The wrist strap is the best part of the Snappgrip. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
The Snappgrip is a fantastic idea, with not-too-bad hardware to back it up. It’s an accessory grip for your iPhone that adds a Bluetooth shutter release, zoom buttons and control dial to the phone’s camera, as well as a wrist strap and a handy handgrip.
But in practice, you’ll be better off with the iPhone’s own volume switches if you want a hardware shutter release. Which is a shame, as I was super-excited to try the Snappgrip out.
This one is SOOC (straight out of the camera). Thanks to Jim Powers (alias Windwatcher), as well as Fany & Anthony (alias Nonsenz), for their previous Kaptures of the Colosseum in Rome. That really helped us to find out where we could take off for our KAP session this afternoon. (Google Earth was also very useful.) The weather was just beautiful, the light warm as Rome can be, the wind was light and strong enough for the only kite we had with us (Dan Leigh delta R8 Travel version) and for our dual-camera autoKAP rig equipped with a Canon S95 and GoPro HD. No authority to tell us not to fly a kite, KAP at its best. A great session we are happy to share.
We stayed in Iguaçu Falls for three days -- one day for a hike on the Brazilian side, one day for a hike on the Argentinean side and one day to hopefully KAP them. For the first two days the weather was just perfect: no clouds, beautiful light, a very pleasant temperature and humidity and ... no wind at all. The last day of our stay saw some clouds, wind and a very dull light, but at least we had some wind and KAPing the falls seemed possible, even if I knew that the results would not be the best. There is a very dense forest by the falls and the closest we could take off (according to Google Earth and scouting the neighborhood) was roughly 800 meters from the 'Garganta del Diablo' on the lawn of the Hotel das Cataratas. A bit far, but not much choice, and I thought that taking some height would be the solution. But of course we had to deal with the helicopters (which are supposed to fly at 500 meters or 1,600 feet) and Heidy was so stressed that the entire session only lasted 15 minutes. The wind was very unstable, the Fled was moving like the wipers on my car, the rig was jumping all over but nevertheless we managed to get half a dozen of almost "keepers." Time for a Caipirinha!
Faafaite Vaa is a traditional Polynesian outrigger canoe that can sometimes be chartered for private events. This was one our friend's (who is 99 percent blind) birthday and this charter was just a blast for him. Once out in the open ocean, we had a steady wind of 25 to 30 knots with very limited space to move.
The sea conditions were pretty rough. We had to launch the kite from the back of the canoe but had to put a life jacket on (just in case). The PFK Nighthawk Delta was the ideal kite for the job and the dual-camera autokap rig (Ricoh GX 200 + GoProHD) was not that easy to launch as we had to protect it from seawater and while making sure everything was fine.
A very warm "mahalo, mauruuru, merci" to Tom Benedict, who guided us through the telescopes of Mauna Kea Observatories and, more specifically, the Canada France Hawaii which hosts a world-class, 3.6-meter optical/infrared telescope. The summit of Mauna Kea is 4,200 meters high (almost as high as Mont Blanc ... .4,852 meters) and the sunset above the clouds is a fantastic show to watch; the moving shadow of the mountain on the clouds is an even more spectacular vision. Just a perfect setting for a crazy KAP session where oxygen is lacking and the least effort is huge but Tom, just in case, had an oxygen tank in the observatory as well as a pulsometer for heart beat and oxygen level in the blood. KAPing at 4,200 meters altitude is a very interesting experience; the air is not as dense as at sea level and despite a good 15-knots wind, the Dan Leigh Delta R8 was just enough to lift the autoKAP rig (RC rigs would not be allowed so as not to interfere with the radio telescopes). This was way too short. I can imagine a time-lapse of the sun going down over the clouds, a time-lapse of the growing shadow of Mauna Kea, another, higher KAP session looking straight down. Some good excuses to come back!
Sunrise on Raimiti seen from a kite with a Leica M9
This morning, Dec. 27, 2011, sunrise was at 5:12 a.m. and not a single cloud in the sky, Northeast trade winds blowing steadily at 20 knots, the ideal strength to lift the autoKAP rig and the Leica M9 with its 24 mm Elmarit lens. I was not totally satisfied with my previous sunrise with the Sony Nex 5 and thought the Leica M9 would give me the sharpness I was looking for. ISO 200, f4, 1/1500 sec. When looking at the original size, the difference is stunning. This session is one that probably gave me the most satisfaction since I started KAP a few years ago. Satisfaction with the light, the R8 flight, the subject, the ambiance, the pleasure and the results."
