Posts Tagged ‘easy’

Just Pull Some Strings: 8 Easy Transforming Furniture Designs for Lazy People

21 Mar

[ By SA Rogers in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

gesture controlled transforming furniture

When you’re lazy, even the most intuitive transforming furniture isn’t easy enough to operate unless it’s on the same level as clapping your lights on and off. Luckily for those of us who fall into this category, some furniture makers are creating multifunctional designs for small spaces that work their magic at the push of a button, the pull of a string, a flick of the wrist or even a mere gesture.

Retractible Ollie Chair by RockPaperRobot

ollie chair gif

ollie chair flat pack

ollie chair

ollie chair

You really have to watch the video of how this chair works to fully appreciate its brilliant simplicity. It starts as an entirely flat panel of slatted teak wood with a slight curve at the top. Pick it up, pull a string and the whole thing unfurls into a seat in a single fluid motion that’s very satisfying to watch, and it works the same way in reverse. The slats are affixed to a textile canvas to make the seating flexible, and the rest takes folding inspiration from origami.

A-Board Flat-Pack Shelf


a-board 2

This bookshelf starts as a flat piece of laser-cut plywood. Yang the orange ribbon on the back, and it will pull the shelves down perpendicular to the face so you can rest the whole thing against a wall and use it as a bookshelf. Designer Tomas Schön used a laser-cutting technique to bend the wood instead of hinges, and there’s no other hardware or even glue involved.

MIT Media Lab CityHome

MIT cityhome

MIT cityhome 2

MIT cityhome 3

Still not easy enough for you? How about commanding your bed to slide out with a gesture of your hands? MIT’s robotic ‘home in a box’ can pack a full, spacious-feeling apartment into 200 square feet of space, including a bed, workspace, dining table for dix, storage and a mini kitchen. The box uses built-in sensors, motors, LED lights and low-friction rollers to respond to your voice commands or gestures.

Ori Robotic Home Controlled via Smartphone App

ori robotic home

ori robotic home 2

ori robotic home 3

There are all sorts of complex transforming furniture systems designed to fit maximum function into small spaces, but how many of them are operated through a smartphone app? The Ori system (taking its name from the prefix of ‘origami’) runs on robotic technology, featuring an on-device user interface as well as an app for your handheld device so you can press a button to initiate various configurations, like the bed sliding out, the table folding down or the entire unit moving to tuck itself against a wall to open up the floor area.

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Just Pull Some Strings 8 Easy Transforming Furniture Designs For Lazy People

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[ By SA Rogers in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

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Posted in Creativity


Blackmagic Web Presenter makes it easy to use any camera for live webcasting

12 Feb

Have you ever wanted to use your DSLR, mirrorless, or other high quality camera for live video streaming on platforms like Facebook Live, Skype, or Periscope? If so, you’ve probably discovered how challenging it can be to get some of these programs to work with something other than a webcam or smartphone camera.

This week, Blackmagic Design announced what appears to be a great solution to this problem. The Blackmagic Web Presenter is a device that captures video from any camera and relays it to your computer, making the video appear as though it originates from a webcam. Blackmagic claims that it should work with Mac, Windows, Linux, and even Chromebook computers automatically without installing any drivers.
The Web Presenter supports video output from cameras up to Ultra HD resolution. The device scales output signal down to 720p for web streaming using Teranex conversions, which should result in very high quality scaling. It supports both HDMI 2.0 and 12G-SDI connections, and also includes XLR and component audio-in.
If you’ve longed to use your favorite DSLR or mirrorless camera instead of a mediocre webcam or smartphone for live webcasts, the Web Presenter looks like it could be a great option.
The Blackmagic Design Web Presenter is available now for $ 495.
Press release:

Blackmagic Design Announces New Blackmagic Web Presenter

Now it’s possible to make any SDI and HDMI video source appear as a USB webcam for high quality streaming on the internet.

Fremont, California – February 6, 2017 – Blackmagic Design today announced the new Blackmagic Web Presenter, which allows customers to use their professional SDI and HDMI video sources with streaming software and services such as YouTube Live, Facebook Live, and more.

Featuring 12G-SDI and HDMI connections, Blackmagic Web Presenter will down convert any SD, HD and Ultra HD sources and make them look like a 720p USB webcam. As all streaming software works with webcams, Blackmagic Web Presenter also makes it easy to work with any streaming software, but with dramatically higher quality. Streaming in 720p ensures customers get the quality of HD and a 16:9 aspect ratio, but with very low data rates so uplinking streams to the internet is easy from any computer.

Blackmagic Web Presenter can also live switch programs using its built in 2 input production switcher when the optional Teranex Mini Smart Panel is installed, making it a full live production solution for location broadcast.
Blackmagic Web Presenter is available now for US$ 495 from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide.

Blackmagic Web Presenter is the fastest and easiest way to get high quality video directly on the web for a new generation of web broadcasting. It replaces expensive and hard to set up dedicated streaming encoders and lets customers or broadcasters use professional cameras to stream high quality video through their favorite software and websites. Because Blackmagic Web Presenter looks like a simple webcam, any webcam compatible software will be able to capture this USB video and audio from any broadcast quality source without the need for additional drivers.

