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Archive for February, 2016

Social Media Roundup

SocialMediacrop
After three months of using various social media outlets I’ve found they are all different and have their own strengths and weaknesses. I think most people will formulate their own strategy in regard to the different platforms and what they hope to achieve from them.  Some I used more than others, mainly because of convenience – like Instagram for me is limited in that you can only upload from a mobile device. It’s very convenient for them, but as I now mostly use my Sony RX100III to get better image quality and flexibility in post processing, it is too clumbsy and time consuming transfering it to post from my phone, though I do like the platform with it’s very clean square image layout.
I can see a use for it and I may try a 365 mobile project on it in the future – I was inspired by fellow student Cathy Williams 365 project “#WorldAtMyFeet” where she takes an image of what’s under her feet every day.

Below is my strategy that works for me.
WordPress is a flexible platform that enables static pages for a website as well as a good blogging platform which allows you to present and post things the way YOU want them to appear. It is based on templates which makes it easier to set up, though it is more difficult to learn than all the others but far more flexible. Templates do restrict your design choices but there is a huge amount of free ones to choose from and it’s not hard to find something you like and can make your own and you can also pay for templates and further customisation if you wish.
Once set up, editing posts and pages is similar to using MS Word, though the editing interface not WYSIWYG which can be occasionally frustrating switching back and forward to check after each edit but you can drill down to HTML code if you wish. I recently noticed you can now schedule when a post will go live, allowing you to add a few at one time and stagger their publication.
On it’s own, it’s reach is somewhat limited but I’ve found that by posting blogs regularly with tags and promoting or sharing them using other social media like Facebook, Tumbler, Pinterest and even Flickr is a very affective way of building an audience and ranking higher in Google searches.
My most successful WordPress site is tasview.com which I started to promote my aerial photography in October 2014. It has now had over 53,500 views by more than 20,000 visitors. Topic has a lot to do with popularity and helping people with problems on the (at the time new) Walkera Scout.
You can access other sites I’ve created on WordPress HERE.

Flickr is still my favourite photography platform, mainly for it’s EXIF inclusion and copyright policy as well as it’s clean layout which is flexible enough to let you upload any sized photo. I have set mine up so that any uploads are also posted onto my Facebook wall for friends to see. It does have some restrictions, you can’t shedule uploads to stagger them and if you upload more than three images at a time they can often get missed by your followers. You can organise your photos into albums, set a location and join or create groups to share and comment on each others work.

I found Tumbler too restrictive for me in it’s layout and post format, but it is a good way to reach people and works well to share my WordPress posts to.

I like that you can create board to organise your stuff on Pinterest. Again, I don’t think I’ll be using the platform directly but will use it to pin WordPress posts for promotion.

I also use YouTube to upload my video’s (when I get back into flying) and then share them using Facebook and other social media mentioned above. Video upload is possible of Flickr but I found it wasn’t very successful.

Most of the other social media platforms I mentioned on my earlier post I tend not to use.


Project 2 – FINAL SUBMISSION

Photography and social media – counting the cost.

DSC01598Who doesn’t want a new phone every year? But do we really NEED one? The recent rise in both the supply and consumption of social media has been a boon for retailers selling the latest mobile hardware with agressive marketing techniques. Most manufacturers now upgrade their flagship model every six months and many consumers have an appetite for the latest gadget. These devices are no longer simply “phones”, they are a touch screen controlled computer in your pocket, sporting more powerful multi-processors than desktop PC’s of 7 years ago.

DSC01606With a huge range of competing companies and devices, the advance in technology in the last few years has been staggering. Most if not all these devices now sport cameras, some with 16 megapixel and higher resolution with greatly improved image quality  and are tethered to increasinly faster and larger wireless networks making it more accessible than ever for anyone to capture a moment and share it directly with their friends – or the world – through easy to use “free” social media networks.

DSC01146BBut is social media actually free, or social? Many people now seemingly live there lives through a tiny screen, staring at it instead of what’s happening live right in front of them, capturing every moment to share – ironically, exactly what I was doing for this project, this realisation made me become more aware, observant and even patient. I began to question within myself everything about social media.