The Blue Lagoon in the atoll of Rangiroa is about an hour by speedboat from the main village, and is a pristine and virgin spot on the west coast of the atoll. Baby sharks grow up in the shallow waters before joining the hundreds of adult blacktip sharks in deeper waters. Baby blacktip sharks are curious and always hungry; it was just pure magic to feed them and watch the seagulls fight with the sharks for food. It just took us a few minutes and some dead fish to attract both sharks and seagulls, time to position the kite, the camera and to take a few pictures. I was not too sure about having both the seagulls and sharks on the same picture but I suppose it was a good day.
The sun was out by 7:40 a.m. and we only had a window of three minutes of perfect light. The kite was already up in the air and as soon as the sun rose over the ocean the rig was up above the Moais. It was interesting to see that a dozen other visitors had also made it for sunrise, but all of them were facing the sun, we were looking for the shadows!
Organized by the population of the island of Maupiti once every 10 years, this traditional fishing technique is a collective effort where the entire population of the island (1,200 people) participates. Over 200 boats and rafts circle the island’s lagoon, each throwing in the water a stone held on a string, to hopefully push the fish inside a 3 kilometer long vegetal net which will be brought back on the beach.This year, this “stone fishing” was the conclusion of a South Pacific UNESCO symposium on sustainable development and the fish were released except for one caught by French Senator Richard Tuheiava, born in Maupiti. Maupiti is an island 20 miles west of Bora Bora, French Polynesia.
KAP over Taro Fields in Areva, Rurutu, French Polynesia
Taro is a tropical plant grown primarily as a vegetable food for its edible corm, and secondarily as a leaf vegetable. It is considered a staple in oceanic cultures. It is believed to be one of the earliest cultivated plants. The name "taro" is from Tahitian or other Polynesian languages; the plant is also called kalo (from Hawaiian), gabi in The Philippines, dalo in Fiji, seppankizhangu in Tamil, Arvee in Hindi and Karkalo in Nepali.This KAP session was probably one of the most challenging we ever had. The taro field is located right behind a 100 meter high cliff protected from dominant winds but creating incredible venturi and vortex between the ground and 150 meters. "Clean air" is about 200 meters high and the whole challenge was to get the R8 delta up to this stable altitude before attaching the camera to the string.
The SV/Star Flyer set sails from the lagoon of Raiatea.A very intense KAP session, at the begining there was not enough wind to lift the camera but quicly the white storm in the background brought rain and Beaufort 5 winds and we only had a very short window of 5 minutes. Considering this is AutoKAP, I guess we were quite lucky !On this picture the storm is almost here !Thanks to the Star Flyer for a wonderful break and a special "merci" "mauruuru" to the Polish Captain who accepted that we launch our kite from his ship!!!
Rising Sun AutoKAP on Dune 45 in Sossusvlei, Namib Desert Namibia
Dune 45 raises roughly 120 meters ( 400 feet) above the ground; It is one of the few dunes where the ascencion is authorized.At sunrise the colors are absolutely exceptional and a few visitors have already climbed the Dune to admire the sunrise from the summit.
We studied maps, tides, weather forecasts as we wanted to shoot a vertical wide angle image right above the Angel on top of the Mont St Michel.The Angel (Michel Angel) raises at 157 meters (520 feet), and the idea was to bring the kite and camera right above it. This was my first VHF radio assisted autoKAP session... with Heidy radio-guiding me on the other side of the Mont. (almost as efficient as a video link!)The Ricoh GX 200 was attached 100 meters (300 feet) below the Dan Leigh Delta R8 to get some “clean” air, most of the shots were made from 15 to 50 meters (50 to 150 feet) above the angel and I had close to 400 meters (1300 feet) of line out. Thanks to Emmanuel (alias Maneke) for his assistance!
KAP on Sydney Opera House 2008 – Act III… Oct 25, 2008
A warm THANK YOU to Pat, the security officer on duty this afternoon. Pat already gave me clearance back in February and again was very nice to authorize me another KAP session over the Opera House.I originally wanted to shoot right on top of the buiding but the shape and the architecture created too much turbulence.
