App Klaxon: For the past twelve months I have been travelling around Europe in a Campervan. I have relied on my phone for loads of things including emails. Unfortunately Email spam was getting to the point where my main email account was becoming unusable. I use spam filters on my laptop but couldn’t find anything similar for the iPhone. A few days ago I found SpamDrain it seems great so far, it has knocked out everything. There is a cost of £16.50 per year per account but it is saving me at the moment. Could be useful for Journalists travelling.
There is a 14 day free trial as well! If you use this link I get 3 months credit https://spamdrain.com/en/?cp=c_191527
I should apologise for the recent lack of posts on this blog. For the past twelve months I have been on a sabbatical from work. This has given me a lot of time to reflect and also work on a book about Mojo skills, which will be published in the New Year.
Over the past five years, more and more journalists have come to realise that their humble phone, is capable of producing serious news content. The limiting factor is not the technology they carry, but a lack of imagination on how to fully exploit its capabilities. At the same time, some news organisations have also woken up to the fact that they can substantially cut their overheads by equipping a single journalist in the field, with nothing more than a phone, a microphone and a tripod. With news organisations like the BBC and RTE the Irish broadcaster championing the format, it has quickly grown in popularity. Continue reading
I am currently travelling around Europe in a Campervan. I have a years sabbatical from work, which has given me loads of time to reflect! On Friday I visited Sebastian Selgardo’s Genesis Exhibition in Gerona. It left me a bit cold really. (First off there was not one picture of Peter Gabriel, and to be honest I think the band went downhill after he left … sorry a joke for the over 50s) There are obviously some amazing images but as a body of work it doesn’t really have a message for me. It is too diverse. It got me thinking about why I take pictures. Down the road was a demonstration against forced redundancies outside a bank. Without thinking I started taking images….. here was a reason to get a camera (iPhone) out. To show support to people who are fighting a system that wants to throw them on the scrap heap. Thirty odd years after I started taking pictures, my goal hasn’t changed. I hope in a small way my cameras contribute to creating a better world! It sounds crass and probably what I would have said when I was a naive 17 year old, but I can’t think of any other reason why I do it. It’s certainly not for the money I earn! I will get off my soap box ????
A short video I made about W W Winter in Derby. One of the oldest working photography businesses in the UK. Shot on a Panasonic GH4, GX8 and a GH2. With support from the Lottery Heritage fund.
W W Winter from Martin Shakeshaft on Vimeo.
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:
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.
You 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?
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 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.
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
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