Platypod Extreme – The Mother of em all!

When there is a need, there is a solution.
Like most of us, I’m always looking for a simpler and lightweight solution to securing my camera to get that perfect angle for a shot.
It could be for a closeup of a flower, or just attaching a camera where there is no place for a tripod or monopod.
I have what may be a unique use case, and Platypod has solved it in the past.

The new Platypod Extreme, currently on Kickstarter, solves so many use cases for me, however.


(Yes, there will be many photos, videos, and a link to the Kickstarter below, if you choose to back the project)

This is the situation: I keep a Zhiyun tripod connector on my camera at all times.

 

It’s quick release, not too bulky, and holds my camera steady when added to a ball head, monopod, or while shooting through NYC, on a Platypod.

Above shot is the full rig set-up by a window, where no tripod will go. The Platypod manages those space perfectly..

Because of this combo, I don’t have to break down my camera, change out connectors, or spin it onto a ¼-20 screw. I do bring the ball head in my bag, ready to set up on the Platypod.

Below shows a Fuji X-T4 on a rooftop table, with a 16mm lens, and a wrist strap on the Manfrotto ball head, Zhiyun quick release, all secure on a Platypod Extreme with legs balanced for the load.

 

Playtpod connecting base has been one item I usually keep in my bag for these additional reasons:


It’s flat, it attaches most anywhere with the straps, or other added items in their kits.( optional, although the Extreme will come with a carabineer)

 

I have a previous model, which I like and use, but there were a few places for improvement : the spiked legs, used to adjust for diff terrains, were stored in a pouch, or magnetic holder and added another step in setting up the Platypod. Not a deal breaker, but when moving around the park, keeping them on was not the best for my camera bag.

Sure, the base itself, while having plenty of holes to screw in to secure to a drillable, or screwable surface was a nice to have, although not practical for me.

To start, the Extreme base itself is larger, and I feel better about using a bigger, heavier lens, and the balance just feels more secure, although the base is lighter than previous models.

One of the main new features on the Extreme is that the legs are attached, and fold into the unit!

So now they are always on, and click stop into chosen angles to allowing for uneven surface, like here:


Easy to break down and move to another location for setup.

Back to some of the features: there is a 3/8 permanent screw for your tripod head, which is where the ball head is on here, and if you don’t like that location for the head, there are multiple located holes you can set it in for balance, or the shots sake. Below shows the removable 1/4-20, standard tripod screw.

Also you can add things like lights and a mic to the base, if you don’t want to load your camera up. Plenty of appropriately sized holes to screw in accessories.

Choose your own adventure!

You can use their Velcro strapping system, as the previous max model allowed, to attach to a pole or a tree limb. Yep, that’s an extra. OR you can even use a regular belt!

And use one of the legs, repositioned to one of the other holes in the base, to bring some additional pressure and security for the Platypod. As you can see in this shot, the sharp ends of the spikes are revealed to allow for a more secure placement on a tree, when screwed in.

Another note on the carrying case: There is an inside pocket where I keep the rubber spike tips, and the 3/8-1/4 screw adaptor for the head along with the rubber tips for the spikes, when you need to expose them, as above.

As I mentioned, one other way I use it is on my roof. Luckily, we have some tables, so when capturing the skyline, or shooting some natural light items, like these peeps, I use the Platypod to frame up the shot.

Overall this a utility device that checks a lot of boxes.
Pros: Packs small, plays big; versatile, solid. Lighter, more mounting options than in previous models.

Cons: Black paint seems to wear off near where I attach the ball head, but had no affect on the functionality. BTW, that screw you see here is permanently embedded into the Platypod, so that part is taken care of. This was a review unit I’m showing, so things may change.

Do you already own a previous model? Have a look at the comparison:

Have a look at these videos for more info:

and this one for some accessories breakdown:

Sure, it’s on Kickstarter, so you can get a good deal now, and with this company, I would feel secure on backing it, although I always have to add the disclaimer that until it is a done deal, it is not a guarantee. Kickstarter is not a store.

If you back it, you can save about $30. Early backers can get it for about $120.

Real World Review – OWC for the Traveler

Felt so good to be back on a set: 75 crew, 25+ talent, 8 person Stills crew, plus 14 clients and agency folks. (yes, I produce commercials)
Flew across country, and set up in the hotel conference room for wardrobe fittings (remote), meetings and a pre-production meeting. Part remote/part IRL
First thing up – let’s connect to the big screen!
Conf Room had an HDMI cable to connect, although we all had MacBook Airs.
I had packed my OWC travel dock, and had it in my backpack! The perfect tool with its HDMI input!
Worked like a charm!

