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DIY tripod mounts for mobile phones, Gopro or just about anything...

Like most people, I have various devices to take pictures with and often wish I could mount them to a tripod…well here is a cheap, flexible top tip to whip up a mount for a few pounds.

Mobile phone, Gopro Hero 3 and strobe pictured here

 

You will need:

1 x tripod screw adaptor (£2)

 

 

 

1 x  1/4″-20 Tripod Mount Screw to Flash  (£2) – make sure it has two nuts which you remove & discard the shaft.

 

 

 

1 x or more Velcro straps
1 x small piece of non slip mat cut to the size of the above nut
1 x hole punch
(Optional:  Glue, scissors and sharp knife)

Step 1: Pop a hole in the centre of your Velcro strap with a hole punch and pop the tripod screw adaptor though.
Furry side inwards works best and protects your device.


Step 2:

Place the first nut over the Tripod screw adaptor, if you’re using think Velcro (below)
or, for thinner Velcro you can place a nut on before the Velcro


Step 3:
Glue the non slip mat on the upper face of the 2nd nut and pop it on once the glue has dried.  Tighten until firm, but do not over tighten.


Step 4:

Trim the Velcro to the ideal length for your device, making sure there is a reasonable amount of overlap to make a strong connection.

Now you can customise your strap, for example for the gopro I trimmed it to the exact width cut a hole for the microphone, Wi-Fi button and a slot for the usb cable.

For the Gopro, this functions like the frame that is available as an optional extra.

 

If you enjoyed this checkout our blog for more top tips @ www.Lightism.co.uk/blog/


 

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New Perspectives, Street Photography & a GoPro Hero 3

As a professional photographer everyone asks what camera, lens and setting I use when they see a great shot…. this educational site Lightism.co.uk which is mainly for non-photographers and camera phone users is about teaching people that it’s all about the eye behind the camera and not fancy equipment. With this in mind I jumped at the chance to try out the new GoPro Hero 3.

The GoPro Hero 3, for those you who don’t know is a tiny extreme sports video camera with no ability to control traditional camera settings and no screen whatsoever to shoot stills.

That’s right; it’s like a slimmed down camera phone with a better lens, higher resolution (12 mega pixels), a wireless remote, tiny foot print (it’s the same size as a matchbox) and waterproof housing and my favourite, an ultra cool video advert

As for a lack of a viewfinder or any sort of screen, initially it felt weird not seeing what I was shooting, but it somehow took me back to the magic of film and not knowing just what you’d got until you got home….for me, it added fun and excitement, and that rushing home with the anticipation of seeing what pictures I took if anything.
(there is an optional screen available)

My publisher wanted more images about perspective and street photography for my new book version of Lightism out next year (Watch this space.) My challenge was to photograph a heavily photographed landmark, but try to find a new perspective.

So off I popped on an unplanned walk of London for three hours starting at Trafalgar Square.

I instantly saw this shot from the wonderful Taylor Wessing Portrait prize at the National Portrait Gallery.  A stunning portrait which seemed to be enhanced by the light and the droplets of rain.

The Hero 3 lens is ultra wide…think of it this way:  if you look down now you can see your own nose, well if you hold this camera wrong you’ll see you own fingers….yes it’s that wide!

Initially I thought I’d correct every picture, but I quickly decided that I like the aesthetic.
(However, you do sometimes need to crop the picture afterwards)

You can also use the distortion to exaggerate things….This five year old suddenly became a giant.  I now wish I’d coerced a couple of people to run away screaming to complete the scene.

 

I chose Trafalgar Square as it is literally full of people taking pictures. After about six images (non of which I could see as it has no screen) I saw the fountain and the cameras waterproof housing and ta dar….I thought of the new perspective I was looking for; a shot from above and below water:

You could achieve a similar result from an iPhone tied in a condom if you super glued the base of the knot (no really) and was feeling very risk tolerant, but the Hero 3 is waterproof in its box and is  blisteringly sharp and super easy to use.

 

So, street photography is all about spotting opportunity and if you see a great moment captured, I can almost guarantee the photographer didn’t just arrive at the right time.  You need to look around and spot what I call the stage…this can vary from the way something is lit, or shapes or something generally pleasing or amusing to the eye.

Now you have the stage it’s time to think about who would be the perfect actor and see if anyone fitting the bill is heading your way.
I tend to give it a couple of minutes, but some photographers are more patient than I.

Other times both the stage and actors are ready and waiting.
I love the notion of this homeless man sleeping by the fire in a very modern context and a feeling of chaos outside the window.

This scene inside the National Gallery caught my attention because of the atmospheric light and the graphic shapes. I shot it empty and then waited a few minutes until this figure arrived which gives the image more scale; sometimes it’s worth trying things a few different ways so you have choices later.

I particularly  like this shot I’ve called Molly on the Market, I love the painterly feel and light falling on her face and if I’d lit it, it’s exactly what I’d have aimed to do.

The great thing with the size of Hero 3 is you can use it covertly as it doesn’t make a sound when taking a shot; this was shot from waist level.

