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edgertronic high-speed camera with inexpensive follow focus

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edgertonic high-speed camera with EzFoto Fotasy follow focus and 15mm rail system.

edgertronic high-speed camera with EzFoto Fotasy follow focus and 15mm rail system.

Today, I received and set up a relatively-inexpensive follow focus system for the edgertronic high-speed camera. The follow focus is the EzFoto Fotasy, which includes a follow focus and 15mm rail system for $278.99 shipped on Amazon Prime. The packaging is nothing fancy, but it feels really solid for the price. Also, it has 20 reviews on Amazon averaging 4.5/5 stars, which is a good sign. One thing I really like about the Fotasy system is that both the bottom tripod mount and top quick-release clamp are Arca-Swiss / Really Right Stuff compatible. The RRS B76 Multi-use fore-aft plate fits perfectly on the bottom of the edgertronic and works well with this rail system’s QR clamp.

The Fotasy follow focus adjusts quite a bit for height, but doesn’t quite make it to the edgertronic’s bundled 50mm Nikon lens. (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Feb 26, 2014 06:51:40

edgertronic high-speed camera configured for field use

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edgertronic high speed camera, configured for field use with 2200 mAH 3S LiPo battery, TP-LINK TL-MR3040 v2 mobile wireless router, L-bracket, tablet tripod adapter, and Apple iPad Mini Retina.

edgertronic high speed camera, configured for field use with 2200 mAH 3S LiPo battery, TP-LINK TL-MR3040 v2 mobile wireless router, L-bracket, tablet tripod adapter, and Apple iPad Mini Retina.

I configured my Edgertronic high speed camera for field use, today, which means attaching portable power and a portable, battery-powered wireless router. Once the edgertronic works directly by using Wi-Fi, the wireless router can be removed. (read more »)

San Diego, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Feb 26, 2014 06:38:36

Olympus OM-D EM-1 first impressions

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First hour of exploring: I’m really impressed with the ergonomics of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (although Olympus marketing needs a lesson in product naming). If you are the type who loves to customize every button of your camera, you’ll love the E-M1. The defaults are reasonable, though, so you don’t need to customize if you aren’t into that.

I love that I can set shutter and AEL behavior in every focus mode. I can shoot with focus on back button with full manual override w/focus assist (zoom and peaking), and use a single lever that changes to a second focus mode if the environment changes quickly. It also has AF Home registration, a feature I loved on my Canon SLRs. You can set an AF Home point so if you can customize your AF as much as you want and get back home with a single button press. Also, I can set an ISO range for auto-ISO (which can be set to work in every mode, not just P/A/S), and a max shutter time for flash (I find the 1/60 sec to be way too short, in most cameras—I set this to 1/20 sec).

It even has a large grip, now. I don’t see any drawbacks vs. using an SLR, so far, except for lack of an optical finder for really dynamic or dark scenes (EVFs ruin night vision and are slow in low light). I have yet to evaluate AF performance, especially when compared to the excellent AF in the Canon 5D Mark III / 1D series, but the new embedded phase-detect elements in the sensor are supposed to make AF really good.

The EVF is excellent. So far, I’m finding it to be comparable to the Sony. It turns on instantly when you bring the camera up to your eye—no noticeable lag.

Los Altos Hills, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Dec 17, 2013 22:39:15

ZEVO ZFS over Thunderbolt on a Mac

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After years of threatening, I finally set up a ZFS pool in a Mac OS X (10.8.5) environment. Today, I downloaded ZEVO Community Edition, which is (self)-described as “a momentous, much needed and long-overdue improvement over Apple’s status quo file system (HFS+) that was designed in the mid 1980s — before the Internet existed!” I totally agree. HFS+ is a turd, allowing “bit-rot” to silently corrupt your data over time. I am a working photographer with many terabytes of data that I need to store securely. Although I keep many copies of the data (and versioned copies of important stuff), I have, on occasion, gone back to old pictures only to find them to be corrupted. This scares me. Luckily, ZFS is a file system that has been designed not to allow silent corruption. If you want to know more about ZFS, read its Wikipedia entry. (read more »)

Los Altos, CA | link | trackb | 16 comments » | Oct 12, 2013 01:39:46

That teen who rode a whale shark

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I’m being asked about the kid who rode a whale shark recently, and I have mixed feelings about it. I am, however, sad that there is a witch hunt by so-called conservationists and animal lovers whenever something like this happens. (read more »)

San Francisco | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Jun 18, 2013 20:48:04

I sold my Pebble watch without opening it

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Recently, I was at dinner with someone who had a Pebble E-Paper Watch. I love the idea of the Pebble, but during dinner, the guy kept looking at his watch. He looked at his watch almost literally every 5-10 seconds. At that point, I decided that I no longer wanted one. I am not sure that I have the discipline to totally ignore the watch when I need do (like I do with my phone), and I don’t want to be the person who looks at his watch every 5-10 seconds.

