All posts by Derek Sheppard

FRAMES: Cell Phone Challenge Standouts

Ok, so maybe the cell phone challenge didn’t float your boat. Or tickle your pickle. Or whatever saying the kids are saying these days. Something Bieber-y, I assume.

But we got some good shots, and I figured I’d share one from everyone who submitted. I promise we (meaning Derek makes Meegan pick something off her list.) will have more interesting challenge coming up. Something even Larry could do. Wait, I think I just figured out the one kind of photography in which I’m better than Larry! Cell phone pictures! Yes! #winning.

Tulips – Jack Harpel
Is it spring yet? Or is this photo just a cruel joke, trying to get my hopes up? 🙂 Kidding. It’s a solid, straight forward flower shot. I’d get more adventurous with the phone. The beauty of its small size means you can get some really interesting angles. The downside, however, could be pressing the “shutter” in those situations.

The Yacht Club – Yorby
A yacht club is probably the last place you’d expect to see hipsters, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give the club a little Hipstamatic action. I’d tell you what kind of boat I have, but it’s really obscure. You’ve probably never heard of it.

Sunset on the Hood Canal – Wristie
Sometimes it’s moments like this when cell phones prove their worth. It’s not every day that you have a big camera with you. And, well, around here you’ve got to appreciate these kinds of sunsets when they happen. Love the colors.

Snow – Sharon O’Hara
As much as I don’t want to see snow anymore, this is a cool example of using flash to create an aesthetic that gives a photo something extra. And sparkly. But seriously, let’s not think about snow anymore. Spring. Please. 🙂
Baby Basil

Baby Basil – LBPB
Hey, leading lines! I remember those! And basil….dare I say it…Spring!

– Derek Sheppard

FRAMES: Make the Megapixel Madness Stop!

How’s everyone doing with the cell phone Kitsap Frames Challenge?

Since you’re all super excited to do this challenge *wink, wink* go ahead and look at the fantastical portable photographic device you’re using. (Your phone, in case I wasn’t clear.) How many megapixels you packin’? I’ve got five. Odds are most of you have between .5 and 8.

But then I saw this. Seriously. A 16 megapickle (I saw that reference on a comment forum, and I’m stealing it.) camera. This. Must. Stop.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not indignant enough to write off the cell phone camera entirely as a great photographic tool for documenting our lives, adventures and memories. In fact, I think they’re fantastic, making photography interesting, lively and relevant to thousands of people who would loathe the thought of busting out a compact camera, DSLR, etc. Just look at this data from Flickr. Lots of cell phone cameras represented here.

So why the visceral reaction to a 16 megapickle cell phone? Let’s get real, folks. It’s marketing hucksterism. They’ve got to have SOMETHING new to crow about, and megapixels are an easy out. We’ve been through this already with compact cameras and DSLRs, and an ancient (From 2007!) article from the New York Times’ David Pogue sums it up well, IMHO. More megapixels doesn’t mean better pictures.

More megapixels, done right, certainly brings some advantages, but that’s primarily when you’re talking about larger sensors, like DSLRs. Think of it this way: A 16 megapixel DSLR fits about 16 million pixels on a space a little smaller than an average stamp. The same pixels on a phone? Try about a quarter of your pinky fingernail. That’s a lot to ask of that humble device in your pocket. No doubt some very smart engineers have figured out ways to make it magically work, and they’re looking at new ways to skin that cat, but I still don’t care.

It has to do with the reality of the way most people use their cameras, phone or otherwise. Let’s be honest for a second. Come on, folks. How many prints do you make? Ok, good, you’ve done an inventory. Now, how many are larger than 8×10? Honestly. No, seriously, I said be honest 🙂 I print a LOT of photos (I rotate out the my wall artwork somewhat regularly.) And I’ve only got one photo up now that’s larger than 8×10. One.

What do you need to print great 8x10s? Eight megapixles. If you don’t need true “photographic” quality (And I’d say you don’t unless you look at your photos from a nose length.), then 5-6 is plenty for most folks.

If your phone camera takes ever-larger photos with ridiculous megapickles, it’s bad news. Companies are clamping down on unlimited data plans, and buying memory or larger-memoried phones isn’t cheap. So why are you texting that 5mb picture of your cat to your grandma, when it’ll never become a print? And if you really want to print your precious, do you really need something larger than an 8×10? Honestly, I don’t think you do.

– Derek Sheppard

FRAMES: Photo Challenge #39: Cell Phones (again)

What, you think we’re getting lazy asking for a cell phone challenge again? True, that was challenge #23, but we’re not being lazy. Oh, no. Derek and Meegan, we’re energized, not lazy.

You see, there comes a time in one’s life when they put aside financial reasoning, and gadget lust for ‘my precious’ takes over. Yep. We both bought iPhones.

