Browse Author: WZ_Spondicious

Affinity Photo on my Mac

Super new application for working with photos called Affinity Photo. I’m really enjoying it and it seems like it is a proper alternative to Photoshop. I’m sure there are not all the facilities as you can find in the Photoshop application, but you probably don’t need or use most of what’s in PS anyway.

The iPhone 6 for serious photography

As much as I love using my NEX 6 Sony mirrorless camera for the quality and the experience of using a proper camera to shoot photos, sometimes it is very quick and handy to whip out the iPhone and take the picture. I do find that it is faster to get to the point where I can shoot a photo with the iPhone. There is a little slider that you can use from the lock screen which will take you directly into the camera application so that you can be ready to shoot within seconds. There are times when I could have the iPhone out of my pocket, picture taken and the phone back in the pocket before I would have got the proper camera booted up and ready to take the picture. Photography though is not just about quick snapshots, it is also about considered photos capturing a specific scene, a delightful composition, a special moment that needs to be set up just right or a piece of photographic art. There is absolutely no reason at all why you shouldn’t use the iPhone to do this sort of photographic work in many situations.

ShoulderPod S1 for iPhoneography

When to use the camera on the phone and when to use the big sensor camera

Seeing as photography is all about catching light, the first question to be asked is about how much light do we have for our photograph. If we have the best light where we know we are going to get a great picture whatever camera use, then why not use the megapixels on our camera phone. We can take advantage of the touchscreen where we can set focusing and the exposure control using our fingers on the screen. Yes, I know there are some cameras that do have touchscreens also.

Always in the pocket.

Another advantage of the iPhone camera is that you always have it with you. I know that my iPhone is always in my pocket and it is good to know that photography is always with me. Well, not always because if the light is low then I know I’m not going to get a good picture from my iPhone. The images get very grainy, very quickly. There are some applications that you can use which will give you more control such as Camera Plus and it is very easy to change from shooting photos to shooting video. With Camera Plus I like the way that I could set the camera up to connect with my iPad. I can put the iPhone in a specific position where I would not be able to see what the camera is seeing, but then connected to the iPad over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth I would be able to control the iPhone camera from the iPad. It is another creative option available.

Paper camera

Camera apps I have on my iPhone and iPad now

  1. Camera Plus
  2. HDR
  3. Pencil Camera
  4. Photosphere
  5. Paper camera
  6. Apple iOS camera app
  7. Is the gram
  8. Slow Shutter
  9. ProCam XL
  10. VSCOCAM
  11. Hyperlapse
  12. Capture
  13. KinoMatic
  14. Spark
  15. FiLMiC Pro

Some of these applications on the list are more suited to or dedicated to shooting iPhone video. The application I use most of all would be the Apple iOS Camera App and this is because it is the application most easy to get at. It is also the application most used because I am accustomed to the way it works. It is also easy to use and I would have to spend less time researching what each of the settings can do.

IPhone Phopography

Getting the settings correct.

One of the problems of using different applications for different photographic situations is that it is very easy to mess a photo by having the incorrect settings. This could be that the last time you used the application you changed some of the settings to suit a specific purpose. The next time that you pick it up, those settings that were saved from the last time no longer apply to the type of photo you want to take. What would be really handy on any of these photo applications would be to have a button that would quickly take you back to default settings.

FRagment

The Photosphere and also the HyperLapse application are specific to a specialised branch of photography. I really enjoy taking the photos where it is as if you were inside a bubble and you can do a 360° view of your situation. It is great to be able to post these onto Google+ so that other people can see what it was that you saw.

## The joys of iPhone photography

I won’t be giving up my Sony NEX 6 camera any time soon. In fact, only yesterday I took it to my favourite beach nearby and used it for taking photos. I was able to shoot with a long lens of surfers out on the waves. The iPhone 6 camera is good but would not have worked as well for that photo event. What is really good is to have choices of which kit to use for whatever situation and the iPhone 6 is good for that. It gives me extra creative options as well as being the camera that I always have about my person. Long live iPhoneography!

