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iPad Portfolio App Comparisons for Photographers

iPadWith the sudden proliferation of quality iPad portfolio applications on the market, I wanted to figure out which one(s) would suit me best. In doing so, I realized my research had become rather extensive and to the point of potentially becoming a resource for others. Although there are dozens of iPad portfolio apps available, I felt confident narrowing it down to these eight based on consumer feedback, overall price and features. Because of the incredibly fast advancement in technology and software, this article is probably going to be out of date before it can even be posted. The information here is as of April 25th, 2013 and includes the version of each featured application.

FolioBook

FolioBook (Version 3.3)

Perhaps one of the most frequently reviewed applications, the creators of FolioBook have listened to their viewers and continue to make updates placing them amongst the best portfolio apps on the market.

The creators of FolioBook have worked closely with some of the top commercial photographers to create a highly customizable portfolio that can be loaded onto multiple iPads for maximum exposure. Content can be hyperlinked and layout can be designed to fit the look of your business in both portrait and landscape mode.

When creating a portfolio, up to 200 images can be imported at a time and either a still image or a video can be used as the custom splash screen with the added option of an overlaid company logo. Users can choose from 70 different font styles along with varied text color and transparency as well as supplied background textures and motion graphics. Included are four types of transitions as well as the ability to email an image to a client directly from the portfolio with or without copyright information.

Video support can be added through an in-app purchase of $1.99 and customer support is made easy through the application’s main website.

UPDATE: For users of Photoshelter, FolioBook is now integrated with the popular image hosting website for greater ease of syncing images and modifying a portfolio. More information can be found here: FolioBook now integrated with Photoshelter.

Review by Scott Kelby
Review by BestAppSite

PadFoliosPadFolios (Version 2.0.1)

Creator, Juan Pablo Mazuera set out to develop not only a versatile portfolio application for photographers and graphic designers, but a presentation interface that can be put to use by just about anyone. A resident of Columbia, Juan is a 27 year-old graphic designer and photographer who found the iPad lacking that perfect app to showcase his images, so he created one and called it PadFolio.

One of the few portfolio applications that works on both the iPad and iPhone, Padfolio is completely customizable with the added option of creating up to 30 different portfolios, each with their own look and containing up to 400 images per gallery. During the portfolio creation process, the application automatically saves your work so there is no need to worry about remembering to save as you go and if you choose to remove photos from your device library, it will not remove them from the application. The customizable splash screen can be locked in order to prevent a client from accessing user tools and any file type that can currently be used on an iPad can also be imported into the application.

Currently version 2.0.1 lacks the function of an automated slideshow as well as the ability to sync a presentation with music, but these features are currently in the works and should be available in the next update. Until then, music can be played in the background by making use of iTunes and the iPad’s multitasking feature.

http://www.padfolios.me/home.html
Apps for iPads Review (Version 1.5)

Portfolio for iPadPortfolio for iPad (Version 3.03)

Portfolio for iPad is another highly customizable application that puts your business at the forefront of the viewer’s attention. Besides having the ability to import images through iTunes, this application can also sync with a Dropbox account for greater versatility and ease of updating. The uniquely designed splash screen and galleries can be locked as well as shared on multiple iPads. Additionally, user portfolios can be streamed to a larger monitor through Apple’s Airplay functionality.

The application is compatible with most types of media including still images, video and audio and allows use of either pre-designed themes or completely customized layouts featuring your business attributes. Viewers can either manually scroll through images or use an automated slideshow complete with background music if so desired and view a portfolio in both landscape and portrait mode.

http://ipadportfolioapp.com/
BestAppSite Review

MediaPad ProMediaPad Pro (Version 2.0)

If you plan on showcasing multiple types of media, MediaPad Pro may be the best choice for you. Designed for use by photographers, videographers, designers, directors and anyone else looking to share a portfolio, this application boasts having support for the most diverse types of files.

After your content has been imported through iTunes, MediaPad Pro allows for adding personal and business information to a customized splash screen or your choice of one of five different background images included within the application.

