Taking Photos of Electronic and Other Devices

In my previous posts, I’ve talked about the significance of location in photography, taking great photos of your pets, and photographing your home. In this blog post, I want to address a trend I’ve noticed on the internet, and that trend is taking photos of electronic products and other devices.

With the rise of the review blogs and vlogs on electronic and other devices, there’s also an increase in the demand for good photography of those products. Mainly, people who take great photos of the products they review also have the best review sites. Thus, the quality of the photography has become prevalent in determining whether the review site will succeed or collapse. We have seen several extraordinary sites, but we have also seen some pretty bad ones. What I can offer as advice is the following.

  • A photo of the devices you are reviewing doesn’t have to be only from the device itself. You can also explain how the device is functioning by presenting an illustrated photo that you have created. For example, look at this site cleanbreathing.net that explains how an air purifier works
  • A very significant thing that can contribute to a great photo is the camera you’re using. There are a lot of choices when it comes to cameras nowadays, and making the right choice depends on many factors like the type of image quality you’re after, your budget, your photography skills, and so on. Luckily, there are plenty of budget-friendly options that will give you great quality, so finding a good camera shouldn’t be a hard task. And if you want to add to the quality of your images, purchasing a stable tripod is highly recommended.
  • Lighting is another important factor that can make or break a photo. Forget about the on-camera flash. This flesh can produce shadows from the sides of the object, so if you want to get the best out of the product, then either find a setting with natural light or invest in lighting equipment.
  • When you have these elements in place, then start taking photos from different angles and find the best angle for the device you want to present. Besides the angles, try to put the device on surfaces with different colors and textures. That way the product you are presenting might show its colors and shapes in a better light.
  • In the end, you will need to edit the photography. When you edit the photo, always try to edit a copy of the original photo. That way, if you don’t like what you see, you can always turn back to original. You will also need to learn how to edit. Nowadays, there are a lot of editing tools, so try to do your research and find the one that is the most suitable for your needs.

A Reminder to be Cautious

Hey, Leo. Come sit by me. I am about to write a new blog. I have something on my mind that relates to city life. Living in a major metropolitan area, I encounter many people during my various photography jaunts who have experienced assailants. I have horrors of someone ripping off my best camera, but it is usually a purse or a wallet. Thieves have such audacity and they must be confronted with some kind of self defense. I have to learn to navigate a busy city with caution to protect my equipment and myself. What to do?

A friend recently had a run-in with a pickpocket of all things. Do they do that away from carnivals? You bet. It pays to be extra alert when in unknown areas and especially at night. Traveling about in numbers is a good strategy. Otherwise, take your dog. Leo goes with me all the time, and while he is not particularly ferocious, he does deter aggressors due to his size.

Apart from keeping your eyes open and training your dog to growl on demand, there are other protective measures you can take. When in crowds, do not get too close to others or you might encounter a pickpocket like my friend. They love to operate in busy areas where they can easily disappear out of sight. If you want to be extra secure, I recommend carrying some mace in your pocket or backpack. I have never had to use it, but I know how. A few quick sprays at close proximity will inflict considerable discomfort to the eyes and nose that lasts for almost forty-five minutes. Don’t stand too far or the effect will be minor.

If you want more tactics, you can look into stun guns and heavy-duty plastic or rubber “knuckles.” Just pulling one of these could make an attacker or mugger run. He will also respond negatively to loud yelling or screaming. It alerts people in the vicinity to a problem and will signal someone to dial 911. In a busy location, a group may retaliate on your behalf and wrangle with the individual, immobilizing him on the spot. This is the advantage of being in a populated region. If you are in a skid row area, the drunks and homeless are less likely to pitch in and help out, so the de-escalation techniques from Self Defense Guide can be helpful.

If you have been trained in martial arts (recommended for people in big cities where all kinds of threats thrive), you can attempt some basic maneuvers and use hand-to-hand combat. If you are quick on your feet, you can kick, punch, jab, or poke vulnerable body areas. A self defense stance would make me back off. I would want to avoid the pain. Few robbers are well-versed in self defense moves as they are the aggressors. They may be on drugs and out of their minds, compromising their ability to fight.

If you are a peacenik at heart, try de-escalation techniques of talking the opponent down. Appeal to the assailant’s good sense and human spirit, if it is inside. Use calming words and slow hand gestures. Never insult an angry person or challenge him in any way. With these methods, you should be ready to go out without fear.

