Tag Archives: photos

Shutter Priority

I’ll keep this short: don’t laugh, but I learned when1 to use shutter priority the other day, and it boils down to this: when you want to shoot at a certain shutter speed, then use shutter priority.

I’ve posted about this before:

So much of the time it’s like the three pillars are the world’s most intricate balancing act. Say you’re shooting people in an area where there isn’t much light. You start off in Av, at f/2.8 with an ISO of 100 — the camera says you’ll need 1/8th of a second, which means camera shake then becomes a factor. Upping the ISO above 800/1000/1250 means you have a more respectable shutter speed of 1/30, maybe even 1/60, but even at those speeds a shot can still be ruined by subject motion. In this kind of situation, what can you really do without adding more light into the equation? More ISO means your photos are starting to be fairly grainy indeed, and you can’t open the aperture any more because you’re already at the limit of your lens (or you want the DOF because nailing focus is hard, etc). Photography in these kinds of situations is seriously challenging, and it’s times like these that make you think: “hey, this stuff isn’t just child’s play”.

Then there was that short except that mentioned the theory behind shutter priority:

When you’re in low light, the two main worries are about exposure (not getting enough light) and camera shake (blurry pictures). If you set the camera to aperture priority then you’re only really dealing with half of the problem, which is light. When you’re in shutter speed priority, you can account for the camera shake (say, 1/30 or 1/50 of a second) and the aperture will adjust around the speed to produce the exposure.

I read that. Thought I understood it. It wasn’t until I actually tried it (and it worked) that I really understood it, though.

I shot a thing that didn’t have great lighting, and I was already at the ISO I was happy to shoot at (800, if you’re curious). I turned the mode dial to shutter priority, set it to 1/250, and voila — photos. Photos with a tiny DOF due to the 1.4 aperture of the lens I was using, yes, but much, much better than blurry photos. Maybe I’ll up the ISO next time even further; it’s only really noticeable in a handful of shots, and I would have liked more DOF for some group shots.

All in all, I was pretty happy with the results: this was probably the first “oh wow, this stuff actually works” moment I’ve had since taking photos. It’s crazy to think what’s possible if only I would try.

Up next: a short thing on film. Or maybe that Kindle review, we’ll see.


  1. Those with excellent reading comprehension will notice I used the word “when” instead of “how”, and that makes all the difference in the world. Like I said: you can read a billion things on photography and how to take better photos, but sometimes it won’t really click until you get out there and do it. Better gear won’t necessarily make you a better photographer, but more time behind the lens (usually) will. 

Taking Better Photos

I was lurking the OCAU photography forums the other day, as you do, and I came across a post talking about gear and better photos. Of course, that’s a whole other kettle of fish I’ll touch another day, but the key message was that you don’t need the latest and greatest to take good photos.

Everyone succumbs to it (at least as much as their budget allows) at some point during whatever hobby they decide to take up, and for good reason: who doesn’t want the latest and greatest iPhone, graphics card, bike, camera, or lens? I’m taking about GAS, or Gear Acquisition Syndrome.

In his post, Cleary smacks down a fellow photographer who has recently acquired the newest from Canon, the 5D mark III. It’s a fantastic camera, an improvement over the previous full-frame great while still within the reach of mere mortals. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little at the stupendous ISO performance and brilliant AF accuracy.

I’ll quote:

I began shooting/contributing here about the same time as you (give or take), and was always a bit jealous of the gear that you were able to afford.
As you’ve specced up your gear though, the quality of your shots has not really seen the same improvement, and unfortunately these shots are continuing that tradition.

If I were you, I would be getting back to basics. You have the gear, you have the endpoint you’re aiming for (live dance photography), now you need to work on finding the path to that endpoint.

I said GAS was something pretty much everyone is affected by, others more so than others due to disposable income and whatever else, and it’s true — during my first few months of 60D ownership I was lusting over the most expensive glass money could buy, and yet my photos weren’t getting better on a similar scale, I upgraded to better glass pretty quickly, thinking that it would improve the photos I was taking.