Street Photography portraiture at the Sunday Market

Summertime Blues and other colours

A lot of people look forward to the summer time for various reasons, such as having some time off from work and being able to enjoy better weather. The better weather and the longer days meaning that it is possible to go out and do more things than you are able to do during the wintertime. In some ways, it is the other way round for me during the summertime because I work during the summer in a camping site and I won’t get any time off until October. Working six days a week it becomes quite difficult to find the time and the energy to go out and shoot some photos with my Sony NEX-6 camera. I often find that at the end of a shift of working I’m quite tired or very hungry and all I want to do is to get home and to scratch whichever itch needs scratching. Quite often it will be a case of getting some food and then some snoozing time on the sofa! Last Sunday though, was a good day because I went out to the market and I hung around with my camera amongst all of the people and the fruit and vegetables.

My photographic plan for the market

I had to make a choice between the wide-angle 16mm lens and my 55 to 210 mm zoom lens. With the wide-angle lens I’m able to take pictures of people close up and sometimes they don’t know that I am taking the picture because it is such a wide angle being captured. On the other hand, I can use my zoom lens in a situation like at the market and not necessarily be noticed because people are busy looking at the goods and other people around the market. For this particular trip to the market I decided to go with the long lens and my aim was to do close-up portrait street photography with getting in as close as possible to faces. It turned out to be a particular good choice and the only problem I had was a Moroccan market trader waving at me because he didn’t seem to like having his photo taken. I waved back to him and I moved to somewhere else. I spent a couple of hours, maybe less, taking photos and I was quite pleased with the results when I got back home and put them into Aperture on the iMac. I also did take a few photos of the produce available on sale by themselves as well as the colourful fruits and vegetables being included in my street portraits. See more Spondicious photos on Flickr.

Sitting at the water fountain in the St. Feliu de Guixols marketplace

I bumped up the ISO on the NEX-6 camera even though it was quite sunny because some of the shots that I took, the subjects were in the shade provided by the stalls of the market. This also allowed me to get a fairly high shutter speed while I was shooting in aperture priority mode. There was a guy sitting on a stool in amongst the fruit boxes and the crates and he was just looking around, not working terribly hard. Maybe he had done as much selling for the day as he wanted to. He was just lazily looking around at people in the market and was a perfect subject for some street portraiture. At first I did have the camera set to take multiple shots on pressing the button and this can be quite useful when people are moving, but I found that I didn’t really need it so I turned that feature off.

Although it is possible to stay in one place and wait for the people to go past, which is good if you have a particularly good background to work with, I do like to have a wander around and to find new positions. When I do this I end up with a more varied set photos than if I was to stay in one place. What I was looking for was to find expressive faces that were going to give me an interesting story to tell with the photo. These sorts of expressions tend to occur more when there are two or more people together taking part in a conversation. I saw that there were two old guys having a chat animatedly using their hands as part of the conversation and I was very pleased with the photos I got of these fellas.

Old fella in Market

What! Very little or no postprocessing?

My photos were getting uploaded to Google automatically and I found that a number of the photos were good enough that I didn’t need to crop them or to fiddle with them in any way. All I did was to add a few words to the picture and posted them to various places in Google+. Street Hunters Community is a good place to send some Street photos. Usually I like to do some postprocessing in order to give the photos more umph and power. With a good number of these photos taken in the market I didn’t feel the need to work on them further in Intensify Pro or even use some of the tools available within the editing facilities in Google+. I did crop a couple of the photos where there was a person or even just somebody’s elbow poking into the shot in order to tidy things up slightly.

Fish seller in market

Moon shots in Intensify Pro and Pixelmator

Shooting for the moon

As I was coming back from my walk with the dog I noticed that the moon was looking quite large on the horizon. If you want to get a good picture of the moon with it as big as possible this is the best time to take your moon photo. So I ran inside the house and went to the upstairs terrace and shot some handheld photos of the moon. I didn’t have time to go and find the tripod, but what I did do was to steady the shots by holding the camera next to something solid. Also during the process there was a point where I could put the camera steady on the wall and that kept it good enough for a slightly longer shutter speed setting. I got a number of shots so that I could get the exposure correct for the moon and it could have been a good idea for me to shoot it as a HDR with the three exposures each of them 2 stops apart. What I did instead was to alter the exposure settings manually setting it at -3EV stops. This was the one that gave me the best image for the moon although the background was completely dark. As I was working with a camera RAW image I was able to pull back some detail from the shadow area.

Getting the moon photo to work

First of all I used the application Intensify Pro and although the application is helpful, it wasn’t so good for doing some masking on just the moon. Even though I set the edge of the brush for the masking as a hard edge it wasn’t working quite quite as I thought it should. So it was time for me to get into the bitmap editing application for the Mac called Pixelmator. This is a really good application which I should use more for all sorts of reasons. There are a huge number of tools for making adjustments to photos and plenty of tools which are good when you want to make some digital art. It doesn’t have some of the very specialised photo editing tools that you get in Intensify Pro, although it does offer more of a creative process for editing any sort of bitmap, digital art.

Aperture

Using Pixelmator for photo editing

What I needed to do was to isolate the moon so that I could get the exposure setting correct and to get the contrast as required. This is easily done in Pixelmator by using the magic wand type selector. All you have to do is to click and drag until you have all of the area you want selected. With a light object on a dark background this is very easy to do. Once I had the moon just the way that I wanted it, I was able to invert the selection and then to start work on the background with the controls for the levels. I was able to get this so that the outline of the trees showed up really well.

The next problem that I wanted to sort out was that the colour was not really as I wanted it to be. I needed to get more of a blue sort of background and within Pixelmator there is a tool which allows me to alter the colour as I see fit. You can easily put in the hue and then decide how dark or light you want the colour to be.

Copying and pasting

I think it is in a Star Wars movie where there is a planet that has two moons. I can’t remember what that planet is called, but it came to mind as I was editing this photo. I thought it would be interesting and a little bit of fun just to add an extra moon to my photo so that there were two. All I had to do was to use a copy of my selection of the moon and to paste back in on a new layer. Just so that it looked a little bit different I made it a bit smaller and added some colour to it. Just a bit of fun with Pixelmator and I ended up with a photo that was edging more towards digital art.

Poppies and Mechanicals

One photo on top of another.

It can be quite fun and handy to use one photo on top of another using layers in Pixelmator. You can take a photo that will give you a textural effect as I did in this photo. I wanted to make it so that I had a grungy sort of texture on top of a floral photo. There is nothing wrong with pictures of flowers, but sometimes I think that there are just too many of them and I would rather do something a little bit more interesting. The thing to do is to alter the opacity of the top layer and also to change the blend mode and with some experimentation you can come up with some interesting and exciting effects.

David Allen Wizardgold

Capturing the Kiss on the Beach

The Kiss

While I was taking my break at work yesterday I sat on a park bench near to the beach so that I could take pictures of people as they went past. I had my Sony NEX-6 camera with me and expecting to get better photographs than I had done with the Samsung Galaxy S3 camera phone on the day previous. I only had the kit lens with me on my Sony which goes from 18 mm to 50 mm and so I could have been sitting a little closer to my subject matter. Unfortunately, I was unable to move the park bench. Anyway I did have a little bit of zooming available with the lens and I had and I said it to the longer part of the zoom available. I still ended up with a lot of foreground in pictures as you will see I didn’t with a lot of foreground and the picture.

Going for the prime

If I hadn’t been having a good break from work or perhaps will be more inclined to get up onto my feet and to change the point of view and composition that way. Or maybe would have been better for me to be using the new adapter I have with the Canon mount super zoom lens that I bought last year. The new adapter that I have does give me control over the aperture which is good and it does also do the autofocus. The problem is that the autofocus is dreadfully slow and it is unusable for quick capture, people moving type of scenes.

I do have the 16mm prime lens which is very good for street photography and I like using. It wasn’t going to be suitable for the photography is going to be able to do on this day. As we all know it is the glass that is important with your photography equipment and so I will keep on the lookout for good quality lenses that I can add to my camera bag. I can see that I will be staying with Sony for some time so spending some money on lenses is not really a problem. The only thing is that if I move to a full frame camera like the Sony a 7, that uses different lenses although it is possible to use the SEL lenses on it.

Here is the image before I did anything with it.

Kissing One 00283

Here are a couple of versions of the image at I make some adjustments. I applied some filters using Intensify Pro and then I did some cropping in Aperture on my Mac. I had rather a lot of sand in the foreground which was uninteresting so that had to be cropped out and in the end it gave me a photo that was almost a panorama view of the scene.

