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Entries in Tech (11)


Ten Steps to Creating Your Time Lapse Film


This project involved the use of many different pieces of equipment, and techniques.  I've detailed the process below, but I'll be glad to answer any questions in the comment area. 


I used the 12mm Fisheye optic mounted in the Lensbaby Composer.  This unique lens allowed me to include the architecturual features of Grand Central Terminal while still capturing the activity on the floor below.  The Fisheye optic comes with a series of aperture discs that control your depth of field.  I used f8 to make sure I had sharp focus from the foreground to the back wall.   For more on Lensbaby, check out the interview I did with CEO Sam Pardue back at Photo Plus in NY.


Since you cannot autofocus with a mounted Lensbaby, I had to rely on my eyes to manually focus.  While I have 20/20 vision, I didn't want to leave anything to chance so I used the wonderful "LiveView" feature.  By doing this I was able to magnify the display on the LCD to 10x.  It's like zooming in on the entire scene withouth actually changing the effective focal length of the lens.  At 10x everything is much larger which allows you to micro focus on any portion in the scene.  Previously I had only used LiveView for Macro work with tiny subjects, but it really shined here as well. 


The camera was mounted on the Gorillapod for DSLR's.  While this little item will never replace my trusty Gitzo, it was perfect for this project as I was able to set everything up on the bannister without being bumped by the bustling crowds.   


I needed the camera to remain completely still so I used a cable release.  I know there are special wireless and programmable cable releases, but I just used the good ole' manual remote.    


This scene was shot over 25 minutes.  I took a shot approximately every two seconds for a total of 750 images.  How did I time it?  Easy; everytime the previous image popped up on the LCD I took the next shot.  This worked out to be roughly every two seconds. 


To create a Time Lapse it's helpful to use a slow shutter speed. This is sometimes referred to as "dragging the shutter".  The idea is to make the motion more fluid and less like blips popping in and out of the frame.  For this piece I found a shutter of 0"6 to be work really well.


I used the Canon 40D.  My exposure was set manually.  This is necessary to achieve consistent exposures even with any shift in lighting conditions.  The settings were ISO 400, 0"6, and f8.  I also used custom white balance.  Instead of RAW, I opted for JPEG as RAW files do not generally work with Time Lapse software.   


The trick is to have all of your images in numerical order in one folder.  I did this upon the initial upload from the CF card to Lightroom.  I then used Quicktime Pro to open the image sequence and select how many frames per second the photos would play back at.  I experimented with 24 frames per second and 15 fps before deciding on 12 fps for the final piece.  Again, JPEGs are the only file types that would work here.  The software also had a bit of a processing issue with the LARGE/FINE files.  It seemed that Quicktme Pro could not handle 750 ten megapixel files.  I had to use Photoshop CS4 to do a quick batch process and resize the images to 6x9 at 72dpi.


The amazing ominous track is by Nine Inch Nails from their album Ghosts (Disc 1).  It is part of Creative Commons Licensing and is therefore legal for me to use.   My sincere thanks to them as it is one of my favorite instrumental albums. 


As a photographer, it's becoming very common to be asked for more than just "stills". This particular time lapse piece was included in a multimedia piece from the New Yorker. I encourage you to use the steps above to create your own time lapse feature. 






One Buck Camera Glee

For just $1, I entered the world of faux-film photography. It was a whimsical purchase after seeing several retro type shots taken by the multi-talented Dianna Agron of Glee. She used it as an off-camera camera, revealing the intimate side of the cast members on and off the set. Like the TV show, the Hipstamatic app soon became a household name infiltrating its way into the fabric of our society. Not a day went by where my Facebook wall wasn't littered with photos that looked like they were taken 50 years ago. Still, despite being overused at the peak of its popularity, there was an authenticity to the images that ordinary phone snaps were lacking. What some may have initially written off as a fad appeared to have staying power.

