Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Platypod Pro Deluxe Kit


The Platypod ProTM Deluxe Kit is essentially a small pocketable camera and accessory support.  When you add a small to medium ball head it will do almost everything a tripod does.  Best of all, it will not draw a lot of attention in locations where a tripod may not be permitted.  With the addition of a bungie cord you can use it in places where you would otherwise need a three legged flexible tripod like a GorillaPod. So the Platypod Pro is your tripod to-go.


Material: Aluminum (plate), Titanium mounting screws, Stainless Steel spikes
Weight: 3.2 oz
Height Range: 0.16 to 1.25″ (adjustable via threaded spikes)
Load Capacity: >90 lb
Mount Thread Size 3/8″-16 and 1/4”-20 standard tripod and accessory threads
Thickness: 0.16” (4 mm)
Weight: 3.2 oz (90 g)

_DSC2735-EditThe Platypod is a sturdy aircraft grade aluminum base plate with a welded 3/8-16 inch titanium screw for mounting a ball-head. A ball-head as large as 5 inches tall and 3.5 inches wide will work and will also fit in the carrying case. There is also a second welded 1/4-20 inch screw that can be used for mounting accessories, LED lights, a small strobe or speed light, etc.  The kit includes three stainless steel spikes and lock wheels. A rubber cap is provided for the flat end of each spike. In addition, a 1/4-to-3/4-inch female spigot adapter is included in the kit.


The base plate has three threaded holes that allow you to mount the spikes. Four additional mounting holes have been drilled into the base plate.  In addition to providing a secure footing the spikes can be used to easily level the Platypod. The additional holes can be used to secure the base plate to your studio walls, shooting platforms etc.  I find these holes to be perfect for attaching bungie cord hooks and securing the base plate to fence posts, rails and tree limbs. _DSC2774-Edit

The kit comes in a beautifully designed red and black zippered pouch.  In its collapsed state the pouch holds the base plate, screw spikes and the spigot adaptor.  A magnetic closure keeps the pop-out pouch in place. It can be attached to your belt or attached to a loop via the supplied carabiner.  The pouch will pop out and expand to hold a decent sized ball head.  A zippered outer pocket can hold your keys, memory cards, etc.

_DSC2753-EditWith a good small or medium sized ball head you can support most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras fitted with normal to long telephoto lenses.  A super telephoto lens will not balance well.  It is best to position the camera with the lens pointed in the same direction as the nose of the Platypod and with the balance point as close to the center of the ball head. The Platypod is great for ground level photography, a mount for action cameras and for creating panoramas.  For panoramas use a pan/tilt ball head like the Uniqball as shown below.


An Astro radial motion time lapse and panorama unit with a camera mounted to it is easily supported for panning time-lapse imagery or automated panoramas.


The Platypod Pro can be used on any flat surface without using the spikes. If you need to level the base plate the spikes can be used in either orientation. The rubber caps not only provide some friction preventing the base from sliding but also prevent damaging furniture etc. For uneven surfaces like asphalt, rocks and brick the spikes are your best choice for stability.  To attach the baseplate to a fence post, rail or tree limb, a pair of bungie cords work great.  All you need is to secure the cord around your object and hook the ends into the four unthreaded holes in the base plate.  Zip-ties have been suggested as an alternative means of securing the baseplate but I find their removal requires cutting the tie. Moreover, zip-ties are not reusable and are not environmentally friendly.

The Platypod has found a permanent home in my photography bag. The Platypod Pro cost $49.95 and you can get yours here.


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Posted in Photography

FotoMagico 5 Released

Boinx Software has just announced a new version of its premier slideshow creation tool, FotoMagico 5. This updated software program brings a combination of brand new editing tools and advancements to pre-existing features. Among many enhancements, FotoMagico 5 now features a slideshow interface with pre-built stories called “Snippets,” Audio Envelopes and Fades to control audio levels, an Audio Marker Assistant to provide more precise sound editing capabilities, improved text editing and placeholders, and much more.

