Trying something different with photos

I have a science degree and a little journalism experience. When I started photograpy my pictures were very literal, like I was using the camera for documentary purposes. That gets old after a while. The more I shoot the more I avoid boring pictures. For the pictures from the corn maze I used posterization to get a different look.






iPhone Video – Playing Around with Slow Motion and Video Editing on the iPhone

I got my new iPhone 6s Plus and the first thing I wanted to do was film some things in slow motion. The car hood worked the best. You intuitively know how quickly a car hood should fall, so you instantly recognize the video is in slow motion. The loud noise is a bonus.

This is the first video I’ve made entirely on the iPhone. I used Apple’s free iMovie app to trim it, convert it to black and white, and add a title and background music.

That’s admittedly really basic video editing, but as an Adobe Premiere snob it was an eye-opener that I could do it on the phone and do it so quickly. The whole process from shooting to editing to publishing took about 20 minutes. Now I understand that doing everything on the iPhone could speed up video creation dramatically. I’ve downloaded some other video editors to explore this some more.

PreviouslyiPhone Video – My First Time Using an iPhone Instead of a DSLR for Club Video

Metal Bird Sculpture


2-DSC_2370 3-DSC_2354 4-DSC_2361

Old Knoxville Pike Maryville, TN

iPhone Video – My First Time Using an iPhone Instead of a DSLR for Club Video

I’ve been shooting video with a DSLR for about five years. A while back I realized that iPhone video was pretty darned good, so I decided to try using an iPhone as a second camera. Then I could mix the DSLR footage and iPhone footage in my video editing software and have multiple camera angles. Heck, maybe I could even leave the heavy DSRL gear behind and use a system built around smartphones.

iPhone Video

The video quality for the Labron Lazenby video was OK considering, in this case considering this was a dark club. If you play the video fullscreen it’s easy to see the noise and grain in the video. Smartphone cameras have small sensors. (The sensor is the chip that converts light into electrical signals.) Small sensors don’t perform as well in low light as the large sensors in DSLRs. Advantage – DSLR.

For the sake of comparison, here is a different show I shot in daylight with my wife’s iPhone 6. With plenty of light, there’s no grain or noise.


One big advantage of DSLRs is their interchangeable lenses. To close the gap I bought an Olloclip 4-in-1 lens that fits over the iPhone’s lens. It combines a wideangle, fisheye, and two levels of macro in one unit. I used the fisheye for this video and liked the different look. I’ve wanted a fisheye lens forever, but couldn’t justify $800 for the Nikon or $240 for the Rokinon. I was happy to pay $70 for the Olloclip. I’m finding that iPhone gear is cheap compared to the DSLR equivalents.

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New Video – Heartache by the Score

I’ve gotten back into making videos. I’m spending more time on the beginning and ending credits and having fun with it. This is a local band covering an Allen Toussaint tune. If your RSS reader doesn’t show YouTube videos, use this link.


A new study claims that Louis Pasteur didn’t perform his most famous experiments. The paper’s authors believe Pasteur’s dad did the experiment while his mom went to buy posterboard and that “the parents were probably up until frikkin’ 3 AM doing their kid’s science project for him.”

On a completely unrelated subject, photos I made for Katie’s fourth grade science project.

Celery experiment for school science project

Celery experiment for school science project

Natalie with Wet Hair and Mommy’s Glasses

Natalie with Wet Hair Wearing Mommy's Glasses

No time to blog about the news, so here’s a nice pic of Natalie. For a long time I’ve been been doing the conventional thing of chasing sharpness. Now I’m playing around with soft focus.

The Sigma Bigma 50-500mm

Ever since my 70-300mm lens was stolen I haven’t had a telephoto beyond 200mm, which ain’t very long, even at a 1.5 crop factor. Another 300mm would be okay, but for wildlife it would be swell to get something longer.

Dx0Mark likes the Sigma 50-500m lens, AKA the Bigma. It tested just a whisker width’s behind the Nikon, but for a thousand dollars less scratch. One of the guys in my videography class last fall is a stringer for the local paper, and he loves his. The next time I have $1,500 burning a hole in my pocket I’ll have to list the pros and cons of buying one versus buying all of the other stuff I want. Ain’t that always the way?

New Industry Standard for IS/VR Lens Performance

Canon offers IS and Nikon offers VR – technologies that reduce picture blur when handholding a camera. There’s always been some debate about how well those systems worked, and the companies keep coming out with new versions that area supposed to be more effective, but there’s never been a standard for measuring effectiveness until now.

Nikon has published the results of their CIPA testing. Results range from a low of 2.5 stops to a high of 4.5 stops. 4.5 stops means that the image-stabilizing technology is as effective as increasing shutter speed by 4.5 stops. So a photo taken with VR at 1/60th of a second would be equivalent in sharpness to a photo taken without VR at 1/1500th of a second.

VR (and Canon IS) mean you can get a sharp picture using shutter speeds that are slow enough to get a good exposure in a broad range of lighting conditions. They also mean you can get the shutter speed down in the range where you can use a flash at full FP sync – typically 1/200 to 1/250th of a second.

P.S. VR/IS lenses are also great for handheld video. You shoot video at a shutterspeed of 1 over twice the frame rate – so 1/60th of a second for 30 fps video -  so you can’t get sharp images by using a quick shutter speed.

