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29th January 2011

I made it a point to attend several trade shows recently – Photokina in Cologne (September), PhotoPlus in NYC (October) and CES in Las Vegas (January). I spent a lot of time walking up and down the aisles at the shows and was able to get hands-on demos of many new pieces of photo equipment and accessories.

Several readers have asked about our plans for reviews of some of these items, so I thought I’d drop a few lines to let you know that we’ve already started reviewing the following items and are putting them through the paces. Additionally, we’ve added another tablet computer to our inventory and are just now logging a few dozen hours studying how it might come in handy for photographers.

Color Nook – this is the new color version of Barnes & Noble’s earlier black and white e-book reader. The display makes it great for reading ebooks that include full-color illustrations and photographs.
Eye-Fi – this innovative wireless SD card is not new, but the improved software has many new features for automatically sharing your photos with other sites.
Samsung Galaxy Tab – this recently introduced tablet computer is aiming to grab some of the would-be iPad enthusiasts. It’s more compact than the iPad and sports a few nice features.
Sony Alpha 55 – this new DSLR has a slew of innovative features. Demoing it at the PhotoPlus Show, I felt that is a groundbreaker. Others must have felt that way too; it was on backorder for six week.
Sony SnapLab – not everyone needs the power or speed of this medium volume printer. But having a SnapLab gives you a very convenient way to get prints directly from your digital media or bluetooth mobile device.

Stay tuned. The reviews are in progress.

Written by Arnie Lee

Do you trust your monitor?

26th January 2011

Color Calibration with the Pantone Huey Pro

As photographers, we spend an extraordinary amount of time fretting over color. We carefully tweak the camera settings and adjust the white balance, ISO, raw quality, exposure, noise level and sharpness to produce magnificent color in the captured image. Afterwards, we transfer the digital film to our computerized darkroom for further processing with a goal of reproducing the colors as true to life as possible.

So why are we surprised (read: disappointed) when a prized photo looks so different from our mind’s eye view of the original scene? After all, haven’t we set the camera for the best color?

The reason may well be that the true color of the photo has been inexplicably changed by the computer monitor.
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Photographing Air Force One

26th January 2011

Having been involved with Flight Simulation software over the years, I’ve been taking pictures of aircraft for some time now. My collection includes thousands of aircraft photos and one of my favorite group are the pictures of Air Force One that I’ve captured.

Air Force One is the huge Boeing 747 that flies the President of the United States to various places around the world. It’s easily recognizable by its distinctive blue and while colors.
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Enjoy those Winter Brights

24th January 2011

In my last article Fight those Winter Blahs, I pleaded that you not put your camera away for the winter. In our part of the universe (western Michigan), December through March are known to bring day after day of heavy, blanketed overcast. Along with these dark clouds come lots of dull lighting that tends to stifle the picture taking mood of many of us. I suggested that despite the dark skies, there’s plenty of opportunities to find ways to make your subjects “shine”.

So it was a very pleasant surprise to see today’s sterling bright sunshine. As I looked out the window, I could see a crystal clear blue sky and blinding reflections coming from our snow-covered lawn. But as I opened the front door to fetch the Sunday newspaper, the bone-chilling winds reminded me that a 10-degree temperature makes Grand Rapids feel like the Arctic.

After enjoying a cup of hot tea, a couple of the grandkids were prodding me to play outside in the snow with them. Despite the icy cold, I decided that I wouldn’t miss this chance to have some outdoor fun and maybe take a few winter photos too. So I tracked down my trusty ski jacket and soon followed the grandkids outdoors.

Don’t let the winter make you think hibernation. Look for those days when the sun will make an appearance. Think beyond the cold, endure the snow, ignore the clouds. Stay with it and make those winter photos shine. And have fun too!

 
Written by Arnie Lee

 

 

Fight those Winter Blahs

23rd January 2011

January’s weather in West Michigan has reputation for being quite dreary – dark, cloudy and cold. It’s not the kind of weather that inspires me to pick up a camera to capture the moment. In fact, it’s the kind of weather that encourages me to plant myself indoors and sip on piping hot coffee.

Yet by the second week of January I had already sipped a winter’s worth of coffee. It was time that I move from my comfortable lounge chair and face the outdoors no matter what the weather.

I grabbed a simple point-and-shoot camera, donned my scarf and heavy coat, opened the door and carefully waded into the snow and 15 degree blowing wind. But I was on the lookout for photographic possibilities.

When the sun fails to shine you have to use whatever light is available to make your pictures shine. Look to the left, look to the right, look for the untouched, look for the obvious. There’s plenty of possibilities no matter what direction if you let your imagination wander.

These pictures were all taken with less than stellar lighting.

Yes, it’s true that the winter may hide the sun. But you can beat the blahs by showing up outdoors – if only for a few minutes at a time. And don’t leave your camera behind – there’s gold(en opportunities) in that snow!


Written by Arnie Lee

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Neat Stuff at the CES

13th January 2011

The 2011 Consumer Electronics Show

You might think that after more than twenty-five years of attending the Consumer Electronics Show, I’d grow weary of the annual (CES used to take place twice a year) trek.
Showhow, there’s always lots of excitement in getting your hands on some of the new gadgets that will soon be making their way to the market.
This year some 126,000 members of the trade and press attended the show. Some 2700 exhibitors rented 1.6 million square feet of space at the Las Vegas Convention Center to show off their new products. The industry is hoping that this is a sign that the consumer electronics market is on a rebound.

