Category Archives: D.I.Y.

anything that goes against the grain

Monkey’s Fist Keychains

Monkey's Fist

Started tying a new batch of monkey’s fists. These are great for your car keys, boat key, or just as a gift. They are made out of high quality nylon line and lightweight. It’ll last forever, trust me. I sell ‘em for $10. Contact me if you’re interested, I accept PayPal and ship immediately.

Welcome back to NOLA!

So, Ciera and I have moved back to NOLA… Here is a 10 minute video we made on our way down. Hope yall enjoy it, tell me what you think.

Hub to NOLA

Shot on Canon 5DMK3 and GoPro Hero HD

Homemade Cold-Brew Iced Coffee

Growing up in New Orleans spoiled me for many things, but none more than for a great cup of iced coffee. During summer months it is absolutely impossible to drink anything else. There is nothing better than grabbing a medium iced from PJ’s, having a smoke, and submitting to the angry heat of the southern sun.

In Boston, admist the cluster of Dunkin and Starbucks, it can be hard to find a quick, cheap cup so I decided to make my own. Back in college,  a couple of friends made their own “cold brew” with a Toddy system, which was damn good but overpriced. I figured that I could do the same thing without buying the $50 kit…

I found some great info online, mainly here, and it’s super easy:

Get a 1lb of coffee you like, ground coarse…

 Mix coffee with 1 gallon filtered room-temp water and wait 8-12 hours…

Get a pitcher and strainer…

Pour!

After the coffee is chilled, your cold-brew coffee concentrate is done. And you’re ready to make an iced coffee.

Iced Coffee Tych

Careful, this stuff is gooood, but strong! I genereally do a 1:1 water/coffee mix.

Fuji X-Pro1 & Pocket Wizards

Figured I’d share the method I use for triggering off-camera flash with my X-Pro1. It was a pain to set up.

The trick is getting the triggers in Basic Trigger Mode.

Here is the process for the MiniTT1/FlexTT5 (Canon).

On you computer via PocketWizard Utility:

MiniTT1 > Misc > Deselect “ForceTTL Master Mode” > Select “Basic Trigger Mode” > Noting the Standard Transmit Channel

FlexTT5 > Deselect “Use ControlTL Channel for Receive Channel” > Misc > Select “Basic Trigger Mode” > Match Standard Receive Channel (with that of the Mini’s Standard Transmit Channel)

Make sure the Mini & Flex are on the corresponding Standard Transmit Channel and Standard Receive Channel, respectively…

In Basic Trigger Mode, your PWs should be good to go on any camera with a compatible hot-shoe. Furthermore, this can be done on C1/C2, leaving a spare config setup for your main TTL system… Just make sure you select the correct Configuration tab in the PocketWizard Utility.

Helpful link:

http://www.pocketwizard.com/…ns/tutorials/basic_trigger_mode_tutorial_vide/

Photography for Free: No Pay Only Shots for Portfolio

“Do you want to work this awesome gig?”

“Hell yes.”

“Great, you’ll be on the list with a press pass.”

“Cool, whats the pay?”

“No pay, just shots for your portfolio…”

Too often this dialogue transpires for the emerging photographer. The responses vary but all photographers feel the same way: USED. Clients in this situation are taking advantage of something new in the freelance photographer’s market: everyone has a camera and to some degree know how to use it.

What clients do not understand is the difference between the amateur and professional. A professional photographer will shoot an event and take, lets say 100 photos, of those 100 maybe 75 will be “keepers”. Had an amateur covered the same event and taken the same 100 photos maybe only 25 will be “keepers”. For my purpose the actual ratio does not matter, it is simply the difference between the two.

A pro photographer is like a lion waiting to pounce on moments and situations using a carefully crafted balance of creativity and skill to capture and create. Unlike the pro, an amateur will approach the same situation optimistically yet without the confidence, knowledge, or experience necessary to get equal results. What ends up happening is moments/photographs are missed (to a variety of reasons) or overall quality suffers. Simply put, a pro MAKES photographs, an amateur TAKES photos.

Because of the advancements of modern cameras, anyone is easily capable of getting good to excellent photos (in ideal situations) without any working knowledge/experience, but in order to do this on-cue repeatedly requires a professional. Sure there are times when there is no budget and a student must be found on craigslist who will work for exposure/experience/something-to-put-in-their-portfolio, but this is an inherent risk to the client. Before looking for a “free photog” you must be absolutely willing to receive sub par results. If you require quality, you must hire (pay) a professional. And please, do not give me the line, “to better your portfolio”, I do that everyday.

*Side Note*

To ALL photographers: You have a skill and should be paid well for it. Wether or not you consider yourself qualified you must understand that the service you are providing is not cheap and anyone cannot do it. Find out what other photographers are charging. If you want to be cheap, be cheap, but don’t sell yourself, and the industry, short by working for nothing. Many potential clients like my work, but can’t afford to hire me. I always try and work with a client and their specific budget, but there must be a point of no return. No one likes to turn down work, but this is how we make our living. Working for free is not better than not working.

iPhone Photography and iPhone 4G Wishlist

When I first got my iPhone 3GS I was utterly disappointed with the camera. Being a photographer, my expectations were not exactly high, but I did expect on having a usable camera in well-lit situations. On first inspection I immediately wrote the “3 megapixel auto-focus camera” off as nothing more than a gimmick. For months I seldom used the camera for more than MMS, which was cool for pranks and what not but nothing worthy of Flickr.

