Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More Time Lapse Photography

Here is some more time lapse photography I shot a few nights ago. You will notice that there is a lot more flicker. This is because I left it in manual mode and, depending on how many cars were on the road, more light was reflected through the aperture. Some people like to use this effect, which is good, because it can be difficult to remove when shooting so many frames at night.

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A Photographic Foray - How to shoot time lapse photography

It is finals week an my brain is undoubtedly fried at this point (so please excuse the plentiful typos and generally lackluster writing). I have one final left and in order to put my mind at ease without out taking up too much of my time I decided to start a small photography project. I chose to shoot some time lapse photographs out my window. Time lapse is my kind of project, you just set it up and walk away for 12+ hours. I'll link in the video and below it I'll show you how I did it and how you can.

What you will need:

1) A camera: A DSLR is definately prefered here as they offer the necessary user controls to setup your time lapse and delivery quality photographs.
I used a Nikon D70.

2) An intervalometer: This device is what is going to tell your camera how often to take a picture. They can be built into your camera (if your camera is badass), attached to your camera if it has an accessory port (these are usually 3rd party devices), or they can simply be software running on a computer.
I used Camera Control Pro 2 on my MacBook Pro and connected it to my camera via USB. If you are using a Nikon like me you can pick up a free
trial of this software for a month and avoid spending the $150 dollars on the retail version for a little longer.

3) A tripod: Get one, you won't regret it. In photography a steady shot is paramount. This holds not only for time lapse, but for photography in general. Akin to this is #4.
I used one.

4) A steady location to shoot: Sure, time lapse of your whale watching experience might be great in theory but unless you have an interest in making your audience feel as sick as you did on location then this will be important. Unless done intentionally, excess movement of the frame will make your time lapse look sloppy.
I used a window sill.

5) Lots of power: Time lapse photography can easily take over 12 hours so you are going to need enough juice to go the distance. Get lots of batteries or a plug-in adapter if you are shooting near civilization.
I used the AC adapter because the outside world is scary.

6) Lots of memory: As I said above, you are going to be shooting for a LONG time and taking a LOT of shots. These shots need a home so go buy a big ass memory card. If you are using a software intervalometer you may not need one.
I used Camera Control Pro 2 which saves all of my images directly to my computer's hard drive.

7) Something interesting to shoot: OK, so what I shot wasn't particularly interesting, but I shot what was on hand. Remember, setup your camera in front of something that moves, otherwise you are going to end up with 2000+ pictures of the same thing.
I used a highway.

Okay, if you have all of these things you are good to go, almost. First you have to do your homework and I'll show you how.

Homework: "How frequently should I set my camera to take shots?"

This depends on your subject and how often it moves / how fast you want it to look like it moves.

If you are shooting clouds moving on a calm day maybe set your camera to take a shot every 30 seconds. If you are shooting cars zooming by maybe a shot every 2 seconds. Traffic Jam? Maybe a shot every 20 seconds. If you want the clouds to move faster in your video take pictures less frequently. Assuming you have the space, it is always better to take more photographs than you need so you can pick and choose later when you are editing. If you want tight control over the length and speed of your end product it is going to require a little math. You are almost ready!

Head out to the location of your subject.
Setup your tripod and aim the camera at your subject.
Choose your shooting mode: If you are new at this and it is daytime, auto is fine. Just be sure to turn off auto focus once everthing is in focus.
Play with manual if you want to get more gutsy and artistic.
Select how often your camera will take pictures on the intervalometer.
Have the intervalometer start taking pictures.
Sit back and drink beer for 12 hours.

Okay, now that you have your photographs you will need to splice them together to make a film. I used Adobe Premier Elements for this because I am a video noob. Each video editing software suite is different so I am not going to be able to be of too much assistance as far as that is concerned, but I can help to familiarize you with what you should try to do. The more shots (frames - because we are taking video now) you put in one second of your clip, the smoother the video you end up with will be. The fewer frames you put per second the more like a slideshow your video will be. Artistically this decision is up to you. This option coupled with how many photographs you took per second have a huge imact on the final video, so play with them. Here are some guidelines and have fun with it!

More frames per second = smoother video, but shorter video
Less frames per second = choppier video (like a slide show), but longer video

More photographs = longer video and slower passage of time
Less photographs = shorter video and faster passage of tim

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Tios, Turkey, and Time: Debriefing the Holidays

