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Photography and Video for London and the South East

The iPhone 5 – New is not always better

 
What have they done?

The good news is that the iPhone 5 is a fantastic smartphone, but for the first time with a new iPhone, I’m underwhelmed by the changes.

Remember when Steve Jobs said the iPhone 4 was ‘like a Leica’? Well, the iPhone 5 is ‘like a Panasonic’. The lovely feel of glass and metal has been replaced by less substantial feel of alloy.

More importantly, I think the ergonomics have changed for the worse. The real beauty of Apple products isn’t just how good they look, but how they work. There are some small issues that make a big difference to me, and they make the new phone a little bit harder to use:

  • The phone is longer and it’s a little awkward to hold and use with one hand;
  • The new earphones scrape a bit on the way in – and feel too loose for me – so I use them less;
  • The headphone socket is now on the base, it was better on the top.

iPhone Photography

It’s great to have a decent camera in your pocket all of the time – there are even reports of photographers using the iPhone as a ‘serious’ camera. I don’t tend to use the iPhone much for photography – mainly for shots of the kids when we’re out and about. It’s a bit slow for these kinds of photos, but proves to be a handy visual notebook.

How good is the iPhone as a Camera?

The Good
It’s a beautiful, frosty morning in Surrey – a good day for a walk around the studio grounds and see what the iPhone is like as a camera. When I started my walk, the sun was scarcely visible through the mist – I love taking photos in fog and rain, and I suspect the low contrast conditions also suits the iPhone’s sensor.

First off, the quality of the photos is very good. The focal length of the lens feels like a 35mm – which is the perfect choice for general photography – all in all, it’s a very competent device for taking pictures.

I prefer to use a viewfinder, but the nice big iPhone screen is easy to for composition, and there’s no denying that it’s great to see a ‘live view’ image. It’s also fun to work with a point and shoot camera. Changing the ‘focus’ box seems to be the way to tweak the exposure.

The Bad
Issues relating to ergonomics mean the iPhone does’t stand much chance of replacing any of my cameras. It’s a bit fiddly and it’s a bit slow.

Walking around with a touch-screen device in your hands (there’s no strap of course) leads to all kinds of problems: Accidental photos, switching to video mode, closing the app all together. I wanted the camera to be ready, so I left it in the photo app – seems like an hour of this drains 50% of the battery.

It doesn’t work with gloves. I was chilly.

The Photos
All of these photos were shot with the iPhone 5 with the native camera app, they are straight out of the camera, no tweaking – I just shrunk the file size a little for the blog.

Out and about Studio7c.co.uk

Out and about Studio7c.co.uk

Out and about Studio7c.co.uk

Out and about Studio7c.co.uk

Out and about Studio7c.co.uk

Out and about Studio7c.co.uk

Out and about Studio7c.co.uk

Out and about Studio7c.co.uk

Out and about Studio7c.co.uk

Conclusion
Studio7c is based in a beautiful area and I’m lucky to work here…

With the right handling, the iPhone 5 produces very nice photos … but given the choice, I’d rather use a proper camera.
 

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Integrate a WordPress blog with your website

 
It’s difficult to find good information about integrating a WordPress blog into your existing website. I’m happy to report that I successfully used the video on this page to get the job done:

Integrate WordPress into Any Website Using TwentyTen 2011

You need to watch it very, very carefully to see what’s going on. The chap in the video completes the process in 14 minutes … for your first time I’d allow 240 minutes or so! You also need a little html/css knowledge, and feel happy about hacking files around.

It’s 2013, but I used the WordPress TwentyTen theme … it’s what the video is about, and it provides two lovely columns of blog and sidebar, so that settled it for me.

What I used:
Wordpress 3.5 (Theme is stored blog/wp-content/themes/twentyten)
Interarchy 9.0.1 FTP Software
Dreawmeaver CS5

I created the studio website in Dreamweaver – I know and like Dreamweaver, and I didn’t want to use WordPress to create the whole site – I know this approach is favoured by lots of web developers, but I’m not a web developer!
I had two empty columns to fill, one with blog posts, the other with usual blog sidebar stuff. How hard could this be?

What I learned along the way:
Studio7c.co.uk uses Dreamweaver templates, and my first challenge was to deal with this. I decided the best way was to abandon any hope of getting the template mechanism work with the blog pages. My first step was to create a new page based on the site’s .dwt template – but importantly, I unchecked ‘Update page when template changes’.
The great thing, and the terrible thing about websites is that they are simple text pages – so any changes to the template (normally for menu, header, footer) can be cut and pasted to the blog source. Most changes to your regular site, will also have to be made to header.php.

The next thing to understand is that identifying the head and body of your page has nothing to do with the html <head> and <body> tags … Worpress seems to work by serving up chunks of html that together make a whole, proper html page. So header.php doesn’t supply the contents of the <head> tag, but when it’s called, it does spew out the html for the top of your page.

Accurately carving your site into a header / body and footer is the key to success.
For my page, the ‘body’ is very simple. It’s the code that refers to my two empty columns:

  <div class="main-content">
    <div class="content p7ehc-1">

     <p>Main blog stuff in here</p>

    </div>
  </div>

  <div class="sidebar">
    <div class="content p7ehc-1">

     <p>Sidebar in here</p>

    </div>
  </div>
  <span class="clearfix"> </span>

Anything above these divs is the ‘header’ and anything after is the ‘footer’. Once you identify these three chunks, it’s relatively simple to finish the job.

The main part of the video tutorial deals with header.php, index.php and footer.php – notice that sidebar isn’t that important, though we do remove the bulleted lists near the end of the job.

The other files mentioned in the video that need to be changed are:
404.php
archive.php
author.php
category.php
search.php
single.php

If you get this far, then you’ll be feeling more confident – and you’ll see if any other .php needs to be changed if clicking something in your blog. Click on an attachment and all hell breaks loose, so change attachment.php …

After the blog was integrated and working, I spent a lot of time trying to work out what TwentyTen’s style.css was doing, I wanted to match fonts and colours etc.
What I realised is that the .css you use for your main site is working hard on those blog columns, so look there first. I think there are some specific tags that need to be styled, so I also took some code from the WordPress style.css file and added to the end of one of my sites .css files:

.widget_search label {
    font-size: 1.2em;
    color: #E1E1E1;
}
.widget-title {
    font-size: 1.2em;
    color: #E1E1E1;
    font-weight: bold;
}

Seemed to get me what I wanted.

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Green-Awards-2012

When shooting glass, lighting only the background is of then the best approach. In this picture I used a large studio light above the glass blocks and created a pool of light on the background … there was no light shining directly on the glass. The darkening at the corners, is natural vignetting created by the shape of the light pool. The client was in the studio for this one, and they liked the drama created by this lighting approach.

I also got very close to the awards with a wide-angle lens to make the shapes of the blocks a little more dynamic – adding further to the drama of the image.

Out and about Studio7c.co.uk

Well done Prince Charles … love your biscuits too :)

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