Archive for the ‘Tech/Web’ Category

On “Popular” Web Photography

Jan 26 2015

Photograph Enveloped in Sandstone by Lisa Bettany on 500px

Enveloped in Sandstone by Lisa Bettany on 500px

A response to “Will the Real Landscape Photography Please Stand Up?” by Ugo Cei.

As one of the photographers of those “popular” photos that left the author of this post “cold as a stone“, I have to say that not all photography is aspiring to be high art. Sometimes a photo is just a memory, or a moment, or in the case of my photo of Antelope Canyon, an attempt at taking a sweet photo of a cool location. I took that photo 2 years ago when I was just learning to how take landscape photos. I actually thought I hadn’t gotten a shot of the canyon because I was such an amateur at the time and I was completely overwhelmed by the location and trying to shimmy through the canyon with my tripod in tow.

I recently revisited my photos and discovered this shot. I was pleased as punch after I worked on it for a while in post and discovered that my attempts to shoot an incredible location weren’t completely amiss.

I certainly aim to tell a story with my photos, or to emote something. I definitely feel something when I take them. But, I’m not a true artist yet. That takes years and a commitment that I have not been able to give because like most aspiring photographers, I have a a day job. One day, I might be good enough to emote something with a fish-eye shot of a canyon. For now, let me just say, “Whoa, this is super cool”.

For me, this photo was an early triumph in my landscape career and I wanted to share it with my followers to inspire them. With every post I feel like I’m saying, “Hey you can do this to — here are the settings I used, here’s how I did it, now go out there and get it for yourself!” The aim for me in posting an image is not to become more “popular”, but to inspire others. I receive hundreds of emails from people who are inspired to become photographers because they like a photo of mine, and to me that is the real benefit of reaching a huge audience on 500px.

I think what is really making the author rant, is the state of photography on the web. I’m not a fan of the fake photoshopped hot air balloons in neon coloured skies either, but hey, they look cool on my iPhone. And that is what the majority of people are doing. Scrolling through thousands upon thousands of images on their phones in between conversations and iced lattes. If you want to be viewed in such a sea of media, you have to go big, or go home.

You don’t have to play along with your own work. Just because the cool kids are doing it doesn’t mean you have to too. Many don’t. Even some of those popular 500px photographers remain true to their vision by posting moody, dark, deeply emotive work. But those are the professionals. These people are full-time, hard-core, bad-to-the-bone landscape photographers with several books and gallery showings under their belts. The rest of us are just landscape photographers-in-training.

Every few months, I too feel the pressure of conforming to the bright and shiny epic shots that are so popular these days that I hide away in my cave of disillusionment and stop posting online. I vow to only take artsy black and white photos that “mean something”. After a few months of this depressive behaviour which frankly results more in me watching every sad documentary on Netflix, than producing true art, I get over myself. I realize that trekking through a crazy slot canyon in Arizona to take a stunning, glittering, awe-inspiring is pretty freaking cool. Everyone with the means and ability should go to that exact spot and experience that incredible place and take their own amazing shot.

I’ve been fortunate to be a guest editor on 500px this month and I’ve spent hours looking at thousands of images each day. I say embrace it all: The good, the bad, & the ridiculous. A bunch of over-saturated sunsets aren’t going to ruin the art form of photography. It may hurt your eyes a little, but as a photographer you are constantly learning and growing. Everyone starts their journey into Lightroom and Photoshop by over-saturating their sunsets and cranking the clarity. But, sharing your work in it’s development stages is how we get better. These “popular” photos may not all be “art”, but every single one of those photographers is creating something. And to me, that deserves respect.

In today’s world, everyone has a camera in their pocket. If I can help even one person get off their couch and go take a photo that they are so proud of that they share on 500px and it’s so good that it gets thousands of views and as a result, they feel encouraged to continue their journey as a photographer, well then I’ve done my job as one of the “popular” photographers on the web.

