Gramblr & IFTTT App Reviews

I feel I have fallen behind with a few things lately and have been looking at ways to help me out, one is to make Social Media a little less crazy, how does one keep up with it all? Posting to Instagram, Facebook, 500px, Flickr, Twitter, Guru……it’s all exhausting, but there is help, there is a better way….

I have not reviewed an App in quite a while, I did some software a little while ago, but that has been about it…I don’t get paid for these reviews (I Wish), but am only passing them on for I feel they are a value add…IFTTT is definitely one, so is Gramblr. 

IFTTT

So what is IFTTT? It stands for If This then That and it has become a sanity saver. Check the link to see exactly how it all works but basically you hop on your computer and program you applets to do things for you……..still lost?

Example

I post an image on Instagram and tag it #Digitalart, I then have applets in IFTTT that go to work, they see that Hashtag and immediately post to my Pinterest Digital Art board, my 500PX and Flickr Digital Art Albums, my Facebook page, Twitter account, I could take it further and make it run a blog post as well, but I prefer to write those myself.

If I hashtag #StillLife IFTTT then posts to Still Life albums on Pinterest, Facebook, 500PX, Flicker, FB, Twitter and so on. I don’t even have to check them or bounce around from one social media to another. And you can add so much more.

And there are applets pre made for just about anything you can think of too, got Alexa? You can program it to make Alexa turn on the AC, the oven the kettle when you leave work. You can program your phone to switch between wi-fi or silent mode when are work or sleeping, stock reports, so much ‘stuff’………..I just stick to the social media organising things for me, perhaps I will branch out to other stuff one day.

Suit your needs

There are 100s of applets premade, but trust me it is fairly easy to create your own too. I ended up creating them for specific Hashtags and I run mostly from my Instagram.

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I also use a new Instagram Tool from my PC too called Gramblr

Gramblr is a desktop application that allows you to upload pictures or videos on Instagram. It features a similar upload wizard – so that you don’t need a smartphone!

OK I must admit I found it a bit tricky to set up, but it has been very good. It does not remember Hashtags like Instagram, it also does not let you access @names for tagging, but I find it a lot easier to type #hashtags or even copy and paste from a list on the PC than the phone.

It’s all a numbers game with IG and #Hashtags…….I usually only get between 30-50 Likes, but recently I experimented with some different Hashtags and got 100’s in fact My Hungry, Hungry Hippos got almost 300………..OK so I’m no Kardashian but 300 for me is awesome. I will keep experimenting and trying different lists, lets see how I go?

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So that’s it, no pretty pictures………check them out if you wish to save your sanity….your call.

OH OK! here is a really cute Hippo!

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Have an awesome day peeps and happy snapping…

~ Julz

 

Finding my Tribe…

I feel that lately I have been playing the victim, I have made several rants recently and have been a little self-absorbed and I have no idea why. My life is not awful, in fact far from it. I cannot explain it and I guess I do not need to. I just need to stop it, get over myself and move on.I have felt uplifted by the support and comments from so many friends online, quite honestly it is overwhelming reading all the messages.

I was reading a blog post by Brooke Shaden about 30 things she learnt in her twenties……..man oh man, some people are smart when they are young……it seemed to take me an extra 20 years to learn some of this stuff. Some of it really hit accord within me;

  • If someone doesn’t like what you create, create more of it and know your tribe is out there

I have been blessed with a new tribe in the last 2 years, a creative, encouraging and supportive tribe; the photo below is just a tiny snippet of that tribe. There are people I have never met face to face and due to time and distance, I may never meet them face to face, but I adore them anyway. Some I have met through this blog or FB Groups or through random life choices…but they are all my TRIBE. Some I have met face to face and enjoy their company in person and online and would never trade them for the world.

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Sue, Beck, Desley and Me (left to right)

  • Seek to set yourself outside of the center of your universe.
  • The more you go your own way, the more you’ll inspire others to do the same
  • Create as honestly, unapologetically, and powerfully as you can.
  • Find humility in your mistakes and pride in your successes
  • See small wins as massive successes.
  • Just because you aren’t good at some things doesn’t mean you’ll never be good at anything.

