Twitter Crash Course

I’ve been on Twitterfor a few months now, and to be honest, I was quite confused about it when I first signed up, am still learning how to use it beneficially and have a lot to learn about Twitter, so if I don’t understand something please correct me.

Twitter is essentially a mini-blog entry, much like the status of your Facebook, but it limits the user to 140 characters. I like this because it forces users to get to the point and quickly so. “Following” someone allows you to see their Tweets to the world, and when you have several people involved, its like bunch of mini-conversations going on.

The thing I really like about Twitter is that it is coming from individuals, in real time so it’s faster than news. Another thing is that many celebrities have Twitter, so it allows you to get to know them anonymously.

I personally see a need for Twitter because there are rare occasions I cannot connect with the internet to make a blog post (think Haiti) but Twitter would allow me to mini-blog wherever I have an internet connection. It’s short, fast and easy to do.

Here are some of the things I have learned:

You can send a Tweet to the world in general by just typing anything you want in there.

The “@” symbol essentially basically means “at” someone. For example, my twitter name is “MichaelTheMaven” and if you wanted to send a tweet specifically in my direction, it would be @MichaelTheMaven. I am able to see all the tweets that come in my direction.

“RT” means – “Repeat Tweet”, it also shows up as a little yin/yang symbol. It’s a quick way to re-tweet something someone else said and give them credit for it.

The Hash Mark “#” means to put your tweet into the results of anything that comes up in a search for those terms. Say you want anyone interested in photography to see your tweet if they search for that term, you would write “#photography” at the end of your tweet.

Because URL’s can be exceptionally long, there are websites like Tiny Url and Bit Url, that will shorten a website address to a few characters and it saves some space. In order to do this for so many links, the URLs have really weird and random combinations of letters. This explains the weird link addresses you see at the end of many tweets.

Lists allow you to organize people you follow into categories and subjects, such as “photography” or “mac stuff”- these are things you decide and arrange. By viewing your custom “lists” it filters out everyone but those people you have added. Great for reading the latest news about a particular subject.

One exciting feature of the new Maven App (coming very soon, it was submitted today) was that everyone who downloads this App will be able to read my Twitter feeds, even if you do not have a Twitter account. If you do have one, it will also allow you to message me directly, (which is more likely to get an answer than a long email) as well as your and my friends. I know this is going to sound weird, but there are quite a few of you out there who have formed some pretty good friendships with other Michael The Mentor forum users or school students. This feature will allow us to all stay connected better.

Here is a screen shot of the Twitter feature on the new Maven App. For now it is pretty simple and straight forward, but we have some new features coming soon:I originally thought the Icon for “Michael” was a coach with a whistle, turns out it is actually a “rapper”. Oh well… 🙂

Michael The Maven in Twitter

iPhone Portrait Crash Course – How to take great iPhone Picturess

Higher Quality Version on Vimeo:

iPhone Portrait Photography Crash Course – How to get great iphone pictures from MichaelTheMaven on Vimeo

I will be adding the images and updating this post over the next few days. Here is some of the basic information:

Here is one of the images at 1MP, straight out of the camera (Notice the Banding) – It is mostly full size, but I had to crop out the bottom otherwise it would be too big to post here: (more coming)I know there are going to be a lot of questions on this, so this post will probably grow over time. I wanted to make a few notes:

Exposure Control

I found myself using almost dSLR a little more, but Simple Camera is not to be ignored because it’s exposure box is smaller. They both also allow you to lock color temperature.

You lock exposure by double tapping on the screen at the place you want to lock exposure.

To brighten your exposure : Tap on a dark area
To darken your exposure : Tap on a bright area

There were times it was very picky and I found myself locking exposure’s on darker shadows where ever I could find them. It too about 2 minutes to get the hang of, after that it was second nature.

Did you use the iPhone’s Flash?

Not once. I wanted to only use natural light.