DSC01855-BMany people love their devices. They decorate them, buy accessories, hold them with pride and gently caress the shiny screen in awe. It completely captivates them. They pull them out at every opportunity.

DSC01824Why do we do it? Is it for our own satisfaction or do we think others will be interested in what we do – what we saw? Does it enrich our lives – or make us time poor? What happens to all this collected data – where does it end up?

DSC01161Capturing, editing, creating and sharing a moment in time has quickly become a very common and generally accepted phenonenum. We give this information away freely  – often valuable, private data – to social media without thought, to be stored on a large companies server which can often be used at their whim – even in advertising without your express permission.

DSC01329-BIt seems if we’re not capturing social media, we’re consuming it. While it can be a great way to catch up on work, family or friends in other locations, we’re drawn away from those sitting right next to us while we interact on our precious little screens.
We can get so involved with what’s happening in that little box we often even ignore those important to us. It can change our emotions, suck us away to another world and steal part of our life!
DSC01848
We not only often give up copyright ownership to our content, we’re also helping these big companies build up an online profile about us and our friends. Not only with each post but with every click, every view, we are tracked and give a little more of ourselves away. These profiles can be used for targeted advertising, our data can be sold or traded and is extremely valuable.
Every time we leave a device on in our pocket and it’s teathered to a network we are not only contactable, our movements are also trackable, especially with GPS enabled.

DSC01339 Social media is not unlike an addiction to a drug. We crave it. It changes our behaviour. It doesn’t discriminate between young and old, race or class.  As we lovingly consume it, it also consumes us!
Wireless networks get larger, faster, more powerful. We put large radio towers next to schools and houses. We don’t yet know the full effects on society, on relationships, on our health, the long term consequences of all this information constantly passing through the air around us, inside us.

DSC01471In our lust for digital media, we also consume physical resources. Previously loved devices now broken, traded in for the latest model. Many products are refurbished and distributed to “poorer” countries or broken down and recycled. Many end up as landfill. These devices contain precious metals, contaminating heavy metals and toxic chemical batteries.

The want of a new phone.
The gift of tech.

What is the true cost of social media?


Project 2 feedback and changes …

I recieved a great response and some good feedback in the Universities peer critique for project 2. Based on the feedback and some suggestion, I’ve made a few changes to my project.
DSC01855-B
I have recropped the shot above and blurred the background so it is less distracting behind the phone users.
DSC01855
I tried another crop above which included another photographer but I thought it aslo distracted from the boys who were so interesting.

As a note on it’s development, the image above is actually one that I combined from two photos – the unused portions from both are shown below, you can make out where it is split behind the boy at left which shows how close I came to not capturing this image.
DSC01854 unused

After much consideration, I’ve chosen the image below to replace image 7 of the smiling couple at the table.
DSC01848
I dismissed this image originally as it is a tad blurry, but I’ve sharpened the ladies face and phone and I think it is more fitting to the caption as part of the story.

Some other options I considered are shown below:


I think the image below is probably the most powerful in the series.
DSC01329-B
I’ve blurred the background to put more focus onto the subject so that it has more of an impact. I did this in Photoshop by selecting the background only then using the blur tool so that it appeared natural as if I’d used a larger aperture when taken. I also used the burn tool the darken the girls midtones and highlights slightly and the sponge tool the add a little saturation to her so she stands out a little more.

Of the last image in my series, the tutor Jess said this:
“The last image of the piled up broken phones is effective but doesn’t work as well with the series. I would reconsider this one or include another that is similar.”
After thinking about Jess’ comments, I had an idea last night to alter the last image so that it included a human element and a reference to social media platforms in the hope that it ties in better with the other images in my series while relating to the story of social media consumption.
DSC01471
As I couldn’t access the old broken phones again, I took a seperate photo and used photoshop to combine them.


Project 2 – the final ten!

Photography and social media – counting the cost.

With the following ten images, I attempt to provoke the viewer’s thoughts on our interaction with digital technology and the true cost of social media. We consider engaging in social media a free activity … but is it?

