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Category Archive for ‘Product Review’

I Shoot Raw

After watching this entertaining video, I had to get the T-shirt.

Who knew the Fro could dance??

Expect no dancing from me. I only create outrageously beautiful photos like this one:

It is our light, not our darkeness that frightens us most.

No dancing, but the t-shirt does looks fabulous!  I can’t wait to wear this shirt on my next photowalk.  I was happy to debut the t-shirt along with prints from my Smugmug account during a weekly Social Media Google+ hangout with Jimmie Bise 

hangout_snapshot_3

 

For those considering the jump to RAW format photography, a well respected photographer I know shared with me a great comparison review: RAW vs JPEG (JPG) – The Ultimate Visual Guide. I started shooting using RAW format when I purchased LR3 in 2011 and the difference was, well, everything.

Tania

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LightRoom 5 Mini Review

 

For the past two weeks I’ve been tinkering with a beta version of LightRoom 5.  Using the Adobe TV tutorials by Julieanne Kost, I discovered two tools that really stand out with my editing process in LightRoom. Let me present Radial Gradient and the Upright tool.  Below are screen shots of LightRoom5 beta where I’m using both of these tools to edit a photo taken at Longwood Garden.

Radial Gradient. What is this? Adobe describes this tool as a way to “emphasize important parts of your image with more flexibility and control. The Radial Gradient tool lets you create off-center vignette effects, or multiple vignetted areas within a single image.”

lr5radial

Straighten tool alows photographers to “Straighten tilted images with a single click. The new Upright™ tool analyzes images and detects skewed horizontal and vertical lines, even straightening shots where the horizon is hidden.”

2013-06-08_2045

A-freaking-mazing.

Also, after two years of working with LightRoom software I figured out the difference between Folders and Collections. Quick learner that I am.

Based on the amazing editing work I’ve done using just these two tools, I’ve made the decision to upgrade to LR5.  If you are looking for a robust photo editor that gives you room to grow your photography skills, look no further than LightRoom 5.

Tania

Everyone Loves Pancakes!

The Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM lens is especially delicious.

Lily

Took the lens out for a test drive at Longwood Garden conservatory in the midst of Orchid Extravaganza. I set the f-stop at 2.8 and strolled around the conservatory snapping pictures.  The lens is nicknamed ‘pancake’ for its compact size in comparison to other prime lenses. Though its size makes it less obtrusive for street photography, it does look a bit silly when paired with a hefty dSLR. However, I did feel more comfortable photographing people with this lens then with any of my other lenses.

The photos I captured during my conservatory walkabout were anything other than silly. The lens was quick to focus and did well in the variable lighting of the conservatory. I did notice some slight vignetting along the edges of the photos. The bokeh is excellent for this lens as it is a f/2.8.  The focal length of 40mm gives slightly more area for composition, however,  I was shooting with a cropped sensor camera. To get a better appreciation of this focal length, I need to slap this lens on my Rebel SLR and go for another photowalk.

Orchid

All the photos shown were taken with the Canon 40mm f/2.8 and uploaded to Flickr via LightRoom. I did not apply any LR edits the photos, what you see is precisely what I photographed with this lens.  Feel free to click on the photos and examine the images in full resolution.

Violinist

This lens retails about US$150 at Amazon.com making this a reasonably priced prime lens to add to your collection. This lens would be a great addition to your full frame dSLR as its 40mm focal length close matches the 35mm full frame sensor. The compact size and light weight of this lens makes it a great choice for street photography or fun photo walks.

Orchid

I’m quite happy to with my purchase of this lens and look forward to using this lens on a future full frame Canon dSLR.

Tania

Vine – Brand New Twitter App for Video

What is Vine?

I came across a tweet on Thursday where Chris Brogan shared a link to 11 Things a Business Could Do with the New Vine App. Intrigued, I clicked the link and discovered a new free video app now supported by Twitter.

Vine app on Twitter

Dom Hofmann, GM and co-founder of Vine describes the app:

Posts on Vine are about abbreviation — the shortened form of something larger. They’re little windows into the people, settings, ideas and objects that make up your life. They’re quirky, and we think that’s part of what makes them so special.

