Monthly Archives: July 2011

Magazines & Motoring

By the time you read this I will be stuffed in an SUV in need of a strong cup of coffee with three wired children and a husband determined to reach our destination in record time. Yes, it is time for the annual family vacation up north, which means there will be no post next week but this week, I leave you with a hodge-podge of information to ponder.

If you haven’t discovered the Indonesian on-line magazine Crazy Toy Camera you should check out their latest issue. Put together by some Indonesian toy camera lovers, this bi-monthly features great articles and photos from not only South East Asia, but around the world. The current Issue #8 features my thoughts on light leaks as well as a really nice article of Andrew Kua, my internet buddy from Even cooler than his interview is the comprehensive shot of his toy camera collection—impressive! Klastic, the Indonesian Toy Camera Resources Group of which Crazy Toy Camera is a part of, ran a really nice interview of me a few weeks ago. I love groups like Klastic that reach out across the oceans. It really makes the world feel a little cozier and nicer.

I couldn’t take it. The hype and the glossy pictures were too much. I finally broke down and got myself a La Sardina Marathon last week and it’s gorgeous!

I’m just finishing the first roll and will be bringing a few more with me on vacation. I’m hoping to publish a proper review of this little beauty in the next few weeks. I really like the weight and feel of it….not too cheap or flimsy….and LOVE that it has a bulb setting and the ability to create multiple exposures without rewinding the film. The proof will be in the pictures.

Finally, I had to share a couple of bizarre sign photos with you. I was in the pet supply store yesterday when I rounded the corner on what must have been the animal-parts-turned-chew-toy aisle. This is what I saw…

WTF? Does that mean you can bend your knee alllll the way around and complete a 360?

What makes these knuckles so special that they get their own proper name and jewelry?

The whole thing is really kind of gross—dead animal bits as dog toys—but I suppose it’s eco-friendly and better than one more plastic squeaky toy clogging up the environment.

See you in two weeks!

Gotta Get Organi-zized

My official 6 weeks of doing nothing more strenuous than walking has officially begun. I’m recovering from surgery (that will remain unnamed) and I have strict orders to be good and sit still until the middle of September. It’s not too hard yet because there’s still some pain, but next week or the week after are going to be torturous.

I’m going to devote much of my time off to organizing all my photos and I’m not looking forward to it. I’ve downloaded Apple’s Aperture 3 software to help me out. It’s the first, real, grown-up photo editing software I’ve used in years. Normally, a tweak here or there in iPhoto is just fine but for my organizing purposes, I think I need a little more. Plus, I’ve gotten a few photo jobs lately that require professional skills with my DSLR. I feel like a traitor to my analogue self because I’m tweaking some of the photos I took using pre-set adjustments for vintage looks. The one good thing is that it’s BORING as all hell sitting in front of the computer and tweaking and editing for hours at a time.

So here’s to time off to heal, organize and contemplate. I’ll leave you with a cool iPhone photo I took in a restaurant this week.

Fabulosity with Fusioncam by Stepcase

Who can pass up a freebie? Not me, and as a result I’ve got some apps on my iPhone that I’ve barely had a chance to play with, like so many rough diamonds hiding in the rough. A recent trip to the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base gave me a chance to goof around with one such app called Fusioncam which allows you to create double exposure photos. I downloaded it for free during its first week but it’s currently only $1.99 USD in the app store.

Since it’s inside and free, the AMC is a place we visit pretty regularly. It’s a great place to explore with children or anyone who is interested in history or aircraft. Housed in an old hangar, the museum is filled with vintage WWII and Vietnam era planes, historic uniforms and other memorabilia that tells the story of aviation in the 20th century and more specifically the story of Dover Air Force Base. Outside on the tarmac you’ll find a whole fleet of retired aircraft ranging from a small helicopter to large transport planes, some of which you can climb inside.

