Reviewing the Black Rapid Sport

Introduction

After trying the default neck strap from Nikon in different ways (as a neck strap, a shoulder strap, a wrist strap or as no strap at all…) and a dedicated handstrap. I noticed two things:

  1. Camera’s can get very heavy after a couple of hours, either holding them in hand, or hanging around your neck.
  2. Mounting the camera on a tripod took a lot of time (especially with the hand strap where I needed to remove the hand strap before fastening the quick release plate)

Than I came across the Black Rapid Sport. The last 6 to 9 months I used this strap in several different places and in different situations. I used it in cities, in buildings, in a zoo and outside in the nature. I used it with and without bags, while wearing thick clothes and while wearing only a T-Shirt, with Nordic walking sticks, on a bicycle and on a segway.

The Black Rapid Sport

The Black Rapid Sport is a shoulder strap designed to go from your shoulder, across the chest to the opposite hip. So the weight of the camera  is on your shoulder instead of your neck, and you don’t have the feeling the camera can glide off your shoulder like when you use the default neck strap as a shoulder strap (from your shoulder downwards).

The part of the strap that goes around your shoulder is completely made of padded material. This helps distribute the weight of the camera across the whole of your shoulder. I had no problem wearing my camera for a couple of hours. But still, after that I had the need to get the weight off my shoulder by holding the camera in hand for a while.

The camera is attached to the strap using a ring in the tripod mount. To be able to still use the quick release plate of the tripod, Black Rapid offers a special fastener. Now I can have the quick release plate on the camera while using the strap, so I only need to detach my camera from the strap to put it on the tripod. Although this special fastener is not really necessary (the strap can be attached to the Manfrotto release plate directly), it looks to me that the fastener of Black Rapid is better build and can handle larger weights.

On the downside

Since I used the Black Rapid Sport I also noticed a couple of annoying things.

First of all it is difficult to use a shoulder strap and a bag (shoulder bag or backpack) together, it is not impossible, but it  is less comfortable.

A few times I noticed that the screwed parts (the fastener and the sleeve that locks the connector) will start loosen up after a couple of weeks. So every time I use the strap, I have to think about double checking that every thing is screwed tightly.

The bumpers on the strap, which are used to keep the camera in place don’t work very well. The camera keeps bumping, but this can be easily solved by attaching a carabiner to a belt or backpack and the straps connector.

Conclusion

I really like this camera strap and I can really recommend this strap to other dSLR users. It is a joy to have your camera in hands reach without pain in the neck or arms and without the feeling you will drop the camera.

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Relax

relax

This self portrait is my second try, both in self portraits and in stitching multiple photo’s of myself in one photograph. The first attempt was to blurry and there was more overlap of myself which made it difficult to post process.

Making such a photo is not that difficult. Make several photo’s of yourself  in different positions and put them together in software like Gimp or Photoshop.

Here are some things you should consider when shooting the photo’s:

  • First you need a tripod or a stable surface for the camera so the camera will not move between making the photo’s.
  • Second you need to make sure the exposure of all photo’s is exactly the same. Even the white balance should be the same (or you can change it in post)
  • Third you shouldn’t move objects between different photographs, it will make it extremely difficult to align the photo’s correctly.

When editing the photo’s you add each photo to a different layer and apply a layer mask to show the part of the photo you want to show. The most difficult part is to make overlapping areas convincing. Although there are different ways of creating a layer mask, I just use the mouse and a paintbrush tool. Doing this using a mouse is quite difficult and I think a pen tablet like the Wacom Bamboo will be very helpful here.

Over the next few weeks I will try out my Wacom Bamboo to see if it is really easier to use than the mouse.

Recovering from a bad backup strategy

File management has always been difficult for me. Most of the time my files and photos where on logical places, and I could always found them when I needed them. I didn’t really do any backup. I used to reinstall my computer a lot, always trying an other operating system, never happy with what I got. To make sure I didn’t loose my files, I made a ‘backup’ and put it on a floppies, zip-drives or harddrives. After installing the new system, I copied the most important files back to my computer. Sometimes I made a copy of the backup medium to be able to use it for something else. Whenever I reinstalled my computer, everything started all over again.

Since I started owned my own camera, I started to be more concerned over where my photos where kept. Since I use Bibble I want to organize all my photos inside Bibble, but where could I find all the photos? After going through my complete ‘backup’ I found that I had photos all over the place, in different folders on the harddrive and in archives. Sometimes I had copies of archives, and copies of files in different folders as well. After putting all the photos inside one folder, I found that I had around 40 GB of photo related files, including raw files, jpegs, Gimp files and some photo album files.

At the moment I am in the process of importing the photos in Bibble and make sure I don’t have any double or unwanted photo. All the newly imported photos get a tag “unsorted” and I will remove all the photos that are duplicate and the  ones I don’t want to keep (since they are not mine).

From this experience I have learned a lesson I always knew. Make sure your files are properly organized, so you can easily find them. When backing up files, do this by making an exact copy of the complete folder structure. so that it is easily to restore and you can easily find files. Don’t wait with organizing your files, because the files you have, it gets more difficult to get started.

Linux and creating photo books.

Years ago, we used to create lots of photo albums. Since we have digital camera’s most of the photos ends on the harddrive.

For the last holiday my wife and I decided that we wanted to create a photo book. There are a lot of companies that allow you to create these books and they provide software that helps you to create them. There are, however, very few companies that provide Linux versions of the software. Some of the companies allow you to send in some PDF files (one for the content and one for the cover) which they will use to print the book.

Using the software, provided by the company, makes it very easy to create a photo book very fast. It is easy to select the right format of the book, they provide borders and backgrounds and you know that when you have send the book, it will be printed correctly. The biggest disadvantage is that you don’t have full control over the layout of the book. You can’t create master pages that are used for every page and you can’t use custom borders.

When you can create a PDF you have full control. You can use almost every word processor (like Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.org) or publishing processing software (like Microsoft Publisher, Adobe InDesign or Scribus). Most of them will allow you to create a PDF file natively, for others (especially older version) you need a PDF printer (which you can find on the internet).
Although full control is mostly an advantage, it can also be a disadvantage, because the possibilities can be overwhelming.

Because there are not so much printing companies that have support for Linux, I have decided to look for a company that support PDF printing. I will use Scribus to create the book and export it to PDF. Then I will send the PDF to Blurb.

Since this will be the first time I use Scribus and Blurb, I will post my experiences when I am finished.

Finding photos by using keywords

My photos are organised by date. So I have a folder for the year, the month and the day I took the photo. Sometimes I will use a project code and add it after the day. This way of organisation makes it difficult to find photos, you can’t find all the photos that are taken in London.

Another way to find the photos is to assign keywords to the photos.  With applications like Bibble it is possible to assign an unlimited number of keywords to the photos and after that you can search or select for specific keywords.

After my holiday I assigned keywords to my photos. All the photos got the keyword “Holiday 2011” and the name of the place or area where it was taken or what it is showing. I didn’t look for every detail, because if I would do that, I would be still working on those keywords.

I have thought of one special keyword, “panorama”. I use this for the photos that, as you can guess, are going to be used to create panorama pictures. I made a couple of them and using this keyword I can easily find them and create a panorama from them.

When I would have shot some multiple exposures of the same scene, and I wanted to create an HDR photo, I would mark them with HDR.

My tip for today, add meaningful keywords to your photos, but don’t go too wild with them.