Categories
Gadgets Photography Reviews

Review: Mastering the Nikon D600 by Darrell Young

Mastering-the-Nikon-D600_250pxIf you follow our website, you may remember that I really liked Darrell’s book on the D800. I have now purchased a D600, and read the new Mastering the Nikon D600 with a certain sense of déjà vu. the  D600 book is also a real winner! 

One of the things most people do when they get a new camera is… run out and take photos. Darrell is careful to point out that the first thing you should do is setup the camera to make sure it is going to function they way you want. Chapter 1 covers basic camera setup, and is a few minutes well spent going over the chapter with your camera in hand. Darrell then launches into all the menus of the camera… the playback menu, shooting menu, custom setting menu, and setup menu.

There is some real substance in every chapter, but I particularly like the explanations and depth in the shooting menu. Nikon has created user setting with U1 and U2 settings on the mode dial, and they can be tailored to your particular shooting needs. Also, a discussion of the D600’s ability to shoot smaller images than the native 24.2 megapixels… FX settings for shooting at 13.6 megapixels, or even 6.0 megapixels. This is something the D800 doesn’t do, and I’m happy that my D600 does. Are you shooting some images for eBay? You might well want to choose the small DX setting of a 2.6 megapixel image. Darrell points out that you’ll get the best images from the native sensor setting, but for special applications, you have the tools in your belt to shoot smaller images.

camera menusEver wanted to do time-lapse photography because you didn’t have an expensive intervalometer? Well, just flip to page 144 in the book and read all about how to do it with the D600 with no accessories required.

The retouch menu is geared for folks who want to create as much as possible “in camera” and minimize computer editing. There are a number of pretty cool editing effects available in the D600, and I still am a fan for certain images of the miniature effect. Follow the directions and you can make a cool image. Did you know you can even compare frames side by side to see the retouch filter effects? Yep. 

The “my menu” is something that is a boon to photographers – different from user settings, it allows you to store frequently used settings in a special menu section so you don’t have to wade through page after page of items – the shooting menu is vast! Darrell talks about using the my menu to the fullest in chapter 7. On my D600 in my menu, I have set up the top two items to be clean image sensor and virtual horizon. Have you ever tried the virtual horizon? It is most usable when the camera is mounted on a tripod, and the virtual horizon shows you which directions to move the camera to make it level. I loved my old Nikon F5 – great film camera, but Nikon decided to make the hot shoe tilt down 15 degrees, thus foiling any attempts to use a bubble level with it. So you can imagine how much I use this feature when shooting architecture.

Yes, there are more chapters covering metering, histograms, white balance, and autofocus modes and use. There are brief discussions on live view and a little more in depth discussion of the movie modes of the D600. Finally, one of the all-time greatest assets to a photographer is covered, in the chapter on using Nikon speedlights. Indeed, as Darrell says, “Light is a Photographer’s Friend!”…

The age of digital has made our tool sets so much greater than ever they were in film days. With the introduction of the Nikon D600, pros and amateurs alike have a tool that simply begs to make images. The perfect compliment for the D600 is Mastering the Nikon D600 by Darrell Young. Once again, Darrell has hit a home run. For a list price of $40, although quite a bit less on Amazon, you can have the ultimate reference work for your new camera. I highly recommend this book to you, Nikon D600 owner!

Mastering the Nikon D600
by Darrell Young
Rocky Nook / Nikonians Press
ISBN 978-1937538194 (pbk.)
Available on Amazon.comfor about $23,Kindle edition about $17.

Categories
apps Digital Lifestyles Gadgets iOS SDK iPad Reviews Workflow

(Review) ASKetch for the iPad

OK, I’m still playing with my iPad and loving it, and I found another software App that is a lot of fun. ASKetch by Andrew Kern is supposed to work with finger motions and strokes alone, and not be used with a stylus or pen tool.

I’ll tell you what it is supposed to do (and it does it very well). Let’s look at ASKetch as Mr. Kern meant it to be.