When creating your presentation, you can choose any color scheme from the supplied color palate as well as fonts, transitions and adjustable timing to better coincide with any supplied background music. What sets this application apart from most others is the ability to offer a guestbook allowing you to increase future business potential.

http://www.medlmobile.com/apps/ipad/mediapad-pro
Professional Photographer’s Mag Review (Version 1.2)

Minimal FolioMinimal Folio (Version 1.2.1)

Minimal Folio is just as it sounds, a basic portfolio application without too many bells and whistles void of an automated slideshow and music. While this can present itself to be a good thing, absolute customization of your portfolio to reflect your business look may be a deal-breaking compromise.

Despite its minimalist approach, the application will allow syncing through Dropbox and will accept most image files as well as .PDF and video files. Users can manage multiple portfolios and like most of these types of applications, lock the device to prevent viewers from accessing the underlying management tools.

At $2.99, Minimal Folio won’t break the bank if you’d like to give it a spin. An additional .99 will allow you to download the iPhone version.

http://www.simonheys.com/minimalfolio/
BestAppSite Review

XtrafolioXtraFolio (Version 2.2.2)

Another versatile, yet pricey portfolio application is Xtrafolio. The application allows for images to be downloaded through Dropbox, iTunes or from the iPad’s existing photo library. Once images are contained within Xtrafolio, captions and subtext can be added based on the user’s input or the existing metadata. Like most portfolios, the splash screen can be customized and locked as well as skipped altogether if the photographer or viewer wants to skip directly to the images.

Xtrafolio allows for an unlimited number of galleries and an unlimited number of images and videos within each gallery. The application also allows for nesting, or folders within folders within folders. Slideshows can be enhanced with added music and each portfolio can have its own tunes. A big plus is having the ability to keep multiple iPads up to date when making changes to the application on the designated master device. Should the view become interrupted during the course of a portfolio slideshow, the application has a ‘Save State’ feature that allows the viewer to return to the place where they left off.

http://www.xtrafolio.com/
BestAppSite Review

FlexFolioFlexFolio (Version 1.4)

Developed by fine art photographer, Emmanuel Faure and fashion photographer, Antoine Verglas, FlexFolio has gone through an immense growth process since its initial introduction. Originally priced at $24.99 for the first version, it was later dropped to $14.99 and can now be had for .99 through the iTunes store.

The application allows for multimedia files including still images, videos, audio files as well as Word and Excel files should the user wish to include an existing price list or complex biography. Another feature of the application is the ability to include unique business cards or contacts within each portfolio. This feature would be most appropriate for photographers who contract to outside sources whereby sharing a mutual copyright or concerning a business partner.

Unfortunately, after reading multiple reviews, the application seems to lack an ease of use and despite some reviews claiming it also works on the iPhone, it is an iPad only application. But, if you’re willing to put up with the learning curve of how the application operates, you can’t beat the price.

iPhoneography Review

PadPortPadPort (Version 1.0.1)
Designed as a minimalistic portfolio application, PadPort offers the basics to getting a portfolio on your iPad. Currently there are only two themes available to base your portfolio around, “Essential” and “Mnmlst”, both incorporating a single font; Century Gothic.

As with most portfolio applications, the splash screen can be customized with your unique information, but still needs to be designed around the included themes and can then be locked in what the creators call “Kiosk Mode”. The application allows for up to seven portfolios containing both still image files and video files. Batch loading of images through iTunes was recently added to the application speeding up the import process.

A negative I have learned of, and have not found any updates to the contrary, is where upon start-up of your portfolio, a splash screen appears from the creator of the application. This appears to be the only portfolio application that puts themselves ahead of the photographer.

http://padportapp.com/
JonathanJK Review

This chart represents information available about each iPad Portfolio Application listed in this blog as of April 25, 2013. Details are subject to change as individual applications are periodically updated.

This chart represents information available about each iPad Portfolio Application listed in this blog as of April 25, 2013. Details are subject to change as individual applications are periodically updated.

Making The Switch

Above my desk lies a shelf full of various camera bodies. These tools have been instrumental in sharing my experiences and memories over the years. My very first camera, a Kodak Instamatic 126 rests alongside my first SLR, a Pentax K1000 and my first medium format camera, my 501C/M Hasselblad. The first automated camera I owned was a Ricoh KR-10M and sits next to my first pro-camera body, a Canon EOS-1V/HS. Two digital cameras also reside with my antiquated collection, a Canon 10D and a 5D.

