Pointing (Cameras) At Things

That’s what photographers do, right? At a most basic level, in hopes of pointing out things.

Soccer field green grass creative uploads

Sure, there are all the technical skills that make your image better, or coherent. Plus a basic understanding of composition, somewhat steady hand, the literal ability to focus — if you aren’t doing avant garde shapes on purpose.

But we like to point at things we find interesting. If you taped a camera to a toddler’s hand, they would great at this.
So did we never grow out of “Mommy look at that! What are those? Pretty!”
Depends. Do you think about how to improve your skills even when you aren’t holding a camera? Do you look at other people’s stuff and wonder how it was done, or plot ways to imitate it with your own spin? Are you inspired by good work or only jealous (a little jealousy can be motivating)?

These are the steps it takes to rise from toddler to an adult with a childlike sense of wonder.

Totally worth the trip.


P.S. Inspired by musing on my new 360 camera, which on the one hand shows the world the way I see it, with an infinite number of angles but a perspective limited by my current position in the universe. On the other hand, it’s hard for people to see exactly what YOU are trying to point at….

Dance studio 360 panorama creative uploads

https://kuula.co/share/7PrNG?fs=1&vr=0&thumbs=1&alpha=0.60&chromeless=0&logo=0&logosize=40 P.P.S. I have been getting frustrated with WordPress, especially the mobile apps, as I prep for posts but drafts or photos aren’t uploaded, and drafts don’t sync between different devices. Then the app doesn’t sync… Ridiculous and not at all inspiring. I have other stuff to do. Perhaps I will be able to tell you about it sometime…

Pointing (Cameras) At Things was originally published on Creative Uploads

Stick Up Your Cams

Creative uploads photography videotaping videography

Been doing some timelapse captures. Going to have to finish another video edit before I get to them. But here’s a #Prisma of my GoPro twelve feet in the air. (Comic style)

I also grabbed some really low shots. But I do like the high overhead angles, what I used to refer to as the Hitchcock shot (mostly because of staircase shots in “Psycho” — as if he only had one angle himself).

I also “edited” in camera, shooting one angle at a time and basically deciding on the next shot during the previous and saving a few shots for certain steps in the timelapse process. So hopefully I have enough coverage since I won’t have another shot to cut in if something didn’t work.

That’s another thing that Hitchcock supposedly did, not shooting extra footage to prevent studios from taking his movie and re-editing his cuts. If he didn’t want a wide shot he didn’t shoot it, so that left only the tighter intercuts he intended.

It was a little bit of self-promotion on his part; I think sometimes he shot more than he admitted. And I wasn’t being too cocky, I had hours to plan shots since I was only grabbing a few stills each minute. When you add up the frames it’s perhaps one second for every four minutes, even less when I decided to play it even faster during the edit and I will.

Anyway, get a backup battery and don’t drop your camera by accident.


P.S. I really should make chart for timelapse purposes instead of doing a bunch of math on my head. Had to plan for 24 or 30 frames a second, because that greatly affects the math. A shot every ten seconds garners 24 in four minutes and 30 in five, so am I getting twenty percent more or less footage based on that one choice? Then do I need to get more frames or can I afford less depending on how much motion I need to show? Water flows smoothly so that should be smooth, but a static shot of construction could be shot on an otherwise jumpy frame rate. Things to ponder.

Stick Up Your Cams was originally published on Creative Uploads

Waterproof Versus Water-Resistant

I may have dropped my GoPro in a pool the other night. Without the waterproof case on. And sworn a lot.

On the plus side, the pool was draining since we are having it resurfaced. But it wasn’t done. So the three feet of cold water in the deep end kept the GoPro from crashing into concrete ten feet down, but also: Water. No case.

pool timelapse creative upload

Half empty or half full?

My daughter was amused inside the house as I took off my shoes and phone and rushed to the shallow end so I could drop into the pool and trudge into ever deeper chilly water, which I had to reach down into to grab the camera. One shoulder stayed dry. I sloshed out shaking the camera and swearing more. Even I appreciated the sound effects. She didn’t even know what had happened having only looked out the window due to my interjections.* Hilarious. But so polite about it. She just asked me to stop swearing so much, and pretended she didn’t know why I was wet or even that I was wet.

Well, it was polite or maybe just afraid to get yelled at. Either way, respect!