By sheer coincidence, Gizmodo’s shooting challenge also is a repeat of a cell theme, but I swear, I decided to copy myself before they did! But it hits on an fun phenomenon in the world of smartphone snapping. Photo apps.

I know Meegan’s fond of Hipstamatic, and I’ve posted an example using TiltShiftGen (that simulates the effect of a tilt-shift lens.) to get you going. But there are tons more for iPhones, Android, probably Windows Phone 7. And if you’ve still got a non-smartphone, don’t fret, use whatever camera you’ve got.

Seriously, don’t phone this one in, folks. Be creative. Don’t just take a snapshot out a window and call it a day. (OK, yes, my fake tilt-shift is a snapshot, but I was just monkeying around with the app….it’s not my entry!) A camera is just a tool, whether it’s a large-format box camera, a fancy $6,000 DSLR, or a camera phone. People make photos, not devices.

You have until WEDNESDAY, MAY 4 to take your best cell phone picture. And please don’t just pull off a pic you already have. Take a new one!

– Derek Sheppard

Examples are below, with rules at the bottom.

***To recap: Every week or so we will post a new photography “challenge” to help build on all of our current photography skills and to encourage everyone to get out and get shooting (cameras not guns). While we encourage you to shoot the challenge in the week that it is assigned, we will begrudgingly accept entries taken prior to the challenge assignment date.

When you’ve got your favorite shot, login to the Kitsap Sun Your Media Site (if you don’t already have a login, you can quickly set it one up) or click the “Kitsap Frames Photo Challenge Entries” button over there on the right side of the page and upload your image to the Kitsap Frames Photo Challenge Channel (the channels run along the left hand side of the page, again if you can’t seem to get it into the channel just upload it normally and send me an email and we’ll move it).

FRAMES: Five Steps to Better Video Editing

I remember the first time I sat in front of the Final Cut editing windows. Want to know what I knew? Look at this: ( ) See that space between the elipses? That would be nothing. Which is what I knew.

So I set off to school. And where’s tech school 101 for most folks these days? That’s right. YouTube.

I could dig up all the videos that helped me learn Final Cut (and the forums, websites, blogs, etc.) but I’m, uh, lazy. Thankfully the good folks at Lifehacker put together a five-part primer on editing in pro/semi-pro editing editing environments – Apple’s Final Cut Pro and Adobe’s Premier Pro.

Check out their series here.

– Derek Sheppard

FRAMES: The Super Moon, Now With More Video!

The reaction to my Super Moon photo with the plane has been, to say the least, unexpected.

Undoubtedly like some of you, I’m an active member of the photo community Flickr. Every day, they choose a small number of photos to feature on “Explore”, a digital props to the best Flickrite photos of the day.

As it turns out, my moon photo (A redone edit and crop from the bloggy one here.) made the front page of Explore a couple of days ago. Apparently it’s kind of a big deal. It’s been a heartening showing of support from the community, and I’m a bit sheepish at the idea of getting so many comments and thumbs up.

Now, two days later, it’s got more than 14,500 views and counting. It’s also gotten few people calling it a fake. It’s sad that in the age of digital manipulation, some people’s first (and only thought) at an interesting image is “It’s fake.” But there’ve been enough tricksters out there to inoculate the haters with the idea that everything lucky or uncommon in photography is an elaborate ruse. While we think of photo manipulation as a recent phenomenon, it’s actually quite old.

Anyway, it hasn’t quelled all of the skeptics (Or should I say cynics?), but I thought it would be cool to make a video of the series of frames I captured on Saturday night to show how spectacularly lucky it was that one of them froze that (I think) 737 smack dab in the middle of the moon. First pass is uncropped (As you can see, the moon is still mighty small, even at an effective focal length of 640mm.) then one cropped in closer.

I tried to explain to a coworker the ridiculous series of events (beside the battery thing) that made this shot so lucky. One: Timing. Obviously. A fraction of a fraction of a second either way, it wouldn’t have been in the center of the moon. Two: Location. If the plane was closer to me, it would have appeared larger, or if much farther away, a still cool, but less dramatic and smaller silhouette in the frame. Three: Altitude. If the plane was just a few feet higher or lower it wouldn’t have worked. Four: The plane, itself. As you saw in my first post, a larger plane would have extended past the edges of the moon.

This has definitely been a great memory for me, and I’ll treasure this capture as long as I live. And I shouldn’t finish the blog post without this excellent observation. How incredibly rare is it that THREE Kitsap Frames contributors/readers captured Super Moon photos with planes in them? That, my friends, is Super Cool.