So, in short, I love this little camera even if the battery life is very short and I had to turn it off between shots!

Next month’s Gopro challenge is this: Shoot my own wedding for my site photoality.co.uk

 


 

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Adding a little magic to your photos

As a professional photographer I can tell you that most images you see these days have been touched up, air brushed or generally played with…this is called post production and now it’s your turn to have a go.

Regardless of camera, phone or device, there is some great and usually free software to take your pictures onto the next level.  I will end this article with a list of recommendations and the Internet is full of ‘how to’ videos for each one if you need further guidance.

So, let’s start with an image (all shot with a two year old HTC desire camera phone using the standard camera app)

 

For this first shot, I utilised a special ring light which I showed you how to make last week for less than £10…this gives a shadow less light and a nice halo if your subject is close to a wall….ideal for portraits.

To prove how simple this is, I’ll use a free app I’ve never seen before and do it all on my phone in about 10 minutes. This was all done using the Pixlr-o-matic app available to download for free.

First you import the image and simply flick thought a few preset styles until you find one you like, I want something which smooths the skin, draws your attention away from the white square bottom right of the picture and draws your attention to the to the face.

Finally you select a frame (or two) and hey presto

 

 

So, one effect and three different frames took no more than 10 minutes.

 

In the second example I took this landscape from the National Portrait Gallery in London through the bar window.
(It’s a hidden gem if you’re ever in London.)

This is a matter of taste, but I wanted the sky to feel richer, within the colour effects tool of the app was a graduated neutral density effect that I liked.  Regardless if it’s your bag, it shows you how quickly you can change pictures you already, improve the light quality have and with a minimum effort produce something which stands out and is more interesting.

So here’s a quick list of a few award winning post production apps and software:  (for this article, I used Pixlr-o-matic)
Why not go try these for yourself?

Apple iOS:  FX PhotoShudio  or Snapseed   or  Filterstorm

Android:  Pixlr-o-matic

 

If you enjoyed this article then click here for more similar tips and tricks


 

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Worlds first ring light for Iphone, phones & compact cameras

As a professional photographer I’m a self confessed lighting freak…my favourite light is called a ring light which give a wonderful shadow less glow.  I’ve got one I imported for the studio and another one for my DSLR camera and for less than £10 I’ve just built one for my phone….let me show you how.

For non photographers out there, the shape and position of a light have a huge effect over the effect a light has on the subject.  A normal LED light would give a harsh shadowy light, a bit like shining a touch at someone, but ring lights shine soft even light from all around the end of the lens.  The disadvantage is that they only when close up, so are brilliant for portraits.

This little beauty gives a fabulous fill light when used indoors or at night and I look at the results and can’t believe they are from my phone!

 

How to make one for less than £10:

To date there is no commercially available ring light of for camera phone, but believe me you will be ahead of trend on this one.
This is really simple to make and takes minutes.

You will need:  one LED camping light, one cheap phone cover and some heavy duty Velcro

Personally I took my light apart and sprayed it with a matt black aerosol can from my local hardware store. I used tape to mask the holes from the inside and stop the LEDs from getting sprayed.

I paid £2.99 for a rubber case for my phone and £2.50 for half a meter of heavy duty self adhesive Velcro.  All you need to do is line up the ring and the lens of your camera and Velcro one to the other…hey presto!

 

Using your light:

It works best on headshots with you relatively close to the subject. If you are in a brightly lit room, I find turning down the lights or closing the curtains works the best so they don’t over whelm this little light.

Now, If you’ve already read me free photography lessons at www.Lightism.co.uk then you will know that light has a colour temperature and that this light you’ve stuck to your phone is a little on the blue side.  Personally, I don’t mind this look and if you’re photographing things in the blue / grey range it really enhances them:

 

Fine tuning your light:

If it bothers you, then here are two solutions:

Check if you can change the white balance your camera, phone, device or app to a specific colour temperature, if you can follow step one, otherwise step two:

1)       Download a free colour temperature meter app onto your smart phone. Using the light, the app and a piece of white paper it will tell you the exact colour temperature, mine varied depending on distant, but was around 9600k.

Equipped with this information you can set the temperature of you light and normal colours should resume.

2)      All apps, devices can change the white balance to reset such as: auto, daylight, etc.
Take a picture with your light in auto, then change it to the next setting and take another.
The colouration of each picture will vary…simply choose which one you like the best and hey presto..you’ve found your setting.

 

For compact camera users,
here is the light working with my Canon S90 compact camera:

 

 

If you like the simple way this tip taught you a complex subject, you’ll love my Lightism blog’s 10 free simple lessons to take your photography to the next level or many of the other great blog articles which are updated weekly

 


 

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Use your Ipad as a photographic backdrop

If you need to shoot still life pictures or just products to sell on Ebay, here’s a simple way to make you photos really stand out and the possibilities are endless.