Blackmagic Web Presenter is designed for both the high end broadcaster as well as a new generation of web broadcasters. Traditional broadcasters can use Blackmagic Web Presenter to get content online quickly to a global audience from any location. AV professionals can create high quality live streams of seminars and conferences, educators can stream school performances and recitals to family members around the world, and gamers can share their gameplay with massive online communities of players.
Blackmagic Web Presenter also completely revolutionizes online webinars because customers can use it as a full featured, professional live production switcher simply by adding the optional Teranex Mini Smart Panel. That means they can create webinars using multiple sources so the finished program looks better and is far more dynamic than ever before.
Blackmagic Web Presenter features Teranex conversions that provide high quality image scaling for incredible looking web video. Incoming SD, HD and Ultra HD sources are automatically converted to 720p and output via USB to the computer for streaming on the internet. Converting sources to 720p is ideal for streaming because it delivers HD resolution and incredible quality at the lowest possible data rate. If the streaming software detects a slow internet connection, it can command Blackmagic Web Presenter to reduce the frame rate to 20, 15, 10 or even 5 frames per second.
Customers using Blackmagic Web Presenter don’t need to install any additional drivers because it is a standard UVC and UAC compatible USB video device. That means Mac, Windows, Linux and even Chromebook computers will automatically recognize Blackmagic Web Presenter as a standard webcam. This allows customers to use professional cameras to get far superior video quality, while maintaining compatibility with all of their existing software because the computer sees it as a simple webcam. Blackmagic Web Presenter works with software such as Open Broadcaster and XSplit Broadcaster, as well as popular sites like YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Skype, Twitch.TV, Periscope and more.
When used with the optional Teranex Mini Smart Panel, Blackmagic Web Presenter can be used as a broadcast quality, 2 input live production switcher. The panel adds push button controls, an LCD screen and spin knob for quickly cutting between sources. Blackmagic Web Presenter features re-synchronization on the HDMI input, so cutting between sources is always smooth and glitch free. For example, customers can connect an SDI camera and an HDMI laptop, and then use the front panel to switch between them while broadcasting live on the internet, complete with smooth, professional looking dissolves.

Blackmagic Web Presenter features 12G-SDI and HDMI 2.0 connections for working with all formats up to 2160p60, loop out to send the input signals back out to other devices such as a projector, and a program output to send full resolution SDI to a recorder or monitor. It also has XLR and RCA HiFi inputs for connecting microphones and other audio devices, along with a built in 90V – 240V AC power supply so customers don’t have to carry around extra power bricks or cables.

Blackmagic Web Presenter is portable enough to take anywhere so customers can broadcast wherever there’s an internet connection. The compact 1/3 rack unit size is perfect for equipment racks and can be placed alongside other equipment such as Teranex Mini Converters, HyperDeck Studio recorders and even ATEM Television Studio HD.
“Blackmagic Web Presenter lets customers create incredible looking online broadcasts using their professional SDI equipment and HDMI sources such as cameras, laptops and gaming consoles,” said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “The exciting part about it is that there are no drivers, it just works with all of the most popular webcam software and sites such as Open Broadcaster, XSplit Broadcaster, YouTube Live, Twitch.TV, Facebook Live and more. Plus, it can be turned into a full featured live production switcher simply by adding a Teranex Mini Smart Panel. Blackmagic Web Presenter is revolutionary because it makes global broadcasting available to anyone, which has been our dream for a long, long time!”
Blackmagic Web Presenter Key Features

  • Converts any SDI or HDMI source to USB webcam video in 720p HD format.
  • No drivers required, works with popular streaming software such as Open Broadcaster, XSplit Broadcaster, YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Periscope, Twitch.TV and more.
  • Supports all SD, HD and Ultra HD input sources up to 2160p60.
  • 12G-SDI input with 12G-SDI loop output.
  • 12G-SDI program output, ideal for recording masters when doing live switching.
  • HDMI 2.0 input with independent HDMI loop output.
  • HDMI video input re-sync for live switching.
  • XLR balanced mic/line level audio input.
  • Consumer HiFi connections for 2 channels of audio input.
  • Teranex quality down converter.
  • Built in 2 input switcher when used with optional Teranex Mini Smart Panel.
  • Desktop design or can be rack mounted using the Teranex Mini Rack Shelf.

Availability and Price

Blackmagic Web Presenter is available now for US$ 495 from Blackmagic Design resellers worldwide.

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5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners

11 Feb

It’s the easiest thing in the world to take a photo. You aim and press, and you’ve captured a moment, which in time will turn into a treasured memory. But did you know that with just a little bit more effort and barely any time, you can turn those captures into something more? Something that offers the subject the respect it deserves. Something that is a pleasure to look at even before the shimmer of nostalgia is sprinkled onto it by time, and something you’ll be proud to share.

With these five basic steps, you will notice an immediate improvement in your photos. Once you’ve started giving it just a little bit more thought, it’ll become a natural part of your photography.

Let’s begin!

1. Get low, get high — it’s all about perspective

The easiest and most natural way is to photograph from the level of your own eyes. There is nothing wrong with that, but it’s just one of many viewpoints — and perspective is essential to the way we relate to a photograph.

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners - perspective

Shot at human eye level.

Want to expand your perspective? Don’t be afraid to move, crouch, or if you’re up to it, lie down before taking your photo. Climb up on a chair even. If you’re photographing a child, get down to their eye-level and see what a difference it makes to your photo.

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners - perspective

Shot at bug level.

2. Less space, more content

Do you tend to point and shoot, without composing the photo? This leads to two very common outcomes. One of them being a lot of unnecessary space around the subject, the other we’ll discuss in step three below.

Does the person you’re photographing take up only a small portion of the image? Most of the time, that’s unintentional, and it just makes it harder to enjoy the look of the subject, whether it’s a person, flower, or a sculpture.

Try filling the frame with a face. Don’t be afraid to get closer (unless you’re photographing a venomous snake).

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners - get close 5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners - get close

3. A view askew (off-centered)

The other common result of pointing and shooting is that the subject almost always ends up being in the center of the frame. Sometimes, that works beautifully, but most of the time it’s just boring.

