Twitpic is Shutting Down

Twitpic LogoIt turns out that Twitpic really is shutting down. You may have heard this before, but that time it was a “false alarm”. This time, it seems certain that Twitpic will soon be gone.

Not long ago, Twitpic posted on its own blog that it would be shutting down by September 25, 2014. Obviously, that didn’t end up happening. When that blog was posted, Twitpic pointed a finger at Twitter as the reason why. That blog stated:

A few weeks ago, Twitter contacted our legal demanding that we abandon our trademark application or risk losing access to their API. This came as a shock to us since Twitpic has been around since early 2008, and our trademark application has been in the USPTO since 2009.

This was later followed by: Unfortunately we do not have the resources to fend off a large company like Twitter to maintain our mark which we believe whole heartedly is rightfully ours. Therefore, we have decided to shut down Twitpic.

However, Twitpic did not shut down at that time. Today, the original blog has been updated. It states that Twitpic will be shutting down on October 25, 2014. From the Twitpic blog update:

It is with heavy heart that I announce that Twitpic will be shutting down on October 25th. We worked through a handful of potential acquirers and exhausted all potential options. We were almost certain we had found a new home for Twitpic (hence our previous tweet), but agreeable terms could not be met.

Those of you who want to can export your data, photos, and videos from Twitpic before it shuts down. Visit the Twitpic blog for a link that will get you started. Yes, this time, it certainly appears that Twitpic really is shutting down.

Turn Photos of Your Lunch Into Real Meals

Virgin Mobile logoHave you ever taken a photo of your lunch, or dinner, and posted it to your favorite form of social media? Some of your friends might like your photo, but that’s about all that can happen with it. Virgin Mobile is giving people in Australia a way to turn their food pics into real meals. This may influence people to post food photos more frequently than usual – but that isn’t a bad thing!

You can turn a photo of food into a real meal for someone else. It is very easy to do. First, take a photo of delicious food. Next, share it on Twitter with the hashtag #mealforameal. OzHarvest will feed someone who is in need every time a person shares a food photo with that hashtag attached to it. The entire thing is being run by Virgin Mobile. You must be in Australia in order to participate in this interesting and helpful campaign.

OzHarvest is the only food rescue organization in Australia. They collect surplus food from fruit and vegetable markets, supermarkets, hotels, wholesalers, farmers, stadiums, corporate events, restaurants, delis, cafes, film and TV shoots, and more. They deliver that food directly to 500 charities in Australia (free of charge). The charities can use it to feed people who are in need.

There is some “fine print” to be aware of. First, as I mentioned, you cannot participate if you aren’t in Australia. You cannot submit more than 3 food photos, with the hashtag, per day. (Well, you could, but they won’t accept more than 3 per day). Participating gives Virgin Mobile permission to re-share any content in your submission “including a perpetual, royalty-free and worldwide license to use any works under the Copyright Act”.

The campaign began on July 9, 2014, and will continue through November 3, 2014 (unless they decide to end it sooner). Their goal is to share 400,000 meals. I am looking forward to seeing the food photos that my Australian friends post to Twitter with #mealforameal. I like that this campaign is free to participate in and that it makes it easy for people to help others.

Apple Discontinues Aperture

Aperture appApple has announced that it is ceasing development of its Aperture and iPhoto apps. Instead, Apple will be replacing them with its new Photos app (that was announced during its Worldwide Developers Conference).

Jim Dalrymple, at The Loop was given the following statement from Apple:

With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture. When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.

The Aperture Blog notes that Apple has said they will provide an update so that Aperture will still work with OS X Yosemite. This will give Aperture users some time to make a decision about where to move their photos to.

Wondercon 2014

Wondercon 2014 at the Anaheim Convention Center, April 18-20, 2014.
Like Mat Luschek Photography on Facebook

Soloshot Robot Cameraman Enables Awesome “Selfies”

SOLOSHOT logoSoloshot is the leader in personal robotic cameraman devices. At NAB 2014, they announced their SOLOSHOT2 Camera Controller accessory. It is a robotic arm that can control your camera and track you from a distance. In other words, it lets you take some really awesome “selfies” in photo or video format.