Did it? Well, sure it did, but in its own way: don’t get me wrong, when the 17-55 is good it’s abso-freakin-lutely fantastic, but by the same token, it reminds me that so much of the photo is determined by the guy behind the lens. I’ve seen how good photos can turn out using that lens, and I’ve also seen how bad others can turn out, too. I walked into work one time with it hung around my neck, and a colleague asked me if my took good photos; I reluctantly smiled and said “Yeah, it does”, lest I get into some long-winded discussion on how much of photography is the photographer, not the gear they use.

I guess the take home message here is that it doesn’t matter what kind of gear you have, at least, perhaps not as much as you think it does. I met up with Alex Wise back in February, and we talked about gear: you can talk all day about which Nikon ultra-wide is better than the other, and whether lenses that have IS/VR are less sharp than those without. You can argue all day long about these kinds of things, but at the end of the day, what kinds of photos are you taking? I mean, what are you shooting? Getting the fine-grained technical aspects of photography and gear is important, but all of it is entirely moot if you’re not actually shooting.

So instead of buying gear, buy a book. Or something that I’ve been doing lately: go watch some videos on YouTube about how to improve your post-processing in Lightroom or whatever software you use. Read articles on websites about how to take better photos, like this one which describes using Shutter Priority to take photos with subjects in low-light and avoiding blur:

When you’re in low light, the two main worries are about exposure (not getting enough light) and camera shake (blurry pictures). If you set the camera to aperture priority then you’re only really dealing with half of the problem, which is light. When you’re in shutter speed priority, you can account for the camera shake (say, 1/30 or 1/50 of a second) and the aperture will adjust around the speed to produce the exposure. 

Even if there’s not enough light, the aperture will automatically go to it’s widest, and you can play with the photo in post production. At least that way you don’t have a blurred photo, which you can’t fix (yet).

Moral of the story: worry about the gear, but don’t let it stop you taking better photos. A multi-thousand dollar lens won’t make your pictures multi-thousands of dollars better, but more time behind the lens (probably) will.

Relay for Life 2012

Another year, another relay.

After seeing a great tilt-shift time lapse by a guy in Melbourne, I thought it would be time to try my hand at time lapses, and what better event to do it at other than the Relay for Life 2012?

The original plan was to do a tilt-shift time-lapse in the same style, but then I found out that a lot of the work would have to be done in post. The way the guy did it in the video was with his Canon S95, a great little point-and-shoot. Turns out, the S95 does it pretty much automatically… Not fair!

With only a DSLR an still wanting to do time-lapses, I decided to acquire some gear.

First on the list: a GoPro. Truth be told this could have been anything with a built-in intervalometer, but I wanted to try a GoPro. In past years we’ve had a pram going around the track for close to 24 hours straight, so I thought making a time lapse of the event that way would be kinda cool. I borrowed a GoPro from my boss, and that was that.

During testing of the GoPro a few days before the event, I discovered it only had about 3 hours of battery life. I wanted to do a continuous time lapse of 24 hours, so I needed a way to power it. Cue external USB battery pack with massive 10,600mAh capacity and 2.1A output. The GoPro has a battery capacity of about 1,100mAh, so I was covered there.

The GoPro would cover me from ground level, but I still wanted to do some kind of a tilt-shift one lapse. Or at least another time lapse from another vantage point. To that end, I borrowed a time lapse camera from a friend, a dedicated time lapse unit that was designed specifically to take time lapses of plants. The plan was to mount this unit somewhere up high, looking down on as much of the area as possible.

Finally, I borrowed a smaller point-and-shoot with a built in intervalometer from a colleague for even more time lapses, just in case things went pear-shaped with either of the other cameras.

With four cameras (three for time lapses and my own DSLR), I think I was ready for whatever was going to happen at Relay.

So, how did it all turn out?

Hobart Relay for Life 2012 Time Lapse

The GardenCam got knocked about a little. You can see in the video above, it changes angle a few times, the quality isn’t great, the focal length is too long, yada yada. The positioning could have been better, but then mounting it would have been a pain. As it turns out, the GardenCam has a very slight (completely unintentional) tilt-shift effect — but I think that’s more the camera being completely crap at focusing rather than anything else.

The GoPro worked out pretty much exactly as I thought it was going to, but the end result wasn’t as spectacular as I thought it was going to be. Maybe a photo every ten seconds was too long in between shots, but the resulting time lapse has parts where things just shoot by at a rapid pace.