I began capturing photos for this project around Saturday’s Salamanca Market in Hobart. It was a good location to blend in with camera toting tourists which made it easier to catch close up candid shots with my Sony RX100 III. None of these photos were set up, they were taken in public areas so no permission was required. As I captured more images, the ideas began to flow. My original intent evolved from a collection of images of people interacting with thier devices and not those around them, to a story of social media and mass consumption. I headed into town to capture some store shots and hunt down the holy grail – an idea I had for the closing shot.

I took hundreds of photos, many of the same group of people from different angles, then whittled them down to 31 images which I published in previous posts on my journal. They were selected based on several factors, primarily how people were interacting their devices and what people around them were also doing – many also using devices.

I edited the selected images from RAW files in Photoshop then cropped them using a 16:9 aspect ratio for consistency, sometimes using the rule of thirds as a general guide to draw the eye to phones, eyes or an Apple logo. Sometimes they were cropped to include background activities. A few images are actually two combined in order to get the right user interactions from several people in the photo as often one would be looking away or blocking their phone from me while the other was fully involved.

Out of these 31, I selected to following ten to tell the story, I could easily have included more. Some were left out as I felt the quality or composition was poor. I felt that these were the most powerful to deliver my message and provoke thought in the viewer.
I didn’t wish to answer all the questions I ask, but rather leave them open for your own interpretation. To start a discussion, to get you thinking.

In this, I hope I’ve succeded.

DSC01598Who doesn’t want a new phone every year? But do we really NEED one? The recent rise in both the supply and consumption of social media has been a boon for retailers selling the latest mobile hardware with agressive marketing techniques. Most manufacturers now upgrade their flagship model every six months and many consumers have an appetite for the latest gadget. These devices are no longer simply “phones”, they are a touch screen controlled computer in your pocket, sporting more powerful multi-processors than desktop PC’s of 7 years ago.

DSC01606
With a huge range of competing companies and devices, the advance in technology in the last few years has been staggering. Most if not all these devices now sport cameras, some with 16 megapixel and higher resolution with greatly improved image quality making it more accessible than ever for anyone to capture a moment and share it directly with their friends – or the world – through easy to use social media networks.

DSC01146
But is social media actually social? Many people seemingly live there lives through a tiny screen, staring at it instead of what’s happening live right in front of them, capturing every moment to share – ironically, exactly what I was doing for this project, this realisation made me become more aware, observant and even patient. I began to question within myself everything about social media.

DSC01854
Many people love their devices. They decorate them, buy accessories, hold them with pride and gently caress the shiny screen in awe. It completely captivates them. They pull them out at every opportunity.

DSC01824Why do we do it? Is it for our own satisfaction or do we think others will be interested in what we do – what we saw? Does it enrich our lives – or make us time poor? What happens to all this collected data – where does it end up?

DSC01161
Capturing, editing, creating and sharing a moment in time has quickly become a very common and generally accepted phenonenum. We give this information away freely to social media without thought, to be stored on a large companies server which can often be used at their whim. Valuable, often private data.

DSC01831It seems if we’re not capturing social media, we’re consuming it. While it can be a great way to catch up on work, family or friends in other locations, we’re drawn away from those sitting right next to us while we interact on our precious little screens.

DSC01329We can get so involved with what’s happening in that little box we often even ignore those important to us. It can change our emotions, suck us away to another world and steal part of our life!

DSC01339 Social media is not unlike an addiction to a drug. We crave it. It changes our behaviour. It doesn’t discriminate between young and old, race or class.  As we lovingly consume it, it also consumes us! We don’t yet know the full effects on society, on relationships, on our health, the long term consequences of all this information constantly passing through the air around us, inside us.

DSC01471
In our lust for digital media, we also consume physical resources. Previously loved devices now broken, traded for the latest model. Many products are refurbished and distributed to “poorer” countries or broken down and recycled. Many end up as landfill.
The want of a new phone.
The gift of tech.

What is the true cost of social media?


More images for Project 2.

