Some Quick Macro Work with the Bitplay Snap! 6

Marco lens attached to Bitplay Snap! 6. Can you find the little owl sitting in the corner?

Marco lens attached to Bitplay Snap! 6. Can you find the little owl sitting in the corner?

This is the first time I’ve had a case that would accept lenses for the iPhone and I was excited to give the macro lens a shot so I grabbed an old crusty barnacle and a dollar bill and gave it a shot.

The first thing I noticed was how close the working distance is to the subject. I’m estimating the working range to the subject is about 1cm. That indeed gets you very close to your subject. The drawback is that sometimes at this distance the iPhone blocks some of the light reaching the subject.

Considering that I was shooting with a lens that cost price of a few drinks at Starbucks and an iPhone I was very impressed. Since I don’t have any cameras that have macro capabilities I can see myself having a lot of fun with this lens. It is $20 well spent.

It's two something.

It’s two something.

White balance seems way off with the lights I was using and the iPhone. I fiddle with it a little and tried to get the balance right in Lightroom.

White balance seems way off with the lights I was using and the iPhone. I fiddle with it a little and tried to get the balance right in Lightroom.

The very fine hair from a our cat's tail. She wasn't amused.

The very fine hair from a our cat’s tail. She wasn’t amused.

Yours truly.

Yours truly.

Bitplay – SNAP! 6: Quick Field Review

A few months ago I came across a Kickstarter campaign for the Bitplay SNAP! 6 case, but was too late to get in on the initial batch. To my surprise while I was out shopping with my wife today I came across one of their cases on the shelf right in front of me.

Not only that, but they had the two lens conversion kit that attaches to the case. Needless to say I was pretty excited to see both of these items ready for purchase. As far as price goes I was surprised how inexpensive the case and lens kit were. I can’t recall what the projected retail price was going to be from their Kickstarter campaign, but I paid less then $40 for the case and $20 for the two lens kit. Not bad at all when you consider that it makes the already capable camera in the iPhone a much more enjoyable shooting experience.

Taipei crosswalk from above. (iPhone 6 with Bitplay SNAP! 6 and edited in VSCOcam)

Taipei crosswalk from above. (iPhone 6 with Bitplay SNAP! 6 and edited in VSCOcam)

The case really isn’t much bigger than any standard iPhone 6 case and is smaller than several other protective cases I’ve seen. The key to this case is its dedicated shutter release. If you recall, one of the main reasons I liked the Nokia 1020 was because of the ergo friendly grip and the dedicated shutter release. The grip on the SNAP! 6 isn’t as bulky as the Nokia 1020’s, but the benefit is that with the SNAP! 6 case your phone is still easily pocketable.

The mechanism for the shutter release is completely mechanical and is neatly hidden within the walls of the case and works perfectly. A Small added benefit is the ability to add a wrist or neck strap to one of the case’s three attachment points.

Being able to hold the phone in a more conventional way with the shutter release just below your right index finger is a huge plus for me. There’s no awkward bending of fingers to reach the shutter release and there is far less chance of introducing camera shake when taking photos.

Pros:

  • Much more comfortable to hold in your hand when taking photos
  • Small, about the same size as any other iPhone case
  • Ability to add a wrist or neck strap
  • It’s mechanical, no battery drain
  • Less camera shake

Cons:

  • Since the release button is actually triggering the volume down button you may inadvertently be lowering your volume
  • It’s plastic (I’d be willing to pay more for an aluminum case)
Unmistakeable, Taipei 101. (iPhone 6 with Bitplay SNAP! 6 case)

Unmistakeable, Taipei 101.

Processed with VSCOcam with 5 preset

Walking and texting

I’ve only had a chance to take a couple photos with the two lenses: one macro and one 0.68x wide angle lens. The 0.68x wide angle lens give you the equivalent of a 20mm lens in 35mm terms and the macro lens is marked as 1.5x. The macro lens lets you get close, very close.

The dial of the Ricoh GR with the Bitplay SNAP! 6 case and macro lens.

The dial of the Ricoh GR with the Bitplay SNAP! 6 case and macro lens.

I’m hoping to get a chance to use the lenses more over the coming weeks and I’ll be back to share my photos and findings.

Views from an Airplane Window II

Approaching Tokyo Heneda International Airport

Approaching Tokyo Heneda International Airport

One little tip I picked up was to go out and buy one of those cheap, screw on, rubber hoods. The flexibility of the hood allows you to shoot at different angles without bringing in reflections of interior cabin lighting. In most cases holding a blanket up over the window is goofy looking, but sufficient.

Taxiing into position on Hong Kong.

Taxiing into position in Tokyo

On short final to Taipei's Songshan International Airport

On short final to Taipei’s Songshan International Airport

Dreaming of space, led me to create this very exaggerated view from my window seat

Dreaming of space, led me to create this very exaggerated view from my window seat

Just another winglet

Just another winglet

In between the layers

In between the layers

Runway perpendicular to ours at Heneda

Runway perpendicular to ours at Heneda

Crossing over home, downtown Seattle

Crossing over home, downtown Seattle

Another deep blue sky

Another deep blue sky over the Great Plains

Views from an Airplane Window

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It doesn’t matter how old I am or how much I’ve flown, I still love grabbing the window seat on every flight, long or short. I’m sure there are others out there like me that not only stare out the window, but also enjoy grabbing a few shots. Going back through my catalogue of photos I’ve started pulling out photos taken through the window of the plane. There are photos from just about every phase of the flight from boarding, taxiing, take-off, cruise, final, short-final to landing.

