GRAPHACTORY web design studio

May 1, 2009

GRAPHACTORY poster

I’ve been thinking about this idea for a long time, and finally I took my time and set up a blog, a small portfolio and a Twitter account for my new web design business – GRAPHACTORY.net. The portfolio web site is coming soon, but meanwhile you can check out http://flickr.com/photos/GRAPHACTORY

Palm Pre Reviews Round Up

January 8, 2009

 

iPhone vs Pre (photo by Engadget)

iPhone vs Pre (photo by Engadget)

I think this is the day that we will all remember Palm in a way we remember Apple when they introduced the iPhone back in 2007. Today Palm introduced their new smartphone that has indeed the potential of being and iPhone-killer. It is undeniable that the number of innovations that Pre has brought with it has impressed many iPhone fans, including me. But more on that later, when things settle down a bit.

Recent reviews and pictures from CES participants:

A few new gadgets

July 4, 2008

As a photographer and a tech geek, any new purchased pricy gadget feels like a party. A little update on a few things that I got lucky to own recently.

Lens: Canon 16-35mm f/2.8

Super-wide angle lens – something I needed for quite a while. Now I can boast a wide range of lenses, that cover everything from super-wide to telephoto: 16-35mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/4.0. Anyways, the lens is just impressive. The bokeh effect is so dramatic at 16mm that you just want to play on and on with this baby. I’m pretty sure this lens is going to prove itself to be a very smart investment.

Portable hard drive: WD Passport

A recent purchase –  great gadget. Simple, elegant, fast. Not much to say here: no need for power cables, fast speed. I’m getting about 1gb per minute of write speed.

Keyboard: Mac aluminum keyboard

A very beautiful and slim device. I’m currently using it with my MacBook while connected to the 22″ widescreen monitor. It’s a bit hard to type when the keyboard is positioned too low. Generally a great feel, I like the two USB ports on the sides, although it is not possible to connect certain USB flash drives without using a cable.

Umbrella lighting shooting session

June 4, 2008

Everything started back in February when I got an extra canon Speedlight flash. Wireless off-camera lighting seemed fun and my portfolio was glaring with some new great additions. A few months later I got a chance to play with three 580EX flashes and a Gary Fong diffuser. Even without reading about or studying off-camera lighting, the idea of having full control over the lighting of the scene/subject seemed rather fun :).

Last week I ordered two inexpensive light stands and umbrellas. I thought it would be nice to learn some studio lighting techniques and just play around with side-lighting, but at that point I was really underestimating the full power of soft umbrella lighting.

I got my friend Lily to help me plan the photo shooting session. While she was picking the location and outfit for our model (a friend), I was trying to figure out how to provide the power for Lily’s 120v fan. The solution was a portable 12v-to-120v in-car adapter connected to an old 12v battery. It provided enough power for the fan to raise the hair. (Quick tip: fan is a must-have for such sessions ;)).

I quickly ran through Strobist’s off-camera lighting tips. Clear explanations, stunning results. Everything seemed to be easy and complex at the same time ;).

Here comes shooting day. Sunday. I grab around $5000 worth of photography equipment and head to the designated location (abandoned house, dirt all over the place, grunge, basically ruins :)). Setting up umbrellas for the first time with no previous experience in studio lighting actually did not seem that hard. Since it was pretty light outside and there was a good amount of sunlight getting through the broken windows, the camera settings were adjusted to eliminate all the natural light that was getting in – ISO 50, 1/200 shutter speed, f/2.8-4.0. This was an average exposure setting, the shutter speed varied time to time, but the ISO was always set to 50.

It took us about 3 hours to complete the session, but the result was worth the efforts, investments, and time spent figuring out where to place the umbrella :)).

Links:

iPhone is no desktop, it’s a phone!

March 27, 2008

“iPhone is no desktop”, says John C. Dvorak. And I say that I don’t even see Apple trying make iPhone as a desktop replacement. If they were, I think Adobe would be pushed on hard to make a Flash available at launch, Mail application would have all sorts of filtering options, Photos application would allow to do some advanced picture editing and retouching and they would probably have Garage Band preinstalled :). What do we see instead? GUI and applications are made as simple as possible, but very accessible and fast. I don’t think that we are ever to create complicated CAD drawings or 32-tracks music compositions on the devices as compact as Smartphone unless the data input/output technology gets more advanced and we get bigger displays (mini-projectors) and a more convenient way of input. Let’s not forget that primary task of the Smartphone is to keep you connected with the world in more ways than just being able to talk to your buddies.

Windows Mobile was more the beginning of a desktop replacement than iPhone was. Microsoft implemented multitasking support, “Start” menu and the UI that more or less resembled the desktop environment. Why did PDAs get extinct? Because of the lack of connectivity with the world. People don’t bother about carrying a device that runs a scaled down version of Winamp or Doom, but rather a well-designed AIM client or Facebook, and an iPod that you can navigate through with a touch a finger :).

