Battery Life: It’s the worst!

I’m mainly talking about the smartphones.

You know these things filled with apps that have taken the place of your point & shoot cameras.
Snapseed, Camera+, PS, Lightroom Mobile, ProCamera, Hipstamatic, the Classic CameraBag, and of course VSCO. YOU probably have your favorite go-to’s.
And then there is the Instagram behemoth to post to.
Love me some Vine, especially now that we can shoot on a real camera, edit and post.
A little Candy Crush while we wait, FaceTime while we are away, and Hamster On Piano. Plus the cloud.
And the phone part. Love the phone part.
So… why the heck does my device start going into the red zone at about 2:00 PM????
Sure, years ago, my Motorola StarTac had a piggy back batt and didn’t do nearly what these handheld computers do.That grey ;ump on the back,is the extra battery.

But when I want to shoot that concert photo,Instagram it AND call my friends for a meet up after the concert, that dreaded white spinning gear on a black background is inevitable. Power done. Phone shutting off. Shot about 230 photos and 4 vids at this event (no DSLR)
(Shot with an iPhone 5S, and Olloclip lens.)

Yes, looking forward to the next iPhone, Samsung, Nokia,LG masterpiece, all who claim long battery life.
Check out this pile of batteries I own, and many I carry around in my messenger bag:
Plus a cable, plug in charger, specialty charging card called Thinium. (love this thing!)

The big boy charges the phone about 2.5 times. Had it for about 3 years and yes, that’s a thunderbolt adapter on it. The tubular units like the Crayon one from Mimoco are good for maybe one full charge.There’s an Otter battery phone case, the Mophie is in the mix,even a Duracell unit that hold batteries.
Is that enough?
Not when I’m on a shoot.
So I carry a bunch.I’ll bet you do to.
Our sleek, sweet, cleanly designed smartphones just got tethered in the worst way.

What’s the solution?

The tablet. Specifically, the Mini tablet. 10 hour battery life. All of the apps, wi-fi, a larger screen to work with,and a better battery life. And if you like, no monthly fee, if you find your hotspots. Your call as to where you feel they are “secure”.
The CamRanger is a great tool when coupled with the iPad.
Or perhaps,the Apple Touch.40 hours of music or 7 hours of video playback on one charge.
The only issue is: It’s yet another device. When I see people hold up an iPad to take photo, it’s the oddest thing, but I get to see their sense of composition. It’s public as its taken.

Will the smartphone batteries get better? Hope so, but not sure how long that’ll take.

In the meantime, try these tips on saving battery life for Android, and iPhone.

And today,August 26th, Apple offered free battery replacement to certain serial # iPhones.

I know, I know. It’s a phone.
Not to me.

BigAcrylic: When Your Walls Need Some Dressing!

OK, who prints their images these days?
Not many folks, I know. It’s mainly on a screen.
But you can’t have naked walls. I can’t anyway.
So when I was in an edit suite a month ago, I noticed some very cool images,float mounted on the wall. All acrylic prints.
So I did some more research. Timing/luck prevailed and I was contacted by Mark Alper of BigAcrylic.
After discussing the process, I figured it was time to give it a try.
Not a huge landscape guy, I figured a shot of Neil Young I took at SXSW last year, would be a good first start of the test.
I sent off a 150 DPI jpeg of this image:

What came back was pretty amazing.

a 16×24 print, made on 1/4 in acrylic, full bleed.
Perfectly packed, with frame mounting as good as some of my fine art prints, sans the brown paper wrap.
Some things to note, however with Bigacrylic or ANY printing service: GIGO.
Know what that is? Garbage In, Garbage Out.
You have to start with a great file to get a great result. Sometimes that low res file that looks good enough on your laptop or, ugh, phone, won’t make the translation to a larger print.

Here is shot of the actual acrylic print I received. Please note that I shot this at ISO 2800 and 1/100 of a sec.
(yes, there are reflections of objects in the print. I wanted you to know this is the actual item)

These folks do offer a pro service so you can test the files before committing to the huge print.
Honestly, what i kind of like about this company is that it seems to be a small firm doing quality work.
And of course you are going to ask: how long do these last?
According to them, Acrylic prints last 30 years in direct sunlight.
I’ll let you know.
By the way, they also print on metal.
And the owner,Mark Alper is very communicative and seems available to help.
OK, I run a website, but my gut tells me that the way he dealt with me, is the way he deals with all custy’s.
If this service is of interest to you,or your clients, he’s actually offered a 20% discount to our readers just by using the word “damon” in the coupon code section of the checkout.
Just go to and check it out.

iKlip Puts Your Tablet Where You Need It!

