KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY: Blog http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog en-us (C) KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) Sat, 28 Dec 2013 08:32:00 GMT Sat, 28 Dec 2013 08:32:00 GMT http://www.photographybykevin.net/img/s4/v12/u338720760-o534806241-50.jpg KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY: Blog http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog 120 100 Sample HDR Pictures http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2013/12/sample-hdr Recently I've been playing around with HDR and have taken a few shots I would like to share.  Please visit the HDR gallery for more images. 
Palm Spring ValleyView from atop the mountain down looking at Palm Spring, California
Avalon Cove, CatalinaThe view of Avalon Cove on Catalina Island, outside of Southern California.

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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2013/12/sample-hdr Sat, 28 Dec 2013 08:31:56 GMT
Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 For Nikon http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/8/pocket-wizard-mini-tt1-and-flex-tt5-for Nikon folks had the upper hand against other camera for many years with their Creative Lighting Systems (CLS). Using a nikon compatible body or flash to control other flahes through CLS and still be able to do iTTL is an awesome feature. That feature works great indoor or outdoor where there are direct light of sight. While limited, it did offer something other camera did not have and not needing to buy as an add-on. I had used it numerous time in the past and also used with the Nikon SU-800 commander as well.


Recently Pocket Wizard released their radio trigger version for Nikon systems with working TTL. This takes the ball game to a whole new level. Not only can you control other flashes in TTL mode, you do not need to have direct line of sight. It so easy to use and setup that it is simply as 1-2-3.

1) You will need a Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 or Flex TT5 for your camera (I used mini TT1).

2) You will need a Flex TT5 for off camera flash.

3) Connect, turn on your flash, leave it in TTL mode, turn on the Pocket Wizard to C1 (both on camera and on the flash), and start shooting

You can access more advance setting via USB port when plug to your computer. That also allows it to be flashed with the latest firmware when Pocket Wizard releases them.

Today, I had to pleasure to test out the pocket wizard with Marni. A young student who one day would love to be an actress. The pictures were taken outdoor around 8:30AM - 9:30AM out in the park.

Camera Setting:

  • Aperture Priority - 5.6 FStop
  • ISO 200
  • Quality: NEF Raw + JPEG Basic
  • Nikon D300s + Pocket Wizard Mini TT1
  • Nikon SB800 + Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 mounted on a tripod



 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) Portrait Product Review Technology http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/8/pocket-wizard-mini-tt1-and-flex-tt5-for Sat, 06 Aug 2011 14:21:00 GMT
Engagement: Adrian & Jennice http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/7/engagement-adrian-jennice Last weekend, Southern California had some lovely weathers. It finally cooled off a bit from the previous weeks. While the weather was cooled off, the couple I had the pleasure to take picture of was still going hot and strong. We had a wonderful time!

Thank you to Adrian and Jennice for having me take these pictures! You both were wonderful this past weekend!

See complete set @ http://www.photographybykevin.net/engagement_jsp
 

 
 
 
 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) Engagement Love Wedding http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/7/engagement-adrian-jennice Fri, 29 Jul 2011 11:08:00 GMT
Golden Princess Cruise - Alaska Cruise http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/6/golden-princess-cruise-alaska-cruise Alaska / Canada Border - Skagway Excursion

Last week, we went on our 2nd cruise, 1st Alaska Cruise on the Golden Princess cruise ship. Being this my first Alaskan Cruise, not to mention many years since my last cruise, the experience was very positive. I highly recommend anyone to go to Alaska, either by Cruise or Land, there a lot of great nature to see, fresh air to breathe, and valuable natural wonder to be part of. Due to global warming, the glacier, once left behind by the great Ice Age is quickly melting and might not last much longer. Take the opportunity to see it and be aware on how to contribute to saving from global warming.
 

Golden Princess - Dock @ Skagway, Alaska

Princess Cruise Line, owned and operated by Carnival Corporation, is in a premium category of cruise ship. They have approx 11 cruise ships. As of 2011, about 1/2 of their fleet sail for Alaska. Either leaving from San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, or Whittier / Anchorage. The one I was one was the Golden Princess, leaving out of Seattle, Washington. This cruise ship was dry dock renovated a few years ago (2009). The sister ship, Sapphire Princess, also cruise out of Seattle for Alaska, will dry dock for makeover in 2012. Golden Princess Alaska Cruise itinerary:



  Port Arrival Departure
1 Seattle, Washington   4:00 PM
2 At Sea    
3 Juneau, Alaska 12:00 PM 10:00 PM
4 Skagway, Alaska 6:00 AM 8:15 PM
5 Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska (Scenic Cruising) 6:00 AM 3:00 PM
6 Ketchikan, Alaska 7:00 AM 12:30 PM
7 Victoria, British Columbia 7:00 PM 11:59 PM
8 Seattle, Washington 7:00 AM

Golden Princess Cruise Ship

Overall Summary
Like:


  • International Cafe Bar - This was a great addition to the cruise ship. You can order specialty coffee, hot cocoa, hot brew coffee, and a nice large selection of pastries. Fresh hot cookies every few minutes and panni sandwiches!
  • Cover Heated Pool and Spa - One of their many pool area was covered. Extremely nice on Alaska cruise where rain and weather could be un-expected
  • Movies Under The Stars - This was a nice feature. Cuddle up in a warm blanket and watch movies while the ship is sailing. 
  • Trident Grill - Hot fresh pizza made in front of you, cook to order hot dogs and hamburger
  • Sky Lounge - Was a nice spot with great view
  • Anytime Dining - Good food, great service, enjoy the convenience of anytime dining.

