In den vorherigen Artikel zum Lightpainting habe ich Taschenlampen mit Panzertape an einen Besenstiel gebastelt und eine selbst gebastelte LED-Zierleiste zum Einsatz gebracht. Doch das waren alles Ersatzlösungen für das echte Ding, den Pixelstick. Lange bin ich um dieses Lightpainting-Werkzeug herumgetigert, dann gab ich mir einen Ruck und habe es gekauft. Was soll ich sagen – beste Entscheidung seit Langem ! Der Pixelstick ist eine ca. 190 cm lange Schiene mit 200 hellen RGB-LEDs. Der Clou: Über einen Controller kann man die LEDs programmieren, so dass farbige Muster und sogar Bilder „abgespielt“ werden können. Wenn man sich nun während einer Langzeitbelichtung von links nach rechts durch das Bild bewegt, spult der Pixelstick ein bis zu 200 Pixel hohes Bild Spalte für Spalte ab und schon entsteht ein Bild in der Luft. Das Besondere daran ist, dass das Licht mit der Umgebung interagiert. Es ist also nicht so, als ob man stumpf ein entsprechende Motiv am Rechner mit Photoshop hineinmontiert Achtet z.B. im oberen und unteren Bild auf die Reflektionen auf der Maschine. Dadurch wirkt der Effekt noch viel intensiver und lässt die Formen dreidimensional auf der gekrümmten Oberfläche des Tanks erscheinen. Die Bilder werden über eine SD-Karte in den Pixelstick […]
Nach meinen ersten Experiment mit ein paar Taschenlampen, Panzertape und einem Stock habe ich mich an etwas mehr gewagt. Der Pixelstick ist ein Werkzeug zur kreativen Lichtmalerei. Er besteht aus 200 hellen LEDs, die in eine 2m lange Aluminiumstange eingelassen sind. Diese LED-Kette kann nun individuell programmiert werden, um Muster und Bilder in die Luft zu malen. Der Nachteil: Er ist recht teuer. Also habe ich einen eigenen Pixelstick kreiert für 1/10 des Preises, was natürlich auch mit einer Einschränkung in der Funktionalität daherkam. Das braucht man dazu: einen batteriebetriebenen LED-Streifen, 2 m lang (13 € auf eBay) 2 x 1 m lange Aluminiumprofile mit einer Plastikabdeckung (21 €) Ein paar Schrauben, Muttern und eine Metallplatte aus dem Baumarkt (4 €). Summe: 39 € Der Zusammenbau ist sehr einfach. Ich habe ein paar Löcher in die Schienen gebohrt, so dass ich mit der Metallplatte die beiden Schienen verbinden konnte: Dann habe ich den LED Streifen in die Schiene eingelegt und die Plastikabdeckung drübergeschoben. Ein wenig Panzerband, und schon klebten der Controller und das Batteriefach auch am Profil: Und fertig! Ein selbst gebastelter Pixelstick für unter 40 €. Der Controller ermöglicht verschiedenste Farben und Muster. Das Licht kann pulsieren, die Farbe […]
Während der Vorbereitung auf das nächste Shooting kam mir der Gedanke, dass ich mal etwas Neues ausprobieren wollte. Kürzlich hatte ich erst vom PixelStick gelesen, einem wundervollen Werkzeug für die Lichtmalerei. Der Pixelstick ist eine 2 m lange Aluminiumstange mit 200 mehrfarbigen LEDs. Mit diesen kann man die wildesten Muster und Bilder in die leere Luft malen. Dummerweise kostet der Pixelstick 400 €, so dass ich erst einmal auf eine einfachere Methode umsteigen musste. Daher gibt es heute den „Pixelstick für arme Leute“ in diesem Artikel. Mehr Improvisation geht nicht. Ich habe einen Bestenstiel genommen und in die Mitte ein Loch gebohrt. Dadurch steckte ich einen dicken Nagel als Achse und befestigte ein Stück Holz als Griff dran. Violà, ein drehbarer Stock! An diesen wurden dann kurzerhand mit Panzertape vier LED-Taschenlampen gepappt (das waren alle Taschenlampen, die ich im Haushalt finden konnte). Test shooting, und ich habe mich ausgetobt. Interessant waren die Passanten, die auf dem Weg vorbeikamen. Entweder haben sie interessiert geguckt und gefragt, oder sie sind mit starrem Blick und ohne Gruß an mir vorbeigezogen. Frei nach dem Motto „wenn ich nichts sage, vielleicht bemerkt mich der Bekloppte dann nicht.“
During my shoot at the potash mine dump near Giesen I needed to focus the light from the flash. I only wanted to illuminate the bike and not its surroundings, so precise light control was necessary. The shooting setup is shown below. At first I tried zooming the flash to 120 mm, but that did not bring the expected result. I needed to focus/constrain the light beam even more. What I needed was a snoot, but I did not have one. So I improvised and used the lens hood of the 24-70 f2.8 and some duct tape. Some more duct tape was used to extend the tube of the snoot even more. This is what it looked like: And this is a quick comparison of how the light was contrained with just the flash / snoot / extended snoot. That’s my quick tip for today, maybe you might find it helpful !
