Saturday, 14 December 2013

One Week in One Minute - Masai Mara, Kenya 2013 - GoPro Hero 3+ HD

Here's a video I've put together of my recent photography trip to the Masai Mara in Kenya, all shot on the GoPro Hero 3+:

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

GoPro Hero 3+ Test with Chest and Head Mounts - Tennis Training

Decided to test out the chest and head mount with the new GoPro Hero 3+ using my cousin as a test dummy during his tennis training session.

Here's the video:

Monday, 9 December 2013

How to do a night sky time-lapse - Nikon D7000

Here's a video I made of night sky time-lapse using my Nikon D7000 and Final Cut Pro X.


Here's how I created this shot:

1. Put the camera in manual mode
2. Set the focus to manual on the lens (Nikkor 18-105mm)
3. Set white balance to Auto
4. Turned off image preview to avoid any background light 
5. Set up the camera on a tripod and framed the shot
6. Manually set the focus so that the stars looked nice and sharp
7. Set my aperture to f/3.5, shutter speed to 30 seconds and ISO to 1250
8. Set interval timer shooting in the menu to 1 minute interval, 120 shots (2 hours duration)
9. Imported the 120 shots into Final Cut Pro X and turned them into one compound clip
10. Increased the speed of the clip so the total duration was 10 seconds


Wildlife Safari Photography in Kenya

Just had my first trip to Africa, taking photos and videos for Mike Ross Africa Travel in the Masai Mara in Kenya.

Here are some pics:

Lion pride at night (blog on this here)

Two cheetahs keeping a lookout

Posing cheetah

Bird splash

Lion's dinner time

Mara sunset



Thursday, 14 November 2013

Two videos that will inspire you to get outdoors more

I admire brands like The North Face that not only make excellent products but support athletes, events, photography and films that go on to inspire us all to get outdoors, have more fun and keep exploring.

Here are two videos by The North Face that are a perfect example of that:




Friday, 8 November 2013

'Way of Life' Ski Movie by Teton Gravity Research - Review

Went to the premiere of Way of Life (by Teton Gravity Research) last night at the Clapham Grand here in London. The place was kitted out with merchandise and posters and there was such a good atmosphere. It was also great to meet Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, star of the film! He gave a quick Q & A session before the movie and seemed like such a cool, laid back guy.


The movie is great - aside from all the amazing riding, what I particularly liked was the build-up to each segment and the narrative by the riders, explaining the location, background and reasons why they were doing what they were doing. The soundtrack was brilliant too, something that is very easy to get wrong, but the TGR team got it spot on.

Here's the trailer:


If you want to get even more excited about this winter, then this movie is a must watch. It has a great mix of inspiring people, stunning visuals, breathtaking riding and funny outtakes.



Thanks to Sub Zero Events for a great night!


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition - Review

Recently received my new Hero 3+ from GoPro and I love it. I've previously owned or used the original GoPro Hero, 2 and 3 as well as rival models like Contour's Roam 2 and +2. So how does the Hero 3+ stack up?



If this is your first action/sports/helmet cam, I'd recommend the 3+ because:

- it's the market leader in this category
- you get a huge variety of video and photo recording options
- extremely high quality HD footage (more details here)
- there are countless cool features, like taking video and photos simultaneously and time-lapse mode
- they've kept it the same price as the Hero 3 at £359.99
- it comes with a wireless remote and plenty of mounts
- it includes the waterproof case with a spare non-waterproof back
- using it with the free GoPro app is so much fun and useful for seeing what the camera is recording
- in its protective case it's extremely durable (see my video where we fired one from a slingshot here)


If you already have a GoPro, here are the reasons for upgrading:

- the wifi speed to the GoPro app has been significantly improved - on the Hero 3 there was a good couple of seconds lag between what the camera saw and what you saw on the app, now it's less than a second
- they have a new wider, wide-angle mode called SuperView - awesome for selfie videos
- battery is 30% better than the 3
- image quality is 33% sharper than the 3
- it's smaller and lighter than the 3



Downsides:

- it took me a good 30 minutes to set up the GoPro app with my iPhone 5 and I was following the instructions exactly, however now I've set it up it works instantly
- I've never liked the square profile of the GoPro, they've done their best to slim the 3+ down as much as they can, but it still looks clunky
- a built-in LCD back is needed and probably will be coming with the 4, I know there is an LCD back as an optional extra but it doesn't fit in the case with this attached
- when recording video with the GoPro in its case, you can barely hear people talking (you can use something like The Frame to solve this but costs extra and doesn't protect the camera)

Conclusion:

- GoPro has again brought out an upgrade that will keep people happy with a decent amount of extra features
- Totally worth the money at the same price as the 3 when it came out
- If you're a first time buyer you won't be disappointed
- Even if you're considering upgrading from the 3 you'll be pleasantly surprised at the better battery life and wifi connection of the 3+
- There are still improvements to be made regarding the shape and lack of LCD back, so let's see what the 4 is like when it comes out!



