Monday, July 30, 2012

2012 Vancouver Honda Celebration of Light, Night 1

If it's the end of July, then it's fireworks time again in Vancouver. Last year I wrote a guide about the techniques that I was using to capture the fireworks. Most of that still applies, so here's a little rundown of what I was able to capture the first night of the fireworks. Since Vancouver is very much about the water, the mountains and the sky, I've always tried to keep all three in mind when shooting these shows... it's not easy, since you have to balance the exposure needs of the ambient environment against the ever-changing intensity of the light show.

Night one (July 28, 2012) of the festival  was Vietnam, of which their team had their first international showing that night. These were shot with a Nikon D7000 and a Tamron 17-50 on a tripod using a Ml-L3 remote, everything is in bulb mode at varying apertures between f/3.5 and f/11, ISO 250.  And just a reminder to all the photobugs out there... when you're shooting fireworks, don't forget to look up from your camera and to enjoy the show!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ainol Novo7 Advanced II Review

Tablets are all about the Apple iPad. At least in North America they are. However, there are alternatives, both here and in Asia, and usually those alternatives are much cheaper. An astonishingly large number of generic tablets are showing up here in discount stores and under various no-name brands at the lower end of the electronics retailing spectrum. The question then, what can you do with a generic budget Android tablet, and will you still be wanting and iPad when you're through?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Genius Scan for iOS Review

Many, many years ago I packed up all of my worldly possessions into my Honda Civic and headed back home on a long and winding road trip from Los Angeles back to Vancouver. The car was so weighed down that it was almost sitting on the rear shock absorbers... driving down the highway with that nose-high tail-low stance of the classic  60's muscles cars. The thing was, I didn't have very many personal possessions, the thing that was weighing down the car was all of the notes and books that I can accumulated throughout professional school.

Genius Scan on iPhone
This was some time ago, back when digital storage meant painstakingly laying out a page at a time on a flat bed scanner. It wasn't everybody who had one back then, but I searched high and low for somebody willing to lend me one so that I could ditch the paper and shove everything onto one CD-Rom. Never mind that the actual act of scanning everything would have taken a month to do, I nonetheless could not find one before I had to leave.

How the times have changed.

Everything has a camera on it, and if I were in school, I'd see little point to photocopying or scanning. Not everybody can live a paperless life, but life is much easier with out in many respects. Just the other day I had to return to my Alma Mata to do some library research, and without thinking, I loaded a brand new copy/print card from the dispensing machine. I never used it once the whole day I was there. Everything is online now, and everything comes in PDF form... if I hadn't mindlessly defaulted back to my school days I would have remembered that.

Which brings us to Genius Scan. It's a great app. If I had it all those years ago, I would have had a lighter nimbler car to fling down the Pacific Coast Highway. Glowing reviews all around for this app. And yet, it's profoundly simple. It's really no more than a camera app with a tiny bit of functionality added to it, but the functionality makes all of the difference. The ability to save a picture directly to PDF without monkeying around with a third party converter is an incredible time saver. Just hover your phone over the document, take a picture, and let the app clean it up, and you're ready to go. And unlike taking a simple jpeg picture of the document, Genius scan can stitch together shots into multipage PDF documents.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II LD IF (Nikon) Lens Review

I think it says something about the basic usefulness of the Tamron 17-50 lens that I haven't as of yet gotten around to formally reviewing it. It's something that I've taken for granted for so long. There are some opinions out there that real pros don't use normal zoom lenses, and to be truthful, there is merit to that. If everybody else is using the normal zoom range, then how will your pictures be any different?

However, a more pragmatic approach is to look at what you need for a given situation, and if you aren't trying hard to come up with the one shot in a hundred that few others would produce, then normal zooms are eminently practical. The Tamron 17-50 covers 27mm to 75mm, full frame equivalent. Think about that for a minute. What are the basic primes that Leica shooters and film aficionados have in their collection? That's right, 24/28mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 90mm. So, that is to say, you can produce some very creative work in the normal zoom range, as pedestrian as if is. It's not stopping the guys with the Leica M9's, that's for sure.