What Mojo Isn’t!

I have had a few questions recently about why I haven’t been posting many blog posts about #Mojo (mobile journalism) kit. Well the answer is simple, I don’t think there is a need. For twelve months now we have known, that in the right hands we have the necessary kit and apps to produce very professional news packages. So you might argue that the future looks good! Unfortunately I am not sure that that is the case.

The tech heads have taken over, posts on the forums have become increasingly about the technology that drives the movement, but very little about the most important thing, storytelling.

One of the keys to mobile journalism is that, it is not only produced on mobiles, but also consumed on mobiles. This means we need to explore different ways of getting messages over. I wrote a blog post in January 2015 about how ‘Content Was Key’, but to a large extent this is the area that is being ignored. Recently at a journalism conference the organisers ran a competition asking people to post pictures of their kit, as though this is important. In what other creative industry would we be asked what kit are we using. ‘Hey Leonardo, great painting, but lets have a picture of your paints and brushes’! Another post on a forum featured ’10 Apps to make your Mojo better’. Again we are missing the point, apps will not improve your work, unless you have a compelling story to tell and you are able to engage your audience. In Ken Kobre’s seminal book Video Journalism, he talks about how the viewing habits of modern audiences have changed. He quotes research that shows the viewing habits of people consuming news:

audpers

Research shows that within 10 seconds you will have lost 10% of your audience. By 5 minutes you will only have 10% of your audience left! Time has become a valuable commodity, which as a producer of content you are competing for. It is these issues that need to addressed not what kit you are using.

12 months ago I was really excited about the opportunities that Mojo offers, I still am. It democratises news gathering. There is a huge potential audience. It allows people to tell their own stories. In the right hands it is a powerful tool. But if all we talk about is the technology, we will be guilty of missing an amazing opportunity.

RPS Workshop – Environmental Portraiture

From the series Look Back In AngerI will be running a workshop for the Royal Photographic Society on April 23rd, with Paul Hill and Nick Lockett. This workshop is about approaches to portraiture on location. There will be plenty of practical photography, going out into the old market town of Wirksworth in small groups with Paul Hill, Nick Lockett and Martin Shakeshaft, ‘Sitters’ and locations are arranged in advance for you to photograph – or you can go off to do your own thing. And there will be a session on how to use lighting to improve portraits, and the opportunity to get feedback on what you take.

Topics include:
– Portraits on location
– Directing people in a photo shoot
– Continuous feedback on your images
– Location lighting
– Portfoio reviews of previous work

Non RPS Members     £155.00
RPS Members     £130.00

http://www.peakdistrictinformation.com/towns/wirksworth.php

Teaching
With three vastly experienced tutors it will be possible to will cover a wide range of topics, including developing personal photographic projects that lead to a meaningful body of work; how to improve your digital capture; medium and large format photography; working with lighting – speedlights and studio lights; moving image on your DSLR; publishing your photography online and in books. At the end of the day there will be an open feedback session in the seminar room where the group will look at each other’s selection of images made during the day. Bring your work-in-progress portfolio along for a one-to-one feedback review session with one of the tutors.

Groups will be no more than six people per tutor.

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I Would like to Announce the Death of Stills Photography :-)

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 16.29.45You saw it here first. I would like to announce the death of stills photography. I know you have heard it all before, but it’s true this time. When is is going to happen? Well sometime in 2018.

“Panasonic will spend around 10 billion yen ($80.8 million) to develop next-generation image sensors, with plans to release them in fiscal 2018.” “The Japanese company aims to develop sensors that support 8K technology, which provides 16 times the resolution of conventional high-definition video, and feature fast image-processing speeds. Eliminating the boundary between videos and photos.”

So they will be producing images at 25/50 frames per second at a resolution of 8K (7680×4320 pixels). The decisive moment will be where ever you want it to be. Panasonic already have a focus stacking ability in 4K. At 25 frames per second it takes a stepped focus image, allowing you to choose after the event where you want your focal plane to be.

Anyone want to buy some Canon gear?

Review of the Inmacus 18mm Wide Angle Lens for the iPhone 6

The Inmacus 18mm, with close up lens +5 and circular polarising filter. Click on all of the images to enlarge.

The Inmacus 18mm, with close up lens +5 and circular polarising filter (Click on all of the images to enlarge).

When I studied documentary photography in the 1980’s, for the first six months we were not allowed to use any lens other than a 50mm. It was a really useful  experience, as it made you think carefully about framing. Eventually we started to experiment with other focal lengths, but to this day I can fairly accurately predict, which lens I need for any given situation. If I am put in the position of only carrying one lens, my preferred focal length for the type of work that I do, is a 28mm.