On Saturday I set out hunting more images for Project 2 of the Tas Uni course – “Photography and Social Media”. None of these shots were set up.
DSC01824
I was after more general shots of people taking photos or using their phones so that I had more images to choose from for my final selection of ten photos. People watching entertainers made an easy target. I spent some time waiting for several users to gather in one spot and tried to position myself for good composition. Having everyone doing something interesting at the same moment took some patience.
DSC01820
Taking images of people at outside tables proved more of a challenge.
DSC01828
Trying to get different angles and decent composition without raising too much suspicion and an attempt to capture people being natural often wasn’t an easy task.
DSC01817
I found by flipping the RX100’s screen up and holding the camera down as if I were casually adjusting settings or viewing images worked well allowing me to work fairly closely without spooking my prey.
DSC01831
I never really noticed how people use mobile phones until undertaking this project, it’s often like an unconsious habit for some. As soon as they sit down, they have to check their precious device and give it a gentle stroke. Sometimes it delights them, sometimes it seems to disappoint them or make them angry.
DSC01826
And it’s lure is not restricted to those of fewer years. When you look for them, the use of mobile devices is staggering.
DSC01944
I discovered there was a car show on Parliament Lawns, a perfect place to blend in and  find distracted people taking happy snaps, allowing me to naturally shoot quite close. I normally love looking closely at all the cars but today I was instead, studying the observers!
DSC01958
Most times when you take photos, it can be a challenge to get people out of the picture, so for me this was a real turn around, deliberately trying to get people in my way.
DSC01948
On occasions I had people trying to duck out of my way or apologising for getting in my shot. The course turned out to be a bit of a conversation starter.
DSC01969
I had a lenghty chat with the camera enthusiast shooting with film in the above shot after he politely tried to get out of my way. When I explained what I was doing, he said he’d seen the Uni course advertised and had considered it himself. I cropped this photo to include the subtle background photograhers at far left and right.
DSC01855
being a bright day, I found the high contrast in the park a challenge to work with at times but I do like this shot, it forced me to edit the image differently to my usual style.

I thought it would be great to have lots of images to choose from for Project 2, however, now I’ve edited and posted another eleven here, it’s made the decision on which ones to include or omit all the more difficult. There’s a few for me that are obviously in that fit the theme and story I wish to compile but I now have to whittle it down to just ten. There’s also a few that are out mainly because of lower quality or composition.
I’m still not sure exactly how the story will unfold, though I have a few ideas utilising the sub-theme of consumerism of both hardware and social media. I’m hoping it will flow as I start reviewing and selecting the images. The project is due in about two weeks.


Photography Filters & Editing RAW.

In my last post I showed some filters I use. Here are some examples using these filters.
DSC01618
Above shows the very sublte difference between no UV filter and one attached. It has a lesser impact on digital camera sensors than it used to on film and it varies between cameras. I choose to have one pretty much permanently attached to my lens more for protection from dirt and drops than anything else, especially as my lens will be open when I take off with it on my drone. These images are unedited jpegs straight off the Sony RX100III camera.
UVPolarised.jpg
A Polarizing filter has a much bigger impact on an image. Above, I’ve shown how simply placing a clean pair of Polarized sunglasses over the lens can reduce reflections from water surfaces, alowing you to see through it better. As it also lets less light through to the image sensor, either speed, ISO or apeture needs to be adjusted to compensate – in the case above, I used a slower shutter speed. A proper filter will give sharper results and can be rotated more easily to give the result required. Of all the filters, I believe a Polarizing filter is the most important one to add to your kit as similar results can not be achieved in post processing. This is also a great filter to use in the snow as it results in better details in the highlights.
GraduatedND.jpg
Another filter that in certain situations such as the extreme example above, can avoid issues that can not be fixed in post processing is the Graduated Neutral Density filter. This filter is darker at the top and gradually becomes lighter at the bottom (as can be seen in the sky on the image at right) – it can also be used sideways or on angles. You can see above in these unedited images, in order to get some detail in the hedge at the bottom, the top tree branches are almost completely blown out with no filter and can not be recovered even from a RAW image in post processing.
RAWedit
To demonstrate the advantage of using the RAW format, the above image was edited – or post processed in Photoshop from the RAW version of the previous jpeg image with Graduated ND filter. This image is pushed pretty hard to show just how much extra data or detail can be recovered from highlights and shadows of a RAW image, compared to a jpeg, resulting in much better end results.
RAWadjust.jpg
Above shows the basic settings I generally start with to edit a daytime landscape shot. I have developed my own style of editing RAW photos based on what I like – which is including detail thoughout the range of light to dark. It depends on the image – subject, lighting and the feeling I want to convey – how I move the sliders at the right.
Most aspects of any image can now be adjusted in post and as long as an area isn’t too under exposed or highlight blown out, mistakes in the camera can be corrected – you can make an otherwise ordinary picture – extraordinary! Of course though, it does help to get a half decent shot to begin with. From my own experience and the way I like to edit my images, I’ve found it is better to slightly under expose an image than risk highlights blowing out, as detail can be recovered better from shadows – to a point.