Dislike:


  • Horizon Court Food Buffet - Small and very limited selection. Soup was bad.
  • Small Balcony Cabin - A bit small compared to others
  • Mid Ship Attrium small / cramp - Only able to see as high as 3 floors, not very open. Feel cramp.
  • No Sushi - No sushi buffet. Only available as complimentary at the Vine Bar if you order Wine. 
  • Trying to do too much - They try to cramp too many features, end up with everyone of it small and lack quality. Basketball 1/2 court size mixed on Tennis Court. Extremely small mini-golf. Their technology arcade has 4 machines, all old games.
  • Location of venue not thought out very well. You have the gym, adult spa and pool, teen room, kid room, all in front of the ship. The basketball is back of ship.

Entire Pictures Of Golden Princess Can Be Found (HERE)


Food / Beverages:
Tip #1 - If you drink soda or coffee, I highly recommend you pick up a soda card and coffee card the minute you board the first day.
Tip #2 - When Booking, select anytime dining! The longest we had to wait for a seat was no more than 20 minutes. But it gave us the flexibility to eat at our leisure time and could request to sit separately.


Golden Princess Cruise Ship - Alaska Cruise 2011 Route

Vine Bar - Wine Tasting & Complimentary Sushi / Tappas

International Cafe - Golden Princess Cruise Ship

 

International Cafe & Bar
 
  • My overall experience of the Golden Princess was positive. The dining room offers very good meals and great services. The addition of the International Bar & Cafe was a great plus. It offer specialty coffee and brew coffee for a additional fee. I recommend people buy the Coffee Card, it will give you 15 specialty Coffee (i.e.: Latte, Espresso, etc.,), unlimited brew coffee, and unlimited hot cocoa drinks. All the pastry (i.e.: cakes, flan, cookies, etc.,) are FREE. The nice specialty snacks are FREE. No coffee card required for these items. 
  • If you are swimming outside by the pool or hanging out watching movies with their Movies Under The Stars (MUTS), you will enjoy the Trident Bar and Grill. There is a pizzeria with fresh bake pizza through out the day. The grill offers top quality burgers, hot dogs, sausages, and fries. All free with the cruise. The Bar and Grill is open between 11AM - 11PM
  • Beverages is a bit tricky. Rule of thumb: Tap Water, Ice Tea, Lemonade, and pre-made coffee are free of charge. Fountain Soda has a fee. For those who like to drink soda, there is a Soda card which gives you unlimited sofa for $4.50 per day. Upgrading that to premium level $7.00 will allow you access to Milk Shakes, Root Beer Floats, and other premium soda. 
  • Ice Cream Cone is free of charge. 
  • Horizon Court food buffet could be better. The food was ok and nothing special. The buffet is small, no where close to compete with any casino @ Las Vegas. A bit disappointing in my opinion. While the food is not horrible, the selections are limited and quality aren't the best. The only benefit is that it is ready available 24 hours a day.
  • Room Service, at limited menu selection, is free and offer 24 hours a day.
  • Compared to my previous trip and to my surprise, especially this being Alaska Cruise, the offering of Smoke Salmon was limited. It wasn't even on the room service menu and only offer at the cafe once.
  • Golden Princess offer two specialty restaurants at additional fee ($20.00 per person). They offer premium dinner and is by reservation only. I didn't try it on this route, but have heard from people on the ship, it was an excellent experience. 
  • If you enjoy Sushi, prepare to be disappointed. No where to be found, except for a small area and only available as complimentary to those who purchase wine at the Vine Bar. 

Entertainment:
Tip #1: While the theaters are large, come at least 30 minutes before the show. They do pack up fairly fast!
Tip #2: I highly recommend going to Movies Under The Stars, it is a nice cozy experience. Wear plenty of layers, ask for blanket, they do offer them, and a nice cup of Hot Chocolate!


 
Princess Theater - Golden Princess Cruise Ship
Princess Theater
  • The minute you board the ship to the last day of your cruise, entertainment is non-stop. You have one of several lounge you can relax, have a drink, and listen to live band or listen to the music over the ship PA system. At night, there is a nice Sky Bar above the rear (AFT) of the ship. The view is spectacular while you party all night. Bare in mind that while in Alaska, sunset way past 10:00PM, so the sunset view is something that will leave an impression on you. 
  • There are two theaters on ship. The main large Broadway style is towards the front of the ship called the Princess Theater, while the smaller and more intimate Vista Lounge is towards the back of the ship. Both offers good shows, stand up comedy, and musical through out your trip. 
  • They do have a casino, extremely small, but do offer some of the popular games and slot machines.
  • There are locations for kids, teens, and young adults to hand out with peers of their age.The teen room is actually pretty neat. Small, but neat. It has a large 55" LCD TV hooked up to playstation 3 with tons of games to keep them busy. Plus a lot of board  games and other activities. 
  • Movies Under The Stars or if you are watching during the day, Movies Under The Sun, is a nice experience. The LCD screen is bright enough to watch during bright day light. 

