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The Litra Torch

28th March 2018

Tiny LED Lighting


As I was walking through the WPPI Expo, the display to the right caught my attention. And so I stopped to talk to the rep. Here is a small aquarium filled with water. At the bottom are two small cube devices. Both of them were brightly shining to demonstrate that they are waterproof.

The small device is the Litra Torch – a cube about 1-1/2″ in size and weighing a mere 3 ounces. It provides up to 800 Lumens of continuous daylight balanced light but is also adjustable to 450 and 100 Lumens. With it’s 80 degree coverage, it’s usable with most wide angle lenses. The Torch also has a strobe mode – useful for special effects while shooting video.

There are a variety of options for mounting the Litra. The body has two standard 1/4-20 tripod sockets. Its back is magnetic for attaching to a metallic surface.

For close up work, you can attached the diffuser (see below). It includes a mount when used with a GoPro. Rep Andrew Siminoff showed me a GoPro mounted with a pair of Torches that was set up for video recording (see below right).

The Torch is powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery that provides about 30 minutes of light at the high 800 Lumens setting.

Litra also has a set of accessories for the Torch including bicycle mounts, head mounts, several handheld mounts, miniature tripod and filters.



 

The Torch is an accessory that you can literally carry around in your pocket to provide a convenient light source. Suggested price is $80 and includes the diffuser, belt clip, GoPro mount, USB charging cable.

For more information please visit Litra.

 

 

Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

WPPI 2018

05th March 2018

What’s is WPPI?


Late last momth, I left the bitter cold and snow of Michigan and trekked to a warmer environment for a couple of days. My destination was the Wedding & Portrait Photography International Conference and Expo in a warmer Las Vegas.

Here are some of the photographers lining up to register for WPPI. I was told that attendees numbered about 13,000.


WPPI is an annual event. The audience is the large set of professional photographers and videographers who earn their living shooting weddings, portraits, school and sporting events. The five day conference consist of classes, seminars, photo walks and live demonstrations taught by celebrated professionals and industry educators covering every imaginable photo topic.

In addition to the conference, there is a three day long expo at which several hundred manufacturers of photo equipment, accessories, photo finishing services, frames, albums, software and services present their products for attendees.

The venue for WPPI was the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on the south end of the LV Strip


This year the conference consisted or more than 200 different classes covering a wide gamut of subjects: equipment, lenses, posing, lighting, flash, printmaking, pricing, babies, special effects, drone. The list of instructors are among some of the most well-known and successful photographers: Me Rah Koh, Matt Kloskowski, Denis Regge, Terry White, Bob Davis, Lindsay Adler, Miichele Celentano, Bambi Cantrell, Julieanne Kost, Hanson Fong, Jerry Ghionis, Roberto Valenzuela, Tamara Lackey, and Joe McNally to name a few.


While I sat in on a few classes, I spent most of my time at the expo.

Follow me as I take you on a quick walk through of the exhibit hall to show you the types of photographic knowledge that is available at WPPI.


Special Effects Class

Lindsay Adler behind the lens


A Lighting Demo

Posing Babies


Jerry Ghionis at the mic

Portraits Up Close


Single Flash Demo

Group Shots


Hanson Fong Bounce Flash

…and the result


During the couple of days that I spent at WPPI, I talked to several exhibitors about their products.

I’ll have additional articles here describing these products in the next few weeks.

I hope you’ll be back here soon.

Fashion



 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 

Remote Photography Made Easy

 
At this year’s Wedding & Portrait Photography International (WPPI) trade show I made it a point to watch several live demos of drones. Why, you may ask, are there drones on exhibit at a conference dealing with photography? Well, judging from their impressive video capabilities, drones are frequently used to record weddings. Although it’s been a while since I ended my stint as a wedding photographer, I’m still quite taken by the possibilities and usefulness of drone photography.