OK, above, is a cleaner look at my set-up, once I was visiting family. In the conf room it was more like this:


You’ve all been there, I know.

With all of the files for the project: pre-pro book (204 mg alone) , documents, storyboards, contracts, shooting boards, storylines, talent auditions, etc. my little MacBook Air hard drive was getting filled up, and a little sluggish.

So, I plugged in the OWC SSD into the hub, and created a set of job folders , and offloaded all of the job docs to that. Back to some usable speed. Plus the added RAM that was freed up.

On every job I produce, I’m usually doing some behind the scenes shots, and these days, some video.
Only available to the agency and client as it’s all NDA’d, but I needed a fast card to work with for vid , especially.
The new OWC line,ATLAS S PRO SDXC UHS-II V90 Media Card did the trick.
You probably don’t need a photo of the SD card.

So the hub has all of the ports I needed for work: HDMI for video transmit, SD reader for my captured content, pass through power USB C port, so I save a USB C on my laptop, and 2 USB ports for anything I needed. Like a way to charge my phone! And as you can see below, the USB-C cable fits neatly into the base.  PLUS, the hub is also bus powered so if you don’t have access to power, you can still connect all the peripherals.

Last feature I want to highlight is the ability to disconnect all of your connected items at once, using the included software. Just saves disconnecting each item (SSD, SD card, Phone, etc.)

 

Overall, this whole system will be with me from now on.
Small footprint, enough ports, SD reader, super fast SD card, and the ability to hook into a video system convinced me.
Sure, you want to know what all of this costs:
The Travel Hub is about $55.
The SSD Envoy depends on the size. I went for the 1TB, so about $220
The Atlas SD card, also depends on the size. The 256 GB was a great worker for the shoot days. About $250

Fujifilm Instax Mini EVO- Get Back to Some Fun!

I have to say, when I get a new product to review, I like to look around and see what some others may have said.
Well, It was edifying.
When someone starts to compare an Instant camera to a high end phone or interchangeable lens cameras, they are missing the point.
As a historical reference, the Polaroid Swinger in the 60’s came out when high end film cameras were readily available.
When the SX-70 was introduced, we had plenty of those same film cameras in use.
This camera is about fun and sharing a moment in a physical form.
And there are added benefits as well, I’ll mention later.

The newly redesigned Instax mini, or next gen, added to the line up is the Mini Evo
It has reached a great place in design and capabilities.

With a sleek look, and a nod to classic film cameras with its black and silver palette, it fits, and feels great, in the hand.
The ability to adjust exposure and color filtration is a major plus in my mind.
You can adjust the lens ring to add 10 effects, with a mirror imaging option being kinda fun, although I keep it kinda simple.
Film look, and chosen exposure are displayed on an LCD screen so you see what you shot before you decide to print.
There is a lever to print, which on classic film cameras would have been the film advance lever. Fun touch.

AND to be able to shoot, save to a micro-sd card (or internal memory) before deciding to print is a money saver.

The magic happens in the printing.

No matter whom I’ve shown this to, to see eyes lighting up, and a smile arise on the faces, once the process begins, is what it’s all about.
It’s not a digital photo to be seen only on a phone.
It’s not an NFT that shows in a crypto wallet.
It’s a physical photo IN YOUR HAND.
It almost sounds crazy to emphasize this, as this was the basic concept of instant cameras from the beginning.

Instant Gratification.

Now people I have given prints to still like to shake it, assuming this will speed the process. That is a very old concept yet still locked into the general mindset.
It doesn’t affect the processing, yet increases the connection to the image.
Could be just a certain generation, but the song Hey Ya!, brought it back a bit more modern

To that point, I’ve heard of many photographers with younger people in the house love these cameras , because it is an instant physical share.

As we gather in person again, physical proof of an event or just a meeting for friends, is truly valuable. Looking up from screens now and again can be healthy. Plus there is a front polished square so you can line up selfies, by yourself or with a group. The ability to shoot and view before printing comes in handy in this case. Make sure you got everyone in there.

OK, Ok, it does have another sweet feature:
You CAN connect, via Bluetooth, the camera to your smartphone and use the camera as a printer for your phone.Shot this at a film festival.

Maybe you have a photo stored you want to giveaway. Or you made a shot on your phone, and you want to do a simple giveaway on the spot. Helps when perhaps someone would rather not share their contact deets.