FotoMagico 5 Updates Include:

  • New “Snippets” feature allow users to insert their own photo and video content into these pre-built stories to create beautiful slideshows; FotoMagico pros can create their own Snippets to streamline the production of slideshows, perfect for those working with clients
  • New Dark User Interface, designed for users of all skill levels, to make photos and videos stand out even more against a more modern backdrop
  • Music Snippets come with free CC licensed music by Josh Woodward and Kevin MacLeod to set the mood; pre-loaded with perfectly timed audio markers means your story is synchronized with the matching music, while an attribution slide keeps users out of copyright troubles
  • Animation Assistant designed to automatically make your slideshow move, while accounting for a variety of photo aspect ratios like portrait and panorama, movie and text properties
  • New Audio Marker Assistant (Pro only) offers more precise control over timing than ever before, with perfectly synchronized music and slides creating the right dramatic effect
  • New Audio Volume Envelopes and Fades (Pro only), the most requested feature, provides audio level controls that enable users to make the music softer when one intends to speak if presenting the slideshow, or to let the video audio take center stage
  • Improved Text Editing and Text Placeholders (Pro only) for the most intuitive way to edit and format titles yet
  • Additional new features available only in FotoMagico 5 Pro include the timeline view; record narration; access to Lightroom and Aperture libraries; teleprompter support; chapter support; masks, borders and color correction; and additional sharing options, such as the Standalone Player, ProRes video, and custom video.

System Requirements: OS X 10.10 Yosemite or newer. 8 GB of RAM and a dedicated graphics card is recommended.
FotoMagico 5 Pricing and Availability
FotoMagico 5 is available now for 49.99 USD, FotoMagico 5 Pro is available for 99.99 USD.
Existing customers can upgrade to FotoMagico 5 Pro for 49.99 USD from FotoMagico 4, and 74.99 USD from FotoMagico 3.

Posted in Photography

Panasonic Lumix GH4 Firmware update released.

The firmware for the Panasonic Lumix GH4  is available now.


Posted in Photography

The Traveling Image Makers – Podcast

TravelingImageMakersSquareLogoWhiteHad a wonderful conversation with Ugo Cei the host of the Traveling Image Makers Podcast.  Ugo also maintains a great travel and educational web site and is one of the founders of Mediterranean Photo Tours, a company offering photography workshops in the most inspiring locations of the Mediterranean.

Ugo has had many conversations with great photographers like  Trey Ratcliff, Ralph Velasco, Jim Zuckerman and Valérie Jardin to name a few.  These podcasts are available at

Click Here for the Podcast

Posted in Photography

TWiP Episode 457 – Chasing Color

TWiP_Logo_300Another awesome podcast with Frederick Van Johnson and Aaron Nace the founder of Phlearn.

For photographers, accurate color has always been somewhat subjective and elusive. Everyone perceives colors differently due to variances in biology, environment and even time of day. Apple, in their relentless quest to make our lives better through technology have introduced a new feature in their upcoming iPads that effectively changes the display you’re viewing based on the current surroundings. That sounds fantastic on the surface, but for artists looking to create works that are somewhat consistent in color rendition, it might prove to exacerbate an already tough problem.


Posted in Photography

The Coop Partnership and an Open House Reception

141245-upstairsWe are happy to announce a partnership with The Coop, a professional photographic studio and educational venue. The Coop is located in Putnam Connecticut. Putnam is easily accessed from western, central and southern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the surrounding areas.

144139-downstairs studioThe Studio is three floors. The first floor has about 1500 sq feet, can be used as a natural light studio with 2 huge storefront windows. Black out curtains are available. Neutral grey walls allow for uncontaminated color casts. There is ample space for backgrounds, floor drops, and stationary props. This studio includes desk, counter and storage space for client’s orders. On the first floor is class room/meeting space with seating for 20+ for presentations and workshops and a reveal wall.145641-downstairs studio

The 2nd floor has 3 shooting areas and a separate meeting space for consults and meetings. The main shooting areas are filling with hanging muslin, tracked backdrops as well as 108” paper rolls. A smaller room, ~ 10×15’ allows for soft window light perfect for newborns or more intimate photography. The meeting space with HDMI TV and comfortable couches allow for a more private meeting. Storage space on the 2nd floor is available for equipment storage.

Then there is the attic for creating offbeat images with exposed lathe, old brick and exposed beams.

The Coop is well equipped with strobes, light modifiers, backdrops, V-flats, furniture, faux floors and a lot more. The meeting space has a projector and screen.

142753-upstairsThe Coop is available for long and short term photo and video rentals. Memberships or hourly rates are available. We will be offering classes and hands on workshops for all levels of levels of experience.

