Tag Archive for photography

All set up, but delayed because of yesterday’s typhoon

All set up, but delayed our start time because of yesterday’s typhoon. I thought the first thing I would do on arriving last night was to dump my bags at the front door, get my camera out and photograph everything. However, dragging my gear up the hill for about 20 minutes in the dank heat and humidity. Phew… I was spent! I have fairly strong legs and leg muscles, but I could barely walk back down to the station to find food. Anyway, the first time I got my gear out was this morning to check all the equipment, and do some light tests. Now, just waiting for everyone to come.
Update to the JapanesePhotos Instagram at: http://bit.ly/2vy6P3I.

A model does 19 poses in 30secs

Here is a model who does 19 poses in 30 seconds. I bet she has a repoirtoire of only 19 poses that she’s learnt, and she does them in the exact same order every time. Hmm… thinking about it now. I bet the MUA has a handful of styles, and they choose one for the day, and from each clothing shoot, they choose three photos, splice them together, and so from start to finish, it may be possible to have a product prepared, shot, processed, and delivered in under 30 minutes… maybe?

For this to work, you need a team where each person has a routine that they strictly follow, and no variation (no creativity) is allowed. The camera needs to be set on a tripod on manual focus, and a fast charge flash(es) on low power is needed.

Could I do this? I don’t have such a team, and my main flash could do it, but with may be an extra second between shots.

What do I do? I don’t want carbon-copies or cookie-cutter photos, but something different each time. I want variety and a little of something different. This looks fun. Here Coco Rocha does her own 19 poses. I bet she’s taken the time to develop them, try them, rehearse them, and then perform them. And over time, she’s got some better, dropped some, and picked up new ones.

I’ve given up on the #Gnarbox

The Gnarbox is now 14 months overdue. That is, one year and two months late. I’m in awe and wonder at how they can pay their employees for a year, and not be making money for over a year either. I don’t know their financial situation, but I bet it’s dicey.

The Gnarbox page on Kickstarter.

The Gnarbox page on Kickstarter.

There were many promises of delivery, and many missed delivery deadlines. I have to go back through my previous blog posts to count them (seven or eight, depends on how you count the most recent promises). The last communication from the Gnarbox company was the 8th of April, and they promised imminent delivery, and since then they’ve ignored their backer community. There have been backers saying that they’d just received their delivery notification. Weeks later, the same people are saying they’ve got their delivery notification, but nothing has arrived as yet. One backer, Gabriel Legault said in the comments section that he had phoned Gnarbox, and was told the problem is with USPS (an American delivery company). This begs the question, why doesn’t a delivery company deliver? I can order from iHerb, an American company, and within seven days of pushing the “Order Now” button, the box had arrived, and I’m already eating my goodies. Why are Gnarbox backers waiting for over a month? I can only assume that one of several possibilities. Please note that this is pure speculation, and is done so in the absence of communication from the Gnarbox company.

  1. The delivery notice is a delay tactic. The Gnarbox company may not be able to pay for delivery. Perhaps they need to sell Gnarboxes to new customers until they can get money to pay for delivery. This fits the story that USPS would be waiting for payment before delivery can commence. Or else the imminent delivery notice is a rouse to bide time until money is available to pay for postage.
  2. The delivery notice is a delay tactic. Perhaps there’s some other technical issue they cannot fix yet, and the delivery notices are a rouse to bide time until they really can deliver. That is to say, there are no boxes/parcels as USPS yet.
  3. They have started deliveries, but so far, only people in the US have received theirs. They are only delivering to backers in legal jurisdictions that can harangue the Gnarbox company into court, and hoping that they can get away with not delivering to others. This fits the story that someone in Germany has theirs held up in customs, but Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, and others are yet to be told anything. That is, they are aware that they have legal obligations, and accept the fact that these cannot be met, but are doing what they can to reduce the hurt to themselves.
  4. Some other reason that I haven’t thought of and unaware of.