8 iPhone Comparison

Sep 23 2014

Photograph 8 iPhone Cameras by Lisa Bettany on 500px

In the past seven years, each new advancement in iPhone camera technology has made dramatic improvements to image quality. The iPhone 6 is no different. Besides being faster to shoot and easier to focus, the images taken with the iPhone 6 camera show greater detail and are significantly better in low-light.

In this follow-up post to my iPhone 4s and iPhone 5 comparisons, I present an 8 iPhone comparison from all iPhone versions taken with Camera+ including, the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, and the new iPhone 6 in a variety of situations to test the camera’s capabilities.

Click the link to head over to my post on snap snap snap!

8 iPhones comparison behind the scenes

Behind the scenes of The Heist trailer for our new #1 app!

May 29 2011

My evil twin, Sophia has been stirring up all kinds of trouble in tap tap tap’s new app, The Heist!

I am truly excited to be a part of this amazing puzzle game app! It has been in the works for a long time for tap tap tap, but within 20 hours the app was #1 in the iTunes store. Pretty incredible!

I had so much fun creating this trailer with an amazing crew lead by Joe Lindsay. Joe shot with a Canon 5DMKII with a 24-70mm f/2.8 and a 100mm f/2.8.

Behind-the-scenes from The Heist trailer-2

Setting up the camera on the dolly –Director of Photography, Joe Lindsay, 1st Assistant Director, Carl Sturgess, Grip, Dana Shaw & Gaffer, Art Phelan.

Behind-the-scenes from The Heist trailer

Our awesome Sound man, Shawn Doyle, who braved the rain & the possibility of getting electrocuted to make this shoot happen :|

Behind-the-scenes from The Heist trailer-3

Interior shot with Lane Genzlinger at Rebel Unit Media’s brand new office.

Joe sets up the shot.

Dana claps, “take three!”

Sam Barber seems to enjoy his role as the evil agent dude a little too much!

Oh! And don’t forget to enter to win a limited edition iPad!

Getting my iPad 2 at the SXSW Apple Pop-up Store!

Mar 12 2011

It’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited to shoot a one of these videos, but I couldn’t help myself. After covering the iPad 2  launch with Brian Brushwood for TWiT Live for hours and interviewing all the ecstatic new iPad 2 users leaping out of the Apple store, I wanted one to call my very own.

If you missed the live show you can listen or watch TWiT Live Specials 66: iPad 2 Launch here!

Woot! 32GB White Wifi iPad 2.

Brian shows off his new iPad 2

The Apple Pop-up Store in downtown Austin had one of the most enthusiastic crowds I’ve ever seen and perhaps the geekiest with SXSW going on.

Inside the Pop-up Apple Store.

The Pop-up Store location was so secretive, even the Apple employees didn’t know where it was going to be until the day of the event. I honestly can’t believe they put up this store in less than 3 days! It looked exactly like a regular Apple store.

Scott (Camera+ dev too!) and I are just wee bit excited to get our iPads!

Sexy white iPad.

Tomorrow should be another great day, I will be party-hopping with chief TWiT Leo Laporte himself and maybe… just maybe… we’ll see another crazy crowd surfing episode at the Diggnation party :P You can watch us live starting at 9pm CST on TWiT Live.

Awesome TWiT crew minutes after we finished our live coverage!

Leaving with my LOOT!

Scott, Phil & I take an Uber pedicab back to the hotel to set-up our new iPads!

On Sunday, I’ll be on This Week in Tech with some amazing guests. The action starts at 5pm CST! If you are in SXSW come by Momo’s for the Live taping of the show and a meet and greet!

Two days in the life of Mashable CEO, Pete Cashmore

May 26 2010

Last week while I was in San Francisco for Google I/O and the MashMeet SF After Party, I shot a short little “day in the life” documentary of Pete.

I shot the video with the same set-up I used at the Olympics, my 5DMKII, the RØDE VideoMic, and a Litepanels Micro LED light. The neck strap I’m using is the BlackRapids Rs-5 (perfect for storing my iPhone and extra memory cards).

