Sunday, September 29, 2013

iPhone Photo Safari with Snapcious

I play this fun game called Snapcious.  Its an iPhone app only for now. The
game is really fun.  You submit mission ideas and other players rank them and the top rated ones become missions for you to fulfill. What is a mission, well they are photo ideas for you to fulfill with images you capture with your iPhone.  Those images are voted on by other players and you gain points with wins...points that eventually get you additional rank and perks within the game.

It launched the first of the year and I was one of the early adapters. Its actually a good tool to keep you thinking about the images you create.

Saturday, 9/28/13 was the first ever Snapcious iPhone Safari and we players met in downtown Los Angeles in the Grand Central Market and proceeded to walk the city and shoot what we saw, posting as we went sharing with other players what we were seeing, documenting and hopefully gave them an idea of the fun we were having as a group.

Piggy backing off of last weeks post, it applies for photo shoots of cities too.  Get up close for  the details and you will wind up with a diverse documentation of your subject.  I shot a variety in my little tour of DTLA with the Snapcious group.  They are all on flickr in my iPhone Safari set.
A few of my favorite detail shots from my meander in downtown LA...

Mack Reed one of he creators of Snapcious gave us all a quick tour of the iPhone camera.  I thought I knew it all, I was wrong.  I learned how to spot meter with the thing and get perfect exposures now in adverse lighting conditions.  To do it is stupid easy.  Put your phone in grid view. Tap the area of the grid you want perfectly exposed...the backlit face, the sun setting in the sky and the phone does the rest.

My only gripe with the iPhone really has to do with the iOS7 update from this week.  It makes a battery pig worse.  I started the safari with 100% battery and ended it barely 3 hours later with 20% and dire need of a charge. If I'm going to survive the LA Auto Show next month I am going to need a heavy duty external battery to keep me going while I blog on the fly and tweet out the goodies I find.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Get up close and personal

 It applies to a lot of things, with cars you pick up the details that the overview only alludes to.  With landscapes you get details of the flora and fauna that is lost in the grandiose soak it all image. With flowers you pick up the erotic from the mundane blossom.

Yup, the pic above is me.  One of only a few known to exist, especially me doing what I do best, photographing cars.  Its also me practicing what I preach, move in close for details and fill the frame with them.  In this case I was shooting the hood ornament on this classic Packard.  What a car, but look a the attention to detail in it.  Lots of art deco details that are lost in the wide shot of the entire car.  The following image is what I got from that shot.  Thanks to my friend Stephen Coleman who captured me doing what I love.

Sunday, September 15, 2013 to shoot 'em in the wild

Cars can be, but shouldn't be a challenge.  Picking the right lens helps if you are DSLR enabled, adjusting zoom if you use a point and squirt.. I shot pretty exclusively with a wide angle Canon 20-35mm for this purpose with the 70-200 zoom reserved for the detail shots.  Why this combo? A variety.

Cars benefit from the exaggerated perspective that only a while angle lens can bring to the table. With a point and squirt you have zoom ratios, move in close and zoom out to get the same effect.  It makes it all look longer and wider emphasising the lines.  The wider angle view also enables you to shoot in crowds without having to back off and wait for  a break in traffic to get your shot.

Depth of Field.  I've talked about it in the past in prior posts.  In short the greater the lens the greater the depth of field, or area of focus you get an any given aperture (f-stop to us old schoolers).  At 20mm my wide angle lens is pretty all encompassing focus which you need when up close and personal with a car.  The shot of the Thunderbird at the lead to this post if shot from a distance to fill the frame would have not only compressed the car to make it look short and squat but would have run the risk of having the front corner in focus with the rear out of focus.  Not a good thing when you are shooting something this big.

Get down low and up close and personal.  That means drop down to one knee, bend over or do what it takes so your camera is level to slight above the fender peaks.  It will yield a dramatic image every time showcasing the lines and curves that some designer spent hours at some point drawing out.

Anecdotally yesterday I was at the 23rd Annual Street Rods Forever car show here in Monrovia.  There was an old dude (isn't that the kettle calling the pot black) who had a DSLR on a tripod.  With a moderate length lens.  He would go from car to car and set himself up for his shots, not unlike what I did here, but at a distance of maybe 10 feet and would sit on a stool crabbing at people to get out of his way.  How rude, gives photographers a bad name.  In a crowd you gotta be mobile and as unobtrusive as possible.