Monday, 21 October 2013

DSLR Comparison: Canon 5D Mark III vs 70D vs 700D vs 650D

I was recently asked to give my recommendations for a camera upgrade today with short notice, so please do not consider this an in depth review! My research was done purely on the internet and I didn't get a chance to try these cameras out. (UPDATE: I have since tried the 7D and 700D out whilst on safari - both great cameras and they didn't change my opinions below)

The person requiring the advice currently owns an old Canon DSLR and four lenses. Being a Nikon shooter myself I don't know that much about the latest Canon systems so I had to rely on other review websites such as DPReview.com and Dave Dugdale's brilliant Learning DSLR Video channel.

I obviously wanted to recommend some Nikon cameras to them but the hassle of having to get new lenses wouldn't make it worth it.

They consider themselves an experienced amateur and their requirements were:

- HD video
- high quality photos
- survive on safari trips
- will work with existing lenses
- and be good enough to potentially be the last camera they ever buy

That last requirement was a bit ambitious given how quickly camera technology is progressing these days and that they didn't want to spend more than £600 on the new body.

After quite a bit of (hurried) research the winner was the 700D and here's why:

The 5D Mark II and III are brilliant cameras (79% and 82% on DPReview respectively) but were too expensive (about £900 and £2000 respectively).

In a few years time at a lower price the 70D probably would have been my recommendation but it just doesn't have enough significant upgrades to justify paying this much right now.

So it was between the 650D and the 700D. They are almost identical - both have flip-out touch screen LCDs (very handy for video), they record full HD video, 18 megapixels and have APS-C sensors. They are also a bargain and around half the price of the 70D and 5D Mark II.

The 700D wins here because at the time of writing it was cheaper on Amazon than the 650D even though it is a newer camera!

Along with this recommendation I pointed out that the more expensive models have such a price jump for a reason - full frame sensors on the Mark II and III, better build quality and weather resistance, more frames per second, more focal points etc

And that going for the cheaper cameras has the added risk that you will end up having to upgrade again sooner that you would with the more expensive model.

But for someone on a budget, looking to upgrade an old DSLR and keep all their lenses, the 700D is a great camera for the price.



Monday, 14 October 2013

Red Bull Stratos Documentary - Watch Online

A year after the successful Red Bull Stratos mission, you can now watch the full documentary showing the amazing feat of science, team work and bravery that went into it:


Although it's narrated by a cheesy American voice-over man, it's definitely worth a watch. You find out  exactly how tough it was to pull off, the complex science and engineering behind the mission, how often the mission had to be aborted because of the smallest of problems and the emotional turmoil experienced by everyone involved.


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Watch the Red Bull Rampage Live - Sunday 13th October 2013

Once again the Rampage is upon us and you can watch live from 12:00 this Sunday 13th October here:


Check out these highlights from previous years:

2012


2010



2009

7 day roadtrip through the Alps shot 100% on a GoPro Hero 3

Just put together a 3 minute POV style video using a GoPro Hero 3 of my recent roadtrip through the Alps:


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Photos from the Route Des Grandes Alpes, France

Just got back from a week driving down from Geneva to Nice photographing a team of cyclists as they attempted the Route Des Grandes Alpes - 700km and 16,000 vertical metres of climbing.

Here are some images from the trip:





Free Photography Guides at Photoshelter.com

I'm always looking to try and improve my photography business knowledge and I just discovered that you can download some really well researched and useful photography guides in PDF form at Photoshelter.



They cover everything from:

- Photography branding secrets to
- Google Analytics advice to
- Growing your business to
- Creating a successful website to
- Pricing your work correctly

Check them out, worth a read!


Thursday, 22 August 2013

Bike Park Wales - Opening 24th August 2013

Bike Park Wales opens this Saturday 24th August and looks amazing! They've been releasing some really great videos made by Liam Murphy and the Cognation Mountain Biking team in the build up to the opening day:







You can find BikePark Wales here:


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Crankworx 2013 Red Bull Joyride - Whistler, August 9 - 18th 2013

Crankworx 2013 is about to kick off in Whistler and you can stream the whole event live from the Crankworx website here.

