Category

Hacks

How to Share Photography with Kids

By | Artist Profile, Gorillapod, How To | No Comments

Summer days are getting longer and after a few weeks out of school, your kids are starting to get on your nerves. Need something to keep them occupied? How about photography?



Photographers Varina and Jay Patel share how a few point and shoot cameras paired with GorillaPod Original provided hours of summer fun for their family.  After a few hours of playing around with cameras and GorillaPods in the woods, their kids learned quite a bit about photography. From self-timer to macro shots, they were able to express themselves and share their parents’ passion. Happy kids enjoying your favorite hobby—now that’s a win-win!

Read the entire article and learn how you can recreate the experience at home with your family here. And for some quick tips on how to explain photography basics to your kids, check out this DIY guide, also by Jay and Varina.

 

HDR Photography with Eric B. Wood

By | Artist Profile, Gorillapod, How To, Philosophy, Photography | 2 Comments

A few weeks ago, we asked New York-based photographer Eric Wood to share some of his tips and tricks for HDR photography. We were curious about HDR and he was stoked to share with us. Instead of a simple list of tips and tricks, he came back to us with this awesome discussion about his HDR philosophy, his gear, how he post-processes and how he prints. Get ready to delve into the controversial world of HDR photography with Eric!  

As I’m sitting here trying to decide how to begin this post I am thinking of all the wonderful tutorials, amazing websites and awesome photographers devoted to HDR. There are lots of them…and most of them are very, very good. In fact, I learned (and still learn) about HDR from these very same resources. I’d like to think I came from the school of hard-knocks when it came to HDR but the truth is a simple Google search landed me a wealth of information from which my own passion for it grew. The base of learning this technique is already out there so rather than simply regurgitating information that already exists, I’d like to take a new approach and address a few things that aren’t out there yet. My hope is that I can shine some new light and make your life a little easier as you comb through this awesome, yet controversial technique.

Location: Cambridge, New York
Gear: Nikon D90 | Sigma 10-20
Shot: 3 Exposures (-2, 0, +2)
Tripod: GorillaPod SLR Zoom with Ballhead

Awesome HDR Tutorials
Stuck in Customs HDR Tutorial
Cambridge in Color High Dynamic Range Tutorial
Farbspiel Photography

Develop your Philosophy
So, here’s the issue with HDR. Some people love it and some people hate it. Some people think it is the future while some people think it should die where is stands. Some people think it is photography while others argue it is no such thing. Everyone has an opinion. Understanding these issues and knowing what your answers are goes a long way toward developing your HDR belief system. Notice I said “knowing what your answers are” and not “what the accepted answers are”. To use the old cliche, there is no right answer.

Since we are talking about philosophy,  I suppose this is a great segway to introduce you to my HDR beliefs. When I hear people talking smack on HDR or I read a heated blog post where HDR is referred to as a virus, I can’t help but chuckle to myself. But I also understand their point of view. For hundreds of years people have been capturing scenes with cameras and portraying it as reality, then along comes HDR. When someone views an HDR image with their photography goggles on, that person is compelled to conclude that the image is not a photograph. It doesn’t capture a scene or a moment in time and so it doesn’t have a place in the photography community. And you know what? I agree!

What? Did I actually say that? Yes, I believe that HDR and it’s process is not photography, and should not be passed off as photography. To me, HDR is imagery. The fact that the same tool—a camera—is used to create the foundation of the process isn’t the most relevant point.

When I go out shooting, I don’t strive to create a photograph, I strive to create an image—a scene that represents the way I choose to remember it, not necessarily the way I saw it. I want to feel free and not constrained by the shackles of traditional photography dictate as correct or proper technique. Basically, I want my imagination to be free to create what it was intended to create—an image.

