Selfie Sticks – A Time And A Place?

A great article about selfie sticks in the theme parks, made me think a little more about ‘what is acceptable behavior’ when taking a travel picture.
I don’t own a selfie stick myself, but that’s mainly due to the fact that I am uncomfortable whenever I see a picture of myself.  Can I really look that old/large lol?

Also, I do realize that selfie sticks carry a little stigma right now.  Perhaps I suffer from self esteem issues based on these opening words, but I kind of keep a professional, but low profile while I work.  An essential asset for any good travel or documentary photographer.
I will step up when I need to, but I don’t want to change the landscape by affecting the scene I am trying to shoot.  As photo journalists know; you must record the news, not be a part of the news!

Selfie sticks stand out too much, especially when surrounded by a team of family and friends all waving, cheering and falsely posing and pouting in self admiration hehe!

I do sympathize with the owners of these ‘extended arms’.  Who wouldn’t want a better picture if you can get one?  If a telescopic tube of lightweight steel can achieve that, then why not?  A magic moment at the Magic Kingdom would be worth the glares and stares as you block the walkways surely?  It’s not as though we will ever meet those angry people again is it?

There’s an old piece of wisdom though; “if it does not seem right, it probably isn’t”

Taking this a little further, which of these two scenarios works for you in terms of acceptable behavior?

  1. It’s Easter weekend at Epcot and the busy theme park has been very crowded.  Your last chance to grab a great memento is by turning your back on the illuminations fireworks and reaching up over the heads of the people behind you as they crane their necks to see the show as your selfie sticked iPhone grabs the perfect shot.
  2. You are out on a trail on Tom Sawyer’s Island at the Magic Kingdom and you wait hatting until there’s no-one around before you take a quick but very well composed picture of you and your kids by those rolling rocks?
  3. You stop by your favorite photo point at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and politely ask a passer by if they’d be kind enough to take your group’s picture?

The 3 scenarios above might offer you an obvious answer, but not everyone will feel the same I guess.  We are all different, with different values, different needs and entirely different considerations for what we must do on vacation.

In case you are wondering?  Scenario 3 is my preference.  Disney guests are so much fun, and they love to offer their support towards your family’s vacation!
I usually ask them where they are from and have they had a great time, and maybe ask them where they’d recommend for a snack/meal today.
It’s all part of the Disney Magic for me.  Selfie Stick or not.

 

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The Digital LOMO Camera – Sort of!

As any photography degree student will confirm, there’s no such thing as a bad camera!

Each camera has it’s own unique way of recording an image, and non more so than those film cameras that have almost vanished from trace!
The variable build quality, different types of film, matched with an inability to check the image as you shot, all created an exciting world of variation as you pressed that shutter release!
Film processing and paper selection all added to the wonderful serendipity of what is now called ‘analogue imaging’ (film).

Today, I stumbled across an article by Erin Foster on the TouringPlans Blog, and I instantly associated her ‘tie pin’ style camera images with the Lomography that excited and inspired us all at University.

The 5Mp Narrative Camera Clip takes an image every 2 mins and looks set to become a modern day Digital Lomo Camera, and although a fabulous piece of digital wizardry that deserves your dollars, it still possesses a respectable amount of image uniqueness that I truly adore!

It’s a cool $225 dollars, but definitely worth it to camera fans!

Recent Acquisitions

Harry Lim's Photography Blog

Vide gear

In a recent blog post I mentioned that I recently invested in quite a bit of gear to start doing more real estate videos. I really want to increase the production value and make the videos cinematic. Here is some of the equipment I’ll be using:

1.) Westcott Spiderlite TD 6 Continuous Lighting Kit

2.)Manfrotto  535 Carbon Fiber Tripod with 502 Video Head

3.) Tether Tools Wallee iPad Connect

4.) Cinevate Atlas FLT 26 inch slider with vertical kit and counterbalance

5.) Manfrotto 494 mini ball head

6.) Rode Smart Lav

7.) Canon TC-80N3 Timer Remote

I plan to review each piece to let you know how it works and why I use it. So stay tuned for that.

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Are FishEye Lenses a Gimmick?

To answer that question, fully, you’d be surprised to see that we haven’t included a single Fisheye image in this post!
Instead, we thought we’d leave it to Tom Bricker over at the disneytouristblog to show you the way!

In this post, he reviews the Rokinon 8mm Fisheye.  I will let you decide if this is something you’d like to keep in your bag, the next time you head to Orlando!

My view?  Well, to be honest I tend to despise the things, but somehow Tom manages to use them to great effect.

Vacation Home Photography

Photography is often our only window into ‘reality’ as we browse online for our essential goods and services.
Would you buy a pair of shoes online if the Buyshoeshere.com used awful photography for their summer season?

Probably not!

With vacation homes however, this is exactly what happens, mainly due to private homeowners touring their lovely properties with a point and shoot set in Auto.
In hundredths of a second, a lovely home can be transformed into a rather dull and dreary den, as the camera tries to make sense of the troublesome lighting that pours in through the windows.
The camera tries to kill the light, unaware that it makes that room look a little shady.