Photography Is All About Location

ruleofthirdsPeople may find themselves in a situation in which they aren’t entirely sure why a given photograph looks better than many other photographs, even though the subject is the same. In some cases, it may simply be due to the technique of the photographer, which is often going to be the case. However, part of the technique of any photographer involves selecting the right location for a photograph, and the location in which a photo is shot really can make all the difference in terms of whether or not the picture is successful.

Lighting is going to make all the difference when it comes to photography, and different locations will produce different plays of shadows. In some types of lighting, something that looks fantastic can look downright frightening. Maybe that’s what you want, if you’re going for horror photography in one way or another. If you’re not trying to shoot something that’s Halloween-worthy, you’re probably going to want to shoot your subject in a given location.

You might think that it would be really hard to make a given subject scary. I have a hard time imagining Taylor looking scary, since I think he just looks adorable even when he’s trying to look all scary and menacing. The thing is, to other people, he probably will look like just another angry dog in those circumstances. They’ll have different associations compared to me. You have to anticipate how your audience is going to feel about a particular subject, especially if we’re talking about a subject that you know really well and which has lots of different connotations for you. Trust me, your adorable pet dog can look scary to someone. I know that from experience.

The contents of a location are going to make a huge difference. A gentle pastoral field always creates a different impression than a vacant lot, and a clean and majestic urban landscape will change the nature of any photograph that is set there. Plenty of people seem to be under the impression that people will only focus upon the subject of a photograph when they look at the photograph, and a picture of a dog in a field and a picture of that same dog on a staircase will create the same effect. The subject is only part of the overall artwork of the picture.

Pet Photography is Here to Stay

One of the most common subjects for any photograph is a person’s pet. People love taking pictures of their pets at the best of times, documenting their lives, as well as all of the times where their pets are doing something extremely cute. As any dog owner knows, your dog is going to be doing something that you consider cute all the time, and something other people will consider cute part of the time. You need to make sure that you capture all of your dog’s cute moments, which are definitely the memories that you want to share with other people and your future self.

Some people have complained about just how many pet photos there are on the Internet these days. Complaining about pet videos is even more popular. You might get a few million hits with the video of your adorable cat, but you’ve also become a person who makes cat videos, which can make you a target for the people who like to complain about the most obvious things that they can. When it comes to cat videos and cat pictures, I say go for it. When it comes to dog videos and dog pictures, I also say go for it. We need to try to out-compete all of the cat videos and cat pictures anyway, so I say bring in the cavalry.

People have always liked pet photography, even before the days of the Internet. The explosion of pet photography online happened because people have new mechanisms through which to share all of their pictures. People also have more cameras these days. Sure, the cameras that people have on their phones aren’t the best cameras in the world, but they’re there, and they will get the job done if you don’t happen to be lugging around a professional camera at a given time. It isn’t surprising that people would produce lots of new photos under circumstances like that. Since people already have lots of pet pictures and love their pet pictures, you’re going to see an explosion of pet pictures.

Pet pictures will go out of style when pets go out of style. People have been cooing over their adorable dogs and cats for thousands of years, and that isn’t going to change any time soon. Dogs and cats basically co-evolved with humans because we like them so much, largely because of how cute their are. Their extreme cuteness has given them a privileged position for all of these years, and this is a privileged position that has managed to outlast entire dynasties. Pets have only become more beloved today, and people are only more committed to making sure that they take care of their pets and love them.

Lots of people are interested in documenting every moment of the lives of their pets in the manner of someone trying to make sure that they document the lives of their kids. I would definitely include myself in that category. You want to be able to save everything for posterity. There is going to be a time when your pets are no longer with you, since we all outlive our pets by a wide margin. Having some memories that you can access instantly on your phone will make all the difference in those days. Having grown up with several dogs, I know the feeling.

That was the 1990’s, however, and we had some Polaroids and some family videos, but nothing compared to what people will take in one year of a pet’s life today. You actually had to wait to get your pictures developed back then: it was obscene. It cost extra money to just get pictures, which meant people were a lot more limited in terms of the pictures that they could take or the pictures that they were willing to take. Today, the idea that pictures need to be developed is as much of a weird curiosity as the idea that people should rent movies from video stores, or even the idea that something like a ‘video’ could exist. People can whip out their phones and take pictures of anything. Now, the lives of their pets are available on the Internet for everyone to see if they want and for no one to see if they want.

The people who criticize pet photography are certainly free to never look at pet pictures again for the rest of their lives and to scroll down on the page when someone posts them on Facebook. However, for the rest of us, the age of the pet photograph has only started to expand, and we will continue taking pictures of our pets and the pets of others with glee and with pride.