First, I’ll quote:

ASKetch is a simple black & white procedural sketching program for drawing with your fingers. It is designed from the ground up to take advantage of the multi-touch interface of the iPad and the iPhone, allowing you to forget about the tools and concentrate on your art. It stays out of your way so you can simply draw. It is perfect for both beginners and advanced artists; from figure drawing to cartoons to abstract masterpieces; easy to pick up and hard to put down.

Absolutely true.

Get on your iPad and run to the App store and read all about it, bearing in mind that it is NOT optimized for a stylus,, but sometimes I use one anyway when I want a very thin line and less shading. You have to use a stylus that is optimized for the iPad. Wacom makes one, and so does several other companies.  They’re priced from $13 to $30 on Amazon. The Wacom one is the most expensive of the choices at $30; but so far all that I have tried have worked properly.

But your finger does it as well. The controls are brought up by a two finger tap on the blank page of the app. The first line below is the normal “drawing page” which has five squares visible, and the drawing line (extreme left) active. The second line below is when the eraser is active.

Beginning with the pen tools facing to the left you will get a hard line; if you stroke across the pen tool to the left you will switch from a hard line to a soft, furry tone and the pen will face to the right as it appears in the second line of tools.. The rest of both lines of tools are pretty self-explanatory. There are some more subtitles so read all the instructions and see the demo video. But below is the short form.

Now, let’s draw a little bit. I’m using it for gesture drawing which is a kind of rapid sketching where the artist is supposed to capture the “feel” and proportions of a model or figure and do it in less than 15 seconds. Here’s some examples. Some of these are drawn with just a finger tip, and some are done with a stylus even though Mr. Kern wants you to work just with finger tips‚Äîand yes, you do get better tonality when you use only your finger.

Sketching with Fingers vs. Stylus

I said I wasn’t going to tell you, but here I am doing it. The drawing on the left was done strictly with the fingertip, and the drawing on the right was done with a Wacom Bamboo Stylus..

Here’s another drawing done with fingertips…

…particularly rolling the finger in the hair areas.

Now here’s one more drawing…

…remember each drawing is saved automatically into the total set of drawings each time you go to the saved area (the two mountains square) and select a new blank page. This drawing was done with my fingertip in less than 15 seconds. Its intent is to capture the essence and proportions of the figure.

Remember, the square that looks like two mountains hides the strip of saved images and gives you access to a new blank page each time you go to it. Once you have images saved into the sketchbook, all you have to do is hold a finger down on an image for a few seconds and this window will appear.

Saving the image selected into the photo album allows it to be reselected and emailed where-ever you want to send it.

Here’s three more sketches that Mr. Kern supplied me that I think are really worth showing that give you a look at what the App can do in the way of toning.

 

Read all the instructions to get all the strengths of the App under control because I have only touched on the surface of its possibilities; but I’m having so much fun I had to share the joy, and hope you’ll take a look at the app. Check ASKetch out on the App store for the iPad.

 

ASKetch by Andrew Kern

This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad

$1.99

Website & Support: http://akernsoft.com/ASKetch/index.php

Categories
apps Gadgets iPad Workflow

(Review) Genius Scan: A Scanner App for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch

OK, I admit from the start that I am in love with my iPad2; but it is the availability of Apps for it that make it such a part of my current life.  I just encountered a new App that I think is going to be extremely useful in the future.  It’s an App called Genius Scan from Grizzly Labs that is intended for use on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

In short, it uses the back facing camera of the iPad (or iPhone or iPod Touch) to take an image that can be corrected and then mailed—that’s in the free version. In the paid (Genius Scan+ version @ $2.99) you can add mailing to Dropbox, Google Docs, and Evernote. Well, you can switch to the front camera too if you want to send a picture of yourself, but it is the use of the rear camera that seems to me to make it so useful.

