Are you iPad Ready? (No flash allowed)

Are you a photographer with a flash site? Do you know that the iPad, just like the iPhone, will not display flash content? What’s a photographer to do? Scott Kelby looked at this earlier today.

When Kelby first put up his flash portfolio, I decided to create a javascript only portfolio site to do the same thing. See my portfolio here, and my post here.

I think my code is successful, to a certain extent. It works great on the desktop, but doesn’t work as well on the iPhone, and I don’t yet know on the iPad. Need to try that out. Anyone that wants to comment about that, please do.

I think that my issue on the iPhone is the size of the images. I think they need to be smaller to save on bandwidth, and prevent the phone’s browser from having to scale the images so much. That may be the issue on Kelby’s site too, because his new non flash site didn’t work well on the iPhone either. His new portfolio is also a jQuery javascript site done by RC. It was too slow to be useable on my phone. I wonder if image size is the issue there to. Now his site was optimized for the iPad, not the iPhone, but I want mine to work on both. I will need to do some more testing with smaller images to see.

RS-7 Blackrapid Camera Strap Review

Old style star washer

I have had a black rapid strap, model RS-2 for a while now. I was really excited to get one, and loved it but…  Were you expecting a but? It wasn’t perfect. I loved the innovative way the camera hung at my side, hanging there waiting for the moment that I needed to quickly raise it to my eye. But, I had a few complaints I discovered after using the strap for a while. This is a bit of a RS-2 to RS-7 comparison. (Keep with with me, the complaints are all fixed)

  • I didn’t like the connector thingy. (Technical term) It was just too bulky. It looked like a good first try from someone welding things together in their garage. It worked, but didn’t look pretty. And I lost mine. Twice. Some people even tried tying their strap with a little make-shift cord connector. That didn’t always work out.
  • It was bulky. The strap seemed a little too wide. Too much material. It just felt too noticeable, especially with a jacket on. The model I had also had this whole extra flap that held memory cards, business cards, and had a pocket on it for a cell phone. This sounded good at the time, but just ended up feeling bulky. I felt like the cell phone pocket was right at my chin, like a poor mans hands free phone system. I eventually cut off the extra, but it still seemed a little stiff and bulky.

New Connector

  • The strap wasn’t like better backpack straps that are curved to conform to your shoulder a little better. I found it would slip off sometimes too.
  • My strap didn’t have a clip to hold the excess webbing strap. That was probably because I cut off part of the padding (the pockets) to make it smaller. It also seemed like it could use another clip to keep the camera from sliding around. If you switched shoulders it seemed like the clip was on the wrong side.
  • The connector was completely re-engineered. It now looks very professional, and more importantly, works wonderfully. It is much smaller. It piece that screws into the camera is a much lower profile, and has a piece of rubber on the end. This does two things. Not having the lock nut and instead having the rubber make it more secure, and doesn’t seem to loosen anymore. The lower profile means that you can hold the camera with a portrait grip on it, which really wasn’t possible with the other connector. And last, using the locking mini carabiner allows you to remove the strap if you need to with needing to unscrew the whole thing.
  • The new RS-7 strap is thinner. Much better profile, and this one doesn’t have any bells and whistles. Some people might like pockets and stuff on their strap, and they still have models that have them, and an accessory pocket can be attached to the RS-7, but if you don’t want the extra material, you don’t have to have it.

RS-7 vs Modified RS-2

  • The new RS-7 is curved. Not by much, but it works. It seems to stay on my shoulder better, feels more comfortable, and seems less prone to sliding off. Seems great.
  • This RS-7 is much more finished in every way. No matter which side of your head/shoulder  you wear this strap, it still fits well. There is a new clip that keeps the strap from flapping, and there are two clips that are designed to keep the camera in place, no matter how you wear the strap.

I did say I loved this strap didn’t I? Ok, at first I loved it, then as the issues came up, I stopped wearing it as much. Then the improvements started to come out.

The first strap I had felt like a great idea that was put together in someones garage. functional, but not the best finish. This strap is a whole new level. The straps, buckles, padding, connector, and even what they left off are seem perfect now. If I had to come up with one item for an update, it would be to have the material under the strap to be “stickier”, like a rubber or something that would cling to nylon/rain jackets better. This isn’t as important on a strap you wear across your body, but I sometimes fell it moves a little, and I have to keep putting it back in place.

That’s all I can come up with on the negative side. I love it. If you are replacing your strap, definitely consider this one. I think it’s worth the money.

Testing Very High ISO with the D90

So I decided to try the HI1.0 ISO setting on my Nikon D90. That is actually ISO 6400. This image was shot without a flash with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 at 1/20th of a second. I shot in RAW and adjusted the white balance a bit, and the brightness in Lightroom very slightly. Otherwise, this is the image.

