Saturday, August 25, 2012

GOING LIGHT(er) FOLLOW UP

Equipment used  to cover two day Las Vegas convention.

In the previous post I discussed the idea of going lighter on several upcoming assignments, mostly driven by strict weight restrictions on the final trip. Well as sometimes happens, that final trip has been postponed until later next month, but I do have some initial thoughts from my second trip, one that I went even lighter than I originally anticipated.

To recap, I was traveling to Las Vegas to cover a multi-day convention and made the decision to bring a minimal amount of gear. Not a stretch considering I have covered these events dozens of times and pretty much could anticipate what photos were needed. So I brought one camera body with a fully charged battery and loaded with 32MB and 16MB compact flash cards, two lenses, a flash and a Verizon MiFi and packed it all in a ThinkTank Change Up bag.

The real difference on this trip was that I also brought my iPad for all post production and transmission needs. I have about a dozen apps related to photography loaded on my iPad, but would rely on Filterstorm Pro, mostly because captioning images is a must in order to transmit for publication. Filterstorm does have the ability to post process photos as well, but if I really needed to make some adjustments, I would probably use the Snapseed app.

Getting back to work flow, I used a USB cable to connect the camera to the iPad. When a camera or camera card are connected to the iPad, thumbnails will automatically appear and you then have the ability to import all or select individual images for import. Since I was shooting an average of 200 to 300 photos a day, I choose to select individual images to import. The problem is that there is no way to enlarge those thumbnails, which makes editing a challenge and I ended up importing similar shots just to make sure I could later enlarge and see the details, such as focus.

iPad screenshot of Filterstorm Pro showing IPTC data at left.
After I imported photos, I opened Filterstorm and made the final selection of images to caption and transmit. After renaming the images I wanted to transmit, Filterstorm allowed me to save a caption template which I then applied to those images. Lastly, I opened each image and refined individual captions to reflect what was going on in that specific image. Since much of the information is the same, I did end up using the PlainText app to type the captions, then cut and paste that information into Filterstorm. This proved to be a bit clunky.

Last step was to transmit the images. Again, like caption templates, Filterstorm allows you to set up email lists. Additionally, you can determine what size the final image will be when transmitted and assign that to a specific email address. I set up several email lists, one for Navy.mil, which would receive the uncompressed original, one list of several coworkers that would receive compressed images for use in social media, in our internal publication and lastly, my email address so I could confirm the photos were transmitted correctly.

What lessons did I learn? I was not as fast working on the iPad as I am using the computer. Normally when using a computer I would have PhotoMechanic, TextEdit, and a Web browser open simultaneously, so I quickly switch between programs as I'm working the captions. You have all these programs on the iPad (well not Photo Mechanic, but that is another story), however, switching back and forth between the apps takes more time. When transmitting images the second day I tried to save time and only transmit once, so I selected the three preset emails and hit send. Navy.mil received the images, but caption data was missing, and my coworkers received the email, only the images were missing. I think the problem was since each email address was designed to send different file sizes, it somehow confused the Filterstorm. The first day, and during testing, I transmitted to individual emails and never had a problem.

It was a good experiment and in the end I had several of the photos published. This for sure was a minimal amount of gear and I look forward to working with the iPad more and refining my work flow.
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