I shot most of the party shots at 6400 ISO and used the LED to light people’s faces when they were talking. Next time I’m going to put a CTO (orange) gel on the LED to give people a nice tan, instead of the ghostly whites. Cuz let’s face it, us tech peeps need all the tan we can get. :P

Photo by Ken Yeung.

My 5DMKII Video Set-up

Feb 23 2010

5dMKII video set up

A lot of people are asking me what I am using to record my most recent videos covering the Olympics, so I thought I’d share my set-up with you.

It’s nothing super fancy, except for the 5DMKII :) For lenses I’ve been primarily using the 35mm because it’s the widest lens I’ve got. Plus, my 50mm f/1.4 had a small accident and is currently in the Canon’s hospital for sick camera lenses. I rented the 16-35mm f/2.8 this weekend and absolutely fell in love with it shooting the crowd scenes in the Ignite your Dream video.

I’ve experimented with longer lenses, my 85mm f/1.8 used in the stadium during the victory ceremony video and the 70-200mm IS f/2.8, but found it impossible to keep steady while shooting hand-held and possibly clapping or screaming which seems to be a requirement during the games. Also, tripods and huge swarms of people don’t seem to mix well. I tried it once during the games and nearly punctured someone’s liver.

I’m using the RØDE VideoMic (Directional Video Condenser Microphone) for sound which has worked out alright. It’s obviously not ideal to shoot in noisy crowds like this video I shot in a crowd of enthusiastic hockey fans. But it’s a great, low priced mic that I’ve used in many video projects. You can tell the difference in using the VidMic compared to the on-camera mic at the end of this video.

For extra lighting in night scenes or in door shooting, I’m using a Litepanels Micro LED light. This small LED light panel runs on 4 AA batteries and has an integrated dimmer dial that allows you to control your lighting output. You can also put coloured gels in the flip-down filter holder to correct any white balancing issues.
The mic and the litepanel are connected to my camera’s hotshoe using the Cool-Lux MD300 light and sound bracket.

This is my first time shooting with the 5DMKII and it has absolutely blown my mind how crisp and vibrant the footage looks even at ISO6400. Well, that is when it’s in focus! It is definitely a challenge to grab focus in night time shoots, but I’m slowly getting the hang of it.

Any questions or comments?

What does the internet think of the 2010 Olympics?

Feb 14 2010

Featured Editorial in Today’s Province.

Maybe I’m biased because I’m a proud Vancouverite and ex-figure skater, but this Winter Olympics feels immense to me. I feel massive amounts of pride and nervous tension, as I hold my breath for the next 17 days. But, while I was throughly weeping watching Clara Hughes’ teary eyes as she lead the Canadian team into the stadium, the internet shrugged, said “meh” and asked, “what’s happening on YouTube?”

The 2010 organizers are vocal about being the first Olympics to have a “Global Social Media” campaign, but they are still miles away from connecting to heartbeat of the internet and engaging with the masses of apathetic, web-addicted cynics like, well, me. 

Comments of Twitter directly following the Opening ceremonies ranged from the inquisitive, “Dude, what happened with the torch?? #torchfail  to the whining, “How hard would it have been for Gretzky to shoot a flaming puck into the cauldron?” to the bitter, “Lol @Canada. Thanks for showing up how to NOT do Olympics & healthcare” to the sarcastic “This just in: Olympic torch pillars being recalled by Toyota”. 

There was a much more positive “Go Canada” vibe on Facebook, but then again people are generally nicer on Facebook. I think it’s the whole “if you happen to find me tagged in a drunken, embarrassing photo, please don’t forward it to my mom” silent agreement that keeps troll comments to a minimum. Most of my Canadian friends on Facebook were w00ting and my American contacts where complaining about the crappy NBC coverage of the Opening Ceremonies and giggling at their own “Blame Canada” jokes. 

While I wasn’t surprised that the internet latched on to the “epic torch fail” moment, I was surprised at how little people were actually talking about the Olympics online. In fact, the Olympics only trended on Twitter for about three hours, then it was booted off in favor of #thuglife. Blame violent video games, Michael Bay movies, or Wikipedia, but the internet audience has about as much attentiveness as a flee circus. Days, weeks, and months seem to mash into one giant lol, fml, pwn or fail. At the end of one day’s “torchfail”, another “OMG rofl” moment is born somewhere else, most likely on a Japanese game show.