Maitai Dream Fakarava, Tuamotu Archipelago Aug 11, 2007
Fakarava is the second largest Atoll in the Tuamotu archipelago, an hours flight North Est of Tahiti. Population of 473 and only one hotel the Maitai Dream.The french painter Matisse was inspired by Fakarava in 1932 when he discovered the incredible palette of "blues".
Stone fishing is a traditional technique in French Polynesia, but traditions are fading away. (We were fortunate enough to participate in 2009 for the last one that was organized on the island of Maupiti).To close the mayor’s congress, the city hall of the island of Taha’a organized a stone fishing ceremony on August 03, 2012. The weather forecast looked good (15-20 knots of south east wind); space was available on Air Tahiti, as well as at the Hawaiki nui, a local hotel. A few phone calls to find a boat to take us to the ceremony and here we are, Heidy & I, for an Xtreme KAP session. Certainly one of the most challenging we ever had.Here is how this special fishing technique works. A fish trap is build on the beach by the lagoon. From this trap a 60ft long and 5ft wide canal which ends in a giant funnel where more than 100 boats will “push” schools of fish that hundreds of fisherman will guide by throwing stones hung on a rope in the water. By the time they get to the funnel, fishermen jump into the water and “push” the fish in the canal towards the beach fish trap where the local authorities will have the opportunity to harpoon the first fish that show up. (The others will be released… the fish not the officials.)
No wind for this KAP session, we just had to tow the kite at the desired speed from the back of a Toyota Land Cruiser. Lots of fun, but a bit acrobatic to launch and retrieve the rig and camera without crashing.Altitude of the Salar is 3800 meters above sea level and the air is not as dense. Average speed of the car was 40 Km/h and we had to drive around twice to frame these shots in AutoKAP without video downlink.
Short 06-24 private runway on an atoll in the south Pacific.
Go fly a kite. Marketing exec Pierre Lesage finds the practice relaxing after a busy week overseeing operations at eight hotels. It’s also perfect for shooting photos.
“Since the drones came out a few years ago, kite aerial photography lost interest for a few photographers that are just looking for photographic results,” says Lesage. “I am also looking for results but I need that poetic aspect of doing it with a kite, and as long as there is wind I never have problem with batteries.”
Quadcopters are a thrill but flying kites is the zen alternative — and the photographic results are postcard perfect. It’s a way to mix tinkering with fresh air and can be as easy as picking up a prefab rig or as complicated as diving into the world of schematics and solder.
Take a smartphone stand that clamps onto your iPhone like a pair of jaws. Now add a tripod hole and a wrist strap. Now you've got the Shoulderpod, a device that has nothing to do with your shoulders. It can be used as a stand or as a grip, giving one-handed access to any app by placing your thumb over the on-screen shutter. It also works with a range of optional accessories. $35
This is a firestarter, a camping firestarter. It’s the self-igniting, cooking instigator. A tungsten-carbide striker, a campfire detonator. Rotating wear-avoiding, one-handed operating, works when saturated, makes matches antiquated. $19
Using a valve amp and high-end speaker to amplify your iPhone’s Bluetooth stream might be a little like shaving canned mushrooms onto your homemade “truffle” ravioli, but who cares when “just” $640 can bring you a beautiful wooden box with two glowing valves at its core? The Class A amp can also be hooked up with cables, connected to an external subwoofer and even has an on-board 24-bit DAC. $649
The name really says it all. This ribbonlike Lightning cable rolls up into a tidy reel and lays flat when charging. It also has tough, color-coded plugs, and costs the same as Apple’s own white plastic cable. Available in gray, gold or … blue? $20
The new white Airframe from Kenu turns the slats of your car’s ventilation system into a smartphone holder. The expanding jaws clamp your iPhone (or Android phone) in place, and the little prongs on the other side jam between the louvres of any car vent and hold fast. It’s the perfect way to add yet another dangerous distraction to your dashboard. $25
This neat package gathers your in-ride essentials together into one jersey-pocket-friendly place, and as it comes from Lezyne you know it can be relied on. The seam-welded zip-up wallet has a plastic window so you can use your iPhone while it’s inside, and slots for cash and cards (although no change pocket). Available in gray or black. Weighs 120 grams (4.2 ounces). $20
At last, a Lomo that’s as convenient as digital – the Lomo Instant has a built-in printer so it can pop out photos on the spot. The plastic-bodied camera can make multiple exposures on one frame, has a bulb setting for long exposures, a flash and interchangeable lenses. I can’t tell you how much I want one of these. From $79
I love my two-man Hubba Hubba tent from MSR, but if I was in the market for a huge tent that could fit a) me and a bunch of other campers or b) me, in a real bed, as if I were camped in 1920 Egypt to investigate an Agatha Christie-style crime, I’d take the teepee-shaped Meriwether. At 16 feet wide and 9.5 feet high, who cares if it weighs in at 65 pounds (almost 30kg)? That's what servants are for.$1,250
It’s here! The iPad-friendly Olloclip adds four great lenses to your iPad Air or Mini retina (they’re both equally thin, you know). The new Olloclip slips onto the corner of your iPad to cover the lens with any of four accessory lenses, all on the same mount. You get a fisheye and a wide-angle lens, and if you unscrew them you have 10x and 15x macros. The epoch of looking dorky while you take iPad photos is finally over. $70
Film or digital? Campfire or BBQ? Car or bike? Cable or wireless?