Since July 2015, when I first backed this project three things have happened. Firstly, the size of the Gnarbox device (128Gb) is no longer a realistic size for me as a travel photographer. Honestly, it was just under the size I expected for such a device when I first ordered, and now with my new Sony a99 (purchased in Jan 2016), it became that less capable. Secondly, security of internet capable devices has come to the fore. With webcams being used to spy on people (including children’s toys, and Samsung TVs); Gnarbox has said nothing about device security. Journalists have been demanding encryption and password access to recording equipment on their new devices. Thirdly, and significantly, my next camera is probably going to have wifi built in. That means, I can connect to the camera directly (without needing the Gnarbox as a middle man), and edit and share photos and videos direct from my iPhone or iPad. I’m currently seriously ditching my Sony/Minolta system to go to the Canon M6. The Canon M6 is small, light, and has all the features I need, without the weight and the bulk my current system suffers. There are many other advantages to going to the M6, but that’s for another blog post.

Canon M6 with wifi and other connectivity options.

Canon M6 with wifi and other connectivity options.

Therefore, I had to reconsider my investment. The main issues are the lack of security, my next camera this year will have wifi built in, and the Gnarbox has a limited storage capacity, which makes it already mostly obsolete even before I get it. Furthermore, because I do not believe they can deliver from their lack of communication and possible capital issues. Consequently, on 29th April 2017 I sent them a personal message through Kickstarter requesting a refund. Below is the polite request I had made.

Request to cancel and refund.

Request to cancel and refund.

Gnarbox update: The saga continues

This article follows on from the previous article about my experience with Gnarbox, which so far has been terrible and dismal. However, this is the first proper glimmer of hope. The Gnarbox Kickstarter project started in July 2015, and was due to be delivered in March 2016 (twelve months ago). They had made five promises of deliveries, and has failed to fulfill any. They have also blocked me on Instagram, their only channel of communication outside of Kickstarter. They blocked me because I was one of many who complained about the non-delivery in Instagram comments. It should be noted that the blocking occurred days before CES in January, and before Lok Cheung saw them. The community of Kickstarter backers have complained loudly at the consistent failure of Gnarbox to deliver. Then this morning, there was a break in the weather.

The Gnarbox page on Kickstarter.

The Gnarbox page on Kickstarter.

I received an email marked 7.38am this morning (my time) with the first update, first of any kind of communication from Gnarbox that I’m aware of in four weeks. In fact, the last communication from them was on the 16th of February, when in the comments section on Kickstarter they confirmed someone’s address had been received. Otherwise they’ve been ghost, and completely ignoring their Kickstarter backers. It appeared really bad, and it truly seemed like anything could have happened and we were in the dark.

This update is significant. But first I have to remind of you of their previous update on the 6th of Feb. They said that they had started production and quality control testing, and were aiming to get failure rate down, then the next week they’d go into full production and shipping, so we should expect our Gnarboxes by the end of February. Today’s update (16th March) said that they’d completed production, quality control testing, boxing, and shipping of the first 150 units. That is, it has taken them six weeks to achieve this with just the first 150 units, and that they had not completed the remaining 2000 or so units. These first 150 were sent to their friends, family, and “investors”. They didn’t define what an investor is, but backers are investors in Kickstarter language. They also said that assembly of the next 820 units has started and deliveries will begin from the 20th March. Following that, the rest are due to ship on the 3rd of April, which mine will probably be included in that last batch.

Again, what is interesting is what they did not say. They have not explained the four weeks of complete radio silence, they did not explain why they failed to do their production in that time, but could only achieve 150. However, these issues are small and insignificant to the fact that they are still committed to ensuring that from end-to-end they are still rigorously testing all aspects of what they are doing. That is to say, they are still testing their boxing, shipping, and tracking procedures on friends and family, and so this process should happen smoothly for the rest of us. I think it would have been easy for a very demoralised group that has failed multiple times to deliver on their promise just to give up and get it out without much more effort. In contrast, they are still committed to the learning experience and getting the production flow right. This point has to be acknowledged and respected.

