Thursday, 26 of March of 2015

Motion Capture Cameras and Photography

Motion Capture Cameras and Photography

One of the big trends in recent years when it comes to video and computer animations is motion capture photography. This is a very particular kind of photography where the people involved wear special suits and are confined to rooms with sensors and other gear built-in that can track their motions, track the motions and positions of the sensors in the suits relative to each other, and then feed that information into a computer so that animators and 3D riggers can, later on, take that data and use it to generate an animated sequence for a movie or television show.

3D motion capture (or “mocap” as some insiders call it) is fairly standard these days in video games and in cinematic cut-scenes contained in them. Just look at machinima projects like Red vs Blue and see how they use mocap and 3D animation to really bring their videos to life and to make the models move in ways that Bungie never intended. It’s also not unheard of in movies though there it might be used to a completely different end. One example is the way that Loki’s outfit changes in The Avengers. He goes from wearing a business-style suit to his Asgardian leathers without there being any camera cut-away or indication that there were multiple takes. The most probable way that this effect was shot was that the actor was wearing a 3D motion capture outfit and then scratch takes of him in the same scene with the suit and then the leathers were done to give the animators better data to work from. They then painted his costumes on in the “keeper” motion capture take and added the effects.

If you’re interested in getting into this kind of photography and computer animation, it’s an interesting area with a lot of room to grow so it’s definitely worth checking out!

— da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s been another great week in the world of photography with plenty of news out of Nikon and Fujifilm about new cameras and new gear that builds on the announcements from the earlier Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. We’ve also seen a lot of great guides come out this week on how to improve photography for the wintry months, capturing winter seasonal-specific photos, and looks ahead with photography plans for 2015!

All of these stories and more were covered in our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter, we’ll recap the highlights for you below!



That’s it for this week, folks! Have a great weekend and we’ll see you again next week!

— da Bird


Profiles in Photography: David LaChapelle

Profiles in Photography: David LaChapelle

This week’s photography profile focuses on American avant-garde photographer David LaChapelle. His work spans across the industry in the fields of commercial photography, fine-art photography, music video photography, film, and more. LaChapelle is most known for his “hyper-real and slyly subversive” and “kitsch pop surrealism” style of photography. His work often conveys commentary on social issues and calls into question long-standing assumptions about social conventions and traditions. His photos have run on the covers of Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, Rolling Stone, and i-D and he has taken some of the most famous portraits of celebrities such as Tupac Shakur, Madonna, Eminem, Andy Warhol, Philip Johnson, Lance Armstrong, Pamela Anderson, Lil’ Kim, Uma Thurman, Elizabeth Taylor, David Beckham, Jeff Koons, Leonardo DiCaprio, Hillary Clinton, Muhammad Ali, Britney Spears, Amanda Lepore, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga.

LaChapelle’s rise in photography began in the 1980s when he was showing his artwork in galleries in New York. There, he was discovered by none other than Andy Warhol who offered the aspiring artist a job as a photographer at Interview Magazine. From there, LaChapelle established a reputation as an artistic and respectable celebrity portrait photographer and his work was soon featured in some of the top editorial magazines of the era. Before much longer, he was leading advertising trends and creating some of the very ad campaigns that many of us remember from the 80s and 90s.

LaChapelle continued to push the envelope with his photography until 2006 when he abruptly retired and moved to an isolated part of Hawaii. These days, he prefers to spend his time shooting in galleries where he got his start. He feels that he has, in some way “been reborn…It’s just come full circle.” His work has received high praise as standing out from the crowd of current modern photographers — many of whom rely overmuch on shock and gratuitous nudity, especially in commercial works, according to Helmut Newton — and LaChapelle has been called the “Fellini of photography.” So, if you ever get the chance to see his work for yourself, it is definitely worth the time!

— da Bird


Photography News from CES 2015

Photography News from CES 2015

Last week the biggest event of the year in consumer electronics took place out in Las Vegas — CES 2015. And while most of it centered on televisions, home theater systems, driverless cars, tablets, computers, and other gadgets, there were some pretty amazing reveals from Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, and Pentax on the floor that have many of us very excited about what the rest of the year has in store from these big names in photography gear.

The first out the gate was Canon with their announced refreshes to the PowerShot line and the PowerShot ELPH series. The big news with the PowerShot line is the PowerShot SX530HS which includes a 50x optical zoom and a 100x Zoom plus — Canon’s own digital zoom technology. The SX530HS replaces the SX520HS and has very similar features and a very similar feel, making it a good update to a solid line. Next up is the PowerShot SX710 HS which replaces the PowerShot SX700 HS and packs a 30x optical zoom as well as being very pocket-friendly. The new PowerShot SX610 HS is an update to the PowerShot SX600 HS with 18x optical zoom and a sleek, slim build.