These wedding rings were shot for www.Photoality.co.ukour wedding photography business using an Ipad with my web site background on the screen, the wedding rings are resting on a closed black laptop and side light is provided by the wonderful little Manfrotto ML240 LED light.  (details here http://www.manfrotto.co.uk/lighting)

Here I used the Ipad laid down with the rings on top with the same background

You can download wallpapers and backgrounds from Google images…try bokeh  – that’s the effect of points of light which are out of focus in a traditional camera lens.

 


 

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Manfrotto KLYP & ML240 first look

The Manfrotto ML240 and KLYP arrived last night and doesn’t disappoint…its compact (pocketable), well made, bright and feels very well considered and well made.

Let’s be clear, a small LED light won’t ever over power the sun, but it’s a fabulous fill light with oodles of creative possibilities and will really extend your photography. This particularly applies to camera phones and it’ll handle most low light conditions you can throw at it.

The best thing about LED lights, unlike flash it’s a constant light, so you can instantly see the effect and tweak it.

The light emitted from it clean, bright and works just fine without having to change any settings on your camera or device whatsoever. Although the unit is rectangle, the beam is a circle (shot below in a blacked out room)

3 foot from wall
7 foot from wall

I gave it to my 9 year old to see how simple it was to use, he shot these two with a lomo app (hence the strange colour):

Without Manfrotto KLYP

 

With Manfrotto KLYP

 

The KLYP system is great for iPhone users who want ease of use for both photography and video.

For non Iphone users, the light alone is still brilliant, it takes a bit of dexterity to take picture on a phone with only one hand, but the upshot is you can move the light. As a photographer, I never have a light mounted to my camera as it doesn’t always give the best creative effect.

 

Would I buy the light?…absolutely, regardless of phone or camera!

If I had an iPhone would I buy the KLYP?….sure, would be great on a night out & for others to use.

I’m shooting a wedding this weekend and will be sure to try it out…so next week I’ll give you 5 tips and tricks to get the best results from this little beauty.

For more details visit:: http://www.manfrotto.co.uk/lighting


 

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Using LED video light for Iphone & smart phone photography

Continuous LED lights which fits in your pocket and cost less than £40 can make a huge difference to your photography, especially
with an iPhone, iPad, Smart phone or compact camera.

It’s better than flash for three reasons: You can actually see the results before you take the picture, you can move it independently
of your camera and you can turn the intensity up or down.

Here’s a video by fellow professional photographer Neil van Niekerk showing you how to use the lights
[for those with a short attention span watch from 1:45]

You may not have an assistant or a light stand, but you do have another hand, so no excuses…give it a try once you’ve read our review of the new Manfrotto light which will fit in your pocket or on your iPhone later this week.

Also check out our 10 FREE lessons of Professional Photography know how condensed and simplified just for you!


 

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Who will be first - HTC or Apple?

It is only a matter of time until a smart phone manufacturer release camera module bring us all the benefits of a photographic len…the big question is who will be first to market?  With the recent release of the IPhone 5, it looks like HTC may have upped their game:

 

Lihet Calin, a designer from Romania envisions the next generation of HTC phone, one that allows a special DSLR camera attachment with all the lens power one needs for stunning shots. The device is called HTC One C and it’s pictured here, together with the much needed lens accessory.

 

HTC One C runs Android 4.0 or 4.1, has HTC Sense 4.0 applied to it and a kickass camera accessory, that really stands out. It also comes with Beats Audio technology and possibly quad core CPU, for all those image processing needs. It may suffer from battery issues as the camera case is powered by the device via microUSB.

 

 

We all know what the HTC ImageChip/ImageSense technology can do, in terms of how quickly the camera starts, good burst shots, HDR, macro photography, great video capture and all of that is amplified through this HTC DSLR accessory. Since Samsung just launched the Galaxy Camera, why wouldn’t HTC go one better?

 

 

Hot new trend: LED Lighting & Iphone...

You know I’ve been banging on about LED lights and smart phones. Well, I recently ordered a Manfrotto ML240 pocket LED light to test for you as I think it will make a great light for your iPhone or smart phone and believe me LED lighting and smart phones will be big even if no one else but me has joined the dots…

Well Manfrotto and I are clearly on the same wavelength as they have just announced an iPhone mounted version of the very light I will review next week!

 

I have to tell you, I’m very excited about this development!! I predict phones with ring lights will trend after LED becomes established.

 

 

Link to KLYP here & check back next week for the first ever review!

Camera Phone & Tinfoil?

Regardless of your camera, iphone or smart phone, photography is all about lighting.

Myself and professional all over the globe use old school reflectors […or tinfoil..bear with me here] to add extra light and fill harsh shadows.

So, here’s a great video showing American Professional Photographer, Michael Sasser using only a reflector on a shoot:

[embedplusvideo height=”269″ width=”429″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/11POrdm”

Ok, I’m not for a moment suggesting you carry a huge reflector around with you, but to take your photography to the next level you need to experiment and embrace ideas…so here’s mine:

You make reflector from time foil , pop it in your pocket and experiment.

 

[embedplusvideo height=”269″ width=”429″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/11POrdm”

Start with the light behind your subject and use the reflector as a fill….all fully explained in my 10 FREE lessons at www.Lightism.co.uk  You’ll be amazed at the results.