For a time lapse to look good, you’ve got to have a nice connection between the shots. If the camera itself is moving (as mine was), then maybe shots more often is a good thing. I have a hunch that less FPS during the final movie (the 10-15fps mark, slower playback speed) in the final movie works better for time lapses with a fixed camera. Take more photos with a moving camera, speed up the FPS in the final movie (24-30fps). But then again, a lot of this is just pure guesswork on my part — you’ll just have to experiment to see what looks good1. Next time I would probably err on the side of taking more photos and varying the speed of playback in post — you can’t go back and re-take photos on the day, but you can cut out stuff in post.

Definitely worth looking at again.


  1. I hate posts on creative subjects that say “just do what you think looks good”. “Just play with the sliders until it looks good.” “Just tweak the exposure until you get it just right.” WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? Give me direction any day: “play with the exposure until you get something that isn’t too overexposed, but at the same time brings out the colour.” If you’re going to say “just play/experiment”, give the person a little direction as to what they’re aiming for, and what they’re trying to avoid. 

Photographs Not Taken: what makes a photographer freeze?

This story, it seems to me, gets to the heart of the matter. Many photographers share Arbus’s view that you take the picture whatever the cost – to yourself as well as the subject. I have always been uncomfortable with that notion. It says that nothing is too intimate, too private. It insists, too, on the primacy of the photograph over the experience.

via Photographs Not Taken: what makes a photographer freeze? | Art and design | guardian.co.uk.

Circular polariser experimentations

Two photography posts in a day! Amazing!

I took a circular polariser out today for a spin to see what all the fuss is about. I’ll save you the trouble of reading something long-winded, if you’re so inclined: useful, but I don’t think I’ll shoot with it everyday.

It was kinda funny, actually — this was my first time out with a polariser, and I had really no idea what it could do. I must have looked like some crazy dude on multiple occasions, looking through the viewfinder and rotating this thing on the end of my lens like a fool, pointing it towards the sky or towards a window to see the effect that it has.

And what an effect.

shop window with circular polariser

shop window with circular polariser

The difference is pretty clear — with the polariser, you almost entirely eliminate reflections on windows. It’s also supposed to make the sky more blue, but I couldn’t get that to happen an extreme amount.

building and sky with polariser

building and sky without polariser

Nice and all, but I don’t think I’ll be shooting with it all the time, at least not to start off with. Takes too much time to compose, for one — compose the shot, spin the polariser, spin the polariser some more, take the shot — by which time your subject has either long gone or the moment has passed. Still, I can definitely see where it will be useful for landscapes and the like.

Also: if you look closely you can see a tiny bit of pretty extreme vignetting in the corners of those shots. It’s not bad, and can mostly be corrected in post, but it’s still there.

Anyway, yes. So sometimes you go out shooting, right. Week 1 of the Uni semester is great for this because you don’t have tutes to attend, and can spend most of the day wandering around taking photos, right. You take a walk, and sometimes, you only take a handful of photos. But almost every one of those photos are great. I don’t even know what it is, maybe you spend more time composing, more time thinking about the shot, more time actually taking shots you want to keep rather than just shots you would like but don’t turn out very good…

And then, other days you go out shooting, take hundreds of shots, and end up with a single shot you actually like. Maybe it’s because you’re thinking more about how the circular polariser affects the shot, maybe it’s because you’re not even thinking about shots you want and just shooting to see what kind of an effect the polariser has. And the kicker, the kicker is that the one shot you do like was the most balls-y, most not-even-thinking-of-the-polariser shot of the whole hour or however long you were out shooting for.

That one shot where you saw someone sitting on a ledge, minding their own business.

The one shot where you got right up in some guy’s business, aimed the camera at him, put the viewfinder up to your eye — and by that time he’s definitely noticed you, but there’s no time to back out now — you half-depress the shutter to focus, you compose the shot —  the guy is smiling, realising what you’re doing by now (as if it wasn’t already obvious) — and you take the shot.

By the time you finish the shot, the guy has a huge grin on his face. He’s laughing, even. You thank him, and keep walking.