Accommodation:

Tip #1: If you are going to get a balcony room, I recommend Aloha Deck or Baja Deck. Your balcony is covered and you have the privacy of not having people above you looking down. Otherwise people above you can see you. See sample pictures below


Golden Princess Cruise Ship - Alaska Cruise 2011 Route
Balcony Room - AFT Aloha Deck

Golden Princess Cruise Ship - Alaska Cruise 2011 Route
View from Aloha Deck. Directly below is Baja Deck you don't see, but see all other decks
 
  • The room we had was located on Aloha level (floor 12) on the AFT left side of the ship (rear left). The room offers the standard typical amenities. There is an LCD TV, Small Refrig, Hair Dryer, several electrical outlets, a small safe, and a balcony. Nothing special or WoW about. It is small, but serve the purpose. We were directly below the Horizon Court and Neptune, but it was isolated well enough,  we didn't notice any noise. 
  • One thing to my surprise was the shower. The shower flow / pressure is so much better than most 4-5 stars hotels I've stayed! 
  • The bed is pretty firm. For those who like something softer, you could request for a foam pad added. The pillows are soft.

Sports / Fitness / Pools:


 
Golden Princess Cruise Ship - Alaska Cruise 2011 Route
Fitness Center
  • There is a full fitness center towards the FWD (front) of the ship. The typical equipments are available. Separated sauna, steam room, and showers are available for males and females. There are also two spas and a small pool. 
  • The ship has daily fitness activies you can sign up for, such as the popular Zumba and Lance Style Cycle Exercise.
  • AFT top deck you will find a small court. Large enough for one tennis game or two 1/2 court basketball. 
  • Middle of the ship top deck hidden right behind the large movie screen is a small golf putting green.
  • You have about 4-5 heated swimming pool. One of them are covered. You have about 8-10 hot spa tub.
  • If you want to relax, they do offer massages, facial, and other body refreshment for a fee. 
  • Towards the front of the ship, directly above the fitness center is an adult only oasis. You can relax in this environment for a small fee. The Sanctuary is an  adult only resort relax environment. I did not see too many people utilized this except for the day we were at Glacier Bay National Park. 

Photographers:
A common questions I see reading forums and I too ask myself is around what gear to bring on the cruise. I took a boat load, it as a pain to carry around. From now having seen the cruise and have an idea what to expect, here are my opinions:


  • Go Light! For me, I carried both my camera bodies and two lens, thinking it would save me effort in swapping them. That was a mistake. I rarely need to go beyond 70mm. I hoping to see a great amount of wild life and sea life to make use of the 70mm-200mm F2.8 w/ 1.7x TC, but I took no more than 10 shots with it. Most of my pictures were taken with 17mm-55mm F2.8. 
  • If you have 2.8 or faster, by all mean bring it. I find myself only use flash twice. All of my shots, I took advantage of 1600 ISO and F2.8 when necessary. Flashes, while great, sometime tends not to bring out true colors. I like to use ambient lighting. Pop-Up flash found on the Nikon works fine.
  • If you have 18-200mm VR lens, go with it. That would the best partner you can  have while going on excursion. Outdoors are extremely bright, especially when sunset after 10:00 PM, the added daylight really helps. So the 18-200mm will work nicely. The F2.8 or faster lens will help you with interior shots while you are on the ship or maybe late night shot around ship. For me, next time I think getting an 18-200mm VR lens and 50mm F1.4 would be perfect setup to use.
  • Small Backpack or Sling Pack
  • No Tripod Required! That was my largest dilemma. Should I bring a tripod? I am glade I did not. With what I had carried with me, the additional weight of tripod would kill me. What I used was to hold it steady or use tools around me. Such as rocks, boulders, trash bins, chairs, benches, etc. Brace yourself steady and fire away. I took a shot with the waterfall down to 1s shutterspeed w/o tripod!
  • Bring Neutral Density or Polarizing Filter if you have them.
  • Bring a lot and I do mean a lot of extra CF/SD cards. I enjoy shooting raw and it saved me many times.


Additional Photos: (CLICK HERE)






 
 
Golden Princess Cruise Ship - Alaska Cruise 2011 Route
 
 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) Cruise Travel http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/6/golden-princess-cruise-alaska-cruise Mon, 27 Jun 2011 18:38:00 GMT
Disney California Adventure (DCA) http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/5/disney-california-adventure-dca Last week, we decided to take a stroll at Disney California Adventure (DCA). I had been a couple of years since I've been back here and haven't see the new World of Colors. For those who have not heard, a few years ago, The Walt Disney Company announced they will invest another one billion dollars to renovate the theme park and bright new life to it. Since then, many fan sites have been trying to keep tab on the progress, one such as this massive large thread from micechat.com (see thread).

So, off to see DCA. As always, I am puzzle as to what gear to bring. Sometime I end up packing too much or too little. This time, I went with simple. All I brought with me is just my Nikon D300s and Nikkor 17-55mm F2.8 lens. No flash, no tripod, nothing else.

