Saturday

First Friday of the Month - Yosemite HipstaPak




I first visited Yosemite when I was 14 or 15 years of age, but it was another 20 years before I returned to explore its beauty and very soon I hope to return. Before going into any detail about the Yosemite HipstaPak, allow me to first provide a little informational background on this magnificent national park.


Yosemite was populated by Southern Miwok people, with Central Miwok people utilizing the northern quarter of the park and it is the Miwok who named this beautiful land Yosemite, which is surrounded by large granite mountains and tall growing Sequoia trees and in 1864 became the first protected natural park in America. The reconstructed Indian Village of Ahwahnee, today is located behind the Yosemite Museum in Yosemite Valley and features a bark houses, ceremonial roundhouse, sweathouse, pounding rocks, cabin, acorn granaries, and chief's house, which represents the structures of the Sierra Nevada Miwok village of the late nineteenth century.


As parts of the beautiful land was being exploited, conservationists urged President Abraham Lincoln to protect the land and in 1864 he signed a bill granting Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove to the state of California. It was John Muir, naturalist (1838-1914), who sparked the creation of Yosemite National Park in 1890.





     

Images from Hipstamatic


While Hipstamatic has travel the world these last few months by presenting us with HipstaPak’s named for various locations, this one was specifically designed for landscape photography according to Hipstamatic and judging by the sample images provided by Hipstamatic one cannot help but to agree. Yet let us see what results were achieved with our test and how it compares to the samples.




The Muir lens described as ‘offset vintage saturation,’ followed by a quote of the naturalist John Muir, “in every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” Follow his advice and keep this lens by your side, adds Hipstamatic. They continue to say, as for the Sequoia film, a borderless colored texture, they state it is ‘inspired by the beautiful, giant, ancient trees,’ and ‘this film is specifically tuned for nature photography.’


     

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          Lens and Film Test

In previous test Hipstamatic lens and film tests, I used a random method in selecting other lenses and films to be paired with the new combination. This time, I decided to take an image that was shot using 6x6 with no effects and adding it to Oggl, where I already had installed the Yosemite HiptaPak. This allowed me to see what might be the best lens and film combined with the Yosemite pair. I also decided not to include any Black & White film, as there were no real changes to those types of films.


Here are lenses and films selected and their order as they appear in the review:

          01: Muir+ Sequoia

          02: Muir + Blanko BL4
          03: Muir + Blanko C16
          04: Muir + Blanko Noir
          05: Muir + Rasputin
          06: Muir + Rijks


          07: Foxy + Sequoia
          08: GSquad + Sequoia
          09: Lowy + Sequoia
          10: Vincent + Sequoia
          11: YUЯI 61 + Sequoia






Lens: Muir - Film: Sequoia


In the first image we see that the sky is much darker then in the other three and that the oak tree (top right) has a shift towards magenta, including in the upper right of the sky. Yet the two bottom, both photographs are pleasing, we see a warming of the tree, by being more reddish, including the foreground.


As we continue to assess other images in this test, please note that the direction of the sun plays a significant roll in the way the colors are effect in the images final outcome. Mostly the sun’s direction will be from the side or from behind me and it is never in front of me.






Lens: Muir - Film: Blanko BL4


Once again the lens Muir darkens the sky in the upper left image more, while in the other three it is marginal. I do remember that the sun was slightly to the right of me and in the second image it is to the left of me and at about 11 o’clock and not causing any lens flair.

When Muir is paired with Blanko BL4 film, the results are mostly pleasing and almost coming very close to the sample images provided by Hipstamatic. Of the four samples I show, I prefer the bottom right and here the sun is over my right shoulder at about 5o’clock.






Lens: Muir - Film: Blanko C16


When I made the initial selection of alternative pairing lenses and films, I was surprised that through Oggl, the selection of Blanko’s various films dealt best with the Muir film. 


Once again we see a darker sky as in the previous samples and the oak tree shifting ever so slightly towards a magenta tint. Still the upper right sky of the second images we see an upswing towards the magenta in the blue, and as in previous other samples the bottom two are most pleasing.






Lens: Muir - Film: Blanko Noir


When the lens Muir is combined with Blanko Noir, we see in the upper left image, that the building’s color appears more truthful, including a sky that is not overly dramatically darker. Though the oak tree’s green leaves are tinted towards a magenta tint, while we are also picking up more detail in the dried grasses and seeing a pleasing blue sky. As with the bottom two images, both are also well saturated but not overly saturated and so pleasing to the eye.






