Lumiquest

Lumiquest is a company that makes lighting diffusers and bouncers for flash photography. Their devices fit popular flash units from Nikon, Canon, Sunpak, Vivitar, Quantum, or Metz and include the Pocket Bouncer, UltraSoft, 80-20, Big Bounce, SoftBox or the complete ProMax System. You can easily bring your flash photography to a new level just by utilizing some of these items.

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References


Lumiquest Official Site


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Strobist

Strobist is the blog, famous blog in photography circles, of David Hobby, a photography lighting expert. The way I understand it, “Strobist” is a philosophy of creativity and DIY, using found or inexpensive materials over bespoke, and no-brand over brand, or a creative mix thereof. For example, a Strobist might use a largely-manual Vivitar flash over an expensive Nikon SB-900 Speedlight or some combination of both. Or, instead of buying a brand-name “macro studio”, the Strobist might assemble one from found parts.

David’s blog is excellent information for anyone wanting to learn more about lighting technique.

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References


David Hobby’s Strobist Blog
Strobist Flickr Group


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RAW

RAW image files are so named because they include all the unprocessed data directly from the sensor of a digital camera, and are hence not ready for editing for viewing without special software. RAW images are usually something only pro photographers or at least "prosumers" are concerned with, and are only output by DSLR-type cameras such as the Nikon D90 or the Canon 50D, but are also available in recent high-end compact “point and shoot” cameras such as the Nikon CoolPix P6000 or the Canon G10. RAW files are also large, perhaps twice the size of a high-quality JPEG file from the same camera.

Once you have a RAW file which is often called a “digital negative” because of its unprocessed state, you would normally “post-process” or “develop” it using a RAW converter program that allows precise adjustments to highlights, contrast, white balance, exposure, sharpness, noise-reduction and so forth, prior to exporting it as a JPEG or TIFF, for printing or publishing on the web. Photographers use RAW because it allows a higher degree of processing control compared to working directly on a JPEG, though it is quite possible to have your expensive DSLR output JPEG directly (many DSLRs can output both RAW and JPEG at the same time).

Post processing options include maker-proprietary software such as Nikon Capture, and, generalist programs such as Apple Aperture, Bibble Pro and Adobe Lightroom. When buying into a system like Apple Aperture, one has to note that there might be a lag time when a new camera with new RAW format comes out, until the software maker can catch up and incorporate that format into their software.

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References


Adobe Understanding RAW PDF
Open RAW - standards working group
Apple Aperture
Bibble Labs Bibble Pro
Adobe Lightroom

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Nikon Speedlight

Nikon calls their flashes “speedlights” and Nikon’s lighting technology, aka CLS or “Creative Lighting System” offers industry-leading performance, but you pay for the privilege, with the top-of-the-line speedlights costing approximately 500 dollars. Here are several key technologies used in Nikon Speedlights:

i-TTL Balanced Fill Flash


The speedlight will emit monitor pre-flashes, reflecting them off every object in the frame, and catching them with the five-segment TTL flash sensor, or an RGB sensor. The resulting information is analyzed with data from the camera’s Matrix Metering System, to adjust the flash output for the most balanced background-to-foreground exposure.

Advanced Wireless Lighting


Nikon CLS supports what Nikon calls Advanced Wireless Lighting. Note, this is not Wireless as in Pocket Wizard or CyberSync wireless radio, but rather wireless via infrared technology. The range is a little shorter than what you would find with a Pocket Wizard or CyberSync unit. With AWL, you can combine Speedlights flexibly, with up to four i-TTL Speedlight groups controlled by a master unit (the SB-900, SB-800 or SU-800, or, the Nikon camera’s built in flash), and communicating over any of four channels. You’d want channels if you had four Nikon CLS photogs on a catwalk together - they could all choose a different channel to stay out of one another’s hair. Finally, you can have as many Speedlights in a group as your wallet will allow.

Auto FP High-speed Sync


Nikon CLS supports Auto FP High-speed Sync, which is available in some Nikon DSLR cameras including the D-90. Auto FP High-Speed Sync (what a mouthful THAT is) is good for stopping action in outdoor photography (meaning, you can use Flash with a high shutter speed) or, for better portraiture in that it allows you to use a larger aperture. Nikon says that supporting cameras will automatically turn this on, if the shutter speed is above the camera’s top flash sync speed (e.g. 1/250 etc).

Flash Value Lock


With Flash Value Lock, you can lock the exposure and flash settings after you set them or the camera calculates them, and then re-compose as needed without re-metering.

Multi-Area AF-Assist


This Multi-Area AF-Assist Illuminator function allows you to change auto-focus areas in cameras that support CLS, allowing better exposures in dim lighting. If you read the fine print on many third-party flashes that work with Nikon cameras, this capability is not present, and they cite their flash as “only working in centered auto-focus mode” and so on. This feature allows you to get the most out of the auto-focus function of your camera.

Flash Color Information


One area of difficulty if you are using manual flashes of various makes, is that you have to adjust white balance information because each flash is a bit different (this would occur if you used a Nikon SB with a manual Vivitar 285HV, for example). With Nikon CLS if you set the camera to Auto White Balance mode, the master flash unit on the camera (or in the camera) will transmit color information to the camera, including voltage, duration and other color information, and the camera will use these data to get the optimum white balance.