If you’re photographing a person, try to place them (particularly their eyes) off-center in the image. Be aware of their movement or line of sight, and leave room for that. Meaning, place the subject to the side they’re not moving into or looking at, and put more space in front of them in the direction they’re facing.

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners - off-center

The statue is entered in the frame here and the image is very static (boring).

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners - off-center

In this image there is more room in front of the statue in the direction the hand is pointing, leaving room for the little bird to “fly”.

To learn more about composition, check out these composition tips.

4. When too much is just right

If you’ve been doing photography for a while, you’ve probably heard how important it is to control the exposure of your images correctly (in other words avoiding both too little and too much light. It’s a basic rule of photography, but let me suggest that you try breaking it.

In my experience, too little light is more of a problem than too much, and sometimes, too much is just perfect — especially if your subject is backlit.

Try it and see what you think!

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners

5. Space is cheap

Don’t worry about taking too many photos. Really! One of the great things about digital photography is that you can snap loads of shots and choose among them later for the best ones to keep. Don’t miss a moment because you hoped to capture it perfectly in one go.

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners

5 Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Photographs for Beginners

Try taking photos the way you would normally, then experiment with the steps presented above. When you look through your photos, choose the ones you like and delete the rest. Think a bit about why you like the ones you kept and why you chose to delete some. It’s a fun, easy, and cheap way to learn and to find your own style.


As always, rules are meant to be broken! But remember that the more familiar you are with the rules, the more creative your breaking of them can be. If you try out any of these steps, I’d love to see your creations in the comments below!

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Google’s new PhotoScan app makes digitizing prints super easy

16 Nov

There are plenty of existing methods for digitizing printed photos, and most of them fall on a spectrum between ‘arduous with good results’ and ‘quick with terrible results.’ Google’s new PhotoScan app aims to aims to bridge the gap with a method that’s easy and produces good results by employing computational photography. 

The free app, available now for Android and iOS, requires the user to place their photo on a flat surface. After snapping a reference frame, the app directs the user to move their phone around the image to capture more data and, critically, move around the glare that the photo is almost certainly reflecting.

After you’ve made a successful pass, the app will work its magic and spit out a digitized, glare-free rendition of your photo. Images can be saved to your phone’s camera roll and to the cloud. In less than a minute, you’ve got a shareable digital photo that’s way better than the quick-and-dirty version.

Decent scans of instant photos with minimal effort? Sign me up. I scanned these Instax prints with Google’s PhotoScan app and they are gloriously glare-free.

The app analyzes your photo and identifies reference points so it can merge multiple versions of the same image, and compares pixel-level details to judge which image is free of glare. It’s based on technology Google and MIT have been developing to help remove unwanted reflections and obstructions from photos.

The app automatically crops, straightens and rotates your photo, but you can rotate and adjust the corners after capture if needed. My first few tries show surprisingly good results, with glare nearly totally removed in each image. The app uses your phone’s flash to provide illumination, but even so, using better available light produced the nicest results. The results look good enough for social sharing, but if it’s high resolution, high quality digital conversions you’re after, you’ll probably still need to go about it the hard way.

For more information you can watch Google’s Nat and Lo interview researchers about how it all works.

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How to Give Your Landscape Photos Extra Punch in One Easy Step

09 Nov

Have you ever felt that your landscape photography is missing a little punch? You look at other photographers’ images and their colours have a very appealing amount of contrast. But no matter how much you play around with HSL (Hue, Saturation, Luminance), Contrast, Vibrance or Saturation, your colours just don’t get the same depth and contrast and end up looking fake and oversaturated.

The quality of the lens being used affects color greatly (more expensive lenses generally give a much better colour contrast than entry-level lenses). But there is a step that you can do when post-processing your recent landscape photos to give the colours an extra little bit of punch and contrast and more importantly, keep them from looking overcooked.


Color space

You may be aware of a term Colour space which essentially determines how devices represent colour. The two most common colour spaces are Adobe RGB and sRGB. Adobe sRGB is used on the web and for many smart devices. Adobe RGB is a little bigger than sRGB and can show more colors. However, these are not the only colour spaces around. Lightroom, for example, uses one of the largest (able to produce a larger amount of colours) called ProPhoto RGB.

But enough about colour spaces! I can already see your eyes glazing over, mine are already as I type this. But knowing that there are different colour spaces can be helpful. Knowing exactly how they work isn’t necessarily all that important.

Convert to Lab Color

The colour space that you’ll want to recognize is LAB Color. How does it work? Doesn’t really matter. But how can you use it give your images that extra punch? In this article, I’ll explain how a very simple step (and I mean simple!) that will help give your images that extra punch using the LAB colour space in Photoshop.

Okay, so first up you’re going to want to bring your image into Photoshop. Before you do this, you may need to develop the image a little in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom. Fix up any exposure issues, correct the white balance, etc.

This is the image that I’ll use as an example.


This image has had very little done to it prior to Photoshop. A simple crop, general contrast and exposure correction were all that was applied.

Now that your images is open in Photoshop, the very first thing you need to do is convert it from Adobe RGB or sRGB (depending on what you have set as the working colour space in Photoshop) to LAB Color.

To do this, go to: Image > Mode > Lab Color.

The tick next to RGB Color means that Adobe RGB is currently being used.

The tick next to RGB Color means that Adobe RGB is currently being used.

Now Photoshop is using LAB instead. You won’t notice a change at all at this step because nothing has changed on your end. All you have simply done is tell Photoshop which method to use to display colours.

Add a Curves Adjustment Layer

With your image in LAB Color, the next step is to create a Curves Adjustment Layer. Once this layer has been created, you should see something like this:


Generally, this doesn’t look any different to any other Curves Adjustment Layer except for one thing. Instead of having RGB in the drop down menu, you will see Lightness.