So many of these points are true and I am normally an upbeat person, but a few tiny setbacks this week have cut so very deep, I have no idea why. On the upside I have created a flurry of work, some of it dark and bitter, true………but lets face it most of my digital art is dark, twisted and creepy anyways 🙂

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Who is the Puppet Master?

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The Rain Maker

So again, for the second week in such a short time I pick myself up and continue on;

“Follow your bliss” – Joseph Campbell

I have always loved this quote, and it should be everyone’s motto……..I think I just had an epiphany! My Motto this year is to be BRAVE-R……and I have been, but perhaps that is what has made me raw and emotional? Bearing my heart and soul for the world to see, makes you brave, sure………but it does not guard you against the pitfalls. Just because I am putting myself out there and working really hard, this does not guarantee me success, there are no 100% guarantees in this life. I need to celebrate every small win and victory for what it is; a victory and treat every mistake, heartache and failure as a lesson to learn from. I need to shake loose the victimisation, however small and trivial it is (let’s face it, I am not abused, hunted, stalked or physically threatened……..for this I am grateful), I had my feelings hurt, I didn’t get a prize I wanted, I didn’t get published, I didn’t sell anything, nor get a gallery offer this week………..boohoo me! Shut up and move on. I really need to shake off this feeling, so tomorrow Hubby and I are off to do something fun……….just for the hell of it 🙂

Again thank you all for your support, especially a select few, your thoughts and emails really meant alot and NO you are never overstepping your boundaries, unless I tell you to your (avatar?) face, to back off. I need to stop being a petulant child, deal with things or move on, bitching about them might make me feel better short term, but lets face it, doesn’t accomplish anything long term.

Onto bigger, better, brighter………for tomorrow is a new day (and a Saturday! YAY)

~ Julz

Tech Review – Camfi, Update

OK so a month or so again I wrote a review on the Camfi wi-fi adaptor my kids bought me for Christmas. Now in general I rated it pretty well, but I did note a few Cons against it….

  • A bit glitchy with my old Samsung Note 1.0 tablet…….possibly due to the older software on the tablet?
  • Occasionally freezes on Sony Smartphone as well, especially if trying to arrange a bracketed shot.
  • When freezes sometimes locks the whole camera up.
  • I found that sometimes my Home Wi-Fi kicked me off the Camfi…….but that could just be my system and not the camfi?

As it turns out this may not be the Camfi product in itself but a dud that I got. You see mine stopped working altogether a few weeks ago (only used it for a month) and it just died, would not connect via WI-FI to ANY device. I contacted the distributors who asked me try a few things (reset etc) and then to send it back……so it has been duly returned, replaced with another unit and posted back to me. I turned it all on and hooked it up, so far so good. Hopefully this one lasts a little more than one month and is glitch free from now on.

I’ll keep you updated…

~ Julz

 

Vanguard Alta Pro Tripod – Review

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Another item on my christmas list was a new tripod my old Velbon was having issues, we still have the Manfrotto, but it is also having wonky leg issues and it is way too heavy. So a friend showed me a link for the new Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB Tripod with SBH100 Ballhead (V230269) [this is not where I bought it from, but it does have pics and specs] I got mine from Amazon for US$150.00…….but I can no longer find the link 😦

OVERVIEW

  • Lightweight (5.38 lbs/2.44 kg)
  • Maximum Height of 5.67′ (1.73 m)
  • Load Capacity of 15.4 Lbs (7 kg)
  • Folded Length is 28.125″ (71.5 cm)
  • Magnesium Alloy Ballhead Included
  • Ballhead Includes 2 Bubble Levels
  • 25- 50- and 80-Degree Leg Angles
  • Central Column Moves From 0-180 Degrees

It was a little tricky to figure out the central column, but once done it is brilliant.

PROS

  • Levels are wonderful – straight photos (well mostly)
  • Perfect for flat lays and awkward positions
  • nice and light, easy to carry
  • Quick set up and take down
  • leg clips easy to use with cold stiff fingers 🙂
  • Quick and easy mount for tripod
  • lovely fluid motion with ball head.
  • All screws and clips are easy to turn, twist or click; I have limited mobility in my hands at times (apart from the screw for the head mount)

CONS

  • Carry bag does not have pocket for bits and pieces
  • I’m afraid to hang too much weight off the central column, it just does not feel sturdy enough, when fully extended
  • It’s possibly just me and it being new but the ball head feels a little clunky at times.
  • The head mount is a pain to screw into the camera and needs the key (which is still attached to my tripod) or a coin. The Velbon and Manfrotto has a lever to twist.