Lens: Muir - Film: Rasputin


Without fail, the Muir lens has darkened the sky in a way that it is unnatural in the top left photograph, while also tinting the foreground with a layer of magenta. It should be noted that the film Rasputin does have a tendency to add a layer of magenta and by adding it to a lens that also adds a shift towards magenta, the combined effect is a little more pronounce. This is also evident in the image on the bottom left, where the foreground is of a very reddish color, yet marginally in the bottom right photograph.






Lens: Foxy - Film: Sequoia


On the other hand, when the film Sequoia is paired with the Foxy lens, we experience random color shift that are from one spectrum to another, making this combination the least pleasing and so would be mostly rejected, unless one wanted to demonstrate prolonged exposure of a print to sunlight and its’ effect.






Lens: GSquad - Film: Sequoia


When using the GSquad lens with Black & White film, one usually achieves dramatic and contrasty results, even when combined with a few Hipstamatic color films, some wonderful results are achieved. Thought in the samples here, color shifts remain prevalent, while also brightening the overall photograph.






Lens: Lowy - Film: Sequoia


I have said it often enough that the Lowy lens is the sharpest lens Hipstamatic has created and also a lens that is mostly truthful in rendering a scene. These four examples certainly prove this. It also reveals that when Sequoia film is paired with the Lowy lens, once results will always be almost perfect, since we do see a very slight and minor sift in color that appears as fading.






Lens: Vincent - Film: Sequoia


While there are many lenses still to be tested with the Sequoia film, Vincent lens proves to be another fine example with which to pair this film with and while the tonal shift are marginal, they do express a feeling towards cooling down the colors just slightly.







Lens: YUЯI 61 - Film: Sequoia


We come to the last lens to be tested with the Sequoia film. It should be noted that YUЯI 61 is part of the Rasputin combo set named Sochi and that it too injects a little magenta into the image but not as much as Rasputin. We also need to note that once again the sky in the upper left image is not only darkened, though not to the extreme, it does show the blue sky having been infused with magenta. So depending upon the sun’s angle and time of day, be prepared to have this darkening of the sky happening to you. Otherwise this combination of pairing the two, though not great, is still acceptable.


The following images are all taken with the Muir lens and Sequoia film.


















Lens: Muir - Film: Sequoia




So what are my final thoughts about the Yosemite HipstaPak.


It feels as though as Hipstamtic is going the direction of developing lenses and films which appear to emulate current applications like VSCOcam or AFilter. While there is nothing wrong with this concept, it is duplicating that which we already have on our mobile phones. I wish Hipstamatic would focus more on creating various Kodak, Ilford or Agfa films, including other not well known types of films, including lenses that are portrait or play a significant roll in the development of photographiy’s history. Never-the-less, the Yosemite HipstaPak does have value, more than the last three releases, such as Jordaan, Södermalm, and The District HipstaPak. Thought The District did emulate very well the Black & White printing of photographs in books dating from the 30s on through the mid 60s., it was rather limited in how it would apply to general photography.


The reason why I say this HipstaPak, the Yosemite, is that it has more value in the way it renders the colors in scene, even though there is a slight to moderate and occasional extreme shifts, the tones remain almost truthful to vintage prints in the first stages of fading or shifting in colors due to exposure to direct day light. Depending on the colors in the scene, their can also appear shifting or toning of some of the colors towards, something that happens often when prints are exposed to the natural rays of UV light.


The Yosemite HipstaPak is a finely tuned lens and film combination and for many of us, it will bring back memories of childhood, when our parents took pictures that we now look back upon with fondness.

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Found Photograph - Lost Memories 
Yosemite, California c1935-1940s, Egmont van Dyck collection


Yosemite's strong environmental stewardship has taken shape through key historic events. The park plans to honor its heritage through a series of anniversaries.
  • June 30, 2014:  150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant
  • Sept. 3, 2014:   50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act
  • Sept. 28, 2014: 30th anniversary of the California Wilderness Act
  • Oct. 1, 2015:     125th anniversary of Yosemite National Park
  • Aug. 25, 2016:  100th anniversary of the National Parks Service


Yosemite National Parks Service website



All photographs taken with an iPhone 4S by
©2014 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved







ShoulderPod S1 Review




Dear reader, I wrote this review a little more than three months ago. I wish to apologize to the makers of the ShoulderPod and to you, my readers, in the delay of publishing my thoughts. 