Camera Setup
I’ve always been a stubborn guy when it comes to camera setup. I prefer to run a minimal operation when I’m out shooting; I don’t want to lug 50 pounds of gear around all day. So here’s what I do. First, I develop a concept of what I want to shoot. For example, a couple months ago I had the idea to shoot a retro railroad passenger car from the inside. I wanted to create a dramatic, almost ghostly image. Having a clear vision in my head allowed me to develop the right setup before I left. Railroad cars are fairly narrow and I knew I wanted to capture the interior seating in a very bold and symmetrical way. The only lens that was going to give me the results I envisioned was my 10-20mm. I bolted it on my body (a Nikon D90) and considered it done. I also knew I wanted to shoot brackets (-2, 0, +2) to cover the dynamic range of the image. No problem. Most all cameras have the option to turn on exposure bracketing. I always want the option of having all the luscious details in both the highlights and shadows (even if I don’t use them).  To make your life easier when bracketing, don’t forget your tripod and remote shutter release. Finally, I slip a lens cloth and an extra memory card in my pocket and I am ready to go. I usually shoot with a battery grip and have 2 batteries in camera. If you are gripless, toss an extra battery in your pocket or bag.

Location: Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway, Alna, Maine
Gear: Nikon D90 | Sigma 10-20
Shot: 3 Exposures (-2, 0, +2)
Tripod: GorillaPod SLR Zoom with Ballhead

That’s it. A setup that has everything I need and nothing I don’t.  I would prefer to have a refined, reliable setup than lug around gear that inevitably will not be used. If I had instead envisioned shooting the water flowing through a nearby stream, I may have opted for my 50mm lens with a neutral density filter. But again, that’s it. No extra lenses, no bags of cords, flashes, batteries, or other apparatus. Just an idea and the essential tools to execute it. I know what you are thinking. What if you came across a situation that required a lens you left in your bag at home? I don’t let it stop me. It is the perfect opportunity to hone your creativity and execute a unique image that others would might pass because they didn’t have the “correct” tools.

Wait, this is the JOBY blog, right? Yep, I love my Gorillapod and I truly feel it is an invaluable part of HDR imagery and photography. I know there are HDR professionals out there that can get reliable results handholding the camera through the brackets, but that’s not me. I really prefer to have a tripod for stabilization. Here is the problem though: tripods are not allowed in so many areas. Rather than fight with a security guard, I just get creative with my Gorillapod. I do one of two things:

1. Attach the GorillaPod to my camera and wrap the legs up the side of the camera so it resembles a flash handle. You are no longer carrying a tripod but a trendy handle accessory for your great camera. This is even easier if you run a smaller, compact setup.

2. Sling the camera around you neck like any other tourist and slip the GorillaPod in your back pocket with your shirt untucked. That’ll cover it nicely. Careful though! In this day and age, the odds of you passing through a metal detector in an area that forbids tripods is actually pretty high, and that super-durable Ballhead or Ballhead X is made of metal. That is going to bring attention to this mystery item that resembles a tripod. Just try to get through security at the Empire State Building and you’ll know what I mean.

Both of these approaches have worked well for me in the past, so choose one and get some camera stabilization going for those killer photos! It definitely makes a difference.

A Quick Example

Location: Cinderella’s Castle, Disney World
Gear: Nikon D90 | Sigma 10-20
Shot: 3 Exposures (-2, 0, +2)
Tripod: GorillaPod SLR Zoom with Ballhead

Here’s the deal with this example. I was wandering around Cinderella’s Castle all the while knowing I wanted to capture an image that was different than what I’d seen in the past. Images of the castle are commonly taken from the front of the castle or the side over the small pond. But I wanted something different. I wanted to capture the imagination of the castle; the hustle, the environment, but most of all, the legacy. Yes, the legacy. Seriously, this place is iconic. How could I be there, with all my gear (again, lens, camera, Gorillapod)  and shoot the place the same way millions of others have? I couldn’t. I dropped my GorillaPod on a bench, composed the shot and fired off 3 photos in 2 stop increments. A side note though, I didn’t have a problem in Disney World with my full-size tripod; they just suck to carry around all day.

