Posts Tagged ‘Photographer’

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Today is the last day for public comment on the FAA’s proposed rules on drones!

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Hi folks,
As you may know, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration released preliminary rules governing the operation of “small unmanned aerial systems” (“sUAS,” or more simply, drones) a couple of months ago. The FAA’s process for adopting new rules includes a period where the public is allowed to comment on the preliminary rules before they are finalized. Today is the last day of that public comment period, so if you are a photographer or filmmaker who either uses drones as one of your tools or wants to, this is your last opportunity to have your voice heard! If you want to make your voice heard and submit a comment using the easy online process, there are instructions below on how to do so, as well as a sample comment that I’ve written.

The FAA’s proposed rules cover all manner of issues relating to the flying of drones, and include, among many other proposals, the following:

1) The FAA will define all craft weighing less than 55 pounds as sUAS, and will treat all sUAS equally
2) Drone pilots will be required to take certification classes and pass a written exam to pilot drones and register their aircraft
3) Drones will be limited to flying no higher than 500 feet above ground level in altitude and no faster than 100 miles per hour
4) Drones will be required to be flown only within the pilot’s line-of-sight
5) Drones will be prohibited from flying over uninvolved bystanders

In general I think most of the rules are reasonable, however I do have a number of quibbles, so yesterday I wrote a comment which I submitted. My biggest issue with the rules as they are proposed is that popular drones such as DJI Phantom models are tiny (less than 3 pounds) compared to the 55-pound systems they are being lumped in with. Phantoms that weigh 2.2 pounds pose far less of a safety risk to the public and other aircraft than much larger and heavier systems, so it isn’t fair that they would be lumped in with these larger systems and regulated as strictly and heavily, especially considering that Phantoms are far more popular and numerous than larger, heavier (and more potentially dangerous) systems.
My comment is as follows:

In regards to Proposed Rule FAA-2015-0150, “Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems”:
 
- A wide array of commercial enterprises have a legitimate business interest in flying small unmanned aircraft systems (“sUAS”), and an even wider array of American consumers will benefit from these business’s ability to do so.
 
- The complexity, skill required to operate, and potential safety hazards to both the operator and third parties resulting from the operation of sUAS are all far less than those of manned aircraft. Therefore the licensing and regulatory requirements to operate sUAS must be commensurately less intensive and demanding than the licensing and regulatory requirements of operating manned aircraft.
 
- It is reasonable and appropriate for both hobbyist and commercial sUAS operators to be required to fulfill licensing and regulatory requirements to operate sUAS, provided those requirements are appropriate to the level of complexity, skill required to operate, and potential safety hazards posed by sUAS, as described above. The licensing and regulatory requirements must be inexpensive and minimally time consuming for hobbyists and small commercial operators to complete.
 
- The vast majority of sUAS units in the United States weight less than 5 pounds. Therefore, the proposed rule’s equal treatment of all sUAS weighing less than 55 pounds is unrealistic and inappropriate. Hobbyist and commercial sUAS exist ranging from mere ounces in weight through and exceeding hundreds of pounds in weight, with commensurately differing levels of capability and potential safety hazard. Appropriate sUAS rules and regulations must reflect the realities of the differing levels of complexity, skill required to operate, and potential safety hazards posed by the variety of sUAS.

 

If you would like to submit a comment of your own, simply go to the regulations.gov page for this specific proposed rule using the link below, then click on the blue button on the top right that reads, “Comment Now!”:
http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FAA-2015-0150-0017
If you agree with the comment that I wrote, feel free to copy and paste the text above into your comment! (You can choose to include your name with your comment, or if you prefer you can submit your comment anonymously!).

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Wireless Intervalometer? BEST IDEA EVER

Monday, November 18th, 2013

This wireless intervalometer is amazing.