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Overall I love it, lightweight and easy to use, I took it with me on a trip to the sand dunes and nice and light, quick set up etc. the ball head and levels are fabulous.

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Our trek through the dunes…….I’m still carrying the tripod lol

In conclusion I do love it…………nothing is perfect, but for right now it comes pretty damn close 🙂

~ Julz

Tech Review – CamFi

I asked for some very specific gifts for Christmas, and I was lucky enough to get most of them 🙂

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The first cab off the rank is Camfi, it is essentially a Wi-Fi adaptor for your camera, but is is so much more. I first saw it on a Studio session with Kim Klassen and it allows you to take complete control over your camera, remotely. You can adjust the EV, aperture, shutter speed, bracketing, focus point, ISO……..etc, etc, etc. It is quick and easy to set up and use.

PROS

  • It small and light weight, not much bigger than a smartphone (but it is a little thicker)
  • Quick to connect and set up
  • not much more in cost than a traditional wi-fi adapter for say Nikon D7100 (AUD$135.00)
  • works with lots of different brands and models
  • connects via you tether cable (the one to connect to PC to grab photos)
  • you can see live view on larger screen
  • focus is far superior (especially for macro) as you can zoom right in and focus and see better on larger screen
  • once set up there is no need to touch your camera, therefore NO Camera shake
  • allows you to put your camera in really awkward spaces and not yourself
  • Works with great App IOS and Android…….nice interface and easy to use
  • Look, share and work on images directly from the camera

CONS

  • due to being lightweight and small, occasionally blows around and the hot shoe does not fit the D7100, so I hang it from my tripod; it comes with a lanyard.
  • EV took a bit to figure out, you still need to eyeball it
  • A bit glitchy with my old Samsung Note 1.0 tablet…….possibly due to the older software on the tablet?
  • Occasionally freezes on Sony Smartphone as well, especially if trying to arrange a bracketed shot.
  • When freezes sometimes locks the whole camera up.
  • I found that sometimes my Home Wi-Fi kicked me off the Camfi…….but that could just be my system and not the camfi
  • User manual pretty useless
  • Not much technical help available if required
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Camfi dangling from tripod, interface on tablet to the right, me sitting BTS taking it easy 🙂

It is possible that the glitches are App based and may be fixed in time, but in general they are a small annoyance outweighed by the sheer freedom this device allows you, not just in the studio. I can’t wait to really get out and about with it. This below Sunset shot was taken with Camfi as well. No more aching back for me 🙂

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CONCLUSION

So is it worth the AUD$135.00? I say yes. I have used other apps, like the Nikon but it was clunking and glitched ALL the time and didn’t do half the stuff the Camfi can do. Sure it can be a little annoying, but in general it is a valuable tool, for someone with mobility problems, like me. I cannot sit or lay on the ground, but I can put the camera on the ground and use either my tablet or smartphone for my live view, and change all the settings without using my camera.

You can view photos on your tablet etc too and send, share and receive as well, all via the App.

Cheers, til next time happy snapping…

~ Julz

Online Gallery…

Hi, so excited to announce that my online gallery at Art Boya is now live and prints can be ordered to purchase. So far only within USA and Canada I believe at the moment. I can also have large Format Canvas printed and freighted within Australia as well. So please visit my gallery, ‘like’ some of my images, perhaps share on your social media sites, I would be so grateful.

My Art Boya gallery can be found here. Please note that there are many other talented artists also listed on this site with images for sale. Do check it out.

Please note that I also have some items for sale on Etsy, including my Animal Alphabet E-book, works on iPads, iPhones and Android devices too. Check it out here, and maybe have a look at some of the other digital items.Here is a seek peak at the e-book

Don’t forget to like and subscribe……….thanks for visiting, I hope you have a wonderful day.

~ Julz

 

 

Getting Crafty…

I have made two projects recently, mostly quick and easy to do, which adds so much to photos, and is cheap and easy to store.