Three things cannot be overlooked. Firstly, this is the sixth delivery promise they’ve made. The first being March 2016, 19th September, November, January 2017, February, and 20th March & 3rd April. Secondly, their planning needs improvement, but they certainly should have learnt a lot about this from this experience. Finally, communication, and therefore respect for their backers is in desperate need of improvement. A lot of excitement, enthusiasm, and publicity they garnered in July and August 2015 has been more than spent. Their product is already partially obsolete, especially as the built in wifi in new cameras means the Gnarbox no longer fills a gap in the market (Dan Cook on PetaPixel). Will I use mine? I don’t have a wifi enabled camera yet, but it could happen this year, and my new iPhone does a pretty damn good job for social media use.

Google offers photo editing software Nik for free now

PetaPixel just reported that Google is now offering photo editing software Nik for free (PetaPixel). Is it just me, or does this seem like a game changer, at least for amateurs? For me, it was a terrible idea for Adobe to move to a subscription charging service. I don’t need a constantly updated LightRoom or PhotoShop, and so monthly and annual subscriptions are bad for me; it would be money lost for no reason. Consequently, I’m using the last versions of Lr & PS that were available with licenses for perpetuity. However, at some point, I’m going to buy a camera that isn’t supported by these versions, and so I need to be on the look out for Adobe replacements.

Adobe PhotoShop LightRoom 3 does not support my new camera.

Adobe PhotoShop LightRoom 3 does not support my new camera.

Now Google does this? Admittedly, I’ve never heard of Nik. Is it any good? I’ve tried other photo and batch editing software before, and always LightRoom has been head and shoulders better than others. Nik? I have no idea. Is it a batch or single photo editing or processing software?

@500px cutting their payments to photographers is selfish

This is a unilateral decision. A couple of years ago, 500px.com launched their “Market Place”, where photographers could earn money from selling their photos. However, there were two immediate problems. First, they let Pinterest members get and use the photos for free anyway. Subsequently, I have almost stopped uploading photos to 500px, and restarted using Flickr. Secondly, they offered a measly 30% of the sale price. The cost of employing a model, makeup artist, maintenance of photographic equipment, and photographic software cannot be covered by such a payment scheme. Understandably, photographers complained and boycotted. So, 500px bumped up the pay to 70% commission, which is better, but their prices were still kind of low. So, I never joined their market place.

Screen shot of the JapanesePhotos.Asia 500px portfolio.

Screen shot of the JapanesePhotos.Asia 500px portfolio.


Now, PetaPixel reports that 500px is again unilaterally readjusting the price. All non-exclusive market place members will have their commissions cut to 30% (again). 500px claims that in order to be competitive, they need to ‘restructure’. For photographers to be competitive, and to create photographs, we need money, and cutting the amount paid is is utterly ridiculous. The quality of product will suffer, and so will 500px’s sales. In any case, it doesn’t affect me, as I don’t take 500px seriously, as they don’t seem to take the whole thing and photographers seriously.

Gnarbox: Backup and share photos in the field

I’ve never supported a Kickstarter project before. I’ve known about Kickstarter for a few years, and had been tempted by a few projects, but this one hooked me instantly. I have been dreaming of creating a device just like this, but just for storage on the go.

Gnarbox lets you store and back up your memory cards in the field, and a smartphone app lets you edit, process, and then share them right away. It’s simply perfect for travel and adventure photographers and videographers. See Gnarbox on Kickstarter for more details, and for making your own pledge.

Another #CameraPixo issue published

Thanks again to CameraPixo for accepting and publishing another of my photos in their Exploring Landscapes issue. No Editor’s Award this time (see Poem of a Cacophonous City, & other blogposts), but there’ll be another time. This time is Railway Lines Silhouetted on page 53. This photo is available for licensing via my PhotoShelter Portfolio, Railway Lines Silhouetted.

Railway Lines Silhouetted, in Camera Pixo, 23 Feb 2015

Railway Lines Silhouetted, in Camera Pixo, 23 Feb 2015

Buy this photo 2015 (long) for JapanesePhotos.Asia

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