With the iPhone, I have tended to zoom with my feet, but would have liked to have had a slightly wider focal length than the standard. I did try some experiments with the Olloclip 4-in-1 lens, but to be honest, whilst it’s fun, it softens the edge sharpness too much for my tastes. It does have a distinctive look, similar to a Lomo but it’s not suitable for the type of work I do.

To a large extent, after this experience, I dismissed the idea of using supplementary lenses, until I read a review of the Inmacus 18mm lens. The results looked excellent so when the company recently offered a 50% discount, I ordered one.

The Inmacus 18mm Lens, with included cover.

The Inmacus 18mm Lens, with included cover.

The lens comes in a specific iPhone 6 or 6 Plus mount. Included is the 18mm lens, a +5 close up lens and a circular polarising filter. First impressions are very positive. The lenses all have metal threads, are multicoated and come in a soft bag. It attaches using a unique design. You squeeze the sides of the mount which expand and grip your phone. The upside is that the fit is excellent and very secure, but it does mean that the mount is model specific.
In use, I have to say that the results are excellent. Lets have a look at some practical examples and compare it to the Olloclip I have.

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Using the iRig Pre to Power and Connect an XLR Mic to a DSLR Camera

iRig Pre

On the left an unmodified IK Multimedia iRig Pre. On the right the hacked version. Use a 3.5mm/3.5mm stereo jack in the headphone socket to connect it to your DSLR (click on all of the pictures to enlarge).

In todays post we look at a simple low cost hack, that will allow you to use XLR mics with your DSLR camera. Giving you great quality and control, without the need to buy an expensive preamp or sound recorder.

For my smartphone journalism work I really like using the Røde Lavalier mic, so I thought I would try it out with my DSLRs. Unfortunately the mic requires phantom power, which is a feature that my simple DS214 Juiced link preamp doesn’t offer. No problem I thought, I also have a the more sophisticated Tascam D70, but unfortunately this doesn’t work with my Panasonic GH2, because it only accepts mic level inputs! Not wanting to have to invest in another expensive preamp, I did some research on the net. Continue reading

Is Serif Affinity Photo a Credible Alternative to Photoshop?

Serif Affinity Photo in the Photo Persona (normal edit workspace).

Serif Affinity Photo in the Photo Persona (normal edit workspace).

I was intrigued recently to see the announcement from ‘Serif’ of the launch of their new product Affinity Photo. It is being marketed as direct competition to Adobe Photoshop, which is a pretty bold claim! I did look at one of the beta releases about six months ago, which looked interesting, but like all beta releases it was a bit buggy. I have used Adobe products for the last twelve years, but as a lecturer was dismayed when they adopted the subscription model. Whilst I can afford it, it is an extra cost for students, who face ever increasing financial burdens.

The introductory price for Affinity Photo is £29.99 – 20% off until 23rd July (normally £39.99). That is a one off flat fee, with free upgrades. This compares to the student deal on Photoshop and Lightroom, which is £8.99 a month. So over the course of their studies (3 years) an undergraduate student will pay £323.64. So if the program is any good, it will be a substantial saving! Continue reading

Going Hand Held


Last weekend I videoed a Scooter festival, in my local town of Leek. I used my tripod to capture all of the action. Whilst this gives me a great, steady shot, I do sometimes have worries about people tripping over it. My usual solution is to use a Monopod, or if I want to be very mobile, a monopod into a waist belt.

This works great, but there are occasions when I want something even more compact and a way of mounting other gear, such as a radio mic or an LED light. A discussion on the #mojocon Facebook page, got me thinking about other solutions. I have used a Nikon flat bracket in the past, but it wasn’t the best solution. Bernhard Lill posted a picture of a bracket that looked like it would do the job. I found one on Amazon for £12. Bernhard mentioned that his smelt horrible, but mine doesn’t at all. With a Shoulderpod S1 camera bracket, it works really well. I started off with the handle in my left hand, but this left the audio input on the phone exposed and was a stretch for the TRRS converter (SC4) that I use to connect my Røde VideoMic Pro to my iPhone 6+. By changing everything around and holding the handle in my right hand (the same as I would with a DSLR), the jack into the phone is protected and I can even fit an Røde SC6 if I want to monitor the sound, through headphones. I added the very short handle that comes with the Shoulderpod S1 for extra stability. Continue reading