Monday, 20 February 2017

Ski School Photoshoot | Jungholz, Austria

A month ago I went to Jungholz in Austria to shoot the instructors and lessons at Mittelberg-Oy Ski School for their new website and brochures. Check out some of the shots below:

















Friday, 17 February 2017

Ice Climbing in the South Tyrol | Video

I shared some photos previously of my recent ice climbing trip in the Tyrol and here's the video I've put together, all shot on the Sony a6300 with the Feiyu MG and Manfrotto BeFree Live.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Feiyu MG Gimbal Stabiliser Sample Video

I wrote previously about why I chose the Feiyu over a Glidecam and here's another video to show you some of the footage you can get hand-held with the Feiyu MG.

This is raw footage straight from the Sony a6300, no colour profile, colour grading or stabilisation added.

 


Monday, 6 February 2017

ISPO Munich 2017 | Photo Styles, Inspiration, Trends

In between meetings ISPO 2017 this year, I snapped some shots with my iPhone of any imagery that caught my eye.



The same 'epic' photos feature heavily: a lone skier/ice climber putting in a couple of turns on a steep mountain face or hanging onto a precarious ledge of ice, with enough empty space for the company to put their logo/tagline. These are so common now, they seem more staged than epic.


It was nice to see that storytelling with images was a bit of a trend this year.



Disappointingly, there wasn't really anything new in terms of creativity. A lot of the brands had the same stands and photos as they did at the Outdoor Show and even last year's ISPO... I know a trade show probably isn't the most important venue to be critiquing a brand's choice of creative photography, but it does reflect how the brand are marketing their products. In turn, this shows how much budget and flexibility they are giving their creative department/agency/freelancers to produce these images for them.






Friday, 3 February 2017

Best Photography Portfolio Website 2017: Update 3 Years Later!

One of my most popular blog posts was my review of Smugmug vs 500px back in 2013. Back then Smugmug came out the winner but will it still hold it's own today? Here's an update on the review for 2017!



Plans:

Free: The great thing about 500px is there's still this free option, giving you 20 uploads per week and now the ability to sell your images in their marketplace, which wasn't there 3 years ago.
Plus ($25 p/y): If you want unlimited uploads, statistics, google analytics
Awesome ($75 p/y): A big jump up with 3000GB storage, showcase your photos with a personalised portfolio and the ability to change the URL to your own custom domain
Awesome + Adobe ($200 p/y): A new addition since my last review gives you the Awesome account with a membership to the Adobe Photography Plan (Photoshop & Lightroom). However, currently the Adobe Photography Plan alone is $120, so you'll save $5 if you buy it separately!

Pros:
  • The free option with no time limits
  • Great looking portfolios and responsive design for mobile and tablets
  • The Awesome account is pretty good value and the ability to have your own domain is very useful
  • A big plus with 500px is the connection to the community. Like Instagram, once you upload your photos, you can get comments and feedback, ratings and statistics
  • New! The ability to promote yourself and sell your work through the Marketplace. I was once contacted by 500px when a client was interested in one of my photos for Commercial use, but nothing came of this, but I'm sure other photographers are making some money here.
Cons:
  • A deal breaker for me: still no option to include videos
  • I tested out the personalised portfolios and they are so slow to load on both desktop and mobile
  • Not much customisation of the portfolios and not a great deal of template choices
  • 500px controls the Marketplace pricing, so you have no flexibility pricing your own work
  • No blog integration but can link to your blog on About Me page
  • The app doesn't let you display images offline



Plans:



Basic ($40 p/y): unlimited uploads but no personal domain and less template options
Power ($60 p/y): huge variety of templates but no extra commerce options
Portfolio ($150 p/y): more commerce options and watermarking
Business ($300 p/y): the whole package with pro features for licensing your images

Pros:
  • A large selection of templates to choose from and almost endless customisation
  • You can display your website under your own domain, so you can basically create a full portfolio website with Smugmug, displaying all your images and videos
  • A huge variety of commerce options, so you can set your own prices
  • Allows you to link and embed your images externally (the main advantage being able to show an image on an external website or blog and if people click on the photo it takes them to your Smugmug page where they can buy it)
  • Multiple galleries with privacy options, allowing you to do a shoot and send the images privately to a client, with options to download the files
  • New! Since my last review, they now have a Smugmug app that also allows you to display your images offline on your mobile device
Cons:
  • Still no free option, which might put a lot of people off
  • No community like 500px has
  • No blog integration but can link to your own blog on homepage

Conclusion

Not much has changed in the past three years since my last review. Pricing on both sites is the same and not too many new features have been added. 500px now has the Marketplace and Smugmug has their app.