With this adjustment layer created, the next step is to click on the Lightness drop down menu. This brings up Lightness, A, B; which is what LAB is short for!


Adjust Channel A

Now, you need to select the A-channel. With the A-channel selected, bring in the shadows anchor point at the bottom-left corner toward the bottom-centre. You will notice the Input numbers increasing from -128. As a starting point, I like to bring this value to -100. Now, find the highlight anchor point (top-right) and bring that toward the top-centre by the same value; for -100 set it to 100.

Notice the anchor points have moved toward the centre equally?

Notice the anchor points have moved toward the centre equally?

You’ll notice strange things happening to your colours as you slide the anchor points along. Don’t panic – this is supposed to happen.

Adjust Channel B

Now do the same steps by the same values for both shadows and highlights for the B-channel.

Same steps have been done for Channel B

Same steps have been done for Channel B

NOTE: make sure your Output value remains at -128 for the shadows and 127 for the highlights. If these numbers are altered it means that the anchor point is being lifted from the bottom for shadows and dropped from the top for highlights. You just want to drag the sliders along horizontally (not move them up or down).

With both A and B channels having been done now, the colour and colour contrast of your image should look different from the original. This is how my original image looks after these steps.

This is after setting A/B shadows to -100 and highlights to 100.

This is after setting A/B shadows to -100 and highlights to 100.

Fine tuning

For me, that is looking a little overdone. But no problem! To change this, all you have to do is reduce the amount you moved the anchor points in both A and B channels. I generally find going by increments of 10 is most helpful.
If you feel your image needs more punch, then you will want to bring the anchor points closer to the centre. Just remember to keep each value across the shadow/highlight, A/B channels the same.

After increasing the numbers in my images, I felt that -110/110 in A/B worked the best (see below).


Convert back to RBG

Once you are happy with how your image looks, it’s time to change it back to RGB. To change your image from LAB to RGB, go to: Image > Mode > RGB color.


You’ll be alerted that changing modes will discard adjustment layers, but that is fine. Select OK and you’ll be brought back into RGB. You’ll notice that the Curves Adjustment layer is now gone and that your image is now the background layer. However, the effect on the colours should remain. Now you’re free to go about editing the photo as much as you like.

So that’s a very simple technique to add more colour punch in your images. Just remember these two points:

  • This is something that you should do at the beginning of editing your image in Photoshop and not the end as you will lose all your adjustment layers when changing modes.
  • Remember to alter the anchors points from A/B b by the same value to eliminate strange things happening to your colours.

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5 Easy Tips for Photographing Babies Outdoors

10 Oct

When it comes to photographing babies under two years old (and newborns), most people immediately think of studios with elaborate backdrops and lots of available headbands, hats, and props. There’s nothing wrong with that type of photography for children, but if you don’t have access to a studio space of your own, you have to get a little creative.


More and more, I’m discovering that I love to photograph both newborns and young babies outdoors. Yes, I often take even 5-10 day old little babies outside for at least part of their session. If you’d like to give it a try as well, here are five simple tips to help get you started while also keeping the little guys and gals safe.

1. Settle them inside


When it comes to newborns, you’ll find that they settle best when they’re very warm. This means that if you want to photograph a baby outdoors, you will typically be more successful if you begin indoors. Inside, swaddle the baby up tightly. Keep in mind that babies like to be warm, so you may want to leave them in pyjamas under the swaddle. Then rock them while playing white noise or making sushing sounds until they are nice and sleepy. Next, lay the baby in a basket or bowl that has been lined with a fluffy blanket and let them settle. Once the baby has settled in, carry the whole thing outdoors.


Sometimes, photographing babies outdoors can be a bit of a race against time, as any big gust of wind or loud noise can startle them awake. For best success, scout out a location that’s close to the house before you begin. Also, even in the most ideal situations, there are times when a baby just won’t stay settled outdoors. If you experience that, don’t sweat it, just move on.

Recently, I tried to take a baby outdoors on several occasions, and each time she woke up crying before I could get even a single shot. So with permission, I cut a few flowers and brought them inside, and photographed the baby inside with the flowers instead (see photo above). Just be flexible. If you can’t bring the newborn outside, consider ways to bring the outdoors in.

2. Have someone hold them


If you primarily shoot on location, you’ll find that not all families have a great space for family portraits indoors. Sometimes the physical shape or size of the room isn’t particularly conducive to a group portrait, or the decor doesn’t quite match the desired aesthetic. Sometimes families just have beautiful outdoor spaces that I love to showcase.

Regardless of the scenario, I often find myself asking mom or dad to hold the baby during a few family portraits outdoors. Particularly if the family has expressed an interest in “lifestyle” or “candid” images, as nature can tend to feel less stuffy and conservative than an indoor studio setup.


Even if you experience a baby that won’t settle outdoors in a basket or bowl, keep in mind that being held in mom or dad’s arms may be an entirely different story. Sometimes babies just want to be held. Don’t be afraid to experiment with both scenarios until you discover what works best for each individual baby and family.

3. Shade them appropriately


Whether you’re placing a baby in some vessel or having a parent hold them outdoors, it is really important to make sure that they’re shaded appropriately. Both newborns and older babies have very sensitive skin, and the last thing you want is for them to get a sunburn for the sake of some photos (it’s also better light for portraits). If you’re not able to find shade naturally available, some alternative options are a large umbrella (patio or beach umbrellas work well), or even a reflector held directly overhead.

When dealing with dappled light through trees, I sometimes position mom or dad strategically just out of frame so that they block any light that may fall on baby’s face or body.

4. Try to contain walkers and crawlers


When it comes to photographing older babies outdoors, there’s a sweet spot between sitting babies and crawling babies when outdoor photography is easiest. That said, you won’t always be working with the ideal developmental stage because all babies hit those stages at different ages. So, it’s best to be prepared with a few tricks up your sleeve to make photographing walkers and crawlers a little bit easier.