No matter which way you swing, this week’s gadgets have you covered. iPhoneographers can enjoy the Shoulderpod hand grip or slip the new iPad Olloclip onto their Mini or Air, and film nuts can get instant satisfaction with the new Lomo Instant Camera.
Camping? Take it easy in the giant Meriwether tent or go survivalist with the Blastmatch fire-starter. You can even choose how to arrive at the site, with accessories for your car or your bike. Happy traveling!
The BaseCamp is the family-size version of BioLite’s iPhone-charging camping stove. Like its little brother, the BaseCamp burns any fuel you find (wood is good) and uses the heat to power a USB charger and drive a fan. The fan pumps air into the fire and makes it burn hotter and faster. The BaseCamp version adds a grill on top for those off-the-grid BBQs. $300
Picard’s German-made Latthammer (or carpenter’s roofing hammer) is 600 grams of hot, hot nail-starting action. Slot a nail into the groove up top, whereupon it will be held in place by a magnet. Whack it against your target chunk of wood and the nail is started without ever putting your fleshy fingers in harm’s way. It even comes with a beautiful leather grip. €70
The dorkitudinal Lifelogger is an alway-on POV camera that looks like a Bluetooth headset, the large camera unit counterbalanced by a headband that wraps around from ear to ear. The eye-level mount means you always record what you’re looking at, but it also makes you look like you work in a call center. Available December. $249
TYLT's Energi Travel Charger 2K is a regular USB wall charger, only it packs a built-in 2,200mAh battery and comes in at the same price as most regular (battery-free) chargers. The fold-out prongs let it sleep safely in your bag until needed, and the colored LED indicators tells you how much is left in the tank. I wonder why all chargers aren't this clever. $30
Supermechanical’s Range thermometer looks as good as the beautiful (universal) app it works with. It’s a food-probe thermometer that comes in two models – one long and rounded, for sticking into cooking pots, and one short and sharp, for jabbing into meat. Both plug into your iPhone’s headphone socket, letting you set temperature alerts, check graphs and look up USDA temperature recommendations. $70
Satechi’s LightMate is what would happen if Jedis carried iPhones. The lightsaber-shaped emergency LED light can work as a lamp or, if you remove the “saber,” as a flashlight. It’s waterproof, is designed to smash car windows (for escape, not for burglary) and the (swappable) lithium-ion battery can be used to juice your iPhone via its USB port. $30
Imagine a sardine can made into a camera. Well done – you just imagined La Sardina, a plastic camera based on the classic sardine tin. Lomography's wide-angle shooter is so DIY it comes with a screwdriver to help customize it. The lo-fi Lomo film camera now comes in pretty versions with decorative skins, like this Bird of Paradise “dress.” Get ready for summer. $109
Photojojo’s Power Purse is a place to protect your phone and also provide portable power. It works like a regular clutch purse, only it has a secret 2,600mAh battery inside to recharge your iPhone on the go. We all have a friend who leaves the house with their iPhone at like 15 percent every frickin’ day. If that friend is into pink or polka dots, you should buy him/her this as a gift, if only for your own peace of mind. $49
This Tower of power extends outlets from the floor and puts them up by your desktop. It packs two 2.1A USB ports plus four regular power outlets with circuit breakers, and the base is weighted to stop it from tipping over. There’s even a little plastic mesh pocket to keep your iPad safe while it charges. $99
Cooking, charging, camera-ing and generally staying out-of-doors are the themes this week. But if you are stuck inside out of the sun, don’t worry – we have you covered too.
