Monday, August 26, 2013

Casual Tech User 11: Mobile Photography | Lessons Learned Using iPad and iPhone Cameras (Part 2) | 3 Minutes to Better Photography


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Vacationing with an iPad as your only camera. You have got to be kidding! No, leaving my DSLR camera at home, I primarily used my iPad during a two-week vacation last summer. Here are a few mobile photography lessons I have learned.

Copenhagen Canal, taken and edited on iPad

This episode completes the discussion started in Episode 10. In that episode I discuss the continuing growth of mobile photography, the awkwardness I felt taking pictures while holding an iPad in front of my face, learning to edit on the iPad, and backing up photographs while on a trip.

In this episode I speak specifically to my experiences while using the iPad and iPhone cameras. These include:

Lesson Number 1: Need light
  • Most phones and tablets are not good in low light.
  • While some of the newer phones are getting better, dedicated cameras will win in a comparison with most mobile devices.

Lesson Number 2: Avoid zooming
  • Use your feet, not the camera’s digital zoom.
  • If you must bring the object closer, do it during post-edit cropping. 

Lesson Number 3: Use framing
  • If getting closer is not an option, use the foreground to your advantage. 
  • Find a closer object to pull into the composition. Use the foreground to add depth and draw the eye to your intended focal point.

Lesson Number 4: Use elevation and angles
  • If you don't like what you see on the display, learn to be creative and work the environment from a new angle. 
  • A slight placement of the camera above your head or below the waist or further to the right or left can make a huge difference.
  • Think of the camera as being on a string as you swing it in a circle.

Lesson Number 5: Forward may not be best
  • Keep your head on a swivel.
  • Look to your left and right. Turn around to discover what you just passed.
  • A better sunset photo might be the lighting effect on the area behind you.

Lesson Number 6: Pick a few camera apps
  • Don’t allow yourself to become an “app-aholic.”
  • It's always safe to start with the basic camera app before venturing out to a few others offering very specific options.

Lesson Number 7: Mobile LCD screens are limited in bright sunlight
  • The LCD screens are really difficult to view in the bright sunlight.
  • Polarized and photochromatic UV sensitive sunglasses make it even more difficult to view the screen.
  • Be prepared to properly protect your glasses if you have to take them off.
  • Some photographers use towels to form a camera hood when shooting in bright sunlight.

Lesson Number 8: Don’t over use filters and gimmicks during post-production
  • Filters currently are all the rage and easy to use.
  • It seems cool to take a new picture and make it look old, blue, cartoonish, or whatever else is just a click a way. 
  • We dumped of all those cheap cameras and poorly developed prints for a reason!

Lesson Number 9: Managing workflow
  • Take good workflow notes, including which apps, filters, editing procedures, etc. where utilized during post production.
  • Develop a workflow for easily finding and sorting pictures after the fact.

Lesson Number 10: Backing up
  • It’s very difficult to back up images in the field from a mobile device.
  • Laptops and portable hard drives offer the ability to backup while on vacation.
  • A few hardware devices are available for backing up in the field, but these tend to be expensive alternatives.
  • Even at home moving images between mobile devices and computers can be cumbersome. In addition to hardwiring a phone or tablet to a computer, Wi-Fi and software options are available to move images wirelessly between devices.

Episode Links:


Derrick Story: The Digital Story.com and Podcast and author of “iPad for Digital Photographers





Flipboard:

Casual Tech User 3 Minutes to Better Tech Flipboard Magazine posts articles especially selected for the beginning or casual tech user.

Casual Tech User 3 Minutes to Better Photography Flipboard Magazine posts photographs and articles to encourage spending a few minutes each day enjoying photography.

My Links:

Subscribe and Listen to Casual Tech User On Demand Audio
  • Mac or Windows: CasualTechUser.com, TuneIn.com, Stitcher.com
  • iPad or iPhone apps: Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher, Downcast, or your favorite from App Store
  • Android apps: TuneIn, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, Podkicker, Beyondpod or your favorite from Google Play
  • Also on Windows Phone, Kindle, Roku, Apple TV, SmartTVs, or your car apps

Other sites where I can be found include:










Thanks for listening.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Casual Tech User 10: Mobile Photography | Lessons Learned Using iPad/iPhone Camera (Part 1)


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I spent a couple of weeks last summer in London and cruising the Baltic. I just couldn’t bare the thought of lugging around a heavy backpack with my DSLR camera, lenses and accessories. So, I decided to lighten the load.