Within the app the user has the ability to string together a series of six second videos, creating a brief and imaginative video loop. I’ve yet to discover the secret embed code for these brief videos, so click HERE to watch my Vine video. Since this is a newly released application, I’m certain this function will become available soon.

Creating the video was dead simple.  The app guides the user through your initial video and strings them together once you’ve finished. Note that the video clips do not have to be taken immediately following one another in order to create your story. The user can save the video to the camera roll or share it on Twitter and FaceBook.

Remember, what is shared cannot be retracted. So please think before your share a video.

What am I gonna do in 6 seconds?  I was asked this question from social media guru Jimmie Bise when I shared this video with him on Twitter.

The app immediately reminded me of 12second.tv which closed its doors in 2010.  It was a pioneer of sharing personal short video clips and I believe I used the service once then promptly abandoned it for lack of interest.  How is this app different? It allows a level of creativity by allowing the user to selectively capture video clips to create the story they are after. Each clip may be six seconds long but the user can link together a number of clips to create their video.  The brevity of the clips cuts down on distractions allowing the user can create a dynamic, get-to-the point video. Chris Brogan detailed several ways in which this app would be useful to users.

The simple interface, quick processing and social sharing make this an appealing video app for newbies and intermediate smartphone videographers. With the support and financial subsidizing of Twitter I suspect this app may witness more innovation and a longer shelf life then other video contenders.

Another free mobile video application you may want to explore is Viddy which is available for both Iphone and Droid fans. Users can shoot one fifteen second video clip on their mobile device then add filters, special effects and music to the clip before sharing their creation online.  Users have the ability to embed their videos within blog posts.

See my pretty video below:

Is Vine the video version of Instagram? Only time and user engagement will answer that question.

Viddy is a great alternative to Vine with a few more bells and whistles at its disposal.

Which app would I prefer? I like them both for different reasons and would use them accordingly.

Tania

The Book of Business UnAwesome/The Book of Business Awesome by Scott Stratten

Scott Stratten of  @unmarketing, has released a  remarkably witty and informative guide to help readers become better withing the realm of social media. The book is titled The Book of Business UnAwesome/The Book of Business Awesome.  I had a blissful and uninterrupted weekend in December to read this book cover to cover. During this weekend, I broke a personal time record for a Half Marathon race –  maybe the book inspired my run? Anything is possible.

It is a two sided book – literally.  One side is titled The Book of Business UnAwesome which looks at the cost of not using and engaging in social media properly. Or as Scott observes, by simply not being great at what you do. I read this side of the book first.  Personally, I like to know what I’m doing wrong before I discover what I am doing right – but that’s just me. You can pick your own side :)

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Tania

Instagram VS EyeEm

 

A few weeks ago a friend shared a link to what seemed to me at the time another photo app  – EyeEm – trying to out shine Instagram. I took a few photos using the app during a recent long weekend in Annapolis, MD then promptly shuffled the app to the back burner.

Recently, Instagram updated their Terms of Service to include wording that appeared to signal their intention of using member photos  in advertisements without notifying or sharing revenue with the creator of the photo. There was no opt-out of this change outside of deleting your account before the new year.  Needless to say, it brought an outpouring of criticism from stunned users.  Cofounder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom responded to the outcry by stating Instagram has no intention to sell you photos.  Which by and large is true, but they have reserved the right to do so.

I get that Instagram has to develop a business plan and profit module. If Instagram content curators happen upon a photo of mine they would like to use for advertising purposes, I’m happy to sell them the  photo for this purpose. To be clear – I want their business to continue to be successful but not by trampling on the content makers that make Instagram such a success in the first place.  How difficult would it be to set up a photographer fee schedule for those users who would be interested in selling photos for Instagram advertising?

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Tania

Chasing 26.2 – When the Miles Pile On – Get a CamelBak

Source: rei.com via Tania on Pinterest

 

 As the my running distances increase, I’m finding that I need to re-evaluate all my running gear. I’m letting go of items I’ve grown out of and embracing new ideas and technology. One change I have made recently was a switch to a CamelBak hydration system during training runs. It is working out quite well and it is especially useful for long runs.