Post-Processing
Now the fun begins! The first thing I did was pull the photos into Lightroom 3 and organize the 3 exposures. Next I export the 3 exposures to Photomatix 4.1 to generate the HDR image. Once some minor adjustments are made in Photomatix, the image is imported back to lightroom and developed. There is no standard set of processes for the development; it is whatever the specific image calls for. Typically, I adjust the Luminosity, Gamma and White & Black Points. Strength is almost always set to 100 and the Lighting Adjustment is usually on Natural+. Again, there are lots of amazing tutorials out there on Photomatix and HDR so don’t hesitate to check them out.

Next I sent the image to Photoshop CS5 for the final adjustments. Typically some curves, saturation and levels adjustments are in order, but by making use of layers and masks I localized the adjustments to specific areas of the photos. Masking is really an invaluable part of HDR processing as it allows you to focus your adjustments on specific areas of the image. Next, I added some detail to the photo by using Topaz Adjust plugin and finally I blended an awesome vintage texture over the final image. There you have it. A unique HDR image of that captures the imagination and spirit of the scene.


Post-Processing Resources
Farbspiel Photography HDR Cookbook
Before the Coffee PhotoMatix Tutorial

Textures
I love blending textures with HDR images. Again, this goes back to my willingness to understand that HDR is not photography but rather imagery. An awesome texture is exactly the touch that takes an image from ordinary to extraordinary.

Location: Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Maine
Gear: Nikon D90 | Sigma 10-20
Shot: 3 Exposures (-2, 0, +2)
Tripod: Tripod with Joby SLR-Zoom Ballhead

When I first arrived at this spot I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to capture. I knew the coastline here was treacherous. There are crazy rock-faces leading to the water, the waves are constantly crashing with amazing force and the area is covered with signs warning people to enjoy at their own risk. The scene was great. The sun had just come up and there was a great glow bouncing off the lighthouse itself. All I could think was how amazing it is that the lighthouse has withstood nearly 200 years of coastal rains, wind, rain and snow.  When I saw the final HDR image, I knew something was missing. The image was remarkably peaceful, but I really wanted to capture an image that was reminiscent of the tattered and torn coastline itself.

I jumped on Creative Commons and did a quick search for “grunge textures” and was excited to find one that would really make the image pop. I pulled the texture into Photoshop and simply dragged and dropped it over my original HDR. This process puts the texture on its own layer just above the HDR image. Pretty simple, right?

Now here is where the blending happens. All you have to do is make sure your texture layer is active and change the blend mode from “normal” to whichever mode gives you the effect you are looking for. In this example, “overlay” was perfect because this mode preserves the highlights and shadows the original image. You may find the texture too strong. In which case, reduce the opacity of the texture layer. One important consideration is that you don’t want the texture to detract from a significant focal point of the image. Here in this example you can see there are a few very distracting texture nuggets on the fence and lighthouse which I could have easily removed by healing the texture. Keep that in mind and you won’t make the same mistake I did. But on the flip-side, I was able to capture the scene in all its glory—rough & rugged, yet amazingly beautiful.

Texture Resources
Flickr Textures4Layers
Flicker Creative Commons Textures

Printing
It is amazing to me how the output of photography and imagery has changed over the last couple of decades. At one time, the only real output was photographic prints. You’d shoot a great shot, have it printed and enjoy it for years as it hung on your wall framed in all its glory. Over the past decade or so, the shift to a purely digital output has begun. No longer do we envision a final product to be one that hangs boldly on the wall but instead it is one that is displayed proudly across your website and social media outlets.

But don’t fret, printing is not dead. In fact, the ability to hold something tangible after a long day of shooting and a long night of post-processing is an amazing reward. Luckily, HDR images are remarkably print-worthy. In similar fashion to the rest of this post, I’ll save you the basic “get it printed professionally” speech and just jump right to a couple of print products that represent HDR very well.