While nothing in my evaluation changes, there is an update at the end of the review that reflects additional thoughts of the ShoulderPod S1, since I have had the pleasure to use it under numerous different conditions. Besides, I also wanted a better picture featuring the iPhone being held by the ShoulderPod S1 model.

I am always on the looking for a better system that will protect and hold my iPhone securely when exposed to hazardous and risky situations. So I was delighted when Tina Rice of Combo Apps: Mobile Extreme Editing, informed me that a new product, the ShoulderPos S1 was about to be released.


I wrote Enrique, the principle designer of the ShoulderPod S1 and asked if he would send me one to review. In the meantime I continued to check out the companies website.









After receiving the S1 model, one will quickly notice that much thought and design went into the packaging, something that is very reminiscent of Apple products.


After removing the various components, it becomes also evident that this product is meant to last, for the materials are solid, and as one holds the S1 Grip in one’s hand, you feel it is well designed. 


Once the three components were assembled, I tested the S1 on a number of different occasions and wrote Enrique of my initial findings. A discussion ensued, which prompted me to further test the S1 under more ‘combat-like’ situations, like street photography, including how the unit might be applied to daily uses.


One thing I have learned when it comes to judging a product, it is always good to re-evaluate ones initial findings by having a second and even a third critical look at a product.



Showing various mobile phones held by the ShoulderPos S1


My original first impressions about the ShoulderPod S1, was that it gives excellent value for the money, especially when compared to other products. In particular I was impressed with the material consisting of the grip and the clamp mechanism that holds the mobile phone.


However I was concerned that the grip was a little to short and the nylon strap possible not lasting. Now do not stop reading here, because I have re-evaluated my initial first response to the ShoulderPod S1.


There is no denying that the ShoulderPod S1 was carefully designed to achieve three specific functions, apart from being a secure and steady way to hold a mobile phone when taking pictures. The S1 was also designed to be used as a secure tripod mount and resting stand for when the mobile is working as a tablet, so that the angle offers ease of viewing the screen in a vertical position only.



Diagram of the ShoulderPos S1 assembly


So many products are designed to fit only a specific model and type of a mobile phone, placing the consumer in the position of having to replace the item every two years or less, when they update their mobile device. This is definitely not he case with the ShoulderPod S1, as it was designed to just about fit any type and model of a mobile unit, further increasing the consumers value for their money.


While a good percentage of my mobile photography involves having the iPhone mounted to a tripod, I can say with complete certainty, that I now have a grip that will hold my iPhone securely. No longer will I have concerns when the mobile is mounted to a monopod and extended for 3 to 4 feet over the ledge of a building several stories high, as long as everything is nice and tight, the mobile phone is going nowhere, even when holding it above ones self  for a better over-head shot. In other words, the ShoulderPod S1is ideal as a tripod or monopod mount.



Diagram of the ShoulderPos S1 clamp


Now we come to its use as a grip and being able to hold the mobile phone steady. In this area the S1 does a good job in helping keep the mobile steady during filming or taking pictures, but for some the handle will be the perfect length, for others, they may find it a little too short by about two fingers widths. With that said, it should also be noted that the use of the strap significantly aids in holding the mobile phone that the length of the handle may not be an issue for you.


Finally we come to the S1’s remaining purpose, a vertical-angled stand. At first i thought I would not be using this feature but after testing the unit a second time, I feel this S1 capability is becoming more indispensable. For example, while volunteering as projectionist for an OPEN SHOW-Bay Area function, I used the S1 as a stand, while the iPhone functioned as a stopwatch next to my laptop. This allowed me to sit back and view the both screens comfortably without having to hold the mobile throughout the show. 




I have begun to also use the S1 more as a vertical-angled stand resting on my nightstand, kitchen table or my desk, when I am reading, working on the laptop or watching a Netflix. This way, I can quickly glance at the mobile screen without having to get up or have the phone so close to me at arms reach.


The vertical-angel stand function is not limited to this function only. By adjusting the position of the mobile in the grip, one can use it to take one’s own portrait, a selfie. It also can be used in this position to do close-up or macro photography in which critical focus is essential and by not having to hold the mobile, one can achieve tack sharp images. Being a still-life photographer, this position with a wide angle lens attached to the mobile, providing some extreme low angles which would not be possible is one were trying to use a tripod.


Now let us look at the components that comprise the ShoulderPod S1, I feel could use improving. 