I usually start by laying a quilt or blanket down on the ground. Some babies will not crawl off the blanket because they hate how the grass feels on their bare hands and feet. This is typically not a solution that lasts for the duration of the session without causing frustration, but can sometimes buy you a few stationary minutes. Other than the blanket trick, I have used galvanized wash tubs, old crates, toddler sized chairs, and wagons, to help contain older babies outdoors.

When using any of these props, please be safe. Use a spotter if necessary to prevent tumbles, and don’t be afraid to use composite images (combine two shots) if needed so that someone can have a hand on the baby at all times.

5. If you can’t contain them, entertain them


If sitters, walkers, and crawlers aren’t happy being contained, your next best bet is to just roll with it. Don’t push things, or you’ll likely to end up with a baby in tears, and nobody wants that at a photo session.

At the first signs of frustration, transition to games or activities that will entertain the baby, then keep taking pictures. Many babies and early walkers love to hold hands and stand or walk, so let them. Have mom or dad pick up the baby overhead and play airplane. Play a game of chase. You’ll be surprised at the opportunities for candid images of the family having fun together, as well as the number of opportunities for images that have a portrait feel to them as well.


Do you have any other tips for photographing newborns or young babies outdoors? If so, please chime in the comments below.

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Gitzo updates Systematic tripod range with new materials, big feet and Easy Link sockets

05 Oct

Gitzo has introduced a new range of Systematic tripods that it says are more stable and stronger, and which feature new locking mechanisms for the leg sections. The latest models use what the company calls Carbon eXact for the leg tubing, which it claims offers improved ‘balance between rigidity and weight’. The Systematic range is Gitzo’s top end series and the tripods are designed for heavy cameras and long lenses. Larger feet have been introduced for the new models to prevent slipping and for making uneven ground more easy to rest on, and the twist-lock leg sections have been given G-lock Ultra clamps that Gitzo says are quicker and easier to use.

The company has also added a connector for the Manfrotto Easy Link system in a first for the Gitzo line-up. This threaded socket allows accessory arms and clamps to be attached to the casting of the tripod so reflectors, flash units, trays and other accessories can be held in place.

The new models will be priced from $ 799.99/£649.95 and a new range of monopods will start at $ 319.99/£214.95.

For more information see the Gitzo website.

Press release:

Gitzo introduces:
The New Generation of Photography Support Solutions

October 2016 – Gitzo, pioneers in developing some of the most advanced and revolutionary technologies for professional camera equipment, proudly introduce the new generation Systematic tripod family and the latest Monopod family, setting new industry standards in premium photography equipment.

The iconic Gitzo Systematic tripod family is the high-end choice for exacting professional photographers who use long lenses and heavy cameras and require extreme precision – down to the smallest detail – in their work and equipment. The new Gitzo Systematic tripods leverage the latest innovation for the greatest performance ever: the leg tubes are upgraded to Gitzo’s latest generation Carbon eXact, improving the balance between rigidity and weight. New, 50mm diameter big feet enable ultimate stability, preventing slipping and movement. The new G-lock Ultra allows even more comfortable operation and protection while the leg angle selectors guarantee a quicker switch between leg angles – further enhancing ergonomics. Moreover, the new Gitzo Systematic models feature the Easy Link attachment, a 3/8” thread through which a rich array of innovative photography accessories can be attached to facilitate the most advanced shooting techniques. The tripods are offered in a new sizing assortment.

The new Gitzo Monopods are designed to guarantee unfailing support for the highest quality equipment, enabling professional photographers to comfortably capture the golden moment. They are the ideal combination of rigidity, light weight, precision, rapid set up speed and ergonomics. Now even stronger than before thanks to state-of-the-art Carbon eXact tubing and G-lock Ultra leg locks, their new big foot ensures rock-solid footing on any surface while providing smooth movement with its integrated ball; the new models also feature enhanced aesthetics and improved sizing selection.
Series 4 Gitzo Monopod models (top leg diameter 37.0mm) replace the previous Series 5 models; the slimmer top tube contributes to an easier grip and lighter weight, while ensuring rigidity from the stiff Carbon eXact tubes.

Underscoring Gitzo’s dedication to groundbreaking excellence, the refinements to the new Systematic tripods and Monopods – in terms of strength, stability and rigidity, safety and security, set-up speed, ease of use and ergonomics – set new paradigms in the photography equipment market.

Gitzo photography products are superbly engineered to withstand the roughest handling. Precision assembly, high quality materials and fine control are distinguishing qualities that represent a market leader that has been unsurpassed for over half a century.

Pricing for the new Systematic tripods starts at £649.95. The new Systematic monopods are available from £214.95.

More information on the new Gitzo Systematic tripod and Monopod ranges can be found online at

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App review: Full Frame is a quick, easy JPEG viewer, EXIF editor

28 Jun

Full Frame is a Mac-based image viewer, photo importer and metadata editor that centers around an incredibly clean and intuitive user interface. Released by California-based Inland Sea and available now in the App Store, its potential to speed up one’s workflow caught our attention.

Of course, there are a lot of different photo viewing, ingesting and sorting programs available on market, many of which are geared toward casual users. Full Frame, on the other hand, is targeting more toward high-end users like photo enthusiasts.

In Use

Having spent some time trying out using Full Frame in my own workflow, it seems its closest competitors are Photo Mechanic, a time-honored program with a cult-like following from photojournalists world-wide, as well as Adobe Bridge.