Sure, the case on your iPad lets you prop it up, vertical or horizontal, but you need a surface to set it down on.
Or you get to hold it for indeterminate lengths of time.
When it’s a matter of sending txts or watching vids, checking email, or heck, even a little shopping, it’s not so bad.
But when you need to really rock the tablet to do actual work, like controlling your DSLR in a non tethered manner, using something like a CamRanger, how do you mount it?
We’ve been looking for the right solutions for awhile.
There is one out there that requires you take out your tablet out of the case and snap it into a backing, then use an expensive connecting device, which then goes to ANOTHER expensive connecting device. It does lock and load, and is very heavy.

Then iRig entered the picture. The company makes items primarily for the musicians, but when they announced the iKlip® Xpand, it had to be checked out.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
First of all, it assembles very easily.
Then it is heavy spring loaded adjustable, so I could even use my ancient iPad 1st gen, WITH case on, now relegated to camera control apps. Of course the new iPad air, mainly on the road with me, fits in the holder, WITH the case on.

Made of high impact plastic, the ball joint allows for easy adjustment of angle, the rubberized back and clips insure a good, secure mounting.
I have banged it, shaken it, and bumped into it to see if there was any movement.
OK, not very scientific, but it replicated, what could happen, and all was secure.

Did NOT tip it over for a fall though. Nothing will protect the iPad then, BUT having the case on does help, as it absorbs some of the impact.
Have a look at this video for a demo.
How much for the iKlip® Xpand Universal

About $50

My other system cost me about $200+ for all the parts,and I had to get a new backing for the iPad air.
Only thing i wish it had: a rubber cap on the end of the bolt that secures it to the light stand.
It hasn’t stripped the paint so far, but I’m always looking for non-marring connectors.

Olloclip 3-In-1 Macro: Extreme close-up photography in your hand

I love the Olloclip lenses. There. I said it.

There are so many ways to add lenses to that phone in your pocket , and I’ve tried a bunch. Forget the magnets, not a good idea to put one next to your camera. And the cases that have screw in lenses may be good (new ones coming) but a bit unwieldy when you want to get that shot, fast.

When it comes to quality glass lenses that fit easily on the camera,  have usually 2 lenses on a unit, come with a bag that can double as a lens cloth, and a full range of focal lengths from fish eye to telephoto, Olloclip is my product of choice. My shoulder bag has a compartment filled with the little lenses, ready to go anytime.

They  just come out with a lens for the iPad, but I wanted to share with you one of their products I’m having a blast with: the Macro 3-IN-1 Lens


The beauty of this set-up is that is comes with a light diffusing tube, set to the perfect distance to get you a great shot, when used flat.



and when the subject has a few more curves:

IMG_3719-11Basically , you just slip it over your iPhone camera lens, open the camera app, and you are good to go.

Give your Instagrams and Vine a whole new unique look with this lens, or any of the lenses in the line

And they have a case which is designed to protect your phone and easily fit the lenses on. Plus a piece swings out of the body to become a shutter release. The Olloclip Quick Flip Case

IMG_3751-32A Nikon lens detail

For $66 dollars , it’s a pretty cool solution to a fun shooting opportunity. I did find out that you really need to clean the itms you are shooting. When you get that close, you see everything. And I mean everything!

Yes, it’s only for Apple products, right now. As time marches on , I wouldn’t be surprised if the line was expanded.



CE Week 2014 : Tools And Toys

At the half year mark, CES does a small preview coming products in the electronics field,and it;’s called CE week

It’s always a goal to see what may enhance your photographic life in the shape of smart thinking, manufacturers listening to the needs of the public, and I’ll admit, some cool gadgets and toys.

Please note- many of these items were seen and not tested. Some at market, some almost available for purchase.

Here are some highlights of what I saw:

This phone case looks just like a camera and has a module with lenses that flip out and over your phones lens.


With a flip-out cover to access your charging ports and speakers, the Ztylus will retail for $100, complete. Total package could be a sweet phone/camera case.


Like GoPro? Sure, who doesn’t? Everyone has at least one in their kit. Well, it’s so small that unless you have mounted it securely, you’re gonna get some shaky footage.

The company that brought you the Steadicam, have a sweet new design, The Steadicam Curve, for the GoPro. Check this out. Should sell for about $100.


Let’s talk bout some power. The folks at MiMoco always want you to have fun, and that includes your power blocks. About to be introduced in a variety of characters. $50-$60.


PNY has maybe the highest capacity small battery block at about 10,400 mAh. With a readout so you know what you have. About, you guessed it:$100.