Here are some fun images captured that day (Additional Images):
 












 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) Photo Walk Travel http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/5/disney-california-adventure-dca Sun, 29 May 2011 23:26:00 GMT
Spring Is In The Air, Flowers Everywhere!! http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/4/spring-is-in-air-flowers-everywhere In Southern California, we are spoiled. The average temp usually hover around 65 - 75 degree through out the year, even during Christmas. But elsewhere around in the United States, as the snow starts to melt, Spring is in the air. and flowers are everywhere! This past Good Friday, my wife and I took a short stroll at Huntington Library to relax and enjoy the wonderful weather. Sadly it wasn't a sunny one, but nevertheless, it wasn't a cold one either. So I scour through my photography gear and ponder what to bring for this trip. I decided on a trust lens I don't use often enough, the Nikkor 105mm F2.8 VR and head out to enjoy the day. I hope you enjoy these images.

As always, you can always enjoy these images and many more @ http://www.photographybykevin.net. I've created FREE wallpaper for anyone interested to download and use.
 







 
 
 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) Flowers Macro Photo Walk http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/4/spring-is-in-air-flowers-everywhere Mon, 25 Apr 2011 00:38:00 GMT
EyeFi Direct Transfer - No Router Required http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/4/eyefi-direct-transfer-no-router The people at Eye Fi recently announced a new product. A product that would make every Apple iPad and Google Android Tablet users extremely happy. The release of Eye Fi Direct Mode! As the people at Eye Fi put it in their News Press announcement, "Great Images and Instant Gratification With Eye Fi Direct Mode Solution.." For the past year, we were able to achieve pictures from camera to tablet through a couple of work around. The old methods were: (see below)

Apple iPad User - http://blog.knguyentu.com/2010/11/apple-ipad-nikon-d300s-wireless.html
Google Tablet Users - http://blog.knguyentu.com/2011/03/motorola-xoom-eyefi-nikon-d300s-android.html



Starting last week with the release of the new firmware, users of Eye Fi X2 Pro can download the firmware and get started. The procedure is simple compared with previous. No unlocking of the tablet required. No router required. And best of all, it works!

Once you have the firmware upgraded, go to the setting of the eye-fi card and now you have a "direct mode" tab. Enable that, I recommend set the top timer to above 1 minute and bottom timer way low. Click on Start Direct Mode. Now head over to tablet and download the software from the market place. For Apple iPad user you can find it in the App store and Google tablet user can find it in Market. While you are waiting for the install, plug in the EyeFi card into your camera. For me, my trusty Nikon D300s.

On the tablet software, go to the setting and make sure your tablet WIFI detect the Eye-Fi Card. It should take only a minute for the detection to occur.  Once detection is done, start taking some sample pictures and enjoy. Below are some sample pictures of the Motorola XOOM showing images taking from the camera directly.
 










 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) EyeFi Card Technology http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/4/eyefi-direct-transfer-no-router Fri, 22 Apr 2011 21:34:00 GMT
Matthew & Kimberly One Year Later http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/4/matthew-kimberly-one-year-later When I was young and loved to watch the Smurf, I usually like to see Mother Nature and Father Time do their magic. Now these days, I sometime wish Father Time would slow down. I can not believe it is almost one year to from a very special and fun wedding shoot I participated last year with Joan Day (Matt & Kimberly Wedding - May 15th, 2010).

Fast forward almost one year from then, I am honored to be asked to do their very special anniversary picture. For me, being a hobbyist, I like to shoot pictures when I feel like it and enjoy the freedom of not being under pressure. All of my pictures allowed me to try new technique and explore new area without having the pressure to produce or perform to meet a client demand. With Matthew and Kimberly, it was a perfect setting. By already done their wedding and knowing them, it allowed me to relax and enjoy the moment. I was able to tried out my new Nikon SU-800 and some off camera technique with Lumiquest Softbox III attached to my Nikon SB-800.

That weekend was perfect. It rained the day before, so the sky was perfectly clear. The weather was in the mid 60's to low 70s. Wonderful weather.

Setup:

  • Nikon D300s w/ Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8
  • Nikon D200 w/ Nikkor 17-55mm F2.8
  • Nikon SU-800 Commander
  • Nikon SB-800 Flash w/Lumiquest Softbox on Manfrotto Monopod
  • Voice Activated Manfrotto Monopod

Key Technique:


  • Outdoor - Exposed for the sky and compensate -1 -> -2 in camera. Use voice activated monopod to situate flash in right position and compensate flash to +1 -> +2. Use full Nikon CLS and iTTL entire time
  • Indoor:
    1. Method One: Nikon on Aperture Priority, flash off camera on CLS and iTTL, no compensation adjustment required
    2. Method Two: Set on Manual and expose for ambient light (allow to bring shutter speed very slow) and use Nikon CLS w/ iTTL to compensate on subject. (Thanks Frank Wisneski for that lesson).

Here are the results from this wonderful event.

Special Slideshow Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6u0wOKTpSuA


Sneak Peek Pictures: http://www.photographybykevin.net/anniversary_matt_kim
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) Photo Technique Wedding http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/4/matthew-kimberly-one-year-later Sat, 16 Apr 2011 20:20:00 GMT
Motorola Xoom + EyeFi + Nikon D300s = Android Tethering Heaven http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/3/motorola-xoom-eyefi-nikon-d300s-android Last year, November 2010, I had wrote up a quick blog on how to tether from Nikon D300s to the Apple iPad using EyeFi card (see blog link). The finding was an awesome first step for professional photographers and hobbyist a like. We no longer have to carry a large heavy laptop and long USB cable or expensive WIFI attachment for our camera. We can just carry a simple Apple iPad, take the picture we want, and immediately being able to show our client a sample image in under a minute.