After talking to a few of the drone sales representatives at WPPI, I purchased the Mavic Pro. This compact unit has many impressive features – foldable rotors, interchangeable battery, gimbal mounted 4K video camera, micro SD card to record images, remote controller with multiple flight modes, live streaming to your smart phone.

Following, I’ll give you a quick look at some of the above-mentioned features that I make this a worthwhile investment for my flying pleasure – and the pleasure of a few of my grandkids.


When not in use, you can fold the rotor arms. This makes it very easy to carry the Mavic from place to place. On board sensors guide its flight path away from obstacles such as trees or buildings. The Mavic’s battery is rechargeable. Each charge provides about 25 minutes of flight time. Since the battery is also interchangeable, you can carry a spare to extended your flight outings.

The built-in video camera provides very good quality images owing to the 3-axis gimbal that steadies the movies. Video images are stored on an interchangeable micro-SD card. You can also stream live video to an attached smart-phone.

You can connect your smart-phone to the remote controller. Use the controller to start and stop video recording, point the camera in a different direction or take still photos. The smart-phone screen displays the live camera imagery. Additionally, the DJI app lets you change drone settings and view vital information and statistics. Users can command the drone to follow and record a specific person or object from up to 4 miles away. Wave at the Mavic to snap a still photo of you on the ground. Or plot a course for the Mavic to fly using multiple waypoints. The controller is very capable.

Newbies can fly the Mavic using several foolproof ways to avoid crashing. Here’s my grandson taking his first flying lesson using Beginner Mode. You can see that this still photo taken remotely by my grandson demonstrates the high quality of the Mavic’s on-board camera.



Below is a series of Mavic clips that I’ve combined into a short movie. Note how smooth the video plays due to the steadying effect of the gimbal mounted camera.


 

 



 

 
The Mavic Pro sells for about $1000. For more information about the Mavic Pro please visit DJI.

 

 



Post tags: , ,

Hover and Shoot


You don’t ordinarily think of looking at drones at the Wedding and Portrait Photography International Conference & Expo. However, DJI had a booth there showing off the new Mavic Pro.


At the DJI booth, representative Laura Schutz showed me the company’s newest drone. She emphasized that drones are now simpler to fly. And drones are now much more affordable.

Users have invented innovative ways to use drones for airborne photography. DJI, a pioneer in the industry, recently released the Mavic Pro which builds on the simpler and affordable features.



The Mavic Pro is compact. When not in use, the rotor arms fold tightly against the unit’s body making it easy to store and transport.

Owing to its efficient motors, flying time is up to 27 minutes at 40 mph.

The unit’s remote controller has a range of more than 4 miles. It can send livestream directly to popular smartphones.

Mavic Pro has five built-in sensors that can detect and avoid obstacles during flight. There is also a set of backup sensors that can take over in case one is malfunctioning.


Specifically for photography is a camera that shoots 4K at 30fps mounted on 3-axis gimbal for smooth, jumpfree video. Stills are captured at 12MP.

Its GPS capabilities enable accurate positioning whatever your location.

In “ActiveTrack” mode, the drone follows or flies alongside the subject.

In “Gesture Mode”, the Mavic follows you until you give it the go-ahead to snap your “selfie”.

The “Terrain Follow” mode flies the drone at a fixed altitude above the ground.


This Mavic Pro is taking video footage of me.

The Mavic Pro has many features which set it apart from other drones. The DJI website has many videos that demonstrate these features.


The suggested price of the Mavic Pro is $1000.

For more information about the Mavic Pro, please visit DJI.


 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

Mylio – Organization +

24th March 2015

Organizing your Collections

The proliferation of high quality mobile devices has given professional and non-professional photographers alike more alternatives for capturing, storing, managing and displaying their images. But at the same time using multiple devices has made it more difficult for them to keep their collections orderly.

At the Mylio booth at the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Expo I stopped to have a demonstration of their software and service that addresses many of the issues that crop up when using multiple devices.

Mylio bills its product as a rich photo management system to organize, edit, synchronize and safeguard a large collection of images.


