Tricks

Tips For Posting To Instagram From Your Computer

Photographers in the masses have been trying to figure out why Instagram has never given us access to post our images from a computer.  That is where we edit them, right?  Wouldn't it be easy to edit and post from the same place?

Luckily, I came across this nifty little program several months back called Grids.  Not only is it a great way to post to Instagram from a computer, but it does an amazing job at displaying your Instagram feed on a large screen.

When you visit the website, http://thegridsapp.com , you will notice the elegant design right away.

It is available for download for both Mac and PC, and the full Pro version only cost $9.  You can only view your Instagram feed with the free version.  You will need the Pro version to post to Instagram.

Once you install the application and log in using your Instagram account info, your feed will be brilliantly displayed.  You can set your display options to view only images,  images with a brief description or images with the full description.  You can also set the size of the images in the preferences.  You can post images, video and even stories from your computer.  There are even keyboard shortcuts for you fancy keyboard shortcuters.

It is super simple to post, too.  It will even let you drag and drop.

This is how the feed looks once you get logged in through the app.  It is pretty sweet!  One of the only caveats I have found is that when using hashtags with your post it doesn't remember your frequently used hashtags, like when you post from a mobile device.  

However, if you are on your desktop posting, you can visit this handy little website called Display Purposes.  It will allow you to type in a hashtag, like say #landscape, then do a search and it gives you suggested related hashtags you can use with it.  It even has a copy button so it will copy to your clipboard, then you can paste into the caption filed in Grids or add as a seperate comment.

P.S.  I have no affiliation with either Grids or Display Purposes.  I purchased my Pro version of Grids for $9.  I feel like $9 is more than fair for a program that helps me solve an issue I have had since I started using Instagram.

Hopefully this helps you if you were looking for something that would allow you to post from your desktop without any special modification or workaround techniques. 

Instrument Panel

While I was walking around Old Car City USA this past Friday, I noticed an instrument panel with all the gauges on it laying on the ground.  I decided it would photograph much better on the bed of an old pick up truck. 

After placing the instrument panel on the bed rail of this pick up I decided I wanted to shoot it at a very shallow depth of field.  I was using my Tamron 24-70 mm F/2.8 Lens on mt Sony A7R via the Metabones lens adapter.  I zoomed in on the gauge cluster a tad, opened my aperture up to F/4.0 and checked my LCD...yup that's shallow enough ;)

ISO 100. 40mm,  F/4.0,  1/20th second

ISO 100. 40mm,  F/4.0,  1/20th second

Above is the final result.  

The moral:  Sometimes as photographers we need to "place" things into our compositions.  Sometimes this is a leaf on a rock in the foreground and other times it's an instrument panel from a Chevy on a pickup truck.  Whatever it is, don't be afraid to "place" objects in the scene to help make the image stronger.  

If you do move something into your frame, it's always good practice to place it back where it was originally once you are done.  

To HDR or not to HDR...

Often times I am asked questions at workshops and presentations that go like "Is there more detail in a HDR shot than a single frame shot processed to look like a HDR shot?" or "How do I know when I should take a HDR shot vs. a single exposure?" or "How much difference is there in an HDR shot vs. a single frame shot?".

Well, I always answer the "When to take a HDR shot" question with an answer like "Whenever the dynamic range in your scene is greater than your camera can handle within a single frame.".  This basically means if you can't get all of the highlight detail and all of the shadow detail in a single shot, then it's time to HDR.

As far as the other questions about "Is there more detail in a HDR vs. non HDR" and "How big a difference is there" questions...I thought I'd try to show you.

This image is a single shot processed in Adobe Lightroom and OnOne Perfect Effects Software.

This was shot at F/16, ISO 100 and 1/3 second.  The focal length was 50mm.

Now, here's a shot that was 5 combined shots at 1 stop apart with the same aperture, F/16, same ISO and focal length.

Right away there are several differences I notice.

  • The detail in the barn behind the firetruck is better in the HDR shot.  (I don't really want you to see that, so I like how it looks better in the non-HDR shot)
  • The detail in all the shadow areas of the hoses are far greater in the HDR shot.
  • Highlight detail is much better in the lights in the HDR shot.
  • All the fine details are greatly enhanced in the HDR shot.

None of these are "goods" or "bads" for either case.  In this instance I personally perfer the non-HDR version.I believe having the shadow areas "plugged" creates a mood that I am going for.  Not to mention, these areas I couldn't really see with my eye standing here either.  I'm also able to isolate my subject better in the non-HDR shot and not have as many distractions.

So, to answer a few questions....

Is there more detail in a Merged HDR shot?  Absolutely!  There is simply more data to work with, so there will be better detail and information.

When should you shoot HDR vs. not?  It's all personal preference, really.  In this case, The dynamic range of this scene was greater than my camera could capture in a single frame, however, I ended up liking the non-HDR version better.  Mostly because it fit the mood I was going for on this particular shot.  

When I am in a place like Old Car City, where this photo was taken, I typically bracket for HDR and then decided when I'm at my computer if I like a single frame shot or the HDR shot better.  

I'm a big HDR fan, it just happens that this time the single frame shot won me over.

Manually Focusing using Live View

So, for probably 90% of the type of photography I do, I am using manual focus.  There are several reasons for this, but mostly it allows me full control and consistency from shot to shot.

I manually focus for all of my Landscape shots, HDR shots, Macro shots...pretty much the only time I use auto focus is if I am hand holding and my subject is moving...so not much ;)

Often times people will ask about my method of manual focus and I tell them I always use Live View Mode on my camera.  Again, there are several reasons for this, but the biggest two are the ability to zoom in on a scene to dial in very fine focus detail and my failing eyesight.

Here is a video that is a segment of a longer video I am trying to put together and I thought I'd share it with you.  In this example, I am using the Sony A7R camera body, but I go through the exact same procedure with all of my Canon DSLR bodies, too.

Enjoy!

Upcoming workshops

I just wanted to remind everyone of workshops that I have upcoming this spring...

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The one I am most excited about is the Spring workshop in lovely Grand Teton National Park.  Click here for more info.

 
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The most recent upcoming workshop is Spring in the Great Smoky Mountains in April.  Click here for more info.

 
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Finally, a waterfall workshop in Alabama's beautiful Bankhead National Forest in May.  Click here for more infor on this one.

 

Also, do not forget that anyone that attends any workshop with me throughout the year will be eligible to enter a photo contest that will consist of prizes like a Full Collection of the NIk Software Suite and a Tamron 70-300mm lens.

I hope to see you at a workshop in the near future!!