Fun Photo Toys. Snapseed by Nik Software

When I’m out I’m either on assignment with the full rig (two camera bodies, lenses, lighting rig…) or I have my iPhone. The iPhone 5 and before it the 4 and 4s are all pretty exceptional when it comes to image quality. The quality tends to be limited to web use, and mobile devices, but that’s where a lot of photo viewing happens these days. When I’m using my phone I tend to use two apps. Whether I’m shooting on location or at an event and I want immediate feedback I’ll use Instagram and then feed it to my Facebook page. I like Instagram for it’s social aspects, but I feel pretty limited with the amount of filters and post processing that’s available in the app. Plus, the square format doesn’t really do much for me. I mean Hasselblad uses it and they are a classic standard, but how many iPhone users are actively trying to make that connection? I’ve always been a fan of the 35mm format, because of the golden ratio. The iPhone’s built in camera shoots at a ratio that’s pretty close to that, but again with post processing its limited to basic edits.

A little while back my partner put me onto Snapseed, which is built by Niksoftware. It’s not as simple as the user interface in Instagram or on the iPhone’s photo library app, but there is A LOT more you can do. There are extensive fixes, such as red eye and cropping, and a lot of different style based post processing. The coolest thing about that app is that it lets you control the “Strength” of different aspects of the style filters. For instance, the Vintage filter is not only a color/hue/saturation filter, but also adds scratches to the images. You can affect each of these aspects by a simple, vertical swipe to activate the menu, and then horizontal swipes to affect each individual aspect. There are often times where the filter just doesn’t look right when I activate it, so the ability to adjust each filter is a nice addition. Additionally there are center-focus and tilt-shift filters, which I don’t use that often. With all of that though my favorite aspect of the app is the frame. The frame selections are just really, really cool. I’ve posted some examples of some photos I’ve played with in Snapseed for you to look at. I highly, highly recommend this app.

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Some flowers I saw during a walk. I used both the Retrolux and Vintage filters and adjusted the light leak aspect to get the look I wanted.

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Simple B&W filter with custom adjustments such as contract and brightness

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No filter. just basic contrast and saturation adjustments… and an added frame.

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Vintage Filter with custom adjustments, and then a frame.

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Clik Elite Reporter – Bag Test

I’m not really one for doing product reviews as I really feel that I’m an unfair reviewer.  I THRASH everything.  Seriously, ask my business partner… she’ll tell you.  I recently broke one of our MB-D10 grips for our Nikons, and my old LowePro bag is on it’s last leg after three years of use.  Regardless of that, (And in honor of Full-Disclosure) we have some friends who work over at Clik-Elite.  One of them e-mailed me and asked if they could send some product over for us to test out.  I said sure.  A couple days later a box showed up containing one black Reporter, one of their shoulder strap bags.

The Reporter

The reporter isn’t your typical shoulder strap bag.  It comes with more technical features such as a hip strap, which is removable. Both my partner and I have been using this bag when it’s available.  She likes it without the hip strap, and simply loosens the velcro that holds it in place in the sleeve and slides it out.  I like it with the hip strap.  One of the things that struck me right off the bat about this bag is that it’s genuinely a “Pro” bag.  I shoot with a Nikon D2X, and we have two D300’s with Battery packs.  So our equipment is bulky.  A major issue I’ve had in the past is that bags don’t really fit Pro bodies.  The zippers on my old LowePro bags are always stressed, since the bodies don’t really fit in the bag correctly.  This bag however is built for pro bodies.  It’s deep enough from back to front for a Pro body with a lens, a second lens or flash and another item.

I brought the D300 with a grip, flash and my Nikon Coolpix 7000 which was used to take this photo.  All fit nicely

I brought the D300 with a grip and Tamron 17-50 2.8, flash and my Nikon Coolpix 7000 which was used to take this photo. All fit nicely

I packed the bag up and went for a five mile hike up one of the canyons close by my house.  The bag performed as a bag should, staying in place and out of the way during my trek, but being easily accessible when I needed to get to the things I need to get to.  During my hike I got a call from a friend and was able to quickly swing the bag around to get to my phone placed in the front pocket

The front pocket

This pocket has enough room for a phone, wallet, keys and some other items like filters or card wallets.  It also includes two zipper pockets which will hold up to a 77 mm filter.  It also has a strap for your keys.  Included, but not pictured is the rain fly that tucks under the bottom of the bag.  I didn’t have to use it all, in fact we haven’t used it ever since it hasn’t rained here yet.