Take a picture with the camera button which appears once the App is selected, and the resulting picture can then be squared up and enhanced as color or black and white, and saved to a camera roll spot inside the iPad or mailed as a Pdf. Or .jpg.

Since I am always interested in the educational uses that my students might use, I am fascinated by the possibility of the student taking a picture of the whiteboards that are used in classrooms and saving the pictures or sending them as Pdf’s or .jpgs by mail so that they could be studied later.

Some fifty years ago I had a math class in which the professor wrote equations with his right hand and erased behind himself with his left hand.  The frustration that I felt as I tried to follow and master the equations could have been avoided if I could have taken pictures as he wrote.  I can see the usage for this App in student hands today. And more…recipes can be copied; menus, receipts, and sharing class notes—all of these are possible and easily done.

There’s much more that can or could be said, but my own recommendation is for you to check out Genius Scan (and Genius Scan+) at Apple’s App store and see if a version of the App won’t be of use to you. Grizzly Labs has grabbed my attention with this App.

 

Get it:

Genius Scan (free version) at the AppStore

 Genius Scan+ differs from Genius Scan with no ads and upload to Dropbox, Evernote and Google Docs. 

Genius Scan Website 

Categories
Books Digital Lifestyles Photography Reviews

Review: Marketing Fine Art Photography By Alain Briot

Rocky Nook Press Press sent me a review copy of Alain Briot’s new book, Marketing Fine Art Photography, and I was delighted for two reasons. First, Rocky Nook’s volumes are beautifully bound and printed on acid-free paper and are a delight to hold and work from because they stay flat and open as you read or work from them. The second reason is that Alain Briot is a learned and articulate photographer and writer who shares his expertise in a relaxed and candid manner as though his reader is a fast friend with whom he is willing to share his most cherished knowledge. The book itself will stay bright and crisp on my bookshelf for years, and the information gives me a good look at Briot’s thinking, experience, and expertise.

Throughout the book Briot shows his own work on various pages and certainly establishes himself as a prolific and gifted photographer as well as a successful salesman. Any regular visitor to Luminous Landscape.com will be familiar with Alain Briot’s photographs and writings where he has produced a copious amount of material regarding aesthetics and design. His other volumes from Rocky Nook include Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity, and Personal Style, and Mastering Landscape Photography.

Briot begins this book with the premise that it takes marketing to sell even the finest photograph. He feels that, “A poor photograph well-marketed will outsell a great photograph poorly marketed.”

He begins, “most photographers who sell their work spend far too much time and money on equipment and far too little on marketing.” Briot begins by explaining what marketing is in the Fine Arts world, the goal of marketing, and why marketing is indispensible. He asks the photographers to define themselves and feels that photography must be a full time career in order for the photographer to succeed.

In order to sell fine art photography it is necessary to define what is Fine Art photography. What makes it art and not just a photograph? It is the skill (technique) and insight (creative vision) that makes the difference in photographs and photographers. It is the ability of the photographer to find and incorporate a metaphor in the image that can be seen, felt, or understood by the viewer so that a linkage between the photograph and the viewer (purchaser) can be established.

For the beginning Fine Arts photographer, Briot discusses the problems of wholesale, consignment, or retail sales, and the decision of whether to go for quantity or quality of work. Where to find a marketplace? Where Fine Art Prints can be sold and the potential profit margins of each are discussed. In Part Three, Briot approaches the fundamentals and principles of successful marketing and introduces us to the seven fundamentals of successful businesses, and emphasizes how to sell your work at Art Shows and emphasizes how credit card and PayPal sales reach the customer and actually make impulse sales (on the part of the customer) so much easier.

Visual examples of show booth setups and displays greatly enhance Briot’s marketing advice and make it evident that he practices what he advocates. His advice to avoid the “fly trap” booth is telling and convincing as he describes the psychology of the potential client. Placement of spare inventory, desk for receipts, and the way to greet every visitor are all bits of extremely helpful information that bears careful rereading. The ability to pack and ship photographs?and the willingness to do so?are also strong selling points as so many potential clients are on vacation and are not prepared to carry the photograph (framed or rolled) away with them. Having a sheet with fixed shipping costs assure the client that you are not “winging it” on shipping and handling. All of these elements contribute to the professional appearance of the booth and the photographer.