Noise is quite obvious. It actually doesn’t look quite as bad in this little image, so I exported larger ones too, that if you click on the image you will see a larger version. There the noise is even more noticeable. I don’t think I would really want to use this setting. The only reason I even wanted to try it was a friend had taken some at this setting on his Nikon D5000 (about the same sensor) and thought they were fine. Me, not so much.

Now, it was taken while the camera had high ISO noise reduction on. I am wishing now I had taken another with that off for reference. Also, one in JPEG mode with and without it turned on. Sounds like another post.

Ok, I wanted to see if I could make the image usable, so first I ran it through the Nik Define filter within Photoshop. It may be that I don’t know how to use the filter yet (used default settings), or it could be that there was just too much noise, but I wasn’t that impressed. Then I turned it over to Nik Silver Fx Pro. I have used this filter a bit more, and I thought the BW turned out pretty well.

I think it hides the color noise, and looks more like grain than noise now. Maybe usable. At least it allows you to get a shot that you never would be able to get otherwise. Now, to be fair, it was really dark. Only my child’s night light was on. I had a hard time focusing. But the great take away from this is that it would be awesome to take pictures at this ISO, and you can with cameras like the D700 and the D3 versions. I am really starting to like the idea of a full frame camera. Someday…

What is the first lens I should buy?

Well, first go read this post, and if you just bought your camera, I will try to talk you out of buying anything.

 Ok, if you are sure you need another lens, then you need to think about what you need a lens for. I am assuming that you are looking to replace the kit lens that came with your camera. Most of the time, that lens is around an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6. (In this post I will be talking Nikon, but Canon has lenses that are very similar.)

So, why do you want a lens? Other than that glass is cool. Are you wanting more reach, to get images of birds in the trees? Are you wanting to take pictures of kids in low light? Would an external flash be better? Would you like something with a zoom, or something with a fixed focal length? Do you have $300, or $3000? Do you know what f/3.5-5.6 means?

You need to be able to answer those questions to make a truly informed decision. Reading the Digital Photography Book (post) by Scott Kelby would help with this too.

Ok, lets take a look at some reasonable (for photography) options.

Nilkon 50mm f/1.8

Nilkon 50mm f/1.8

If you are looking for some “fast glass”, the traditional recomendation is the “nifty fifty.” Fast glass, or a fast lens, is a lens that has a very large minimum aperture size. This refers to a small aperture number, such as f/2.8, or f/1.4. The kit lenses are usually of a variable aperture, meaning they are not constant through out the zoom range. Zoom lenses are usually more expensive to make in a constant aperture, so most people look to get a fast lens with a single focal length. What does this do for us? By “opening up” the lens to a wide aperture, you let in more light, so the shutter speed can be faster when taking available light pictures. Also, your depth of field gets smaller, meaning that the area in the photo that is in-focus is smaller. This can be good and bad depending on the picture¬† you are taking.¬†

Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AF-S

Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AF-S

The Nikon 50mm f/1.8 that most people call the “nifty fifty” has been a staple of most photographers, and the price hovered around $120 – $150 depending on where you get it. (amazon) There are a couple of issues with this lens though. First of all, your camera may not work with it. Cameras like the D40, and D3000 do not have a traditional motor drive in the camera body. This means that autofocus will not work with the nifty fifty. I used this 50mm lens manually focusing on a D40 for quite some time. Worked great for flowers, not for kids. You need a AF-S lens in Nikon terms to get auto focus. That means that the lens its self has a motor in it. But, it makes the lens more expensive. Amazon has this version for about $440.¬†

Nikon 35mm f/1.4 AF-S
Nikon 35mm f/1.4 AF-S

Problem #2. The 50mm lens is a great lens. It used to be called the “standard lens” and many film era cameras shipped with just this lens (a 50mm). So what’s the problem? Sensor size. If you want to use your new “fast glass” to take pictures indoors without flash, the 50mm¬†can be too long a focal length. You might want to consider the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S instead. (amazon) ¬†On most digital cameras, the sensor is smaller than a film negative. This makes lenses appear to have a longer focal length, and why the 35mm works better indoors. 35mm x 1.5 = 52.5mm on a APS-C “crop sensor”. (I am not going to get into this anymore today, but there are lots of places to read about this,¬†like¬†here)¬†The good news is that the 35mm lens is cheaper. Amazon has it for about $200.

Nikon 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6

Nikon 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6

How about if you want to make small, or far away subjects look bigger in the viewfinder? A longer zoom? Or move your feet. Seriously. Many shots can be taken by simply getting closer to your subject. Also, telephoto lenses are not just for “making things bigger”. They also compress the scene. They make the background and the foreground appear closer together. For birds and¬†other critters, you may not be able to get close enough with your feet. If you want a telephoto, you are looking at getting something that zooms to 200 or 300 in a variable aperture, or you are spending really big money.