Don’t have the power and your phone is dying? this sweet Thinium charger is one of the best designs I’ve ever seen.  Sleek, versatile and has 2 power options.


Pop out the Thunderbolt connector and put your phone right on it, Then choose whether you charge via built in USB, OR AC. There is a standard 2 prong plug that is hidden in the back and flips out. Plus they also make a USB cable in a card format with a retractable feature Look at the vid on the site.About $50 for the charger. Made for iPhone,Samsung, Motorola, and LG

Both items are already in my bag, where they don’t take up much space. Audio-Technica made one of my favorite shotgun mic, the AT-4073, and of course are also know for headsets. In a move to make the earbud actually comfortable they have come out with set that fits 3 ways: An curved piece, that fits in the flat of the era, various sizes of rubber covers, and  the SonicFuel ATH-CKX7iS headphones  features 360-degree rotating eartips that adjust to the angles of the listener’s ear canals, helping to create a perfect seal for maximum bass impact and sound isolation unique pivoting sound delivery system that ensures a solid fit.


Of course all buds have volume and phone controls, these are no different. About $80. Fit and sound great.

These days, a lot of smaller manufacturers, do a proof of concept and desire on Kickstarter or IndieGogo.

The problem: how do you get your media onto your iPad. Yes, I have a few workarounds involving my SD cards. Have a look at this iStick, coming soon.


KIM_4866-23and a sample product. This will ship with a variety of storage capability and will be priced based on size of media storage

Sony showed off the new RX100 III, and with a tiny form factor, great specs, and the same $800. price point, the unit they had at the booth had a rather flimsy feeling variangle LCD, and the finish on the metal frame of the screen had a sharper than normal edge to it.


Not the same firm feel of the NEX series  vari-angle LCD. Perhaps this was just a pre-production model. Hope so, It had been on my consideration for purchase list.

OK, when you need to prop up you phone, and you don’t have a tripod or stand, this little bit of engineering wizardry in plastic goodness, Pocket Tripod, not only fits in your wallet. but WORKS! Order it with sizer for your phone ,with case or no case, and this unit will transform into a cool stand that can change the angle of the phone with a solid feel for about $25.  Split it apart for horizontal viewing.


When you need to sketch out that idea, or communicate a design, or perhaps you’re not only a photographer but a graphic artist, there is a search for the holy grail of touch screen stylus’s. 53 Pencil may have found that solution. 90 min charge gives you a month of bluetooth usage. I’ve been using it, and loving it,  but have put one in the hands of a creative director for the truest test. Reporting back. Click the link for their website. Very cool design


Another item I’ve been tracking for years has been the LiveScribe pen.

Basically you write on a special page, pad, moleskin type notebook, and your scribblings are sent to the cloud, and the handwriting recognition gives you back a searchable document. Always a challenge since the days of Newton (too long ago?), this time it actually seems to work.  At the booth I wrote words, it converted them, and was searchable and found them. In my handwriting.  A big question was the special paper. Now you can print it out on your home printer. You still have one of those , right? And the pen now feels sooo much better.


Announced and revealed was our a lens set fro the iPad air and Mini from our favorite device lens company, Olloclip. About $70.

olliclip fro ipad

By the way, coming up is a detailed review of one of my favorite products from Olloclip, the Macro 3-IN-1  This one is a macro lens, with a built in hood to give you perfect macro shots every time.

And of course there were some toys. Smart toys. Robot toys. Toys that you can control with and app and gestures . All work and no play makes Jack  dull boy.

Check out MIP:


Yes, there were some cameras: Pentax had the 645Z , medium format digital camera with ergonomics that were amazing, $8500. price point, 51 mp,16 available lenses, your old Pentax 645 lenses will work, and it SHOOTS VIDEO! they can’t make em fast enough. Once one of those is in my hands, I’ll be able to tell you more. Killer reviews all over. SD cards


And at the same booth , the Ricoh dude showed me a 360º camera. Low-ish res but whaaaaaa? Can’t wait to check this out. Tiny unit, about $400. Indulgent but whatever.


STM, a company declaring to protect your digital cargo, does just that with an outstanding iPad protective case: lightweight, clear backing so you can see distinctive markings or bar codes (great for schools to keep track and scan iPads). Tested to meet or exceed US Department of Defense Standard 810F/G durability tests. I saw a video of a drop test, but heck, I won’t try that.

STM ipad

So there you have it: some good tools, some fun stuff, and there is more but we need to get some stuff in the hands to really let you know about it. In the next month or 2 some of the things I saw will be ready for market, and I’ll let you know if it looks like a purchase consideration. I think we may be after the same stuff.