Special SB-900 Features


The SB-900 has some special features unique to it alone. First, you can switch illumination patterns between standard, center-weighted and even, to spread your light as needed in a given shooting situation. Standard has a “normal” pattern of light falloff at the edges, center-weighted gives larger guide-numbers at the center, making it more suitable for portraiture, and even has less falloff at the edges making it more suitable for a group portrait, for instance. Second, the SB-900 will automatically choose a light distribution angle suitable for FX-format (36 x 24) or DX-format (24 x 16), on a camera that can select between the two (D700 or D3). Third, SB-900 firmware can be updated via certain Nikon cameras (D700 or D3). Fourth, the SB-900 has some special accessories such as a waterguard to protect the shoe contact (WG-AS1 for D3, WG-AS2 for D300, and WG-AS3 for D700), and a special external power source, the “High-Performance Battery Pack SD-9”, which holds up to two sets of four AA batteries for extended capacity and reduced flash recycle time.

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References


Nikon Main Site
Nikon Speedlight and CLS Site

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TinyURL

TinyURL lets you make long URLs tiny. If you have ever received an email with a long URL that is broken, in that when you click it, it leads nowhere or returns a 404 error in your browser, many times it is the length of the URL and the fact that email software cuts each line off at a particular length, that is the cause of the problem. Map software such as Google Maps or Mapion and MapFan in Japan, are good candidates for URL shortening. A long URL like this:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=4047+86th+LN+NE+Blaine,+MN+55014&sll=35.398479,139.515025&sspn=0.010005,0.021415&ie=UTF8&ll=45.12732,-93.167238&spn=0.00866,0.021415&z=16&iwloc=addr

... becomes this:

http://tinyurl.com/6mo8qv

Now we can find TinyURL’s parent, Gilby Productions. You can visit the TinyURL Website and create a tiny URL, but a neater way is to install the TinyURL-provided browser link. There is a section on the main site http://tinyurl.com called "Add TinyURL to your Browser's Toolbar". Drag the link there to your browser link bar. Now, when you are visiting a site in IE or Firefox, you can just click the TinyURL! link, and a TinyURL will be created, the URL copied to your clipboard. Convenient. 

References


TinyURL Main Site

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TinyURL of Strobist Blog Post on Nikon SB-900 Strobe Being a real "Big Foot"

RSS

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. It was conceptualized and initially developed by UserLand’s Dave Winer in 1997, and is a mainly text-based format for delivering syndicated, dynamic web content to an RSS “feed reader.” A feed reader is an application that aggregates text RSS feeds into a single location, making them easier to keep up with and keep track of. You can view multiple RSS feeds simultaneously in your feed reader, helping you to stay informed. This as opposed to keeping track of many different and dynamically-changing Website structures.

Examples of feed readers include NetNewsWire, FeedReader, NewsGator or Amphetadesk for standalone applications and Google Reader or Bloglines for web-based applications. Examples of RSS-integrated applications include Mail.app and Safari from Apple, and Outlook 2007 from Microsoft.

Once you decide on a feed reader, you just have to find blogs, photo-sharing sites and news sites that you want to keep up with. Sites often display an RSS icon (that says RSS, XML or RDF) for you to click on to access a feed, and modern Internet browsers often auto-detect feeds, displaying an RSS icon in the address bar when a feed is available.

References


Dave Winer’s RSS Site
RSS Version History at Harvard Law

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Flock Browser RSS Indicator IconTwitterfeed RSS Feeds ListRSS Feeds in the "NetNewsWire" RSS Feed Reader ApplicationRSS IconYahoo's RSS ListTwitter Autoupdated by Twitterfeed

Think Tank Photo

Think Tank Photo makes high quality photography equipment for professionals, designed for speed and accessibility. Their products are well-thought-out, use the best components, and are easy to use, including camera bags, cases, backpacks, beltpacks and accessories. Their motto is to prepare a photographer to be ready “Before The Moment”.

I own a Think Tank Photo Speed Freak waist belt-pack, a “big stick” monopod case, and a Pixel Pocket Rocket media holder. All excellent quality.

References


Think Tank Photo Official Site
Buy a Think Tank Photo Speed Freak Waist Belt-Pack
Buy a Think Tank Photo Big Stick Monopod Bag
Buy a Think Tank Photo Pixel Pocket Rocket Media Holder


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Hakkeijima Sea Paradise

Hakkeijima Sea Paradise is on the East side of Miura Peninsula in Japan, facing Tokyo bay. The facilities have a comprehensive and beautiful aquarium with dolphin shows and so on, as well as amusement rides like a steel roller coaster that goes out over the ocean. A very nice place to visit for a day trip.


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References


Hakkeijima Sea Paradise Official Site


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Papa and Ju at Sea Paradise - 17

Apple Safari

Safari is a fast, standards-supporting web browser developed by Apple Inc. and included with Mac OS X. It was first released in 2003, and is the native browser in OS X, the iPhone and the iPod Touch. There is also a Windows version which runs on Windows XP and Vista.