The event takes place over 10 days and includes the Whips-Off World Championships, Garbanzo DH, Canadian DH and Red Bull Joyride.

Here are some videos to whet your appetite...

Bearclaw takes us on a course preview of this year's Red Bull Joyride course:


Dirt TV's coverage of the 2012 Whip-Off Worlds:


And Brian Lopes' GoPro footage of an insanely fast run down on the Air DH course:

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Best Photography Portfolio Site: 500px vs Smugmug


I've been using 500px for about 3 years now and when it first came out it was the answer to everything I had been looking for in a photography portfolio website. I still love it, it's a daily source of inspiration and the iPad and iPhone apps are probably the best designed apps I've ever come across.

However, since my photography and video work have both expanded I've been getting increasingly frustrated with the limitations of 500px and was disappointed with their latest update.

That got me looking at the competition and with the new update SmugMug just brought out, I decided to see if it was worth switching over. Here's a breakdown of the good and bad of these two rivals:


Your pricing options:

Free - limited uploads, less organisation options, free!
Plus $25 p/y - unlimited uploads but no personal domain or analytics
Awesome $75 p/y - the whole package


Pros:

  • free option
  • great portfolios
  • responsive design
  • own domain
  • amazing community with amazing photos
  • really great apps



Cons:

  • no flexibility with commerce, all controlled by 500px
  • portfolios not very customisable
  • responsive design not often a great experience
  • can't link individual images from portfolio
  • not a great deal of portfolio template choices
  • no option to include video
  • no blog integration but can link to your blog on About Me page



Pricing:

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 and no UK printing
Portfolio $150 p/y - more commerce options and watermarking but no custom price lists
Business $300 p/y - the whole package


Pros:

  • many more templates to choose from
  • much more customisable
  • huge variety of commerce options
  • own domain
  • responsive designs
  • huge number of linking and embedding options for images and galleries
  • can upload videos as well as photos
  • UK printing
  • multiple galleries with privacy options




Cons:


  • free trial for 14 days but no free option
  • no apps (apart from Camera Awesome but that's just for snapping photos with your phone, not accessing your SmugMug account)
  • not the same community and inspiration that 500px brings
  • no blog integration but can link to your own blog on homepage

Conclusion

As much as I love 500px, it looks like SmugMug is winning here. The $60 per year Power account is cheaper than 500px's $75 Awesome account and has more of the features I'm after. For photographers like myself that are keen to have a fully customisable website with a variety of commerce options, SmugMug is my recommendation.
If you want to sign up to Smugmug, please help me out and use my referral link here.



How To Make A Good Mountain Bike Video: Sometimes it's more about the story...

Recently watched these two great videos and it was such a refreshing change not to have another one of these massively over produced, over edited mountain bike movies (as much as I love them).

Don't get me wrong, these two videos are very well filmed and put together, but they focus far more on the story and less on making the video a cinematic masterpiece.

Cam Zink in the short film Relentless.


Matt Hunter and a crew of fellow adventurers in Afghanistan, all shot on the Sony Action Cam.



Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The UCI Downhill Mountain Biking World Cup - Mont Sainte Anne, Canada - 11th August 2013

So we head to the Canada for the 4th round of the UCI Downhill Mountain Biking World Cup at Mont Sainte Anne.

Again, you can watch all the coverage live on the Red Bull Bike website here.

In the meantime, watch Dirt TV's footage from last year when Gwinny won it:


And here's Brooky Mac's GoPro helmet cam footage from last year:


And if you can stand it, the awfully narrated Mountain Bike Chronicles (maybe just mute it):



How To Sell Your Photo Prints Online - Fotomoto Review

I was looking for an easy and quick way to sell prints of my photos through my website and blog. I didn't want to have to set up a whole new portfolio of my images on another website that I'd have to redirect people to, I just wanted the ability to put a Buy Print button next to the images on my existing websites. After some research online I came across Fotomoto:


As they say on their homepage, "Fotomoto is a print-on-demand e-commerce widget that integrates seamlessly into your existing website. Just add our code to your site, sit back, and start making money."

And it really is that easy, once you've signed up and chosen what account type you want, you just paste the HTML code into your blog or website, fine tune the settings on your account and you're done.