Nikon was kind enough to allow me use of their equipment at the Reno Air Races in 2010. Evan, over at http://www.evanflys.com, spotted me a few RV's away along the Valley of Speed using a Nikon D3s and a 600 f/4. (Image courtesy http://www.evanflys.com)

Some equipment I had once used is no longer with me such as my Pentax Super Program bodies, Pentax ME, my Nikonos V bodies, Canon EOS-1 and others. The point being, I’ve had the pleasure of utilizing the technology provided by many camera brands.

It was tough moving from Pentax to Canon in the late 1980’s, but Canon had some very impressive AF technology at the time. For the next 20 years, I had moved through the Canon professional line until digital became the norm. In the late ’90’s I owned an EOS-1 and an EOS-1N which performed incredibly…until they were stolen. They were then replaced with two EOS-1V High-Speed bodies which performed well until 2003 when digital could no longer be ignored.

The switch to digital would not be an easy one. At the time, each EOS-1V body cost about $2,200. A professional digital SLR couldn’t be touched for under $5,000…and actually closer to $8,000. A compromise had to be made.

I ditched the pro-level bodies and ventured back to the pro-sumer category. After all, digital technology was changing practically by the minute. A 6-megapixel Canon 10D was about $1,500 at the time and served me very well. In 2003, the camera was put to good use covering the 100th Anniversary of Powered Flight and images from that camera were first published in Air & Space Smithsonian’s issue covering the Dayton Air Show. It was clear digital was not going away. In 2007, the 10D was retired in favor of the $3,000 Canon 5D full-frame camera.

In late 2009, Canon introduced the EOS-1DmkIV with an unprecedented ISO range and a terrific frame rate all in a solid body. With resolution reaching a steady and versatile range, it was now time to think about reentering the pro-level of camera bodies. With my 5D showing age and my lenses all reaching their 10-year age, it wasn’t just the body that needed to be replaced, but my whole camera bag. Now would be the time for me to take a look at what the ‘other guys’ were up to.

From the backseat of a T-2 'Buckeye', I had to quickly teach myself the intricacies of the Nikon D3x and a 24-120mm to photograph these two SuperHornets in formation with a Hellcat being flown by Capt. "Mutha" Hubbard, Commodore for the Navy's Strike Fighter Wing Pacific. This would be my first Air-to-Air with the new equipment.

Canon is and has no doubt been an incredible company and their products have served me well. I had candid conversations with Nikon representatives, Bill Pekala and Bill Fortney along with other Nikon photographers. They, along with Canon, allowed me to make use of their products in order to come to a more educated decision.

Just like buying a home, one needs to consider where the community is headed and what level of resources are available. When comparing the variables, the product quality, long-term support, ease of transition and ease of communication, Nikon squeezed ahead of Canon.

It’s going to be a long journey for me to relearn the basic camera functions and differences between Nikon and Canon. From component compatibility and accessory part numbers to zooming, focusing and menu functions, the two companies couldn’t be more different. But, a camera is a tool and an investment and needs to best suit the photographer and their needs. For that, I feel Nikon has best filled the criteria and I look forward to what they have to offer in the future.

Many thanks to Nikon’s Bill Pekala, Bill Fortney, Jose Ramos, Deborah McQuade, Melissa DiBartolo and many others for assisting in the acquisition and future relationship. And of course a big thank you to Dave Carlson from Canon for his continued friendship.

Air Show Photography Tips & Tricks

 

One of the most well attended airshows of all time was in Dayton, OH celebrating 100 years of powered flight in 2003.

 

Did you know that more people attend air shows than any other past time activity in North America? Not only are they the perfect outdoor activity for the entire family but also their safety record has set precedence for all other sporting events across the nation.

According to the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS), between 15 and 18 million people attend air shows annually. You would think there were a few cameras in that crowd. With so many people and so many photos to be taken, how are you going to keep your images original? Where is the best place to photograph? What does it take to get that perfect photo? Hopefully the following text will provide some insight as to the secret of capturing the essence and spectacle of air shows.