1. Metallic prints. These are simply amazing! Metallic papers are typically available at any professional print shop and give your prints a “super-gloss” look. Technically, this paper has a pearlescent finish that renders amazing depth and bold color. And the best part, the cost is only slightly higher that standard prints

2. Metal prints. Whereas metallic prints are printed on a paper, metal prints are printed directly on a sheet of aluminum. In very much the same manner a car or a motorcycle is painted, a base-coat of white is applied to the aluminum sheet prior to your image being fused onto the metal. The result is a stunningly vivid piece with rich colors and bold detail that will beat even your LCD display.

The Future of HDR
I am a firm believer that HDR imagery is here to stay. After all, combining multiple exposures to create a scene has been around almost as long as camera technology itself.  Photography has evolved in the digital age, and HDR is just an expression of those expanded capabilities. When the open-mindedness of creative people combines with an increase in hardware and software options, more people experiment and change the way we see the world.

Have a  specific question for Eric?  Want to share your thoughts on HDR? Let us know in the comments! 

 

iPhone Portrait Studio on the Cheap!

By | Gorillamobile, Gorillapod, How To, Photography | 6 Comments

Kurt Manley is professional fine art photographer  based in San Francisco. He primarily shoots medium format color film in night environments, but you’ll also find him snapping away with his iPhone. 

Just like us here at JOBY, Kurt is all about creating amazing art with with little gear and limited resources. In this tutorial, Kurt shares how to shoot studio quality portraits without the studio set up. All you need is an iPhone, a clamp light, a GorillaPod and a few creative backdrop and diffuser materials and you’re in business! Thanks Kurt for sharing your portraits-on-the-cheap secrets with us! 

Joanna
For Joanna I wanted a low-key look and soft light. First, I draped a black table cloth over a door to use as a neutral backdrop. I then hung a thin, white bedsheet in front of the clamp light to act as a diffuser to soften the light. Placing the clamp light approximately 45 degrees camera left and about 12 inches higher than her eyes gave me the lighting I was looking for. I attached the clamp light to the GorillaPod and used the GorillaPod as a handle to maneuver the light while I snapped a few frames using Camera+—one of my favorite unintended uses for the tripod. To finish, I processed the image using the Black & White filter in Camera+. The whole portrait session took just 10 minutes.
Liz
For Liz’s portrait, I used the same bedsheet diffuser technique against a neutral white background as I used for Joanna’s portrait. The only difference was this time the clamp light was positioned camera right and approximately 16 inches above her eyes. I also angled her body away from the light, providing a more dramatic effect to the lighting on her face. I shot with Camera+ and edited the image with the Camera+ Silver Gelatin filter.
Carlos
For Carlos’ portrait, I tried to emulate a ringflash look. Using tinfoil, I first flagged center of the clamp light to produce a round light source. Then I used a GorillaPod to secure my iPhone in the center of the light so that the area completely surrounding the camera would be illuminated. I used a ladder to secure the clamp light and attached the GorillaPod to a C-stand, but a stool or back of a chair would work just as well. Because of the brightness of the light, I could not see the screen of the iPhone so I fired off a couple dozen shots and hoped for the best!  It took a few tries to get the composition right but it was fun to create something that I had never seen done with an iPhone before. I used Camera+ to shoot and processed with the Camera+ Low-Fi filter. The final effect is high contrast and high saturation—perfect for the fashion look this lighting technique suggests.
Michael
For Michael, I used the same ringflash technique as I did with Carlos’ portrait. Again, I shot against a neutral white background and then processed with Camera+ Ansel filter. The lighting and filter combination gives a harsh, high contrast look that I think works great with this particular shot where I caught him with his eyes closed. He looks like he’s transcending to a higher place.
Thanks Kurt for sharing your tips with us! If you’re interested in viewing more of Kurt’s work, visit him online.  Photos of Kurt in action by Carlos Arrieta. 
Update: For this tutorial, Kurt used a 2700k 23w compact flourescent bulb. He says that something in the 3000-3500k range would be good to try as well.