Best photo of the day. That one, single moment where it all comes together.

And it completely blows your mind that it was so easy! I mean, all this time you’ve been telling yourself that people are just going to flip out when they see someone taking their photo, that they’ll rant and rave about some crazy privacy, make a huge scene and kick up a massive stink. It’s the one thing that’s been holding you back from the kinds of street you’ve been wanting to take, and all you needed was some guy on a ledge to smile as you were taking the shot and not flip out completely.

I love photography.

A little more light, please.

really bad photo, but I'd love to experiment with a strobe more

I don’t know whether I just need more time behind the lens, or whether I’m just pixel-peeping more than I should be, but so much of the time I’m unimpressed with my photography; street or otherwise.

Technically, photography is incredibly complex. So much depends on the three pillars of aperture, ISO, and shutter speed, and when you’re starting out (because, make no mistake, I am still very much an amateur) getting them right to suit the conditions is hard.

So much of the time it’s like the three pillars are the world’s most intricate balancing act. Say you’re shooting people in an area where there isn’t much light. You start off in Av, at f/2.8 with an ISO of 100 — the camera says you’ll need 1/8th of a second, which means camera shake then becomes a factor. Upping the ISO above 800/1000/1250 means you have a more respectable shutter speed of 1/30, maybe even 1/60, but even at those speeds a shot can still be ruined by subject motion. In this kind of situation, what can you really do without adding more light into the equation? More ISO means your photos are starting to be fairly grainy indeed, and you can’t open the aperture any more because you’re already at the limit of your lens (or you want the DOF because nailing focus is hard, etc). Photography in these kinds of situations is seriously challenging, and it’s times like these that make you think: “hey, this stuff isn’t just child’s play”.

Being a perfectionist is hard when you’re doing photography. I’d like to think my composition is good enough most of the time, and yet, when I’m looking at my photos in post at 100%, I’m sorely disappointed to see things aren’t as sharp as I wanted them to be, or that I’ve missed focus even though it looked okay on-camera.

I don’t even know why I crimp shots when I’m shooting — things on that back LCD look so much different than they do when I’m looking at the photos 100% on the computer, and even things that look okay on-camera can turn out to be extraordinarily average when viewed 1:1. In any case, crimping shots is a really bad habit that I’ll try to break.

It’s like Ira Glass said: I know I can do so much better. I know I can improve, it’s just that when so much of my shooting is extremely mediocre, it’s depressing as anything.

It’s somewhat ironic that the only place where I am improving is post-processing. I can now do simple stuff like split toning in Lightroom, and I can even do that Schindler’s List black/white/red effect in Photoshop (I think Sin City also used this effect), as well as selecting the black and white points of a photo in Ps.

To be fair, I don’t really have a good idea of why you would want to do those effects, or how to describe the effect, and for now, my understanding of it is limited to “it looks cool”. I disgust myself.

I guess most of this dissatisfaction with my own work stems from being very well versed in a particular subject area; computers are easy for me, and I understand them well enough to be able to explain most concepts to anyone. Don’t get me wrong, photography is fun, taking photos is fun; doing it well and with understanding is something that I’ll just have to work on.

But doesn’t that come hand in hand when learning something new? Everyone sucks to begin with; some people then quit, but others go onto future greatness.

At the moment I’d settle for consistently mediocre, but I think I’m getting there. Slowly.

some dude flippin' a water bottle

Electronically Capturing Light

Yes, photography. Another day, another lens.

Wait, what?

I have a confession to make. I’ve been suffering from GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome, for the uninitiated) for a little while now, which results in me buying lots of things. Perennially bad for my wallet, but somewhat satisfying. What good is money if you don’t spend it?1

My newest glass is the arguable best of EF-S lenses for crop-sensor DSLRs, the EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM. I didn’t find the DigitalRev hands-on to be all that informative (strange for them, their videos are usually top notch when they’re not fooling around doing stupid things like “horsemanning”).

 

Of course, this meant that I had to try it out. More street, anyone? The location: in and around the Hobart CBD. It was a pretty overcast day which normally would have been fine for a bit of outdoor street, but it started to drizzle heavily a little later on which meant I didn’t go for a serious walk up to North Hobart like I was originally planning to. The best laid plans, and all that.