Some additional points: is does have a cold shoe so you can add an LED light source

If you are a Fuji user, the menu design on the back will be very familiar. And even if you are not, it’s still super simple.

You can also set up remote shooting wth your smartphone. here is a compressed version of what it could be like. Yes, when Evo in horizontal mode, app details are in the right configuration, but of course you can make your phone horizontal! on this shot I did not make the camera adjustmenst so just showing ow it can be set up.

Yes, I’m a fan of the Fuji line of instant products. From the Wide printers, to the Square cameras, and complete the line of instax minis.
This new design hits so many of the marks for me, I throw it in my camera bag now, when going on a walkabout in the city. It’s good to see peoples faces light up when the picture emerges from the camera

Only thing I wish it did was have the ability to add a QR code like the LiPLay does, or the new Wide printer. Honestly though, the image real estate is a bit limited for the to be added.

Let’s just enjoy this camera for what it’s meant for: fun and sharing

ABCs of NFTs

Or what I learned from personal exploration in this new space
You’ve been hearing about NFTs for awhile now, and wondering what it means to you.
I started the research last spring, and have finally come to the step of setting my site, with NFTs for sale!
Wanted to figure it out in the real world before reporting back to you.
Yep, all of the following is based solely on personal experience, and consolidated thoughts after seeing way too many seminars and posts.
Your mileage may vary. Do the research for your needs.

Why do want to make NFTs?
Trackable Digital Rights Management and artist compensation.
As a creator, creating an NFT makes a digital, secure fingerprint of your work. It can be tracked by the purchase, and you can get a commission every time it’s sold/resold.
As an example: If you made a piece of art, and it sold for $1000., you get your % from the one sale
It becomes wildly famous and gets sold, and resold, and ends up being valued at $500000!.

Woohoo!

However, you don’t get a piece of that, only the % from the initial sale.

When you sell an NFT, you can lock in a percentage of royalty from the first sale onward.
Much better, right?

Basically, NFTs can be programmed so that each transaction includes royalties, allowing creators to be rewarded fairly for their work online.
The fact that NFTs are created and stored on the blockchain, means they can be traded seamlessly, and securely, and trackable, from wallet to wallet, with royalties paid every time they sell, if that is how you have set it up.

This guide explains how to set royalties on OpenSea,

Of course if you are selling prints, having a gallery with a knowledgable person is the way to go. Selling NFTs puts it back in your control.

How do you get started?

Here is where it gets a bit more complex.
As NFTs are primarily sold in the crypto world, you’ll need to set up a crypto wallet to receive funds from sales.
In this crypto wallet, you have to have some currency, like Ethereum. More below.
Here are a couple of popular wallets to use :Metamask, with a video , is a current fave right now, or Coinbase. Yes, there are others, and you should do your research.

You do have to connect your wallet to actual money source., like a debit card or bank account.
Scary? Maybe, but you can even set up a separate account, with limited funds, if you feel better.
And you will need to use a 12-word security code. It will be generated by the wallet site.You need to write this down, put it somewhere extremely safe. If you lose your code, you would be locked out of your account and all of that crypto you made from the massive sales is lost forever.

Once you have set up your wallet, you can then join an NFT site for sales/purchases.

I went to Opensea to list, or “mint” my photographs. Minting is when you have gone through the process of setting up your art on the site of choice.

There are many to choose from.

One of the high-end sites is called Foundation, but you need to get an invitation. I didn’t get an invitation.
Also, Nifty is a site I follow, if only to see the daily drops of new NFTs.

Gotta see what is out there! And also check to see what is actually selling, and for how much.

OK, in your set-up on the site, you need to validate your crypto wallet on that site.
You may need to put some crypto into your wallet for “gas fees”, which are essentially a service fee for the transactions. Nothing free in this world, but it basically just holds it till there is a transaction, and confirms you are for real.
So…..once you have set up your account, you can add images and name them, to be put in a collection. Each image will be validated separately.
You set the price, and decide whether it’s a firm price, or an auction, where you choose a minimum bid, and length of time for the auction.
You also will set what your royalty will be. It is maxing out at 10% now on Opensea, but I’m sure things will adjust.

One thing to remember about setting your price: as when you may sell something on eBay, and thing it’s worth a certain amount, you away check the completed section to see what things ACTUALLY sold for. Good reality check.

Same with NFTs. see what things Actually sold for. I would suggest  you price accordingly.I’m sure your work is amazing, just be realistic in your pricing.
I’m also exploring editions right now, like a limited or open edition. Sell a few or however many the market would like. Jury is still out, but I’ll report back.