Equally, bathrooms in particular take on a gawdy orange ‘sci-fi’ orange as the tungsten lights and low levels of daylight hit the back of the camera sensor, producing a less than inspiring ‘warm tone’ that looks far from professional.

Don’t fear.  If your vacation home looks like that, not all is lost!
Good photo software can repair a lot of bad in those room shots, and here’s a great series of before and afters that we ran for one of Florida’s leading vacation rental home sites.
The images were provided by the property manager, but the guys at Loveflorida.com wanted a better solution without the expense and inconvenience to the guest schedule of a full reshoot.

Before                               After
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VC nature_01VC nature_01

uTVC5038319 (11)uTVC5038319 (11)

uTVC5038319 (17)uTVC5038319 (17)

uTVC5038319 (13)uTVC5038319 (13)

VC townhomeVC townhome

While some people might accuse the adjustments as ‘cheating’ by ‘Photoshopping’ the images to create a more attractive result, Lightroom simply lifts the shadows and reduces the highlights in this example.

In effect, we have merely recreated what the human eye would naturally see when in this lovely home !!

Which do you prefer?

Disney Dream Portraits – Annie Lebibovitz

In a previous post we mentioned seeking inspiration from other notable photographers.

Today we attempt the impossible, by looking at the work of the legendary Annie Leibovitz.
The artist is renown for her portraiture.
Sometimes formal, often relaxed, but never accidental.

An extreme example of her work at its most complex is that of the Disney Dream series of portraiture, that first appeared in 2007, featuring Beyoncé as Alice in Wonderland.
Much of Annie’s commercial work involves complex lighting setups, huge visual effects activities and lots of post production (Photoshop etc).

Disney Dreams Annie Leibovitz

 

In reality, we have no ability to recreate that kind of image in a theme park, but we certainly can take some special cues from the Beyonce image to great effect!
Here are some pointers from the Alice image that can help us create great vacation pictures!

  1. Annie Leibovitz always has a wardrobe and makeup team on set.
    Think about what the kids will be wearing on their most magical day at the Magic Kingdom!  Make sure they’ve got something on that will help bring the best out of the day!  Take a pocket hairbrush and some wet wipes to tidy hair and remove signs of lunch!
  2. Carefully planned lighting setups make the shot work so well for professional photographers.
    Learn how to use your camera flash during the day to stunning effect!
    621A0450
    This shot used a similar technique to the Beyonce/Alice shot, by using a slow shutter speed and the on camera flash to create a very dramatic effect.
  3. If you are able to get your subject and your camera moving together, you get a beautiful blurred background but a sharp shot of the subject, thanks to the ‘freeze’ effect of the flash.
  4. Leibovitz uses a classic foreground, subject and background technique in this shot, ensuring that all three include special interest.
    Nothing in this image of Beyonce is chance.
    As the main subject of the shot, Beyonce’s eyes stare at the camera, creating an effect that she is actually looking at you.
    The Mad Hatter in the foreground creates a sense of excitement as he looks away from the camera, suggesting that something is really going on in the scene.
    The March Hare does the same, but cleverly looks another direction, emphasising that this is a little ‘dangerous’.
    The blurred background makes the whole scene look very fast paced, adding further to the excitement!
  5. If we took any one of those elements of this beautiful picture away, the effect would collapse.  Can you imagine if that grass wasn’t blurred?  Or that the men were looking at you too?  Or if Beyonce was looking at her shoes?

OK, so we aren’t expecting you to pull off a picture like that, but you could step closer towards it each time you get that camera out!
Try just one new idea that Leibovitz used.  As one of the world’s greatest photographers, she is after all worth mimicking!

Good luck and happy snapping!!

Check out Annie Leibovitz’s Disney Dreams Portraits here!

Choosing the Best Travel Camera for A Vacation

Long gone are the days when you simply asked how many pixels a camera had to decide if it was a good one!  Now, just about any camera sensor is just about good enough to get by on a vacation in daylight!

So there we have it, our first clue as to what makes a great vacation camera, let’s take daylight as being pretty much sorted.  All modern cameras should be able to make a reasonable job out of that!

 

Night time and low light is the real test of a good camera!

Just about every compact camera has a flash hasn’t it?  So were are sorted right?
No!
If you read this Top 10 Vacation Photo Tips article, turning the flash OFF can give you the shot that your eyes can see!  Flash is one of the best ways to ruin a lovely night scene.
All we see is the subject, perfectly lit a few metres away and a totally dark and murky background!

To get a really good shot, you need a camera that can work well WITHOUT the help of a flash.
Now here’s the bad news!  There aren’t many compact cameras that are up to this amazing task!
to jhelp you out we’ve posted a few links here to review articles:

 

The Choices that we would personally pick out are:

  • The Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100
  • Nikon 1
  • Canon S95
  • Panasonic LX7
  • Canon SD4000
  • Canon Powershot D20 (weatherproof and waterproof_