Unlike Adobe Bridge, which I find frustratingly sluggish and cluttered in design, Full Frame comes across as exceptionally lean in terms of speed (except when working with un-supported Raw files) and design. It has much more in common with Photo Mechanic like quick startup and image load times. Of course the spectrum of its functionality is much more limited than that of Adobe Bridge.

I took Full Frame for a spin while sorting images to post to one of my personal sites. Specifically,  I used it to move and rename selects from one drive, to a folder on another.

Once you have Full Frame fired up, users simply select the source folder and destination (assuming you are copying files) in the upper-left of the screen. The above screenshot represents the entire window when the program is open. There is literally nothing to get in your way of viewing images and deciding which to keep and which to trash.

To select an image to copy, simply click on it and a checkmark appears. Alternatively you can select all by hitting ‘Command A’ and uncheck the ones you don’t want. In the upper-left portion of the window you’ll find a slider to zoom in the grid view as well as options to view metadata and delete files from their source.

With your mouse hovering over an image, a small plus sign will appear in the upper left of the photo. Click on it to expand the view. Once in the single image viewer, users can use the slider at the top to zoom the image in and out, to check for critical focus. Unfortunately, when zooming in and out, there is no display of the percentage you are zoomed to, unlike in Photo Mechanic.

One of the best features of Full Frame is the metadata/EXIF viewer. It offers an incredibly detailed list that goes above and beyond what a lot of other programs show, including Photo Mechanic.

Users can also add EXIF info to any imported files from within the preferences panel. One thing I’ve always really liked about Photo Mechanic is how simple it is to add copyright warnings and contact info to my files. In Full Frame, it is just as painless. From within the preference panel users can also assign rules for renaming files on import, which is very handy. 

In many ways, Full frame comes across as a utilitarian program, built to accomplish several specific tasks related to moving and organizing images. However it also doubles as an outstanding way to show off your work to clients, friends or families. The grid view is frankly gorgeous, and once in the single image view, users can simple use the arrow keys to move from image to image. It also starts up very fast, which is a plus.

Things to consider

While I found a lot to like about Full Frame, there are some things to consider before purchasing it: First and foremost, despite the claims of Raw support, I found numerous files, from varying manufacturers, to be unsupported. For instance, Raw files from the Nikon D750 are unsupported, as are those from the Sony a7 II. However, if you have Raw+JPEG files, load times will slow significantly but you can at least view and import your images.

This is really quite unfortunate. Sure, app updates could bring about Raw support but who has time to wait around? On the other hand you could always covert to DNG first, but if the whole point of this program is to speed your workflow, that also makes little sense. Photo Mechanic on the other hand does not have this problem, it can display a JPEG rendering from any Raw file, and loads quickly regardless.

Another beef I have with Full Frame is that there is only one option for sorting/rating images. In Photo Mechanic and Bridge, there are numerous ways to rate and sort images. For instance, when choosing my selects, I first do an initial sweep and check mark all of the ones I like, I then assign color or star ratings until I’ve got the images sorted down to a manageable amount.  At that point I copy the selects to a separate drive to be imported into Lightroom for processing.

The Takeaway

Full Frame is not a program that can do it all, but the things it can do, it does well. If you need a quick, easy way to view JPEGs or edit/view EXIF info, it might be your cup of tea.

Full Frame is an outstanding option for photographers seeking a powerful EXIF viewer/editor or a quick and easy way to import and rename files. Its spotty Raw support is the main thing holding it back. But at $ 30, Full Frame is a major bargain compared to Photo Mechanic, which will set you back $ 150. It is also a much faster way to quickly view and sort JPEG files than Adobe Bridge.

What we like:

  • Intuitive user interface
  • Very clean, simple design
  • Powerful EXIF viewer and editor
  • JPEGs load very quickly
  • Can be used to import, sort, batch rename files
  • Support for video files

What we don’t:

  • Despite claims of Raw support, many Raw files not supported
  • No percentage shown on zoom slider
  • Not as many options for rating photos as competition


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4 Easy and Unique Ways to Light and Photograph Wedding Rings

10 Jun

Snapdeals Sale: If you’d like to learn more about how David and Patrick photograph weddings you may want to check out their 14 hour tutorial on all things wedding photography. It’s currently $ 100 off at SnapnDeals.

Wedding photographers are expected to capture every aspect of a wedding day and in many cases we only have a couple minutes to work. The wedding rings are an important detail that many photographers either overlook completely or over think. Over the years I’ve taught some practical ways to improve your wedding business and shooting skills. Let me show you four quick and unique ways to photograph the wedding rings.

4 Easy and Unique Ways to Lightand Photograph Wedding Rings

You’ll Need a Macro Lens


To capture wedding rings properly you’re going to need a macro lens. Without one, you simply won’t be able to zoom in and focus close enough. Yes, you could shoot wider and crop in but you will be losing tons of resolution. Luckily basic macro lenses are not that expensive.

If you’re shooting Nikon I would suggest the Nikon Micro 55mm f/2.8 or the Micro 60mm f/2.8. These lenses are very small and will easily fit in your bag. If you’re shooting Canon I would suggest the 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro. This one actually does have auto focus.

If you’re anything like me, you’re not going to use a macro lens very often, so you won’t want to spend a ton of money on extra features like vibration reduction (image stabilization). If you want to save even more money, buy the lens used. Amazon is actually great for used lenses. Simply click used at the bottom of any description on Amazon. You can get them cheap and they will hold their value for years to come.

Technique #1 Wedding Rings in Flowers

The absolute easiest shot to capture, and one that I’m sure to get at every single wedding I photograph, is one or more of the wedding rings placed inside, or on top of flowers. I don’t think I’ve been to a single wedding where flowers weren’t easily available. This shot is overdone and boring to a lot of photographers, but keep in mind that your clients will (hopefully) only get married once. So, to them, this shot is unique. It shows off the wedding rings, and it also captures the flowers, which they spent a lot of time and money picking out.