Initial impressions of the lens: it has a pretty big lens hood (not included). The focal length ring is incredibly, incredibly smooth; there’s a tiny more friction in the 17-35 range than there is in the 35-55 range, which makes it very nice to use. The IS and AF switches have a nice, audible “click” when you move them, and the focal ring is equally smooth when you’re changing the focus, and slightly more resistive when you’re past the focal range adjustment. I honestly can’t fault it as a piece of engineering, bar for the fact that it’s slightly larger than I expected (both length and girth-wise), but I guess that’s part of the parcel when you have quality glass.

It is, in a word, excellent. Most of my flawed photos were simply and error of the guy behind the glass overestimating his abilities to take a good photo — or just simply failing to take a good photo. By my own account, I think I’m at least okay with the whole composition thing — it’s just taking the shot like I see it in my head that’s hard (well, of course it is).

Choosing this lens was difficult, to say the least. I already have comparable lenses that do the same focal range — my Sigma 30 1.4, for example, covers the same distance provided I take a few steps forward or back, and it does this at an even bigger aperture, and I already have an 18-135 which covers the same range, as well as the nifty fifty which does a similar thing to the Sigma. My current collection of glass aside, there were also many great alternatives: the 24-105 f/4L at the top of that list, followed by a few non-Canon alternatives. After taking a few photos with it, I’m pretty glad I chose this lens over something like the 24-105 f/4, purely because it’s a fantastic standard lens for a crop-sensor DSLR.

Admittedly, the 24-105 does still have a few advantages over the 17-55 — it covers a bigger range and works with full-frame cameras should I ever decide to upgrade, both excellent points to consider. It does have one thing lacking though, and that’s the 2.8 aperture. I think this means that it needs twice as much light at the same shutter speeds as the 2.8, and it might also mean I don’t get as much bokeh as I do with a 2.8 aperture (although, once again, it can be argued that the 24-105 can get more bokeh due to its longer focal length). At least, that’s what I’ve gleaned from the internet.

If there’s one thing I want to work on with my street, it’s individual portraits. I’m way too hesitant to take photos of individuals or couples when doing street as it can seem a little stalker-ish, a little perverted (if you’re talking photos of the opposite sex), and there’s already a million other things to worry about when doing street. I guess it’s about finding the line between invading someone’s privacy (if only for a moment) and being seen as a pervert — an exceptionally fine line indeed. Taking photos of individuals on the street is definitely something I’m warming up to, but I’m still quite hesitant about it for the reasons posted above. Sadly, for now, it means my photos aren’t of anything particularly interesting. I mean, who wants pictures of just nothing in particular?

You probably wouldn't want to go where that bus is going, though.

Now that I think about it, taking photos of random people is hard. You never quite know how they might react, and I’ve read enough horror stories to know what could happen. Worst-case scenarios rarely happen, but I’m still a little freaked out one day someone is going to completely lose the plot when I take their photo and, like beat me up or something. It’s a scary thought.

Then I see people like this guy doing street photography on the streets of LA, where he gets right up into people’s faces using his Leica M, and people look up, smile, and continue on with whatever they’re doing. Are people much friendlier over there, or is it all about the right approach? Which brings me to my next point…

Okay, so I’m Asian, right (don’t laugh, this is SERIOUS BUSINESS). On the one hand, I can blend great into any crowd with a decent-sized cam and people will think I’m just another tourist taking pictures of damn-near everything, which is fine. Great, in fact — people don’t think twice about the Asian guy taking a photo of a busker. The only thing is, the whole blending-in thing doesn’t quite work if you’re taking photos of people. I mean, normally you see Asian tourists with their point and shoots snapping away at nice-looking buildings or whatever, and here I am with my giant DSLR aimed squarely at them! What’s up with that?!

Anyway.

Lastly (until next time) I went to the cricket the other day. This was at 85mm on a 1.6 crop — there’s a 200mm lens limit condition of entry at that particular ground, but a) I think the guys at the gate wouldn’t be able to tell (or they just didn’t care because it wasn’t an international match), and b) I think you would be able to get a few decent shots of players if you had something like a 70-200 at the same crop factor.