This shift was first evident after New York Times photographer Damon Winter used the app to document war in Afghanistan.  Winter is a Pulitzer prize winning photographer whose work I've long admired for its creativity, and technical brilliance. Yet, when his photo story "A Grunt's Life" was awarded third place in the Pictures of the Year International contest, a flood of naysayers took to the Internet to bash the ethics of his camera selection.  In his thoughtful response, Winter said "I will always stand behind these photographs and am confident in my decision that this was the right tool to tell this particular story." In studying the series of twelve photos, it's difficult to envision them any other way. The quiet, introspective moments he captured coupled with vintage aesthetics make for a telling look at life behind enemy lines.

Recently, an Associated Press article asked "How much longer can film hold on?"   The number of users has plummeted dramatically, and declining sales numbers indicate impending doom. Ironically enough, the first Brownie sold in 1900 for just $1.  Over a century later, it appears we have come full circle.

Here are some images I've recently taken using faux-film. They were all shot in Hipstamatic with the iPhone 4, John S lens, and Ina's 1969 film option.  I'd like to hear your thoughts on this topic. 








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Fix Your Focus With Just a Click - Lytro Revealed


If you have yet to hear about Lytro, this interactive photo above is a must see!  Simply click the arrow in the bottom right corner of the image to get started.  As you click around the image, prepare to be amazed as your focus completely changes!

While it will not fix a blurry image that suffers from camera shake, it clearly is effective at changing the plane of focus.  We think it's rather amazing technology but it definitely has the potential to encourage sloppy technique.  As covered in our Complete Course in Professional Photography, it's always best to get the image right in the camera at the time of the exposure.  This eliminates needless hours spent behind a monitor attempting to fix the error.  Of course it's nice to know a tool exists that can change a throwaway image to a keeper. 

Here's an informative video detailing more of its capabilities.



What are your thoughts on this technology?



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When Photography Was Powered by Candlelight

In the days before cameras and sophisticated photographic technology, we relied on different processes to capture the human image. I was really drawn to this video from Mark Osterman, a photo process historian (yes, there are such people!) at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, NY.  


Mark Osterman: f295 Symposium on 21st Century Photography


First, if you haven’t been to this world-class institution—the world’s oldest photography museum, housed in a glorious Colonial Revival mansion—you’re missing out; this is a must-see destination for any photographer. You’ll see some amazing early photographic equipment and unforgettable images from all over the world.

Osterman actually built his own physionotrace, which he used in the video. A 1783 French invention, with modifications made continually throughout the early 1800s, the device allows an operator to use candlelight to trace a person’s physiognomy, specifically the profile. The result is a silhouette (here’s mine), which got its name from French finance minister Etienne de Silhouette; he enforced severe wartime economic policies in 1759, and his name started to become associated with anything cheap—and cutting a profile from black card was the least expensive way to record what a person looked like.  


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Internet Browsers - Which one do you use? Which one should you use?

As a school that specializes in distance education in photography, the NYIP staff keeps a close eye on
our Web site analytics. Recently we noticed that Apple’s Safari had jumped up the list of browser types
our visitors are using to second place. Nearly 25% of the people who visit our site are doing using the
Safari browser. This simple fact generated quite a bit of discussion around the office. Some people
balked saying that their favorite browser is so much better than Safari while some defend Safari based on recent improvements especially in security and privacy options. There was also some speculation as to why suddenly more people are using Safari. Is it because more traffic is coming from iPhones, iPods and iPads all of which use the Safari browser? Is it because, as a photo school, our students are more likely to be on Apple computers? Or is it simply that Safari's latest version is better and is converting PC users? I'm not going to pretend to be an Apple engineer or marketing agent so I won’t give concrete answers to these questions, but I do know that when I check our sites on the go it is always Safari, because I’m using an iPhone.

It will probably come as no surprise that the largest number of users are still on some version of
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE). IE has been and will probably continue to be the most widely used
Internet browser. It is preinstalled on every version of Windows that is shipped, and Windows is still
overwhelmingly the most used operating system for desktop and laptop PCs. For full disclosure, our Web
visitors use IE, Safari, Firefox and Chrome - in that order. This got us wondering, what browser do you
use and why?

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