Tuesday, July 29, 2008

tripod or iPod?

This really isn't about a tripod, except that I did have to use it during the first part of the shoot at the beach. Instead, it's about shooting at the beach ON the beach.

I started out early one morning. That's a HUGE tip for beginning photographers. Most gurus say it's because of the light, it's not as harsh. However, another reason I go out early is because there are fewer people on the beach. Yes, I could photoshop them out, but it's a whole lot easier if the people just aren't there. I really like to shoot at the beach in October or November; the sand is smoother, and again, people aren't there. My destination that morning was an area north of Myrtle Beach where there is a pier near public parking. It's a pain lugging the equipment blocks away from the ocean. I have shot under piers before but this time I had a plan. Let me back up and explain.

About a month ago, I met this guy (20-30 somethings would call him a dude) at Sam Flax's in Atlanta. I was walking down an aisle looking at the acid-free, archival quality mats when I saw this amazing poster size image on the framing counter. The image was a pier with the ocean looking very creamy-like..not foamy. Etheral would be a good word to describe it. The two guys who were helping him with his selection seemed to be concentrating on the colors for the mat and frame, just like they should have...very businesslike. This is where I enter the picture. I ooohed and aaahhed and began the interrogation. (Read the blog posted on June 27th....I was becoming one of them.) He told me without a lot of prodding where he took the shot, when he took the shot, and the shutter speed. I knew he had a more expensive camera, but I didn't think that would make that much of a difference. I thought I had all I needed to duplicate THE SHOT.

So, off I went on my merry way to take THE SHOT under the pier with my secret shutter speed to make the water look creamy. Using my tripod, I experimented with every selection on my camera....aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc. Soon the people were waking up and taking their morning walk, thus causing frustration on my part. Why did everyone want to walk under the pier this early in the morning as I was taking THE SHOT?

I planted myself under pier with my bag and tripod. Set everything up. Took the shot and this is the result. Not exactly what I was looking for. My shutter speed was obviously too slow. My aperture was good- 32, and the ISO was 100. The problem was shutter speed.

Here is the second shot. Not really the second, I took 39 and don't want to bore you. This is the second example of my shoot that morning. This time I accelerated the shutter speed, same aperture and ISO. It's getting better. But, where is the water?

The third image shows lots more color, probably due to changing the ISO to 400, the aperture to 5.6, and the shutter speed to 1/640..that's really fast. I love the color, but it's NOT CREAMY!

This is the 4th and last image. The shutter speed is .6, the aperture is 36 and the ISO is 100. I think with some tweaking in photoshop this image will look pretty good. It's still somewhat overexposed, but I like that effect. What do you think?

I want to thank Tom, my guru for so patiently explaining my questions regarding metadata. He is a genius. I also want to thank John for sharing his image with me. It's NOT EVEN CLOSE, but maybe someday.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

iPod or tripod?

Today I think I'll write about my new iPod instead of the tripod. It seems that I'm on a roll now writing about instruments related to computer technology that are really driving me crazy. I'll tell you about the tripod soon and the shots that I took at the beach....that I get....most of the time. This is more important because I know I need more exercise, but I really, really don't like to sweat. Just the thought of moving in the morning makes me tired. SO, to get me up and out the door in the morning, I bought an iPod Shuffle, the one for $49. I went to the Apple store at Lenox Square and just did it. For several months I had been thinking about buying one because the small tape player I had been using with the Jane Fonda Walkout Program is so 90's. It was simple to use, just pop in the tape and go. But, I was getting sick of walking to that marching music.