The SOLOSHOT2 Camera Controller accessory has an automated pan/tilt/zoom platform. It lets you take 4K action content of yourself, by yourself, from up to 2,000 feet away without the aid of an assistant cameraman. To do this, the SOLOSHOT2 tracks the user who is wearing a lightweight, waterproof and shockproof transmitter.

You can pair the SOLOSHOT2 Camera Controller accessory with cameras like the new SONY AX-100 camcorder and their VG line of interchangeable lens camcorders. It can also be used with some other types of camcorders, DSLR’s and smartphones. It is possible to link together a network of multiple SOLOSHOT2 Camera Controller accessories and transmitters to create an entire robotic production crew.

Samsung Reveals New Cameras for CES

Ahead of Samsung’s CES event on Monday, the Korean company has announced two new cameras to get the show on the road, the NX30 and the Galaxy Camera 2.

Aimed at the prosumer, the NX30 compact system camera extends Samsung’s NX range, though my guess is that it will replace the current NX20 model. The heart of the camera is a 20.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and combined with Samsung’s NX AF System II, should provide fast and accurate auto-focussing. The shutter speed can be cranked up (down?) to 1/8000 sec and in continuous shooting mode takes 9 frames per second. NX30 has a 3″ Super AMOLED touch screen for a viewfinder which can swivel out and rotate so that it stays in view from difficult angles. Hopefully the AMOLED screen won’t wash out in bright sunlight.

There’s also Remote Viewfinder Pro function that lets the photographer control several functions of the NX30 from a smartphone, including zoom, shutter speed, aperture and taking the photograph. That’s neat and as you might expect in this day and age, the NX30 has advanced sharing capabilities and can transfer images using both wifi and NFC to smartphones and beyond.

Samsung NX30

The NX30 continues the evolution of our award-winning NX series of cameras, bringing with it new and improved features such as a better imaging processor and our advanced SMART Camera offering. Not only does this camera deliver the performance users demand, it is also easy-to-use so that moments are never missed,” said Myoung Sup Han, Executive VP and Head of the Imaging Business Team at Samsung Electronics. “The NX30 allows photographers to shoot with confidence, providing a seamless ability to capture moments and share them immediately, delivering exceptionally beautiful photographs while creating an unmatched photo-sharing experience.

The NX range also saw the introduction of a new premium S Lens, the 16-50 mm F2 – 2.8 S ED OIS and a zoom lens, the 16-50 mm F3.5-5.6 Power Zoom. Both have a focal length of 16 – 50 mm (equivalent to 24.6-77 mm in 35 mm format) but I’m not an expert in photography so I’ll point you in the direction of the press release if you want to know more.

Moving onto the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2, this is an update of the previous Android-powered Galaxy Camera. As you might expect, the focus (sorry) is on the ease of picture-taking followed by easy uploading and sharing of the photos. The camera itself has a 16 megapixel CMOS sensor with a 21x optical zoom and is paired with a 1.6 GHz quad-core processor and 2 GB of RAM. As with the NX30, the Galaxy Camera 2 has wifi and NFC transfer capabilities and 50 GB of cloud storage is provided via the pre-loaded Dropbox app.

For Instagram generation, the Camera 2 comes with Smart Mode, which lets photographers choose from 28 different pre-set modes all designed to address different shooting scenarios and for those unsure which mode they want to select, the Smart Mode Suggest analyses the scene at hand and then recommends the best Smart Mode for a perfect shot. New Smart Mode “Selfie Alarm” takes five consecutive, high resolution images so that narcissists hipsters can select their best view and share immediately on their favourite social media site.

 

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2

From the press shots, it looks like it will be available in both black and white finishes as per the current model. More info on the Galaxy Camera 2 in the press release.

“Consumers love the GALAXY Camera, and this next-generation version was designed to improve on the successful predecessor, with upgraded and new features that will enhance the photography experience,” said Myoung Sup Han, “The result is a more powerful and portable device which continues to embrace the public’s passion for the social features of smartphones, yet also provides superior image control and quality. We are dedicated to making it easier for more people to achieve great results and with the GALAXY Camera 2’s host of creative features, anyone can capture stand out images.

If you want to know more and you are at CES, you’ll find Samsung at booth #12004 in the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Pricing was not announced but I imagine it will be inline with the current models.

Sony NEX F3 Camera Review

Sony NEX-F3 I purchased the Sony NEX-F3K/B camera through Amazon recently and have been using it for a couple of weeks now. The camera comes with a removable 18–55 F3.5–5.6 OSS Zoom lens kit, a battery along with a charging cable, charger and a camera strap. The Sony NEX-F3 is a mirrorless camera with an exchangeable lens. It is small and without the lens it can easily fit into a purse or even a large pocket.

It is easy to hold with a grip on the right hand side. When you hold the camera by the grip you can easily reach the trigger with your first finger. The viewing screen is about 3 inches across and 2 1/2 inches high. It can be tilted up to 180 degrees, making it perfect for taking self portraits. There are two buttons and one wheel to change the controls on the camera to the right of the viewing screen. The top button is the menu button which allows you to make changes to how the camera will work, you can decided whether to use automatic or manual mode, control the aperture, flash, track objects, use face detection, do initial setup and much more. The bottom button seems to let you go in and out of digital Zoom mode. The wheel lets you move through the choices that are available on the screen. I have to admit that there are a lot of controls and possibilities, many which I will probably never use such as a toy filter. I think that sometimes companies try to please everyone and end up just making things confusing. It has a sensor resolution up to 16.2 megapixels. The camera can also be used to record video with a resolution up to 1920 X 1080. On the top of the camera is the built-in flash, next to that is the play button which allows you to play through the pictures you’ve taken. Next to the play button is the record button. I did find how the record button work a little confusing. When you hit it, there is a slight beep and then the recording starts, when you hit the button again the word Recording pops up and the recording stops. I found that very confusing at first I kept on thinking I was recording when I was not and vice a versa. In front of the record button is the power switch. On the left hand side of the camera is the USB dock. The cover for the USB dock feels a little flimsy to me and I can easily see it getting broken over time. There are clips on both sides to connect a camera strap to. As I said before a strap does come with the camera, but I found that strap fairly flimsy and ended up buying a more substantial one. On the bottom of the camera is a tripod connection point. Next to that is the covered slot for an SD card. Right next to that is the battery compartment. The battery is removable and can be replaced. This is not an internet connected camera, so if that is something you are looking for this camera is not for you.  You can find a full review  of the camera specs. at Digital Photography Review

Overall I am very happy with this camera. The camera feels good in my hand, the grip makes it easy to hold on to while you take a picture.  I have included some pictures I took with it just to show some examples. I do this strictly as a hobby but I hope these pictures show the camera off at its best. The camera is available through Amazon for $499.00, I actually purchased it through the Amazon Warehouse for $378.17. If you are not ready for a DSLR but are looking for a camera that has a removable lens and that is above a point and shoot, than I recommend taking a look at the Sony NEX F3.

Showcase Your Summer Photos on RebelMouse

RebelMouseRebelMouse is an aggregator that organizes your online presence into one place, to make it easier for other people to find the things you post. It can be used for free by individuals (or companies or websites) who want to have it showcase certain things that you have posted on Facebook, Google +, Instagram, or Twitter.

I use it as an individual. As such, I receive their newsletter. The most recent one was sent today, and it suggests that people use RebelMouse to showcase their summer photos.

To do it, you will need to create a new sub-page in RebelMouse for your photos. Next, connect your Instagram, Flickr, or a photo RSS feed to it (through the Content & Feeds tab). There is also a way to add other photos to your RebelMouse by dragging them in.

I thought this was interesting for a couple of reasons. One, it appears that RebelMouse wants to get people thinking about using it as their primary way to show other people the photos that they took for a specific event. (Instead of Flickr, Instagram, your Facebook page, or your personal blog). I had not considered this possibility before I read their newsletter.

Two, it looks as though you can add things to your RebelMouse page that are not from the website that you sign into RebelMouse with. For example, you can sign in via Facebook, Twitter, or Google +. You can’t sign in through Flickr, but you can have RebelMouse put your Flickr photos onto your RebelMouse page.