Sometimes I will use the bouquet of flowers and lay them down on the table, but I usually find it easier to work with flowers that are standing up. For this I will often use a vase of flowers, usually found in center of the tables at the reception.

For lighting this first shot I’m going to use a speedlight, any type will work. If you don’t have enough money to buy a name brand-name speedlight, then I would highly suggest checking out Yongnuo flashes, the base version is only 70 bucks. If you shoot Canon, you may want to spend a bit more, and buy the YN600EX-RT, that will communicate with radio signals for $ 129.

1 flowers direct flash

Holding the camera in one hand and the flash in the other, you can see that we can get a decent result (image above), but it would be much better if we could soften the light.

If you didn’t bring a modifier with you, you can use anything nearby that’s white. I’ve used a white plate, paper napkin, white t-shirt, and a tablecloth in the past. For this shot we will use a white paper towel. By bouncing the light off of, or through the paper towel, we can get much larger, softer light.

Having my assistant move the flash with each picture I take, ensures that we will get a lot of variety, without wasting time looking at each shot individually. Remember, this is all taking place during a wedding, so I really don’t want to spend more than a minute or two on these shots. After taking 10-20 shots in rapid succession, I can quickly review them and confirm that I have a keeper.

2 moving soft light

I consider this to be my safety shot because I can get it in under two minutes at every wedding I do, and the client always loves it. After I knock it out, if I have time, I’ll try some more complicated and creative shots.

Adding Multiple Lights and Water

For this next shot we are going to complicate things a bit in terms of gear, but we are also going to be able to do it without the help of an assistant.

First, find an interesting surface to place the rings. It could be a tablecloth, wood grain, granite, or anything you find around the reception site. We took our picture on a black, glass-top table.

First I setup the camera up on a tripod so that I could keep my hands free. From behind the ring, I added the first speedlight, to create a rim light on the back of the subject. To add a bit of interest I used a purple gel, and to confine the light, the Magmod grid.

3 Final Back Light Only

Now it’s time to light the rings from the front. Instead of using a paper towel, I decided to use the Fstoppers FlashDisc. It’s basically a collapsible softbox that can used with just one hand. When it’s collapsed down, it’s small enough to fit in your pocket, which makes it extremely convenient at weddings.

Read: Review: Flash Disc Lighting Modifier by Fstoppers for more information on this product.

4 Final backlight and flashdisc

To add one more interesting aspect to this shot, I used a miniature spray bottle to add mist behind the rings. The purple light coming from the back, lights up the water, and takes this shot to the next level.

5 Final best 1 retouched

Building Your Own Set and Using Continuous Lighting

If you like to be prepared for any situation, you’re going to want to travel with a few props that you know you can work with, if the items around a wedding aren’t cutting it as a background. I travel with a pack of metallic foils that can be used to place the rings on. I also brings along cheap reflective jewelry that I can use to create bokeh effects.

Instead of using a strobe for this shot, a cheap LED panel was used as a continuous light source. These panels can be extremely handy, but keep in mind that you will probably want to use a tripod if you are going to use them to light the rings so that you can keep everything sharp (the shutter speed may be slow). If you want extremely blurry bokeh, you’re also going to want to shoot at a wider aperture than you normally might.

6 Final Image 2

Using a Screen to Create Your Own Background

For this final shot, we are going to use a computer screen to create our own background. If you don’t travel with a laptop, you could use an iPad, or maybe even a smartphone screen instead.

I would suggest practicing this shot at home before you ever get to a wedding. You don’t want to be fiddling around with your setup, or searching for different backgrounds while the wedding is going on. If you are prepared though, this shot can be extremely easy to pull off.

First I placed the ring on bit of putty to get it to stand up. I then set my computer screen to its brightest setting, and exposed for the screen itself. At this point the shot is a silhouette of the ring.

7 Screen backlit

To light the ring itself you could use your smartphone’s flashlight, or you could use any cheap LED flashlight. If your flashlight doesn’t dim, you can simply move it closer or farther away from the ring to get a correct balance of light, with the screen in the background.

Because your background will be so blurry, it really doesn’t matter what is on the screen in the background, you are basically looking for certain colors, and large shapes that will create an interesting mood.

8 screen shot 1

9 screen shot 2

10 screen shot 3

11 screen shot 4

In the post-production you can either zoom-in past the putty (crop it out) or you can Photoshop the putty out and have a floating ring effect.

12 Final Edit 4

You can also watch us go through these techniques in the following video:

Snapdeals Sale: If you’d like to learn more about how David and Patrick photograph weddings you may want to check out their 14 hour tutorial on all things wedding photography. It’s currently $ 100 off at SnapnDeals.

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How to Create a Delicious Blurry Bokeh Background in 4 Easy Steps

02 May

Blurry backgrounds are nothing new when it comes to photography. The technique of blurring the background to emphasize a subject in the foreground has been used by photographers for decades, and by painters and other visual artists for hundreds of years. Now thanks to the proliferation of digital cameras this phenomenon has exploded in recent times.

Many people like photos with a tack-sharp subject and a smooth blurry background, and even though some might say it’s more of an over-used trend, the truth is that bokeh is here to stay. The trick to using it effectively, is to learn how to use the physical properties of lenses and light to create the look you are going for. While some people turn to creative editing tricks like adding blurry filters or doing Photoshop gymnastics there really is no substitute for the genuine article. If this is something you have always wondered about or wanted to try for yourself, here are four easy steps to get you started.

