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March 2012 Archives

March 8, 2012

ZReiss 3.5" Touch Screen Digital Photo Albums: A New Way to Display

By Betsy Finn, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

I’m always on the lookout for neat new ways to display and showcase images. At a recent tradeshow, I spotted some miniature digital albums at the ZReiss booth. They’re about the size of a typical wallet album, but instead of containing print pictures, these have a touchscreen digital display.

The 3.5" Touch Screen Digital Photo Album display automatically turns on when you open the leather cover. You can watch pictures in slideshow mode, using the button on the side of the album, or flip through the images by swiping your finger vertically across the screen. To change albums, swipe your finger horizontally across the screen. I had to consult the manual to figure out this not-quite intuitive navigation. I also had to press the screen a bit harder than expected, but maybe I'm just used to a more sensitive screen. The rechargeable battery in this product will last through four hours of continuous play; it’s charged via USB.

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The device comes with sample images in three sample albums, so you can actually play with it straight out of the box without loading pictures of your own. The album comes with self-loading software—when you plug it into your computer, it brings up the Photo Viewer interface. The software is compatible with PCs and some Macs; a future firmware upgrade, when released, will be compatible with all versions of Mac. A USB cable is included with the album, and it plugs into the port on the album's side.

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Kubota AutoAlbum 3 Makes Designing Albums Simple

By Mark Levesque, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

Wedding albums have come a long way since the days when they were a simple collection of 8x10s and 5x7s in matted pages. With all of the choices available for album styles now offered, the photographer has much more flexibility in creating a stylish keepsake. The downside could be that the photographer now takes on yet another role, that of graphic designer. Fortunately, software has kept pace with the changing landscape, and there are a number of tools available to facilitate album design. A natural fit for photographers is the latest iteration of the Kubota Image Tools Photoshop plug-in AutoAlbum 3.

By leveraging the photographer’s knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, AutoAlbum eliminates part of the learning curve in album design. AutoAlbum provides more than 500 layouts as templates for designing your album, and includes a dashboard that will be familiar to those already acquainted with Kubota Image Tools products. The concept is dead simple—select a layout from the dashboard and populate it with your images. Each layout is implemented as a Photoshop action, with stops for the user to select each image in the template. Directions tell the user whether to select horizontal or vertical images, and each image is placed into the layout as a Smart Object, allowing for unlimited resizing with no loss of image quality in the rendered version. When the action completes, the user is prompted to save the resulting file as a layered Photoshop document to allow for future editing and replacement of images.

Selecting the desired layout is facilitated by the Template Library Book included with theautoalbum_dashboard_blog.jpg software, as well as by the built-in search capabilities of the dashboard. Each layout includes both an ordinal number and a code that indicates what type of layout it is. The code is easy to understand, and it allows the user to find every layout of a particular type. A thumbnail in the dashboard gives you a visual representation of the layout, and using the arrow keys, you can quickly cycle through each candidate. If you've identified the desired template in the Template Library, you simply type its number in the search field and it comes right up.

Most of the layouts include a black background and a white stroke around the images. The background color is implemented as a fill layer, which allows you to easily change the color. Simply double-click on the page color layer and the color-picker dialogue pops up. Select the color you want, click OK, and the color changes instantly, a boon to Photoshop neophytes. The templates come with relevent helpful guides you can consult while tweaking the layout.

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The Top 5 Social Websites for Photographers

By Curtis Walker

Being a photographer means being a visual communicator, and the Internet is finally catching up to us. We’re now able to casually post a shot during free time, connect with friends, and keep a fresh set of photos where the greatest number of people are likely to find them, all the while providing a source of entertainment and inspiration that doesn’t infringe on the viewers’ usual activities or feel like a sales message. It's also wise to overlay your logo and copyright to any images that can be reshared so that you continue to get credit for it as it spreads to more pairs of eyes.

The best improvements in efficiency come from sites and services that integrate with the services we already find indispensable, Twitter and Facebook chief amongst them.

1. Instagram — This iOS-only "visual Twitter" streamlines the act of photography, editing and sharing into a single app. Using an iPhone as a camera is kind of cheating, but it has honed my craft as a photographer, while letting me follow some of my favorite photographers and their snapshots. Some people prefer to keep their aesthetic pure by posting only photos taken with other cameras. If posting photos to Twitter is already part of your regimen, filtering the flow through Instagram will enhance the experience and promote sharing to a plethora of other sites. Note: An Android version was announced at the end of 2010, but has yet to materialize.

How I use Instagram: On a daily basis. I dedicate myself to posting the most interesting thing in front of me at any given moment. Sometimes it’s old work, sometimes a picture of my food (what better way to share lunch suggestions?!). I can then turn on the geotagging feature, allowing me to check into Foursquare. I can also set the post to forward to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Flickr and so forth. I feed different content to different networks. Portfolio work goes on Tumblr, which has its own feed to Twitter. If I recycle an old image from my vast archive on Flickr, I might want to turn off posting to Flickr. On the other hand, I may want to shuffle something old to the top of the deck and see who responds.

Bonus Add-on Service: Statigr.am. This service builds detailed reports about Instagram activity and allows full interface with Instagram content. It even makes suggestions about the best time to post images, based on previous interactions. The iPhone app remains the sole way to post content, however.

2. Pinterest — This visual smorgasbord is the mature descendant of the lowly bookmark, and the visual equivalent of Facebook's Like button. Using it as a means of organizing and cataloging content from across the Web, users "pin" sites of their choice, and select the image of interest. These pins are organized by user-defined categories, such as "cool wedding photos" or "props." Photographers can pin photos from their own site as well, adding their work to the conversation and exposing their portfolio to new eyes.

Currently, Pinterest is invitation only, but getting an invitation is usually as easy as asking for one from a contact already on the site.