Today, my gray Pebble watch arrived (I backed their Kickstarter project). I sold it without even opening the box (people are really interested—it sold in just a few minutes). I think I might have kept it if I were planning to do some development work to make it more interesting, but I know that I won’t make time to do that.

Los Altos Hills, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Jun 11, 2013 07:29:29

Go back and reprocess your old pictures!

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(click for full-size version)

I was assembling a collection of underwater images tonight and decided to see what Adobe Lightroom’s 2012 processing engine would do to an old image I took at Roca Partida (Revillagigedos Islands, Mexico) back in 2006. Back then, I used Adobe Photoshop to quickly process the picture from raw to a 2000-pixel JPG image for screen viewing. Tonight, I pulled up the raw file in Adobe Lightroom, chose the 2012 processing engine, and did a few minor tweaks using the Develop module. WOW. It’s like a different picture.

Have you had pictures take on new life when you’ve gone back and reprocessed old raw files using new image-processing software? If you haven’t, it’s time to get started!

Los Altos Hills, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jun 4, 2013 06:45:53

A poorly-worded Stanford CS account phishing email

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I received a pretty crappy attempt to get me to give up access to my lifetime Stanford computer science department email address. I hope no one falls for this! (read more »)

San Diego, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | May 30, 2013 01:03:27

Another day, another copyright infringement (this time, by Greenpeace)

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Greenpeace uses my screaming turtle picture without permission

Greenpeace International is using my screaming turtle picture without permission nor credit. Most of their feed, for the past couple of days, consists of pictures ripped from the internet and modified with text, uploaded directly to their Facebook timeline. (read more »)

San Diego, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | May 24, 2013 17:45:10

Scam: traveling, mugged, and need cash

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I’ve gotten this email from more than one person in the past. If any friend asks for cash via email, please make sure you talk to them directly on the phone before you even think about helping them. Usually, it means that their email account has been compromised, so they should also immediately change all of their passwords.


I’m sorry you’re getting the mail from me at this Point in time,my family and I came down here to Manila(Philippines), for a short vacation unfortunately we were mugged at the park of the hotel we stayed,all cash credit cards and cell were stolen off but luckily for us we still have our passports with us.

I have been to the embassy and the Police here but they’re not helping issues at all and our flight leaves pretty soon from now but we’re having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let us leave until we settle the bills.Please be so kind to reply back so I can tell you what to do and how to get some cash to us.

I’m freaked out at the moment

Here’s a helpful snopes article that talks about this scam. Also, all the telltale signs of scam from non-native English speakers are there: poor grammar, arbitrarily capitalized words, missing spaces, and the use of the word, “kind” or “kindly.”

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Apr 25, 2013 17:43:35

Setting your PATH in Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion

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In older versions of Mac OS X, you could set your PATH variable in terminal by adding to your .profile in your home directory. Recently, a bunch of my scripts started to fail because I use a lot of tools that are located in /opt/local/bin and /opt/local/sbin, and those paths were no longer in my PATH environment variable.

As of the latest updates to OS X 10.8.3 (Build 12D78), Terminal.app no longer seems to parse .profile when it starts up. What works, now, is to edit “/etc/paths”.


I just tested it, and it works.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 4 comments » | Apr 9, 2013 19:25:29

Quadcopter discussion at rotorpixel.com

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Keri Wilk and I have started a new site called Rotorpixel. We are both relatively-new in the RC multi-rotor aircraft hobby, but finally feel like we have amassed enough knowledge to start to share with others, publicly. Both of us will be posting about our journey, and Keri will be designing, fabricating, and selling multi-rotor imaging accessories like gimbals. My writing will be found at my Rotorpixel blog.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Apr 6, 2013 19:07:10

Northern Lights / Aurora Borealis in Alaska, March 2013 (Timelapse)

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Timelapse video of the Northern Lights / Aurora Borealis taken during the evenings of March 18 and 19, 2013. Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 14mm f/2.8L USM II lens. Shutter speeds from 5s to 15s at ISOs between 2500 and 6400. Music courtesy mobygratis.com.

Special thanks to Mike Knott for his company, and to Ronn Murray, Casey Thompson and Marketa Stanczykova Murray for their incredible, local hospitality!

Fairbanks, Alaska | link | trackb | no comments » | Mar 26, 2013 01:39:18

Pictures of Death Valley

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I went on a fantastic whirlwind of a photography trip to Death Valley at the end of January, 2013, with my friend, Dan Kitchens (of Kozyndan). We spent 2.5 days seeing all of the big sites. I’m an ocean and city person, so I was fascinated and took pictures of pretty much everything. Special thanks to everyone who gave me advice before and during the trip: Alice Kao, Andy Biggs, Phil Colla, Eric Hanauer, Curtis Leo, Mark Braden, James Moskito, Dave Hunsinger, Angela Filose, Merlin W. Phillips Jr., Kelly Raymond Bracken, George Vincent, Jane Call, John Moore, and Phil Sokol. Thanks also to Sue Chen for the use of her car and home, and to Dan Kitchens for his company and ability to act as a catalyst for great imagery.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Feb 4, 2013 08:53:26

The right way to share a file or bunch of files using Dropbox

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Let’s say you want to share some assets you have on Dropbox with a friend. Easy, right? You just “Share This Folder” to your friend’s email address.