I use intervalometers for a number of purposes in my photography (if you’re not familiar with them, an intervalometer is a device that allows a photographer to set a camera to take a number of photographs sequentially with a given period, or interval, between shots. They’re  also sometimes known as “timers” or “remotes,” but if you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about, call them intervalometers. :-). They’re great devices that enable photographers to do all sorts of interesting things (like making timelapse videos like this!), and for me they are a must-have accessory that I carry with me whenever I carry a camera. One of my trusty intervalometers finally died the other day, so it was time to buy a new one.

Many people, myself included, believe that Canon’s name-brand intervalometer, the TC-80N3 (here on Amazon for $130) is overpriced. Devices with the the same build quality that do the same things (or more) are sold by other companies for a fraction of the price. I personally have been using two Satechi wired intervalometers with my Canon 7D, 5D Mark II and 5D Mark III cameras for years now and have been completely happy with them. So when the time came the other day to buy a new one, I went to Amazon assuming I would just buy another one of the same model. But when I did a quick search what did I see? WIRELESS intervalometers! My heart almost burst with joy. I ordered one immediately.

The Satechi wireless intervalometer I just bought. This thing is awesome.

Why is this such a big deal, you ask? Well, because frequently when I’m using an intervalometer the camera is in a difficult-to-access place. For example, I’m soon going to be starting a project where I’m going to have a camera mounted to a tree trunk about 20 feet off the ground. The wireless intervalometer is going to save me from having to get up on a ladder each time I need to start and stop the camera.

I’ve already played with this wireless intervalometer unit a bit from a range of about 20 feet and it works beautifully. I couldn’t be more happy with it. I’d recommend it to anyone.

Since different Canon DSLRs have different types of remote shutter release connectors, make sure you buy the right model intervalometer for your camera. If you have a Canon DSLR with an “N3″-type connector (such as a 1D, 5D, 5D Mark II, 5D Mark III, 6D, 7D, etc.) this is the right model of this wireless intervalometer for you:
Satechi WTR-A Wireless Timer Remote Control Shutter for Canon EOS-1V/1VHS, EOS-3, EOS-D2000, D30, D60, 1D, 1Ds, EOS-1D Mark II,III,IV, EOS-1Ds Mark II,III, EOS-10D, 20D, 30D, 40D, 50D, 5D, 5D Mark II,III, 7D Fully Compatible with RS-80N3

Instead, if you have a Canon DSLR with an “E3″-type connector (such as the Rebel line of cameras: 60D, t2i, t3i, etc.) then this is the model you should buy:
Satechi WTR-C Wireless Timer Remote Shutter for Canon EOS 60D, Digital Rebel XT, XTi, XSi, XS, T1i, T2i, T3i, T4i & Canon Powershot G10, G11 & Pentax K7 & ELAN SLR cameras

In the next couple of days I’m going to do some experimenting to figure out just how much range this transmitter has, and how far away I can be to successfully trigger the camera. Check back for the results!

(On the other hand, if you want an intervalometer but don’t want to spend the extra money for the wireless feature, the regular, wired N3 and E3 versions are HERE and HERE, respectively… but you’d be crazy not to get the wireless one!)

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Tungsten vs. Fluorescent vs. LED lights: Portability and Ease of Use (Post #3 of 4)

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

This post is third in a series comparing the various types of continuous lights for photo and video work (it’ll definitely make more sense if you read the previous ones).

Post #1: Choosing Lights: Tungsten vs. Fluorescent vs. LED

Post #2: Efficiency (i.e., power usage) and Heat Generation

Portability

This is also something that is less important for photographers and videographers who work primarily in a studio, but for someone like me whose work is almost entirely on location, it is important. Tungsten and HMI light heads are usually relatively compact, but they are fragile; the bulbs are made of very thin glass and even thinner filaments, and can break if jostled around too much (especially if they’re cold, as tends to happen here in the northeast in winter). Also, since tungsten and HMI lights get so hot when they’re in use, at the end of a shoot they need to have a fair amount of time to cool down before being packed away or they’ll melt case fabric or padding or cables, gels or whatever else they happen to come in contact with in the bag or case… and a melted plastic power cable just sucks.