Flickr Offers a Free Terabyte of Space

Flickr LogoFlickr looks a lot different today than how it used to. Yahoo! (which owns Flickr) has given Flickr a makeover that includes a brand new design. What once showed you small thumbnails of photos, with a lot of white, empty, space surrounding them, now features the photos much more prominently.

To me, it seems like Flickr’s new look resembles that of Facebook, or perhaps Pinterest. The photos are bigger, filling up the screen. Users now have a homepage that includes an activity feed that combines your friends’ recent uploads with the activity on the photos that you have uploaded. I wasn’t thrilled with the new design at first, because it takes me a long time to “re-learn” how to use social media when it visually changes. Eventually, I figure the new design will grow on me.

In addition to the very obvious design change, Flickr also announced that users will get a free terabyte of space. Their blog says:

At Flickr, we believe you should share all your images in full resolution, so life’s moments can be relived in their original quality. No limited pixels, no cramped formats, no memories that fall flat. We’re giving your photos room to breathe, and you the space to upload a dizzying number of photos and videos, for free. Just how big is a terabyte? Well, you could take a photo every hour for forty years without filling one.

In December of 2012, Flickr released a Flickr iPhone app. Today, it announces the release of the Flickr app for Android users, which can be found at the Google Play store.

Create Beautiful Photo Collages Free and Without Software

There are numerous apps that you can download and install on your computer to allow you to bring together multiple photos into one single image, known as a collage. But why would you want to junk up your computer with yet another app? These days, web apps can do much of what we need, from file conversion to word processing and image editing.

So you want to create a beautiful collage as a gift for grandma? You can do this, as well, without purchasing expensive software or downloading and installing an app that may or may not work. In fact, you do not even need to pay for the privilege of gaining this capability.

There is more than one source for pulling off this fete, but let’s focus on just one that can do almost whatever you wish, does not force you to open your wallet and has plenty of capability. This web app has the cryptic name of piZap.

piZap does more than just create a collage. The online service is also a more than capable photo editor that is designed with real users in mind. In other words, you do not need a computer science degree here because this is made for every user from advanced to beginner.

Let’s get Started

From the homepage, it is rather hard to miss that large green “Start” button – it is an obvious beginning point. Click it and you will be transported to a Flash-based webpage that presents five options, including “Edit a Photo”, “Timeline Covers”, “Backgrounds”, “WebCam Effects” and our choice – “Make a Collage”.

menu screen

When “Make a collage” is clicked you will be bombarded with options. These are shapes broken down by number of images included and patterns, collages with backgrounds, ones that are framed, even those specially crafted for holidays.

Let’s be rather boring and choose square images. As you can see in the screenshot below, we have numerous options to choose from. Pick a pattern by clicking on the design that suits your tastes.

pizap collage shapes

Add Photos and Effects

Each image space contains an “Add Photo” option, plus there are a number of effects down the right side of the web page. There are also more options presented across the top of the screen, including such gems as text, frames and stickers.

You can upload images from your local computer, or ones stored elsewhere on your network. In addition, the app provides the ability to grab images from Facebook or through your webcam.

add photos

As an illustration of just what piZap is capable of, I elected to use the same image in all four areas of my chosen collage pattern. I then applied a different effect to three of those, while leaving the top left in original form.

The results can be seen in the image below, but this gives only a minor idea of all of the options and effects that are available from this free service.

add effects

Now What?

So now that you have perfected your new collage, what’s next? Well, you could go to the top menu and add one of the many frames available, or perhaps include some text.

However, once you are satisfied with your new masterpiece you can click the green “Save” button that appears at the top right. This will provide options to share the image on Facebook, Twitter or your My piZap account (make it public or private), as well as the more traditional option of simply downloading the collage to your computer.

If you choose to download, and I imagine most customers do, then you can always use traditional desktop apps like Photoshop to make additional refinements. You can then make the image your desktop wallpaper, print the collage yourself or use an online service such as Shutterfly for printing. You could also simply email it to grandma or other interested friends and family members.