Changing the emphasis and the story

In this version of the image I follow the suggestions of my wife to crop in much closer and we found that it gave us a different story. The couple are still kissing in front of the beach and a blue sky that the emphasis is more upon them than it is of the playground and the rest of the beach.

Learning More about processing photos

Learning more photo applications and doing more with photos

I bought the upgrade from SnapHeal to SnapHeal Pro today and mainly because it works as a plug in from Aperture. Aperture is where I do all my photography work so it is the best place to get access to the 3rd part apps – As a plugin. Same with the Photomatix Pro the HDR application and also Intensify Pro. I am not always going to put a photo through all of the plug ins available, but there could be times when I start work with three bracketed exposures in Photomatix Pro and then use SnapHeal to remove something from the image to finish off. I can do things like adding a vignette in Aperture, but I get better controls over the final look in Intensify Pro.

SnapHeal

When you get into using SnapHeal you will be amazed at how it does such a great job of removing things from an image. You really can take things out of a photo and not know that there was ever anything there. I showed what the app can do to my wife and her face lit up with incredulity. It is really easy to use, you just brush the area that you want to delete after changing the brush size to best suit the size of the object. There are a couple of settings that you can change, but basically all you need to do is to click on the button Erase and ‘poof’ it is gone. It really does seem like magic when you use this application.

Get in line

I have found that if I need to erase something that is a straight line, all I need to do is to click on a start point and then move to the end of the line, hold down the shift key and click again.

Not just for the erasing of objects in photos

Sometimes it is necessary to work on the image little bit more manually and you can do that within Snapheal Pro by using the clone tool. You can also use tools for brushing the mask on and brushing the mask off and you can even do selection of the shape with a sort of Lasso tool. You get the choice of going polygonal or freehand. Mostly Snapheal is famous for its ability to raise objections in a photograph but it also has retouching and adjustment tools. These can be applied to either the whole photograph or to the area that hasn’t been masked with the masking tools.

Saving and sharing

Before you decide that you have finished your work you may choose to have a look at your work as before and after any changes. If you hold down on the icon that looks like and eye in the toolbar you can toggle changes that you have made on and off. There is another icon which will allow you to see both of your before and after images side-by-side.

When I have completed all of the work on a photograph there are a number of things I can do with it. You can just click on save and it will go back into Aperture if you have launched into it as I plug-in. Or you can use one of the sharing options available if you have opened up the application as a stand-alone.

NEX-6 Camera applications – Time-Lapse

Using the extra applications with the Sony NEX-6

You can extend the functionality of your Sony NEX6 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera 16.1MP with 16-50mm Zoom Lens – Black
by purchasing some of the extra applications available from the Sony Play Mobile site. There are also one or two free applications which you can use, such as the one which allows you to use an Android or an iOS device to be a remote controller for the camera. I have downloaded the free applications and I have bought a couple of the paid for applications that I thought looked interesting. One of the paid applications is called Time-lapse and it does what it says on the tin, that is to allow you to capture a set of photographs at intervals and combine them into a movie. I was able to do this with my Canon 600D when I had the free extra application called Magic Lantern. You can use this timelapse application to take pictures of clouds scudding across the sky when you can hardly see that they are moving because they are going so slowly. It can also be interesting to use this timelapse application to shoot a short movie of a scene in a street, especially if you view from high above.

Getting started with using the application Timelapse on the Sony NEX-6

The first thing to do is to get the application onto your camera and to be perfectly honest I am not terribly impressed with how easy it is to buy applications from the Sony application store. I had one or two problems with getting my second purchase from the site even though the first one was easy enough. In the end, to get around the difficulties I had and buy a PlayStation card so that I could put money into a Sony account. I was then able to use that value in the Sony account to buy the applications. The applications tend to be either available for free, £3.99 or £7.99 and the timelapse application was in the higher bracket.

After installing the application on the Sony NEX6 Camera
, about six days later there was an update to it, version 2. If you also have version 1 and you need to upgrade to version 2, you can’t just click on the update button on the website while you have your camera attached. What you have to do first of all is to go into the Application Manager on the camera and to delete the previous version and then click on install. The USB connection to the camera and the installation process seems a little bit flaky at times and there is a possibility you may need to try more than once to get it to work.