Equipment
A friend once told me, “It’s not the arrow that hit the target; it was the archer’s skill which caused it to do so.” Although your equipment does play a vital role in the creation of your images, it is your skill and imagination that will enable your photos to be successful. Because of that, I can only give you a guide based on the mainstream fundamentals of air show photography and what type of equipment seems to work.

Your best bet for a successful system would be a camera with detachable lenses known as an SLR (Single Lens Reflex). This will enable you to see exactly what the camera sees including the ability to check focus and composition. The most notable benefit to SLR’s are the plethora of lenses available providing an enormous focal range. In that focal range, you could include wide-angle lenses starting around 17mm all the way up to telephotos in excess of 400mm. The two most common lenses carried are the wide-angle to medium range zoom of around 24-80mm and the telephoto zoom lenses ranging from 75-300mm.

 

A wide angle lens was necessary for capturing the behemoth C-5 Galaxy from atop the tail at Moffett Airfield.

 

For creating interesting effects of static aircraft, you could try fisheye lenses ranging from 8mm to 15mm. Or perhaps if you want to include a large area or an entire aircraft without too much distortion, Canon and Nikon (as well as many aftermarket brands) make lenses in the 17-35mm range.

When it comes to telephoto lenses, things get a little more complicated and if you let them, a bit more expensive. Although a zoom lens of 75-300mm will work well on just about all applications, with an aperture of F/5.6 or higher, some may find it a little restrictive. A practice, which is becoming more common, is to carry an additional fixed length telephoto lens with a range of 300mm or 400mm and an aperture of F/4. Not only are you able to use a full shutter speed or film speed faster with the lens by itself, but you also have the capability of adding a 1.4x teleconverter, which would change the 300mm F/4 to a 420mm F5.6 or the 400mm F/4 to a 560mm F5.6.

The resulting aperture and weather conditions play a big factor in your film of choice. If you have a fairly small aperture such as F/5.6 or F/8 or the weather isn’t exactly great, you may want to use a film speed (or digital ISO setting) of ISO 200 or 400 in order to increase your shutter speeds and stop the action. Unfortunately, the higher the ISO setting the more noticeable film grain or digital ‘noise’ becomes. Many photographers will shoot ISO 100 to achieve the sharpest possible images. If you are familiar enough with your camera manually adjust your setting to ISO 100 and take a meter reading of the approximate area in which you will be photographing. If the shutter speed is higher than the focal length of the lens, ISO 100 will work perfectly. If the focal length is lower, i.e.; shutter speed = 1/250 sec. and focal length = 400mm, use a setting of ISO 200 to raise your shutter speed to 1/500 sec. resulting in a shutter speed more than the focal length.

 

An F-15E pilot waits by his aircraft prior to the start of the MCAS Miramar Airshow

 

Arrival
There are two types of air shows, the one everyone goes to and the one you find. At the risk of sounding spiritual, the air show most people see is up in the air. If your goal is to capture the essence of the show, you need to look on the ground.
Being one of the first to get to the show will provide you with many photographic opportunities. If you have access to the air show grounds during sunrise or sunset, even better. This will allow you to get creative with silhouettes and the use of warm, soothing colors. Often, barricades aren’t in yet in place and even if they are, you’ll still have a clear, unobstructed view of the static aircraft on the tarmac without the hordes of people in front. If air show documentation was something you had in mind, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to capture on film the volunteers and workers setting up the show for the arriving crowd.

Another benefit to showing up early is the fact that aircraft may still be arriving. This will offer you beautiful morning light for those aerial images as well as intimate images of the aircraft as they taxi to position. Also, with the proper consideration, you may have a chance to speak with the pilots and aircrew in more detail as they prepare their aircraft for the public. You may not have this opportunity again once the crowds begin to arrive.

 

Security at military airshows can be somewhat strict and an inconvenience, but a necessity. Be sure to know what can and can't be brought with you to insure a speedy search.

 

Security
There have always been some restrictions imposed by air show officials for the safety of all those attending. After recent events, security issues have become more intense as well as a bit more frustrating. With a little foresight and preparation, many of the impositions can be overcome.

Some common things not to bring to most air shows would be cooler’s backpacks, large camera bags, weaponry of any kind, scooters, skateboards and lawn chairs. Specifics vary between shows.