I did use the hip strap on this bag, and I was very impressed with the way it performed.  It felt like a very substantial backpacking hip strap.  It was an actual weight bearing hip strap.  This is great, since I have a bad back and shoulder strap only bags tend to enflame the problem.  So having this small, already comfortable bag sit the way that it did, with very limited weight on my shoulder was really, really nice.  I’d later realize that you can run the bag without the shoulder strap and just the hip strap.  I tried it after the hike, but I found it to be a little precarious.  The shoulder strap is good to help the bag stay in place.

Chaise Lounge at the top of the hike... oddly placed, but very very nice after the 2.5 mile hike up.

Chaise Lounge at the top of the hike… oddly placed, but very very nice after the 2.5 mile hike up.

All in all I was very pleased with the bag.  The hike I did was pretty technical and had it’s moments and the bag performed as I felt it should.  If you’re a pro who likes to travel light with a single body and one or two additional items this is a great bag.  The $13o dollar price tag puts it towards the top end of the price range for shoulder strap or hip strap bags that are comparable in carrying capacity, but it’s worth it due to how comfortable the bag is.

Check out the Reporter bag on the Clik Elite website right here

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Pactimo Group Shot Build-Up

A little while ago I attended an ASMP seminar here in L.A. with one of the leading minds in commercial photography and business practices Bill Cramer of Wonderful Machine.  It was an extremely insightful seminar and really helpful.  I had submitted my website for review and it got it’s fair share of criticism, but the thing he said to me that stuck with me the most was “Show how you’re different.  Show the work you WANT to be doing”.  He was referring to a lot of the work I was showing that utilized only natural or ambiant light and commented further that everyone in my niche (Outdoor and Lifestyle Sports) shoots with ambiant light and everything pretty much looks the same at a certain point.  After the seminar I trimmed my pages down focussing on the work that separates me from so many, the fact that I take my experience as an action sports photographer and add to my frames greater and more diverse light.  I try not to over do it, as I like my work to maintain the sense that its a photograph and not an illustration, but I also like my subjects to be more dynamically lit that just the sun hitting them from one direction.  Also, in many cases I’m working under tight deadlines and if the light doesn’t do what I want it to I don’t have the luxury of waiting for a better day.  Dragging studio lights on location can be a lot of added work, but in the long run it’s worth it to have those additional assets.

For the most part, I’m able to light and shoot my subjects in such a way that I can work in a single plate.  I like to get as much in camera and do as little work as possible on the back end.  I’m not a wizard in Photoshop and I like to show that I’m a good photographer, thus I do minimal style work in post and present a finished product that closely resembles what came off the camera. Despite all of that, for a recent project I did for Pactimo Clothing, that wasn’t an option.  In full disclosure, I wouldn’t have had any idea how to accomplish this shot if it weren’t for a good friend named Scott Dukes, another L.A. Photographer who does incredible automotive work.  Yes, two plate build ups are laughably easy, but hey… I want to give credit where credit is due (And he does significantly more complex work).

Pactimo group shot comp.

The completed image.

That’s the finished image.  Basically, due to the width of the road and how bright it was required me to place a light pretty close to my lead rider to get the light I wanted.  

The shot straight off the camera.

The shot straight off the camera.

So, as you can see we have 1 AB800 in frame, then one out of frame at about 10 o’clock to the first rider.  There is also another AB800 straight on to the riders directly behind me.  The sun also played some in the shot, and was at about 7 o’clock to the first rider.  With this frame I also shot a 2nd plate without the lights or the riders.

The back, or 2nd plate

The back, or 2nd plate

Between these two shots I had everything I needed. I imported both frames into Photoshop, layered and simply erased the areas I didn’t want in the picture.  In this case the light and sandbags and some of the flair from the light.  I did have to do some evening in color as the light had changed between the frames, but it was minimal. I also cropped the image later on as well.  I thought about adding some clouds in from a separate plate, but I wasn’t sure what my client would want to do for copy, and I figured a consistant background in the sky would probably be better in the long run.  I know it’s not a terribly impressive build up, but it was my first significant build up for a client.  A second build up I did for the same client is currently being used in their trade show booths.  Like I said before, My preference is definitely shooting single plate work and doing as little in post as possible but that isn’t always an option, and it’s good to know that with a little help from some technology, and good planning in camera that I can still accomplish my overall goal with the shot. 

You can see work from this shoot and the MTB shoot we did later that same week running on www.pactimo.com

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That Project’s done… Sea Otter

So…

Sea Otter is done.  I’m still completely exhausted, and the “Write Words” part of my brain isn’t back on line yet.  So here are some photos from the week.

