the project in After Effects to give it that night look and create the ghost. It was fun to make, hope to make another one soon! Thanks for reading!


iStopMotion Demo