Backing Up

September 2nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Backing up your images.

Have you ever lost images on a computer or smartphone? I have on both. A hard drive failed on a computer, and I did not heed the warnings when I updated the iOS on my iPhone. For the most part, I had most of my images on CDs for my computer and posted images on Instagram or my blog with my iPhone.

After my hard drive failure, I subscribed to Carbonite. I lost the hard drive 6 years ago, and since then I have backed up over 90 gigs in files, most of which are images. Having the peace of mind knowing my files are safe is priceless.

Today, I opened up my Carbonite app and was surprised to see a new feature. The app allows me to access my images from my backup, and I was perfectly content with that. Carbonite has now allowed me to backup my images on my iPhone.

20120902-120041.jpgI know what you are saying, “Apple has the Cloud built into iOS.” and I’ve tried it. I was not too impressed because I usually did not keep my images on my phone very long to appreciate it. When Carbonite backed up my images, the app was my “cloud” access.

Time will tell if this new feature will improve my experience, and I will let you know what I find.

Old And New

August 27th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

I went through some old negatives today, and I decided to play around.

20120827-224614.jpgI took a laptop computer monitor and put a white image on the screen. Negatives require light to pass through in order to get good detail.

I put the negative against the screen and took an image with my 3GS iPhone. I used Negative Me and Snapseed Apps (but photoshop will do) to process the images before I put them on Instagram or Facebook. :)

I’m A Photographer

March 23rd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

In My Photographic Opinion

Have you ever been asked, “Are you an amateur or pro photographer?”

I have often thought about this question. It is almost as popular as the camera question: “What camera do you use?” Most of the time it does not concern me, but there are those occasions when it rubs me the wrong way.

Labels have always been a part of human history. It is a way of identifying and being identified. Not all labels bad, but sometimes they can create negative emotions or divisions in people.

The labels in question are used to describe photographers, and they have often been used to divide them. An insecure photographer will often use it to create classes and leverage themselves over other photographers, especially in the realm of opinion. This was clearly a trend during the 19th and 20th centuries. But, as we have entered the 21st century, we have seen an explosion in education and collaboration amongst photographers, and an ever decreasing line between pro and non-pros.

When I am asked whether I am a pro or amateur, I simply say that I am a photographer. I say it unapologetically and boldly. I have also used this label on others when they try to explain themselves. Just say, “I’m a photographer.”

I am not trying to criticize, but simply express my opinion on the matter. I was asked once if I was a pro, and I simply answered, “Yes”. But, they questioned my answer by asking if I got paid. I said, “No”.

I thought about it for a moment and told them that it was like asking whether I was a prostitute or a lover. Both do the same thing, but one gets paid to do it. They laughed and saw my point. I do not think professional photographers are prostitutes, but it was the closest analogy I had to prove my point.

What are your thoughts? I’d like to hear them. Remember, do not be afraid to call yourself a photographer.

Gray Cards

March 5th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

20120303-235205.jpgGray cards are an important tool in a photographers arsenal. They serve two purposes:

1. Exposure
2. White Balance

Ansel Adams helped develop the Zone System that consists of 10 stops of light from black to white. (You can google the Zone System for more information) Zone 5 is considered middle gray or 18% gray. Since cameras (as of yet) can only capture half the zones in an image, the photographer has to choose which zones that would give the best exposure.

Cameras and Light Meters (reflective) are programmed to meter a scene at 18% Gray, but not every scene or object has a gray to meter. The camera or light meter will try to give an approximate reading, but it can often be incorrect. The best choice in this scenario is to spot meter a gray card that is reflecting the light back at the camera or light meter.

20120304-001414.jpgHow do you use it? Let us use the image above as an example. I set a bowl against a dark background and had it sit under a 100 watt shop light using my iPhone camera. As you can see, my iPhone auto exposed the scene and blew out the bowl since the scene was mostly dark. The meters will lighten a dark scene and darken a light scene.

