Over the last few months, I have been working on a virtual exhibit project with the University of Colorado Boulder Media Archaeology Lab. My colleague Dr. Jessica FitzPatrick and I have been putting together an augmented reality popup book to tell stories of some fascinating technology artifacts.
One of these artifacts, a Polaroid Land camera, has quite a bit of personal interest to me. The story goes that Dr. Edwin Land, the founder of Polaroid, came up with the idea for instant photography during a conversation with his 8-year-old daughter. Supposedly, she wondered why she could not immediately see the results of a photograph and that prompted Land to begin work on an instant camera.
Polaroid has a fascinating history, full of invention, innovation, stubbornness, and failure to foresee the future. There are stories associated with the Apartheid regime in South Africa, pornography in post-Soviet Russia, Andy Warhol, and many others. I would highly recommend checking out “Polaroid Now: The History and Future of Polaroid Photography” by Steve Crist and Oskar Smolokowski.
I am hoping to post some AR content shortly, but in the meantime, here are a few detailed shots of the Polaroid Land camera that we are using in the virtual exhibit and the virtual pop-up book.
A few months ago I did some product and team photography for the guys who created BoXZY – an all-in-one maker’s dream machine – a mill, a laser cutter/engraver, and a 3D printer, all in one device. Well, it turns out that their Kickstarter campaign kicked butt and they raised enough money to put this amazing machine into production. Way to go!
Last night I gave this presentation to an amazing group of Pittsburgh photographers at the Pittsburgh Pictage User Group (PUG). I am a huge geek and found a great niche for myself and my business – combining photography with engineering and becoming a cross between a photographer and a mad scientist. I build things because I can, because it is interesting and because some of what I build is actually useful to my clients. And because in my spare time I am Batman. Don’t tell anyone:)
I finally got a few minutes of downtime from editing so I made a few updates to my Lightroom Reporter application. I got a lot of wonderful feedback from my photographer friends; based on that feedback I added a few new features. You can now report on statistics by camera/lens setting, adjustments and presets used. If you are interested in trying this app out, shoot me an email. This is probably going to be the last version I release in Adobe Air – I started learning a programming language called Lua so that I could rewrite this application as an Adobe Lightroom plugin.
A few days ago I was meeting with a client in a coffee shop. When she walked in, I was sitting at a table with my iPad, answering emails. As it turned out she was an amateur photographer and we spent the first 15-20 minutes of our meeting talking about something that all photographers love – equipment. After the obligatory conversation about camera bodies and lenses, she asked me why I owned an iPad – in her opinion a tablet was barely more than a toy, completely useless in photographic workflow. I am a pretty recent iPad owner – I bought it only a few months ago as a present for my 35th birthday. I originally planned on using it to develop iOS apps – I bought a bunch of books, learned ObjectiveC and even wrote a few simple games for my daughter. However, as time went by, I began using it more and more for productivity and photography. My most used app is Evernote – that’s where I keep notes about my projects, client meetings, books I read, location scouting and pretty much everything else. Evernote, Dropbox and Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) take care of all of my productivity needs. I travel a lot for both my job and my business and ever since I bought an iPad, I rarely bring a laptop on short trips. I recently bought a slim bluetooth keyboard which essentially turns my iPad into a small netbook and allows me to type emails, documents and even work with an occasional spreadsheet a lot faster than if I were using the built-in touch keyboard. Another app that I love is called AirDisplay. Basically this app allows me to extend my laptop’s screen to the iPad. I am used to working with dual display setups – both my office and my home computers are outfitted with 24-inch + 19-inch dual displays. It is especially useful when working in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Premier because I keep toolbars on the smaller screen giving the actual media (images or video) more real estate. When I go on trips that are longer than 2 days, I usually bring both my 15-inch MacBook Pro and my iPad. When the two are connected using AirDisplay, I can edit photos and videos on the go using the same configuration I always use. You can find a nice AirDisplay tutorial at http://www.howtogeek.com/?post_type=post&p=100886. App #3 on my most used list is SplashTop – it allows me to remotely control my computers from anywhere with internet connection. It’s really useful when I forget a file on my office desktop or when I need to run a Windows-only application remotely. Next on my list is iPhoto. Yes, I did say iPhoto. While I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop on my laptop and desktops, I prefer iPhoto on my iPad. In conjunction with the camera connector kit iPhoto allows me to quickly preview photos from on-location photoshoots and to give quick demos of my work to potential clients. Finally, I use my iPad for remote shooting. I won’t go into too much detail on this subject – you can read about it in excruciating detail in this tutorial. If you have any other cool uses for your iPad, please let me know – I’d love to get more mileage out of my tablet.
Check out this handsome guy! His name is Jonathan and a few days ago Jenny and I photographed his Bar Mitzvah. When we got to the party, Jonathan`s mom asked me if I could shoot a short video clip of their grand entrance. Normally I don`t shoot event video; I`m not a videographer and the only time I actually do anything with video is during engagement sessions or when I am doing work for my corporate clients. However, since the family only wanted a few minutes of video, I put my second camera on a tripod, put an LED panel in the hot shoe, pointed the whole setup at the ballroom`s entrance and hit “RECORD”. Now, my primary job (really, the only job) was to take still photos and that was what I concentrated on. I did not really pay much attention to what was going on with the video rig behind me. When the family`s grand entrance and speeches were over, I grabbed the tripod with the video setup and moved it off the dance floor. As I was dragging it to the corner where my spare gear was stored, I noticed that the camera was off. At a closer look I saw that the battery door was open. I closed the battery door, turned on the camera and hit the “PLAY” button. To my horror I realized that the video that the family wanted so badly was corrupted. I don`t know if somebody accidentally bumped the tripod or opened the battery door with malicious intent, but the result was the same – I had 1.35GB of corrupted video. When I got home I stayed up half the night trying to find remedies for fixing this problem. I found a piece of software for Mac OS called Treasured – it analyzes corrupted video files, sends information about scanned video files to a http://aeroquartet.com (movie repair service) and they (movie repair service) give you a quote for restoring the damaged file. In my case, the quote came out to $119.00. After more searching, I found two open-source scripts (one written in Perl and one in Python) that claimed to be able to fix corrupted MOV files. Neither script worked out of the box; luckily I know both of these programming languages and after about 3 hours of tweaking I was able to get the Perl script to work. Unfortunately, that script only managed to extract the video stream from the corrupted file – the audio was still missing. Finally, I came across two software packages – Grau GbR and Pro Maintenance Tool by Digital Rebellion (actually, Jenny found the later for me). Pro Maintenance Tools managed to recover video, but not audio, and did a much better job of it than my hacked Perl script. Grau GbR managed to recover everything! The only caveat was that the free version of this software only recovered half of the video file. To do a full recovery, I had to buy the full version (good for recovering up to 5 video files) for 29 Euros (approximately $40). They have an unlimited version available for 100 Euros. So, if you ever find yourself in a situation where your camera shuts off while recording, you have a few options: Grau GbR Pro Maintenance Tools iSquint (supposedly works for smaller videos) Python script (did not work for me) Perl script (worked, but did not recover audio) Treasured Good luck:)
Today I found a couple of large format film holders while cleaning my basement. I wonder how many photographers of my generation (for the record, I`m 34) have ever used a large format camera?