You are invited to an open house reception on April 2, 2016 at 5:30 PM to introduce you to the full space, discuss what you’d like to have available for classes and discussions, and to discuss what you’d like to have available in a studio area. In addition I will be conducting a Macro Workshop from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

The Coop
191 Providence St,
Putnam CT 06260


Posted in Photography

Panasonic Lumix GH4 Firmware update announced


Panasonic has announced a Firmware update 2.5 that introduces several enhancements introduced in Lumix G series cameras since the GH4 was originally introduced.

Post Focus
Post Focus is a special function that enables users to select an in-focus point after shooting. It has already been integrated in new LUMIX cameras such as the GX8. This feature allows you to change the perspective for greater photographic expression or to choose the best in-focus shot for macro shooting.

4K PHOTO (4K Burst / 4K Burst (Start/Stop) / 4K Pre-burst)
With 4K PHOTO mode there are three dedicated modes – 4K Burst / 4K Burst (Start/Stop) / 4K Pre-burst – are all now available on LUMIX GH4*. The addition of these modes further enhances the usability of 4K PHOTO to capture fleeting photo opportunities at 30p.

External Flash Burst
A new feature supporting consecutive shooting with flash burst is available with an external flash that is capable of continuous emission. This includes the following Panasonic models:

* Discontinued models are compatible but have some restrictions due to slower charge speeds

The firmware will be available at the end of March 2016 from the following link:



Posted in News, Panasonic GH4, Photography, Software, Strobes

Day after New Moon

A different time

A different time

On a whim I set up the Swarovski scope to its lowest magnification at 30X.  The camera was the Panasonic Lumix GH4 set at ISO 1600, and 1/60 sec shutter.  The image when clicked on is the full frame from the camera 4680 X 3072 pixels.  The adjustments made to the raw file are: highlight recovery of -29, white balance adjusted to 5700 Kelvin (to taste),  noise reduction using Topaz Denoise version 6. A a touch of contrast and clarity to finish.  All this in the hope the weather stays good and I can get a few images of Jupiter this weekend.  I did not use a remote shutter release but will for the Jupiter images.

Posted in Accessories, Mirrorless, Night Photography, Noise Reduction, Panasonic GH4, Photographs, Photography Tagged , |

One Day Workshop Schedule

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The following is the workshop schedule for the first half of 2016:


Workshop details are available from the Registration Page.

March 20 – Macro and Close-up Photography

March 26 – Flash Photography, High Speed flash, creative lighting

April 3 – Macro and Close-up Photography

April 9 – Portrait and Lighting Techniques

April 10 – Digital Photography A-Z.  This is a one day three part course that will teach you camera basics, post processing and printing.

June 4 – The Digital Darkroom – a course that covers image capture, asset management, processing and enhancement, output to print and web media. A one day program for digital image making workflow

June 5 – Flash Photography, High Speed flash, creative lighting

June 11 – Timelapse Photography, post processing and video assembly

June 12 – Macro and Close-up Photography

If you have any questions or would like more information please call 617-759-0010 or email

Please use this REGISTRATION link to register for these workshops.

Posted in Composite, Flowers, High Key, Lighting, Macro, Mirrorless, Noise Reduction, Panning, Photography, Portraits, Software, Stacked Image, Strobes, Time-Lapse, Tips, Workshops

One week left to register for Namibia or Botswana


One week left for registrations to this once in a lifetime adventure.  Best photo opportunities at an incredible price that can’t be matched..
June 11 – June 23, 2016

This is a double adventure, Namibia alone, Botswana alone or both.

The Namib Desert may well be the world’s oldest desert. The Namib-Naukluft Park includes five main regions: Namib, Sandvis, Naukluft, Sesriem and Sossusvlei. The apricot-colored dunes at Sossusvlei are beautiful and photographic opportunities for landscapes abound. Herds of mountain zebra, gemsbok and springbok roam the area.

Botswana is undoubtedly Southern Africa’s most prestigious safari destination where the landscape has an abundance of wildlife. From islands of and waterways of the Okavango Delta to the open savannah and woodlands of the Chobe National Park, Botswana is a nature and wildlife photographers heaven.

During this exclusive photo safari we will explore and photograph the stunning African wildlife of Botswana. From the endangered Wild Dogs to Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs, Giraffes, Elephants and many deer, antelope, and birds we will have opportunities like no other.

Our camps and lodges have been picked to maximize your experience where you will ride in vehicles with a single row assigned to each photographer.
In-field photography instruction will be provided and during our down time we will conduct photo-critique sessions.


Posted in Photography