My new iPod is more complicated..at least for me it is. The one I bought holds 200 songs and that's enough for me. Do you think I would ever walk long enough to hear 200 songs? As luck would have it, the day after my big purchase, they were having a class on the iPod. My friend, Karen (she has 2 iPods, why?) and I went, sat on the stools and listened to this guy tell us the ins and outs of this cute little device. Here it is in a nutshell: download iTunes, create an account and start downloading your songs either from the store or your own CD's. TIP: when you are downloading your CD's, you really don't need to download the entire CD, just take what you like. This will keep your playlist manageable. Another thing. Buying individual songs instead of the entire CD will save you tons of money. I wish I had know that when I bought Gwen Stefani's CD. I love The Sweet Escape, but that's about it for the entire CD. Now that I think about it, that goes for just about every CD I own....except for Steve Tyrell's and Johnny Mathis'. Speaking of Johnny Mathis, I just happen to have a picture that I took of him at his Christmas concert at the Fox Theatre last December. Not that great of a shot...I had to sneak and do it. Actually, one of the ushers caught me after I had taken about 20 and almost had me arrested. OK, I exaggerate, but she told me to STOP! It was a great concert, but I kept waiting for him to sing The Impossible Dream and watch the disco ball drop, but no such luck. I saw him when I was in college, a million years ago, and when that ball dropped and the lights flew around the theatre, I thought ..well, you can take it from there.

Like I said, I bought the iPod to make me walk. So I started working on my walking playlist. I wanted to start slow and build up and then slow down again. Easier said than done. One evening I sat at my computer for hours playing most of my CD's tapping my feet, trying to determine beats per minute.

Here' s my first walking playlist:
We're All Alone-Boz Scaggs, Just the Two of Us-Bill Withers, Smooth-Santana, Night and Day-Steve Tyrell, The Sweet Escape-Gwen Stefani, Bittersweet-Peter White, Just To See Her-Smokey Robinson, Venice Beach-Peter White, and Set the Night To Music-Johnny Mathis. This playlist was 39 minutes but the first two songs were too slow. So I made a second playlist.

My second list is 34 minutes and I inserted a few songs that were much faster. Here it is: Who Is He and What Is He To You- Bill Withers, Heart to Heart- Kenny Loggins, then Smooth, Night and Day and The Sweet Escape, Brown Sugar-The Rolling Stones, Just To See Her, and Venice Beach. I figured Brown Sugar has 120 beats per minute.....way too fast for me. I've got to move it to #4, or take it out. I haven't made up my mind because I haven't walked for over a week. Something ain't workin'. I can come up with hundreds of reasons why I can't walk...tired, heat, too busy, need to pull weeds, the humidity makes my hair frizz, and on and on. I guess my reason now is that the play list isn't right. I think I'll add some Barry White and some Luther. I heard that George Michael has a new CD...maybe I'll go to iTunes and do some shopping.

By the way, if any of you who read my last post is interested, I did buy the external DVD burner. It works, but THERE IS ANOTHER PROGRAM TO LEARN. Another post for another day.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Techno Overload

I have been up to my neck in cords...cords for downloading images to my computer, cords to connect the iPod to the computer, cords from my external drive to the computer, and lastly connecting the video camera to the computer. THAT is what is driving me crazy. I will never buy or learn two new techno products in the same month. Maybe not even the same year.

Here's the problem. In the past month, I have purchased an iPod and a RCA Small Wonder. I also renewed my subscription to NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals). Now this probably doesn't seem like a big deal to most folks, but it is. In this blog, I'm just going to write about the RCA Small Wonder. This is a product of a she-devil.

I mentioned going to the beach in my last post, where my husband, Tom, was going to deejay at the Ocean Drive Pavilion over the 4th of July. We (he) thought it would be a good idea to buy a small video camera so that I could video him as he played and get testimonials from his friends known as, "the folks between the posts." (This is his 25th year playing at the beach and a pretty big deal so it needed to be chronicled.) Jason, a friend of ours, gave us the idea when he sent us a DVD of Tom playing at an earlier event at the beach. He used a FLIP, similar to the Small Wonder, said it was simple to use and make the DVD's. HA!

So, I bought the SW instead of the Flip because it was $50. less. Now I'm thinking that was a mistake. On the drive to the beach as we listened to a book on tape that had NINE cd's, I started reading the directions. I multi-task. I was convinced that this was going to be a piece of cake. I was so wrong. The actual videoing, i.e. pushing the buttons, is not a big deal. But they left out lots of info that would have made this experience easier. So that you won't make the same mistake, here are a few tips that you should know. #1. Don't talk while you are taping. This video camera looks like a digital camera. You look through the LCD as you tape forgetting that the mike is on the same side. Taking still shots, you don't have to worry about sound. I had to delete several clips because...well, let's just say I should have kept my mouth shut. Get it? #2. You have to remember to go slow while panning. I keep thinking about that scene in The Thomas Crown Affair when the camera circled Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. How did they do it without making us dizzy? I'm afraid I don't have that talent and I didn't take film-making in college, so I have to remember to slow down and keep the camera level. If you're drinking, don't even try this.