The Fotomoto code cleverly does all the work for you, finding all the photos on your website that are larger than a certain size, that you can specify, and places a Buy Print link next to the photo, like this -


Click on the link and a sleek interface pops up, allowing the buyer to specify a whole range of print options - 


As well as the free option, you can choose from two other plans meaning you pay a monthly fee but less in transaction fees -



Pros:

- free option
- integrates with blogger and many other platforms
- integrates with your own website
- very easy and quick to set up
- many different print options
- slick pop up interface to complete sale
- no redirecting to another website
- a European printing HQ for those of us over here!

Cons

- the only downside so far is that there aren't enough customisation options for how the buy print buttons look 
  

Monday, 29 July 2013

Filming Outtakes - Jamie Barrow World Indoor Snowboard Speed Record

Somehow I always end up with quite a lot of outtakes when filming with Jamie Barrow...! Here's some from our latest trip...

FYI - There's a little bit of swearing.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Jamie Barrow Sets the World Indoor Snowboard Speed Record - Full Video

On the 7th July, Jamie Barrow set the world indoor snowboard speed record after reaching 69.4km/h at SnowWorld in Landgraaf.

We used two Nikon D7000s and a Nikon D5100 to film and photograph everything over three days, along with a Contour helmet camera, a 12ft Kessler camera crane and a Rode Stereo Mic Pro.

Here's the full video I've put together using Final Cut Pro X:

Friday, 26 July 2013

14 Free iOS Apps for Photographers 2013

In no particular order, here are my 14 most commonly used free iOS apps for anything related to photography:

Todoist - used for organisation, shot lists, projects and ideas

This is a new one I've only recently come across when looking for an app that would help me create shot lists for video or photo shoots. It's a really sleek 'to do list' app that synchronises across all your devices. You can sign up with your Google account (or just set up a brand new account) and it lets you sort your to do list into Projects with their own task lists and deadlines.


Notes - used for note keeping, lists, ideas, random scribblings

The standard iOS Notes app is my go to app for quickly jotting down anything I need, from ideas to a list of what to pack for my next trip. With Notes turned on in the iCloud settings, I know that all my notes will be automatically saved and synchronised across all my devices.


WhatsApp - used alongside messaging and emails, great for sending pics

This messaging app has gone from strength to strength that so many people use it internationally now it's just as important as SMS and emails to stay in touch with clients and colleagues. I've found it's also much quicker for sending photos than SMS or email. The only downside is it doesn't work if I can't use mobile data abroad.


Instagram - used for fun and inspiration

Quick and fun way of uploading a mobile pic and having it pushed straight to my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I also follow some photographers, athletes and companies on there that upload awesome images.


500px - used for my website and inspiration

I use 500px for my website portfolio so the app allows me to show off my best images. However, it's also an absolutely brilliant place to see other people's images, sorted by category, popularity or editors' choice. The iPad version of the app is spectacular and I find myself on there for hours at a time.



Photoshop Express - used for mobile editing

Probably the most powerful free photo editing app out there, and it should be, coming from Adobe.



iTalk - used for recording interviews and voice memos

Outstanding app for recording audio. I'm always amazed by the quality of the iPhone's microphone and this is the best app I've found for recording and organising audio.



Met Office - used for weather forecasts

Easily the best weather app for the UK but unfortunately they haven't got an international version! Sort it out Met Office!


Google Maps - used for directions and traffic info

The best and longest serving maps app with the extremely useful and surprisingly accurate feature of live traffic info.




Zite - used for tech and photography news

Wonderful little app for all your latest news in technology, photography, gadgets, design... the list goes on. Really easy to navigate and also gives you the option to choose a 'Favourites' list so you only see the topics you want to see.



Twitter - used for news, photo competitions and entertainment

Quite an obvious choice but really crucial for staying up to date with industry news and also a very handy way of finding the latest photography competitions.




Camera - I'm sure you can guess

This is actually the only app I use for taking photos with my phone. However, I never use the camera on my iPad for fear of looking like a bit of a muppet.


PicJointer - used for photo stitching

Very useful app for stitching multiple images together.



Blogger - save the best till last

I rarely use this app to actually write blogs but whenever I have an idea for a future article, I'll get a draft saved on the app to type up on my laptop later. Also really handy for quickly adding mobile pics to my blogs.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Vallnord, Andorra - 28th July 2013

The third round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is being held in Vallnord, Andorra on 28th July 2013.

You'll be able to watch the event live on Red Bull Bike here.

