Saturday, July 9, 2011

Self Promotion

Something we all have to do as photographers is sell ourselves along with our services.One of the latest marketing tools for photographers is the promotional slideshow video. Here's my first attempt:

For now this is just a training exercise and I limited it to what can be done in a free 30 second video. To make longer videos you have to "Upgrade" to a paid account.

Animoto is located here:

I was not thrilled with Animoto's process. You select a theme, upload your images, select some music and Animoto creates their video. You have no creative control. You get what Animoto decides you should get. How long each image is displayed, and how many images is controlled by Animoto and depending on the music you have selected Animoto may or may not display all of the images you uploaded for your free 30 second video.

The interface is kludgy.

There is no preview function. The only way to find out what your slideshow will include is to wait for the video to render and watch the playback. It takes several minutes to render the video before you can see what you are going to get.

If all of the images are not there, the only thing you can do is rebuild the slideshow using fewer images. Once you have made your changes, you again have to wait for Animoto to render the video before you can see whether it is going to work.

Animoto says a 30 second video will use 12 - 20 images depending upon the music selected. I started with 18 images, but there are only 14 images in this slideshow. That's all Animoto would render into the 30 second video. Theoretically, you can add titles and text, but I was not able to do so. For each title I wanted to add, I would have to remove one of the remaining 14 images.

This 30 second video took over 6 hours to produce. I had to start over twice and re-render it a dozen times before I could get a marginally acceptable result. I want tools that give me more control over the creative process while taking much less time and energy. I want to be able to add titles and text without having to sacrifice images.

From my experience creating a "free" 30 second video, I'm not confident Animoto will give me those tools.

Every step of the way I was badgered to "upgrade" to a pro account. I'm not sure I will upgrade.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rockets Red Glare

I had an idea for the fourth of July. I was going to find a small town and photograph the spectators at their annual parade.

No small town fourth of July parades this year. Bad economy. Budget cuts. Oh well, Plan B.

Asheboro, NC, where I go to school, is a mid-size town. They didn't have a parade this year, but they had the next best thing ... a baseball game and fireworks.

Mother nature added some fireworks of her own. Fortunately far enough away to not affect the game. There was a short rain, but the thunderstorms passed far to the north and east.

The sunset was worth waiting for.

For the technically inclined, it's a 4 shot panorama - Pentax K20D, Tokina ATX-Pro 28-70 f/2.8 zoom @ 28mm, ISO 800,  f/5.0 @ 1/50 sec. It's lit using a Vivitar 285HV at full power through a Photoflex Q39 softbox. All handheld. Manual mode. Pre-focused to hyper-focal distance. In camera JPEG High.

The fireworks are ISO 100, f/16 @ bulb on a tripod.

It's a funny thing.

A year ago I was going to every Copperheads home game photographing baseball for my small format class. My images of game play are not much to write home about. I'm not much of a sports photographer. My first photographic love is nature photography. I'm going to school to learn to be a good people photographer.

One image of Copperhead fans watching the game against another sunset stands out from all the images I made last summer.

Shot with almost exactly the same equipment, from almost exactly the same spot.

This was likely the last Copperheads baseball game I will attend. I graduate at the end of this month and head back to the big city for the rest of my life. Unless ...

I know I'm going to be a professional photographer when I grow up. But maybe not in the big city.

If things work out, I'll find another mid-size town somewhere and relocate. And maybe they'll have a home town baseball team. It won't be Asheboro, there's too much competition here. I need a place that doesn't have one of the best photography schools in the world.

But, if I do find a new home town, and if they do have a team, I'll see you at the game. I'll be easy to recognize. I'll be watching the fans watch the game. If there's a beautiful sunset, smile for the camera.

And, if you ever find yourself in Asheboro, NC on the fourth of July with nothing to do, head on out to McCrary Park and take in the game and the fireworks show.