Oh, why no case? Timelapse photography people already know. I needed more battery life. GoPro batteries run about an hour on video and somewhat longer for still photo timelapses, but if you have Wi-Fi on to frame your shot who knows. I’d already lost the end of an earlier timelapse angle when the battery died well before I came back to check it.

TIP: I started setting and resetting a forty-minute alarm to check in on the camera. I used our old oven timer because the buzzing amused me but you can use your phone.

So after spending my few batteries which we recharging, and since I was on the edge of the pool, literally high and dry, I had the case off with my Anker backup battery plugged into the USB port, which lets it run for hours.

Unless you drop it into a pool.

Yes, despite the brick on the plastic frame it was mounted on and the weight on the USB cord to the battery, I didn’t get a good grip on it, and that USB plug is happy to disengage. In slow motion, or so it seemed to me.

In hindsight, my first good grip should have been on the GoPro not the Anker battery when I moved the brick, because one of those is much cheaper than the other. Or I should have screwed it onto a tripod laid flat on the edge instead of the smaller frame, but I was afraid the dogs would bump it in.

So I took out the SD card and the battery, tapped the soggy camera repeatedly on my dry sleeve at all angles and put them all in a sealable plastic bag with a bunch of silica gel packets then closed it up for three laborious days to dry it out.

Yes those silly “desiccant: do not eat” packets that come in shoeboxes, with cameras and bags and hard drives. Save them! Silica just sucks up humidity like nothing else. You can dry silica gently in an oven on low to make it stay more effective over time, but Note: at some point it will have chemically bonded with too much moisture even just laying around, and will no longer do a good job. You can actually buy silica gel that changes color to let you know that. Some pros use containers they just keep in their camera bags. Here’s one example I haven’t purchased myself, yet. I do keep the little packets in my bag and try to throw them out before they rip. So far that has worked.

Two things: First, rice does work. It just doesn’t work nearly as well as silica gel. Like ten percent as well. If you care about your device, rice may be marginally better than just leaving it on a counter. Just use silica gel.

Two: Some people will put the wet electronic device, be it a phone, camera or whatever, into a bag or a sock they can swing around with the open ports to the outside of the swing, using the centrifugal force to help force the water out so whatever moisture left can evaporate faster. I think this is brilliant, except having been clumsy once I didn’t want to risk throwing my camera into the ceiling too. You can though.

TIP: If you soak your electronics in salt water, dunk the item again in fresh water first to try to rinse out the corrosive salt, which will take out your electronics in just a few hours, before it gets a handle to dry.

creative uploads Diving board pool gopro photographySo when I dunked my camera, I was angry in part for my stupidity but also because it meant I couldn’t finish the creative project I started without a camera. Isn’t that weird? Of course after I sealed up my camera to dry, I went and pulled out my video camera with the expanded battery pack and carried it into the pool. (One camera down….)

Well, I had a project! To be fair I kept a brick on the camera strap and was way over in the now empty shallow part of the pool on a tripod (actually a vinyl pod but that’s another story) and zoomed in to frame the remaining water many feet away. So I just let the video run for hours and will speed it up later in Adobe Premiere. Yes I lost a chance at a shot I wanted but just chose another angle. And I had to shoot the dusty grinding off of the old surface the next day with the same camera, on a tripod at safe distances.

In my case it all worked out. After three impatient days I didn’t want to rush in case it was too soon for whatever critical drop might still remain and short out something, the camera powers on and seems fine, with no internal lens spots or obvious defects, though I suspect its life expectancy is somewhat reduced.

Timelapse video of pool draining and resurfacing to come. After the pool guy returns. Ironically, he hasn’t been able to start on the tile yet because of excess water. It’s been raining. Go figure. My camera will be ready and waiting for the rest.


P.S. Patience is a virtue. There are times you don’t want to hear that from anyone else. What I did was schedule my thinking about or testing the camera for at least two days away, and put the baggy in a place where I would eventually notice it but wasn’t in my daily path, so if I was really good at forgetting I may have trashed my multi-hundred dollar camera and SD card, one day I might go, “Oh yeah, I was drying out that GoPro.”

P.P.S. Ignoring a potential tragedy is not as easy as I make it sound. But it helped a little.

Yes those are links through my Amazon store because these are products I use from the vendor I got them from: http://astore.amazon.com/megawatson-20/

* Interjections! Show excitement! Or emotion! They’re generally set apart from a sentence by an exclamation point, or by a comma when the feeling’s not as strong.