And you can follow the event on Twitter: @UCI_MTBWorldCup

The new track looks fast, long and pretty tough - Greg Minnaar taking just under 5 minutes to complete it on his practice run here:


And here's Cédric Gracia riding it:


And some more brilliant helmet cam commentary from Gstaadt Scott's Claudio Caluori:

Beautifully shot bike speed record video - Experiments in Speed

Came across this really nice video called Experiments in Speed by Spindle Productions, very inspiring for me as I've been making snowboard speed record videos with Jamie Barrow:


Checked out the rest of their Vimeo Channel and saw some other great videos:


Tips on How to Take Snowboard Photos - Video

Here's a quick video shot with my helmet mounted GoPro showing how I set up and took this photograph:



My tips would be:

- shoot into the sun if you want your snowboarder and snow to have a glow or a silhouette (use filters and an external flash to reduce sun glare and light up the foreground if need be)

- be clear with your subject exactly where you want them to be going and when you want them to go

- your camera settings depend on the conditions but try and use a fast shutter speed and low ISO to have a sharp image

- shoot in RAW rather than JPEG (RAW keeps all the original data captured on the camera's sensor whereas JPEG compresses the image and loses detail)


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Photo receives Highly Commended Award in SISLP Sporting Moments Competition

My pic of Jamie Barrow doing what he does best just received 'Highly Commended' in the SISLP Sporting Moments Competition.


The Daily Mail article showing it and the other winners here.

A little about the photo:

Camera - Nikon D7000
Lens - 18-105mm f/3.5
Shutter Speed - 1/500
Aperture - f/14
ISO - 100
Location - Val Thorens, France

Jamie and I were doing some off piste skiing/snowboarding with friends and came down the through the powder you can see in the background. I noticed up ahead and slightly below us a fresh patch of powder on a slight ridge. Before I even got to the location to take the photo, I had the exact image above in my head. I had a quick chat to Jamie to tell him where I wanted him to turn and then I skied down to the ridge, set up my camera and called for him to go. Jamie nailed the turn first time, getting this perfect spray of powder. In Photoshop afterwards I increased the contrast, sharpness and vibrance as well as removing a cable car wire from the background.


Monday, 22 July 2013

Action Sports Photography - Behind the Scenes with Mattias Fredriksson

I've been a fan of Mattias Fredriksson's photography for years after seeing so many of his images published in action sports magazines and on the web. So it was great to see this video by Darcy Turenne called The Moments Between - a behind the scenes look at Mattias as he goes about riding and taking photos with his friend Janne Tjärnström.

It was all filmed in Åre, Sweden as part of the Scandinavian Video Challenge. It's so good it won Best Cinematography, as well as runner up for best film.

Top 10 Recommended Gear for an Outdoor Sports Photo and Video Shoot

If you're doing any kind of outdoor sport photography or video you need the right balance of necessary, tough, weather-proof equipment. You're also limited to what you can hike, climb, ski or snowboard with.

Here's a top ten list of my recommended equipment from my latest filming project in the Swiss resort of Verbier with Team GB snowboarder Jamie Barrow:


  1. Camera and backup cameras - 2 x Nikon D7000s, 4 x Contours
  2. Radios - 2 x Motorola walkie talkies
  3. Spare batteries and memory cards - Nikon battery grip and Sandisk Extreme SD Cards
  4. Tripod - Camlink lightweight tripod
  5. External and Lapel Microphones - Rode StereoMic Pro
  6. Lenses - Telephoto, prime, fish-eye and kit
  7. Stabilizer - Glidecam XR 2000
  8. External Flash - Nissin Di866
  9. Laptop - Macbook Pro 13"
  10. Lock
And to carry it all in? The Dakine Mission Photo Backpack has never let me down! 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Red Bull Soapbox London 2013

London played host to the Red Bull Soapbox Race this past weekend, what exactly is it?

From RedBull.com: "Red Bull Soapbox Race is an international event in which amateur drivers race homemade soapbox vehicles. Each hand-made machine is fuelled by nothing but sheer courage, the force of gravity and perhaps a little Red Bull."

As you can imagine the video highlights are hilarious:


And here are some brilliant photos by Matt Badenoch:



Check out Matt's full Facebook album here.

Shooting a Daily Vlog During the World's Toughest Adventure Race - Part 1

Earlier this year I got a phone call from Red Bull athlete, Paul Guschlbauer , asking if I was up for shooting and editing a daily vlog wit...