Harry Wendt gave me a quick demo


Henry showed me that changes to an image on a laptop are immediately synchronized to a second computer, a tablet and a smartphone. You can choose to backup images to the cloud for additional security.

Mylio has three levels of service for $50/year, $100/year and $250/year that let you synchronize up to three, five or twelve devices respectively. The two higher levels integrate with Lightroom and let you edit RAW images as well.

As I was unable to spend more time at the demo, I plan to do a more lengthy review of this service as it seems to include many useful features.


For more information about this service, please visit Mylio.

 
 
 
Written by Arnie Lee
 
 


The Consumer Electronics Show – Accessories for Photographers

 

I’ve been attending the Consumer Electronics Show for more than 30 years. This huge expo is the premier showcase for new and innovative products that are slated for homes and businesses this year.

 

While walking the several miles of aisles at the Las Vegas Convention Center, a couple of areas especially caught my attention: 3D printers and drones. You can read my show reports here: 3D Printing Technology and Drones.

 

But as someone who also has a keen interest in photography, here are a few of the photo accessories that stood out at the show.


Hisy and Halo Remotes

 

Here’s are two tiny little accessories for those of you who are fans of “selfies”.

 

Basically the Hisy and Halo are bluetooth shutter release for you smartphone. The Hisy is for iOS devices and the Halo is for Android devices.

To the right is the “selfie” of Jackie and myself that we took with her Android smartphone.

They also have the Wing – a selfie stick.

The suggested price of the Hisy and Halo is $24.99. The suggested price of the Wing is $29.95.

For more information, please visit HisyPix.

 



Nanuk Camera Cases

If you’re rough on your camera equipment, you may want to look at Nanuk’s cases. PlastiCase makes some very durable protective cases.

Below is one of their smaller cases. It’s made of a impact resistant plastic, has sure-lock latches, soft-grip handle and is waterproof. This 903 model easily accommodates one of my mirrorless cameras with an 18-200mm lens attached. I’ve removed the foam padding to show the spacing.

The Model 903 has a very affordable suggested price of $25.

 

PlastiCase makes about two dozen different cases in various sizes. For more info, please visit PlastiCase.

 



EnerPlex Solar

EnerPlex is a manufacturer of a variety of solar chargers.

If you’re shooting out in the field for any length of time and run out of juice, these solar chargers may prove invaluable. They are compact, foldable and ruggedized.

On the right, you can see solar chargers built into backpacks. EnerPlex has two backpack models: Packr Executive $130 and Packr Commuter $100.


Kickr IV+ on left produces 6 watts nx Kickr II in center produces 33 watts

Commander-XII produces 19 watts for laptops and tablets

For more info, please visit EnerPlex.

 



Thule Camera Bags

Thule is probably best known as the maker of the well-built and ergonomic car top carriers.

This Swedish company also has a stylish line of camera bags and backpacks.


I found their line of bags to be both attractive and practical.

Their new Legend GoPro Backpack was introduced at the show.

Designed and built for rugged outdoor use, you can mount two GoPro cameras directly to the backpack – one forward-facing the other backward-facing. The outermost compartment has die-cut foam insert for GoPro accessories. It’s lightweight and crushproof (EVA shell) and has several other padded compartments for safe transport of camera accessories, hydration reservoir and smartphone.

Thule tells me that the Legend GoPro Backpack will be available in May. Suggested price is $199.

For more info, please visit Thule.

 



Meikon Diving Equipment

For divers and shooters needing protection against water, Meikon had a large array of waterproof housings and accessories for many popular camera models.

On display were housings for Sony mirrorless, Nikon D7000, Canon 5D, Canon M, Canon T2i, T3i, T4i, T5i, Panasonic GF2, GF3, GF5 and GF6.

Meikon also has a nice selection lighting equipment and brackets.

For more info, please visit Meikon.

 



 
 

This concludes my reports from CES.