App Post Processing Work Flow

After Playing with the Apps for about a week, I found this to be the order of post-processing on the iPhone:

1. Adjust exposure, contrast and saturation sharpness with Photoshop Express (for a free app it did surprisingly well)
2. Add DOF effects with the Tilt Shift Generator
3. Add any final filter effects with Photo Wizard or Photo FX.

In real world Photoshop, typically sharpening is the last thing you do. I tried this, and it just didn’t work the same if you are adding DOF adjustments that are hard to see/aim on a small screen. It could just be me.

Other Apps Tested

I tested many, MANY other apps, including:

– Hipstamatic (Better for taking pics, not so much post processing)
– Photostudio (this was actually a pretty good app as well, just didn’t use it as much).
– Picture Show (Loved it and the effects- very fun for sending to friends)
– Plastic Bullet (I may not have understood how to work this thing)

That said there are many great processing apps out there. If you know of one let me know and I will definitely check it out.

Resolution, Why 5MP vs 1MP?

The reason I turned down the resolution to 1 MP (in fact, it was actually less: 720 x 1280 = 921,600 pixels) was for a few reasons:

1. To act as a control when comparing with the full resolution of the 5MP images (how much did resolution come into play?)

2. To demonstrate / simulate image quality in lower resolution cameras, as I know not everyone has an iPhone 4, yet most cell phones have at least 1MP cameras.

3. I was curious about the question: What are the very best types of images you can take in the worst conditions, assuming you only had good quality light and a limited knowledge of how to take advantage of it?

Conclusion: I think the 5MP absolutely looked better both out of the camera and after processing, however, I also think that some of the 1MP images were very, very good, and even more so after post processing. The 1MP images seemed to have color balance issues and appeared a little softer. The post processing definitely helped them more than the 5MP images, some of which I think could be printed from the original files. It is my hope that everyone who sees this video will now have some core knowledge about natural light they can use to get better images anywhere, anytime, with any camera.

About the Models

– Neither of the models were full time professionals, and both did their own make-up. The brunette, Terra, is a friend of mine who has only modeled for me in the past for a limited number of projects. Kelly, the blond, works in Real Estate full time but does part time work when available. The important thing here is that yes, beautiful subjects help, just remember most people are beautiful when they smile, or are otherwise happy.

If you are interested in using this information to enter a photography contest, check it out here: Deadline for entires is September 30th 2010!

Netflix goes to iPhone!!

Wanted to post my newest video, but it will have to wait until tonight or tomorrow.

Yesterday Netflix released the iPhone Version of it’s App. While this was a very quiet announcement, in my opinion, it was HUGE as fas as entertainment goes. I love, love, love movies. Don’t watch much TV, but addicted to movies big time.

While Ive been able to stream movies to my iPad now for months, being able to do it over the cell phone network is truly a revolution. One disclaimer, the connection was pretty rough and it didn’t work perfectly, but the technology is now in place and they will eventually get the bugs worked out. To have access to movies nearly anytime, nearly anywhere in the world (assuming you have a connection) on your phone is pretty dang cool.

One thing I like about streaming movies from Netflix is the ability to stop and pickup right where I left off, even on other devices. For $8.99 a month (which also includes DVD rentals), I think Block Buster can pretty much kiss it good bye unless they can adapt and match or exceed what Netfix is doing.

Netflix for iPhone!


First of all, let me say thank you so much for visiting my blog. I really, truly do appreciate it and you taking the time to visit. I also want to give you a very sincere thank you for taking the time to contact me, this makes you and I friends.

I’ve set up a number of resources to help answer different types of questions. We are very busy, but will respond to emails as soon as we can. If it is on a business day, you can expect a response in 1-2 business days.

If you are looking for a link to purchase the NEW Maven Adapter, please click here. For more information about the NEW Maven Adapter please click here.

1. If you have a photography type problem or question, absolutely the best resource is the forum: Michael’s Photography Forum There are many other students there who would love to become friends with you and help you with your photography goals. In fact, there is a really terrific chance your question has already been asked and answered there. It’s free, and I also check it regularly. This is the best place for questions about shooting or issues you are having with photography.