After all the discussion about how to produce work, how to display and present it, and how to package and ship it, Briot takes 38 pages to discuss the combination of skills that it takes to make a Fine Arts photographer. Technical, artistic, marketing, and personal skills are discussed and expounded upon in such a manner that any reader should be able to follow the structure with which Briot established himself to rise from a non-native speaker newly come to the United States into a successful businessman and photographer.

As a teacher and Fine Arts photographer myself, I find that Briot has articulated and demonstrated so many of the facts that face the Fine Arts photographer that I truly wish that I could have read his book fifty years ago when I first moved into the teaching and Fine Arts fields and choose teaching rather than attempting to be a full-time Fine Arts Photographer. So much of my own experiences mirror or verify his own that I cannot help but recommend, strongly recommend, this book to any photographer who contemplates attempting to make a living in the Fine Arts photography field.

I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Alian Briot’s Marketing Fine Art Photography, Rocky Nook Press, ISBN-13: 978-1-933952-55-0. US $44.95 CAN $51.95, and if you have not looked at his other two excellent volumes, I recommend them as well. You might as well have the entire experience.

 

Categories
Digital Lifestyles

Google+: The Modular Social App

Google+ cannot be mentioned without comparisons to Facebook, which is unfortunate because as soon as something is touted as being better than “example media sensation” it seems to act as a strike against it.Think of all those films in the early 2000s that described itself as “better than the Matrix!” or any product that was termed “the iPhone killer.”

Instead, I’ll speak from personal experience. I attempted to manage my Facebook account to be my central “public identity” to interact with personal friends (many via my various tangential hobbies and interests,) family, business contacts, and fellow artists. I tried complex friend lists and constant adjustment and manipulation of privacy options. But it was a constant fight to fit a square peg into a round hole. Facebook constantly changes and updates its interface, often destroying my work and my privacy settings. Eventually, I gave up and made a “Fan Page” of my artwork and limited my personal account only to my friends.

Google+ is everything that I wanted Facebook to be. Through Circles, Google+ allows you to control who sees your posts and give you the power to address specific markets. This creates an environment based on content instead of how many “friends” you have. In addition to abetter quality picture sharing, this makes it especially attractive to artists. Each Circle can be created for a target audience. One can be created to share their work with others for critique and review,another of client listings, another for business contacts, etc. A person can also be a member of multiple Circles. This addresses the many problems having a single public stream such as: fears of some friend or family member bursting in with an unprofessional comment, a“Wall” for people to post inappropriate or spam material onto, or being hidden or dropped for posting content that the “friend” isn’t interested in.

Writer Mike Elgan elegantly summed it up as:
“Instead of saying, ‘I’m going to write a blog post now,’ or ‘I’m going to send an e-mail’ or ‘I think I’ll tweet something’ you simply say what you have to say, then decide who you’re going to say it to.
If you address it to “Public,” it’s a blog post.
If you address it to “Your Circles” it’s a tweet.
If you address it to your “My Customers” Circle it’s a business newsletter.
If you address it to a single person, it can be a letter to your mother.
I’d say this is pretty revolutionary.”

Note: Google+ is currently available as an app for the iPhone andAndroid. Unfortunately, it is limited to showing just one stream.Hopefully future updates will include narrowing to specific

Categories
Digital Lifestyles

Traveling Europe with a 13” Macbook

I just came home from a 24 day trip across France and Spain. My trusty white 13” Intel Macbook has a lot more miles on it… but worked like a champ. My AC adapter for power and charging was 100-240 volt compatible, so I didn’t have to worry about a voltage converter, just a plug adapter for the European style sockets. Wifi is strong on this older Macbook, and I got good performance in most hotels I stayed in. The size of this smaller Macbook is perfect for lugging around on the road – and much lighter than my 17” Macbook Pro.