This year, Android users can also join in the fun. With the recent release of Motorola Xoom, using Google's Honeycomb Android OS, we can now have similar functionality as Apple folks. This method should work on other upcoming Honeycomb devices and current Android Phones (i.e.: HTC EVO and Samsung Galaxy S).

Requirements:


  • Google's Android Honeycomb Tablet (i.e.: Motorola Xoom)
  • Eye-Fi Pro X2 8GB Card
  • A portable WiFi Router (i.e.: Android Phone w/ Tethering Software or Verizon MiFi Card)
  • MoPhotos App (http://www.mophotosapp.com/)

Before we start, make sure you have your portable WiFi is up and running. If you have a Verizon MiFi Card, make sure it is on and ready to accept new connections. If you are using your Android Phone, make sure the tethering software is installed (note: Tethering Software requires the phone to be unlocked. See XDA forum on how to unlock your phone. Unlock at your own risk)
 

Step One - Setup Eye-Fi Pro X2 Card


  • Connect the Eye-Fi device to your PC or Mac and setup the WIFI SSID you will be connecting with on your Camera. This will be the SSID of the portable WIFI devices you have setup above. Once you have it setup, plug in the Eye-Fi to your camera (Nikon D300s, Nikon D90, or any camera compatible with Eye-Fi).
  • You can leave the rest as default setting. We only care that the Eye-Fi is set up to detect the SSID of the WiFi tethering device. 

Step Two - Setup MoPhoto App


  • Purchase the inexpensive MoPhoto app from Google's App Store
  • Install it on your tablet
  • Launch the application, it will ask for UPLOAD key. Follow the step on their website (HERE)
  • Now disconnect the tablet from whatever connection it is on and connect to the WiFi (same WiFi Eye-Fi is on) device. 
  • Make sure the MoPhoto App is still on, click on "My Photo". 
  • If you had photo already on the Eye-Fi card, it will attempt to download those images first. So make sure the card is empty.

Now for the test. Start taking a few pictures. If it was setup correctly, you will start seeing message at the bottom right of the device and the image in 20 seconds. I recommend stick with JPG on the transfer vs raw file (i.e. Nikon NEF). The file are smaller and quicker to transfer. On the Nikon D300s where it accepts both CF and SD, you could set it to store NEF on CF and basic JPG on SD. This could be used as your proof pictures while you are on a photo shooting.

If you are planning to buy from Amazon, support the site by using the Amazon links on here.

Have fun!
 

 
 
 
 
 




  
 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) EyeFi Card Photo Technique Product Review Technology http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/3/motorola-xoom-eyefi-nikon-d300s-android Thu, 31 Mar 2011 21:07:00 GMT
What Is The Best Camera Available? Canon? Nikon? Sony? http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/2/what-is-best-camera-available-canon As a hobbyist photographer, I like to always browse for new toys at any places that sell camera gears or bring my camera with me on a stroll. You'll never know when you will hit that "Kodak Moment". Over the years, people I meet on the street, at a party, at an event, or even at home from families and friends ask me questions around photography and camera. So I decided to capture the common three today.

I usually get asked (not in exact wording, but you get the point):

  1. What is the best camera brand out there, Canon or Nikon or XYZ?
  2. I am looking for a camera, what do you recommend?

Let's take the first question: "What is the best brand out there, Canon or Nikon or XYZ"?


  • For me personally, I feel that both Canon and Nikon are equally good. They are both exceptional brand and strong in the industry at what they do. Canon vs Nikon will forever be questions on who is the best. That is no different than Pepsi vs Coke or Lakers vs Celtics. One year Canon will release some really cool and will up Nikon. Nikon will then follow up with some totally rad the next year to up Canon. The cycle continues. Technology will forever allow competition to occur and hard to deem a champion, unless one decided to take a wrong turn somewhere and end up in bankruptcy. 
  • When I hear that question from people, my initial response is to go down to Samy's or Fry's Electronic or Best Buy and pick up both Canon and Nikon. Use it, play with it, come back a week later and try it again. It is all about which one best fit your hand and you are being comfortable with where all the controls are located. If it fits, that's the one! Who cares if you get Canon or Nikon. You can't go wrong with either. 
  • As for alternative brand such as Sony or Panasonic, they are new comers to the arena. Both off strong competition to the market and pricing very competitive. My opinion on them is, unless you plan on spending cheap money and really don't care on what it is, why not. Sony after buying out Minolta and partner up with Carl Zeiss, they have a good starting line up of brand name lens. Panasonic, on the other hand uses Lieca, another strong brand in the lens industry. But at the end of the day, they both lack the quality, brand, and lens lineup built by both Canon and Nikon over the years. Nikon has a bit more advantage as they kept the original F mount they've been using for many years during the film days over to digital. This allows them to have a huge collection of possible lens to use. Great for professional photographers who built their collection over time.

 As for the second question: "I am looking for a camera, what do you recommend?"

