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July 2011 Archives

July 5, 2011

Nice To Meet You, Virtually--Introduce Yourself to Clients with Video

Building trust and forming connections with Web-based videos

When Jasmine Star opened her Irvine, Calif., wedding photography business, one priority was to create an introductory video for her website. The impetus grew from her experience as a bride-to-be a few years earlier. Searching for a photographer, she saw such a video on the website of David Jay of Santa Barbara, and found it both engaging and disarming. Star knew video would play a pivotal role in her Web marketing.

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“When you enter a website, there’s usually a transactional feeling,” says Star. “But video gives a perspective on the personality of the photographer.”

The video is working. About half of Star’s clients book her purely on what they see on her website. “One bride said my videos were a decision maker she didn’t want a stranger photographing her wedding, but a friend. I talk about becoming friends with my brides in my video, and that convinced her.”  

Continue reading "Nice To Meet You, Virtually--Introduce Yourself to Clients with Video" »

July 13, 2011

Foba BALTE Quick-release Plate Manages Tethering Cables

By Ellis Vener

If you regularly use a tripod you know the value of a good quick-release system that speeds up connecting and disconnecting a camera or lens from the tripod head and very securely holds the mass of the camera and lens combination to the tripod head. There are two common QR designs used today, Arca-Swiss’ open ended design and the various fixed cavity shape Manfrotto designs. The Manfrotto design features clamps and plates of various shapes. Arca-Swiss’ mechanically simpler, more ergonomically hand friendly designhas been copied by a broad range of manufacturers.

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The newest addition to the Arca-Swiss based QR system comes from the Switzerland-based Sinar Broncolor Foba coalition, the Bron Imaging Group. Designed for photographers and videographers who regularly work with a camera tethered to a computer, the Foba BALTE plate’s unique feature is a pair of channels in the body of the plate that can carry either a USB, Firewire 400 or 800 (and presumably soon an Intel “Thunderbolt”) cables. The body of the camera (or perhaps a lens with a tripod mount foot) is the channels’ ceiling.

The design works well whether the camera is tripod mounted or hand held. It removes the stress and tension of a cable’s weight from the port on the camera and keeps the cable gathered neatly directly under the main part of the camera’s body. The body of the plate is hard black anodized black aluminum. To tighten the plate to a camera body requires a simple flat blade screwdriver or in a pinch, a thin coin like a U.S. dime. The plate is no thicker than a current standard QR plate from Really Right Stuff, In fact it has a lower profile than the base of a Really Right Stuff "L" plate.

Continue reading "Foba BALTE Quick-release Plate Manages Tethering Cables" »

The Next Big Thing: Practical and Profitable Implementation of Fusion

By Jeff Kent

Vanessa Joy and Rob Adams are a husband-wife, photographer-videographer team that has been pioneering a progressive, and profitable, approach to the fusion of still photography and video. Joy handles the photography while Adams provides videography and video production services. Their partnership has earned them The Knot’s “Best of Weddings” 2010 award, WeddingWire’s 2010 Bride's Choice Award, numerous publications in magazines, and an eager clientele clamoring for their next big thing in fusion.

Joy and Adams, who are partners but run separate businesses, began offering fusion wedding coverage in 2009 and have spent the last two years perfecting their style, their workflow and their presentation. They stress that fusion is not wedding documentary video; it’s meant to augment the still imagery, not replace a videographer. As such, they caution against making guarantees about what moments will be captured on video. “Fusion is a subjective concept just meant to enhance the photography,” says Joy. “If a client wants a full wedding video, that is a different thing entirely.”

Of course, the ultimate point of fusion is to boost your bottom line. What’s the point of learning all of this if you’re not going to make money? Most fusion products revolve around a multimedia slideshow that incorporates still images, video clips and music. You can burn the slideshow to a disc or flash drive and then sell it to clients as an add-on or part of a package. Several album makers are now producing fusion albums that incorporate space for a digital display, such as an iPod, iPad or even an LCD screen sewn right into the fabric of the book cover.

Joy and Adams also sell digital fusion albums that can be viewed on computers or pad devices, or set up on a video screen and played on a loop. The layout is similar to a magazine-style album, except there is a mix of still images and video clips. The viewer turns the page, virtually speaking, and sees different images and different clips on each page.

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For a fusion slideshow, which Adams creates with Animoto, the charge is $600. A fusion album runs upwards of $1,000. Joy and Adams offer these products not only for weddings but for portrait shoots, trash-the-dress sessions and other events.

Take a look at these examples of their Wedding Fusion Album, and an Engagement Session Fusion Slideshow.

Continue reading "The Next Big Thing: Practical and Profitable Implementation of Fusion" »

July 15, 2011

The Need for Speed; Lexar Professional Dual-Slot USB 3.0 Card Reader

By David Saffir

I recently received two products for testing—the Lexar 8GB 600X UDMA CF Card, and the new Lexar Professional Dual-Slot USB 3.0 Card Reader. Together, they deliver the fastest download times to a host computer I’ve seen to date.