Some of  you may already have this lens, the Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 AF-S VR. (amazon) Sometimes this lens is bundled in a two lens kit with some cameras. This lens is only $200 Р$250, and for a lens of this price, is really quite good. The VR (vibration reduction) helps to reduce hand shakyness, especially at slower shutter speeds. This was my first lens purchase, and one that I found useful.

What about macro? Fixed focal length zooms? Wide angle? All in one zooms? Take it slow. Learn your camera and the lens you have. See how close¬† you can get with your lens. You can get fairly close “macro-ish” shots with a kit lens. Move your feet and get closer to subjects. The 18mm of most kit lenses is reasonably wide. Learn how to use that. That said, I will tackle some of these options in another post soon.

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 AF-S VR

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 AF-S VR

If you want a little bit more reach, a sharper image, and have some extra money, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G AF-S VR is considered a very¬†good lens for the money. You can find this item for less than $500. (amazon) ¬†At $500 the cost is getting more expensive, but is still reasonable in the world of camera lenses. I don’t own this lens, but many people I respect have and like this lens.


Happy Shooting.

The price of forced overtime


The picture is an old office cube of mine taken with an iPhone, and has nothing to do with the post, other than it is about the office. But not “The Office”. I am a part of a large group that has been told that working Saturdays for the next 2 months is mandatory. Many have been working overtime for several months already.

So, why do people ever need to work overtime? Pretty simple really: it is perceived that there is more work to get done before the delivery date than managers think can get done within normal working hours. What I started to wonder, is if this will really get more done. If you do simple math, adding 8 hours to everyone’s day sounds like it gives you more time to get more done. Sounds like it, but you take human emotion out of the equation.

We can all do more for short periods of time, especially if we see the value in it. We see value sometimes when we feel like it is our responsibility to contribute to the company, or when we feel a sense of loyalty to a product, or group that will use the product. Or, we can see value to us in particular when we are given something in trade. This can be extra income, time off, or something else that is seen as a reward, and that our time was valued.

When this sense of value is missing, it becomes a very different equation. It is also why contractors (like myself) are not as annoyed by mandatory work. We get paid by the hour usually. We get paid more for coming in. On the other hand, when a salaried employee is forced to come in, they need to feel a sense of value. When the employee only sees the employment as a job, or starts to feel like they are being asked too much, management no longer get the extra they are looking for.

People want to feel valued, and feel like the effort they are putting in is compensated accordingly. When someone feels like one side of the equation has been altered, they change the other side. Sometimes this is even done subconsciously. People may not rush into work. Take longer lunches. Go for a longer coffee break. When someone would normally work an extra 15-30 min at the end of work to finish something, now they no longer start something new 30 min to an hour before end of work. Maybe they decide to use the sick days when they have a cold that before they would have worked through. That extra day, it isn’t an 8 hour day. In late, out early, going off site for lunch…

Don’t forget the lasting issues. Contractors come and go. Some might go early… Employees can look for other work. It is expensive to lose business knowledge. The feeling of loss of trust and being undervalued are very difficult to get back. You can loose it in a single email. It can take months to get back, if it ever does…

So what do you do as a project manager and your project is behind. You need the employees to feel invested in the extra effort. And you need to ask. You may be surprised at the effort you get when you ask. Trust me, whether it is telling kids or adults they have to do something, or giving them a choice, choice wins out every time. The other issue, is that people have lives outside of work. Saturdays may not work for some people. What if they would work 48 hours a week spread out over the week? What if they could squeeze more into the day than they do right now? What if you and the employee could agree on the extra work that needed to be done, and then let the employee get it done on their own schedule? What if they are offered something out front whether that is some time off, or even movie tickets. What do you think the response will be?

Which takes more work out of management? A mass email, or an individual meeting with each employee to discuss the situation that you are in? Pretty obvious, but the bigger problems will come if you take the easy way out.

I hate pair programming

Hand in Hand 

First, to clarify, I don’t hate the two lovely girls in this picture, but they can be quite the pair. Second, my mother told me never to say hate, so maybe that was not a good title. How about “I detest pair programming.”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be stuck in a cave for a couple of months and then crawl out bleary eyed and pronounce that I have created the perfect piece of code. I love collaboration. I go to others for help, input, guidance,¬†or to reciprocate for someone else.

What I¬†don’t like, is sitting¬†in a cube with two people where one person types and the¬†other looks over their shoulder all day.¬†Maybe I haven’t had the right person to do this with. Maybe¬†that is why the pair of kids in the picture works. They have their issues, but they get along well, and have similar goals most of the time.

