Take Awesome 10 Megapixel Selfies With A Canon PowerShot G11

If you own a Canon Powershot G series that features a tilt and swivel LCD screen, you already have a camera that takes phenomenally better selfies than your latest smartphone — that is, if image quality matters to you. I was never drawn to taking selfies because smartphone front cameras are largely still supremely inferior when compared to a 5 year old battle-scarred G11. Also, you may have read about RAW support in Android 5.0 Lollipop, I am shooting RAW+JPEG with the G11. Only slight drawback with this camera is its rather narrow 28mm field of view (newer compacts feature 24mm). Regardless, I would take distortion free any day except in rare circumstances where fish eye would be more desired.

shimworld-lollipod-tripod
The Lollipod tripod is light, affordable, telescopic and extremely versatile. I have a pair that I picked up in Singapore to mount my remotely triggered Canon Speedlite 580EX flashes. The legs when folded turn into a monopod and let you grip the stick better to maintain camera orientation. The G11 is heavier than a smartphone so a rounded selfie stick is going to be a bit of a challenge if you get what I mean.
shimworld-canon-powershot-g11-selfie-1
Before mounting the camera onto to the Lollipod, be sure to enable Face AiAF, Servo AF, Continuous AF for facial recognition and continuous tracking. Flip the LCD forward and you’re good to go (with some experimentation to find what works for you).
shimworld-lollipod-monopod-tripod
Attached to the G11 is a wired shutter release RS-60E3 with more than enough cable to run the entire length of the stick. I originally tested the setup using a 10 seconds timer setting but it got too cumbersome as the camera resets itself each time camera power timed out. Other than triggering the camera, the remote shutter release button also wakes the camera from sleep so that’s convenient.

So yesterday, I put the rig to the test (without the remote shutter cable solely relying on 10 seconds timer for each shot) at our 4 km Bukit Pak Natu hike in Sungai Liang. These pictures were taken between 3.30pm and 4.45pm on an extremely sunny afternoon and what’s the first thing that springs to mind when shooting under such conditions? Yes, harsh shadows, strong contrasts and if you’re taking pictures using a smartphone, front or back camera, you would most probably end up with pictures of dark faces or blown out background, not to mention images with no discernible background detail.

Screenshot_2014-12-26-18-34-07A
Taking pictures the way it’s always been taken using a tripod. I have on many occasions hiked with friends and used the Lollipod as a tripod to take group pictures. A tad inconvenient to set up compared to a quick smartphone selfie but priority being image quality over speed.
jan-shim-selfie-camera-shimworld
The G11 and the Lollipod combined weigh a bit more than your regular selfie stick and a smartphone. The weight may not be to everyone’s liking (it’s really not heavy) but the same principle associated with handling a DSLR applies to this setup — the weight helps with stability in addition to the camera’s optical image stabilization.

The following images were taken at various scenic spots throughout our hike — no forest canopy here just full on direct sunlight leaving subjects with dark faces especially when hats are worn. Here’s the thing with this setup: the G11 has DSLR-like controls so it’s extremely useful to have FEC dial to balance flash power when shooting under such extreme conditions. Conditions that overwhelm even the mightiest of smartphones (their tiny LED flash do not stand a chance). I shot RAW+JPEG and each of these images are good for A3 prints.

shimworld-jan-shim-chris-yap-sungai-liang-1
Why choose between properly exposed faces or blue skies when you can have both. The G11 on-board flash (dialed to correct power) takes care of that at the same time captures landscape with good detail (as opposed to a lump of green artifacts resembling distance trees.
shimworld-jan-shim-chris-yap-sungai-liang-4
Another great example where fill flash gives the subject the light it needs while camera meters for the background preserving all details behind the subject including blue sky and white clouds with no washed out highlights.

shimworld-jan-shim-chris-yap-sungai-liang-2 shimworld-jan-shim-chris-yap-sungai-liang-3

shimworld-jan-shim-chris-yap-sungai-liang
With my Columbia Omni-Freeze top and wife’s Patagonia Capilene® 1 both fairly recently acquired, we get to stay outdoors longer and stay cool both with UV protection. Love the heat, love the outdoors!

Photography: Reducing the Risk of Tethered Shooting Using a HONL Speed Strap

Update July 16 2013: While a HONL Speed Strap makes a great secondary protection, I now use LockPort USB port saver for primary protection. As I frequently take the camera off the tripod, having the cable strapped makes it inconvenient.

I photograph food a lot and goes without saying, I tether my EOS 5D Mark II to a 17 inch Dell Studio laptop. There’s really no other way when critical review is key to decisive, quality results. Thing is, working with any sort of exposed cable comes with an inherent risk that requires no explanation. Last week, during a routine shoot, I accidentally stepped on the cable closest to the camera and there was no slack, resulted in a good tug that fortunately didn’t cause any damage to either connectors. I may not be so lucky next time.

Tripping hazard: working with exposed cable comes with inherent risk.

A quick search on the web revealed several kinds of brackets designed for HDSLR videographers to hold HDMI cables securely. This one in particular is designed to interface all 6 cables on EOS 5D Mark II/III and 7D bodies.

This CoolProtector is designed to protect the 6 cable interfaces of your DSLR CANON 7D 5D-2 5D-3(Super expensive to repair your DSLR’s cable interface such as HDMI Cable interfaces).

It’s not my style to buy gadgets online or spend time searching for stores that carry them. So I put on my thinking cap, looked around the studio room for ideas and came up with a perfect instantly available solution that does the same thing — using a HONL velcro Speed Strap. It’s rubber lining provides sufficient traction that when securely fastened around the tripod leg, it offers plenty of protection against a repeat accident.

Using a HONL Speed Strap I’m able to secure my 5M long USB cable to the tripod. This effectively stops the cable from being pulled out of its socket reducing the risk of damage to delicate pins.

Mounting An iPad On The Steering Wheel Using A Lanyard

The Apple iPad is my preferred computing device when working away from home and when my photography assignment does not necessitate lugging my Dell 17″ Studio laptop on-site. With the long commutes and long hours, my car turns into a makeshift office (only thing missing is an espresso machine. Mind you, the idea of my Caffitaly machine tagging along has crossed my mind once or twice.). After months of failing to source for the right raw materials, I finally found what works well incredibly well and requires no expenditure — a lanyard. In my example, I use a Nokia OVI wide lanyard I have in my collection from ZoukOut 2009. The idea to mount the iPad (having an Apple Smart Cover helps big time) on the steering wheel is nothing more than simple ergonomics — my work and the commute alone is tiring enough, no need to throw neck pain from awkward posture to the mix.

Mounting the iPad on the steering wheel is most useful when you’re parked waiting for kids to get off school or waiting for a friend to show up. Some steering wheels are particularly prone to excessive vibration due to worn out engine mounts, it may help to insert a piece of foam to reduce the effect.

Warning: It’s dangerous to place any object between the steering wheel and the passenger at any time you’re sitting in the driver’s seat. There’s an inherent risk of the airbag deploying when triggering conditions are met even when the vehicle isn’t moving. The idea here is that if you own an iPad, happen to have brought it with you and plan on using it in the car anyway, you may as well use it comfortably. The lanyard takes just seconds to mount and dismount.