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CameraBag 2: A Fab App Goes Desktop

By Marianne Drenthe

A few years ago I purchased my first ever iPhone phone editing app, and it happened to be the original CameraBag. At the time it felt completely revolutionary and simple to select an image from my photo library, run it through the app and end up with a completely edited image; to me it was simply amazing! This was the dawn of the iPhone camera apps, and the concept was different than what I (let's face it, all of us) was used to. Over the years, phone camera apps have come a very long way, and they seem to be getting better with each passing release.
   
Nevercenter, the creators of CameraBag, have created another revolution for photo editing, but this time for processing images on your computer. CameraBag 2 is an endlessly customizable, simple, cost-effective way to process images outside of the usual editing environment (for me – Photoshop CS3). I liked the program enough to envision using CameraBag 2 time after time to create fun processes with all my unedited point-and-shoot images, and even occasionally for use in customizing personal images taken with my DSLR. 
   
Enough raving about CameraBag 2, the real question is, "What can it do?" Short answer? A lot! It can do a lot!

COLOR CORRECT

camerabag_colorcorrected_1.jpgWe all have them (you know you do, too): Those images in which the white balance is less than perfect. What many photographers do is mask that unbalanced color with another color via a “vintage” process. I admit that’s tempting, but I like to work with a more balanced image before doing crazy processing techniques to it. CameraBag 2 has the ability to color correct any image right inside the app itself. Take for example this image (left), noisy, underexposed with ambient tungsten lighting from a table lamp over 10 feet away, it’s a fun image taken with my Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and my Lensbaby. I did a quick color correct to just make the image less orange (below).  It was a quick fix with the Color Corrector tool under CameraBag 2's Adjust tab. The curve was pulled below the midline to correct for the orange color. I pulled the orange out from the shadows and midtones. Pulling the points below the horizontal set line desaturates your chosen color out of the image. The left-hand point on the line indicates shadows, the right point highlights. This is a quick way to do an overall color correct, and it's very effective in getting out whatever heavy cast you want.
 

 

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STYLES MENU
For this before shot I’m using a quick point-and-shoot image shot with my Canon S95. It’s an image of my daughter before an annual father-daughter dance with an ’80s theme (below). I wanted to find my favorite variation in the Styles menu, CameraBag 2’s base styles, which you can create and add additional variations to. It’s easy to determine what style looks best; the options pop up when you hit the Quicklook Button above the Styles options (below). Here you can preview all the options from CameraBag’s base styles.

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After selecting the look you want from the Quicklook options, you can click on the Adjust tab to adjust colors individually. Initially, I picked the 1983 style, but I didn't like the green cast (below), so I ended up choosing the Helga filter and adding a custom border.

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Continue reading "CameraBag 2: A Fab App Goes Desktop" »

Best of Bags Guide: Pompidoo Cologne Bag and Shootsac Tote & Shoot

By Robyn L. Pollman
All Images © Robyn Pollman

The December 2011 issue featured several camera bags and the gear that fit inside them.  Web Exclusives had an accompanying online article with several more bags.

Now we feature two more bags by Pompidoo Camera Bags and Shootsac.

The rules for my bag-tests were simple. I selected camera and electronic equipment I owned and used frequently both for personal and professional photography.  With the exception laptop pockets, I did not fill any exterior or interior pockets with additional items. I only filled each bag's interior compartment. In order to create additional storage space (exactly how I would carry the bag and contents for personal use), I did not always use all of the removable protective padding included with each bag.

Everything shown photographed in the "what fits" image had to not only fit inside the bag, but also allow the zipper on the bag to close – and each bag had to remain closed and stay closed when worn on my shoulder.

POMPIDOO Cologne Bag shown in Idle Turquoise - $323

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Pompidoo is a new brand that uses natural leather and well thought-out form in a combination of contemporary design and functionality.

Inside, the Cologne Bag is separated into two compartments—one side for photo equipment with three removable padded dividers, and the other side for personal items and accessories.The bag also includes an interior zippered pocket for mobile phones.

My favorite feature: The color choices for the Cologne Bag line—they offer this style in virtually every color in the rainbow.

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The Cologne Bag is made of genuine leather. The bag stands upright on its own and features a padded interior with two external zippered pockets.

Held:
Nikon D700 body with grip
Nikon 85mm f/1.4D
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
Nikon SB-600
Abie Designs camera strap

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Measures: 45cm wide x 35cm high x 18cm deep

pompidoo.com

 

SHOOTSAC Tote & Shoot shown in Red - $229.00

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The Shootsac Tote & Shoot by Jessica Claire is a fully-padded tote bag. It features a side-loading camera pocket for access to a camera with full-size lens attached from an outside pocket, ready to shoot. This leaves the main compartment of the bag free for an extra lens, a Shootsac Lens Bag, or other personal items.

My favorite feature: It would be hard to choose between the camera pocket (I've never seen anything like it!) and the back zippered-pocket that can hold an iPad, or be unzipped from the bottom to slip over the handle of a roller carry-on.

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The Tote & Shoot is made from a polymer surface that resists stains, abrasion and germs with antimicrobial properties. Environmentally speaking, the material is PVC-free and contains no heavy metals, latex or other harmful ingredients. It is also water repellent and remains supple in any weather- it does not get stiff in the cold or soft in the heat. 

Held:
Nikon D700 body with grip
Nikon 50mm f/1.4G
Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D
Nikon SB-600
Apple 15" MacBook Pro
Speck SeeThru Case for MacBook Pro
Abie Designs camera strap

jessica_claire_camera_bag_gear.jpg

Measures: 17" wide x 13.5" high x 6.5" deep

shootsac.com

About March 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Professional Photographer Magazine Web Exclusives in March 2012. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2012 is the previous archive.

April 2012 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.


 
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