NEX-6 Timelapse

Themes within the Timelapse application on Sony NEX-6

The themes are really just presets and they are a good start for your first recording of timelapse movies. I would recommend that you try out the presets which suits best the movie that you are making. Apart from the standard timelapse preset there is one for a night scene, another for sunrise or sunset, miniature, night sky, cloudy sky and then there is the one called custom. If you start off by using the standard setting you can take those initial settings and change some of the parameters within that. From the information page that is for the theme you can go to the options and for each theme there are five pages of options to play with. In some themes some options can’t be changed. There is a timer which you can turn on or off, if you have it on then you have a two second self timer. Within the standard theme settings on page 2 you can change the movie size and go for either 1080p or 720p. On page 3 you can change the focus mode and the focus area and you can also change the exposure compensation.

Sony NEX6 timelapse 2

You can also go into the application settings for the theme so that you can sort out exactly what you want for the time lapse in terms of frames per second, interval, the number of shots and in some of the themes you can choose the automatic exposure, whether it should have tracking or not. It is in this area that you will see how long it is going to take for you to record the final length of your video interactively as you change the length of the interval and the number of the shots. For a standard timelapse the default is 24 frames per second with a two second interval and 240 shots giving you a final length of video of 10 seconds and it tells you that it’s going to take eight minutes to complete this process. If you make any changes to the default settings, don’t worry as there is a option for you to reset to the default on the Sony NEX6 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera 16.1MP with 16-50mm Zoom Lens – Black
.


NEW KIT ALERT

I just bought a DURAGADGET Double Zip Black And Red Protective Case so that I can keep the camera safe in my back pack. It is a bit more bulky but at least it isn’t going to get scratched.

Intensify Pro used on my photos

There was an offer on a website recently, MacHeist, that often has bundles of software available with amazing discounts. The latest offer included the application Intensify Pro. I had been trying the software previously, but didn’t buy it because I didn’t want to spend the money. The other software that was in the MacHeist bundle wasn’t really interesting to me, but at the same time the price overall was $40 cheaper than buying the application from the developer direct.

What does Intensify Pro do?

What the application is, is a set of adjustments and filters for photos to enhance to a greater level than is possible that I can already do within Aperture. There are a number of presets which work in the same way as other applications giving you filters to turn a good photograph into something that looks like it should be thrown into the Instagram bin (Or not!). This doesn’t mean that you can’t work with these filters in a subtle way.

I like the photos that I put up for public viewing to be full of power and punch and possibly I would use these settings a little bit further than would some other photographers. It is possible with this application to get an effect that goes along the lines of high dynamic range HDR photos. There are not quite the same number of possibilities for HDR as I would get by using three bracketed images and the application Photomatix Pro. At the same time though, there are a huge number of settings that can be twiddled with and fiddled with to give a massive range of effects.

Working with Intensify Pro as a plug-in through Aperture

Fullscreen 10 01 2014 15 25 3

It is very easy to select a photograph in Aperture and to use the menus to get to plug-in applications available such as Intensify Pro. You are taken directly to the plugged-in application where you can make all the changes that you want to make to the photo. As soon as you click on the button to apply the changes that you have made, the application closes and takes you back into Aperture. The version of the photo in Aperture is not altered and your new photograph is added to a stack next to the original.

Stacking the layers in Intensify Pro

It is possible to make a range of settings using one of the tools in the application and it is also possible to vary that affect by using the opacity tool. What you can also do is to add another layer where you use a different type of set of settings and once again use the opacity tool. With this you can further intensify your photograph with an infinite number of visual possibilities.

There are brush and eraser tools that you can use to mask on and off the effects that you are applying and there is even a gradient tool. This could be very useful where you want to have a colour or affect applied to the photograph in a way that only affects the top or the bottom of the photo and is gradually changed in intensity across the photo.

Intensify Pro

Getting creative with Intensify Pro

There are a lot of choices that you can make with both the presets that are available and the settings used to make those presets. With all of this configurability you can make both stunning and also dreadful images. It is known already that the beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I say that if you like it then do it. We should all be making images that are for ourselves and our own artistic sensibilities and are not just there to please the general public. Now go and create something!

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