Sharing Your iPhoneography

By | Gorillamobile, How To, iPhone, Photography | One Comment

Now that you’ve taken all of these amazing photos with your iPhone, you’re going to need a way to share them with the world. We’ve compiled a short list of some of our favorite ways to share photos in the digital world and in the real world too!

In the digital world … 

Instagram: Like we’ve mentioned before, Instagram is an great way to share your photography and little snippets of your life with your family and friends. Plus, with the incredible community of photographers using the app, you’ll most likely make some new friends along the way.

Instagrid:  A nice online photo library of all your instagram photos that you can share with friends and family that don’t have an iPhone, plus you can check out the boards of other Instagrammers too.

Amazing iPhoneography and other Flickr photo groups dedicated to iPhone photography are also a great place to share your work and get inspired by others.

iPhonegraphy.com is great source for the freshest news in iPhone photography and also posts a weekly round up of iPhone Photos taken by their Flickr group Through the Lens of an iPhone. Share your photos for a chance to be featured or simply visit to get inspired.

And last but most certainly not least … US! Share you iPhoneography with JOBY on Facebook or on our website in the In the Wild section. We love seeing what our friends are up to!

Here are a few great ways to share your iPhoneography in the real world as well!

Postalpix: With Postalpix your favorite iPhone photos are delivered right to your door! They have a variety of sizes available, and you can even get your photo printed on an aluminum plate or a mousepad. Fancy!

 

Printstagram: Turn your Instagram photos into posters, stickers or a book. Keep them for yourself or share with friends. And all are between $10 – $25.

Postagram: Turn your photos into custom postcards to send to friends and family for just $0.99. Not a bad deal considering a stamp alone is $0.45.

Casetagram: For $34.95 you can create a custom iPhone case featuring all of your favorite photos. They have several layouts to choose from and an intuitive interface. It’s a lot of fun and you end up with a great personalized case!

 

 

Now get sharing! And maybe send your mom a postcard while you’re at it.

Almost Analog—iPhone Apps that Mimic Analog Effects

By | Gorillamobile, How To, iPhone, Photography | 6 Comments

I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t one of those people that gushes about the certain quality of analog photography—the warmth, the authenticity, the nostalgia. I’d also be a liar if I claimed to shoot more film than I do digital pictures. I love the look and feel of analog, but adore the ease of digital photography. Well, it turns out lots of other people feel the same way I do and those people know how to code. Here is a selection of some of our favorite almost-analog iPhone apps.

NoFinder ($0.99): Put all the guess work back into photography with this app. There is no preview, no focus and no flash. What fun! Plus, you can shoot in three different aspect ratios with a variety of different film types and lenses. NoFinder has quickly become my new favorite camera app. It just feels so gloriously Robert Frank.

ShakeItPhoto ($1.99): With this nifty app you take a photo and up pops a Polariod. You can even shake it to make it develop faster. Simple and totally satisfying.

Instagram (free): Multiple photo filters, plus a fabulous community of photographers. There is no reason not to love Instagram.

Incredibooth ($0.99, with additional booths for $0.99): It’s a photo booth right in your pocket! The app shoots four photos in quick succession and you end up with the classic photo booth film strip.

Hipstamatic ($1.99, plus additional film packs for $0.99): Yeah, yeah, Hispstamatic is old news. Regardless, it is still a fun app with lots of analog love to offer. You can swap film, lenses and flashes to get that perfectly imperfect look you’re after. I was really interested in this discussion about the role of photo apps like Hipstamatic in photojournalism, and how their effects impact the fidelity of the story the photos tell.