  • Most people auto respond would be, go for Nikon or go for Canon. This topic leads me back to the first question. I usually respond with, how much do you want to spend? If budget is not unlimited, like most of us, I would rather they focus getting a middle grade camera and save the money on getting a good quality lens. 
  • For middle grade, I would recommend something like Nikon D90 / Nikon 7000 or Canon 60D / Canon Rebel T3i. With the current megapixel, auto focus engine, and features, they can go a long way. At least allow you to keep the camera for at least 3-5 years. With that, save the money and focus it on buy quality lens. I usually say, once you go 2.8, there is no going back. Look at getting a fast lens, they usually would give you great optics, nice creamy bokeh, and will last you very long time. As a starting lens to couple with the camera, a good walk around lens such as Nikon 16-85mm VR / Nikon 18-200mm VR would do the trick. The kit lens 18-105mm ain't that bad either. They give you both the wide and zoom depth in one lens. As you understand photography and equipment, you can upgrade to something like Nikon 17-55mm F2.8 or Tamron 28-70mm F2.8. Both very good quality lens and fast. 
  • Similar to the first question, why don't you first go out to Samy's / B&H Photo or any good local authorized camera dealer and play with the equipment. Don't buy it immediately. Take a few trips and sleep on it. Photography is a lifetime investment, once you start building the inventory, you are pretty much dedicated down that brand, unless you willing to sell it and start over.


 
 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) Photo Technique Product Review http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/2/what-is-best-camera-available-canon Wed, 23 Feb 2011 08:26:00 GMT
How To: Embed Signature Stamp On Your Images http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/1/how-to-embed-signature-stamp-on-your One of my favorite past time hobby is to look at what other photographers are doing with their pictures, styles, and techniques. Anything I could learn and help me improve my pictures is a plus to me. While browsing at other great photographer's images, I often come across their unique stamp on the image. I've search far and wide on how it is done. Today, I would like to share with everyone two techniques on signature stamping.

Method #1: Signature Stamp
It is a simple process where you create your signature as an image and manually stamp it on each pictures. This method allow you flexibility to stamp the signature anywhere you would like on the image and regardless of image size. As you have full control over the sizing of the stamp. However, this method limitation is, the stamp result will only be in one single color. If you design the stamp multi-color, you can only stamp one color.


1) Let's start by creating a blank transparent file in Photoshop. I usually start with 6 in x 3 in @ 300dpi.
 

 

2) Once you have a blank transparent page, start to explore how you would like your signature to look like. Explore various font styles and layering to your liking.
 



3) Once you are done, use the selection tool and select the signature area. Go to "Edit" and select "Define Brush Preset"



4) Now that you defined it as a brush. On the tool bar, select Pattern Stamp Tool. Adjust the size of the stamp to best fit the image you have open. Now stamp away. 
 






Method #2: Signature Embed Export (Watermarking)
This method involve you the embedding of the signature during an "export" function in either Photoshop or Adoble Lightroom. In the example below, I will use Lightroom 3 to demonstrate the process. The benefit here is, since your signature is an image, it will embed as such. With all the colors and styles. The draw back on this method is, once you define the size of your stamp, you define it based upon the size of the image you will be using it on. So the image size is "fixed".

Similar to Method #1 above, you will start with step #1 and #2. In step #2, when you design your signature and choose a font size, try to copy and paste it in a few images to make sure that is the font size you want. Keep in mind the standard image size you are going for. For example, standard max 1000 width or max 1000 height. (This is usually what I use for export to use for blog or web sharing).

3) Differ from Method #1 above at this step, you save this image as a PNG file.



4) Now in Adobe Lightroom, go to Edit -> Edit Watermark. This area you define the watermark location, size, proportion, and image you will use as watermark.
 


5) Once you have that all define, you can easily select one or more image to batch export from Adobe Lightroom. These batch images will automatically have the watermark imprint and they will all be approx the same size proportion.
 



6) Notice the image above, the selected box on image resizing. Remember earlier, I had mention in step #2, you  need to test out the font size to against a standard image size you will be working on. This mean, adjust all images I am export to be no more than 1000 width or 1000 height (which ever comes first). With that, I selected the watermark I created earlier. In my case, due to different background color, I created two kind of signature images with different color. So I can easily export with.
 


Lovely! Signature embeded!

Let me know your thought and continue to share knowledge. Pass it on. That is how we all learn!!
 

Thanks to http://neilvn.com/ for the watermark embed method!!!



   
 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) PS Techique http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/1/how-to-embed-signature-stamp-on-your Fri, 21 Jan 2011 17:27:00 GMT
Lightroom: Image Sharpening http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/1/lightroom-image-sharpening Earlier today, I came across an update on Facebook from Lightroom group titled "Have you ever held down the alt key while sharpening?.." As a Lightroom user, I love their noise reduction feature and sharpening tool. This trick makes it so much better! Check out the video below or from the source website (LINK)

 




   
 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) PS Techique http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/1/lightroom-image-sharpening Wed, 19 Jan 2011 12:40:00 GMT
Winter Wonderland - So Cal Style http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/1/winter-wonderland-so-cal-style What do you do when you flip through every channels only to listen to the news giving update to blizzard, snow storm, flood, and cold weather? This is when I say to myself, it's good to be living in Southern California. This past weekend, in the middle of January 2011, we had beautiful weather. Only to be helped by a recent Santa Ana high pressure system to clear the air, the weekend was lovely. Temperature was averaging low 80's F.

With some good companies, wonderful weather, and mother nature outstanding curves, I packed up my usual suspect equipment and go for a nice hike up Giffith Park Observatory. It is a nice 3-4 miles trail that goes up from Griffith Observatory to the top where you have a wonderful 360 view of Greater Los Angeles. On a clear day, like today, you can see Catalina Island, Santa Monica, Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena, Inland Empire, and of course, our lovel downtown Los Angeles.