This week we get cooking with a gadget-charging camping stove and a slick, iPhone-friendly food thermometer. We also do DIY projects (without tenderizing our thumbs) with the German Latthammer, charge our flagging phones with a purse that packs a built-in battery, and record everything using the super-dorky Lifelogger camera. Is the sun shining? Yes it is!
Sony’s new RX-100 III takes the best pocket camera in the world and makes it even better. Now the 20MP shooter packs a pop-up OLED viewfinder, a faster ƒ1.8-2.8 maximum aperture across the 28-100 zoom range, a new 180-degree flip-up selfie-ready screen and “full-sensor readout 1080p.” There’s even Wi-Fi so you can post the results to Instagram. $800
The Etsy Large Desk Organizer is fashioned from solid oak, magnets and style. It has slots for everything, from paperclips to paper to iPhones, and the two-part modular design even lets you split it up for more versatility. And all this for just (cough) [$216](Large Desk Organizer).
Tens shades are like Instagram filters for your eyes. They come in four colorways, and the lenses add a tint to the world outside. If they really were a filter, I’d describe that filter as adding saturation, upping the punch like a polarizer and adding a yellow-green tint. In fact, the extra contrast looks like it might be useful when riding a bike. Available in June, pre-orders via Indiegogo. $60
I’m all over this merino wool jersey. Or rather, I’d like it to be all over me. UK maker Vulpine has tweaked its classic bike jersey to make it even better. It has a button-up collar, a reflective strip on the rear zip-up pocket and is cut long at the back to fit cyclists. And becasue it’s merino wool it won’t stink even after an all-day ride, it’ll stay cool or warm, and it’ll dry quickly. £85/$143
Rickshaw makes my favorite bags. Now the friendly San Franciscans bring us a new backpack, the Sutro. It has padded straps, a splashproof zipper, a pocket on the front and a kind of hybrid folding/roll-top closure that lets you overload it when you need to, or carry extra tall objects. Inside is a laptop sleeve, and outside is you choice of custom fabrics and colors. $225.
My other favorite bag maker is also in SF – Waterfield designs. The Outback Duffel is a waxed-canvas (or ballistic nylon) and leather carry bag with a big main compartment and pockets all over everywhere else. It comes in two sizes, and also tow configurations – the Double Compartment variant is split lengthwise into two spaces for better organization. Perfect for travel. $219
Nikon’s new underwater flash lights up the undersea world for you Nikon 1 camera (which you have hopefully stowed inside a waterproof housing). Use it on manual or auto down to 100 meters (328 feet) and use it off camera with a fiber-optic cable and mounted on an optional underwater bracket. $750
Fresh photographic equipment stole the show this week, but we also got wind of some great new outdoor gear (and some stuff for desk jockeys).
First the camera news: Sony is coming on strong with the amazing R100 III camera, while Nikon’s most exciting new gadget is an underwater flash. On the outdoorsy front, San Francisco is gearing up for summer with new bags from my favorite bag makers Rickshaw and Waterfield, and if you’re out in the warm/cold spring on your bike, you might like to do it wearing the beautiful Vulpine merino wool cycling jersey. If you’re not the outdoors type, we have you covered too — you can stay home and organize your desk with a handsome wooden pen and phone holder.
Quick-connect iPhone lenses are certainly less bulky than typical camera gear, but there’s a price to be paid for convenience. Photos: Charlie Sorrell/Cult of Mac
One December years ago, in London’s Piccadilly Circus, a Santa Claus sat in a pavement cafe eating lunch with an elf. Santa had a pint of beer in from of him. I raised my old film SLR, which was prefocused and had the exposure already dialed in, and took a couple of shots.
I hoped they’d turn out well.
“Who are those pictures for?” said a guy, shouting as he jogged toward me. He’d come from somewhere nearby because it was too cold for just a shirt on a December afternoon in London, and he wasn’t wearing a jacket. I ignored him — there are a lot of nutters in Piccadilly any time of the year.
If you told me I could only shop at one candy store from now on, that candy store would be Photojojo. The sweet photo gadgets that appear new in the store every week constantly test my resolve not to tap in a credit card number.
The latest temptation? The DryZone Duffel, which is a waterproof camera bag.