Still recovering from the economic recession, Las Vegas and the casinos welcomed CES. In fact, I read that the Strip casinos were sold out on Thursday and Friday nights – the first time this has happened in many months.

Las Vegas was relatively cold – low 50’s during the day and 30’s during the evening. But the temperature at the convention center was definitely warmer and the halls overflowing with anxious showgoers.

First off, I headed over to the LVCC and made my way to the press room. I was surprised to see more than 50 internet-enabled computers and wireless routers available for press members.

It’s apparent that the electronics industry wants the CES show to receive maximum news and press coverage. No doubt, you’ve already seen products from CES on national television stations and newspapers.

As I walked through the aisles, one of the biggest attention grabbers was an onslaught of 3D televisions.

Among the television makers LG, Panasonic , Samsung, Sharp and Sony all had huge displays demonstrating their 3D capabilities. You’ll need those cool 3D shades to watch the new content which has been slowly making its way to Blu-ray DVDs and certain satellite and cable providers.

Panasonic is definitely taking steps to add content to 3D televisions. In March they plan to have a 3D lens set that fits on their Micro Four-Thirds cameras.

This has two separate lenses that produces a set of digital image that can be displayed directly on their 3D television.

The other big attention grabber was the tablet computers. As I approached the booths at Samsung and Panasonic I was amazed to see the number of visitors examining the new hardware and asking questions.

This unique Samsung Series 7 doubles as a tablet and a keyboard-equipped laptop. The keyboard slides out from the 10″ screen for easy typing tasks.


This is a prototype from Panasonic

This 7″ Samsung Galaxy drew three-deep crowds. It’s an Android device that competes with Apple’s iPad.
 

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the new or upcoming products that I found interesting.



This is Polaroid’s new “Lady Gaga” mobile printer. I’m told she loves the color gray. You can send your image to the printer via Bluetooth or USB cable. From Polaroid.


Here’s an attractive group of notebook and camera bags from Artisfront.


Joby, maker of the ubiquitous Gorillapods, introduced the “Ori for iPad”. It serves as a durable and protective cover and can hold your iPad in multiple positions for convenient use. From Joby.


The Eye-Fi is an “enhanced” SD card for digital cameras. It can send images directly to your computer while it’s still in the camera! I’m planning a review of the Eye-Fi soon. From Eye-Fi.


For commercial photographers, Metalight has several imaging boxes that provide constant, even lighting especially useful for product shots. From Medalight.


To keep your camera equipment dry in inclement weather DiCAPac has a waterproof “case” for your DSLR. Price is about $89. From DiCAPac.


Do you need a break from computer work? Use their missle launcher, webcam man, plasma ball – lots of fun “accessories” for a few minutes. From Satzuma..


It may look like a toy, but this remote controlled helicopter has a small camera mounted in the nose which can send digital images to your wi-fi network. Useful for taking photos from above. From Rotor Concept.


Underwater explorers can use these waterproof digital goggles with built-in 5MP still/video camera. This model costs $150 and is safe to 20 meters. From Liquid Image..


Liquid Image also makes these ski goggles with a ruggedized built-in camera. Again this has a 5MP still/video camera and sells for about $250. From Liquid Image.


Ecotricity introduced this portable solar power generator. This model is easily movable and provides power remote usage as well as home backup power and for emergencies. From Ecotricity.


For those times when you may have had too much fun and liquid refreshments you can use this convenient breathalyzer. It fits in your pocket and may come in handy. From BacTrack.


Dino-Lite showed me their digital microscope for photographing small items. From Dino-Lite.


This is a close-up taken with the Dino-Lite’s 5MP imager. You can see that the coin is free from shadows because of the built-in light and polarizing filter around the device’s imager. I am told that it’s especially popular with stamp and coin collectors. It has variable magnification from 10x – 50x, and optionally up to 220x.

I stopped at the Panasonic booth to have a look at the GF-2 Micro Four-Thirds camera which is scheduled to be available in March.

Since I wasn’t fond of composing and focusing through the LCD finder, I asked the CSR to attach the electronic viewfinder (not shown). With an EVF, a sleek body, light weight and fast response, I’m looking forward to testing out the GF-2 soon.


For the vain among you, you can use the QuikPod to capture your own picture with your digital camera. There are two models: one for smaller point-and-shoot cameras and other for DSLR cameras. Each is a handheld extendable tripod. Attach your camera, set it on self-timer, press the shutter and position the QuikPod for a self-portrait as you smile.

It’s also useful for handheld shots above the crowd. Comes with tripod legs for use as a conventional tripod. Price is $29 for point-and-shoot model and $49 for DSLR model. From QuikPod


In the next few weeks, I plan to review some of the products that you’ve seen here.

While the weather in Las Vegas wasn’t particularly warm, on the flight home I found myself stuck in Chicago for 7 additional hours because of snow. I guess I shouldn’t complain about the weather in Nevada.

 

Written by Arnie Lee

 


Great photos are born in the camera

We recently merged StayFocusedPress.com with ArnieLee.com. Thus Stay Focused is now part the arnielee website.

We’re all here because we love taking pictures. You’ll find helpful hints and tips for turning your snapshots into gallery quality photographs. These tips are short and right-to-the-point. Our goal is to get it right in the camera.

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You’ll also find articles based on our 50+ years of experience in photography. We happily share our know-how with you so in hopes that you’ll discover new ways to enjoy your picture taking even more.
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