Panorama Shot Of Los Angeles Basin. Over 40 NEF file stitched together to produce this image.

It was an organized fun hike with some friends at the company I worked for. I highly recommend this for anyone who live in the area and also to visitor from afar. This is the best way to see all of Los Angeles without having to sit in Los Angeles traffic to see the view. Who knows, you might be lucky and it will be clear for you as well. On most days, you'll be lucky to see downtown with the smog we get. :-)

All shots were taken with

  • Nikon D300s + Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 VR
  • Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm F2.8

Griffith Park Picture Gallery: http://www.photographybykevin.net/p814218493















    
 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) Travel http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2011/1/winter-wonderland-so-cal-style Mon, 17 Jan 2011 23:35:00 GMT
Portable Spot Lighting Technique http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2010/12/portable-spot-lighting-technique Earlier this year, I had attend a seminar from Jerry Ghionis and his inspiration lead me to explore a lighting technique I used at one of Frank Wisneski Photography Class, Lighting On Location. The technique involve controlling the light source to give you the drama effects you would like in a picture. With that, in researching for lighting equipment, I had asked several photography users group what they recommend as a good, in-expensive portable light. Since then, a few people had asked me if I found what I was looking for because some of them are in the same situation.

I wanted something light, portable, battery powered, able to sit on a tripod, and in-expensive. That was a difficult task. I ended up with purchasing a couple of the "Flashpoint Twin 20w Video Light" (Images to the right). It is a 3rd party light using standard Sony Camcorder battery. With both light active, the battery last a good 2 hours 1/2. For most purpose, single light works perfectly. The Flashpoint Twin served the purpose I wanted to do without costing me hundreds at the same time.  The construction of it is a bit flimsy, but can't expect too much for the price.

Below are a few pictures using I had taken in Frank Wisneski sessions using the Flashpoint Video Light. More can be seen @ http://www.photographybykevin.net

For both of these pictures, the first Flashpoint was situated on the left side of the image below the front headlights of the motorcycle shining up at the male subject with single bulb. The second Flashpoint was used with double bulb on the right side of the image to shine at the female subject. The camera was set on manual mode, raw format, and exposed for ambient light on the subject. No additional exposure compensation performed.

 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) Models Photo Technique Portrait http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2010/12/portable-spot-lighting-technique Fri, 03 Dec 2010 08:56:00 GMT
Apple iPad + Nikon D300s = Wireless Tethering On The Go! http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2010/11/apple-ipad-nikon-d300s-wireless Android Version - http://blog.knguyentu.com/2011/03/motorola-xoom-eyefi-nikon-d300s-android.html

A few months ago I came across an article on fstopper.com trying to demo a pretty cool feature. A feature many have asked since the release of the Apple iPad. Can I tether images from my camera to the iPad? Not until recently (past 4 months) you could. With the help of a SD card from Eye-Fi, a software called ShuttlerSnitch, and one of these two methods (Router Based or Ad Hoc Based). Once you have all of these items and setup, you are ready to walk around town taking all the pictures you want and have it immediately tethered to your Apple iPad.

How you asked? Fairly simple! Two methods for you to choose from!

Method #1: Router Based

In a routed based method, you will need the following items:


  • Apple iPad (WIFI version, no 3G required)
  • Download ShutterSnitch from Apps Store ($7.99)
  • A portable WIFI device (i.e.: Verizon MiFi or unlocked Android Phone w/ Wifi Tethering or an actual Router) - No Internet Connection Required. The router will be used to route between the Apple iPAD and Eye-Fi (Rob Galbraith DPI composed a good list of router for you)
  • Eye-Fi Connect WIFI Card, does not required the "PRO" version.

Connect the Eye-Fi device to your PC or Mac and setup the WIFI SSID you will be connecting with on your Camera. This will be the SSID of the portable WIFI devices you have setup above. Once you have it setup, plug in the Eye-Fi to your camera (Nikon D300s, Nikon D90, or any camera compatible with Eye-Fi).

On your Apple iPAD, make sure you have the WIFI setup to connect to the same router device. Launch ShutterSnitch and create a Catalog / Category. Once created, you are ready to start taking picture and the image will automatically show up on your Apple iPad.


Method #2: Ad Hoc Based

In this "Ad Hoc" method, you do not need a portable WIFI device, but it does required you jailbreak your Apple iPAD. The items you will need are:
 

  • Apple iPAD (WIFI version, no 3G required). Jailbreak ready. If you are unsure how to jailbreak, google Jailbreak Apple iPAD and on iOS 4.2+
  • Download ShutterSnith from Apple Apps Store ($7.99)
  • Download MyWi 4.0 from JailBreak Store - Cydia ($20.00)
  • Eye-Fi Pro X2 8GB

Similar to method #1 above, insert the Eye-Fi card into your PC or MAC and setup the WIFI SSID you will be connecting to. In this particular case, lauch up the MyWi 4.0 on your Apple iPAD to get the SSID. Once you are done, insert the Eye-Fi into your camera.

On your Apple iPAD, startup two applications. One being MyWi and ShuttlerSnitch.



I've tried both methods and can say they both work perfectly! Can't wait until I can go outside and do some more playing with this!