I’ve taken many pictures at the museum, especially with my iPhone. Inside the museum it’s dark, making a good film camera shot hard to obtain while trying to follow my family around. During last week’s visit I decided to do some serious experimentation with Fusioncam along with some of my newer Hipstamatic lenses. I’ve gotten some interesting results so far with Fusioncam but nothing I’d consider spectacular. Here’s a couple of shots I took earlier this month.

The pictures that stood out for me in these first few sessions were the first, third and fifth. Results were much nicer to my eye when double exposing using the same subject with the camera turned or flipped. I have yet to get really good results overlapping two completely different subjects. Maybe if I use the flash in the future? Fusioncam does come with a flash on/off switch.

Here are some of the best shots from inside the museum

I like how the double exposure creates a sense of motion

When I snapped the final shot I realized I had something. There were lots of lines and shapes to play with on the airplanes and exploiting them by tilting the camera gave me some very cool abstract shots. Another nice future of Fusioncam is the ability to compose your double shot before snapping the photo. First, you take a picture within the app then move a slider on the screen from 1 to 2. This will make your first exposure appear faintly in the viewfinder so that you can tilt the camera until you finally get the look you want. Press the shutter then move another slider from ‘camera’ to ‘gallery’ mode and view your finished photo. You can then choose to save it by pressing the ‘develop’ button.

Outside on the tarmac I went crazy…

These two are my favorites of the day

At the end of the day I stumbled upon one of the coolest things about Fusioncam….it’s ability to make triple and quadruple exposures! Just pick your double exposed shot as your background and go to town like I did in these photos….

Double shot

TRIPLE shot!



Now that I’ve unlocked some of the power of Fusioncam, you can bet I’ll be using it more and more. The only criticism I have is that it is often difficult to toggle the tiny sliders, especially at the bottom of the screen when moving from ‘camera’ mode to ‘gallery’ mode. There were a few times when it took me a full minute to get it to switch, and I have small fingers. God help you if you have banana fingers. Hopefully this can be tweaked in future versions but it’s not going to stop me from doubling and tripling everything in sight!

iPhone Honors and Experiments

I’ve had a fun week or two with my iPhone. First, and most exciting, I won honorable mention in the 5th Annual iPhone Photography Awards! Check out their site for some fabulous iPhone photos and enter the 2012 competition. Here’s my winning shot

Pretty nifty, even if there’s no fame, glory or money that comes from it. It’s nice just to be recognized and know that other people think my work is cool, too.

All the new Hipstamatic lenses and films that have been coming out lately have had me shooting with my iPhone non-stop. I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of their abilities, but here are some favorites from the last few weeks of experimentation:

Lens: Roboto Glitter       Film: Big Up

Lens: Tejas     Film: BlacKeys B+W

Lens: Hornbecker     Film: BlacKeys SuperGrain

Lens: Hornbecker     Film: Cano Cafenol

Lens: Tejas    Film: Blanko

I’ve also been goofing around with my plastic loupe and making some abstract macro iPhone shots. Here’s some of my favorites from that session:

Lens: Tejas     Film: Cano Cafenol

This one’s probably my favorite from the macro sessions

Lens: Tejas    Film: Ina’s 1969

Lens: Tejas     Film: Cano Cafenol

Clearly Tejas is one of my favorite Hipsta lenses. I hadn’t played around much with Cano Cafenol until this session but I really like it and understand a bit more how I can use it. I’m also really loving the Hornbecker lens and can see that it’s going to be in heavy rotation on my Hipsta Cam.

One more thing. I’m going to have some down time coming up at the end of the month and have decided to dedicate it to cataloguing and categorizing my photos. Right now I just burn them to CDs but I think a proper organizing system is in order. Could anyone recommend a good program for cataloguing a massive amount of stuff? I’d love to hear how you have your pictures categorized.

Philly Lessons

Whenever I travel I bring a film camera along and our latest trip to Philadelphia, PA was no exception, but there was one little twist. Usually I bring a 35mm or medium format camera with me but yesterday I brought along my Polaroid Spirit and three packs of The Impossible Project’s instant film. It was a little bit of a risky move for me because it’s tough taking instant shots on the run: My family gets tired of stopping for me and often leave me in the dust so I have to be fast with my composition, focus and button pressing. Also, I’ve not yet mastered TIP’s films and usually get crappy results.