I’m am sooo a convert!  After putting up with fuel belts that would bounce and spin around my waist during training runs, I’m over the moon happy with my Women’s Aurora CamelBak.

Easier access to water and plenty of space to store essential running stuff, this CamelBak was perfect for an 18 mile run this past Saturday. I found myself sipping water more often and without the annoyance of  a plastic bottle popping off the belt. Seriously, this would happen at least once per run – ask my running buddies if you doubt my statement.

The CamelBak allows for 70 fluid oz of water. My fuel belt with both bottles filled holds up to 40 fluid oz. The bottles had a tendency to leak if the pop tops are not closed completely, rarely did I realize all 40 oz of water during a run. Two weeks ago, on mile 11 of a 13 mile run, I found myself out of water and unable to refill the bottles. I finished the run feeling dehydrated and grumpy. That was the last straw for the fuel belt and I switched to the CamelBak Aurora for the following run.

What about the weight and fit? I didn’t notice any difference in the weight of the water and running essentials while wearing the CamelBak and it fit perfectly with little movement during the run. It was freeing not to have a belt cinched around my waist during the run. My arms were able to naturally fall closer to my body without bumping against the water bottles at waist level.

The only thing I’m not sure about is where to house your iPod when running. I’ve stopped running with music preferring the company of my thoughts during a run.

So, to all seasoned and newbie runners, give the CamelBak serious consideration when looking into a running hydration system.

The makers of the CamelBak Aurora hydration system did not sponsor this post.

Tania

The Impact Equation Preview

Thanks so much to Chris Brogan and Julian Smith for sending me a review copy of their latest work ‘The Impact Equation”.

Look what arrived today! Thanks @chrisbrogan and @julien for a review copy of #Impact Equation :)

I’ve read the first few pages and have already found ideas relating to blogging and my career. Seriously, I can’t wait to read this book. I must make a mental note to restock highlighters and sticky notes.

Tania

Contest Entry – Blissdom 2013 Sponsorship via One2One Network

Are You Listening?

There are two things that make me smile – an upcoming Blissdom Conference and the chance to earn a sponsorship award to attend Blissdom 2013 with One2One Network. 

Why should I be so fortunate to be chosen by One2One Network for sponsorship to 2013 Blissdom Conference?

As a social media influencer who successfully crosswalks photography, running,  lifestyle, and political communities, I enjoy the ability to share information with a broad range of followers. For years I’ve been creating blog posts of product reviews. I have always been careful to provide my readership with an honest and accurate review of the product – including disclosures before disclosures were cool. My goal with product reviews is to provide high quality, useful information for prospective customers. When I discovered the One2One Network  at Blissdom Nashville, I found an organization that works with bloggers and brands to produce the same  high quality content. Hallelujah! It was like peanut butter meeting jelly for the first time – simply magic!

Invest in me.  Blissdom is a content rich conference that provides bloggers technical skills and empowerment to be better in blogging and in life.  I want to build upon what I’ve learned from Blissdom 2012 within social media to help people do better. Better in social media and in life. Sending me to Blissdom will put me in a position to increase my knowledge base and social media influence – making me a better helper and a better One2One member.

Quite frankly, if chosen I’ll be the best One2One network ambassador you’ve ever had :)

 

#Blissbox arrival!

Buster approves this blog post!

 

Tania

#First2Fly with Nike Flyknit Trainer+

#PicFrame #first2fly Thanks @NikeRunning - I'm ready to Fly!

Thanks to @NikeRunning,  I’m happy to test out the new line of Nike running shoes  - The Nike Flyknit Trainer.

What is all the talk about? I’ve included a video that explains the technology of the new Flyknit running shoes:

Marathon training with Team Philly is scheduled to begin next week and I plan to break in the running shoes and track my runs using my Nike+ Sportswatch.  I plan to post a detailed performance report for those interested in picking up a pair of these shoes.

Here I am rocking the Nike Free shoes and Nike+ Sportswatch post 2012 Broad Street Run where I was pleased to achieve 2 new PR’s for a 10K and 10 mile distance.

 

10 Miles, a Medal and 2 PR's

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Tania