Photo 55 ($0.99): This app mimics Type 55 4×5 sheet film and produces a black and white  image with the iconic border of the original film. Another very simple but very neat one.

Dotti (free): It’s a disposable camera for your iPhone. Snap 12 photos to fill the roll and get real 4×6 prints delivered to your door for just $4.99 ($5.99 International). Don’t worry, the photos also save to your camera roll. You get the best of both worlds! Once you’ve snapped 12, Dotti loads up another roll.

What are your favorite analog-esque iPhone camera apps? Share your favorite apps and corresponding photos on our Facebook page or in the comments below.

 

How to Effectively Organize Images on Your iPhone or iPad

By | How To, iPhone, Photography | 17 Comments

This month on the JOBY Blog, we’re all about iPhoneography. We think phonography is totally rad—three cheers for creative expression on the go! Plus, nothing beats a lightweight and decent camera that you always have with you.  We put our heads together with some other phone photography experts to bring you tips and tricks, awesome apps, video tutorials, and maybe even a contest or two. Stay tuned!

If you are like me, then your iPhone camera roll is a mess. Maybe it looks a little something like this …

 

… for miles and miles. And, whenever you want to share a photo with a friend, you have to scroll through thousands of photos searching for the right image. Maybe you find it, maybe you don’t.

Well lucky for you and I, Carlos Arrieta is here to make our lives easier! Carlos is a San Francisco-based photographer and photography instructor at RayKo Photo Center and in this video he shares how to easily and effectively organize images on our iPhone or iPad. With these tips and tricks, your messy photo stream will be gone forever! Watch the video below for instructions.

 

If you cannot see the video embed, you can watch the video on Vimeo here.

If you’re also based in the Bay Area and interested in learning more from Carlos or the other instructors at RayKo Photo Center, please visit RayKo’s website or follow them on Facebook.

The Best (and Easiest) iPhone Photography Tip

By | How To, iPhone, Photography | 2 Comments

This month on the JOBY Blog, we’re all about iPhoneography. We think phonography is totally rad—three cheers for creative expression on the go! Plus, nothing beats a lightweight and decent camera that you always have with you.  We put our heads together with some other phone photography experts to bring you tips and tricks, awesome apps, video tutorials, and maybe even a contest or two. Stay tuned!

Off we go! If you read nothing else from this series, read this. This super simple tip will transform your iPhoneography, guaranteed.

Auto-Exposure / Auto-Focus Lock in the Native Camera App

So you want to take a picture of your kitchen table and and the pretty tulips sitting on top of it. But,  it looks like this—dark, with emphasis on the brick wall behind your subject instead of the subject itself. Here’s what you do …

Tap on the tulips to focus on them. Hold down and the camera will lock both focus and exposure on those tulips, instead of the wall behind them. This will bring your tulips into focus and correctly expose them all in one swift move. Click the camera shutter and you’ve got the perfect shot you envisioned.

It’s that easy and that awesome.

Here’s another example. The camera focused on the red brick wall in the foreground, but at this exposure, sky is totally blown out. Bummer.

So I locked focus and exposure on the lighter buildings in the background, bringing back in the sky.  Now I have a more balanced photograph with more information. Plus, it’s much closer to what I saw in the moment.

 

Auto-Exposure / Auto-Focus Lock in Camera+

If you want even more control over the focus and exposure, Camera+ allows you to separately lock focus and lock exposure.

First, tap to choose the focus point. Then hit the + icon in the upper right corner of the focusing square. Your focus and exposure controls will separate. Move the focus square onto the main subject of your photo, and then move the exposure circle around the frame until you’ve found the exposure that suits your fancy.

You should end up with something like this—focus point where you want it and an exposure that brings out the best in your subject matter.

Very nice.

Update! SmugMug’s new FREE app Camera Awesome also allows users to separately lock focus and exposure.

Stay tuned for more awesome tips from the JOBY Team and our smart photo friends! Happy shooting!

Vitec Group