All three of these models also feature Auto Zoom, built-in WiFi, and full HD recording.

Last out of this line-up is the PowerShot N2 which has a square design, zoom lens, and a flippable touchscreen that rotates up to 180 degrees, allowing you to capture great selfies!

In the PowerShot ELPH series, Canon has announced the ELPH 160, 165, and 170. The ELPH series is aimed at the entry or novice market and seeks to compete against smartphone photography in the mobile world meaning these cameras come packed with a lot of features for a pocket-profile including optical zoom of up to 12x for the 170, a 20 MP sensor, Smart Auto mode, and a variety of artistic modes including Fisheye, Toy Camera, and Monochrome to help photographers get a particular look and feel in their casual shots.

The next big name out of the gate is Panasonic with their TZ70 and TZ57. These cameras are aimed at the travel market and feature slim profiles, great sensors, good zoom, and handy controls. The TZ70 has 30x optical zoom and a 5-axis Hybrid O.I.S.+ image stabilizer system to deal with the inevitable camera shake. It can also shoot full HD AVCHD video and has Panasonic’s 240fps Light Speed AF technology, GPS, and built-in Wi-Fi. The TZ57 has a 20x optical zoom lens and a few more megapixels than the TZ70 but is not optimized for low-light shooting and lacks the TZ70’s geotagging, Light Speed AF, and electronic viewfinder but does come with a tilting LCD screen for great selfies!

Panasonic also showcased their new SZ10 for social events with a pocket-profile that goes easily into a purse or suit jacket and comes with a 12x zoom range and built-in WiFi. In their rugged line-up, they unveiled the FT30 which comes with a 4x 25-100mm equivalent lens, is waterproof up to 8 meters, shockproof up to 1.5 meters, freezeproof up to -10, and dustproof. It also has some nice features such as Creative Panorama, Time Lapse, Advanced Underwater to correct for color shifts underwater, and a Torch Light for dark settings.

Third in line is Pentax with their entry-level DSLR the Pentax K-S1. This line is slated to launch in the spring and is a APS-C format DSLR. Pentax was a bit stingy with details but did say that three lenses would be launched for this line: a 18-50mm lens and a super-telephoto as well as a large-diameter telephoto lens.

Last but certainly not least is Nikon with the D5500 aimed at advanced beginners — photographers who are still learning but eager to make strides in creativity and to experiment a bit. The D5500 is the first Nikon camera to feature a touch-screen control panel — a feature considered standard by many other camera makers — an increased ISO range going up to ISO 25,600, can shoot video in 1920 x 1080 full HD at frame rates up to 50p/60p, as well as a much improved battery life.

There will be much more news out of the photography industry over the course of the year but the news out of CES 2015 has us off to a great start!

-da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

The first of the year is always a fun time in the photography industry. CES 2015 kicked off earlier this week and wraps up today and there has been plenty of news out of it about new photography gear and new camera lines that will be hitting the shelves over the next year. In addition to the news out of Vegas, there have been plenty of big stories out this week including the coverage of events in Paris and the winter storms sweeping across the United States. And, photographers have been writing articles challenging newcomers to the field to step up and take their photography to the next level over the new year as well as offering advice on how to achieve that goal.

All of these stories and more were covered on our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter, we’ll recap the highlights for you below!


That’s all for this week, folks! Have a great weekend and see you again next week!

— da Bird


Profiles in Photography: Francesco Gola

Profiles in Photography: Francesco Gola

This week we’re focusing our Profile in Photography on Italian landscape photographer Francesco Gola. He spends most of his time roaming the coasts of Italy capturing long exposure photos. Gola trained to become an engineer but fell in love with photography. Since then, he’s traveled all over Europe taking photos and his work has allowed him to visit some of the most beautiful and iconic places on the planet.

Gola prefers long exposures of beaches because he finds them a way to give him access to a kind of “parallel universe” without all of the chaotic frenzy and hectic day-to-day clutter of life. Beaches are a great subject for him because they, like mountains, seem to be eternal but are actually constantly changing in tiny ways. He views photography as “a source of inspiration that allows him to reveal the relationship between the outside world of nature and the inside world of thoughts and emotions.” His work can be viewed both at 500px and his own website.

— da Bird


4 Tips For Keeping Your Camera Stored

4 Tips For Keeping Your Camera Stored

Most of the time here at On the Board Walk with Beach Camera, we have advice for you on how to use your camera to take the best photos you can or how to improve your technique in a specific field of photography. However, unless you’re some kind of photography machine capable of going for days and days without sleep, your camera will spend a lot of time snug in its case. So, to help you ensure that your camera rests well between sessions, we have some tips for you to try below!

1) Keep a lens or cap on – If you’re shooting with a camera that has interchangeable lenses, make certain you store the camera with a lens on it or, if you remove the lens, you put the covering on the lens connector on it so that dust doesn’t get in the camera body and scratch the sensor or mess up the mirrors.

