Sunday, June 28, 2009

Photographing a model is not a easy as it looks

Yesterday, I got the chance to photograph a few of models as part of the New Hampshire Flickr Group's Natural Light Workshop at Stark Park in Manchester. Wow, it's not an easy task capturing a person at just the right moment as they give the perfect pose.

KatieA couple of things that I learned from yesterday's gathering: making eye contact with the model makes a huge difference and custom white balances can really give an image that perfect color right in the camera.

As we were snapping away, fellow photog Karl mentioned he finally got the statement about making eye contact with the subject and the photographer/camera. Up until that point, I hadn't really though about it, but I realized as I was taking pictures, the ones I like the best came when the model was looking directly at the lens. It makes the picture click, pardon the pun.

As for the custom white balance, I thank our organizer Tim for the suggestion to switch the camera from Auto White Balance (AWB) and use one of the other preset balances. His first suggestion was to try the “cloudy” setting, since we were shooting under a tree on a sunlit day. The results were staggering:

Using AWB:

Using "Cloudy" WB:


While I liked my first few shots on AWB, I was amazed at the warmer color that came from switching white balance modes. The rest of the day was spent shooting in either the “Cloudy” or “Shade” presets on my Canon Rebel XT. It's definitely something I'll use going forward when shooting different subjects, be it people or nature.

Photography is just a hobby for me. Something to take the mind away from the everyday grind of work and life. It was nice yesterday to get out and learn some new tricks, hang out with fellow photographers and take some photos. My set from yesterday's shoot can be found on here.

Thanks to Katie, Krista and Laura for helping us out yesterday. They were funny and patient while the group of us learned new techniques, talked shop and had a fun time in the park.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My name is Jason and I am Bejeweled Blitz addict

Hulu's great commercials featuring Alec Baldwin and Denis Leary claim the online TV service is really an a plot to turn America's mind to mush. While that may be true, I believe the real threat to our productivity and well-being is the Bejeweled Blitz Facebook game. It's got me hooked.

Before you ask what Bejeweled Blitz is, please make sure you have the time to suck out of your life in order to play. Once you play a single game, 30 more are soon to follow.

Bejeweled Blitz is a cousin to the regular Bejeweled game, which I had played off and on in the past (even downloaded it to my iPhone). But Blitz adds a twist: The game only lasts a single minute as you try to score as many points as possible. There's a leader board showing how you fare against your other Facebook friends that play, adding to the competition. That's all well and good, and the addiction would probably end once the Top 10 players were established and the chances of cracking the list were slimmed.

But, Bejeweled Blitz's creators, PopCap Games, ratchets things up by clearing scores every couple weeks and starting a new tournament. Now you have have chance to be Number One, starting from scratch!

Though each singular game is quick, the minutes can quickly add up as productivity slides, chores remain undone and work is ignored. For procrastinators such as myself, it's a Godsend to putting off doing the things we hate doing.

I'm sure there will be addiction centers and support groups springing up around the country – or at least a Facebook Fan Page – soon. For productivity's sake, I hope so.

I am Jason and I am Bejeweled Blitz addict.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Why do companies neglect their customers? Yes, you Canon (and AT&T)

What happened to the customer is always right? As the cliché goes, you would think given the circumstances, companies would go all out to keep loyal customers happy. But no.

When it comes to photography, I am a Canon guy. I love my little Rebel XT and would love to add some new higher-end “glass” (aka lenses) once I get back in the job market. But, the company is giving me some reasons to re-consider them as my vendor of choice.

I just upgraded my home machine to a new Dell Studio desktop running Vista (yes, I know...). Problem is, I seem to have misplaced the original software CD that came with my Rebel. The box, packing materials and all the manuals are in my closet, just not the CD I need to get the transfer utility and photo tools on to my new PC. No biggie, I thought, I'll just download what I need from the Canon site. Wrong, all that's available are “updater” programs that require a previous version be installed in order to use them. As they like to say on Twitter, Fail!

E-mail to Canon's customer support were equally frustrating. While I did get a quick response and the company did say, “We value you as a Canon customer and appreciate the opportunity to assist you with the Digital Rebel XT,” they were of no help. They did confirm that one can only get updater versions from the Rebel XT support page and that a replacement copy of the Solutions CD can be purchased from the Canon Sales and Accessories Department via an 800 number.

Why on Earth can't they just provide this software to download? Put it behind a registration wall if you want. It's not of much use to non-Canon users. I've got my serial number, box, everything. Not like I am trying to pull a fast one here. It's ridiculous that I have to pay (not sure how much, but that's not the point) for a replacement CD.

Quick Google and Flickr searches uncovered a number of other people complaining about the same issue. There are some workarounds available that include messing with the Windows registry and downloading the software from a peer-to-peer network. Neither seems worth it.

My workaround is to use Picasa as my photo browser (replacing Canon's ZoomBrowser) and the built-in card reader to grab photos instead of the EOS Utility. I haven't shot RAW yet, so I'll cross that conversion bridge when I get there.

As for AT&T, I am not sure what they are thinking by not having MMS ready for the iPhone 3.0 OS launch next week. I could send MMS with crappy LG Chocolate phone three years ago on Verizon Wireless. Why can't I with my mighty iPhone? They've known this is coming for a while and yet are the only carrier out of 30 that won't be ready in time.

I partially understand the delay in allowing tethering. That could really eat up precious network resources, but AT&T definitely dropped the ball on MMS.