Shooting in public

Here’s a provocative short video on how New York City street photographer Philip-Locra diCorcia shot a series of head shots. I found the video on The Stobist blog site. (Highly recommended.)

A couple of things he said I thought were especially interesting. First he shot thousands of frames to get the 17 shots he ended up exhibiting.

He never asked for permission nor did he pay anyone. He was sued once and the case went through a series of appeals before he won.

Why did he win? There is no presumption of privacy when you’re out in public. You might not like this but that’s how it is. If that wasn’t true, then all of the surveillance cameras in variety stores and hanging off street lights would have to come down. And where would we be without our security 🙂

Interesting video.


The Amazing HM-TA1

Okay I admit it. I bought the Panasonic HM-TA1 on an impulse when it was on sale for $89 at the Henry’s Camera Show last weekend. You can get it cheaper online but since I was there and it used to sell at $170 last year I said to myself “why not?” I’m really good at convincing myself to buy camera equipment 🙂 Just go ask my wife.

Now when it comes to the HM-TA1 I hadn’t had the chance to research the pocket mini video camera before I bought it but after a weekend of shooting and a morning of reading the reviews I’m delighted that I did buy.

So why did I buy another camcorder when I’ve got a Canon Vixia HF-200 and a Nikon D-90 and the Olympus E-PL2 plus my IPhone which has video too?

For one thing I don’t carry my cellphone everywhere. I use it mainly on weekends and when I’m out shooting a job or teaching a workshop (the cellphone stays in the car but I’ve got it with me just in case).

I only bring out the big cameras when I’m actually shooting something for a client. I get way too serious when somebody is paying me for my time and talents.

And while I love my Olympus it doesn’t exactly fit into my pocket. The Panasonic sure does.

If you read any of reviews you’re going to learn a couple of things. First the Panasonic takes outstanding 1080p hi-def video. The quality coming out of this tiny camera is amazing. Second some folks complained about the build-quality. Okay but what were you intending on doing with the camera? It’s not bullet-proof but it’s sure convenient (53mm X 18.8mm X 104mm and .25 lb). Some wished for a battery that included a charger (it charges via the USB plug) but that would raise the cost and third-party chargers are available.

BTW a new battery costs $99 from some retailers and $8 online. You pick. I’m ordering two of the $8 batteries which should last a couple of days of shooting before needing a recharge.

I had no problem editing my MP-4 video in IMovie and the video image when using the Panasonic as a Skype camera was much better than the image from my Mac’s built-in camera.

Here’s a pretty good review of the Panasonic and You Tube has a ton of videos.

I think the HM-TA1 is a keeper 🙂

Take a Lesson – Please!

Henry’s Cameras had their semi-annual camera show at Toronto’s International Centre last weekend and aside from them never getting the list of workshops up online in time, the show was pretty good. Unlike the upcoming Vistek show which features famous photographers offering workshops, Henry’s counts on their contract teachers whose presentation skills vary to put it politely.

One guy who always delivers is Michael Willems, who has been with Henry’s for several years and is by far the most popular instructor they have.

At the show, Michael was doing workshops on lenses and at the end of every presentation he had a line up of new photographers with lots of questions. That’s Michael in action thanks to my IPhone.

The funniest thing I saw (or maybe the saddest when it comes to knowing your camera) was a guy in his 50s with his big shiny DSLR shooting a model who was there as part of a studio light demonstration using his pop-up flash.

Now the girl was gorgeous but the idea behind the display was shoot the photo using the lights provided and not your cheesy pop up flash.

Folks when you invest $1,000 or more into a camera and maybe buy another lens for $500 to $2500 and an external flash, please invest $100 in a three-hour camera course. Michael and I both offer courses in everything from better point-and-shoot photography to advanced courses for emerging professionals.

But if you’re not in the Toronto area find someone locally who offers courses and sign up there.

BTW I bought a Panasonic HM-TA1 High-Def mini camcorder which was a show special at $89.