Pool drain timelapse creative uploads

Waterproof case on the pool step

Waterproof Versus Water-Resistant was originally published on Creative Uploads

Christmas Timelapse Is Here Again


So much decorating and moving boxes around. Don’t you wish it could go faster? I know I do. I have a time machine, but it only works after the fact. That is, I travel through at regular speed, then I have a windows where I can view the events at any speed I want, forward or backward, random or not, but I can no longer interact with them.

Boy, except for that first part of the real-time experience, it works great.

I shot the initial portion as video in case there was some interaction I could pull out by slowing the video for it, but then I couldn’t find what I thought I had shot when I go to editing.

This is where planning to edit encourages a careful process. I was so perplexed by this I went back to the camera card to figure out the time I caught a picture on my Canon camera and see what the GoPro was doing, because my project folder didn’t have anything for that time. It was perfectly possible I had accidentally left the camera off, but I could check because of my workflow. So there’s another good reason to edit besides polishing your material.

TIP: Don’t format your memory cards until you have to, even in the middle of a minor project or ahead of a large one (like when you clear a bunch of cards the might before so you can swap at will.) Even then, do a quick review to ensure you have actually copied important files or folders to one or two places. This makes the SD Cards in your camera bag a temporary backup. It’s not a perfect method, but it’s a lottery ticket against disaster. Maybe a sandbag against being broke? Whichever.

Anyway, when I copied the GoPro files initially I ran out of space at the original location and switched to another drive, but there were two GoPro folders on the camera and I forgot to get the larger video files out of both, leaving two behind! Once discovered, a long file copy later, I got back to the half-drawn board and a little more editing. Funny enough, I had a feeling it wasn’t quite right so I hadn’t published the video yet!

Back to our story: I framed my opening video shot from a birds-eye angle to set the scene of large scale chaos and the bleakness of the soldier fighting holiday light sets….

After the initial scene, I used a different angle to bring the viewer into the experience and provide a little more detail. In concept I thought about a much closer shot on the tree, but realized that any one spot would get one ornament, which would require bouncing around the tree, and not getting a cool montage. So I didn’t zoom in quite so dramatically during editing after all.

I switched to photo timelapse on the second angle (7 megapixels every 10 seconds — could do 12 mp but seemed overkill.) That gave me the ability to crop to at least quarter of the screen before getting below the 1920×1080 full HD pixel resolution (and you can push on that) but again, I didn’t feel the need to go in that tight. As I write this, I realize I could have shot at 4K/15 frames a second, for a little smoother motion since I actually slowed down these segments to 33% instead of speeding them up, but I was planning for more pixels at the time.

Besides, zooms in and out in a clip are tricky to do in GoPro Studio. You can have four keyframes per clip but you can’t slide them around after creation that I saw, and lacking a zoom feature on the edit timeline that shows you where the keyframes are, placement of these keyframes is not optimal. You can fine-tune the placement but you then want to watch it and tweak it, and you can’t fine-tune what you want to tweak by moving it. You have to delete and recreate it in the new place. Ugh.

Even so, I think it turned out fine. And special thanks to Beatle and solo performer Ringo Starr who is always with us at the start of the holidays whether he knows it or not. Get his album “I Want To Be Santa Claus”* if you can find it. Charming fun.


* Apparently, it’ s been remastered as the Ringo Starr Christmas Collection. BUY IT!



P.S. Does anyone like the stupid GoPro file naming convention when it has to break longer files? It doesn’t sort correctly and I am only finally feeling it when I am on the timeline trying to make sure my split files from a long recording session are in the proper order. Here’s an example from a different shoot: If you keep takes short it’s GOPR0001.mp4 GOPR0002. Great, but the letter O and number 0 look really similar in computer fonts. If it runs longer then  you get GOPR1798 GP011798 GP021798 GP031798, which can be in order unless there are MORE long takes after, in my case I was looking at GOPR1797 GOPR1798 GOPR2887 GOPR3052 GP011797 GP011798 GP021798 GP031798. So there were a couple together then it ran off the rails. Oh well.

P.S.S. The music here is from Garageband iOS Loops with some custom piano ones created for the Christmas mood. It was meant for shorter segments originally so the long form sometimes repeats itself, but all holiday music gets a little repetitive in the end, so the mood is set!