Presented without comment

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Sea Otter Classic

Early calls aren’t my thing. I suppose that’s just one of many reasons I enjoy working for a lot of cycling clients. They don’t like to get up before sunrise either. Most of the work we end up doing together happens at completely reasonable times of the day. Despite my disdain for early calls, every year in mid April I get myself out of bed by 3 a.m. and get on the road an hour later. What follows is a 6 hour drive through California’s Central Coast and a mid to late morning arrival at the Laguna Seca motorway, home of the Sea Otter Classic (or as I heard it called recently, the Ocean Weasel Open). I love Sea Otter. It’s only my third year going, but I plan to keep going year after year. It’s one of the few events where you get both Road Cycling and Mountain Biking disciplines in the same venue. Thus, I get the opportunity to shoot both disciplines which is great for me since I have an equal love for both. Additionally I have a lot of friends in the bike industry and its a great opportunity to see folks from across the country who I don’t cross paths with often enough. This year I’ve limited myself to working for only a couple clients who I’ve worked with before. Both are awesome clients who have athletes completing in various events and both are a dream to work for. They respect and appreciate my creative style and my work flow and I get the opportunity to propose new ideas and concepts to consistently open minds. While I don’t stack tons of cash up after events like this, I’m still pretty blessed to get to work for the clients I do and the format of the event offers me the opportunity to reach new potential clients.

The most difficult task of the weekend though is prepping before I leave. San Jose or San Francisco are still a few hours from my destination so if I’ve forgotten something it’s not an easy task to just roll to a camera shop and get what I need. Additionally since the event is only 4 days it doesn’t make sense to have something shipped in. Basically I have to make sure I have all my S*&t together or else. And this year I have the added task of doing some “Studio” and On-Location work for one of my clients. While hauling studio lights and power up the coast might seem like a chore not worth the pay, I relish it. It’s just another opportunity to show folks how much we love a challenge. I’m excited, but then again I’m usually pretty excited about everything… hence the overuse of exclamation marks in tweets and FB posts.

Here’s a quick sampling of the field equipment that is going with me (Nikon stuff, lots of Nikon stuff)…

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And here’s what the back of the car looks like so far… (2 bikes, studio case, moto helmet, sandbags…)

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The plan is to drive up PCH this year.  I’ve never been past Cambria on the 1 and I’d like to see the sights.  Even though this is a Tuesday’s only blog, I’ll probably post some pics of the trip up if it proves to be even kind of nice.

Keep up the Awesome!

-Corey

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Ch-Ch-Changes…

Well, here I am writing words.  Words in a box on the internet with the hopes that people will read them.  Or maybe I’m hoping people don’t read them, I don’t know yet.  For those of you who don’t know, I’m the Corey Keizer behind Corey Keizer Photography.  I know, novel idea there with the company name right?  Sorry, I’m a photographer, so I think that exempt me from having to be creative with words and stuff right?  Anyway, after much hemming and hawing I decided I needed a blog for CKP.  There are a lot of times where I have things I want to discuss, or chat about or just riff on and I need words to do that, words on the internet specifically.  As you can probably surmise by the name of this entry, as well as the fact that it’s the first real entry and for the fact that it’s a new freakin’ blog when I’ve been in business for almost 3 years now; I’ve had some pretty major changes over the past couple months.  I’m happy to report they are all somewhere between good and great changes, nothing on the bad side thankfully.  First, as the people closest to me know, for the past few years I had a deep, dark secret.  I WASN’T a full time, professional photographer.  I know, shocking.  I was in fact working an 8-5 to pay the bill while I built my business.  No longer.  CKP is my full time thing now.  It’s all I do.  And while I was basically working full time on CKP and working a full time job, I feel like my workload is the same, still 80-100 hours a week at 120 mph.  Oh right, it feels like that because I’ve also partnered with my long time friend and co-hort in awesomeness to start a family oriented photography studio as well.  It’s a whole different thing so I won’t go into the details here, but yes, two businesses now.  Other than that, we’re a corporation now, serious business time, and we are branching out into new segments and niches so look for us everywhere.  Oh, we’re also switching over to some new/different tech, but that is an upcoming post (foreshadowing!)

So, add this to your RSS feed or stop by every once and a while.  I promise to keep this light and fun, but also totally professional… I swear.  Cheers from Awesometown!

-Corey

Here’s a quick snap from a recent shoot we did for Pactimo Clothing… Enjoy!

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Rock Paper Scissors… It’s kind of my thing.  Shot with Nikon D2X, 24mm, 3 x AB800 Outside of the City of Angels

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Test.

Testaroni

Boom.

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Chris Jones

 

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