50mm, f/4, 1/350 second, ISO 400

50mm, f/4, 1/350th of a second, ISO 400

The term bokeh is a Japanese word that doesn’t have a precise English translation, but refers to the type and quality of the out-of-focus areas of an image. In other words, when the blurry parts of a picture look nice, you might say the image has good bokeh. While a thorough discussion of what bokeh is, what causes it, and what affect your lenses and lens elements have on the type and quality of bokeh could go on for several pages, this article is going to be a bit more basic look at how to create visually pleasing blurry elements in your photos. If you don’t want things to get too complicated, and aren’t quite ready for a thorough breakdown of aspherical elements or the circle of confusion, then get out your camera and follow along with these few simple tips to help you get the look you have always wanted.


50mm, f/1.8, 1/6000th, ISO 100

1 – Shoot with a wide aperture

Take a look at the front of your lens, you will probably see a few numbers that look like 1:3.5-5.6, or 1:2.8, or f/4 (read: What the Numbers on your Lens Mean for more on how to find this). These numbers refer to the size of the aperture in the lens itself, and how big the opening can get. Ironically smaller numbers are bigger, and a lens that says 1:2.8 will be able to let in much more light than a lens that says 1:4 or f/4. (Some manufacturers use different schemes to show the aperture size but it’s always the number after the colon, or on the second side of the / that you want to look for when determining the maximum size of the lens opening.)

The smaller the number, the wider your aperture will be, and the less light you will need to take a properly exposed photo. Wide apertures also mean your photos will have a shallower depth of field, and anything out of focus behind your subject will begin to take on a smoother, more visually pleasing blur. In other words, wide apertures help give you more bokeh.


50mm, f/1.8, 1/4000 second, ISO 100

If you’re itching to get some pictures with the same kind of buttery-smooth background blur you have seen in nature magazines or fashion spreads, put your camera in Aperture Priority mode (on Nikon) or Av (Canon, Pentax, etc.) and turn the control dial until the aperture value number is as close to zero as it can go. It helps if you have a prime lens that doesn’t zoom in and out, since they usually have wider maximum apertures, but even a kit lens can give you decent results if you have enough light. Now go out and find something to photograph, even if it’s just a coffee mug on your office desk.

To put my money where my mouth is, I took my camera to work and literally snapped a picture of a coffee cup on my desk. No photoshopping or magic tricks here, just a wide f/1.8 aperture. 50mm, 1/100 second, ISO 160

To put my money where my mouth is, I took my camera to work and literally snapped a picture of a coffee cup on my desk. No photoshopping or magic tricks here, just a wide f/1.8 aperture. 50mm lens, 1/100 second, ISO 160

2 – Put your subject far away from the background

If you have been trying to get the kind of silky, blurry bokeh you seem to notice in everyone else’s photos you might try this one simple trick and you won’t believe what happens! Simply putting a great deal of distance between your subject and whatever is behind it, can go a long way towards creating the bokeh you have always dreamed about.


50mm, f/1.8, 1/1000 second, ISO 100

If you are shooting portraits, try moving your subjects to a location where there is a great deal of space behind them, or even just repositioning yourself so you are looking at your subjects from a different angle that puts more distance between them and the background. In the photo below, I specifically shot the scene so that there was about 50 meters between the couple and the fountain, which caused it to have a nice blurry out-of-focus appearance that complements the woman and her fiancée quite well. I could have used a bench that was much closer to the fountain, but it would have had a very different affect on the picture, and it would not have given me nearly the same amount of bokeh as you can see in the final image below.


85mm, f/2.4, 1/2000 second, ISO 200

3 – Get close to your subject

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph there are many different optical elements that come into play when dealing with bokeh and background blur, and certainly shooting with wide apertures while putting a great deal of distance between your subject and the background are critical elements of the equation. Another thing you can do, is position your camera and lens physically close to the subject you are shooting. Combine this technique with the first two, and you’re virtually guaranteed to get good results.


This shot has all the techniques rolled into one: a wide f/1.8 aperture, a far-away street light in the top left corner, and a very short distance between my camera and the fence bar on the right side.

4 – Zoom in, waaay in

If you are trying to get bokeh-licious shots and not having much luck, there’s another technique that could mean the difference between frustration and celebration. Due to how lenses collect, and focus incoming light rays, it’s easier to get blurry backgrounds with longer focal lengths. This is why these types of shots are difficult to get on mobile phones, which generally have lenses with a much wider angle of view. Grab your nearest camera, whether it’s a DSLR or a humble little point-and-shoot, and zoom the lens as far in as it will go. Now use the other tips I have already mentioned: set the aperture to the widest setting, find a subject that’s relatively close to you, and make sure there is plenty of room between the subject and the background.

A golden eagle, taken with my 400mm f/4 lens on a Nikon D7200. A very expensive combination, but it produces outstanding results with silky-smooth bokeh.

A golden eagle, taken with my 300mm f/4 lens on a Nikon D7200. A very expensive combination, but it produces outstanding results with silky-smooth bokeh.

You might not get the photo of your dreams, but with a little bit of practice you should start to see some improvements, as you begin to understand how to use your camera to create sharp subjects with pleasing out-of-focus areas.

Just kidding! I took the first shot with a $  150 Panasonic ZS7 pocket camera. All I did was zoom in as far as it would go. This is the same scene with the same camera a few seconds later, shot at the camera zoomed all the way out.

Just kidding! I made that first image above with a cheap Panasonic ZS7 pocket camera, and all I did was zoom in as far as it would go. This is the same scene, with the same camera, a few seconds later – but zoomed all the way out.

Now with all this being said, I have a challenge for all of you dPS readers: What is your favorite picture you have taken that has nice pleasing bokeh? Is it a portrait, a wild animal, or more along the lines of abstract art? Share your picture in the comments section below along with a few tips of your own to help others take similarly beautiful bokeh photos.

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