P.S.S.S. Save your projects as you go as PROJECT FILES. I know , it’s a short thing and you won’t need it. But having done so,  I was able to add to my set instead of recreating it. At other times it’s rescued me : prep time from a crash, necessary reboot, stupid mistake in a title, viewer’s suggestion for edit, and for you, maybe a copyright infringement where you have to change out the music so YouTube will post it with a soundtrack (fingers crossed, Ringo).  Why recreate the wheel when you can save what you did in the editing software you so carefully arranged it?

Christmas Timelapse Is Here Again was originally published on Creative Uploads

Fade To Black aka Blanket of Night

Another timelapse from Thanksgiving Day, this time of the sunset. I was pleasantly surprised how this turned out given a cloudless sky doesn’t always make for the most appealing textural video.

Shot with GoPro Hero 3+ Thanksgiving evening 2016 (Watch for the horse!). Processed in GoPro Studio with fresh music by me from an iPad app called Pattern Music. I haven’t used it very often and I liked the variation in the instrument choices it provides and got a nice moody effect from it. It’s set up with a grid system so I was really expecting a more rigid musical result and it fell into place nicely in the middle.

I’ve mentioned before an ambivalent view of GoPro Studio. I don’t like that you have to convert everything when you bring it in, so the app can feel snappy during the editing function. That’s a good idea, but the best workflow is to ingest your video and very quickly get it processing while you go do something else. You also have to have a lot of hard drive space for these giant copies it makes so your video card doesn’t have to fight to decode the compressed video or multiple high res images you shot as it flies through them or applies filter effects. I get it. I don’t love it.

And when you import and it crashes of hangs on converting something, only my Google love and ability to find a suggestion to change the framerate saved me from a very frustrating failure to edit.

I also really hate that you can’t zoom in on the timeline when making cuts, and if you can toggle along a frame at a time to find the right spot, I’ve forgotten how. Then when you do make the cut, every clip on your timeline is the same inch long size, with no indication of how long it really is. Ooh, like Legos. But I am not working with Legos. And I understand the simplicity of it, but the workflow is not creative to me, it’s blocky.


P.S. I don’t use GoPro software to import my video, preferring to bring it in using Windows Explorer under a main GoPro folder and nowadays breaking it into a dated name folder with the subject. It comes in as 116GoPro and I will rename the relevant container as 2016_11timelapse. This date format, year-month-day, lets the folders sort properly in chronological order so I don’t have to read a giant list to find things when I know roughly when they happened.


Fade To Black aka Blanket of Night was originally published on Creative Uploads

Trace of Clouds, aka The Sky Is No Limit

I take pictures on Thanksgiving. It’s one of the things I am thankful for. This is a timelapse of a lacey sky from the backyard at our relatives’ house in northern Arizona. Shot on a GoPro Hero 3+ and processed in GoPro Studio which I like and don’t, because of some quirks and a bit of bugginess, which stall the creative process. Finally I added newly created music by me from Garageband on the iPad using an app called Loops but edited down for time. It was that or gently blowing into a microphone as if it was wind.


Doing an improv and trimming down to the good stuff is not only effective but is a time-honored musical tradition; essentially it’s capturing the creative and writing portion of songwriting in a format that allows some of the sketches and outlines to make it all the way through the final draft to the published product (if I can turn it into a book metaphor here in the closing days of NaNoMo.)

You can do this with performance video as well but it’s a real slog cutting it together in a meaningful way after throwing out the poorer parts. There are so many moving pieces in that it’s better to plan for a better result. I think that is true even if you have many cameras for multiple coverage, and audio and lights and everything you might need, but then you are drowning in options and choices and don’t know what to throw away.

For this timelapse with one camera I got to toss out many minutes to have a snack-size thirty seconds, but I am not telling a deep emotional story, just making a small watercolor….


P.S. What I enjoy about this is that because the setup takes almost no time, I got to be creative but also social with the family, and do the editing and publication work on the backend. But all the time I knew I was pushing a project forward; literally multitasking.

P.P.S. Of course I took a bunch of photos of family too, but that’s more interactive if you make it so. I sometimes fall into a pattern of news photography, capturing scenes without trying to intrude. I like that style, but remember that people like to be social, and photos can be both an entryway to that or a barrier to interaction.


Trace of Clouds, aka The Sky Is No Limit was originally published on Creative Uploads

It Only Takes A Minute

…To set up a camera on timelapse.

Okay, maybe a few minutes, since I plugged the Go Pro via USB into a portable battery that would keep it charged and recording for the duration. Then I connected to the “Capture” GoPro app on my phone to position it just right.