As usual, I’m excited when I return home from CES. Maybe a few of my finds will get added to my wish list for this year.
 
 
Written by: Arnie Lee
Updated 02/20/2015
 
 


 

CES 2015 – The Drones

24th January 2015

The Consumer Electronics Show – Drones

 

For more than 30 years, I’ve started the New Year with a trip to the Consumer Electronics Show. CES is the premier showcase for new and innovative techie products that are in line to hit the store shelves.

This year I notice the proliferation of 3D printers and picture-taking drones at the show.

Earlier, I wrote a short article about 3D Printing Technology that I saw at CES.

There’s plenty of controversy surrounding the use drones for commercial purposes, manufacturers from around the world are gearing up for battle as they try to outdo each other on features, price, and speed to market. This article presents several of the picture-taking drones that I saw at the show.


Robotix Ghost+

This is the Ghost+ quadcopter.

Its payload is a GoPro camera mounted on a controllable gimbal and has a GPS receiver, gyroscopic controller for smooth flight, retractable landing skids and can stay airborne for 18 minutes.

The WiFi module lets you stream the video remotely to a smartphone and/or tablet.

The suggested price of the Ghost+ is $1300.

For more information about the Ghost+, please visit Thunder Tiger Group.

 


DJI Inspire 1

This is DJI’s newest model – Inspire 1. It has a bult-in gimbal-mounted 4K video camera that can be remotely positioned, real-time feed to the controller and automatic takeoff and landing.


while in the air, the landing pods fold into the “up” position for obstruction-free video recording

Price is $3400 with dual remotes – one for flight control and the other for camera control.

For more info, please visit DJI.

 


Proto-X FPV

The FPV quadcopter is equipped with a 1280 x 720p video camera.

Notice that the controller has a built-in video screen that displays the captured video in real time. It is gyro stabilized for steady movie.

The suggested price is $350.

For more info, please contact Hobbico 


Zano – the nano drone

Zano calls itself a “sophisticated nano drone”. It’s so small that it fits in the palm of your hand.

Your smartphone or tablet is the controller. Simply tilt your phone left, right, forward or backward and the Zano follows. Other onscreen icons control the altitude, rotation, capture, etc.

This is a prototype model and Zano tells me that production begins in July 2015. Price in UK Pounds £170.

For more information, please visit Zano.


 

As a former participant in the flight simulation industry, I’m in awe of the drone “landscape”.

As I watch these new models flying at CES, I am amazed at how quickly the technology surrounding drones has progressed. In addition to highly competitive prices, these devices are much easier to fly – many with auto takeoff and auto landing capability – and features such as gimbals, streaming and navigation are truly impressive.

Written by: Arnie Lee


 

For Movies on the Move

For several years now, GoPro has demonstrated the overwhelming popularity of action videos. They have built an empire of a business around its brand.

Sony’s HDR-AS100V and newer, yet slightly smaller HDR-AZ1 cameras are the center of their video system for recording action in the field. Both units pack lots of features into a very compact space: 1080p with image stabilization, stereo sound, high speed recording, 170-degree view, interval recoding, and WiFi and NFC equipped and GPS (AS100V only).

They are ruggedized and are waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and freezeproof without having to purchase additional accessories.

This AZ1 which is 2/3 the size of the AS100V, is mounted on a drone. Using an optional Live-View Remote (RM-LVR2V) which straps to your wrist you can control the AZ1, change settings and view the playback from afar.

The included Action Cam Movie Creator software lets edit your footage into complete, quality movies using the special recording features e.g. high speed recording, merging multiple clips into a single clip, etc.

 
 
There are a whole host of accessories for the Action Cam system including various camera mounts and straps for bicycling, surfing, boating, diving, snow sports and skateboarding.

List price for AS100V is $279 and for the AZ1 is $249. For more information, see the Sony ActionCam webpage.
 