References


Safari at Apple
Safari on Wikipedia
Buy OS X Leopard, or an iPod

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Centurion

Centurion is a German Mountain- and Cross-Bike maker founded by Wolfgang Renner in 1976 as the German answer to French and Italian bikes. The bikes are known for their good quality.

References


Centurion Website

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Project Management

Project Management is the professional discipline that involves controlling mandate, budget, schedule and resources over the course of a project.

Google Maps

Google Maps is an online mapping web application.

Apple Aperture

Aperture is a software program for Mac OS X developed by Apple Inc since 2005, which was designed to assist photographers in their post-production work, i.e. ingesting, rating, captioning and keywording, cropping, rotating, retouching, and exporting to various formats. It has Non-destructive Editing, RAW support, EXIF and IPTC support, a Loupe, Display Scanning, Full-Screen Display, Slideshow, Light-Table, Customizable Printing and Publishing, Archiving to External Disk (called a Vault in Aperture parlance).

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References


Aperture at Apple
Aperture on Wikipedia

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Apple

Apple was established on April 1, 1976 by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, and is in 2008 a 28,000-person strong multinational public company producing popular consumer electronics such as the iPod and iPhone, the Macbook and Macbook Pro, the iMac, and polished software such as OS X Leopard and Apple Aperture.

References


Apple Inc. Website
Apple on Wikipedia
Buy OS X Leopard, a Macbook Pro, or an iPod

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Crumpler

Crumpler is an Australian bag company based in Melbourne, that makes high-quality camera bags that don’t look like camera bags. It was started as a messenger bag company in 1995 by Dave Roper and Will Miller, who were bike couriers and running a bike courier company Minuteman Messengers. Currently Crumpler operates out of several countries including Australia (enquiries@crumpler.com.au, + 61 3 9372 1204), Auckland, New Zealand (+64 9 630 0753), New York, USA (+1 718 384 3020), Toronto, Canada (+1 416-847-0117) and Singapore (+65 6238 6371).

The colorful bags sport whimsical names like “Brazillion Dollar Home” or “Sinking Barge” and the Website is a zany flash-based “vending machine” that you need to experience before kicking the bucket. They have some funny, off-color product videos that are worth the bandwidth.

References


Crumpler Australia
Crumpler US
Buy a Crumpler Sinking Barge bag





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Crumpler Sinking Barge 2008 - 1Crumpler Sinking Barge 2008 - 4Crumpler Sinking Barge 2008 - 5Crumpler Sinking Barge 2008 - 2Crumpler Sinking Barge 2008 - 6Crumpler Sinking Barge 2008 - 3

Flickr

Flickr is an online photo sharing service run by Yahoo.

SmugMug

SmugMug is an online photo-sharing service.

Twitterfeed

Twitterfeed allows you to post your RSS feeds to your Twitter stream.

Twitterfeed monitors your Really Simple Syndication or "RSS" feeds after you enter them into your Twitterfeed account. RSS feeds are lightweight text files that automatically show site content updates and are output by many types of websites including blog, photo sharing, and forum systems.

http://twitterfeed.com

Twitter

Twitter is a free, social networking “micro blog” web application that is based on the simple concept of allowing its users to answer the question “what are you doing now?”. It was conceptualized by Jack Dorsey because he wanted to know what his friends were doing. It was funded initially by Obvious, out of San Francisco CA, and then incorporated in 2007.

The simple concept is that you can follow people on twitter by clicking a button on their Twitter profile, and people can follow you. When people you are following submit a tweet, it shows up on your profile page, as well as via other methods if you have signed up to receive them - SMS, RSS, Email. You can enter an up-to-140-character “tweet” via the website or various other Twitter addon software applications such as Twitterrific, or, update your Twitter via Twitterfeed, which monitors your various RSS feeds.

Join the 2 million plus users on Twitter by signing up, and follow me on Twitter.

References

Twitter Main Site
Signup for Twitter
Twitter Mobile
Follow Rick on Twitter

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Google Statz

Google Statz is an OS X application developed by Googlers and released under the Apache open source license, that allows you to set your presence information simultaneously for various applications such as Adium, Colloquy, Conversation, iChat, ircle, Skype, Snak, Tumblr or Twitter. When you change your status in Statz, from "On the Road" to "In a Meeting" and so on, it updates the status of all the applications you have added to the list.

References


Statz from Google Code

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Nikon D90

The Nikon D90 was released in Sept 2008 in Japan, and is the successor to the popular Nikon D80. It contains many of the features of the higher-end D300 and D700, but includes the ability to shoot HD movies - the “D-Movie Mode”. It’s got a 12.3 megapixel DX format CMOS sensor, using EXPEED image processing technologies as well as 11-point autofocus with face priority, 4.5 frames-per-second continuous shooting, Live View, Nikon 3D Color Matrix Metering II and Active D Lighting as well as a GPS option for geo-tagging your photos.

It is looking like the GPS option will be released sometime in December in Japan. Pricing was unavailable when I asked.

References


Nikon D90 Product Page
Buy a D90 with 18-105mm Lens

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