Thursday, June 24, 2010

SLR Camera Protection

What are they?

There are different kinds of protection for SLR cameras. The main two are bags and cases. They each serve their different purposes for different photographers.

A camera bag has at least one main pocket, sometimes having multiple compartments, for storage of lenses and a flash or something. Most bags also have outside pockets. These are to keep your extra batteries, lens caps, remotes, filters and other things that you do not necessarily use all of the time, but are good to have with you.

On the other hand, cases are more along the lines of one camera and one lens protection. Some of them have a pocket, but usually they are simply just placed around the camera. The one that I used to have you simply laced the elastic band around the lens, and slid the camera in. It was actually quite nice to have because the case protected it, but it was also attached to the camera, so I never had to worry about losing it.

Which one works for whom?

First I will discuss camera bags. If you are a beginning photographer who is looking to become more involved in photography, or if you are already intensely involved in photography, I would probably recommend a bag. The reason for this is that you may want to take a step up as far as more lenses and accessories. Bags are also good for when you are traveling. The reason being that if you go somewhere, you can put all of your charges, and memory cards and such into one bag and not have to worry about keeping track of everything. Bags are the best thing for beginners looking to further their interest and immersion in photography. However, if you can I would also recommend that when you first start, you get a case.

The reason cases are good is that they keep your camera in great shape. There is no room for movement, and it is perfect for beginners. Even though camera cases are not that practical for those of us with multiple lenses, and those of us with many cards and filters and batteries, they make a great extra protection to have. For example, if I am going somewhere where I only need one lens, I take my case, because it holds my camera and keeps it safe and still fits around my neck. Cases are just simple and easy fixes to make sure that your camera remains safe, no matter where you are.

Which one to buy?

As far as bags go, I would recommend one with, at the very least, a main pocket and one side pocket. I would say that that is the minimum criteria for any bag. However, as you start growing in the size and number of lenses, you will want to get a bag with a little more space. I personally would recommend a backpack. They are easier to carry, and hold up very nicely. If you are a beginning photographer with one lens and a couple accessories there is no need for a huge backpack yet. You can last with a simple shoulder strap bag. However, for the amateur or pro photographers, it is almost vital to get a backpack, or something along those lines. There are plenty of shoulder strap bags that would work for pro photographers, and some of them even have more space than the backpacks. But, for me I like to have the weight of my whole camera bag on both shoulders, rather than just one.

For cases, I would recommend a neoprene camera case. The reason is that it prevents scratches without adding much weight to the camera. Also, I would recommend getting one with at least something that can attach to your camera. There is nothing worse than buying a case and losing it because you had to take it off your camera quickly and snap a picture. The good thing about having the case attached to your camera is that you do not lose it, and it usually helps the camera slide in easier.

REMEMBER, whether getting a camera case or a camera bag, or any of the other things that can be used to protect your camera, higher price does not mean better quality. Make sure you find something inside your price range, and I am sure that you can find something that is inexpensive and still works perfectly.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010



Accessory Genie is proud to carry the Accessory Power line of products. Accessory Power, the manufacturer of the TRANS4M, is a Professional Quality Battery, Charger and Power Adapter manufacturer who brings the top of the line replacements to consumers at the lowest prices. With the latest and greatest technology from the Silicon Valley, Accessory Power continues to supply high quality products.


The TRANS4M is an amazing device charger. It supplies AC, DC, AA and 9V charging capabilities for your smartphone and other devices. Whether you are at home, in the car, or on the move, the TRANS4M can charge your USB devices. It supplies a single USB device with 1.0 amp during a charge. However, if you are charging two devices at once, using the AC or DC chargers, then it only supplies .5 amp.


If you are a traveler, camper, college kid, business person, BlackBerry addict, Gamer, or anyone else that uses USB devices, this product is great. It can act as an emergency charger, and provide you with a boost of power when you need it most. It allows you to charge your devices anywhere. The wall and car charging capabilities make it useful, but the AA and 9V battery charging capabilities are what make it truly spectacular. According to Accessory Genie, one of the sellers of the TRANS4M, it is the last device charger you will ever need.


When purchasing the TRANS4M you get the main three types of USB wires; MicroUSB, MiniUSB, and iPod/iPhone. It is not only a great product but at a great price. If you are a person who is on the go a lot, I would definitely recommend this product.

This is an article written by Jackson Kaplan. If you have any questions about other Devices please email me and I will gladly help you out.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tutorial! Part 2! Post production on the Battery Grip

Welcome to part two of my super exciting product photography tutorial!  Today I’ll cover some ways I edit my images once I shoot and upload them. My last tutorial covered set up and lighting the shot, which I got a pretty positive response to, thanks for that! Check out what flickr user kuwait zaizafoon made using the tutorial!

I’ll be teaching you post production using the same image of the battery grip from last week. The first thing I do after I open my image is to remove any dust or specs that I either forgot to try to take off before I shot, or that I didn’t notice while shooting. It’s a good habit to do that before you shoot so you save time in post, but I always like to jump right in. Plus, I have something to show you! Zoom in real close and grab your healing brush tool, whose icon is a bandage.