Having a Professional Camera Still Counts

We live in the age of cameras today. People walk around with miniature cameras on their phones now. The world is full of pictures because the world is full of cameras. Does that mean that everyone can be a photographer today and that we have finally obviated the need for the professional cameras that will take the best pictures? I think the answer to that question is a resounding ‘no.’

The camera on your phone will get the job done, but you’ve probably noticed by now that almost everything looks somewhat distorted in that camera. There’s a reason for that, and it isn’t entirely a function of your skill as an amateur photographer. It’s because you’re taking something that has different proportions in real life and trying to compress it all into this tiny space with the limited pixels of a cell phone image. You’re basically shrinking your subject and slightly distorting it. This is even worse for the images that you try to take up close.

People look weird is selfies for a lot of reasons. It’s really hard to take a good picture blindly, which is what you’re doing when you take a selfie in the first place. However, since you’re using this tiny lens that doesn’t have a good zoom function and you’re taking a picture of something up close like this, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the version of you that you photograph in a selfie looks more like it belongs in a distorting mirror at a fun-house.

A professional camera is going to have the viewfinder that you need for the sake of getting the right composition for your pictures. You will be able to zoom in and focus on the most important parts of the picture and anything else that you want to emphasize. You will be able to adjust the lighting and the settings in a way that is difficult on a featureless amateurish camera.

The Best Pet Photos Ever

woman-dog-phoneI love pet photos as much as the next pet owner, but I think people can come up with better ideas that what are usually on the table. For one thing, taking a picture of your dog sleeping is pretty obvious. Yes, it’s true that this is when it’s going to be easiest to take the picture, but that’s why these pictures tend to be boring. There’s no learning curve and anyone can take pictures like these and make them look reasonably good.

There’s also the fact that someone sleeping is doing something that’s inherently boring anyway, and even photographing a boring subject in a pretty way isn’t going to make for a gripping photograph. Your dog or your cat may look adorable even when he or she is sleeping – I don’t deny that for a second. Taylor looks cute when he’s doing anything, even if it’s chewing on my shoes. Yeah, he somehow makes that cute. However, most people would prefer a photograph of him chewing on my shoes to a photo of him sleeping.

If you can actually catch your pet in the act of doing something really naughty, you definitely have a keeper when it comes to a picture. I mean, you may not actually want your dog to chew on your shoes or your cat to knock something over in an effort to get your attention, but all of those incidents will fade. The picture will last forever, and if you get something like that on film, it’s going to be funny to you rather than actively irritating. I actually did manage to get a picture of Taylor chewing on my shoes as well as a video, and I don’t even miss the shoes any more.

Naturally, you don’t need something on that level to make the picture funny. A picture of your pet playing in almost any way can be adorable and memorable. This does mean that you’re going to have to master the art of photographing subjects in motion, but plenty of other people have managed to do that over and over again, and you should be able to do the same thing. These kinds of pictures make for really dynamic photographs, which will make them more interesting to look at immediately.

However, the important thing to remember is that animals have emotions, too. We don’t photograph people all that often when their faces are completely expressionless and neutral. We tend to take pictures of them smiling when the pictures are positive, and we take pictures of them when they’re angry or afraid when we want more dramatic pictures.

Your pets express emotions as well. You can tell when your dog is happy because he’ll start wagging his tail. Your cat will do the opposite to express her dissatisfaction with whatever it is you’re doing. Their entire body language will change under circumstances like these. Pets in general tend to communicate a lot with their bodies, since they do not tend to have much in the way of facial expressions. Photographing them when you can tell that they’re in a non-neutral emotional state can make all the difference.

What’s this Oven Thing You Speak Of?

I got an email from my mother. She was coming to visit Leo and me in a week and it had been a while. I was actually looking forward to it in spite of some trepidation. Mothers can be naggers and they can scout out your territory with a keen eye.

Okay, I can handle it. I would clean the house, tidy up the guest room and put a nice throw out. I would fluff the pillows, make the bed like a hotel maid, and put new soap in the bathroom. I wanted to please and impress her since she had her doubts. I don’t think she believed I could keep a nice home. I would prove her wrong. Everything would look as if it had always been that way, and then some.

