Fuji Instax 210 Wide instant camera - Perfect for Wedding Guestbooks

Fuji Instax 210 Wide instant camera - Perfect for Wedding Guestbooks

Guestbooks are a common sight at a Wedding Reception where guests can leave notes for the happy couple. An alternative to having a traditional guestbook is to use an instant camera.

My preference of instant camera is the Fuji Instax 210 Wide.

The Fuji Instax 210 Wide is a camera, much like an old Polaroid, which produces instant prints on 3.4" x 4.3" film. The actual image measures a little smaller at 2.4" x 3.9", this leaves a small white border at the bottom of the print. 

This white space can be used by guests to write a short note using marker pen. I find that Sharpie Fine Permanent Markers work best as they do not smudge. Alternatively you can mount the whole print in a scrapbook and write a message on the scrapbook page itself. If you choose the scrapbook option, you will also need Photo Corners to mount the Instax prints to the pages.

The cost of the Instax prints hovers around £1. I buy my prints from amazon and find the cost of 20 prints can range between £14-£20 depending on the day! 

The cost of the Instax 210 Wide instant camera retails for around £59.99. 

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Useful OSX and iOS applications for Photographers

Useful OSX and iOS applications for Photographers

As a continuation of my workflow post, I thought I would share some of the OSX and iOS applications that I use for my Photography. If you use any others, do let me know.

OSX

  • Photo Mechanic 5 - A fast RAW viewer used to review, refine and import images from a shoot. Much quicker to open RAW files than Lightroom but not much of an editor
  • Adobe Lightroom - My 'go-to' photo editor. Feature packed and great for batch editing.

iOS

I use an iPad Mini 2 for my photography business. The iOS apps allow me to effectively run my business almost completely from the device.

  • Duet Display - This Retina-ready application, along with the OSX companion app, allows your iOS device to become a second screen for your Macbook via a USB connection. This allows for valuable extra screen space for editing/proofing and you can drag windows from one screen to another. Its not free - I paid £11.99 from the app store - but a cheap way to add a second screen.  
  • Snapseed - For quick iPad edits and uploads to social media. Free.
  • Photogene4 -  Another app for quick iPad edits and uploads to social media. Since Snapseed was recently updated, I find myself using Photogene4 more frequently as I'm not too keen on the new Snapseed UI. £2.29.
  • Eye-Fi -  The companion app for the Eye-Fi Wifi SD card range. This app, and the Eye-Fi wifi SD card, allows for clients to see images on the iPad rather than the back of the camera. Free.
  • Facebook Pages Manager - Used for managing my Facebook page. Free.
  • Twitter - Used for managing my Twitter feed. Free.
  • Instagram - Used for managing my Instagram page. Free.
  • PayPal - Used for receiving payment from clients. Free. 
  • Google Adwords Express - Used of managing my Google Adwords campaigns. Free.
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My Workflow - from wedding to client delivery

My Workflow - from wedding to client delivery

The one thing I discovered early on as a wedding photographer is the need for a good, efficient, workflow. Many many hours can be saved through a streamlined process.

Step 1 - Backup

The first thing I do when I get back from a wedding is backup the images! There are many options when it comes to backing up files and any option takes a lot less effort than trying to recover deleted files from a SD/CF card. 

I use a Western Digital 2TB My Passport Wireless external hard drive as my stand-alone backup option. The standout feature of this 2.5 inch portable hard drive is the built-in SD card reader. Using the web interface, it is possible to configure the hard drive to automatically import any files from the SD when it is inserted into the card reader. Note: it can take a while to copy a whole wedding's worth of images (c.20GB) so I tend to insert the SD card and come back in about 25 minutes. Perfect amount of time to rest with a coffee!

I use this hard drive as a data dump of ALL images. Once this is complete, I can begin the import of the images onto my main computer. For added protection, I use the cloud backup service Backblaze which runs in the background looking for new files which are then uploaded to a secure cloud account.

Step 2 - Import 

The next step is to import the images onto my computer for editing using my Macbook's built-in SD card reader. In order to narrow down which images I want to take forward to Step 3 - Editing, I need a fast RAW viewer. For this I use Photo Mechanic 5.

This application is more an image viewer than editor but it is very good - and quick - as a viewer of RAW files. A typical wedding can generate between 1000-1500 images and I needed a speedy way of narrowing down the images I wanted to take forward for editing. 

This application takes less than 0.5 seconds (not a scientific measurement!) to open a RAW file; this is significantly quicker than Lightroom. Multiple this time saving by between 1000-1500 images can add up to a massive time saving.