You’ll have to find a somewhat clean area that matches the same texture as where you’re going to clean up and then alt+click that area. I tend to use small brushes for things like this. Alt+click will set the area you are going to sample from. Then you just click on any white specs and Photoshop does it magic.

Perhaps you noticed that this grip is supposed to be black, but there is a reddish tint over the image. This comes from shooting on the wrong white balance. Auto white balance rarely works for me, and I’m too lazy to set a custom one because it’s a super easy fix in Photoshop and bad habits are hard to break. To make those blacks black all you have to do is create a hue/Saturation adjustment layer and drag the saturation down to zero. I use adjustment layers instead of actual image adjustment because they are non-destructive, which means you can edit them later with no harm to the actual pixels of the image. If your product has color in it, you’ll need to erase the Hue/Sat mask where that color is so that it comes through, as I did with the red sensor and gold pins on the grip. Now it’s starting to look a lot better.

If you look really close and at the right angle, you’ll be able to see that our image isn’t on pure white, it’s almost there but not quite. Another easy fix, add an adjustment layer of levels and push the white slider back a little until the white is pure. You can use the eyedropper tool to confirm. If your product starts to become washed out, just mask of the product so only the white is affected.

Last little adjustment is to make those dark areas just a tad darker so the whole pops. There is a bunch of ways of doing this; I tend to either use curves or selective color. We’ll use selective color here, make another adjustment layer for selective color and choose neutrals from the drop down. Then raise the blacks until you’re happy with it. I’d try not to go overboard with it though. It’ll hurt the overall look if the darks are too dark.

There are tons of sharpening techniques out there, and some of them are pretty in depth, but I try to keep it simple. Sharpening should always be the last thing you do because pixels change after the image gets resized. Resize the image to whatever you like and click Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen. For an image around 800 pixels high I would use 100% for the amount and 0.3 for the radius.

And that’s it! If you use this tutorial and come out with something awesome send it my way! Thanks.
Oh, and if you'd like you purchase this awesome battery grip, you can use code SOCIAL10 for 10% off!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Camera Remotes

What are they?
First and foremost camera remotes are remotes. They are the same as a remote for your TV or for any other device. The remotes are used to control the subject it is programmed for. There are three different types of camera remotes wired, wireless and the more advanced ones. The basic way that all of them work, no matter the price or wire situation, is that the remote becomes a second, or third, trigger.

A wired remote is perfect for a photographer who is not worried about camera blur and who can be near the camera when taking the picture. These remotes are used a lot for specifically timed shots, and for long exposure shots. Most wired remotes contain a shutter button and that is it. However, there are many benefits to a wired remote. For example, it is way less likely to be lost in a stressful situation. I was shooting pictures at a mountain, and I realized that the best shot would be at the top, for the picture of the sunset, only problem was that the sun was setting and I had about 5 minutes to go up about half a mile. So I grabbed my tripod, my camera and my camera bag, and started running. I cannot recommend this, but I was desperate. So when I got to the top of the hill I had just made it. I had enough time to set up my camera and take the picture. The only problem was that in the running, I had lost the wireless remote that was attached to the camera. Luckily I keep an extra wired remote in my bag at all times. However, in a similar instance, I was running through the woods with a friend, we were going to a lake view for the sunset, and I had the wired remote plugged in. When we got to the spot the remote was still hanging onto my camera. This was a great factor for the wired remotes.

The wired remotes, though much easier to keep track of, do have their flaws. For example, it is much easier to end up accidentally moving the camera while using the wired remote. Another flaw that some of them have is that there is only one function. A lot of the newer and Wireless remotes have multiple functions, such as a bulb feature where you can just press the trigger and leave the shutter open until you press the trigger again. This is a fairly necessary function for most remotes, especially if you want to do a long exposure shot.

Wireless remotes are more common in the world of photographers in the last few years. Wireless remotes are probably the most popular for sports photographers, but they are used widely throughout the field. The best part about these wireless remotes is definitely the ability to control it from far away. Some of the remotes have a distance ranging up to 20 yards. This means that as long as you have a clear shot to the camera, it will take the picture. The reason that this is used for sports is because photographers will use a camera in their hands and a “remote camera.” This means that they can take the pictures at the time they want from the place they want close to the action, and keep a remote for the camera that is in a touch to reach place. For example, Neil Leifer’s, one of the most famous Sports Illustrated photographers, took a picture of Cleveland Williams and Muhammad Ali in which he used a remote controlled camera. It is shot from high above the ring and captures the moment of Williams lying on the mat after being knocked out by Ali. This was shot at the same time as another shot that Leifer took with his in-hand camera. This is probably the main benefit of the wireless remotes; another of course being that the long exposure shots have no chance of shaking with the pushing of the trigger.

The only problems with the wireless remote are that they are easily lost and have a high sensor dependency. Many people, including myself, have lost a fair amount of losses when it comes to wireless remotes. The reason is simply that there are two things that you need to keep track of and they are not connected to anything. This becomes more of a problem when you are packing your stuff back up, forgetting to put the remote, or the sensor, back into the bag. The other problem is that the sensors can be very touchy. For example, if there is another person with the same remote, it is possible that you will trigger each others cameras. These two factors lessen in severity when shooting alone in non-pressure situations, such as long exposure shots.