My mother loves her morning coffee or and I have the right equipment for both. I can make a fresh pot of her favorite tea with my amazing tea infuser or use the pods for the single cup coffee machine to make the perfect cup. That problem is more than solved. She also likes eggs and bacon cooked perfectly in the oven. Now here was my problem. I didn’t know how to turn it on. I use a microwave virtually all of the time. What’s this oven thing you speak of? Bacon comes out just right in the device, no need to mess with a broiler. The oven is for decoration so my sister says, laughing at my inability to cope.

Microwave? No, my mother would not hear of it. At home, it had been an issue easily resolved. We used the oven and nothing else–not even a frying pan that was great at accumulating the grease. Now that she was on her way, I would have to learn how to use my oven ASAP. I would practice baking some chicken. That was easy. I popped it in a cookie sheet lined with foil, sprinkled some seasoning on top, and set the dial to 350 degrees. It was the tastiest, but it was edible.

I then practiced with a few strips of bacon under the broiler. This time I forgot to leave the oven door ajar, and smoke billowed from the kitchen, scaring the poor dog to death. Where was the fire alarm? He was thinking. Where are the paramedics?

I learned fast. I would be ready to make it the right way soon. I would not let her do any cooking on her own so I could show my newly-found skills. Leo and I anticipated an easy visit and a nice breakfast each day. Upon her arrival, she unpacked her suitcase and surveyed the scene. Nice, she commented. We had a great evening and retired at eleven pm. The next morning she was in the kitchen getting bacon from the fridge.

“Let me do it,” I protested and took the package into my hands. I went over to the stove and was about to open the door. “Oh, wait,” she exclaimed. “Let’s do it in the microwave. It’s so much cleaner.” What, I thought, you are kidding. “I have changed my tune,” she went on. “I am a convert to the modern lifestyle. I do my bacon the easy way on a paper towel.”

I was dumbfounded, but recovered quickly. Okay. That was fine. At least I knew how to use the stove for another time.

Kitchen Screech Owl? No, Just My Sink.

441369_SG_VIS_1.0_DE_CBI am a photographer by profession. Handyman I am not, but sometimes you just gotta do it. You know what it costs to bring a plumber in even for just one hour. It pays to learn a few tricks of the trade and fill your tool box with the necessary implements and supplies. Get a manual, read up on line, and prepare yourself for repairs. You never know when a minor disaster will strike. I stress minor, as that is all I am up for.

Let me jump back a bit in time to a week ago. It was an uneventful, nonchalant day. Leo and I were sitting in the kitchen doing nothing (me at the table drinking coffee and the dog at my side on the floor). We were whiling away time which was our habit on an easy Saturday norming. I was in reverie, my eyes glazed over, lost in thought. Leo had just had his walk and was feeling relaxed. I was about to read my emails and send a few texts.

I got up to rinse my coffee cup, dutiful person that I am about being tidy, and turned on the kitchen faucet. It made the worst screeching sound like an owl in heat. Yikes! Leo’s ears picked up and he, too, wondered what the… what had gotten into the house. Was there an open door? We looked around quickly.

Leo began to get nervous and was pacing about following my own footsteps. I was pondering the situation. He looked up at me entreatingly as if to say, “do something.” I never knew he disliked irritating sounds. He was very quiet.

I shut off the faucet for a moment and turned it on again. There had to be a screech owl in our midst? Would it attack? But no, ha ha, it was just my fancy undermount kitchen sink. Not a major problem, just annoying. The handyman spirit within was revived. It was long dead, mind you, and not often energized. I wasn’t sure I had it in me. Remember, it was a lazy kind of day. But I trotted out to the garage, got out the tool box and searched about. No washers, nary a one. Reluctantly, Leo and I hit the pavement for a walk to the hardware store. Of course, he had no clue why but was game for another go in the great outdoors. I was miffed.

One hour later, for a buck I had the new washer on the sink and was hot on the trail of the “owl.” I popped it in, tested the faucet, and alas the bird was gone, flown the coop, beat a retreat. We had peace and quiet once again. Aah! That was too much excitement for one day. I sat down at the kitchen table, poured another cup of java, and Leo repositioned himself at my side. It was as if nothing had happened. Handyman to the rescue, that’s me! Plumbing jobs around the house should always be this easy.

Have a (Power) Plan

I am a photographer and that means I like to control my surroundings and the available light. It can be natural light from windows or a skylight, or artificial light from lamps and fixtures. To get the perfect ambience, however, I need flood lights that I can regulate for the correct illumination. Lighting has to be exact even if it looks effortless. I am in essence entirely dependent on electricity for everything.