After videoing for one afternoon, I downloaded the action into the computer. Here's tip #3. You have to be ready to edit and copy when it is downloaded. The editing program is in the camera. As far as I can tell, the program can't be downloaded onto your computer. You can download and save the videos, but the cutsie stuff that comes with the camera has to be done when you are downloading. I went to the web looking for directions regarding this piece of ... equipment and they all seem to think it's a plus for the editing program to be in the camera! Here's the thing...what if you just want to get the images out of the camera and into the computer so that you can start videoing again and you're really not feeling creative, or you don't want to take the time to edit?

Here's how I handled that challenge. I found Windows Movie Maker. Again, I went on the web and downloaded their editing program. This time I could actually install it in the computer ... for free! For those of you who are shaking your heads thinking that I am soooo not with it, just remember that I have been into photography, not video. This is a whole new world to me.

The Windows Movie Maker is yet ANOTHER new program to learn. Yes, it's simple, but there are a few challenges involved here. When you import video into the program, it is imported in small clips. It was frustrating at first until I discovered the timeline at the bottom. After dragging all of the clips to the storyboard and then clicking on the timeline, I was able to produce a video with no interruptions or breaks. I bet there are books on this program, I just don't have one. I really don't have any room for more books in my office, at least not until I get rid of the back issues of Martha Stewart magazines. But that's asking a lot. I just never know when I might need to know how to wash windows without Windex (can't find that issue), how to arrange garden roses (Sept.2001) or what shade of beige should be used in the hallway (May, 2007). I wish she would publish an issue on Windows Movie Maker. Do you hear me Martha? I digress.

After making the video, I needed to save it. After several mistakes, I pulled down SAVE PROJECT. That's important. The final step is copying it to a CD or a DVD. I wanted to save to a DVD because I wanted to watch it on the television. NO CAN DO. I don't have a DVD burner. I have a CD burner, but that won't work on our DVD player.

So, today I went to Micro Center to buy a DVD burner. The 20 something geek assured me that it would fit my Dell and was a piece of cake to install. I fell for it. The smart thing I did was to have one of those 20 something guys help me install it. I did and they watched. Got home, turned on the computer and I immediately got a screen that said something like, "there is something new installed in this computer and you need to get it out before the hard drive dies and you lose absolutely everything on it." OK, that's not word for word, but close. So I turned off the computer, got the screwdriver, and uninstalled the DVD burner and reinstalled the original CD burner and player. I turned the computer back on and all is well.

My husband seems to think that I can get an external DVD burner. We'll see. Just one more cord to deal with, and yes, another program. I can't wait.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

tell him to wear a red shirt and a white tie....

I wasn't going to post another blog until after the 4th, but a conversation that I just had with my mother-in-law made me change my mind.

She called this morning at 8:30 asking about our plans for this weekend. She knew we were going to the beach because my husband,Tom is deejaying at the pavilion. I was wondering why she was asking such specific questions...i.e. when is he playing, where is he playing, will George (my stepson) be dancing (that's the most important question) and are tickets required. To our surprise, she is planning to drive to the beach with a friend..the friend will drive, of course, because Mattie, my mother-in-law is 85 and doesn't really see that well. It's not the age that concerns me about the driving, it's the vision, or lack of. After I answered her questions to her satisfaction, we hung up and I'm sure she started making plans.

About ONE minute later she called back to tell me something that she forgot to tell me during our previous conversation. It seems that she saw a man on television last night who was wearing a red shirt with a white tie. I didn't ask if it was a satin shirt or a bow tie, I just envisioned shiny. She told me to tell Tom that he should wear the same thing at the beach while he is deejaying (in humid, 90 degree heat, I might add). I told her that if I told Tom that she wanted him to wear a red shirt with a white tie, he would have her locked up! She laughed...thank goodness. Now where do you suppose she saw a man with a red shirt and a white tie? Are they showing reruns of The Lawrence Welk Show with Myron Florin playing the accordion? God love her.