There are many more advanced techniques, like selective editing, layering and blending that I also sometimes use. To view my photos, browse my Flickr photostream.

If you wish to learn more about photography and editing, head over to Trey Ratcliff’s inspirational and very informative site: Stuck in Customs.


Camera gear & essentials.

They say the best camera is the one you have on  you. My current camera gear is nothing overly fancy, photography on a budget but it suits my needs.
PhotographyGear
I brought a Nikon D3200 when they were first launched in mid 2012. If I had known the D5200 was coming, I would have waited for that as it has a flip out screen and more advanced features.
I chose the D3200 because at the time it was one of the smallest and lightest DLSRs suitable for bushwalking and I preferred the ergonomics to the equivalent Canon options. Nikon also have a good reputation for their lenses, however, I’ve found the standard 18-55mm and 70-30mm VR lens aren’t exceptional performers and not that easy to focus manually. It’s features are more akin to a first time DSLR users and pretty limited, but it does take pretty good 24MP RAW images when you get it right, which have a pretty good dynamic range between highlights and shadows.
If you have a DSLR there are some accessories that can make your photography much better.
Tripod: Still photography doesn’t require an expensive tripod as long as it is solid enough to  keep your camera still. Using a tripod can dramatically improve the sharpness of  your images, even for landscapes.
Filters – If you can only afford a few filters, these are the ones to get:
A UV filter is almost always screwed onto my lens for protection as much as anything else but it does improve bright daylight contrast.
A Polarizing filter – this can be turned which affects how light enters the camera, reducing reflections so you can see better into water and improves cloud contrast. Polarized sunglasses can work well over a phone camera or small lens.
A Variable neutral density filter can be turned to change the amount of light getting onto the image sensor. Great on brighter days to get motion blur like water or shallow depth of field.
A linear graduated filter is has a dark tint at the top smoothly going to clear at the bottom. One can be seen here at the front slid into a holder – these use adapter rings so can be used on different sized lenses saving you buying different sized filters.
Remote Shutter release – two are shown, a simple IR remote button and a intervalometer which can be set to release at intervals of time for time-lapse or long exposures. They can be had for as little as $20 online.
I recently bought the Sony RX100III secondhand to use for aerial photography and I’ve found it a fantastic little camera. If weight weren’t so critical for me, the A6000 with interchangeable lenses would probably be a better choice, as I do miss the longer zoom but the RX100’s 24 – 70mm zoom is mostly adequate. I carry this camera nearly all the time, it weighs less than 300g and takes fantastic RAW 20.1MP images. It’s discrete and I the rear flip up screen is convenient and usually easy to see, I’ve never used the pop up viewfinder! Two minor niggles so far – the zoom button is a bit sensitive, I’d prefer if it zoomed slower and when filming, changing focus gradually manually is difficult to do smoothly.
I have a Samsung Galaxy S5 and used to use it’s camera a lot before I got the RX100. The image quality can be very good but you have to work around the available light. No RAW format here unfortunately, highlights can blow out but HDR mode can be used to help with high contrast shots. i considered the Sony Xperia Z5 mobile when I purchased but for me, the S5 won out on it’s other features.
TIP: Protect your camera from dust or moisture – I’ve done this for both the Sony and the Nikon, get a zip lock bag that fits your camera and your hand inside. Grab a pen or texta and trace the end of the lens onto the bag. Cut the circle out of the bag so that it fits snuggly around the lens. A rubber band can act as a second barrier. Keep it in your camera bag for light rain or places like the beach.