Don't be afraid to take multiple shots of the same car from different angles and perspectives.  Don't be afraid to deviate from straight on.  Stand up tall, shoot with the camera tilted to fill the frame, this view can add a feeling of movement and power to the car.  Try to get from behind as well for pictures, its not always possible because of parking or thats where the owner stashed his chairs and cooler to sit out the show, but try.

Take several shots of the car, not just the big picture with the whole machine.  Zoom in for details.  Those details are what add character to a car. Either it was done by the designer back in the day when it was just a dream or by some customizer who thought it would add something to the character of the car.  Could be the logo in pot metal, the arc on a fin or wheel well or a sticker added by the gear head at the end.  Its a signature piece that makes up the whole.  Those details also make interesting images.  Those details were sweat at the design stage, show them off now.

I rarely shoot a car head on unless its part of a series of images to illustrate the entire car.  Often I grab 3 shots with only 1 at the head on level.  I find the images that illustrate the dimensionality of the car as a sculptural piece are much more effective.  Varying angles and frame just add to the story of the car and goes beyond mere documenting what it looked like.  

My only gripe here is that owners of hot rods in particular, but nicely restored car owners do it too, is that so much was put into the mechanics of the car they want to show off the engine.  To do that they show the car with the hood up!  Nice for detail pics of the engine, but that gaping maw sure ruins the looks of an otherwise nicely sculpted machine.  You can ask them to drop the hood and some may do just that, others will look at you like you are speaking in tongue.

The big tip here is to shoot lots from a variety of angles so your photo sets tell a story of the car(s) you chose to focus on.  Even if you are taking a couple of some generally interesting cars using these tips you will have stand out images that are different than simply cataloging what you saw.  At yesterdays show there were over 200 cars there, I shot maybe 3 in depth as outlined above, the rest that got my eye, about a 3rd of them I took a couple of shots varying perspective and angle so I would have enough to remember the basics. 

Enjoy these images, they do get larger if you click on them.  If you want to see them in their jpeg large from you can check out the entire set on flickr.  

Monday, September 09, 2013

Life instuctions

I play an online game called Snapcious.  Its played with your iPhone or Andoid with the Snapcious App.  Its pretty simple to play.  Winning is about bragging rights and not much more.  You open the app, search the missions  and shoot, post and you are done.  It even gives you the option to post to other social media sights like facebook, twitter, flickr, pinterest etc.,.

One of the missions this week is "life instructions".  I thought about doing something cheeky, then opted to go with verbalizing my thoughts and snapping a pic of the screen.  There you go, my 5 points to having a happy life.

Ont the topic of life, been busy of late.  Did a commercial shoot for a realtor friend of mine who was in a bind.  Was quite pleased with the results.  I did flash and natural light, the latter is far more artsy in my not so humble...  The link to see what they chose HERE.  A sample of my favorites :

I've also been busy with SoCalAutoBlog and of late.  Both keep me busy with adventures and photo ops.  I mean cars and Los Angeles does it get much better for adventures?

I also did a fun commercial shoot for a website that a friend of mine is doing the marketing work for its new web site.  Citadel Exploration is the companies name.  My mission was to make oil wells look pretty.  I did quite well. The shoot encompassed 2 days of shooting.  The first was a complete and utter wash out, literally as it poured buckets on us.  Who knew it rained heavy in SoCal in spring!  The camera got really wet and I wound up having to shoot the second day all in manual mode as the metering somehow lost its ability to control shutter speed. least I knew how to go old school exposure calculating from ASA (now we call it ISO but that's a whole different story) the shutter/f-stop calculations for zone and pulled it all off.

The big bonus in this?  Well I got a new camera.  An EOS 60D that I'm just now getting the hang of using in manual mode.  The old EOS 20D is gonna get fixed then be a spare/backup as it still produces stunning images at 8 mega pixels which is more than enough for real estate and commercial shoots that will be web based.  Big stuff..the 60D will rule as it can go easily 4 FEET by 6 FEET!

The commercial stuff is fun and it pays the bills...the art stuff nourishes the soul.  Its all good, now I need to go create some art.