"Share Link" and "Share This Folder" are very different
“Share Link” and “Share This Folder” are very different

If your goal is to get the file(s) to your friend—and not collaborate on a project together—”Share This Folder” is probably not be the best way to do it. (read more »)

San Francisco | link | trackb | 11 comments » | Feb 2, 2013 19:41:11

Safari won’t save or print PDFs: how to fix

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If Safari won’t save or print PDFs (but views them without any problems), you probably have an Adobe PDF plug-in installed. In Safari, go to Help->Installed Plug-ins and do a search for “PDF.” If you have anything with “PDF” in it other than “WebKit built-in PDF,” that is probably the culprit.

On my computer, the problem was “AdobePDFViewerNPAPI.plugin”. To remove it, I quit Safari, did a Spotlight search (Command-Option space) for that file name, and then dragged it to the trash. When I restarted Safari, I could print and save PDFs again. You can also manually find the plugins by going to the system “Library” folder (the one at the root of your hard disk, not in your user folder) and looking in the “Internet Plug-Ins” folder.

I’m on OS X 10.8.2, running Safari 6.0.2 (8536.26.17).

San Francisco | link | trackb | 9 comments » | Jan 29, 2013 05:29:46

How to disable Getty licensing in your Flickr account

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Last year, I watched Craig Peters, a SVP at Getty Images, nearly get booed off of the stage during his talk at Luminance 2012. He said that Getty was focused on creating the best return for their stock holders, and most photographers I spoke to after the talk were really upset at some of the numbers Peters claimed during the talk, which they believed to be fabrications.

On December 6, Google Drive announced that “5,000 new photos of nature, weather, animals, sports, food, education, technology, music and 8 other categories are now available for your use in Docs, Sheets, and Slides.” A couple weeks ago, an iStockphoto forum post started an avalanche of negative articles after an iStockphoto contributor said that he received $12 for the Google Drive platform licensing deal mentioned in the announcement.

Photographers are hoping that Getty, who owns iStockphoto, and Google release full details about what is actually going on, but photographers are already starting to remove pictures from iStockphoto, in protest. Personally, I’m glad that I never licensed my pictures through Getty. Don’t get me wrong—I give away plenty of pictures to NGOs that I support; licensing your pictures for free is something only you can decide you want to do.

echeng Flickr Getty
My Flickr pictures that Getty editors are interested in licensing

If you don’t want to support Getty and are a Flickr user, you can opt out from the entire process by logging in to Flickr, going to your account’s “Privacy & Permissions” page, and changing the settings for “Make your photos eligible for invitation by Getty Images?” to “No thanks…”.

Opt out of Getty
Select “No thanks” at the “Eligibility for Getty Images invitations” page to opt out

San Francisco | link | trackb | no comments » | Jan 28, 2013 02:41:34

File storage and backup for photographers

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Eric Cheng Pictures

I spend way too much time thinking about data storage and backup. I’ve been a professional photographer for nearly 10 years, and have accumulated over 10 terabytes of pictures, video, and project data. I have finally implemented a storage and backup scheme that I’m happy with. It took a long time to set up, but I have direct access to all of my media now, and have comfort in knowing that it is securely backed up. (read more »)

San Francisco | link | trackb | 27 comments » | Jan 6, 2013 02:53:39

Photoshelter Luminance talk about Lytro light field cameras

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Eric Cheng speaks at Luminance 2012 from PhotoShelter.com on Vimeo.

In September, I went to New York to give a talk at Luminance, a fantastic event organized by Photoshelter to celebrate and explore the intersection of business, technology, culture and photography. The talks were almost all really interesting, and the discussions that happened in the break area between the talks were equally as interesting. I hope Photoshelter puts on another event next year. If you’re interested, please let them know!

Also, Photoshelter is running a Lytro camera giveaway through the end of November. All you have to do is sign up for their newsletter to be in the running to receive an 8GB Graphite Lytro camera.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Nov 19, 2012 19:04:03

ElevationDock modified for iPhone5

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My ElevationDock is now modified to support an iPhone 5, using Mike Hellers’ 3D model and my own Lightning cable. I was in Carmel this morning to give a talk and stopped by afterwards to see Mike and Jody Elliot of XIT404, who were gracious enough to print me one of the adapters.

The printed part required the use of a dremel to install properly, and because it isn’t at an angle like the Lightning adapter ElevationLabs will be shipping soon, the iPhone 5 sits a bit high and doesn’t rest against the back of the dock.

The machined ElevationLabs part is $15 plus shipping and is probably better, but if you have access to a 3D printer and are OK with the drawbacks, you can do the mod yourself.

San Francisco | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Nov 5, 2012 08:13:53
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