Before the trip I upgrade this machine with a new battery, new 500 gig hard drive, and installed the latest Mac OS X 10.6.7 and Lightroom 3. I stored over 300 gig of images on the laptop hard drive, backed up with an external 500 gig hard drive, and kept the shot memory cards for almost all of my images. My mentor Dr. Michael Roach had a horrible wreck on his way back from a long trip to Morocco, and many disks of his two sets DVD backups of images were damaged – but luckily he was able to use unbroken disks between the two sets that he had in different pieces of luggage, and he didn’t lose any images. So for this trip, I decided in advance to take enough memory cards to not have to format and re-use cards, plus backups on two different hard drives.

I carried the Macbook in my photo backpack by Crumpler – a unique design that opens from the strap-side of the pack. It would be next to impossible to steal anything from this pack with it on my back, a feature I really like. The laptop sleeve is removable, so I was able to take that weight out of it when I reached a town that I would be in for several days.

Lightroom was usable with the max 2 gig of RAM, but I made one big mistake – I took along a card reader that would read both memory cards I was using on the trip (Compactflash and SDHC)… on the surface this seemed like a good idea, but in use this particular model turned out to be incredibly slow in reading either memory type. I was daily downloading anywhere from 400 to 1,000 images for me and another photographer, so I wasted a lot of European hours in the hotel downloading images. My next upgrade for this kit is a “faster-than-USB 2.0” Firewire 400 reader.

All in all though, a great trip, made better with my Macbook. Now all I have to do is pay all the bills… and download my Lightroom catalogs into my Mac Pro at the house.

{click for larger image}

Categories
Digital Lifestyles iPad Workflow

iPad2 Review: OK, I MUST BE A FANBOY

On March 11, the first day iPad 2’s were available for order, at 5 A.M. I got up to go to the bathroom (something common when you are 73 years old), and on a whim sat down at the computer and ordered an iPad. White, 64GB wifi only, with a spare power supply, a Camera Connection package, VGA and Digital AV Adapters, and a red leather cover. I had intended to make this order eventually, and the computer seemed to call to me as I returned from the bathroom. It was a good thing too, as within 24 hours the waiting time had switched from 3-5 days to 2-4 weeks.

My wife wanted white for the color and a red leather cover, and since she is to be the primary user, what she wants—she gets.

The accessories arrived two days before the iPad itself, but on the 25th of March the iPad duly arrived via FedEX, and within forty-five minutes I had loaded Keynote, Pages, the Kindle reader, Good Reader for PDF reading, and put Facebook and Google News Apps in the list of instantly available icons, and had the mail configured as well as going to the Kindle bookstore and choosing Lonely Planet’s travel guide for Iceland and adding two books that were already on my Kindle shelf on my MacBook Pro. How’s that for knowing right off what I wanted to do? All that in forty-five minutes.

Since my wife is traveling to Iceland this summer, our goal was to have an easier to use communication device so we can email one another back and forth easily without her having to carry her laptop. So I set up a unique Gmail account for use on the trip only and we won’t have to sort through spam and extraneous mail from others to get to the specific day to day communication.

My wife is a teacher, also, and her goal is to use Keynote and Pages which she uses regularly from her laptop in the classroom, and get her Art History and Art Appreciation slide lectures on an iPad and not have to carry her MacBook Pro to class with her along with the stack of books she usually has along for show and tell in the lectures and discussions. Anything to lighten the load is the goal.

Any reader who can suggest the easiest way to get large PDF files onto the iPad without trying to mail them please give me a hint. I’ve discovered that her lectures are too large to mail since they are loaded with images in the keynote presentations and exceede the 25 MB file size for my mail service. So what do you think are the easiest ways to move large PDF files? Googling how to on that gives some answers but they all seem relatively complex; can anyone suggest a simple method?

