It wasn't the most active ocean that I'd seen, but it was certainly rocking and rolling.  Lots of spray, etc.
It wasn't the most active ocean that I'd seen, but it was certainly rocking and rolling. Lots of spray, etc.

Wind, Rocks, Waves and Photography

It wasn’t the most active ocean that I’d seen, but it was certainly rocking and rolling. Lots of spray, etc.

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The eMotimo Review

Many of the best inventions have come from smart people with smart ideas. The eMotimo is no different and Brian Burling, it’s founder, is a pretty smart dude.

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Let’s Review The Walkstool for Sports and Wildlife Photography

The stool is made to be super light and strong and there is no question that this thing is able to be unobtrusively carried and is lighter than many camera bodies. This is one of my most important tools, along with my photo gear, for nature and many types of sports photography.

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Review of the Dynamic Perception Motion and Timelapse Slider

The piece of gear that I believe changed my photographic life was the Dynamic Perception Stage 1 motion dolly. It let me move the camera with great precision without touching the camera, and it would trigger the camera shutter at fixed intervals

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The Boxer

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of every glove that’s laid him down
—–The Boxer, by Simon and Garfunkel

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Just a few days ago I had the opportunity to photograph a sport that I have held in the highest regard for much of my life. I stepped into a boxing gym and spent three hours getting to know the fighters and taking some portraits as part of the Peter Read Miller Sports Photography Workshop.

There’s something magical about a fighter. As a lifelong athlete, playing football and track and field and other sports as well, I love and respect all sports and do not mean to demean any of these other endeavors. With that said, other sports largely pale in comparison to the warriors who step into a ring, and the incredible training program that accompanies this courageous task, including the commitment, dedication and willpower (see: Rocky) as well as the strength and conditioning to stand toe to toe with another who has done the same.

The opportunity to shoot these portraits has merely wet my appetite for more. My time in the gym was pretty awesome, getting to know some of the fighters and furthering my respect for the sport.  That is not to say that I respect the crowd interest in causing physical damage to one’s opponent or for the subjective judging that I believe has resulted countless unfair and corrupt results. When it comes to the fighters, however, my respect is tremendous.

So with that in mind, I’m very proud to share some boxing portraits and look forward to many more of the same. Anyone know of a good gym in LA?

CamRanger Review and Thoughts

Antarctica Trip January, 2013It’s been quite a while since I’d stumbled across the CamRanger; a small and relatively economical piece of gear that at its core turns any device (such as your iPad, iPhone, Android, PC or Mac) into a remote control for your camera, complete with its own live view LCD panel. For at least a year it has had a rather permanent place in my camera bag. It goes beyond that with a wide range of features, including complex intervelometer settings for bracketing, HDR, time lapse, bulb ramping (changing exposures over time) and more. The unit has the ability to remotely focus and focus stack stack your camera, and can also control mobile heads for pan and tilt as well as macro rails. This little unit is the full package.

When we talk about economics, all really is quite relative. Even a single remote LCD would be much more expensive, as would a bulb-ramper or professional wireless remote. This unit goes beyond each of these in many ways (except in some ways than a wireless trigger) and is more economical than any one item. So for its price of $299 (or so), you get it all. This would be an invaluable investment for many photographers even if it were at a far greater cost.

How Does It Work

camRThe CamRanger works, if I may speak as a photographer rather than an engineer, by connecting your camera to your device or computer by a kind of wireless USB connection which transmits over wifi. The CamRanger plugs into your camera (almost all camera brands are supported) via its USB port and creates its own ad hoc network or joins an existing wireless network. Your device/computer connects to that same network and magically the device becomes a very powerful controller and external LCD for the camera.

To make things even more impressive, because the connection is made via this wireless group hug, other devices can join, allowing multiple devices to view the camera’s LCD and images/videos/live feeds.