Shabby Chic Table Top’. This is a great space saving, as well as money saving idea, as most of the items I had lying around the house, just need to buy the timber sheet, and not being an entire table it does not take up that much room. Mix and Match colours for different effects.

Materials –

  • 600 x 1200 x 3mm Marine Ply
  • Timber Stain, acrylic (colour of your choice, mine is Merbau)
  • A clean soft brush
  • Acrylic paint (I used soft white)
  • Newspaper
  • Sandpaper
  • Paper towel
  • Raw Umber (or Burnt Umber) acrylic paint
  • Paint retarder (not essential but rather handy)

Method –

  1. Wipe down board to remove dust and particles, then give one coat of timber stain with soft brush. Leave to dry minimum 2-3 hours. Wash and dry brush.
  2. Give 2-3 coats of white paint, leaving 2-3 hours between coats. Try wrapping brush in Glad Wrap (Cling wrap) between coats and leaving in the fridge, that way you don’t have to keep washing it.
  3. Once completely dry, leave overnight and then sand back the white paint revealing the stain below, sand in some areas more, like normal wear and tear along edges etc. I have a Black & Decker Mouse, electric sander which I have had for years, making a very quick job of this, but it can be done by hand as well.
  4. Then taking the umber acrylic paint, mix with the paint retarder and lightly brush over the table top, then rub in with paper towel, and then rub off excess with wet (with water) paper towel, work in sections and move thoroughly over the entire piece, until you are happy with the result.
  5. Again, leave to dry (overnight if possible) and then sand again until you are happy with the rustic result. Another option is to rub beeswax mixed with a patina like umber to give an aged effect.

‘Dark & Moody Blackboard Backdrop’ So my other project was a blackboard paint back drop, I picked up a piece of pre painted ply, so all I had to do was get it cut in half, but you could easily get some blackboard paint and paint an old canvas or timber. I then ran some black electrical tape (well I think that’s what they called it) and join the two pieces together.

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The reason behind this is about the way different colours reflect and absorb light; white reflects and black absorbs, even more so flat matte like blackboard paint seems to suck up all the light.Very cool for dark and moody style of shoots.

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~ Julz

 

Home Made Snoot

I recently did a post, where I featured a few images taken using a snoot on my light source, thinking back on it, I thought perhaps some of you do not know what a snoot is……….I only heard of it about six months ago (it might have been longer, but I didn’t know WHAT it was lol), and I had used one a few times for rim lighting and even back lighting, but never for such directional lighting.

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A Snoot was used here for highlights or Rim lighting, for her hair and feathers

So what is a Snoot?

In photography, a snoot is a tube or similar object that fits over a studio light or portable flash and allows the photographer to control the direction and radius of the light beam. These may be conical, cylindrical, or rectangular in shape. Snoots can isolate a subject when using a flash. They help by stopping “light spill”, or when lighting falls in a larger footprint than intended.

-Wikipedia

Some have been making Snoots out of Pringles can over a Speedlight; great idea, as it also has a reflective inside and I might jump up to one of those next time too.But My Snoot used in the above shots, is just a cylinder of cardboard, placed over a continuous light….

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Basic Continuous Light

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Cardboard Snoot

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shot without the snoot

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shot with the snoot

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Final edited shot

I have to admit I love the directional effect and it gives a fabulous mood. I find I am using it more and more.

~ Julz

P.S. I have just purchased some studio equipment and was given a free snoot…….make sure it actually fits your model speedlight or standard light properly……..I didn’t double check I assumed if it fits the 900 model speedlight it would fit my 910 speedlight………..guess what it does not! Colour me stupid for not double checking.

P.P.S. Sorry some of the images are a little blurry, I took them in a rush to write the post and didn’t take my mind in set up etc as I normally do, apologies

1 and 5 – Cairns (Rock Stacking)

I did a post a while back now about stacked stones, but it is becoming even more prevalent.It seems everywhere we travel we find Love Locks or Stacked Stones.

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1 – A cairn is a human-made pile (or stack) of stones. The word cairn comes from the Scottish Gaelic: càrn (plural càirn).