 
Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 


 
 

Removing the Shakes

30th March 2014

Stabilizers for Shooting Video

As I was making my way through the 300+ exhibitor booths at this month’s Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Expo I was reminded how important video has become to this part of the photo industry.

For quality smooth videos, photographers rely on stabilizers to remove the shakes. At the lower end of the spectrum is the iPhone and GoPro. With proper stabilization, these cameras are capable of shooting very decent videos.

Tiffen has two accessories: one for iPhone and another for the GoPro Hero: the Curve and the Smoothee.


Tiffen Smoothee
Tiffen Curve

The “Smoothee” is for an iPhone

The “Curve” is a lightweight stabilizer for the GoPro Hero

The Steadicam Smoothee is a small single handle device with a quick-release mount for the iPhone. It sells for $150. For more information, please visit Steadicam Smoothee

The Steadicam Curve is specifically designed and balanced for the various models of the GoPro Hero. The price is $100 and is available in four colors. For more information, please visit Steadicam Curve

Both the Smoothee and the Curve are lightweight and allow the photographer to easily move alongside the subject while recording smooth videos.


For larger cameras, a solid tripod with a robust fluid head is most often used. But for hand-held applications, photographers will want to turn to a portable video rig.

One such rig is the Comodo Orbit.


The “Orbit” stabilizer from Comodo is designed for much larger cameras.

This is a lightweight, hand-held gimbal rig built for DLSRs

The twin grips make the rig easier to handle especially when shooting for extended periods of time. The grips also double as a floor stand. With its gimbal mount, the camera is free to pivot to its stabilized position. The Orbit sells for $1500. For more information please visit Comodo.

 
 
 
Written by Arnie Lee
 
 


In Search of Nemo

11th June 2013

Underwater Photography – Blllllrrrrrpppp!

For those of us who spend their winters in the frigid cold, surrounded by ice and snow for months at a time, a visit to the tropics is a blessing. To me, the mention of the tropics brings warmth and water to mind. And that’s precisely what we were after when we booked a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii.

The weather there is predictably warm so it’s easy to pack: a couple of bathing suits, a few pairs of shorts and several shirts. And don’t forget the snorkeling equipment! As an avid picture-taker, my luggage also includes a camera or two so that I can record the events that we may encounter.

The least enjoyable part of the trip is getting there. It’s an all day affair starting with a short hop from our home in Grand Rapids to Chicago followed by a very long, 9-hour flight from Chicago to Honolulu.

Clouds covered most of the flight path to the islands. These sparkling beaches of Oahu (to the right) are about the only sites that we see along the way and this only upon leaving Honolulu on a 45 minute connecting flight to Kona.

And owing to a six hour time difference, we arrive in time for dinner.


Being in the middle of the Pacific, there’s water galore everywhere. The next morning, with our snorkeling gear in tow we head down to one of the local beaches.

For this trip, I’ve taken a camera that can be used underwater. I’ve never invested the thousands of dollars needed for a “real” underwater outfit, but this Olympus Tough 6000 will do the trick.


The Big Island is surrounded by shallow reefs lined with coral. Many of the popular beaches attract bathers for this exact reason. The coral is teeming with tropical fish and wildlife just a few feet below the water’s surface.

Without heavy scuba equipment and expensive deep water photo gear, my small, relatively inexpensive camera makes it possible for me to record these amazing wonders of the ocean. Here’s some of my “catch” made simply by gently kicking my flippers, goggles and snorkel facing downward and camera in hand.






Colorful sea anemone among the coral.

We even spotted this mermaid among the coral!

Big Island Turtle – my wife captured this short video of a turtle that was swimming nearby.

A lovely sunset on the Big Island

 
So I returned home with a slight tan, a relaxed body and a nice set of photos of some spectacularly colorful fish. Of course these photos aren’t of the same quality that you’d expect from a full-blown underwater outfit. But I’m happy just the same having recorded some of nature’s gorgeous water landscapes with a very affordable camera.
 
 
 
Written by Arnie Lee
 
 


 
 

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