It’s a sweet simple 1080p camcorder that’s just right for always being handy in your pocket. You can upload MP4 files right into Facebook or YouTube via the built-in USB plug.

Oh the camera also works on Skype creating a much better image than the built-in camera in my MacBook Pro. The little sucker even shoots 8 meg still images.

The camera was retailing for $170 last year when it was introduced so at around half price this was a steal (and lots of fun).

Speaking of video recorders, I got the external microphone plug-in device for my Olympus E- PL2 which takes stunning 720p video using any of the lenses I now have for the micro 4/3s system.

The external stereo mic creates much better audio than the built-in mono mic and allows for other mics to be plugged into the adaptor.

The audio on the Panasonic is okay considering it’s a built-in mic but can’t compete with the much more expensive Olympus.

So you want to shoot weddings?

I’ve never shot a wedding as the principal photographer. Why? I don’t want that kind of responsibility plus I don’t know how!

What do you mean, you don’t know how? After shooting pro for 40 years (yikes!) what’s not to know?

And my answer is go ask anybody who hired a bad photographer or their Uncle Fred to shoot the wedding and you’ll have your answer.

When you shoot a wedding, you’re not taking snapshots but creating memories that will last forever or at least until the breakup. Make sure you bank the cheque right away 🙂

Wedding photography is a lot harder than it looks. Not only do you need to know your equipment inside out, your technique must be flawless as well. If you don’t know white balance inside out and off-camera flash and working with umbrellas then you’re not ready for the wedding. And then there’s the demanding bride and her uptight mother who is paying the bills. Lord save me from this 🙂

If I haven’t discouraged you yet, here’s a great article from Photopreneur website on how to get started shooting weddings as a second shooter.

(The photo of the wedding is by Elmada and comes from the Photopreneur site.

Why is Chip Litherland so good?

I’m having a really busy day today what with a page full of emails, telephone messages and other callers.  Oh yes one of the joys of working at home is I get to do the laundry too 🙂

So I say to myself, let’s take a few minutes and see what Google Reader has found for me today.

I’ve got over 500 hits. Yikes. And then through all the posts I chance upon an editorial comment by a shooter called Chip Litherland. He’s 33 years old and shooting in Florida and he’s more than just pretty good. I kept looking at his images on his blog and after a few minutes I figured out why I like this guy so much. It comes down to this: He can see a photo when it’s in front of him. (That’s his image of the swimming pool.)

He’s the guest blogger today on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider.

Have a look at his stuff. Often the images are of ordinary things but Chip sees them in an distinctly unique way. Chip sees things better than most of us. It’s a gift 🙂

Leica Zen

Why would anyone buy a $9,000 camera that is inferior in almost every regard to most DSLRs? It can’t take a large variety of lenses. It’ doesn’t fire as many frames per second. It has no scene modes. It’s not the best low-light camera. It’s not very good at shooting sports photography or macro work and the list goes on and on.

And yet the Leica M9 is considered one of the best cameras (digital or film) ever made.

John Ricard has a video on PetaPixel which explains it all.

Olympus EP-L 2 and VF2 Video

Okay I’m sold. I took my new Olympus EP-L 2 to the Oakville Camera Club last night and I shot a few minutes of video. 

Since IMovie can’t open the AVI file, I ran it through Wondershare (which watermarked my video as I was using the free version) and the results are amazing at 720p.

You have to realize the room was dark. I mean it was really dark. Most of the video was lit by the light of the slide projector.

I had just bought a VF2 viewfinder and it make shooting in the dark easy.

The white balance needs work and every so often either the camera or I refocused but overall I’m thrilled.

Now I need the SEMA-1 the accessory microphone connection (which will replace the VF-2 in the hot shoe which has a dedicated connector). I hope someone comes up with a splitter so I can use both accessories at the same time.

BTW IPhoto opened the video files just fine. A little Mac weirdness I guess.