20120304-002221.jpgStart by placing the card in front of your subject. The light reflecting off the card will give a true reading of middle gray, and the photographer can choose the exposure needed.

20120304-002824.jpgI selected the X on the card, with my iPhone, because the focus requires contrasting elements to lock on to, and it was also one of the lightest parts of the card. A slr camera and light meter is different. The spot meter is aimed at the gray for a reading, and the photographer can focus on the X or remove the card and focus on the object.

20120304-003727.jpgRemove the card, and start taking pictures. You may need to adjust the card for better readings, but for the most part, your exposure should be correct.

As for the white balance, the gray card has also changed the color temperature to make the colors true. Tungsten, fluorescent, LED, sun, moon, and other types of light have their own color temperatures that can change the look of an image. White balance is different with each camera, so refer to your owners manual for more information.

Give the gray card a try, and you will be amazed at the differences that are made to you’re images.

Shadows And Light

March 3rd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

20120303-105724.jpgShadows are a blessing and a curse in photography. A good photographer will use them to their advantage.

Camera – iPhone 3GS
Capture App – Native Camera

The Photographers Best Friend

January 26th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

‘The Photographers Best Friend’ is a bold statement to make, but you may find some truth to it when this post is complete.

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What am I talking about? The gray card. In 1999, I took a photography class in college. It was an introductory to photography course that took us into the darkroom where we used film and developed out images. Besides the film and camera, we were required to purchase a set of gray cards, and believe me, they were not cheap.

There were two 8×10 and one 4×5 cards in the set, but over the years I have lost both 8×10 cards. The camera I used in the class was the AE-1 Program camera, and it had a decent light meter built into the camera. In order to get the correct exposure reading, you needed to fill the frame with the gray card, but today’s cameras have the spot metering option which I use primarily.

Lets look at a couple reasons of why you need a gray card. First, our cameras are programmed to meter a scene at 18% or middle gray, but not every scene is balanced enough, between the highlights and the shadows, to capture the correct exposure. Second, each and every scene has a light source that gives off a different color balance that can effect the lighting of the image.

The gray card is rated at 18% or middle gray, and our cameras have a reflective metering system. So, with the correct metering, we can establish the correct exposure for or subject or scene.

Here is how you use the gray card:

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Place the card in front of your subject or scene so the light reflects back towards your camera. Do you notice how the camera exposes the background and blows out the cards?

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Select the area of the gray card until the correct exposure is obtained. As you can see, the background darkens and the cards have been exposed correctly.

Let me give you an example using a model car on my couch.

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As we saw with the first image, the background has blown out the subject because it is dark, but as you will see below, we can correct the exposure with the gray card.

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The background has darkened, and it will not distract you from the subject. After you have locked down the correct exposure, you can capture a series of images without having to meter with a gray card every time, but if you make any adjustments, it would be smart to re-meter the scene.

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Here is a last thought on this subject. Without the gray card, you can select an area the would be considered 18% gray, and you would be able to capture a great image. I will select the pavement when I’m shooting cars or the grass for landscapes. Depending on the conditions I will usually need to make corrections in post.

Try this out for yourself, and you will be amazed on how your images will improve.

Night Flash

October 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

We went camping this weekend on our friends property, and we had a blast. The evening started with everyone showing up, setting up, and eating dinner.

I was asked to bring my camera, and this gave me a good opportunity to play with my flash. My camera (canon 30d) is terrible in low light conditions, but it is otherwise a great camera. I brought two cheap flash units, two tripods, and a radio trigger. I ended up using only one flash, but they had a slave mode in case I used both.

Another thing I tried was makeshift defusers. The flash units are adjustable by moving them back and forth, so I took some bubble wrap and taped them to the units.

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This is an image of my wife and son sitting in front of the fire. The flash unit is on a tripod about 20-25 feet to the left. I think it turned out alright, and I definitely need more practice.

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One day I want to use another flash unit. But, in the mean time. One will do.

My Thoughts On Instagram 2.0

September 20th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Instagram 2.0 is out! I downloaded the new version today, and there are some things I really like and others that I have to think about.