Project 2 – story ideas!

DSC01422
While on the hunt for photos of people taking photos and using devices on Saturday at Hobart’s Salamanca Market, I found I was having trouble getting what I call my “photohead” on.
DSC01431
For me, this is the headspace often I get into when looking for photo opportunities. Difficult to explain and some times hard to get into, it’s like a surreal or different way of seeing the world as if time slows down into frames, cutting out other distractions and fears – almost seeing images through imaginary frames around my eyes and not looking at things as they are, but rather how they will be after editing. It can be a dangerous place to be when you need to pay attention to what you’re actually doing – like driving! – so it needs to be used with caution. I presume other’s have similar experiences too.
DSC01428
I wasn’t as happy with the images I was capturing and got thinking about other aspects of our device obsession that I might be able to use in my theme. This was before I read the Week 8 notes on Sunday night – which began talking about using photos for stories!
I remembered seeing clear boxes for recycled phones in shops some time ago – after being lovingly caressed, coveted and so much attention poured over them, they are discarded, often broken and thrown away – the life cyle of a mobile device – so I headed into the City to search out my idea.
DSC01440
This is the first shot I got, proudly displayed in the window of a mobile phone repair shop. I was pretty happy with it, but not quite what I was after. I continued my search going into a few shops with no luck, then I found this box …
DSC01461
After asking permission to take photos, I had problems with reflections and there weren’t many phones in there, mostly chargers, and I couldn’t get in there to re-arrange them, so still wasn’t really satisfied. So I headed next door into Coogans, where sales assistant Russel was extremely helpful!
DSC01466
He handed me his box of recycled phones and left me alone to empty it onto a table, arrange and shoot away!
DSC01471
This is my favourite shot with the over hyped Apple logo using rule of thirds and in focus, broken screens, past loved devices used and abused. This will very likely be the closing shot for my project.
While walking around, I had asked in the Telstra store if I could take a photo along the line-up of their new phones, but was told no. I still want to get a shot of shiny new phones for sale – perhaps with customers as an opening shot. I have to head into town today, so might try again – they can’t stop me if I take it from the street 😉
DSC01437
To keep the presentation of my theme consistent, I’m cropping my images horizontally  with a 16:9 ratio. Most of the images I take are cropped like this as it fits a standard TV, monitor or smartphone screen.

I haven’t talked about the INSPIRATION for this project, it was my own photo below, taken in February 2014 of people capturing a busker that got me thinking about this theme while making observations at Salamanca. Ironically, this is the very first image I’ve taken experimenting with street photography of people.
Feb2014
The caption reads: “Most people I know don’t like having their photo taken, so I don’t take many photos of people. I was reading recently about street photography but have never tried previously. What better place to start than other people with cameras!”

It can be found on my Flickr photostream HERE.

UPDATE:
I took my trusty discrete RX100 III into town with me and captured two shots suitable for opening the story of my theme for Project 2 which I’m extremely pleased with. I might include both of these as they tie in so well together and also the end photo I plan to use.
They were both taken from public areas outside the premises – a bit of a grey area as far as permission/privacy goes but I believe the law allows it and it’s for a Uni assignment – not showing anything a normal person wouldn’t see from the street.DSC01598
The shot above is a combination of two images which are shown below before blending and cropping. I really wanted the “Want a new phone every year?” to be the subliminal stand out – for me my eye first explores the bottom of the image before seeing the sign. Of course everyone wants a new phone every year – but do we really NEED one?
DSC01598B
Behind the scene: Here you can see the man walking past is from another image – before I adjusted the levels to match the ceiling inside. You can see I had a bit of leeway with cropping, but I was also restricted in that I cut the top of the man’s head off. I think in my edited photo he helps lead you into the shot – store.
DSC01606
Mmmm, shiney new phones all in a line – “give the gift” indeed! This is very close to the image I had in my head for my opening shot but may now become the second. Both these shots show some powerful marketing strategies to entice us up upgrade to the latest – and dispense with the old. That has become the nature of our digital life.