Note: You can still use the Eye-Fi Pro X2 with method #1 if you choose to as well. The advantage Eye-Fi Pro X2 has over connect is the Ad Hoc Connectivity. 

  

 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) EyeFi Card Photo Technique Product Review Technology http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2010/11/apple-ipad-nikon-d300s-wireless Fri, 26 Nov 2010 20:26:00 GMT
Quick Trip Up PCH and SF http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2010/10/quick-trip-up-pch-and-sf

Similar to last year, this year we decided to do a quick little trip up the scenic California Coast via the famous Pacific Coast Highway (PCH - 1) route. If you live in California, you know that no matter when during the year, this route always have magnificent scenery. If you enjoy the tourist part of the route, then Southern California would be for you. I enjoy the scenic part, which technically starts once you past San Luis Obispo. For me, I enjoy going between early Sept and late Oct. This is when Big Sur and Monterey Bay has a slight breeze, but some overcast. The weather is not too hot or cold. A good and nicely comfortable 72 degrees. In our trip, we stopped by Hearst Castle, Big Sur / Carmel, and a quick peek at San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge.

Last year, I had drag all my gears (i.e.: monopod, tripod, 4 lenses, 2 camera, etc.,). I had a lot of great shots, but it was a This year, i wanted to keep it light and majority of my shot, only use the 17-55mm f2.8 Nikkor Lens.

Entire Gallery Set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smilepak/sets/72157625240004568/detail/

The two pictures below was done using 5 pictures bracketing (1 exposure differences each) and photomerge HDR via Photoshop.
 


 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) Travel http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2010/10/quick-trip-up-pch-and-sf Fri, 29 Oct 2010 09:39:00 GMT
Studio Lighting Setup Tips http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2010/10/studio-lighting-setup-tips I came across this website a few months ago from a photographer I had taken studio classes with. Would love to share this information with every. This site is pretty awesome when it comes to technique on studio photography.

Point your browser to: http://www.studioxil.com
 


 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) Portrait Studio http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2010/10/studio-lighting-setup-tips Fri, 08 Oct 2010 10:02:00 GMT
Memorial Day 2010 http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2010/6/memorial-day-2010

To most of us, Memorial Day is a day off from work, school, or just a day away from our usual routine. What is Memorial Day and why do we have it? According to Wikipedia, "Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 31 in 2010). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. soldiers who died while in the military service.[1] First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War – it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the Civil War – it was extended after World War I to honor Americans who have died in all wars."
 

 

This past Memorial Day, I was like any typical American, decide to head out to the beach for some sun ray and fun. I decided to go to Santa Monica pier for a stroll. When I arrived at the pier, I noticed a sea of something unique and different. It is not a sea of people that caught my attention, but a sea of crosses. Each cross tries to represent a person in uniform that died during the Iraq War. It is that image that reminded me what Memorial Day is about. All of a sudden, having the day off doesn't look like any other day off. Today is Memorial Day. I usually don't like to go into discussion about the Iraq War and rather not say the pro or con about it. However I will say, looking at the sea of crosses, made me feel the sadness and pain for the families of these people. The lives lost during these past few years, most of us live blindly day by day. We turn on the TV each day and we pay more attention to what happen to a celebrity lives than the lives of those who have been lost protecting this country.

Though Memorial Day comes and goes like any other day, we should never forget those who gave their lives to protect our freedom and most importantly not forget those who are currently there. We need to support them with what we can and hope no more crosses will show up.

Happy Memorial Day!
-- KN






 

 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) Photo Walk http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2010/6/memorial-day-2010 Tue, 01 Jun 2010 20:25:00 GMT
Matt Mitchell - Biker Series http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2010/5/matt-mitchell-biker-series
FR_FLH_2745, originally uploaded by smilepak.

Recently I tried out a few things I picked up from Jerry Ghionis seminar I had attended a couple of months ago. According to Jerry, he looks for the light. How can he bend it, shape it, and have give life to his photograph.

In this picture, I've tried similar technique. First, we look for a light source. At the location we were at, there was a single light source from above, which is a light pool. Second, how can we light up the subject? We didn't want to use off camera flash because that might require too much tweaking. So we had a handheld flashlight and a small 20W Sony video light. Using both of these, we aim the light accordingly. The handheld was at a 45 degree angle to the right of the camera focus on the female face with a feather touch on the male face. The Sony video light was 45 degree angle to the left of the camera focus on the female face.

With some magic pixie dust, a few chanting pray, we have a shot as you see here. Of the 7 shots tried, this is the one I liked most. I hope you will like it too. Here are a few others from the same night while trying out shots.

 
 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) Models Photo Technique http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2010/5/matt-mitchell-biker-series Thu, 20 May 2010 22:59:00 GMT
Wedding: Matthew and Kimberly http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2010/5/wedding-matthew-and-kimberly I had the opportunity to join Joan Day in taking picture of her nephew wedding on May 15th, 2010. It was a great experience and definitely enjoy the day. Here are sneak peek of the wedding.

More images of Matthew and Kimberly (CLICK HERE) 
 

 
 

 

 
 






 
 




 

 
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info@photographybykevin.net (KNGUYENTU PHOTOGRAPHY) Love Wedding http://www.photographybykevin.net/blog/2010/5/wedding-matthew-and-kimberly Mon, 17 May 2010 15:35:00 GMT