Unlimited Possible Uses

Mounted Behind BackboardWhen we consider possible uses for the CamRanger, things get really impressive. You can now tether wirelessly where ever you are — home, studio or on location. Now you can move, set lighting, take test or actual shots and make adjustments without ever having to return to the camera. Work with your subject or model and stop running around wasting time, energy and the risk of bumping into something. Simply craft your shot while looking at your shot – all without the need of an extra set of hands.

Clients, art directors and models can now see what you are shooting or discussing in real time, and even in other rooms. Set them up and work with them in real time without complex setups. Just give them the link to the free downloadable software and connect them to the shoot. There is even a client mode to limit their involvement to view-only.

Outside of the studio the uses are plentiful as well. With complete remote control, control your camera from a distance to shoot nature, wildlife, sports, architecture, etc. Place your camera in hard to reach locations and still maintain complete control. With the motion head (which I don’t own), you can even change the direction of your camera. Pretty awesome. Place it high or low and stop the straining. Just this past weekend, I used the CamRanger as a remote camera behind the backboard of a basketball game, and I was able to aim, focus and adjust the camera completely from the floor without ever having to return to the camera. Oh – and you can shoot video as well. Very cool!

Nearly Perfect

camRanger-e1397810089884-448x280Like all pieces of gear, we can find flaws and possible improvements, and there are some in the case of the CamRanger — not many. I’ve had the occasional problem with the wifi signal and in the past the particular version of the free CamRanger client-side software was a bit unstable. That problem seems to be fixed. As a software solution as well, we never know what Apple, Google or others will do to throw a wrench into our workflow.

The device is built for wireless tethering, so I must admit that my needs are not entirely normal. Personally, my most nagging problem is that I cannot always look at the device screen to trigger the CamRanger. It does require some attention to hit the location of the screen to trigger an exposure and a misstep can open a menu or do something to damage the flow of shooting. CamRanger indicates that this is manageable on the iDevice side by allowing a side button to trigger the exposure (this feature is not yet included on Android). This is, however, not satisfactory to me as the screen is still active. I’d prefer a mode to allow a substantial amount of the screen to be used as a trigger to avoid any mis-hits.

The CamRanger lacks some of the old-school certainty and reliability of dedicated hardware solutions such as the PocketWizard triggers, nor was it designed to connect the shutters of multiple cameras, etc., something embraced in sports shooting. Still, I found the CamRanger fantastic at doing what it does best–brilliantly allowing wireless tethering with even more control than on the camera itself.

UPDATE: CamRanger has offered an important reminder regarding sports shooting that is worth keeping in mind.  The problem with hardware-based solutions is that with their  fast, reliable shooting and ability to do multi-camera sync triggering comes the significant disadvantage that images cannot be reviewed and camera settings adjusted. Using the CamRanger in conjunction with the hardware solutions is that the images can be reviewed periodically and camera settings (including exposure and focus) can be adjusted. This is remarkably important as in many events the camera, once set, is no longer accessible throughout the duration of the event.

Conclusion

Brilliant. From a service perspective, Dave at CamRanger is super nice and really into creating an awesome piece of gear with the working shooter in mind. I am completely sold on the product and would probably not shoot anything professionally without the device at my fingertips (sports is still up in the air). This is an innovative and helpful product. If you work with product photography, commercial shoots, models, portraiture, wildlife and, possibly sports (iffy on sports), than the CamRanger is something that you should find infinitely useful.

In a later review I’ll pick up the subject of control a pan/tilt head. Once I’ve had a chance to completely test this, I’ll share my thoughts.

Click here to see on Amazon:

CamRanger Wireless Nikon & Canon Camera Controller for iPad, iPhone, Mac, Android or PC includes a Tether Tools’ Mighty Mount

The Four Hour Shoot / Bailey Callahan Video

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Another Beautiful Lunar Eclipse

The 2014 lunar eclipse was magical in Southern California.

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The Canon 200-400mm Lens Review

In-the-trenches review of the Canon 200-400 lens.

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The Los Angeles Air Show 2014

The LA Air Show with the Navy’s Blue Angels.

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