Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Trip to the Guggenheim Museum, New York

The wife and I, on one trip to New York, went to the Guggenheim Museum. There is an exhibit with a photography theme (runs up to September 6, 2010) and this adds to the motivation, for me, to visit the museum. The exhibition was very nice and, as the title of the theme goes, really haunting.

After viewing the exhibit, we also looked at the other works of art in display. It is always nice to see works of Cézanne, Chagall, Degas, Manet and other great artists.

Then, we took a stroll inside the museum store. Inside, the wife saw a book by E. H. Gombrich. She knew about him and his book from something she has read previously so she decided to buy the book. Now, I have also started reading the book. It is, in itself, a great masterpiece. It is an art history book and the discussions can be read on the first half of the book (or I should say first two-fifths - the pictures of the masterpieces are printed on thicker, glossy paper) while the reproduction of the art pieces are on the second half of the book. I decided to read this book and take what it has to offer to heart.

Now, you may ask, why is this book being discussed in a blog dedicated to Tech and Photography?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Don't Delete Based on the Camera Display

I've been practicing a lot of portrait photography lately and my hapless (and helpless) "victim" most of the time has been the wife. Sometimes, I get friends to pose for me. But, of course, most of the time, the wife is my subject.

Anyway, we were enjoying a break from the heat one afternoon, so I decided to take some pictures of her. A typical photo session would yield about a hundred shots, though I sieve through some of the pictures based on what I see from the back of my camera. After that, I load the pictures up on my external harddisk drive, back it up, then go through with the rest of the pictures again on my computer. I delete some of the pictures that were not in focus, were not properly exposed, etc.

One of those pics that made it through was this picture. It was a high-key shot and I added some grain in post to add character to the picture.

Wescott Mini- and Micro-Apollo

I have shot two clients now. One is for the graduation of a friend. The other is for the wife's picture which will be used for a bookmark for a company in the Philippines.

The graduation portraiture event lasted for about three hours, while the wife's photo op lasted about an hour. The graduation portrait was a bang-bang affair because my client invited a lot of her friends located in different locations.

The wife's turn was a more relaxed affair done in the comforts of our home.

The graduation photos were mostly done outdoors thus I just used the sun as my light source most of the time. The wife's portrait, as I just said, was done indoors so I needed to prepare for indoor lighting.

For the wife, I decided to get a second speedlite and some light modifiers. I attended a workshop in Adorama in New York and, from that workshop, I learned about the Westcott light modifiers. (I even got a catalog that I can peruse.) So, I purchased the Westcott Speedlite 2-Light kit consisting of a Mini Apollo, light stand and L-bracket, and a Micro Apollo. I also purchased a Westcott Photo Basics 5-in-1 Reflector also by Westcott. Unfortunately, the second speedlite didn't arrive on time so I was forced to use just one speedlite, the overhead room lighting and the reflector.

I converted our living room to become my studio and I used a blanket for my background. There's a lot of clutter in the room so I needed to hide the mess (photographically) with the blanket.

The wife and I decided that it's best to show her "in action" so we used a telescope as prop. (In reality, the wife does her astronomical observations remotely. From Central New Jersey, the wife controls a 3.5m telescope in New Mexico using her Macbook.)

(Look at the even lighting at her face. I really didn't care about
the shadows behind the telescope, as long as there is no glaring
shadow that would fall on her face. I only had one Speedlite
when this was taken.)

I should say that I was very happy with the outcome of the photoshoot. The wife was too - and this is the most important! I admit that I haven't read about lighting people then but, with the help of the Westcott modifiers and reflectors, I was able to make a professional quality "environmental portrait." (I'm reading about a very good portraiture book now - I'll post a review later.)

Again, here is what my "studio" looks like:

Here is another sample of a picture of the wife taken with this set up:

What a little ingenuity and some very good light modifiers can do!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Why Twitter (formerly Tweetie 2) is the Best Twitter iPhone App

There are a lot of Twitter apps out there for the iPhone, and some are saying they are the best, some have gained  a lot of loyal followers, and some have shown a disdain for one or more. For me, I have tried a lot of Twitter apps on my iPod Touch, most are free, some are paid for. But for me, there is only one that I can consider the best:

The Twitter app.

The Tweetie app by Atebits was bought by Twitter several months ago, though I have been using the Tweetie app since its first iteration. I paid a good $2.99 for the first one, if I remember the price correctly, and when the second iteration was released, I paid another $2.99. There was a great commotion regarding this second paid upgrade and people went up in arms on why they should pay again to update the app. People wanted to have a discounted price if you have the previous version though, even if Atebits wanted to, there was no in-app purchase back then.


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