Fluorescent light heads have got to be the worst when it comes to portability. Since they don’t get hot you don’t have the issue above, but instead the bulbs are larger, bulkier, and even more fragile. My 3-head fluorescent kit is HUGE, because the bulbs are so fragile they need to be transported in individual cases (and with five bulbs per head, that means I’m carrying around 15 bulb boxes in the kit).

Definitely better in the studio: moving fluorescent fixtures is a huge pain.

Definitely better in the studio: moving fluorescent fixtures is a huge pain.

I can drive my fluorescent kit to a location, but don’t even think about flying with it… the kit is bigger than airlines’ maximum allowable suitcase size, and even if you could get it on the plane, by the time you picked it up at baggage claim all the bulbs would be shattered anyway.

And then there are LEDs… oh, blessed LEDs. LEDs are tiny, compact, rugged and oh-so-easy to travel with. Since they have no bulbs and no glass, LED panels are by far the most durable and least fragile of the lights here. Advantage, LEDs.

Speed of Setup and Ease of Use

Speed of setup is another issue that studio dwellers probably aren’t terribly concerned with, since lights that live in a studio frequently can stay set up and don’t need to be broken down between shoots. But for those of us always on the go it is a consideration. And here once again, fluorescent heads are the clear loser. Setup of tungsten and HMI heads is pretty straightforward: you put the head on a stand, plug it in, attach whatever modifiers you want to use, and you’re good to go. Takes a couple of minutes per light, tops. With fluorescent heads though, it’s a different story. In addition to all of the same steps you’d take with a tungsten head, with fluorescent lights each individual bulb (of which there can be anywhere from three to six per head, depending on the model) has to be carefully removed from its case and carefully installed into the head before any modifiers are attached, drastically increasing the setup time. LED panels, on the other hand, couldn’t be simpler to set up. You stick the panel on a stand and plug it in. Done. One of these lights can literally be set up in under 30 seconds. Advantage, LEDs.

Usability is a much more complex question (and a really important one). Here, tungsten and HMI lights really benefit from having been around for far longer than LEDs and fluorescents. The design of tungsten and HMI heads have been refined over years, and a whole universe of accessory modifiers have been developed to work with them: Fresnel heads use a lens and a moving focusing mechanism to allow light from these heads to be tightly focused into a spot or allowed to spread more flood effect. All manner of modifiers (umbrellas, snoots, gobos, softboxes of every conceivable shape and size, etc.) have been designed for these lights, and as a result they are extremely versatile. Fluorescent and LED lights, however, unfortunately are still new enough that for the most part these accessory modifiers are not yet available for them. Additionally, the design of most of these lights prevents them from benefiting from Fresnel-type housings, so their beam tends to be very wide (although a couple of companies are just starting to make LED Fresnels… take a look at these Arris). As a result, the light from panel-type LEDs and most fluorescent heads disperses quickly, so these lights tend to have short “throw” distances. Coupled with the lack of modifiers, this limits the versatility of LED and fluorescent lights. I am certain that modifier manufacturers will quickly start designing softboxes and other accessories for them, but for the time being, this leaves fluorescent and LED lights at a disadvantage.

Tomorrow’s post, the last in this little series, will look at quality of light emitted by the various types of light (the CRI), and my conclusions.

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Choosing Lights: Tungsten vs. Fluorescent vs. LED (Post #1 of 4)

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

(Note: I originally started writing this as a single post, but it turns out there is so much to say on the topic that I’m going to break it into several posts. Links to the others will be at the bottom.)

I recently found myself in the same situation that every photographer and videographer occasionally faces. I’m currently expanding my arsenal of photo and video lights, so I’ve had to tackle the question of which type of lights to buy. Since my work includes both still and video (and since I already have a selection of strobe lights that I’m happy with), I’m focusing now on continuous lights that can be used for either still or motion work.