     I haven't always regarded thanksgiving as one of my favorite holidays, in fact I usually ranked it somewhere between labor day and Columbus day, towards the bottom of the list.  Due in part to the shortness of the time off and the inevitability of traveling chaos it scarcely graced my top five holidays as a child and really only now am I really beginning to appreciate it.  No, I haven't had a sudden sympathetic epiphany about pilgrims in a foreign land escaping persecution and taking it out on the locals.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that most pilgrims were assholes (read: abused natives/stole their country) and that the tale of the first thanksgiving were forged of selective memory and romanticism (read: made up).  That is precisely the point.  Whomever believes that a holiday must be a historically accurate reenactment of a symbolic event has a screw loose.  For Example / FYI : Jesus was probably not born in December.  The holidays, including thanksgiving are all about recognizing an ideal and celebrating in its name.  Whether it be a celebration of thanks, life, death, or sacrifice, the premise is the same.  It is not important that we give thanks for the same things the pilgrims gave thanks for, (turkeys, dead mean natives, gullible friendly natives, not having to resort to cannibalism two winters in a row), but that we recognize that we have something to be thankful for. 
     To make a long story long, having a thanksgiving without the headache of the consumer rush, the stress of travel have made me more thankful (ha) for the holiday.  I was so lucky as to be able to spend the week with my family whom I don't often see, meet new friends, and spend time with the originals.  It was truly a relaxing and refreshing experience.  I hope that you all had a good holiday or at the very least had enough time off to come up for air.

PS: Be thankful for the internet, your #1 resource for rants.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

DIY Discovery Channel = Awesome

     As you may have noticed photography is fascinating to me.  I really enjoy taking photographs and have become somewhat enamored with DSLRs over the last few years.  I generally use my Nikon D70 for taking pictures anywhere but the bar and at house parties (really anywhere that doesn't serve alcohol).  It serves all my photography needs and my level of ability.  However, there is one area of photography really interests me, and that is high-speed photography. 
     The idea of being able to capture extreme action and slow it down to turtle speed just sounds awesome.  Unfortunately it has always been an unattainable dream because high-speed video cameras are often thousands of dollars more than I am willing to spend.  That has all changed.  Casio has released a digital camera (most unattractively known as the EX-FH20) that can shoot high-speed video for $599.99!  It shoots 720p video, 30 fps video, 210 fps video, 420 fps video, and 1,000 fps video.  This really brings a previously inaccessible realm of photography to the amateur.  Now you can take slo-mo vidoes of yourself doing stupid things and post them on youtube for all the world to see.  We can revel in your explosions and watch the the hairs of your eyebrows melt away at 420 fps. Coolness.  I am not only excited to save for one of these to take my own video, but to see all the things that people will start to share with this camera.  Coolness.

That's all I have for now, just a little tidbit of consumer sexiness on the eve of Black Friday.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Trebuchet

Attached to this post is a video of a world record holding trebuchet.  Of all the world records out there, this one is held by the participant that can hurl an orange seasonal squash the farthest with an ancient weapon... sign me up!   The video proves two things: 1)  The trebuchet has finally made the transition from a siege weapon from the middle-ages to a frontiersman hobby and 2) that trebuchets are, in fact, awesome.  You will notice that this trebuchet is not alone in a field, but rather it shares it with reproduction arcana that has been crafted from steel with a hint of of Dr. Seuss.  Everyone knows there is no point in launching pumpkins with a trebuchet if you can't aim them at a castle right?

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Only Bathroom Guarded (that I know of) by a 35 Foot Mexican Stereotype

South of the Border was one of the most hilarious/creepy places I have ever visited. If you have not road-tripped the Carolinas you may be unfamiliar with this landmark. It is advertised for about 150 miles; each sign is a pun about Mexicans. Once you arrive you enter Pedro's realm of South of the Border, which is shockingly HUGE. Everything there is huge, giant hotdog buildings, elephantine Mexican's are everywhere, like this one guarding the bathroom. When I went this summer it was as unplanned visit rather late in the evening, so very little was open and it was eerily abandoned. It was just us (my dad and I) and the gargantuan sombreroed/mustacheoed/gap toothed Mexican statues under their obelisk of power, the sombrero tower. It was word the visit if only to feel like I was in a real life scooby doo episode.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Sketchiest Place I Have Ever Been

This is some enormous theme park on I-95. Really scary stuff.
Reminded me of a scooby-doo haunted carnival episode.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

iTunes "Single of the Week" Free Download Tuesdays

Every Tuesday (Usually) Apple releases a single or two of an up-and-coming artist for free download. This freeness lasts about a week and then you have to pay; so you can only download the current week's song. They promote musicians of all kinds and the musical genre is different from week to week. It is a great way to broaden your musical horizens and bolster your library. There is no catch and this is usually just good free music. (Remember, you have to download it the week it is released or it will no longer be free).

I am going to publish the link to this song each Tuesday for your listening pleasure.

Week of July 29, 2008

Belanova - One, Two, Three, Go!
Genre: Latin synth-pop
A Latin Grammy-nominated Mexican synth-pop band from the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco.
Click Here to read the rest of Belanova's bio on Wikipedia

Download this Single

Unseen - Katie Armiger
Genre: Country

Kicking off with a crystal clear piano melody and then layering that with a warm twang and a tight rock backing band, Katie Armiger's bright-eye vocals sound right at home on this track...
-iTunes Store

Download this Single

If you are on a computer the link will open your iTunes.
If you are on an iPhone or iPod Touch it will open your mobile iTunes Store

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