In 2015 I extensively blogged about motorcycles and posted some GoPro videos. Working with video is a pretty new sensation for me, one has to get used to the fact that the time invested into one video could also produce some dozen images. The “output” in terms of posted material, is less. Making a good video requires planning, a lot of patience and a lot of time in post processing, but I am repeating myself. In the first videos with my GoPro I experimented with different camera positions on a motorcycle. I quickly learned that vibrations cause the video to be very unsteady, and that is where I learned about gimbals. A gimbal is an electronic steadycam. The camera is mounted on a device that has two or three motor-driven axes. A sensor in the gimbal detects the movement of the camera and steers the motor to a counter-reaction. So if the camera is tilted forward, the motor rotates the camera backwards the exact amount. As both movements happen at the same time the camera stays absolutely steady. The following video by HeliPal is the one which kicked off my gimbal adventure. Besides from eliminating shaking and rotation, the horizon […]
Earlier this year I was on vacation with my family. One day we went to a large field to let a kite fly. My backpack (A Crumpler muffin top in olive green), along with other stuff, lay some dozen meters away while we let the kite soar up in the air. Another family with a big dog came along. The dog broke free and ran towards our stuff. Sniffing, turning around, lifting the leg and – peeing on my photo backpack. It lay face-down in the grass, so the richly padded back of the backpack was soaked in glorious dog-water. YUKK. I am not a dog person, and that experience did not deepen my relationship towards „mans best friend“. The owner was terribly sorry, but I opted against making a scene out of it. What should I do ? Let him pay for the backpack which is already heavily worn an torn ? Naaa. So I took the backpack home (NOT carrying it on my back), took everything out including all padding which could be removed and soaked the backpack in the bathtub. I reckon putting it in the washing machine is not a good idea, all the tumbling around […]
The glass of the my GoPro’s front LCD screen is cracked. I have not witnessed the moment it cracked, but ca reconstruct how the damage happened. It happened while I used the camera in the frame mount. I did not buy the original frame mount but a cheap one from Amazon (less than 6 Euros). To make it short – the cheap one exhibits bad tolerances in the measurements, this required some force to mate the frame with the connection counterpart. The frame was compressed, the pressure was induced into the camera and the screen cracked. Watch the video for more details.
The attentive reader of my blog will have noticed that I got a motorcycle recently. I made several photo sessions with motorcycles (part 1, part 2), and the transition from photo to video was just a question of time. And since I am that geeky kind of gear-loving photographer, I got myself a GoPro Hero4 silver. I won’t go into detail on the camera itself, this has been done on other websites by the thousand. One might think that the options for placing a camera on a motorcycle are few, but far from that. In the video I am going to show you now I have positioned the camera in nine different ways, and there are many more ways to do so. For the impatient viewer here is a list of camera positions in the video: handlebar, facing forward (filming the dashboard and the road ahead) handlebar, facing backwards (filming the rider) crash bar (=wheel level) (right side filming forward) crash bar (left side filming forward and backwards) chest harness facing forward helmet, facing forward helmet, facing backwards chassis (right below seat level), facing forward chassis, facing backwards. Some notes and thoughts. The Tarion clamp shown in the video at […]
I have written a more than healthy amount of posts about backups, archiving and data storage. If you have followed my blog you already learned about my backup strategy (Link 1, Link 2). There are three copies of my archive: On my NAS and a carbon copy on two separate 4 TB drives. One of those two drives is not deposited in our house. This „external“ drive is sheltered in a plastic case, which I put into a cardboard box with some bubble wrap. The cardboard solution was bothering me for quite a while and I decided to get the best protection I can think of – a Peli case. Peli cases are rugged, watertight boxes which come in all sizes. The smallest one is big enough for a harddrive, the biggest one can hold military equipment like shoulder-mounted rocket launchers or rifles. I decided to go for a Peli Protector 1120 case with pre-cut foam. It came at a price of 40 € – not cheap for storing your HDD but I wanted one of those indestructible, stylish cases very badly. As you can see the box is completely filled with foam. At first I placed the encased HDD […]