I would like the handle to be longer in length, so that it covers all four fingers of my hand. This will allow me to hold the unit without using the strap, permitting the hand greater rotation to the extreme. Then there is the strap, which could be made of a thicker material.


Since I use the ShoulderPod S1 a good portion of the time to secure the mobile to the tripod, having to remove the handle and strap was not an issue, rather what to do with the two components, especially when on location. Besides, I would like to switch back and forth between tripod and hand-held with as little fuss as possible. I therefore am suggesting to Enrique that a tripod female screw mount be added to the bottom of the handle. This way I would never have to remove the handle and strap when mounting the ShoulderPod S1 to a monopod or tripod.


Though everyone will not only use the ShoulderPod S1 differently but also in the way one hold it when taking pictures or filming a movie, I still feel I can honestly recommend this product.


The design, function and the excellent material of the handle and mobile grip is made of, cannot be beat for the price one pays. This is one product that scores five stars for value of ones money. This would include function and use, while losing ½ a star for the handle not being long enough in my opinion, and another ¼ star for the strap material. The ShoulderPod S1 final score comes in at 85% positive and in my book it is a must have item for any serious iPhoneographer.


          UpDate

Now that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have been released, be assured the ShoulderPod S1 works very well with both models. 


In the meantime during which I used the ShoulderPod S1, one issue arose that I should caution you about. I am referring to the two V-shaped upper and lower rubber pads, as I have experienced twice that the lower V-shaped pad fall out, indicating that they are not glued in and only pressure holds then to the clamp.


I wish to recommend that you glue them in place by using a none-water soluble adhesive to keep them secured in place and from having them accidentally lost. I was fortunately to locate my lost V-Shaped pads.


Despite this minor issue which can be easily fixed, the ShouldPod S1 is still a good buy for your money and not only well worth having, it is an essential tool no mobile photographer should be with out.


          Corporate statement

We are a team of engineers and designers with 20 years experience in product design. who love photography and filmmaking, but we also love taking pictures and filming with our smartphone cameras. Unfortunately we couldn't figure how to hold them correctly and so we thought, "What if we changed that?" So after 1 year of work at TAMBAKUNDA (www.tambakunda.com), our product design studio, we came up with a range of interesting concepts that we are now ready to share with you. We've partnered with top class European companies for crafting high quality equipment that will change the way you film and take pictures professionally with your mobile devices.





          Links

ShoulderPod official website

Subscribe to their newsletter and learn tips and tricks

More information about the company



All photographs taken with an iPhone 4S by
©2014 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved






Generations Pass in Silence Before Me


For some years I have been collecting photographs, the ones that no longer had a home, an attachment to a family, the kind that were simply were abandoned. In the twelve or fifteen years that I have been collecting, I have seen generations upon generations pass in silence before my eyes, only to disappear for good.


In the years that I have been collecting, I was focusing on the 20s through the mid 1950s and preferring mostly black & white prints, deliberately ignored images from the 60s to the present. I even disregarded the occasional negatives or transparencies, as well as photographs that were faded, had major color shifts or were damaged, but that has now all changed.



Opening Presents, C-Print, date unknown


When I started acquiring my photographs, it was to accumulate a nice collection from which to draw inspiration for developing short stories that I would write and then illustrate with the found photograph. Though the stories still need to be written, collecting photographs has taken on an urgency.


In a little over one decade I have come to witness several generations disappear. Those who experienced World War Two, their photographs no longer appear on the market. Even the following two generations are disappearing, making room for photographs that were printed in the 70s to the present and soon they too will disappear. 



San Francisco Chinatown, C-Print, date unknown


We are fast approaching when a marketplace will no longer offer photographic prints, for it will have been replaced by the cloud, places like Instagram, FaceBook and other social media. 


I consider myself only a caretaker of these images, trying to give them another breath of life by sharing them as a collection in an eBook. At the moment I have begun to select and scan images depicting people on vacation for an ePublication called “Road Trips,” followed by several other eBooks that would be released on iTunes and most likely offered for free.


That is the plan for 2015, which includes finding a repository, a museum that would assume being caretaker if my son has no interest in taking on the responsibility, since we do not live indefinitely. In the meantime I shall keep on collecting, preserving what I can.



Polaroid SX-70 instant print, Date unknown




C-Print, September 1968




Polaroid Land Camera instant print, Date unknown




C-Print, April 1968




The Picnic, C-Print, July 1958




C-Print on pearl paper, Date unknown








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