Perhaps it is the buzz of just living in Vancouver, footsteps away from the heart of the action, that has sold me on this Olympic Games. I’m loving every minute of 2010 excitement and even my overwhelming desire to make snide comments about the four phallic-shaped totems that slowly rose from the ground as dancers shook and shimmied around them has been squelched. 

Voices: A Fun Voice Morphing app for your iPhone

Nov 19 2009

Download Voices for your iPhone.

If you think this is weird, you should see the outtakes! Oh boy. I’ll post the behind the scenes video once I recover from this all-nighter. ZzZ.

I had a lot of fun making this video and playing with the Voices app. There is nothing funnier than sounding like a drunk robot or a possessed chipmunk. Especially at 3am after being up for 30 hours and engulfing massive amounts of helium.

Lisa Voices
The lights were so smoking hot they popped a few balloons including the one that surprised me in the video!

Lisa Voices2
Best $29 I ever spent. How can you not love a raccoon hat?

For more info & fun, go and checkout all the voices sound bites I made on the Taptaptap blog. The Voices app is only 99¢ and worth every penny.

PS. Chipmunk costumes are unbelievably hard to find. Hot business opportunity, any takers?

How to protect your Twitter account from being hacked!

Oct 6 2009

“Caprica” 5DMKII, Sigma 15mm f/2.8, HDR, cross-processed.

My Twitter page has been restored finally! Turns out someone hacked into my account and deleted it. They then locked me out of my account by creating a fake email in my name and linking it to my account, so I couldn’t reset my password. Awesome! *writes a list of people who may hate me*

At any rate, I have learnt some valuable lessons in protecting my social media from being hacked:

  1. Set a Very Strong Twitter password. One that isn’t your favourite sports team, colour, a sequence of numbers like 123456, the word “password” or “iheartRobertPattinson”.
  2. Create unique passwords for your Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Blog & other social nets. If one is compromised, you could lose your entire lifestream. I used the same password for many accounts. And though it was a strong password, I think the fact that I used it for everything made it vulnerable.
  3. Be careful giving out your Twitter username and password to 3rd Party Apps. I had four 3rd party Twitter apps on my iPhone, two desktop apps, in addition to TwitPic, Flickr to Twitter app, Twitter to Facebook app, and many others I didn’t even remember I had signed up for. Be very cautious and keep track of which apps use your password.
  4. Link your phone number to your Twitter account, so that it can be used to retrieve your password in the event that your account and email address is compromised. You can plug your phone number into Twitter under the device tab.
  5. Back-up your Twitter! I would’ve never even considered this before, but the thought losing 2 1/2 years of tweet history made me sad. So sad I had to eat many cupcakes. Many. It wasn’t pretty folks. There are several services that allow you to back up your Tweets, including BackupmyTweets, TweetBackup, TweeTake & Twistory. I’m going to try few. I’ll get back to you on which one is the best.

After nearly a week of being without a tweet, I realize how pathetically dependent I am on Twitter and how much time I actually spend Twittering. Because without it, I wander the web aimlessly, listen and download an embarrassing amount of tv shows & indie music. Then there’s the watching of said depressing music, tv shows, and the slow deterioration of said tv shows from witty British mockumentaries to crappy CW teen vampire dramas.

All I have to say is vampires should eat cheerleaders, not play football in the sunlight. #vampirediaries

Do you have any tips on how to protect or backup your social media?

My Twitter Account has been Hacked!

Sep 30 2009

@mostlylisa gone!

Dear Twitter,

My Twitter page @mostlylisa has been hacked and deleted. It’s GONE!!! I am currently catatonic. Please help me restore my account, it’s like, my meaning in life.

Much love to whom ever helps me!

PS. If you miss me like I miss you, you can always be my Friend OR Fan on Facebook. I know it’s not the same, but it’s all I have now. *hold me*