Of course, I also had my iPhone with me and I set a mission for myself. Take some macro shots of anything but flowers. They’re so easy as macro subjects, beautiful too, but I wanted to try to branch out (no pun intended). First thing I needed to do was find out what kind of film was left in my Polaroid–color or black and white. These two shots were the last of that pack.    

Lesson # 1: I got much better results on the second shots because I turned the light/dark slider to the middle, where it should be been in the first place for a bright sunny day, instead of all the way to the light side, as is often recommended for TIP films. So from now on, I’m going to set that slider where I think it should be, not where they recommend it be set.

We got a late start leaving and didn’t arrive in Philly until well after 1:30 pm so the first stop was lunch at Reading Market. I had a VERY yummy Italian Pork sandwich with broccoli rabe and provolone cheese from this shop

Lesson #2: You can actually take a decent Polaroid picture inside a busy market! I was shocked that this one came out as well as it did but I applied the knowledge gleaned from lesson #1 and voila!

Next we visited the Franklin Institute where I tried to take some macro shots but there just wasn’t enough time. We had to move quickly through the museum because we only had an hour and ten minutes before it closed. These are my macro attempts This diamond patterned metal never looks as cool close up as it does far away. I’ve tried a couple of times to do macros of it and haven’t found an interesting way to photograph it close up. I did, however, get some other really cool photos

The entrance to the museum

Pendulum filled with sand that drew a pattern on the table as it traveled

Pola shot of some optical illusion art

Looking down the stairs at the pendulum on the bottom floor

Surgical instruments

Cool, glowing light sconce

Old pocket watch and my eldest daughter in the background

We had a long walk back to Independence Hall and had to plot our course, so we stopped at the giant fountain in Logan Circle where I got one of the best shots of my three kids to date.

First they were goofing around. My son waded up to his knees in the water and then I got….

The Money Shot!

I saw them sitting staggered on the side of the fountain and took two shots, in which my son was giving his best cheese-ball grin, before I got this one. Look for it in this years’ Christmas card.

Lesson #3: The best family portraits are ALWAYS spontaneous!!

Our hike included Chinatown where I got some of these pictures

Loved the red in the lady’s hat and bags that echoed the red ribbons on the Foo Dogs necks

I’ll probably texturize this in Pic Grunger at a later date, but I loved the symmetry

On to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall where I KNOW I got the coolest shot of the day

I was FLOORED that this came out so well!!!!! It’s far and away the coolest Liberty Bell shot of the day. Here’s the picture I took with my iPhone. It’s a bit of a different angle, but you get the idea

No where NEAR the same detail. Which brings me to

Lesson #4: Just because a film has performed poorly in the past doesn’t mean it will perform poorly in the future.

I did NOT expect to get the crazy, detailed results of the Bell in those poor lighting conditions but, once again, I switched the light/dark switch all the way to dark because it wasn’t very well-lit, and I got a fantastic picture.

Other cool stuff from that area…

Granite wall with the names of George Washington’s slaves

Looking for something for dinner we strolled through what must’ve been the young and hip section of the city. All the beautiful people were sitting in tables on the sidewalk eating fancy food at restaurants with one name. That’s not really our style, especially with the kids in tow, so we found an alley with some excellent Irish-style pubs. Dinner was eaten here

Then, it was back on the subway for the trip back to the car. There are TONS of things to photograph in the subway. Here’s my Philly subway collection.

It was a really fun day and I learned some important lessons. The last of which is…

Lesson #5: Go with the flow. You may start out your day expecting to do one thing (taking macro shots of stuff other than flowers) but that thing might not be in the cards for you that day. Something better may be planned for you instead (getting excellent family photos and Polaroids).

Thank you, City of Brotherly Love, for inspiring my photographic journey. My little family and I will be visiting again very soon.

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