2 – Cairns were used as trail markers in many parts of the world, in uplands, on moorland, on mountaintops, near waterways and on sea cliffs, as well as in barren deserts and tundra. They come in all shapes and sizes from quite small to an entire artificial hill.

3 – For some they are ‘Prayer-Stone’ stacks left in areas with a natural energy, and you will often find them in tranquil settings by water or up high on mountains overlooking tranquil valleys; occasionally you may even spot someone doing yoga!

4 – One particular artist in Colorado, USA has made an art form out of stacking rocks, and is now embroiled in a dispute of human safety with the Boulder, Colorado Police Dept now making it illegal to stack rocks??

5 – Somehow it has turned into a tourist thing, in the above photo was taken at Carrisbrook Creek (Great Ocean Road)………cars pulled up on the side of the road with all these people climbing down an embankment (yes us included) to see these stacked stones and the creek mouth. There was hundreds of them and people everywhere making more. Where did all these stones come from?

Til next time, safe travels and happy snapping…

-Julz

 

 

 

PS Artistry, Awake update

I have been fairly quiet on my Photoshop Artistry course, not because I have not been doing it, but in some regards because I have. I still post about travel and photos, but just not a lot about my artwork. Although I have recently begun a series of posts on my Still Life Project. So we are into Session 8, and while there are assignments every week, it is often the written proponent that trips me up. Sebastian asks the hard questions of the Life as an Artist……….

  • What do WE really want to do with our art?
  • What really stops us from achieving our goals in life and art?
  • Where do we want to take our art?
  • What is our intention or purpose for our art?
  • What are our goals and aspirations?
  • Stop obsessing over what other people think and just create )easier said than done)

Stuff like that, Sebastian asked each of us to start and carry a journal, normally I write everything down in that journal, as well as sketches and scribbles for various ideas. I had post -it stickers all over the pages, for ideas I need to come back to someday. I have a whole raft of ideas for future pieces. This is where my Still Life Project started and many others I have planned as well.

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Alice featuring Model, Jema

For now, he has asked us to work at our own pace, and to start to develop and mould our artwork into something like an exhibit or gallery show, something we can be proud of. But here’s the kicker, do not do it for others, create for ourselves. We have a closed Facebook Group, where we post images ask for Creative and Constructive Criticism and we receive it usually. Sometimes we do not get a single comment or like, it can be slightly depressing and disheartening, or  you can have such a huge response it puts you on a high, how can you not become obsessed? Are we becoming so narcissistic that we rely on Social Media to feel good about ourselves, our artwork?

And if we do not fall prey to Social Media, how do tell if we are any good? I mean I know we are supposed to do it for us, for fun, and mostly I do, but how do we grow, how do we learn if not from others? To what level do we hold ourselves accountable?

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Suburban Redemption

If I was to say I am only doing this for my self, not for any attention or recognition or reward (financially or otherwise) it would be a lie. I am sure that all artists crave recognition, to be told that they are good, or creative, imaginative, or talented. I don’t care what kind of artist you are…………you DO IT for some kind of acknowledgement, surely? Only children create purely for fun, do they not, once done it is forgotten and they are onto the next. Can we really do this as adults as well?

There is a valid argument that obsessing over acknowledgement prevents you from creating, and it is probably true. Yes I have pieces with which I am not happy with and they seldom see the light of day.

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Suburban Serenity

Occasionally I have pieces I want to share, as I am so proud of them, I know they are good; I sit back and marvel at what I have created. My friends and family say they are good, but is that because they love me? It’s what people you don’t know say, that’s where the thrill is, people who would not know you in the street, coming up to you (via Social Media anyway) and saying Man……..that is a great piece of art!

But through Sebastian’s guidance, and others I am learning to take more time, re work pieces and ideas, sometimes to trash something and move on. To develop goals, ambitions and to stretch myself. I am trying to learn patience and slow down, life is not a race, and it is the journey and not the destination that matters (is this not true in all corners of life?) Revel in life, be Present in life, to absorb everything, take nothing for granted. It is a soul searching course as well as an artistic one. Sometimes it does not all sink in at once; sometime you have to meditate and contemplate.

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Mystique

As I move forward with this and my Open2Study Photographic course, it will be interesting to compare the two, one is purely photography and the other is purely art. I think I am turning into a philosopher?

-Julz