DSLR Video – Punk Rockers Prove Anyone Can Do It

I’ve watched Beck’s video for Loser dozens of times. In terms of production you can point to a dozen ways it’s a crappy video. (Color grading? What’s that?!) The whole thing was edited on an Amiga Video Toaster and shot on what looks like a budget of ten bucks.(*)

This is one of those videos I look at and think, sheeeit, I could do that. All you need is thriftstore clothes, a stray dog, fake blood, lots of lighter fluid, a homeless guy, and a cheerleader in a graveyard dancing with her friend who peed in her pants. I’d skip the mimes and the kung fu dude in the trailer park. The only challenges would be scoring a casket and not getting arrested.

And I’m not even criticizing the video. I like it. It’s inspirational – it shows me that something I like that’s within my grasp. In the digital age all of this creative stuff is way easier and way cheaper.

* Correction: It was a budget of 300 bucks.

DSLR Video – Noise Reduction Software Really Works

I’ve used the noise reduction in Adobe Lightroom and liked it, but I never realized how much it could do. I captured some freeze frames from a video I’m working on. It’s concert video and the lighting was dark, so I used ISO 2000 to get the video bright enough. I thought the pictures looked OK, but decided to clean them up a little in Lightroom.

I imported the .BMP freeze frames into Google Picasa, then exported them as JPGs. Those are the before pictures. I imported those JPGs into Lightroom and ran some basic image tuning (which is why the exposures are a little different) and then reduced the noise.

Click any picture to embiggen. The bigger they get the more obvious the difference is. The difference is also more obvious in the better-exposed areas, like the guitar and the shirt.

Before Noise Reduction in Lightroom

Before Noise Reduction in Lightroom

After Noise Reduction in Lightroom

After Noise Reduction in Lightroom

Before Noise Reduction in Lightroom

Before Noise Reduction in Lightroom

After Noise Reduction in Lightroom

After Noise Reduction in Lightroom

Before Noise Reduction in Lightroom

Before Noise Reduction in Lightroom

After Noise Reduction in Lightroom

After Noise Reduction in Lightroom

I’m amazed enough that I’m shopping for noise reduction software for video editing.

P.S. I also realized I like the more-exposed (brighter) version, so I’ve increased the exposure in the video a bit.

DSLR Video – Audio is Hard

Not much blogging lately. I’ve been working on video every night for weeks. Part of that was working on the actual videos and part was learning along the way.

It turns out I didn’t know didley about editing audio. The guys in Alien Love Charm have given me some feedback, and I’m gradually getting there. Learning how use a compressor has made a huge difference, to the point I’m a little embarassed by the uncompressed sound on my older video.

(A compressor reduces the dynamic range of the audio, pushing the loud sounds down and pulling the quiet sounds up. Sound that’s spiky and thin becomes even and full. The too-loud guitar and too-quiet vocals wind up closer in levels. With the peaks pushed down you can increase the overall volume without distorting.)

The hard part on this one was the crowd noise. I usually shoot close to the stage, which reduces ambient noise. At this show the stage was so wide I had to get 20 30 feet away to capture it end to end, so I had three four rows of people talking in front of the mic. I managed to cut the crowd noise way down, but I couldn’t quiet it down as much as I wanted during the intro.

Before the next show I’m going to pick up a second Zoom digital audio recorder so I can have one on the camera and another either close to the stage or better yet plugged into the soundboard. That’ll get the crowd noise way down and give me a direct feed instead of getting the music after it’s come out of the speakers, bounced around the room, and mixed with crowd noise. To be honest, the main reason I haven’t plugged into the board before is that I’ve been too bashful to ask. No more bashful.

This is a clip I recorded a couple of years ago and never posted. I tuned up the audio, made some quickie titles, and added a reprise at the end with YouTube links. Once I get the hang of editing and build up a library of Premiere templates I can probably knock out a video like this in a couple of hours.

PreviouslyDSLR Video – Syncing a Movie with External Audio in Adobe Premiere

Great Infographic on Mobile Video

From Fstoppers
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DSLR Video – Nikon D4 and D800 Bass-poor

Guest post: Nikon D4 and D800 audio levels

Worst news first – frequency response

There is no bass. The frequency response of the D4 is identical. The lower limit of the D800’s audio band is too high for proper reproduction of most male voices, let alone environmental sounds. This might make sense for the built in microphone, as it somewhat attenuates noise from holding and operating the camera, but even then, I would expect the roll-off to start at a lower frequency.

Another reason to use an external audio recorder like a Zoom or Tascam.

Adobe Creative Suite 2 Available for Free*

TechSpotAdobe offering Creative Suite 2 for free, but they didn’t mean to

Earlier this week Adobe made a surprise move by putting its Creative Suite 2 software, as well as individual programs like Photoshop CS2 and Illustrator CS2, up for download on its website along the corresponding serial numbers. Initially it was believed the company got tired of keeping the activation servers running to support legitimate installs of ~8 year-old software and decided to give it away. But that’s only partly true.

Turns out Adobe did retire the activation servers used by CS2 back in December, but when legitimate owners of the suite started complaining that without these servers they’d be unable to reinstall their copies if needed, the company began offering versions of CS2 that didn’t need activation.

It’s the CS2 standard edition. Wikipedia says it includes Bridge, Illustrator, inDesign, Photoshop, and Version Cue. Not bad.

* Adobe says you’re supposed to have a license, so some folks’ consciences may keep them from getting a free copy.