2) Pop the batteries out – It’s easy to accidentally run your batteries out of juice by storing your camera with it turned “on.” So, take the batteries out before you put the camera away.

3) Be careful with the neckstrap – If your neckstrap has leather on it, be especially careful when storing it away. Make sure that it is dry and not creased, kinked, or knotted unless you want to deal with having the strap be perpetually tangled. Do the same with any other cords or cables you’re packing away with the camera.

4) Keep your gear stable – Store your camera bag someplace where it’s not going to be shaken or subjected to a lot of small vibrations.

If you want to make your camera and any new gear you got over the holidays last for years to come, make certain you take time to store it away with care. That way, you can keep snapping photos for much, much longer.

— da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s been a shorter couple of weeks with the holidays just behind us but there have still been some stories out there for photographers and photography enthusiasts to keep an eye on during this time of year. As 2014 wound down and 2015 spun up, photographers around the world were looking back over the year behind them and posting up their favorite photos, photography moments, photography gear, and contest winners as well as advice on different techniques they were planning to give a test drive in the year to come.

All of these stories and more were featured on our Twitter feed. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter, we’ll recap the highlights for you below!


That’s all for this week, everyone! Have a great weekend and we’ll see you again next week!

— da Bird


Happy New Years!

Happy New Years!

Today is New Year’s Eve and we hope that everyone is planning to have fun ringing in the new year and saying fond farewells to the old one. However, we also want everyone to stay safe and stick around for all of 2015 (after all, this is the year that Back To the Future II promised us flying cars). So, we have a few tips for you to follow for you to do just that.

1) Have a designated driver — If you’re going to drink, don’t drive. If you can’t have a designated driver, be someplace where you can get a taxi. Most cities and municipalities offer free rides on New Years and bars will have drivers on call to help out. Make use of them!

2) Don’t mix alcohol and fireworks — Fireworks are fun. Drinking (in moderation) can be fun. Combining the two is not so fun. So don’t do it. If you’re planning to have an amateur fireworks display, hold the drinks until after it’s over unless you really want to pay a visit to the Emergency Room.

3) Eat well but don’t overdo it — Don’t eat too much sugary goodness during the festivities — especially if you’re going to be drinking. Spiking your blood sugar can make you really sick.

4) Go to bed and get some sleep — Staying up to midnight is traditional. Staying up until 5 am is not so smart. Be sure to get some sleep or else you’ll regret it the entire New Years Day.

5) Don’t forget to plan your lucky meal for New Years Day — The traditional New Years Day meal consists of pork chops, black-eyed peas, and macaroni and cheese. Don’t feast too much on New Years because that will bode ill for the rest of the year to come.

We hope that everyone has a fun and safe New Year’s Eve and a great 2015!

— da Bird


6 New Year’s Eve Sparkler Photography Tips

6 New Year's Eve Sparkler Photography Tips

New Year’s Eve is just a few days away and that means that, for many of us, it’s time to either go to a fireworks show or start planning one of our own. Sparklers are always a great way to have fun at a New Year’s Eve party as well and are friendly for all ages 4 and up. They also make for some great photos and give photographers a chance to experiment a bit more with light settings in a more forgiving environment than that traditionally found in most firework displays. However, you’ll still want to go in prepared so make certain you check out our sparkler photography tips below and get your gear together to get the best sparkler photos ever!

1) Accessorize your camera — A tripod and a flash aren’t just good ideas for this kind of photography; they’re a requirement. There is no way that you’ll be able to hold the camera perfectly still for the long (and we are talking minutes here) exposure times (you’ll want to be in “exposure: bulb” mode) and the tiniest bit of camera shake will give you a photo that is useless.

2) Set up the flash — REAR CURTAIN SYNCH is probably going to be the best bet for an on-camera mounted flash but your lighting conditions may vary so don’t be afraid to experiment a bit.

3) Have plenty of long sparklers — Get sparklers that will burn for 20+ seconds at least. Anything shorter than that won’t work for this kind of photography.

4) Aperture defines details — Higher apertures will give you a lot more details but wider apertures (lower f-stops) will give you a smoother light-line. Experiment with the settings until you have the effect you want.

5) Plan your writing/drawing beforehand — Take some time to practice things first. This will save you a lot of grief during the shoot later!

6) Cheap plastic lighters are fine but Zippos are forever — Lighting a sparkler can take some time to get it to catch. Many years, I have burned my thumb on cheap plastic lighters trying to get them to light a sparkler. Save yourself some grief (and burn ointment) and see if anyone has a Zippo lighter to use instead. If not, go light a candle and use that.

We want to see any sparkler photos you manage to capture for New Year’s so be sure to share them with us over on Facebook!

— da Bird