When I am paired with someone, and they have the keyboard, I just feel like one of two things occurs. I am sitting there bored wondering why they just don’t let me type, or they are whipping through some material I have never worked with, and I am lost when I don’t get to “drive”. When I have the keyboard, I just find it annoying to have someone asking if the code could be done differently every 5 minutes. I don’t mind getting feedback, and code reviews are great. I have no problem working on a task, checking for ideas, implementing my approach, then getting feedback, and maybe refactoring. I just don’t like it in real time.

I don’t see the benefit. Luckily it only looks like we are doing this while several of us are new. It won’t last forever. Have you ever had to work for an extended time period in a pair? Did it work? on iPhone

Adobe has released an iPhone app for, their online editor. There are some cool things that you can do with the app, such as the sketch filter that you see on the left here.

There are also some other filters such as the soft vignette that look neat, but the rainbow filter that modifies all the colors on your image so that it looks like a rainbow is a little odd. I suppose my 5 year old would think it was pretty cool.

Anyway, it looks like a neat app. You can send your images to, or save them back locally. The app creates a new image at the end of your camera roll, so your original picture is not changed. You can choose to take a picture right from the app too.

It is free, and looks like it is worth playing with a bit. Search the app store for

iPhone wont make or take calls

iPhonePicI am starting to get pretty annoyed with my iPhone. It all started after I did the carrier update to get the MMS capabilities. What happens, is that I lose the ability to send and receive calls and messages. I can still get email at least.

My wife tries to call me, and the phone goes right to voice mail. Then she emails me. If I am checking email, then I power down the phone, then power it up again. This works for awhile. If I leave it for a period of time, or charge it (that could be just time) it stops working.

The weirdest is when I try to call out. The phone gives the Calling… screen, but it never makes the call. Weird.

I have tried to reset the phone, by wiping it out from iTunes, and doing a reinstall. That didn’t seem to help.

This is not an isolated incident. I know two other people that have had the same problems. The fix? Get a new phone. I guess I need to make an appointment with the “Geniuses”.

UPDATE (10/08/09 9:00PM): I am installing the 3.1.2 iPhone update, and a “new carrier update”. That makes me nervous. We’ll see what happens.

I have my Camera Manual on my hip.


D90 Manual

I am now using the iPhone app Good Reader. Scott Kelby had posted about this in September, but I hadn’t got around to looking at it until now. This app is a great way to view and manage pdf files. It was really easy to get the pdf files onto my iPhone. You can point to a web url, and it will download as I did with one of the files, or you can set up a file server with one button press on the phone. This is really easy. All you have to do on your computer is connect to the displayed IP address in the finder with the Go/Connect to server… menu option. I then dragged the other items to the finder window, and they transfered over. Very simple. It works well. This is what I have on my iPhone so far.

  1. My Nikon D90 camera manual
  2. My SB-800 camera manual
  3. My SB-900 camera manual
  4. 10 By David duChemin (eBook)
  5. 10 More by David duChemin (eBook)
  6. DLWS participant packet

It works pretty well. You can easily read, zoom, change pages, even navigate directly to a page. I like it. I haven’t used the manuals yet, but I like the idea of having them sitting on my hip within reach.

New Gear for DLWS

dlwslogoIn two weeks I will be at the DLWS in Traverse City Michigan. I am pretty psyched. I picked the location because it was the only event near my birthday they had, and I picked DLWS when I found that two photographers that I read a lot about, Moose Peterson, and Joe McNally would be there.

So, there were a couple of things that I wanted to get. I have been going back and forth on what to do with my Tamron 17-50 f/2.8. In fact, I blogged about that here. I decided that for the trip, I was going to get the Nikon 17-55 f/2.8. Part of my hesitation is when I might move up to full frame, would I still want this lens? Well, I figure that I will keep the D90 as a backup, so I will either need it as a lens for the D90, or I can sell it for not that much less than I paid for it. Now that I have a paying job again, it seemed like a good time to get it.

This lens, and the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 that I have, both take 77mm filters, so I got a Tiffen polarizer for them (was going to get the Nikon, but the store didn’t carry it), and a Lee 4×6 .9 graduated soft ND that Moose claims to hand hold. I still don’t get that. We go to the trouble of putting the camera on a tripod, using a cable release, and then hold a filter up to the lens? I’ll have to ask him about that.

Last item was the MB-D80 battery grip. I have wanted this for quite awhile for taking portraits when hand holding. Not sure if I really need it now for the trip, but I figured I would get it.

I ended up at West Photo for this stuff. I had intended to order from B&H, because they had the lens for a fair bit less. The other stuff seems comparable, but the Nikon stuff seems to go for less in New York. Well, as luck would have it, both B&H and Adorama are closed for Succoth for another week. I was nervous that even with paying for two day shipping that by the time they open, and get to my order, there might not be enough time to get it to me.

Anyway, I will probably have more on the gear as I use it. Anyone want a very good condition Tamron 17-50 f/2.8?