This card reader accepts CF UDMA cards, SDXC, and SD UHS-I (SD 3.0) card formats. The reader is also backward compatible with USB 2.0 devices, and standard CF, SD, and SDHC cards.

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The card reader can perform downloads of single cards, concurrent downloads of a CF and SD card, and transfer data from one card to another.

It is robust and well made, and should hold up well in studio or field use. The card reader follows along in the design of its USB 2.0 predecessor, a clamshell setup that snaps shut when not in use. We all know that a piece of dirt or debris in the wrong place can damage or ruin a card reader or card.

Of course, a USB 3.0 cable is provided; the card reader end of the cable is unique to 3.0, and the host connection end will fit either a 3.0 or 2.0 port. The host connection part of the cable is marked in blue to differentiate it from USB 2.0.

This USB 3.0 card reader can reportedly reach speeds of up to 500MB per second. This is blazing fast—obviously much faster than USB 2.0. But what happens when you try to download your images to your computer?

I tried a half-dozen PCs, all running Windows 7 (there are USB 3.0 drivers available for Mac, but I did not have one available to me). Test machines included desktops and laptops, all equipped with USB 3.0 ports. 

Continue reading "The Need for Speed; Lexar Professional Dual-Slot USB 3.0 Card Reader" »

July 18, 2011

Hot Stuff: The New Loktah LifeStyle Bag

By Robyn L. Pollman

Loktah, a natural media products company, has introduced their new LifeStyle line of bags. These bags feature warm earth tones textured by handmade hemp fabric. They are refined by champagne toned edges and waterproof lining. They can be used with or without the padded shoulder strap.

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The CaseBag is designed for the iPad with up to a 23-inch strap drop and features a speaker opening with power opening and volume opening, a back magnetic pocket, and two magnetic closures. Public pricing: $75.00.

The LaptopBag is designed for laptops up to 17 inches with a 20.5-inch strap drop, two zippered pockets inside the front closure, a 13-inch back pocket on the outside, and is secured by magnetic closures. Public pricing: $132.00.

Both bags are creatively timeless in design.

Loktah, founded in 2008, creates natural packaging for the photographic and videography industries. They offer world-wide shipping via UPS and USPS. Volume discounts are available on large orders. Loktah Pro is exclusively for Professionals, with accounts processed within 24 to 48 hours.

See more from Robyn L. Pollman at paperieboutique.com and buttonsandbowsphotography.com.

An Exciting Point of View: POV.HD Video

By Joan T. Sherwood, Senior Editor

The POV.HD from V.I.O captures HD video from a camera head about the size of a half-roll of quarters, which is tethered to a TV-remote-sized controller by a 1.5-meter cable. The controller itself has a small wireless remote control, and the head has several mounting options, including helmet and goggle mounts, a magnetic system and strap options. The camera head and controller are also durable (IP67 certified) and water proof (to 1 meter), so it can take the punishment of most sports to get an exciting POV video. 

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There is some very exciting potential for a POV video camera like this in conjunction with kids sports or senior portrait fusion (still and video) slideshows. Video clips captured with the POV.HD are saved in mp4 format to an SD card in the controller (4GB card included). The unit is not SDXC compatible. You can choose either 1920x1080 or 1280x720-pixel resolution and various progressive scan rates (1080p30, 1080p25, 1080p24, 720p60, 720p30). 

It does include a small built-in microphone attached to the cable, but its capability is limited. If you can secure it to your subject in a way that keeps it stationary and not brushing against anything, you could feasibly get functional ambient audio to overlay on a soundtrack.

The best features of the POV.HD are the versatile camera head that does a decent job even in some difficult lighting situations, the video resolution, the durable construction, the LCD screen on the controller that lets you monitor what the camera head sees, and the tiny wireless remote control that works up to 15 feet away from the main controller. The drawbacks are the need for a tether; the 328 gram (11.56 ounces, with 4 AA batteries) weight of the controller, plus 186 additional grams (6.56 ounces) of camera head and cable; and the barrel distortion of the wide f/2 lens, particularly in full HD. It can also chew through some AA batteries, so have spares on hand. 

With a controller that has to stay tethered to the camera head, you'll have to find a spot to secure it to the person or thing that the camera is mounted to. Does anyone still have a fanny pack? Cargo shorts pockets would work as well. Luckily, you can lock the buttons, so you can stow it inside anything without the recording settings getting inadvertantly changed. Still, some sort of sports holster would come in handy. The system does come with a nice carrying case, but it's larger than what you would want to attach to a skateboarder.

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The camera body has a 6-element glass lens and, according to V.I.O., offers the widest field of view on the market at 142° in 1080p30 format. The camera body is 1.5 inches in diameter on the lens face, and approximately .875 inches wide on the smaller end. The CMOS sensor is native 1080p, and the controller offers quite a bit of flexibility over exposure and processing, including exposure compensation and metering, as well as sharpening, noise control, in-field editing and other features.

Continue reading "An Exciting Point of View: POV.HD Video" »

About July 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in July 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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