I’m still hunting and pecking on the keyboard with high speed single finger typing. I just can’t seem to get my fingers on the correct keys on the virtual keyboard. It looks like I will add a Mac Bluetooth keyboard as some reviewers have suggested. It can sit quietly on the desk until needed at home, and for travel the hunt and peck may be the answer unless my wife’s hands can do a better job with the virtual keyboard than mine do.

The red leather cover is a deep red and the leather is luxurious and feels very good to the hand. The magnets snap into place perfectly every time that the cover is removed and replaced.

My only previous experience with an iPad was about 10 minutes looking at pictures on a friend’s first generation iPad, and I was a bit hesitant as to how fast I would pick up the gestures and operations of the touch controls. I should not have worried. In 15 minutes with the manual in the bookmarks and I had it. The remaining thirty minutes and I had ordered and installed three apps, Kindle books, and configured security and mail. Leave this iPad alone for 15 minutes and it locks itself up for protection and requires a four digit unlock code. My wife, who is a quick learner, did it even quicker, I believe if I’d left her alone she could have done all I did setting up in less time than it took me.

I wont’t go over all the uses and potential uses of the iPad, I’ll simply say I’m hooked and I guess I qualify as a Fanboy and I’ll admit it. The iPad just works.

Categories
Digital Lifestyles Gadgets Reviews

I’m Loving My Magpul iPhone Field Case!

DigitalAppleJuice.com is a great place to talk about all things Apple. And, digital imaging. And how you create artwork in the digital age. And… well, you get the point. So I decided to devote a few paragraphs to a new product I found for the iPhone.

Photo by Britt Stokes

I recently ordered some items from a retailer in California. While on their website, a new item caught my eye – a Magpul brand case for my iPhone 3G (they also make a case for the iPhone 4). I was intrigued… Magpul is famous in the military community for making tough, reliable products. I decided to try one out.

I had been carrying my phone in a disappointing “carbon” case from the Apple store… two piece slip-over design to protect the back and front edges (around the glass) of the iPhone. This set me back $34.95. Within two weeks of getting it, the “chrome” topstrap was already broken. Your mileage may vary, but I was pretty disappointed.

So yesterday I got my package from the brown truck of happiness… and there was my new Magpul phone case. I immediately threw the old case in the trash, and slipped my phone it the new case. It fits perfectly. Really. No slop, no soft rubbery-stuff to start loosening up in a few days. The military-grade synthetic rubber cushions the phone. It has button covers for the volume control and top control switch (on-off). The camera lens has a nice little window, the headphone jack is easily accessed, and the ring/mute button is uncovered. The standard Apple charger I use at my bedside clicked right into place.

Photo by Britt Stokes

Today I realized that carrying the phone in my pocket is easier with this new case – the old case was very slick, and shifted around in my pocket constantly. Also, it was so slick on the sides that I dropped the phone a few times. The new Magpul case is tactile enough to be very easy to hold, and has a few strategically placed ridges on the sides and back to aid in grip.

The case colors available are black, flat dark earth, olive drab green, foliage, orange and pink. And now, for the very best part… the case is designed and manufactured in the USA, and suggested retail price is just $9.95.

All in all, I think I’m in love.

You can see more at www.magpul.com under Miscellaneous Accessories  or go directly to the product page. I bought mine at www.botachtactical.com, or find it at other merchants.

Categories
The Write Stuff Video

Writing A Great Short Story – Kurt Vonnegut’s Advice in 90 seconds

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyQ1wEBx1V0

Categories
Digital Lifestyles Video

Attack of The 8 bit Videogames

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf480SUuRxY

Categories
Art Commentary Video

An Escher Moment

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rng0YCn3wI

Categories
Digital Lifestyles

100 Things to Watch in 2011

[slideshare id=6306251&doc=2f100thingstowatchin2011-101222142649-phpapp02]