The advanced forms of remotes are very new to the field. They are still working out some minor kinks but otherwise they seem to work great. You can even get camera remotes for your iTouch and iPhone. The main difference for these new remotes is that they actually control the brain of your camera, not just the trigger. It can tell you exactly what your viewfinder would. For example, the iTouch SLR remote app gives you a preview of the shot, the exposure, the ISO, aperture, white-balance and shutter speed itself. And not only does it tell you all of these things but it allows you to change them as well. The Professional Edition even has the ability to set intervals of the shot ranging anywhere from 1 second to 1 day. You can now literally control everything, except the actual movement of the camera, from a remote.
The main problem with this kind of remote is simply that it costs more. For example, the one above costs the amount of the iPhone/iTouch on top of the twenty dollars for the application itself. Another problem with these kinds of remote is that in order to get all of the bells and whistles you will also need a newer camera with newer technology. Though they are incredible applications, they are unable to work on the older platforms.

Monday, June 7, 2010

iPhone/iTouch External Battery Packs

iPod external battery packs are basically a backup battery for the Ipod. They are basically batteries that can plug into an iPod. These work in the same basic way that your USB charger works. They charge your iPod so that you continue to use it. There are a few different types. There are the ones that plug in and have a separate battery pack.

For example, you plug the Ipod into the battery pack and they are two completely separate things that are connected by a wire. Then there are the “case” battery packs. These ones are the most highly recommended. The reason for this is that they are not only a battery pack but also a case for the iPod. Most of them have a little power button, or slider, so that you can allow the battery to completely die before going to your backup. These seem to be the most practical.

Why spend the money?

iPod external battery packs can be a little more expensive than they seem to be worth. However, having a battery pack will extend the life of your actual iPod battery. The reason for this is that you should not charge your iPod, or any other rechargeable device, until the battery has fully died. The reason for this is that the battery becomes weaker if it is charged before it has died. That having been said, these battery packs act as an emergency battery. If you are going to be out all day with no car or home to charge your iPod you will want a battery pack. For example, if you are about to go to sleep and you realize that your battery has little battery left; you may want to charge it. However, this will make the battery weaker. Now, with an external battery pack, you do not need to worry because even if your iPod dies, you are able to charge it back up, no matter where you are.

Which one to buy?

Personally I would recommend a “case” battery pack. This is because it is less likely that you will lose a battery pack that is directly attached to your iPod. That having been said some people might enjoy a separate battery pack. The reason I would personally recommend “case” battery packs is that I am on the go a lot. When I am out I want that extra battery to be right there; not two separate things that I have to keep track of. This is especially helpful for those of us that travel. The one that I have is a case that holds my iPhone and has a little leather flap for screen protection. It is perfect because I was looking for a case, and I was looking for a battery pack, and for fairly cheap I got both in one.

Common questions

Is it really necessary to have a battery pack? Is it an absolute necessity to have a battery pack? Not necessarily. However, I would say that if you travel a lot or if you are a business person whose life is on their iPhone I would say yes. The reason is simply that these will help preserve your iPod/iPhone so that you can truly get the most out of it. Furthermore, I would more highly recommend a battery pack than most other accessories.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Product Photography Tutorial - Product With A Real Reflection

In this tutorial you'll learn how to photograph products and still life on a white background with a nice reflection. This is by no means a perfect formula that will work for every product, but just something that I found that works for me for most products I photograph. If you haven't seen our flickr account, check it out here.
What you'll need: (See photo below)
  • Product to photograph
  • White paper and tape
  • Clear plexi glass or white shine board
  • Simple lamps
  • Tripod
  • A remote for your camera, but that's optional
Now what I found works best for me is that I make a diffuser for the lights out of paper and tape. I actually have a few of these laying around, in this tutorial I use two, one for the walls around the product and one for the light coming from above. (See photo below.)

The lights I use aren't very special; they're just regular 30W fluorescent bulbs. I lay down the plexi on top of the white seamless and then put the walls up around the product. I then bring a light down for each side and I left two dropping light from above. Sometimes this set-up will leave the front a tad dark, in that case bring in another light from the front, but make sure to diffuse it or it will be harsh. You could also use one of those product tents but I have before and I wasn't really all that fond of them, they seem to take too much light away and they feel very limiting.

When shooting the product try to use a higher aperture so that everything is in focus, this means your shutter speed is going to be pretty slow, so you may want to turn off any other lights that may be nearby as they can mess with your exposure, white balance, and reflections. I also use the lowest possible ISO speed so that there is the least amount of noise. I tend use longer focal lengths to give the products a sleeker and stylish look, but wide angle can also come handy when trying to make things look more epic. This is where your remote would come in handy if you have one. There's a good chance you can get slight camera shake since the shutter will be open for a bit. Self-timer is also a great option.

Try your best to get the white to come out pure or close to pure in camera so you save yourself some time in Photoshop. Come back soon, I'm going to work on a small tutorial for post production for product.

*UPDATE* Part Two of this tutorial can be found here