It is been said many times, “Your best camera is the one you have with you when you want to take a picture.” For most of us our cellphone or tablet camera may fit the bill when we want to catch an unexpected image or travel lighter during a vacation.

I decided to leave my DSLR camera at home and use only my iPad (3rd gen.) and iPhone 4. At first, I really felt awkward standing in a crowd shooting with my iPad. Almost everyone else is using DSLR, point-and-shoot or cellphone cameras. And, here I am holding this giant tablet in front of my face.

A few people were using iPads in London, but that's about it. During a tour in Copenhagen I had a lady talk to me briefly about my photo efforts. Later I saw her pull an iPad out of a backpack and start experimenting. I counted that as a moral victory!

Mobile photography is growing. While cellphone cameras are becoming very commonplace, I’m seeing more people using iPad cameras.

First, I'm a very amateur photographer. I realized very quickly, the lens on the iPad and iPhone was very restrictive in comparison to a DSLR. Rather than working for the right composition, I’ve been allowing my DSLR zoom to make me lazy while planning and executing a shot. I’ve been rely on post production to get me out binds and improve my images through cropping and enlarging

Focusing on mobile photography for the first time, I slowly realized "to make the best of the shot I have." Don't try to get more out of the frame than the lens can give you.

Both cameras’ specifications are about the same, and I’m very happy with the final product, both in prints and posted on the internet.

Post processing on iPad is great. In fact, even now when I take a picture on a DSLR or iPhone, I transfer the image to the iPad for post-production.

Continuing in Episode 11 of the Casual Tech User

As a continuation of this discussion, Casual Tech User, Episode 11 discusses in more depth the mobile photography lessons I’ve learned since my trip. The topics I cover include:
  • Using available light.
  • Overcoming the lack of a true zoom lens.
  • Using framing, height and perspective to create unique angles.
  • Keeping your head on swivel to locate some interesting shots.
  • Avoiding the "app-aholic" syndrome.
  • Overcoming the iPad screen is mostly useless in bright sunlight.
  • Managing workflow and the iPad camera roll.

Episode Links:






Flipboard:

Casual Tech User Flipboard magazine posts articles especially selected for the beginning or casual tech user.

My Links:

Subscribe and Listen to Casual Tech User On Demand Audio
  • Mac or Windows: CasualTechUser.com, TuneIn.com, Stitcher.com
  • iPad or iPhone apps: Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher, Downcast, or your favorite from App Store
  • Android apps: TuneIn, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, Podkicker, Beyondpod or your favorite from Google Play
  • Also on Windows Phone, Kindle, Roku, Apple TV, SmartTVs, or your car apps

Other sites where I can be found include:










Thanks for listening.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Casual Tech User 9: Create Smarter TV | Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast


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Adding smart TV features such as Netflx and YouTube to your existing television can be as simple as 1, 2 or 3.
  • Apple TV
  • Google Chromecast
  • Roku
In this episode, Ron discusses his impressions of the positive (+) and negative (-) aspects of each of these units.
  • Apple TV ($99 range)
    • + Best for Apple-only users, including AirPlay Apple devices to TV
    • + Only unit offering iTunes
    • - Requires HDMI input on TV
    • - Less than 20 apps currently on the interface
  • Google Chromecast ($35)
    • - Currently very limited features: Netflix and YouTube, plus other features limited to specific operating systems.
    • + $35 price
    • + Seems faster than other units to play content
    • - Requires HDMI input on TV
  • Roku ($50 to $99)
    • + Considered best by some experts for non-Apple users
    • + Offers 750+ channels (apps)
    • + Non-HDMI units available in the $50 to $99 range
    • - No iTunes or YouTube channels currently available
In addition to the units listed above, several external devices presently have the capability of adding smart TV features to your existing television. These include:
  • Video game consoles
  • Blu-Ray disc players
  • Some commercial DVRs
While many consumers report owning a smart TV, reportedly less than one-half have been connected to the internet. And, many of the external devices offering internet operations have interfaces that are considered too cumbersome for many casual users to comfortably operate.

Episode Links:






Flipboard:

Casual Tech User Flipboard magazine posts articles especially selected for the beginning or casual tech user.

My Links:

Subscribe and Listen to Casual Tech User On Demand Audio
  • Mac or Windows: CasualTechUser.com, TuneIn.com, Stitcher.com
  • iPad or iPhone apps: Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher, Downcast, or your favorite from App Store
  • Android apps: TuneIn, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, Podkicker, Beyondpod or your favorite from Google Play
  • Also on Windows Phone, Kindle, Roku, Apple TV, SmartTVs, or your car apps
Other sites where I can be found include:









Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Casual Tech User 8: Podcasts | Find, Subscribe and Listen



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Here’s a simple, painless, productive way to use leisure time to enhance your hobbies, activities or interests by joining the millions of podcast listeners who are enriching their professional, as well as personal, endeavors. If you aren’t an active podcast subscriber, this episode:
  • Provides a simplified podcast definition,
  • Discusses its benefits,
  • Explains using iTunes to find interesting topics, and
  • Offers a few podcast apps to get you started.
This episode starts with the assumption that the listener may not be familiar with the general concept of podcasting or the benefits provided by subscribing to podcasts.

Podcast benefits include:
  1. Most are free.
  2. Subscriptions based upon individual's interests, hobbies and activities.
  3. Listen just about anywhere while using a computer, phone, tablet, iPod, and in some cases even a TV.
  4. Audio and/or video formats.
  5. Start and stop listening to an episode at one’s leisure.
  6. Subscribe and unsubscribe as interests change.
Getting Started:

One of the best places to start is iTunes app on a Mac or PC. The app offers a large database of podcast titles arranged in 16 interest-specific categories. Titles may also be searched by keyword, topic, title or episode.

When using an Apple iOS device, the listener needs to download a separate podcast app from the iOS App Store. Unlike the Mac and PC versions, podcasts are not included in the iTunes app on the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Apple’s Podcasts app is free and a good place to start on an iOS device.

Rob Walch at Libsyn (Liberated Syndication), the world’s largest podcast hosting network, was kind enough to provide a list of the biggest Android podcast aggregators seen on the Libsyn network. The apps include:
  • Stitcher, free on Google Play
  • Shifty Jelly's Pocket Casts, $3.99 on Google Play
  • Podkicker, basic is free, pro version is $2.96 on Google Play
  • BeyondPod, basic is free, pro version is $6.99 on Google Play
Episode Links:








Flipboard:

I use the Casual Tech User Flipboard magazine I created to collect and share articles of interest for the casual tech consumer. You can read these specially selected articles by accessing the Flipboard app on your iOS or Android devices.

My Links:

Subscribe and Listen to Casual Tech User On Demand Audio
  • Mac or Windows: CasualTechUser.com, TuneIn.com, Stitcher.com
  • iPad or iPhone apps: Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher, Downcast, or your favorite from App Store
  • Android apps: TuneIn, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, Podkicker, Beyondpod or your favorite from Google Play
  • Also on Windows Phone, Kindle, Roku, Apple TV, SmartTVs, or your car apps

Other sites where I can be found include:










Thanks for listening.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Casual Tech User 7: Soft-serve ice cream, feature phones, smartphones, smart TVs | Vanilla evolves into multitude of features and toppings


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Cell phones, televisions and soft-serve ice cream are paralleled during this discussion highlighting the differences between a feature phone and smartphone, along with the evolution of the smart TV. Today, ice cream, phones and TVs come in many varieties, but that wasn’t always the case considering that it hasn’t been that long ago that “vanilla” was the flavor of necessity for all three.

During the first quarter of 2013 the smartphone surpassed the feature phone in units shipped. Upgrading to a new cell phone will require some decisions, based upon the user’s expectations of the “closed functioning” feature phone and the wide open, more costly performance of the smartphone.

Today’s market is also closing the gap between the traditional, video-content-only TV and the media-rich options present on many of the current models. Smart TVs offer the viewer the opportunity to use apps, stream content from external devices, engage in social media discourse, and video chat around the world.

But, be forewarned that research indicates only about 50% of the smart TVs currently in use are connected to the internet and utilizing anything more than standard video content channels.

Episode Links:








CNET.com: TV buying guide (Updated April 17, 2013)




Flipboard:

I use the Casual Tech User Flipboard magazine I created to collect and share articles of interest for the casual tech consumer. You can read these specially selected articles by accessing the Flipboard app on your iOS or Android devices.

My Links:

Subscribe and Listen to Casual Tech User On Demand Audio
  • Mac or Windows: CasualTechUser.com, TuneIn.com, Stitcher.com
  • iPad or iPhone apps: Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher, Downcast, or your favorite from App Store
  • Android apps: TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite
  • Also on Windows Phone, Kindle, Roku, Apple TV, SmartTVs, or your car apps

Other sites where I can be found include:










Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Casual Tech User 6: (Part 5) Avoid Mistakes, Plan Before You Buy New TV; 10 Criteria to Compare LCD, LED, Plasma TVs


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This episode of the Casual Tech User discusses the differences between LCD and LED technologies and offers a list of 10 criteria you might want to consider before deciding on the perfect plasma, LCD or LED flat-screen for your situation and viewing habits.

Alphabet Soup: LCD vs. LED
This episode begins with a brief explanation of the similarities and differences between the LCD and LED TVs in today’s marketplace. 
  • Edge-lit LED
  • Backlit LED

Check the following links to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of LCD and LED TVs.


10 Criteria
This Casual Tech User series began in Episode 2 with a discussion about developing criteria to help avoid mistakes when purchasing a new TV. This episode continues the theme with a list of 10 criteria you might want to consider when deciding between LCD, LED or Plasma flat panels.

The criteria include:
  • Price
  • Size
  • Weight
  • Thickness
  • Ambient light
  • Viewing angle
  • Energy savings
  • Fast action, sports, etc.
  • Image retention
  • Picture Quality

Transporting the New TV Home

After purchasing my plasma TV, I was approached by a TV rep who said it was best to keep the panel upright during the trip home. I also found research on the internet suggesting that to avoid damage you should transport plasma and larger LCD and LED panels in the upright position.

Previous episodes in the “Avoid Mistakes, Plan Before You Buy New TV” series include:


Episode Links:







(Click under Guest Appearances, Scott Wilkinson in righthand column)

Flipboard:

I use the Casual Tech User Flipboard magazine I created to collect and share articles of interest for the casual tech consumer. You can read these specially selected articles by accessing the Flipboard app on your iOS or Android devices.

My Links:

In addition to Casual Tech User.com, you can find me and/or subscribe to:










Thanks for listening.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Casual Tech User 5: (Part 4) Avoid Mistakes, Plan Before You Buy New TV; Soundbars, Theater-in-a-Box, or Home Theater Surround Sound Experience



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Casual Tech User 5: (Part 4) Avoid Mistakes, Plan Before You Buy New TV; Soundbars, Theater-in-a-Box, or Home Theater Surround Sound Experience

Many of today’s flat screen TVs don’t offer the type of sound quality you will be expecting from that new purchase. After bringing home that new TV, you may realize your system’s quality is only as good as the weakest link. And, for many of today’s TVs the weakest link will be the sound quality.

In this episode Ron continues his discussion on purchasing that new TV with a review of three methods to improve the sound quality.

Topics include:
  • Soundbars
  • Theater-in-a-Box
  • Home Theater Surround Sound Experience
Previous episodes in the “Avoid Mistakes, Plan Before You Buy New TV” series include:
Episode Links:











Flipboard:

I use the Casual Tech User Flipboard magazine I created to collect and share articles of interest for the casual tech consumer. You can read these specially selected articles by accessing the Flipboard app on your iOS or Android devices.

My Links:

In addition to Casual Tech User.com, you can find me and/or subscribe to:










Thanks for listening.