Since I was planning on possible cropping and panning I decided to use Photo mode. This gave me a 4×3 frame with lots of extra pixels I could crop in on without losing quality since I only needed 1920×1080 of them versus over 5000 wide.

Sometimes I prefer shooting video then just speed it up hundreds of percentages for smoother motion on frame changes. Vehicle-driving timelapse videos benefit from this in my opinion. I don’t mind the jerkier stop-frame animation look, but in that case smoother in-between frames help convey more speed, in my opinion. You lose some detail and editing options later, since it’s already compressed. But you can also capture for longer times depending on your settings, and can pick just the right frame and smoothly adjust between different speeds.

In the end, using the Go Pro Studio program, I adjusted my shot for a distorted wide view with no cropping, tweaked to make the center less stretched, and centered on the lower edge of the captured frame since they didn’t install carpet on the covering

Oh that would look cool. Not this color though.


P.S. I love portable batteries from Anker. This is the latest upgrade from the one I have. It comes with a pouch that I also keep cables in for my iPad (and daughter’s iPhone) plus my Android phone. Since it has a micro-USB I can use the same cable to charge the battery from any USB power source.

It Only Takes A Minute was originally published on Creative Uploads

Get: Audio tripod screw adapter to camera mount

I set up an Amazon store to share product links for items I am happy to own, to provide readers an honest recommendation and review from a real person.

On Stage CM01 Video Camera/Digital Recorder Adapter

This is a no-brainer — for under ten bucks you can get a hard to find adapter that screws to a 5/8″ standard microphone tripod and ends in a 1/4″ standard camera mount. It’s even got a screw ball mount to adjust the angle so you can frame your shot.

I wouldn’t put a particularly heavy camera on it though it is definitely good for a GoPro or smaller digital camera or camcorder.  The CM01 adapter is metal, not plastic. It locks in place so it’s not intended for panning and tilting, but depending on your tripod you might be able to work out something like a swing shot if needed.

I bought it after I nabbed a used heavy duty mic stand that set to rise 12 feet or so in the air or can boom overhead. I wanted to attach my Zoom H4N digital recorder to it, but it offered the camera size mount. Now I could screw a mic-shaped plastic handle onto the H4N and slide that into a mic mount then put it twelve feet up — No thanks. This gets screwed down tight and has served me well, plus it lets me easily aim the Zoom microphone array exactly where I want it.

Sometimes I add the GoPro to one of the posts using its much more expensive handlebar type mount which lets me put two things on the tripod. On my next shoot it will be in this mount though since the Zoom will be elsewhere. I will use a $4 GoPro to tripod head adapter for that one.

Anyway, check it out and read the reviews so you can consider any small issues some users have reported (like a loose padding strip) — myself I didn’t have any. I take negative reviews seriously but I also know people have to vent when they have issues more often than happy people report back on their joys.

This was a small joy. Well, a useful tool, but I was happy to find it after scouring hardware stores for a cheaper and less flexible solution.

— David.

P.S. I get a percentage of any sale made through my Amazon affiliate link at no additional cost to customers, which I think is fantastic. I used my order history to link literally to the exact products I am happy I bought, in most cases to the same company my order came through inside the Amazon umbrella.

P.P.S. I decided to link to some of the other items mentioned in this article so you could research them if interested, without having to go into a lot of detail here.  I do love my Zoom recorder. (These are the items but not always the store I used.)

  This Zoom H4n Audio Recorder link includes some great accessories for a portable device with a built in stereo mic and two Hi-Z/XLR inputs that can record four channels simultaneously.:

This is the newer Zoom H6N recorder that I wish I had: you can record six channels simultaneously versus four, plus interchangeable microphones.

Bargain! THREE GoPro tripod mounts for four bucks. You can put them on multiple tripods or lose a few and still be good to go.
GoPro Handlebar mount — there are some variations online from other sellers, this is the company one and it will not drop your camera on a rugged mountain road, but if you aren’t shaking things up and just mounting to a tripod a cheaper one will probably be secure enough.
I have the GoPro Hero 3+ Black but want the newer GoPro Hero 4 Black because it offers 4K recording at a useable frame rate, which you can shoot in and then crop to reframe your shot as you like while maintaining a high quality video image.
If you want a newer model with the quality but fewer bells and whistles, the GoPro Session is a lot cheaper but only shoots up to 1080p.

Get: Audio tripod screw adapter to camera mount was originally published on Creative Uploads