First, some background. As photographers and videographers know, the most commonly used lights have traditionally been xenon gas flash tubes for still photography and tungsten incandescent bulbs for video and film (HMIs are also somewhat common for motion as well, but less so than tungsten). These traditional kinds of lights work very well and they definitely still have value in the right application (in fact, in certain types of applications they’re still the best type of light there is), but they do have significant weaknesses and disadvantages, and recent technological advances have improved other light sources such as LEDs and compact fluorescent bulbs to the point where they too are now practical for photo and video use.

Choices choices choices!!!

Choices choices choices!!!

So we now have this whole range of light sources available to us that includes the traditional tungsten and HMI (such as those made by Arri, Mole-Richardson and many others), fluorescent (in both tube format like Kino-Flos and CFL format like Westcott Spiderlites) and LED (like Litepanels) as well as some even newer and more exotic technologies that are still coming to market like organic and plasma panels (the Zacuto “PlaZma light” will be very interesting to keep an eye on once it is introduced, hopefully later this year).

Among all of these options, how do we choose the right light? Every type has advantages and disadvantages, and as with most things, which is best comes down to your individual needs and what type of work you do. Personally, the vast majority of my work is done on location instead of in a studio, so the factors that are important to me are 1) efficiency (i.e., power use), 2) heat generation, 3) portability, 4) speed of setup and ease of use, and most importantly, 5) light quality (CRI). (Cost is of course also a factor, but with each type light there are expensive options and cheaper options, so that’s less relevant). So for my current round of equipment purchases, I evaluated each of the light types on each of the criteria above. In the next couple of posts I’ll talk about how the various types of lights compare when it comes to efficiency, heat generation, portability, speed of setup and ease of use, and light quality, finally ending with my conclusions and my purchases.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about the efficiency and heat generation of each types of light heads.

(Update: Links to the subsequent posts in this series are here:
Post #2: Efficiency (i.e., power usage) and Heat Generation
Post #3: Portability and Speed of Setup & Ease of Use

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Rockclimbing Shoot

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

I mentioned in my last blog post that I’ve been focusing on the outdoors in my personal work recently. I’ve been an avid rock climber since college and have always thought rock climbing photos, done well, were really cool. I’d done a couple of rock climbing photo shoots, but none recently, so about a month or two ago I decided that I wanted to organize one. I was on a climbing excursion a several weeks ago when I happened to meet some other climbers who were amiable to the idea of having someone shoot photos of them while they climbed, so we exchanged some emails and set up a day we were all free to get together.

Rock climbing photos shot from the ground are usually pretty boring, so to do them well and get a more interesting camera angle, the photographer really needs to be an active participant and actually gear up and get off the ground. But doing this is logistically a bit complicated (you need a second anchor, people who know how not to kill themselves building the anchor, etc.), so it takes time to set up and do properly. So we decided to shoot for this past Sunday as our day.

This weekend was a busy weekend for me as I was shooting for Boston University all day on Saturday and we wanted to get an early start on Sunday (the particular area of rock I wanted to use faces directly east and it was imperative that we not be in shadow for the photos, so we needed to be shooting in the morning). But I think it was worth it. I haven’t had a chance to edit the images from the shoot yet, but I took a quick look and I like them. Additionally, one of my intrepid cohorts even pulled out a brand new, shiny iPhone 5 (mine is coming on Friday, I can’t wait!) and started taking pictures of me taking pictures! One of those images is below, followed by a rough edit of one of my frames from the day.

Photographing the photographer. Image by Luella Benn, shot on Apple iPhone 5. Click for larger version.

The iPhone 5 really does look like it is capable taking quality, quality images. When mine arrives I’ll have to do some tests with it… but that’s a post for another day. Here’s a rough edit of one of the images from the day. I can’t wait to go through and edit the rest!

Jason On the Rock ©2012 Chris Conti Photography. Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L. Click for larger version.

Many thanks to my “models” for the day!

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