 


  1. Probably a deeper underlying issue here if I’m going about saying things like that, but that’s for another time. 

Photography

My latest obsession is with photography. I’m hoping it’ll stick around for a long while yet, since I’ve always wanted a decent camera since as long as I can remember.

December of last year I acquired my very first DSLR, a Canon 60D. It was a sort-of Christmas present to myself (my parents and sister contributed), and I’ve been thrilled with it ever since.

I’m still very much an amateur, but I’m getting into photography in a big way. I’ve discovered the joys of street (photography), done numerous candid and portrait shots alike, and have learnt a huge amount from friends and whatever research I’ve managed to do on my own. I’ve done long-exposure fireworks photography with a friend, learnt a whole heap from the DigitalRev YouTube channel, and now even have a tripod to call my very own.

I had the semi-unique chance to shoot the wedding reception of a good friend I went to high school with the other day, and after realising I had a little more to say about it than would fit in 140 characters, I thought I’d write a little about it. That is, correct me if I’m wrong, what a blog is all about, right?

It just so happened a new lens I ordered arrived the day before the reception, a Sigma 30 f1.4. While I love my 50 1.8, it’s mostly too long for “fun” (read: random street photography and/or portraits) on a crop body — a 30mm focal length on a 1.6x crop body is much closer to the full-frame 50 equivalent, and an aperture of 1.4 is also pretty great (razor thin DOF at those kinds of apertures means your autofocus has to be perfect though, otherwise you end up with stuff that’s out of focus. Manual focus? Don’t even think about it).

The new lens arrived, and I wanted to do little more portraits with it — the reception was the perfect opportunity. A few short text messages to the groom later, and I was allowed to bring along my camera. In my mind I was the unofficial second shooter, but it didn’t quite turn out that way (more on this later).

It was the day of the big scary wedding reception, and after buying a suit in the morning, I finished work for the day and made my way to the reception. It turned out I was a few hours early, which wasn’t too bad as I got to scout out the location beforehand. I was worried about the light, and rightly so — the lighting in the reception venue turned out to be pretty terrible. Thankfully, earlier that day I had arranged for a friend to bring along his 580 EX II Speedlite. It was all pretty lucky actually, had I not had the Speedlite my photos would have been much, much worse — I doubt I would have come away with more than a handful of usable shots. As it turned out, I made excellent use of the bounce card and bounced the flash off the roof to great effect (after getting a few . It worked really, really well, and for a first timer I’m pretty pleased with how some of the shots turned out.

My original intention as second shooter was to cover the “lighter” stuff, stuff that the first guy wouldn’t have taken photos of as he was presumably focused on the bride and groom — but as we all know, expectations are far from reality. Turns out the first shooter is pretty worn out from a whole day of shooting the wedding (before, during the ceremony, and in the park after), so I get upgraded to official first photographer. The big leagues and all that. Pressure? I eat pressure for breakfast.

Roughly 750 RAWs later, and it was all over. Now that I’ve had a chance to look at the photos, I’ve got a few conclusions…

  1. White balance matters. I’m not 100% on this one, actually — some of the shots I took had a yellowish (but natural) tone to them, others had a much cooler (whitish-blue) tone. I thought some of the natural-looking shots would have been okay, but apparently not. Thankfully nothing that Lightroom couldn’t fix. Lesson learned.
  2. I thought the guy doing the wedding would have been more, uh, into the whole photography thing. A bit more organised, maybe. Turns out it was all pretty relaxed and casual, which was fine by me — I know some people  can be very particular about their photography , but this guy was pretty casual which was cool. I mean, I don’t think the bride and groom told him I was going to be the second shooter until everyone was actually at the reception…
  3. Post-processing in general kind of sucks. Flame me all you want, but I now have a heap more respect for the wizards who do crazy things in Photoshop to make photos look amazing — they’re pretty great. It’s just that the time required on an individual image is insane; maybe it’s because I’m just starting off and have no real idea about what I’m doing, but man, post kinda sucks. Thankfully, I didn’t do much post and certainly nothing that involved big ol’ Photoshop— I bumped up the exposure by a third, two thirds of a stop here and there, tweaked the brightness and levels a bit, and that was about it, really.
  4. I feel I’m at that point where I kind of have to think about the shot in order to take better photos. I mean, anyone can do the half-press, full-press of the shutter while composing photos using the rule of thirds etc, but I mean, I ended up with roughly 130 or so “usable” photos out of the 750+ I took. Sure, there were quite a few duplicate/triplicates of the same group or same person, but still, that’s a terribly bad ratio whichever way you cut it. Lots of the photos were out of focus, blurry, or the composition was fine but the wrong thing was in focus, etc. I guess it’s something I’ll have to work on, especially when dealing with dynamic subjects. The one good thing about landscapes is that they don’t move.