Good time to emphasize that this is a new platform, and growing rapidly, so improvements will be added.
When the item is sold, you will get crypto currency put into your wallet.

After that, all should be good.

Now, once the NFT is purchased, what the heck do you, or the person who bought it, do with it??
At a panel at CES this year, my eyes were opened, and info that I’d explored before came flooding back up.
Instead of a line of code or a URL, you want to display this image, right?
OK, there is one company, called Infinite Objects, that will “print” it into a frame, once it can be proved who owns that NFT. Or print your own video , non NFT video, with them. Check them out!

 

Yes, it does mean more when it’s a moving graphic, so explore the site and see what may be right for you (or a customer). Another unique item to sell.
Then we have Meural. I know, years ago, they emerged as a video screen that allowed the owner to subscribe to various collections of art, and could display them on the purchased screen, via internet connection.
Meural disappeared and was bought by Netgear (???) and have now reemerged, as another solution to viewing your NFT’s
They seem, at this point, to be connecting with specific partners.

So, there you go. The first actual steps may be tricky but it’s straightforward once you’ve decided where your wallet is, and the selling platform you prefer.

My OpenSea site is CuriousTourist.

to recap:

 Get a crypto wallet

Decide on a site to post your NFTs

“Mint” or post your art for sale

Promote the heck out of it!

I spent a lot of time going through all the info, and I hope this all will help some of you get started.

Updates will be coming, as I find out more. I’m a newbie and a curious tourist.

 

 

 

How To Find those Missing Photos the Easy Way

Happy New Year!
As we careen headlong into 2022, you may be thinking about straightening out your collection of digital photos.
I’m talking about finding the image you knew you had, but can’t pull it up.
It could be your family holiday images, or a music festival you shot.
Like when someone said: Do you have any photos of that rock group that played at SXSW in 2009? Why yes, I do.
Yes, I’v shot SXSW for many years and only in the past recent years, did I tag correctly.
I started the search but nada.
How do you make you life easier and less frustrating?
Yep, all about the tagging or keywording. Preferably performing this function when you ingest/import the files.
OK, I jumped ahead a little bit. There will be a list of simple steps at the end of this post.
First of all you should decide on a digital asset management system, or a DAM. Basically a program that lets you sort your images via tagging, or written naming of the images.
Or batches of images
My program of choice is Adobe Lightroom Classic. the icon you are looking for is this:


I have used this for years, and I can always find my images. Sometimes it’s a huge hunt for the older ones, but I get there.
Here is how it works:
First when you import images from your media, a window will come up, and will ask for this info in one of the columns:

The program reads the media You will be able to see the images on the disk. decide which images to import, then you can add a general tag/keyword upon the import. You can choose where to save them to, but that’s another story.

With a small amount of images, your computer should be able to handle it. For the heavy users, like myself, it’s external drives.
Then, once all imported,  it’s in your main LR workspace. you can tag images into specific groups , like this:


When you want to find the image you need, the program can search though all of the tagged images and come up with the choices, based on keyword, attribute (was it a flagged image as a pick?), camera, lens, and more

 

The tougher part is when you don’t have an image tagged correctly, or the location changed.
Then you get this image, with the exclamation point.


With the missing image thumbnail selected, click on the exclamation point, and you can then locate the image from your hard drives. LR shows you the path.

you can identify the hard drove to look through, by looking at drives as icons, below, or a simple list.

and here it is on the hard drive:

 

Another beauty part of LightRoom: once you have truly located the right image file, click on it, and the surrounding related images will then be be found on the preview! Here’s a hot tip- I keep the library data column at the date created section, so when the image is found on the drive, it’s correct.

Yes, I have in my earlier days, had images with duplicate file names. LR will know which is the image though, and will tell you!.

I know this has been a lot, so here are the basic steps:

Basic initial Steps

*Import images from a media card with a general keywording tag
*once imported, deep dive into more specific keywording per image or group of images
*Add another layer of tagging with an color attribute or flag to further define the image(s)
*Done.

To find lost images:
Do all in Library mode/tab in LR
*click on exclamation point on missing image
*Search path called out by program
*click on file name on the prescribed drive.
*Surrounding related images will populate and save you the time searching for the rest in a series.

Hot tip: set Library info column to the date/time image was shot, so when the details come up in the search, you will have the right image based on file name, and at least you have the time it was made.

 

I’ll be honest, I have googled when an act or personality did a specific event, and search my library using that date. It works!

If you have any questions, you can contact me at damon@photoinduce.com

And now, back to cleaning up my library!!