First off, the things I like. Borders – The borders option is a huge plus. I refused to use certain filters because of their border, but now there is an option to turn it off.

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New Filters – I am glad to see that there are more filters to choose, but I cannot give two thumbs up just yet (I’ll explain later).

Black & White Filter – Thank God they changed it! The old filter was good if you had no other option, and here is why. The filter was harsh to skin tones and reds. Eyes would darken and give a sick or sinister look to the person, and red cars would turn white. Now we have a true black and white filter. Off hand it looks comparable to my favorite editing app, Snapseed. We will see.

Image Rotation – I think this is an excellent addition to the editing process. It was frustrating when an image used was sideways. Correcting it meant taking it into another app.

Now for the things that did not excite me.

The filters (except b&w) – I think all the filters have been reengineered. They do not have stark changes between the original and altered images. It could be my eyes, but I don’t think so. I used an image to test from this morning, and I tested the 2.0 version. I can see some subtle changes, so the jury is still out.

Filter Toggle – It’s still new, but it was annoying me. I did not like the filters changing the image every time I moved the carousel. I did notice you could press a filter to move them, but it was still frustrating. Not Saving Images – Instagram 2.0 does not save the images to my picture folder! I like having that option. I have to jump through hoops if my wife wants to post an actual image to Facebook and use it as a profile picture. What happens if (God Forbid) Instagram ceases to exist or my account gets deleted? What will happen to all my images? I think they need to rethink that change. (*The images I tested did not save, but the follow up images did. Check your Instagram in Settings on you iPhone, iPad, or iPod, and make sure your options are correct.)

Overall I think there are good changes to Instagram. Most issues will probably be forgotten, but there will be many who will complain. I hope there is not too much of a noticeable difference between first and second generation images. I wonder if they would bring back the first generation filters as an option? Till then we will see.

If you want to follow me on Instagram, my handle is @josephferreira

Why You Should Not Throw Images Away

September 5th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I started going through some of my old images from two of my first digital cameras and my 35mm film to upload to Instagram and Google+.

The first digital camera was a camera/webcam that had no view screen to see the images, but I was use to that with 35mm.

A few years later we were given a 4 mega pixel Kodak point and shoot camera which we used quite a bit. I have recently gone through and posted them on Instagram, and they look great!

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We get so wrapped up in mega pixels and glass that we forget that there are great images that have been lost or put away because they came from ‘inferior cameras’.

The truth is that the camera cannot take great images by themselves, and photographers are not limited by their equipment as much as they think they are. The myth that better equipment makes better images will frustrate many people. The greatest photographers from history created works of art from inferior equipment by our standards.

I think there are many photographers who need to put down their DSLRs and pick up a 3 or 4 mega pixel camera. Are you up for the challenge? I am.

If you want to follow my journey with my iPhone and point & shoot images, you can follow me on Instagram or twitter.

Instagram: @josephferreira Twitter: @ferreirajoseph

Combining Single Image HDR

August 14th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

High Dynamic Range (HDR) combines multiple images, of the same subject, into one to create an image that simulates what the human eye sees.


A Single Image HDR takes enhanced images from a single image and combines them for a HDR image.



I took pictures at a car show Saturday. It was overcast which turned the sky into a giant softbox. The image below of this old Hudson was taken with my iPhone. It is not a bad image, but it is lacking some depth.

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I loaded the image info an iPhone app called Dynamic Light, and it created the HDR image below. This is still a great image, but HDR can give a cartoonish look to an image.

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Another application I use is called Pro HDR. I combined the image above with the original one. By adjusting the levels, I created a base image (below) that will be darker than the HDR image.

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Dark images have details light images do not and via versa. With Pro HDR, I combined the HDR image with the base image to add a little more realistic look to the image.

There may not be a whole lot of change, but all I wanted to do is add clarity and realism to the image.

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Give Dynamic Light and Pro HDR a try, and you will find average images come to life.