The question is whether iPhone is good at connecting people to the world. Half way it does good (UI of the SMS application resembles the conversation; a well-written browser that runs Facebook web app that allows to perform some basic tasks of the “real Facebook”, Digg web app that gives me a laugh or two during the day, Twitter web app that helps me twit for free without using the text messages from the package). But what about MMS (something, that even $50 phones can do)? Looks like it was easier for Apple to make YouTube convert their movie database into H.264 than writing a simple MMS application…

iPhone development – Where to start?

March 10, 2008

After struggling for quite a while to find a good documentation on iPhone SDK I decided to come up with a set of tutorials that I’m gonna do while learning the iPhone OS API myself. Official documentation found on Apple’s web site still suffers from being not clear enough and it’s not very obvious where the starting point is – whether it is the Objective-C 2.0 intro or the iPhone OS intro. Objective-C guide is hard to understand without real world example, and iPhone OS intro is too complicated to read without some basic knowledge of Objective-C. Just look at the ‘HelloWorldClassic’ example which is hundreds of lines long and makes your head go around when you look at it.

Luckily we have dozens of bloggers around and hundreds of non-official tutorials available everywhere online. As a newcomer to the Mac OS X and a person who has zero amount of experience in Cocoa programming I decided that programming for the desktop would be a better start than programming under the similar framework for the mobile device. Apple clearly states that iPhone Cocoa Touch development workflow is similar to development experience under desktop version of Cocoa, but due to the hardware specifics the Cocoa Touch has both limitations and advantages over the desktop platform. I think it is clear now that the good starting point would be the Cocoa ‘Hello World’ application, where you can get familiar with the IDE and the programming language itself. It turns out that most tutorials that are available online were created for the Xcode 2 and the older version of Objective-C, but still I was able to find some great resources that were a great push in development in Xcode IDE:

Particularly the YouTube videos by lammig were useful by showing the connection between the Interface Builder and actual coding in Xcode. Although Apple has demoed the Interface Builder for iPhone, in the original beta release of the SDK the Interface Builder for iPhone Cocoa Touch is unavailable, but Apple promised that it is not going to be a lot different from using the Interface Builder for original Cocoa for desktop platform.

This is it for today, but I’m currently building a small tutorial on how to build a lighter version of ‘Hello World’ application. By saying ‘lighter’ I mean something that is more compact and readable than the one Apple has on its iPhone Developer Center web site ;).

A bright wedding (day)?

February 25, 2008

Yes, I do love bright weddings, but when it comes to the bright and sunny wedding DAY, the level of excitement of any photographer substantially goes down :). Especially when your built-in camera light meter shows overexposure at 1/4000 shutter speed even when you’re standing and pointing to the shade area. Very exciting, I know, I know… Turns out that’s how bright wedding days are in Los Angeles in February. You guessed it right, this weekend I was shooting a wedding in the heart of Los Angeles, and I was that same “lucky” photographer who experienced a warm, sunny day in late February.

Did the wedding pictures turn out bad? No, they did not. Because we, photographers, are there to fight any atmospheric and weather conditions. The battle was tough with lots surprises in the form of overexposed parts of images coming up here and there, but hey, we shoot digital these days and we can check the image on our cameras’ built-in displays. I feel sorry for those of you still shooting film and having a constant headache up to the time you develop your images ;).

Anyways, the pictures are being edited, but there’s a little teaser for you:

“Yeah, it’s my day!”

Awww, so cute!

Cold February shooting session

February 20, 2008

First of all the word ‘cold’ in the title of this post carries an important message for all of you, my fellow photographers. Never go shooting with a model on cold days! A few days later I found out that my gorgeous friend Victoria almost caught a cold, and it was because of me who arranged a February shooting day (and especially here in Washington) :). Well, let’s just hope that she gets well, and meanwhile check out the pictures yourself…

All images were shot with Canon 5D and a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. There was a minor color-correction performed in Photoshop on all of the pictures. I dropped a texture on some of them, and it seems they worked pretty well for this session.

Some wedding shots from Fall 2007

January 8, 2008

I put together some edited images from various weddings I shot this fall. The images are hosted on Flickr and most of the still have EXIF data. I was using primarily the Canon 5D. Equipment also included Canon 20D, 24-70mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.8, 70-200mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/4. All lenses are Canon lenses, because I’m not used to the cheap stuff from Sigma, Tamron etc. 😉

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016

2093

010

012

1077

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0884

0800

0673

0315

0379

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1062

Got my own 5D!

December 18, 2007

Finally dreams became reality :). Now I got my own 5D, my first full-frame sensor digital camera. The lens that I used on 20D, 24-70 f/2.8, became a much better wide-angle lens thanks to the so much bigger sensor of the Canon 5D.

Months before, when I was working with my friend’s Canon 5D, I’ve noticed that the camera produces a much better color. JPEGs, that came out directly from camera looked as as good as well-tuned RAWs from the 20D.

I plan to do some camera head-to-head comparisons to analyze the real differences between the image quality of the 5D and the 20D.

Meanwhile, check out one of my first field test of the camera (of course, some Photoshop involved here ;))