Recently I have been pushing the iPhone further trying to squeeze some quality out of its nanosensor. It actually is quite good if the right tools/technique are used. The trick to the iPhone is holding it steady. Darkroom (free) is a great app that uses the accelerometer to shutter release when the phone is steady. Also know that the iPhone’s shutter fires when you lift off the button not when you press it.

The App Store as many free or cheap apps to post-process your iPhoneography. My favorite is Photogene, which really is the closest thing to Photoshop for the iPhone (sorry Photoshop.com Mobile). Photogene ($1.99) is the one stop shop for exposure levels, RGB levels, crop/straighten, and sharpening. Sharpening is probably the most important aspect to processing iPhone photos. The photos are always soft.

Is the iPhone a toy? Yes and no, it does toy-like things and smart-phone things, but the camera really is a toy. Toy cameras have always been the smallest, cheapest, most quirky cameras around and they produce fantastic one of a kind results. The iPhone is similar to a Holga or Lomo in that you never really know what your going to get. For more creative aspects of iPhoneography check out CameraBag ($1.99), which offers many toy camera filters, Polaroid borders, and other one-touch effects.

The all-in-one app is Best Camera, whose slogan says it all, “The Best Camera is the one thats with you”. The guys at Best Camera hit the nail on the head, the iPhone is excellent for being unnoticed. Paul Strand used to use trick lenses so his subjects didn’t know he was photographing them. Regardless of whether or not this type of photography is exploitative or dishonest the iPhone is perfect for this. Street photography is about timing, confidence, and speed/preparation. The “problem” with street photography is that once your subject sees a camera pointed at them the scene is often lost. The iPhone allows you to snap photos of people unknowingly anywhere. People are so accustomed to seeing iPhones they don’t think twice about it. Best Camera ($2.99) offers exposure filters, creative effects, and crop/border tools.

That said, the iPhone 4G camera should have some obvious additions. I would like to see a quicker controllable shutter, 5 megapixels would be nice, ISO control, and if possible a larger sensor (yeah right). There are other more gimmicky things I don’t really care for. Likely additions are a flash (a sensor that small will always be useless in low-light), auto-focus tracking, or even a front facing camera for video chat, digital zoom (a one way ticket to horrible photos). Who knows? I am looking forward to see what Apple comes up with.

Freelance Photographer on the Road to Homelessness

Unemployment benefits are a good thing. You work a job for 4 years throughout college and graduate, but contrary to popular opinion, a degree is not immediately followed by gainful employment. This situation leaves one option: stick with the mindless 9-5 or 5-close until you can land a job that has thing-one in common with the $50k debt you now carry. That is, until you are canned because of a down economy.

It only takes a few hours before you ask yourself, “Where’s my slice”? Young professionals need to be aware of the programs available to them such as Unemployment Benefits, Federal Student Loan Consolidation,  and recent Health Care reforms. Taxpaying citizens all have the right to take back when necessary. The pennies you get from unemployment hardly compare to the amount of income tax you’ve paid the past four years…

When I was laid off from my day job I had no choice but to file unemployment. Now I have six months to get this photography ship off the ground. Freelance photography is far from “all fun and games”, but it probably is the coolest job around. Come July, if I can’t pay my rent I’ll be headed out to get a dead end job. Until then its GOVT cheese for me. Otherwise I’m sure my degree can get me a hat, horn, and spot on the corner to scream for change. Maybe then some cliché photography student will take pictures of me!

Strobist Experiment: Girl with the White Umbrella

Another strobist experiment that came out better than expected. Just took umbrella with flash on light stand outside, position Ciera in front of flash, and stopped down enough to underexpose ambient (street lights, et cetera…).

Strobist Trials

Yesterday I took the new light kit out for a spin around town. A friend and I went to an old train depot in Mid City to find a more industrial setting and plopped the gear down right on the old tracks. Setup in about 5, snapping with a good mix of ambient/strobe in 10… What I really enjoy about strobist lighting is the speed and freedom it allows. Each light weighs ~5lbs and can be easily moved with one hand while shooting with the other.

The results are o.k., but nothing spectacular. The shots are noticeably “lit”. Like a lot of strobist/HDR work, it has a very “unnatural” feel. Our eyes/brains are familiar with natural lighting and these techniques create situations not found in nature. This is not to say this looks “bad”, but I don’t care for it. My goal will be to get familiar enough with these strobes that I can use them sparingly to fill, accentuate, replicate natural/available light.

Lets Start the New Site With a Prank

For the last year I have been repeatedly spray painting my buddie’s rear passenger side tire. Initially it took him a while to realize, but it looks kinda cool. You can still see the remnants of the red paint from the first time…