Getting around these limitations takes a little bit of imagination and sacrifice. With the exception of being physically searched once, I have yet to be given a difficult time wearing a photo vest. Photo or fishing vests can serve many purposes, which can alleviate security hassles. The large pocket in the rear of the vest is used to hold water and a small snack. The pockets up front hold my additional smaller lenses, flash equipment, spare batteries, cell phone and other peripherals. A small hip pouch with two pockets is used exclusively for film (one pocket exposed, the other unexposed) or memory cards if shooting digitally. I keep my larger lenses attached to the camera bodies with shoulder straps. Not only do I have quick access to the equipment this way but also security can readily check their authenticity. If you pack only what you need, a photo vest will eliminate the need for a backpack, cooler and large camera bags.

Instead of bringing a chair, if prohibited by security, you may want to think about bringing a towel to sit on instead. Personally, while in search for photo opportunities, I rarely have the opportunity to sit down anyhow.

 

Choosing the proper location to shoot while at the show can set you up for some unique and powerful images.

 

Location
Since flight lines vary between airfields, as does the path of the sun, homework is your best bet to figuring out where to be. Here are some questions to ask your self when choosing a location to set up:

– Which direction will the aircraft most likely be coming from?
– Where will the sun be heading throughout the show?
– How close is the crowd line from the end/beginning of the runway?
– Where is the best place to view the hot ramp during the air show?
– Where is show center?
– Where will the audio trailer be located? (Just kidding!)
– Will there be audio speakers in the way of your line of sight during ribbon cuts and low flybys?

While at some air shows, the aircraft will follow the length of the runway the entire time they are in front of the crowd, others will use show center as an apex and approach from behind. For the shows that use the straight pass approach, choose either end of the crowd line, preferably the opposite end of the approach pattern. This will give you a much longer period in which to capture head on photos of the aircraft. For the shows that use an arch pattern and approach from behind position yourself closest to the approach and you will have access to closer, tighter formation shots than from show center.

If they’ve positioned the crowd line close to the beginning or end of a runway, choose what is most important to you. Do you want photos of an aircraft at idle preparing for takeoff or images of the plane as it is just lifting the front wheels? Perhaps you are looking for the aircraft to be in wheels up clean configuration low to the runway, if so you should be as close to the end of the runway as possible.

Do you like to photograph the performers signing autographs or waving to the crowd as they climb out of the aircraft? Try show center, but get there early.

Be extra cautious of speaker and audio systems that may be in your way. Since most of the time the action is in the air high above, we just don’t think about it. However, if you would like photos of jet cars, or low flying aerobatics such as the ribbon cutting maneuvers, you may want to position yourself a little more carefully.

 

Heavy rain adds to the drama of this 'Red Tail' P-51. Weather can be a defining aspect of any image.

 

Weather
If this were a perfect world, the sun would be to everyone’s back and there would always be a soft breeze cleansing the hazy sky. Unfortunately airports aren’t built for the once a year air show convenience, so improvisation becomes vital to great and unique images. Sometimes, weather can even become your greatest ally!

 

Blue Angels against an overcast sky in Abbotsford, British Columbia 2003.

 

Overcast
If aircraft are flying during cloudy days, chances are it will be a low show, (if a show at all!). Low shows enable you to get even closer to the action than normally possible. Some performers, or teams such as the Blue Angels, alter their performances according to the ceiling provided thus allowing for different formation shots. When shooting under a completely overcast sky, overexpose the image by 1 to 1.5 stops. The bright sky tends to trick the camera into thinking it is too light for the current shutter speed and you will wind up with a silhouette on every shot. Other great advantages of cloudy skies would be the statics. Clouds act as a big diffuser softening the light and eliminating harsh shadows. Adding an 81A-warming filter will help reduce the bluish tones in the film’s appearance. Most digital cameras will correct this bluish tone if the Auto-White Balance mode is selected.

Partly Cloudy
Even better! Partly cloudy skies add depth to your images. Instead of having a plain blue background, now you can add dimension and distance, and with proper timing, frame the aircraft amongst the clouds. Framing could involve using a wider-angle lens to give the aircraft “placement”. Cumulus clouds work great for depth during the midday. When evening starts to approach, look for “God rays” or beams of light shining down through patches in the sky. A wide angle works best for these shots.