2. If you want to know what I personally use in shooting or what my gear recommendations are, please visit: Whats in Michael’s Bag?

3. If you need assistance placing an order for a DVD by phone, please call: 800-846-2004, the call center is open, 24/7. The call center however, is not very helpful for trouble shooting issues with downloads or apps, in those cases see items 4 & 5 below.

4. If you need assistance a DVD or download you have ordered, please email my assistant Kate, who will be happy and quick to help you:
Email: [email protected]

5. If you need assistance with an App, please email: [email protected]

While the above will handle most inquiries, I realize there may be a handful of you who still may wish to speak directly with me, which I understand. I also need to say that due to the sheer amount of email I continue receive every single day, there is a good chance I may not be able to respond immediately, and in many cases, ever. It’s not because I do not care or think I am too cool for school, it’s because I am physically unable to answer everything. I am however, able to read most of my emails, so even if I do not get back with you, let me say thank you in advance for writing.

Some common types of emails I get regularly but can no longer answer at this time:

– Questions about which of 2 lenses to purchase (my lens suggestions are on every crash course video and I have many youtube videos about lenses)
– Questions about something I have already answered and posted that information on, be it a blog post or video, or can be found with a basic search on my blog or google.
– Questions about advice on something that I do not have enough information on to answer.
– Photography questions that can, and should be asked on the forum.
– Questions about reviewing your images or portfolio for critical feedback
– Questions that may be interpreted as irrelevant, for example, if the “D600 and 6D preform similarly in a certain function, can you show us how similar”? Sometimes you need to just take my word for it. 😉
– Fanboy, Troll, Baiting, hate, threat emails (yes I do get them).
– You may have a very important, relevant question, but I also may be very, very busy and simply unable to answer. I simply hate to when this happens, unfortunately it happens daily.

In the event you still need to email me, this is my personal email address: Email: [email protected]

Thanks and happy shooting!

Canon 60D Pre-Release Review

As anticipated, today Canon announced the Canon EOS 60D , a long awaited replacement of the Canon 50D. While I do not have the camera in-hand yet, I expect I’ll be able to get my hands on one very soon, and will start my in-depth, nitty, gritty breakdown at that time. That said, I have read over the press release and would like to summarize it’s features and how it is different than the 7D and T2i.

First- unique to the 60D only:

1. Articulating Monitor. This is a welcomed first for a Canon SLR. The screen is 3′ with a resolution of over 1 Million pixels.

2. In Camera RAW Processing– I am not exactly sure what this entails, but it sounds very interesting. Wont know how much you can do with this until it’s in hand.

3. It appears there are a number of other in camera editing features for both stills as well as video. You will be able to rate images on a scale of 1-5, as well as “trim” video in camera. Nice features.

4. SDXC support– This is a special high capacity SD card, they make them up to 2TB in size. If you can afford one of these cards, it would take quite a bit to fill it.

Second- Features already found in other cameras:

5. Manual Audio Controls for Video – Currently, this is only found on the Canon 5Dii. It could be a slight blow to the 7D because it still lacks this feature. Canon should update its firmware to handle it.

6. Built in Speedlite Transmitter – Sounds the same as the 7D

7.Improved Metering System– It appears to be the same as the 7D.

8. Built in Mic input (this is seemingly standard now, 5DII, 7D and T2i all have them.

In fact, the Canon 60 D has so many features similar to the Canon 7D, one would ask: What does it not have that the 7D does?

Canon 7D has:

– Magnesium Body
– Advanced focusing systems (which in my opinion are much better than even the 5Dii’s)
– 2 Digic Processors, which allow for up to 8fps, vs 5.3 of the Canon 60D

I’m probably missing something, but those three are what come to mind first. Price point of the 60D will be about $1100, which is $500 less than the 7D.

Canon Also announced a plethora of new “L” lenses today including the:

Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
Canon EF 300mm 2.8L IS II USM
Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM