Tag Archive: gear

GoPro Time-Lapse – More Lessons Learned


GoPro Hero 3 Black

I’ve been having fun playing with the little GoPro camera. It has some quirks, but it’s great for what it’s designed to do. Of course, one of the things I’ve been using it for mostly is time-lapse. I’ve learned lots of things about this little camera, and about time-lapse in general. I can add these to my growing list of lessons learned about time-lapse.

Lesson 1 – Christmas Dinner Videos

As with leaf blowing/raking videos, it seems that everyone does Christmas dinner time lapse videos, too. There were tons of suggestions and recommendations on the page with my Christmas video, and they all had similar titles. Here’s a playlist with 10 samples…

So, the lesson here is that whatever I may come up with for a video project, someone has already done it and uploaded it to YouTube. (more…)

Christmas Gear


Christmas 2012

This year we spent Christmas in Greenville. Instead of traveling to Florida like we usually do, Laura’s sister and mother came up to visit us. The foggy Christmas morning was spent opening gifts and relaxing.

Since I’ve been so obsessed with time-lapse lately, I decided to do one of our gift giving routine. Here’s a short video…

The entire video was created on an iPad 2. I used the iMotion app shot a 1 frame every five seconds. I used the Garage Band app and an Akai LPK25 keyboard to record the music, and I used the iMovie app to add titles and mix everything together. (more…)

Camera Mods and Moon Shots


Moon 1

When I went on my photo walk with Fred Graham a couple of weeks ago I noticed that he was using a Black Rapid camera strap and an extra battery clip. My nephew, Chip, had one of these straps, and I liked it the first time I saw it. The outing with Fred reinforced how useful this strap could be, so I decided to get one.

At Thanksgiving Chip had also added a hand strap to his DSLR. I could see the utility of that, as well. However, there were a couple of problems with these straps. First, if I used the Black Rapid strap it blocked my tripod point, and it would be a pain to putting it on and taking it off to use the tripod.

I decided to re-engineer the setup with several small swivel clips that I found online. The clips allow for rapid re-configuration of the straps and camera.


I found a plastic loop on the bottom of the hand strap. Adding one of the swivel straps here would let me use both the Black Rapid strap and a tripod quick release.

P1030119 (more…)

Smart Phone Bracket



In my last post I wrote quite a bit about iOS apps for time lapse photography. Of course, if you’re going to do time-lapse with an iPhone, you’re going to need some way to keep it steady.

For my iPhone 4 I had one of the Otter Defender cases with belt clip. With that case the belt clip could twist around and snap open to form a stand for the camera. This worked well as long as you had a nice stable base for the phone.

When I got the iPhone 5 I wanted to slim down a bit, so I got a much thinner case that would fit in my pocket. That meant I needed something else to hold the phone when I was doing camera work. The iStabilizer was the perfect tool for the job.


The iStabilizer is a small spring-loaded clamp with padded brackets. The top wire part can be pulled out to fit a variety of smart phones and small cameras. On the bottom of the clamp is a quarter inch tripod fitting. This is what the device looks like attached to my SlikStik tripod (sorry for the blurry image):


The iStabilizer works well for other types of tripods, too. Here is the bracket mounted to my little Gorillapod, both with and without the iPhone attached:


One of the things I like best about this clamp is that it is device-agnostic. You can fit just about any type of smart phone or small point-and-shoot camera. One drawback is that it is a bit narrow. I’ve seen some online complaints about it not working with some of the new Samsung phones. Those users liked the device, but just wish that it had about a quarter inch more leeway.

The device seems to be fairly rugged and does what it’s supposed to do. I’ll be using it for some time-lapse and stop-motion photography with my iPhone, and I may even try it out with my Android phone.

Game Changing Cameras



As one might imagine, digital camera technology keeps getting better and better. Cameras are tinier than ever with even more features. Smartphones with editing apps are almost eliminating the need for point-and-shoot cameras. Even with all this, there are a couple of cameras to come on the market in the past couple of years that look like potential game changers – the Lytro camera and the GoPro Hero.

First, a note of disclaimer for my beloved wife – having just bought two fairly high-end cameras over the summer, I am NOT considering these for purchase. I just think they are worth mentioning here, and if someone I know does get one, all I ask is the opportunity to play with it for a few minutes.

Disclaimer out of the way, I’ll start with Lytro… (more…)

A New Camera Strategy


New Camera and Coffee

My new Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 arrived yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to really put it through its paces, but so far I’m impressed with the few photos I have taken. The LX5 won out over a whole slew of contenders, and the decision to get it means a new strategy for my day-to-day photography.

The contenders included the following:

  • An exact replacement of my S70 in the form of a refurbished S70
  • An updated Coolpix, such as the S100
  • A different small camera, such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10
  • The Canon S100
  • and the one I bought, the Panasonic LX5


Camera Dilemma


Tom with Camera

The camera gods have not been smiling upon me lately. On our recent excursion to Shoals Junction my trusty Nikon D50 DSLR’s mirror got locked in the UP position for several panic-filled minutes. The camera was already showing its age, and I’ve been putting away a bit of cash for a replacement, but the incident made me think that might come sooner rather than later.