A multitude of heads for tripods is available on the market. There are three-axis heads, ball heads, geared heads to name only a few. I have gone through different tripod heads in my photographic life and today I want to share some thoughts on the Novoflex MagicBall. To say it up front in case you wonder: This is not a new head, it’s been around for several years now. I purchased mine about 2 years ago and now I felt it was time to share some experiences. Three different sizes of the MagicBall head are available with a carrying capacity of 5 (MagicBall Mini), 7 (MagicBall 50) and 10 kg (MagicBall). The model reviewed in this article is the MagicBall 50 with a carrying capacity of 7 kg. The MagicBall 50 weighs around 600 g and is roughly 15×9 cm. The MagicBall is (nomen est omen) a ball head. Such heads allow a quick composition of the shot, since the camera can be moved freely on the ball head. The MagicBall construction consists of a precision machined aluminum ball and a metal bracket, onto which the camera is mounted. The screw for mounting the camera is operated by turning a […]
Backups are absolutely essential. I wrote about that topic quite a few times already and I can’t stress that point enough. I live a solid backup strategy and it has saved my a$$ multiple times already. The core of my backup system is a 4-bay NAS system (Network Attached Storage) with a time machine backup (=the content of my computer’s harddrive) and my archive (=everything I do not want to keep on the computer’s harddrive, mostly images). In addition to that there are two identical copies of the archive, which I keep in different locations. Those are „naked“ harddrives which I connect to my Mac using a USB 3.0 docking station. The reason for all that hassle lies in the multitude of sources for data loss. Let me structure this a little. In my opinion the four main sources for data loss are: User or software-related events (eg. accidental deletion by the user, buggy software) Hardware failure (faulty parts, “natural” aging of components) Physical / electrical damage (harddrive dropped to the floor, water damage (the famous coffee spill), lightningstrike/power surge) Major catastrophic events like fire and theft. Let me explain how my backup strategy covers those risks: User- or software-related […]
Hey there, I wrote another lens review for nikonrumors.com and it just has been published. This time I take a closer look at the Venus 60mm f2.8 2:1 macro lens. The lens has a maximum reproduction ratio of 2:1, which means that the image on the sensor can be twice as large as the actual object. Definitely an interesting lens which can produce sharp images, but it is not easy to handle. Here are some sample images made with that lens. Please visit Nikonrumors.com to read the full review (link above).
There are many different philosophies and solutions when it comes to storing one’s camera gear. Since the hunter-gatherer blood runs strongly in my veins I amassed quite a collection of gear over the years. After some interim solutions with shelfes and boxes I finally decided on a dedicated IKEA Billy shelf with glass doors for storing and organizing my photo gear, see this post from 2012. Since then equipment and accessories cluttered the shelfes and what was once organized turned into a chaotic heap. Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve I sifted through my gear to get rid of equipment I rarely used. Along with this screening process I installed some LED lighting on the shelf. I bought two sets of IKEA LEDARE LED lights. One set consisted of four LED spots while the second set contained four LED strips. I chose the IKEA lights because they were the cheapest and have a warm color temperature of 2700K. There are also variants of the LEDARE lighting set which contain coloured LEDs and a control panel to change the color. I decided to place the spots on the shelfeswith lenses and cameras, because those are the core components of photography. The […]
A few months ago I wrote about the re-organization of my workspace. I purchased an electrically actuated desk, assembled it by myself and re-arranged the messy wiring I had produced over time. Shortly after New Year’s Eve I received an email from the company which produces these desks, Inwerk. It was a standard email asking if I was satisfied with the product, if I had any questions etc. I replied with a few lines saying everything is ok. I also gave them the link to the article I wrote, which also contains a video. Nothing happened for two weeks. One day my wife called me at work. „A package has been delivered, it is quite heavy and a sticker reads ‚caution, glass‘. What did you order ?“ I was baffled, because I did not expect anything. The package turned out to contain a bottle of wine and a short note from the sales agent at Inwerk. He told me that they enjoyed the video and wanted to say thank you with the bottle of wine. That is an oustandingly kind gesture and made my day. Very good customer relationship management, thank you Inwerk ! Here is the video I sent […]
Dear readers, NikonRumors has just published a guest post I have written. I did an extended version of the Walimex 12 mm f2.8 fish-eye review. Feeling a little bit proudly. You can read the article here on nikonrumors.com (The shorter version I have published here on my own blog can be found here). Cheers, Julian
Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve I took some time to look at my gear and re-arrange my photo shelf. As I went through the lenses, flashes and other items I came to realize that some items were just collecting dust. I have the unpleasant habit of hastily buying stuff and then not having enough time to use it to its full extent. Some kind of hunter-gatherer disorder if you like to say so. After realizing that some impulse purchases might not be as vital to my photographic survival as initially perceived I opted to put some stuff on eBay. Sifting through your gear can have several effects: You might discover that some items are rarely used and therefore not really necessary for your needs (as explained above). Time to make some cash. But you can also look at it the other way around. Unused equipment can also be regarded as a source for inspiration. You might create a project based on that item. Found a neutral density filter ? Long exposure is a keyword that springs to my mind. Remote camera trigger – some goofy self-portraits are always funny. Of course you also might discover that you don’t have […]
When working at a computer it is advisable to have some sort of background lighting. It is less strennous for your eyes if the contrast between the screen and the surroundings is not too big. I used to have a lamp on a boom arm which shone behind my iMac. But the lamp tended to get in the way when I moved my electric desk up and down (read my post about my workspace re-organization here). I decided to remove the lamp and find something else which would illuminate the wall behind my computer. On eBay I found a USB-powered LED strip. The LEDs are encased in a clear flexible plastic material, the backside of the strip is covered with adhesive tape. I taped the LED strip to the back of my iMac and plugged the USB – finished. The solution is low-cost (the strip was around 11 €) and quickly installed. There are two minor drawbacks though. Firstly, you lose one USB port obviously. Secondly, when putting the computer in sleep mode (which is what I do, I rarely switch the iMac off) the light stays on since the USB ports stay powered in sleep mode. So you have […]
Back in September 2014 Samyang announced a new lens – a 12 mm f2.8 fish-eye for full-frame cameras. A prototype was shown at Photokina in Cologne (see picture below) but the lens was not available until now. I already own the Samyang 8 mm f3.5 fish-eye and it is a fun lens. You can see some sample images in my „urban“ photo gallery on this website. But it is the version for APS-C sized sensors (Nikon DX cameras). I owned the Samyang back in the days of my D70s/D300s, and as I switched to full format the lens stayed as a full-frame fish-eye was not on the market (at least not a reasonably priced one). The lens Samyang announced is not broadly available yet (Status: January 2015). It seems to be in the phase of introduction and getting it required some searching. I could have ordered it via eBay directly from Korea, but decided against it due to warranty reasons (although it was considerably cheaper). Finally I found the lens branded as „Walimex Pro“, sold and shipped from Germany for 549 €. WalimexPro is the house-brand of Foto Walser, a large online retailer for photographic equipment. They seem to partner […]
In my daytime job I work in an office, meaning I sit a lot. But as a photographer I also spend a lot of time before the computer at home. That’s too much sitting and so I decided to get an electrically actuated desk which enables one to work while standing. After some research I chose the „Masterlift 2“ from the german manufacturer Inwerk. I purchased only the table framework because I wanted to keep my IKEA beech table top. The installation also called for a for a subsequent clean-up of my cabling. Too many power adaptors, USB cables and whatnot that formed a twisted mess of copper-and-rubber-spaghetti. The video below shows a timelapse of the desk assembly and the recabling operation. At first let’s take a look at the electrically actuated desk. The motors are integrated in the two legs, the main control unit is housed in the cable tray between both legs. Due to the motors the table is ultra heavy. The motors run (very smoothly and quiet) with a speed of around 40 mm/sec. Movement is controlled with a simple up/down control pad. The USB plug in the image is for scale. I decided not to fasten […]
People say “Once you go Mac, you never go back”. While this is still true for my stationary computer (love my iMac) I broke with that saying regarding the smartphone. Here is my story. Prequel After using the iPhone4 for about four years the device started to show first signs of wear. The home button did not work properly, applications and interaction became slow and laggy. Slowly but surely using the iPhone evolved (or better de-volved) into a nerve-straining routine. Time for a change. My affection for Apple products might be a big one but it is not blind love. I am well aware about other devices on the market and their price/performance ratio. At the time the iPhone6 was announced my plans for getting a new phone were entering the realization phase. I had noticed the Samsung Galaxy series as I know some people who own one but my decision was not made yet. Apple was so kind to make the decision for me. Once I learned about the prices of the iPhone6 the switch to an Android phone was sealed. I have to note that I do not have a mobile contract with my provider but a postpaid […]