Most of all, I figured that I just enjoy taking photos of people, both posed and random candids. Which is kind of weird, because I’m not really the type — I doubt I’d be into, like, gig photography or anything like that, but doing photos of people at the wedding reception was actually pretty fun. Must be something about people smiling, or just me being behind the camera. It’s not so much as “capturing the moment” as it is about just having fun, and photography is very fun — I remember this one time I had set up a few younger couples for a group shot at the reception, and taking the shot only to have the flash not fire. Turns out I had turned it off for a few shots earlier, and promptly forgotten to turn it back on again for portraits — a exclamation of surprise and a hurried apology later, I flicked the switch on the flash back on and took another shot. Natural smiles all round, and it made for an excellent photo.

Yeah, more of that, please.

I’m still not sure where I’m going with photography. I enjoy it a lot, like, a lot a lot, but I don’t think I’ll be going pro anytime soon. It’s certainly something I’d consider, but there are certain aspects of photography which just freak me out entirely (I think most of it stems from being a little insecure about my “work” — it’s the whole process of delivering a final product to clients that freaks me out, including spending an hour in Photoshop slaving over a single photo when you’ve got hundreds to edit, and so on).

I’m not sure. I like photography, don’t get me wrong, and I’m more than happy to upload my best shots online, but actually doing something real? Just leave me to look at my photos in peace!

Evolutionary, Not Revolutionary – iPhone OS 3.0

Everything from the iPhone OS 3.0 keynote this morning was evolutionary, not revolutionary. There wasn’t anything announced that would change the game for Apple – nothing like, for example, the Pre’s gesture bar, and the implementation of a curved touch-screen.

But enough of being negative. More of that later 😉

For now, we’ll just take a look at what’s changed. For both developers and users, we have:

  • 1000 new APIs. Huge news for developers, ‘cos it means that they can implement things in new and exciting ways. For example, APIs for streaming audio and video, and also for in-game voice chat.
  • Maps built-in. Previous to 3.0, if you wanted to view a map inside of an app you’d have to exit that app, and load up the Maps application on your iPhone. Now that’s gone. At the heart of the Maps application is an API that allows devs to showcase those maps inside of their own app. No more exits from apps.

Push Notifications

  • Push notifications. They only drop the all-important standby time by 20%, compared to 80+% when you run an app in the background. It’s also scalable to suit the mobile network, which is awesome seeing the iPhone is now in 80 countries, with hugely varying mobile networks. Reason for delay? Unprecedented influx of apps that wanted to use the Push service, which meant that Apple needed to “re-architect the architecture”. Heh. Unfortunately, this means no backgrounding of apps… but you knew that already, yeah? Wasn’t battery life and performance the reasons that Apple introduced Push Notifications in the first place?
  • iPod library access. Means apps can use your iPod library to play music in-game. For example, a radio in EA’s The Sims (coming soon) could play music that you already have in your iPod library. This is a small, but significant feature as it now allows third-party access to the iPod library – something previously unheard of, as traditionally, the iPod library has been restricted to Apple-made apps only.

In-Game Purchases

  • In-game purchasing. Allows users to buy things (extra levels, goodies) in-game. Yet another way for Apple (and developers) to make money. Personally, I’m not a huge fan for paying for something I’ve already paid for, and then paying for it again. And again. And again. It’s goona get old, real soon.

Right – so onto the big guns, yeah?

Cut Copy Paste DemoCut, Copy, Paste

  • Cut, copy and paste. Done, and dusted. Well done, Apple – everyone said they were going to do it, and they have, with no less than one of the most brilliant implementation I’ve seen.