Whilst Photo Mechanic isn't great for pixel-peeping, it can give a good indication which images I want to take to the next level and import into Lightroom. Using two keys - W for select and the right arrow for next image - I can highlight and select the image I want to take forward. Once I have viewed all the images on the SD/CF card, I copy the images I've selected from the SD/CF card to a folder on my hard drive - simply named 'For Lightroom'

Step 3 - Editing

I use Adobe Lightroom for editing. After I have imported the images contained in the 'For Lightroom' folder I created earlier into the Lightroom catalog, the fun begins! The editing process takes more time than the photographing of the wedding day but thankfully Lightroom provides a one-stop-shop for editing a wedding. I can edit a wedding, or engagement, just using Lightroom. 

Throughout the editing process, I will weed out more images and remove them from the catalog. Photo Mechanic is a good application for quickly viewing RAW images but it does not allow for the same level of image detail as Lightroom. As I'm editing I often view images close up in Lightroom and notice things I could not see in Photo Mechanic and subsequently cast the image aside.

Step 4 - Final Review  

After editing all of the images in my signature style, I end up with around 350 images (down from 1000-1500!). I opt for quality over quantity. In order to get some perspective, once I have completed my editing process I pause and return to give the images a final review a day or two later. It is amazing what you notice once you step back and pause.

Step 5 - Delivery 

Around 4-6 weeks after the wedding, the final collection of images are ready to be delivered to the happy couple. I supply the images on a USB or DVD in both High Resolution and Web Quality. The Web Quality images for specifically optimised for Facebook and Instagram, as these are the social media websites where the couple like to post their wedding images.

I also provide the couple with a password-protect online gallery of their images.

Step 6 - Website and Social Media  

After the images have been delivered to the client, I turn to my own website and social media. I will often write a Blog post and share some of my favourite images from the wedding. I also will post one or two images to my Facebook pageGoogle+,  Twitter, and Instagram accounts. I also see if there are any images from the wedding I would like to add to my specific portfolio page. 

Clients like to see recent work so I have designed my website to be image-centric. For example, the main page of my website consists of several full screen images. This introduction page has few words and a click button to enter the website proper. Once clicking this link, you reach the index page of my site which, in addition to some introduction text, displays the thumbnails of my past 20 blog posts. In addition to my portfolio galleries, this page provides the client with additional examples of my work. 

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Using the GoPro Hero 3 White Edition for Behind the Scenes (BTS) footage

Using the GoPro Hero 3 White Edition for Behind the Scenes (BTS) footage

I'll admit I purchased a GoPro on a bit of a whim! After seeing so many YouTube videos I was curious about these little HD cameras. I opted for the GoPro Hero3 White Edition which is - as of mid 2015 - the middle option in the GoPro family; not as fancy as the Black edition which could record in 4K and not as basic (read: no wifi control) as the GoPro Hero.

Like many photographers owning a GoPro, I've been using the GoPro Hero 3 White Edition for behind the scenes (BTS) footage of my studio shoots.

I typically set the GoPro up on a tripod in the corner of the studio so that it can capture the full Ultra Wide field of view. Because of the lightweight nature of the GoPro Hero3 the tripod doesn't have to be super strong or expensive, I actually use a Hama Star 63 which cost less than £20 from Amazon (note: it's a cheap tripod, I wouldn't trust it with my camera bodies!). I did have to purchase a tripod adaptor to enable the GoPro to connect to the tripod: I spent £3 for the  Goliton Tripod Mount Adaptor

After placing the tripod in the correct position, I connect to the GoPro using wifi and the GoPro iOS app to ensure that the view is correct and then I start recording (I use the full 1080p option).

For ease, I let the GoPro record the full shoot from start to finish. This ultimately creates more footage than is required (and a lot of outtakes!) which I refine once I get home and import the footage into the free GoPro editing application, GoPro Studio, available for both Windows and OS X. Other softwares options, such as Final Cut, are available. Note: the GoPro Hero3 White Edition (and possibly other models) records clips up to a maximum of 1.99GB - the GoPro does record continuously so once the 1.99GB limit is reached, a new file is created on the MicroSD card. I often end up with around 7-10 1.99GB files to import to GoPro studio  

I take the best clips from the GoPro recording and speed them up 800% (I've found this is the best balance between quality and speed). To smooth the transition between individual clips, I add a 1 second fade in and out to each of the clip. I may add an audio track if I have photographed a musician and they supply a MP3 track, otherwise I use one of YouTube's royalty-free tracks filled under the 'Ambient' category.

Once I'm happy with the result, I export the footage as a 1080p HD .mov file and upload to my YouTube channel.  

Equipment used - 

  1. Hama Star 63 Tripod 
  2. Goliton Tripod Mount Adaptor
  3. GoPro iOS app 
  4. GoPro Studio
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