If you're a photographer and need a website and portfolio that's backed up by a fantastic community, then 500px is your best bet. However, again for me, Smugmug is the winner. For a professional photographer and videographer, it has many more useful features. You can create a website that shows off both your photos and videos. There are many more templates to choose from. You can send people private galleries. You can display your media offline on their new app. You can license and sell your images at prices that you set.

For full transparency, I personally have the Smugmug Power plan and the 500px Awesome plan.
I use Smugmug to create my website where I display only my best work. I license my images through a couple of agencies, so I don't need the commerce options that the Smugmug Portfolio and Business plans offer.
I upload more images to 500px and enjoy being part of the community there. The Awesome account is a bit of an overkill for me, so I am considering downgrading to the Plus account next year. I also have the full Adobe CC subscription, so I don't need the 500px Awesome + Adobe plan.

If you enjoyed this review and want to help me out, sign up to Smugmug with this referral link!

I'd love to hear your experiences with portfolio websites, let me know what you use!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Glidecam vs Gimbal | What to buy?

I've used and tested a number of different stabilisers, gimbals and glidecams in the past, including the Movi, DJI Ronin, DJI OsmoGlidecam XR 2000Glidecam HD 4000 and the Feiyu WG for the GoPro.

What's the best solution for your videography?
  • For me, as I shoot a lot of outdoor sports, the Glidecam series just proved to be too cumbersome and clumsy to use. I didn't want to be holding a sharp-edged piece of metal whilst skiing and I couldn't use it all whilst mountain biking or climbing. They also take a decent amount of time to set up.
  • The Movi and Ronin are fantastic, but too big and heavy for shoots out in the mountains where you need the lightest set up possible.
  • The Osmo and Feiyu WG are great little pieces of kit, but they have their limitations. The Osmo comes with it's own camera, so no option to change lenses, and you also require a smartphone to run it, rendering it essentially useless for long shoots with the battery limitations. The WG is just for the GoPro, and although doesn't require a smartphone, it has the same issue with one lense and battery life. 
I needed something smaller, lighter and quicker to set up. Having recently switched from DSLRs to a mirrorless system, the Feiyu MG came up in my research. I've had it for about 6 months now and here are my pros and cons, (also check out the video below):

Pros:
  • The initial balancing of the gimbal is very simple in comparison to other stabilisers and the step-by-step guide is clear and accurate. Of course, if you change lenses you will need to rebalance it, but this doesn't take long.
  • Once you install a quick release plate (see Cons below), you have a gimbal that is ready to use in seconds.
  • The difference in smoothness of footage compared to handheld is unquestionable (check out my video at the bottom of this post) and it replaces the need for a slider or dolly (to a certain degree).
  • It has a built in joystick for panning and tilting and a number of different options like directional lock and selfie mode.
  • It's lightweight, around 900g, and not as spiky as the Glidecams, so safer for using on-the-go.
  • It can carry a camera plus lens up to 1630g, such as the Sony A7 series.
  • Battery life gives you around 6 hours usage, and it comes with a spare set of batteries.
  • You can hold it at almost any angle and the gimbal is still effective.
  • If you get the main version (not the lite), you have different handle options (see photo below).
  • It comes with a nice carry case ;)

Cons:
  • The tripod-style plate to mount the camera means you have to screw the camera on every time you want to use it. This makes no sense to me when a quick-release plate is the same size and SO much faster. You can solve this buy buying and attaching a cheap quick-release adaptor.
  • To correctly balance the camera, you have to have the camera's left edge completely snug against the bracket of the gimbal. This renders useless any important ports the camera may have on the left side (i.e. HDMI out for external monitor, microphone out etc).
  • It's not weatherproof. Well, it says it's not, but I've used this in rain and snow and all good so far.
  • Sometimes when panning, the gimbal jumps a bit but this is a case of practicing and mastering a smooth movement.
Conclusion

If you own a mirrorless camera or equivalent non-DSLR and need a lightweight gimbal, the Feiyu MG is great. Although it needs a few tweaks, overall the quality and battery life are fantastic for the price.
If you fancy buying it, I've put an affiliate link at the bottom of this blog to Amazon.com!




The Feiyu MG Lite on the left and the extra holding position on the normal Feiyu MG on the right


Monday, 23 January 2017

Skiing Photoshoot | Leogang, Austria

I was in Leogang, Austria on the weekend getting some shots for goggle company SunGod, check them out below:

1/1000s, f/6.3, ISO 100

1/1000s, f/6.3, ISO 100

1/4000s, f/9.0, ISO 1250

1/1000s, f/6.3, ISO 100