November 29th, 2009

A good friend of mine asked if I can print some of my landscapes for her so I spent two days printing my Utah images. I almost forgot how “exciting” this process can be if you are unprepared. First, I had to update my Epson drivers to the latest version - but after all it went pretty smooth, I downloaded latest version 6.11 from Epson web site and installed it without any issue. After reboot, the printer was recognized and ready to go.

I usually print several proof images before I waste any large sheet of paper. Since I decided to print all my B&W on matte paper, I tried to use Epson UltraPremium Presentation Paper for proofs. So I loaded about 10 sheets of paper, tweaked Levels a little bit, added some unsharp mask, chose Advanced B&W in Epson dialog, added slight cold toning  and pushed Print button…and the print was just horrible! No details, no contrast, nothing! Even my HP Officejet would produce better results!

Long story short, I spent about an hour trying to make a acceptable print but without any success. Then just out of desperation I decided to try one sheet of UltraSmooth Fine Art paper before I officially call it quit. I loaded it into manual rear feed of my 3800, set all default parameters, Black mode, 1440 ppi, Fine Detail, no High Speed - and…OMG, that was just perfect! Al details were there, blacks were deep and rich, whites where shiny and bright! What a great printer and paper! I printed several B&W and color prints and everything was literally “picture perfect” (I only had to increase contrast and saturation a bit for color images).

My HP Mini 1110NR gets a touch screen!

July 27th, 2009

About a month ago, I had to visit one of our customers on site in LA, so I booked a morning flight on Virgin America. When I came to the gate, it turned out that flight is a first one with Wifi service on board. So VA and Google had a promo “Day in the Cloud” scavenger hunt challenge, our flight was competing with flight from LAX to SFO and the winner would get HP Mini netbooks for everyone on board. Long story short, due to some network glitch we were unable to play the game for about 20 minutes and VA decided to give away netbooks for both flights!

So I got my netbook for free, and I decided to experiment with it and have some fun. After successful installation of Mac OS X I asked myself, “What’s next?” And the obvious answer was, touch screen! So I ordered one of those 8.9″ solderless touch screen kits on eBay. I got the box today and after I opened it, inside I found a touch screen, the controller board, some double side tape and three styluses.

In order to install the touch screen, the Mini 1110 must be taken apart completely, including keyboard, main PCB, SSD drive, screen and bezel. That process took about an hour and then I realized I don’t have any USB connector on the PCB to connect the touch screen, so I had to cut the wires and solder the controller (which also has a USB hub on board) between the USB controller connector and one of USB ports. Then I attached the touch screen on top of the LCD, secured it with double tape and re-assembled the netbook. Quick power on to make sure that everything works - and it did - and on to the software installation.

The driver is downloaded from the internet and installs in seconds. It has tons of advanced settings which control the behavior, but I didn’t have a chance to play with those settings yet. Instead, I went through 25-point calibration process, one more reboot and there we go - HP Mini 1110NR with Mac OS X and touch screen!

DDIY (Don’t-Do-It-Yourself) Ring Flash Part II

December 28th, 2008

I finally found some time to do quick test of the ring flash attachment. As I expected, it loses 1 to 1.5 stops of light, so I had to dial +1.5EV on my flash. The light is very smooth and even and catchlights are perfectly round :)
Verdict - definitely worth hundred bucks spent.

DDIY (Don’t-Do-It-Yourself) Ring Flash Part I

December 11th, 2008

Thanks to Strobist, DIY ring flash attachments to on-camera strobes became very popular among amateur photographers. The ring flash creates soft and  uniform yet shadow-less light, almost like wrapped around your subject. I made my own version about a year ago, from the pair of plastic salad bowls sold in Ikea for a couple of bucks and a piece of plastic pipe connector. It worked for me pretty well; however, it’s too bulky and the major problem is that I had to hold the flash with the attachment in one hand and the heavy camera with lens attached in the second hand. I was very excited when Ray Flash was announced, but a) it’s not available for my flash+camera combination (5D + 550EX) and b) they want $300 for a nice piece of black and translucent plastic. Instead, I picked a cheap knock-off on eBay for $90 + free s/h. It has no brand name so I called it DDIY - Don’t Do It Yourself :)

Next week I will test it and post some results here.

So you want to be an event photographer?

November 27th, 2008

Ever wanted to attend any major event for free? Bring your camera and shoot pictures? How about getting access to the media pit, sitting next to pros and shoot your favorite band?

Shutterstock has a new program called RedCarpet. You don’t have to be a pro photographer and no previous experience required - simply become a Shutterstock submitter, read the rules, complete the form, send it out - and enjoy your free media pass!

With Shutterstock help, I received my media credentials for two big airshows, California International Airshow and Aviation Nation.

The blog is dead - long live the blog!

November 27th, 2008

My old blog was hijacked and I didn’t post anything here for a while. But today I decided to reviisit the old thing, give it a little bit of a facelift and bring it back online. Welcome the new blog!