Bring Your Own Maps

  • Core Location for turn-by-turn. It’s coming, alright. Bring your own maps, but it’s coming. Finally, I might add.
  • Farkin’ MMS, haha! People complained, and Apple listened. Support for audio, pictures, location data, all within the standard SMS application. No substitute for bluetooth file transfers, though.

Multiple Photos

  • Attach and send multiple photos in emails. Something else which was highly requested, and another one of those “why isn’t that already in there” features. Good work, Apple.

Landscape Keyboard

  • Landscape keyboard. Across all apps, you can now have the landscape keyboard in your SMS, and in your emails. Awesome. Personally, the landscape keyboard takes up too much room (obscures things above it), but yeah – if it’s there, then I’d probably use it.

Forward and Delete

  • Forward and delete individual messages. Yet another highly requested feature, yet another score for Apple.

Third-Party Accessory Support

  • Dock connectivity + third-party accessory support. For developers and users, this is a huge plus. Imagine a keyboard plugged into the bottom of your iPhone, an FM transmitter with an app on your iPhone that allows you to control it, the possibilities are endless!!

Spotlight

  • Spotlight. Unified search on the iPhone, just like it works on your Mac. Search everywhere, including Mail headers, subjects, bodies, as well as Notes, etc.

Notes Sync

  • Notes sync. Finally.
  • Stereo bluetooth streaming – A2DP. Not avail on the first gen iPhone, though. Another +1 for Apple.

Overall, not bad, Apple. Not bad indeed. Definitely one of the better events to get up for, and one that will send the blogosphere into a frenzy.

I was planning to jailbreak my iPhone, but it looks like I’ll hold out till 3.0 is released. June can’t come fast enough!! BRING IT ON! 😀

Personally, I’m hoping we’ll see a lot of tiny improvements not important enough to warrant their own part of the keynote. Like Custom SMS tones, Apple. We’ve got shake to shuffle, judging from the above pic, we’ve got the peer-to-peer gaming via bluetooth (yes, even in the iPod touch, apparently it can be “unlocked” to use the hardware), and we’ve got the copy and paste, and we’ve got the turn-by-turn.

What about all the stuff we didn’t get? At the QandA session, their answer to tethering was “We’re supporting tethering in the client side, we’re building that support in. We’re working with our carriers around the world. We are building that support in.” Sure, it might take 2 years, but it’s coming.

Bluetooth file transfers? I wouldn’t count on it. When the question was asked at Q and A, it stumped the team. Read whatever you want into that, but it’s probably a ploy by Apple. There’s no way they would have NOT considered that to be a very real possibility, esp. with jailbreak apps that do it already.

So… Apple is awesome, and there’s not much more to it. I’m sorry I turned on you when the Pre was released, Apple. 😀

Final thoughts – now, about this evolutionary, not revolutionary thing… While today’s releases were certainly impressive, most of the features weren’t entirely unexpected. Amongst the throngs of turn-by-turn, MMS, and copy and paste, there’s nothing that we didn’t think was going to be put in. While 3.0 will be awesome, it’s really just a filling out of all the features that were supposed to be there in the first place, and even then, there are still things missing – tethering, for one.

Think about it this way – how long has the iPhone been released for? How long have people wanted copy and paste? How long have they wanted turn-by-turn? I know people who bought iPhones primarily for their turn-by-turn ability, and those folks are going to be over the moon from today’s announcements, sure. But what about the rest of us?

I guess the question you’ve got to ask yourself is – how does this change the game for Apple? And the answer? It doesn’t. There’s nothing that changes the face of the mobile industry as we know it.

When it was first released, the iPhone was a completely revolutionary device. No other gadget I’ve seen yet has come close to the market impact that the Apple iPhone has (evidence for this is every Tom, Dick and Harry having one in the streets), and I’m not entirely sure that the iPhone OS 3.0 is the one that’ll change the game for Apple.

Impressive? Undoubtedly.

Evolutionary? Decidedly.

Revolutionary? I’ll let you make that decision for yourself.

Comments below. Thanks to Engadget for the images, and to both Engadget and gdgt for their coverage of the event, of which most of this post is based on.