Then my little Nikon S70 decided it was going to die on me. Well, not quite die, but give up the will to live. Every image is now fuzzy and the colors aren’t right. I tried tricking the auto-focus into working correctly, but with no luck. Even under optimum conditions the images were washed out and out of focus. I think it’s in worse shape than my D50.

That’s put me in a quandary as replacements are concerned. I know I’m going to replace the DSLR with another Nikon. I’ve got good lenses, so it makes sense just to replace the camera body when the time comes. I also like the control and flexibility a DSLR provides. But what about the little point and shoot? (more…)

One Eye or Two?



When we got married our good friend Joyce gave us a pair of Nikon Travelite binoculars. She knew we enjoyed birding, and would get good use from them.

Too much use, almost to the detriment of our marriage, as it turns out. We fought over who got to use them. So, we bought a second pair to preserve marital harmony.


We still love our little Nikon binoculars. The optics are great, and all these years later they get quite a bit of use. Because I still enjoy my pair, I don’t like taking them with me when kayaking.

I had been carrying a pair of cheap little Tasco binocular in my dry bag. Unfortunately, the optics were crappy, and getting a decent image focused and resolved was time-consuming and iffy at best, especially on a moving boat. Something else was needed.  I had a bit of Christmas money left, so I decided to go shopping.

I had thought about getting another nice pair of waterproof binocs, but every set I looked at was either too expensive or heavier than I wanted.  While using the cheap binocs I often looked through only one eyepiece because I couldn’t get the two images to match.   I wondered if a monocular would work as a lightweight alternative.


I tried several models, but eventually settled on a Celestron 10X25 unit.  I have a Celestron C90 telescope that had belonged to Laura’s father, so I was familiar with the quality of their optics.  This monocular didn’t disappoint on that count.  The image is sharp, and it’s very easy to focus the eyepiece.  Even though the unit is very light, the image is fairly stable.  I like the molded hand grip design, which seems like it will be less likely to drop.  Even though that should happen, there’s a nice long neck strap.  The unit is also waterproof, so it should be perfect for kayaking. Even more impressive, all of this came in just a little over $30. Not too shabby.

I just got the monocular today, so I haven’t had a chance to really put it through its paces. I did try looking at the moon and Jupiter, but it was a bit too jumpy for that. I think it’s best suited for terrestrial viewing. Next paddling trip it will definitely come along with me. I may even try to hold a point and shoot camera lens up to it to see how that might work. We’ll see.

iPad After Six Months



It’s been over six months since I’ve had my iPad (well, nearly seven, actually) and has been about that much time since I first wrote about it. Since then I’ve had a chance to put it through its paces and see what apps I like best.

I’m still frustrated by the lack of Flash. There are just too many online applications that I use on a regular basis that need it, from Aviary.com to Audioboo.fm to Flickr to…, well I think you get the point. Even though some of these sites advertise themselves as iPad compatible, or have apps, the embeddable players for blogs still run on Flash. I hope they are able to fix these.

I’m also still concerned about the “appification” of the web. Rather than making their sites HTML5 compatible, some sites are just creating apps to host their content, then charging for the apps. Content that use to be free on the web is now hidden behind an app fee if you want to read on an iPad. I’ve seen a couple of other editorials in the past month lamenting this practice, so I know it’s not just me.

That being said, I’ve found a whole host of other things that make the iPad an outstanding device, and one that I’ve come to rely on all the time. As one might imagine, I’m finding new uses beyond the traditional laptop/netbook that really make it a game changer. I guess the real clincher was when I recently reached up and tried to touch my laptop screen to select something. (more…)

iPad – First Impressions


Our district purchased several iPads for special ed and for our ESOL teachers. I’ve had one for a week to put it through its paces and see how it might work, and how we might design some staff development. I can see the educational benefits of iPads in the classrooms, and I’ve seen some excellent results form kids working with them. However, from a personal standpoint I’m still conflicted as to whether I really like it, and how useful it might be compared to other options. Since I already have a netbook, Kindle, and iPod Touch, the device just seems redundant. Personally, I probably wouldn’t buy one, but if I didn’t already have these things, would it be a good choice? My very first thought was that it was just an overgrown Touch.

New iPad

Coming from a laptop/netbook experience, my first impression was that the shortcomings of the iPad are numerous…

  • No USB connections
  • No easy way to transfer files
  • No real GPS functionality for maps
  • NO FLASH!!

…and lots of other pesky problems that prevent it from doing what I think it should be able to do. The lack of Flash is especially bothersome, because it prevents me from using slide shows on Flickr, and even using the admin screens of this blog effectively. Aviary.com won’t work at all on it, and Google Docs is a real bother. (more…)

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