When it comes to heat and cold, however, that is another story. I have utilities like everyone else and live in a place that has the occasional annoying outage. Sometimes it comes at the most inopportune time. If I am working in my studio, and the power is on the fritz, it disrupts everything. I can’t work in the dark or even with flood lights glaring in my face. So I have taken matters into my hands and I have a power plan.

Pretty smart, eh? I have a contingency plan that involves the usage of a home generator that is closely at hand in case of a winter or summer outage as the case may be. It’s genius. The food in the fridge won’t spoil, the computer will run if the battery is dead, the air conditioning or heating will operate steadily. I will have plug in lights where I need them, flood or other kinds. I will be able to see to work and not miss a beat. How do people get by on candles or flashlights alone!

A generator is basically a motor that operates on batteries and is designed for a certain amount of power according to its size and capacity. You can also use propane gas if you prefer. Small ones are for camping and are thus nicely portable. They can run a laptop, outdoor lights, a hairdryer, a coffeemaker, and similar things. You need a larger unit for the home at a much heftier price. For example, Generac makes an expensive one for several thousand dollars. This is the one I picked.

I did all the comp shopping, read the reviews, and tallied the specs to be sure I got what I needed for the big expenditure. I wanted fully automatic operation (that included the transfer switch) and durability right from the start. The unit I selected is air-cooled and has cast iron cylinder walls, so I knew it would have a long life. I then learned about the revolving field alternator design with automatic voltage regulation. Don’t ask me to explain. It just means that the generator will operate 25% more efficiently with no damage to voltage spikes.

In case this isn’t enough, the thing won’t rust so you can use it in humid climates. Add a high grade muffler for quiet operation and safety and you have a great machine. You won’t have circuit overload or ever find a dead battery as there is a timed charger. There is a warranty in case anything goes awry. For over $3,000 I don’t expect it to happen.

I spent time on my power plan and came to understand the ins and outs of a generator as you can see. You will have peace of mind knowing that life goes on, even when the lights don’t.

Gym Wish List

If money were no object, I would take my dog Leo with me on a plane. If money were no object, I would buy a hot new car. If money were no object, I would travel to my heart’s content, and along different lines I would buy gym equipment for my home. As a matter of fact, I have a gym wish list in the making right now to share with you.

If money were no object, three or four thousand dollars would be nothing and I would fork it over gladly for an Inspire Fitness M3. Let me tell you, drool, about it. Speaking to my most frequent need, it has a commercial quality abdominal crunch station built into its head pad. On top of that, you will find a seated leg curl station to handle those drooping glutes and strengthen the laggard hamstrings. Moving on down the list, I want a precision power-packed unit made of 11 gauge steel with nylon pulleys that will never wear out, tensile strength cables, and ball bearings in the press arm pivot. In short, I want quality and I want it now. All this stuff comes with the basic model and I read it right off the flyer.

It has to have a weight stack for a serious lifter, say at least 200 lb. Next to the stack will be my treadmill by True Fitness at a whopping eight thousand. Remember, money is… It has a 20 inch touch screen, aluminum straddle covers, multiple console options, and optional customization. This brochure tells a great story: it is the “answer to premium fitness equipment for your home.” This baby is high on the wish list. It is durable, innovative, and performs like a dream. That is what real money can buy!

I want only the best in this fantasy home gym, in which by the way, space is no object. There will be room for more gear. I want a two thousand dollar Bodycraft rower with magnetic resistance. Technology abounds in this marvel. You get wireless handlebar resistance control, ultra-smooth industrial grade bearings inside friction-free rollers plus an ergonomically-designed contoured seat. You wouldn’t want it any other way! This company has listened to its consumers because everything is there made with precision and care.

On the rower I would get a great out of water experience. I probably would get a great out of body one on my Precor stationary bike on which I could spin to the heavens in a trance. I like the upright models and know I can get a super one for under four grand. The handlebars are custom designed with integrated touch heart rate and everything is devised with comfort and efficiency in mind. You can adjust the seat with one hand so you barely have to upset your routine while in motion. There is also a cool knee over pedal spindle geometry they call KOPS which will give the direst aficionado a run for his or her money. I expect a smooth workout on this fine machine.

I’d probably also add in one of the best elliptical machines as well. I haven’t had enough time to look into these yet, but I found this guide the other day and it seems like a great place to start my research.

If I haven’t exhausted my budget, I can get a stair stepper, a cage system, a power rack, a whole body vibration machine, and maybe an elliptical. But let’s not get too crazy. I only have to spend fifty thousand and I am perfectly situated for a major body transformation.