– Derek Sheppard

PS: Here’s the other two:

“Full Moon Rising” by rgdimages

A full moon rises as a plane begins it’s approach to Sea-Tac Airport on Saturday, from East Bremerton. The moon made it’s closest approach to Earth in 18 years, that made it appear bigger. (LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN)

FRAMES: The Super Moon Flies By

Sometimes, you just have to get lucky. And the cosmos freakin’ owed me one.

And sometimes you have to be slightly obsessive and tenacious. But mostly, just lucky.

My day of Super Moon hunting started with this discovery: The Photographer’s Ephemeris. It’s a seriously radical app that’ll show you where the sun and moon will rise and set from a particular place. (Free for your desktop, but not the iPod/Pad.) Why is that helpful? Well, if you want to see the moon rising over downtown Seattle, you’ll need to know when it comes up, but also where. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a spot in Seattle (Unless I wanted to go out on a boat in Elliott Bay.) to see the moonrise over the city. Next step: The Space Needle.

My friend, Jake, and I checked out a few parks testing locations, doing some napkin trigonometry, and realizing that it wasn’t gonna happen. Plan B, get close to the needle and look for something cool. (We actually missed the rise over the horizon because we were way too busy stuffing amazing hamburgers into our gullets.)

My plan was to wait until the moon got high enough, and capture it behind the observation deck of the Space Needle. I’d have to blend a couple of different shots (I know, not journalistic…but still cool.) because the exposure difference is huge between the needle and the moon.

I was milling around the base of the needle dodging squealing teenagers and one disreputable looking fellow who wasn’t happy that I didn’t have a lighter when I noticed something as I stared at the moon. Planes’ patterns kept looping around the general vicinity of that cheesy thing in the sky. But the moon was too low in the sky. So I waited about 30 minutes, set up on a hillside just under the Space Needle, and prayed that I’d get a dose of luck. Lots of passes, and no luck. A few near misses, like this, a lots more where the plane never passed in front of the moon. Always just above, or just below.

Then, it happened! A plane flew right through the middle! And my batteries died JUST as I pressed the shutter (On the cable release, btw. Helps reduce camera shake at those focal lengths. I’d also enabled Live View, to reduce the shake from the shutter slap. And because that’s easier than going into the labyrinth of menues to enable mirror lockup.)

Seriously, I thought it was Carl Sagan hating me again. But I was prepared.

The lesson of the night? Bring extra batteries. 🙂 A half-dozen patterns later, and I got the shot.

– Derek Sheppard

FRAMES: What If Your Camera Gets Wet?

Face it. We live in the Pacific Northwest. We’re going to have to venture out into the weather at some point to get the shot, right? Which means one thing: You camera will get wet.

And now, fair Kitsap Frames readers, we’ve been devious, sending out out to photograph (or video tape) THE RAIN. And we don’t want a bunch of shots just looking out the window (Unless you can get creative with it.)

Meegan usually shoots with pro bodies and lenses that are designed to (mostly) resist water. Even those, you’ll want to cover them up in a heavy rain. You can buy fancy covers. Or you can buy garbage bags. It’s amazing how they do the same thing. One, more elegantly than the other, but still.

But what if all the planning on earth goes awry and you drop your camera in a deep puddle, or it’s thoroughly soaked during a heavy rain? (If a drop here or there lands on your precious, don’t freak out. It’ll be ok. Deep breaths.)

Head over to this Shutterbug article for a few tips on dealing with a drenched camera.

– Derek Sheppard

FRAMES: You Can’t Resist Photo Trinkets, Can You?

Buy the The F-Stop Watch at the Photojojo Store!

Hey, Meegan…My birthday’s coming up in a couple months. You should totally buy me this. I’ll eat my pride and buy you the Nikon version of this for your laptop.

Which brings me to my point. Photo and video peeps like their trinkets. Just like WSU grads like everything to be, well, you know – red. I can honestly say that I don’t have a lot of photo decor, aside from a couple of totally radical rangefinders. (I still don’t have one of these.)

If you can link to it, feel free to show off your cool photo or video doodads, or just tell us how cool it is. Maybe we’ll all get some ideas for those holidays at the end of the year.

– Derek Sheppard

PS: I’m a marketer by day now, so please, marketers, don’t spam the comments with pitches for your products. I don’t like using the ban hammer, but I will…

FRAMES: Not a Beatle in the Garden

Any of you guys know where I can find some shade?

Oh, and this is a friendly reminder from your Octopus friend to submit your photo for the Kitsap Frames Photo Challenge: Beatles Song Titles.

Inspiration, you want? Did you see round one? How about round two?

Oh, you need the rules? Here they are. But you have until March 4. Get snapping! Unless you’re a snapper with a penchant for octopus. In that case, please stay away. I like my garden just the way it is.

– Derek Sheppard… er… Octopus.