Here are a few to get things started.

There's something peaceful about looking out of an airplane window.

There’s something peaceful about looking out of an airplane window.

One of my favorites taken on approach to Charles de Gaulle (CDG), Paris, France.

One of my favorites, taken on approach to Charles de Gaulle (CDG), Paris, France.

This one is a little different and far, far from technically decent. This is a one minute exposure from the window of a trans-Pacific flight. There is just the hint of star trails starting to appear.

This one is a little different and far, far from technically decent. This is a one minute exposure from the window of a trans-Pacific flight. There is just the hint of star trails starting to appear.

A pretty typical sunset/sunrise scene from cruising altitude.

A pretty typical sunset/sunrise scene from cruising altitude.

This one has quite a story behind it. Long story short, my wife and I were in the 2004 tsunami in Phuket, Thailand. This was taken as we landed four days before the tsunami hit. We were stranded in Phuket for several days before flying back out of this airport.

This one is quite memorable. Long story short, my wife and I were in the 2004 tsunami in Phuket, Thailand. This was taken as we landed four days before the tsunami hit. We were stranded in Phuket for several days before flying back out of this (very different) airport.

I believe this was taken somewhere over the great plains.

I believe this was taken somewhere over the great plains.

If you have other photos send them on with how you’d like to be credited and any details, and I would be happy to post them and start a collection from like-minded flying photographers.  Thanks, -Steve

Views from the Saddle

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As you may have gathered from previous posts, when I’m not behind the camera I am on the bike. A good road is something of a treat for me and I came across more than usual the last two weeks in the bay area. Most of these were captured with the Ricoh GR, some while in motion and some off the bike. If you’re a cyclist and are in or near San Francisco please treat yourself to a few rides north of the city, you’ll be glad you did.

BTW – If you’re just visiting San Francisco, like I was, Undiscovered Country Tours offers high-end road bike and mountain bike rentals for a great price and has fantastic customer service. http://www.udctours.com/

My only company along Highway 1

My only company along Highway 1

An old fire access road, fairly rough, but uncrowded and offers beautiful views.

An old fire access road, fairly rough, but uncrowded and offers beautiful views.

VSCO Film Simulation Packs (Santa Cruz Test)

Boardwalk housing

Boardwalk housing

I’ve been using VSCOcam for a few weeks on the iPhone and have really enjoyed the results, so much so that I took the plunge and picked up one of their film packs for Lightroom 5. Creating stylized images with one click is highly appealing and I’ve found that VSCO is letting accomplish that quite easily.

My typical process is to play around with a few sliders, exposure, highlight recovery, white balance… and then I go through the variety of film simulations until I find one that is most pleasing. Currently Kodak Portra 800++ is my favorite. Although the black and white simulations are very good as well I’m still using Google/Nik software’s Silver Efex Pro 2. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Here are a few images from a trip to Santa Cruz that were treated with VSCO and Film Pack 1 simulations.

Classic arcade games

Classic arcade games

Santa Cruz Pier

Santa Cruz Pier

Above the arcade and the beach

Above the arcade and the beach

A view of the boardwalk from the pier

A view of the boardwalk from the pier

San Francisco and Landscape Photography

It's almost cliche to take this photo, but it's unavoidable. The Golden Gate bridge from Hawk Hill. (Ricoh GR)

This photo is a cliche, but it’s unavoidable. The Golden Gate bridge from Hawk Hill. (Ricoh GR)

I’ve always lived in the city, shot in the city and vacationed in cities so the vast majority of my photography is of the urban environment. I am not trying to limit myself, I just shoot what’s around me. On a recent trip to San Francisco I had several opportunities to head north over the the Golden Gate bridge and take in some of the beautiful scenery around the Marin Headlands and Mt. Tam.

The Marin Headlands from the north end of the Golden Gate bridge, west side. (Ricoh GR)

The Marin Headlands from the north end of the Golden Gate bridge, west side. (Ricoh GR)

Most of those chances came from bike rides but a few of the following photos were taken while on a drive with my father. When I’m on the bike I’m not interested in dragging around a lot of gear so once again the tiny Ricoh GR has stepped up and hit another home run. Its 28mm fixed lens just happens to be about perfect for everything I wanted to shoot.

The bubble man on Rodeo Beach. (Ricoh GR)

Jumping the river on Rodeo Beach. (Ricoh GR)

A tree under the sun. Mt. Tam. (Sony RX1r)

A tree under the sun. Mt. Tam. (Sony RX1r)

Descending Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands. (Ricoh GR)

Descending Hawk Hill, Marin Headlands. (Ricoh GR)

An odd crop with San Francisco in the background. (Ricoh GR)

An odd crop with San Francisco in the background. (Ricoh GR)