 

Shooting directly into the sun can result in dramatic silhouettes.

 

Sun
It seems as though airports are specifically constructed so the sun is in your face…the whole day! Definitely a situation that requires a lens hood. Lens hoods keep stray light off the front optic of your lens. When light hits the front optic, it bounces off of the various other optics inside the lens causing haziness. By avoiding this, contrast and clarity is gained. If the sun is directly in front of you, try timing your photos so that the aircraft flies directly in front of the sun. Most of the time, this will cause your camera to increase the shutter speed instantly resulting in a silhouette of the aircraft. Obviously, be careful when dealing with the sun. As if it isn’t bad enough just looking at it, now you’re magnifying it as well!

Aircraft Photography
So you have your equipment, you’ve decided what film to use and now you’re on the prowl looking for anything that flies. Then what? Even though your meter will tell you to shoot at a specific shutter speed / aperture combination, that’s something you’re definitely going to want to experiment with.

If you feel your camera may be tricked by odd lighting conditions, take your telephoto lens and point it towards the tarmac. The gray tarmac will give you a good average 18% gray reading that you should be able to apply elsewhere in the same direction. Just remember light changes, so recheck your meter reading every half-hour and only use this technique during midday light. Most cameras have very sophisticated metering systems that should do just fine without using this technique, however. Photographing aircraft is difficult. There, I’ve said it! It takes lots of practice and skill.

 

Since jet aircraft have no visually moving parts, bump up that shutterspeed to insure sharp images.

 

Jet Aircraft
Select the fastest shutter speed possible. Since jet aircraft typically move at a fast rate of speed, stopping the action is much easier said than done. To achieve this, set the camera to its “Aperture Priority” mode and select the widest aperture your lens will allow. This will cause the camera to select the fastest shutter speed possible based on your surrounding light conditions.

The only exception to selecting the fastest shutter speed for jet aircraft would be if there were a background such as a hangar or mountainside. In order to create a sense of action and speed; set your camera’s shutter speed to 1/250 -1/500 of a second. Those shutter speeds also work if there are scattered Cumulus or Cirrus clouds in the background as well.

Another tip that works well with just about any aircraft, especially jets with no reference points other than blue sky, is to tip the camera. An aircraft caught on film making a standard pass can become monotonous. By tilting the camera ever so slightly, you can make the aircraft appear to be in a subtle climb or descent. Be careful not to angle the camera too much though as the sun and shadows on the aircraft tend to tell stories of their own.

 

While most photographers strive for a perfect 'prop-circle', any amount of blur will give the sense of motion.

 

Helicopters and Prop Planes
Remember that shutter speed / focal length rule, not to let your shutter speed drop below the numerical amount of your focal length? With propeller driven aircraft, you may have to break this one. The maximum shutter speed you should use is 1/250 of a second regardless of focal length. By using any speed higher than 1/250, the aircraft’s propellers will be frozen and look unnatural.

 

Even more difficult are helicopters as their rotors turn much slower than an aircraft's propellers.

 

Blurring the props will take practice and consume a lot of film, but the outcome is well worth it. This technique will also require a lot of practice panning with the aircraft.

Helicopters are even more difficult to photograph when attempting to achieve this effect. Since helicopter blades are much larger than propellers, they don’t rotate at such a high RPM; therefore an even slower shutter speed must be used. I tend to set the camera between 1/60 and 1/125 of a second. Try to support your camera with a tripod or monopod and if that is not possible, use a flight-line fence, barricade or post to do the job.

Most importantly, if you feel the shot’s worth getting, take many. Even if you feel as though you were steady as a rock, our natural progression of movement when depressing the shutter button is to dip the front of the camera. Even pros with many years of experience have to throw out images because of this phenomenon. And while we’re on the topic…you are supporting the lens with your other hand, right? This will help fight against possible movement during exposure.

Most of all…Have Fun!
Go with friends and family, enjoy the atmosphere and don’t be afraid to look around. There are many other things to be seen while everyone else has their eyes glued to the sky.