Jun 142016
 

EA LogoOriginally written for: otakugamers.uk

Aaaand, first up to bat, opening the official presentations for E3 2016 were EA and Bethesda. EA opened and Bethesda gave a convincing second half. Please forgive me my personality flaws and read this with my tongue planted firmly in your cheek. I fail to write up things without my twisted personality shining through and if I offend you by not really liking a game please assume it’s intentional.

Andrew Wilson, CEO of EA came on with very little fanfare and a lot of applause and pretty much went straight into a composite video of EA’s development plan. When over, he explained how EA’s presentation was actually a Simulbroadcast with Peter Moore, Chief Competition Officer in London with a bunch of hardcore EA fans at the Hammersmith Apollo. (If only I’d known… Five minutes down the road, I’m sure I could’ve blagged a seat!) Moore said his hellos and handed back to Wilson in LA. Wilson promised that the next hour would see future Star Wars titles, Mass Effect, Battlefield 1, FIFA, Madden NFL 17 and Titanfall 2.

He handed over to Vincent Zampella, CEO of Respawn Entertainment for the Titanfall 2 reveal. The trailer, as always looked gorgeous. Personally, I never played the original Titanfall due to it’s lack of single player campaign. I know people say it had a loose story but that wasn’t enough to make me want to hand over my cash for what was/is effectively an arena based shooter with a twist and great graphics. I’m not that much of a competitive player and only just competent at arena competition shooters.

But. Titanfall 2, while being more of the same also builds on the first and adds a few important bits and bobs, like, a single player campaign with a real story. A boy (Jack Cooper) meets mech (BT7274 (BT for short)) and wins the day type story. The story mode plays offline so people in remotest Namibia if they have a generator can now play Titanfall. No more conspiracy theories that Titanfall was released with online only playability so that the camera could beam info about you straight to MI5 and the NSA if you were wearing a head cloth and playing with C4 and a bunch of wires and mobile phones. To be honest, the single player campaign sounds generic enough if you’ve played video games for more than three years but compelling enough at least to hand over my cash to see what all the Titanfall fuss is about; the mech’s pilot has died and this time round the mech and pilot form an emotional bond to easier work with one another. Enter stage left a ‘Rifleman’ who gets assigned the pilotless mech and together they learn to work with one another and probably save the world from some kind of global annihilation. There will be six new mechs, more player and mech customisation. But. The biggest and best reveal for me personally, was that this time around it isn’t Xbox One exclusive and us PS4 owners (and PC geeks) can play too. Yep, PS4 Titanfall! Expect a release date of October 28th 2016 to be pushed back! Sorry, expect this game to hit the shelves on October 28 this year. Trust me, I’m a Mech!

The end of the Titanfall 2 trailer segued perfectly? into the trailer for Madden NFL 17 for PS4 and Xbox One which at first glance seemed more of the same but glossier than last years with an obviously changed roster as teams and players shuffle positions but no. This year is all about competition and EA have revamped their competitive play. I honestly wish I (A) liked video sports games apart from Wave Race and SSX Tricky and (B) Understood American Football. Moore went on to explain that at the heart of EA’s games was competition whether playing professional E-Sports or kicking back with your team in FIFA or Battlefield. To that end EA have revamped their online competitions and added 3 new ways to compete with yearly and weekly challenges across the board: Challenger, Premier and EA Major tiers.

Challenger more easily allows players to participate in, and host their own events. Premier are large scale events hosted by EA and partners from within and without of the gaming industry. Finally, EA Major are live, marquee, global events hosted by EA for the elite amongst the elite with a $50,000 cheque waiting for the winner. Infact, for the Madden NFL 17 championships there is a total of $1 Million in prize money across the competition. Moore hands over to Aaryn Flynn, the general manager of Bioware. Any guesses as to the next game my friends?

Mass Effect Andromeda. Due Early 2017, it’s aim is to sever the ties with the previous trilogy with you (as the alien) in the Andromeda Galaxy. Expect new species. new environments and new technologies as you set out to find a new home for Humanity. Powered by Bioware’s new Frostbite engine there’s no doubt it looks amazing. I know many people love the original trilogy but this time round I’m seriously considering boarding the Mass Effect ship and seeing for myself what all the fuss is about.

Back to Wilson who explains that ‘Play’ (I think EA wish they could trademark the word) is at the heart of EA’s mission statement. Now, with the introduction of ‘Play to Give’ EA hope to benefit the community too. Specifically five charities; the UN HeForShe initiative, the National Centre for Women and Information Technology, !Special Effect, Code.org and Code 2040. To this end there are five ‘charitable’ challenges set across the EA multiverse; Battlefield, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, Star Wars Battlefront, FIFA 16 and Madden NFL 16. At the end of the challenges over a set time EA will donate $1 Million to their aforementioned charities.

Segue back again to Moore in London for some FIFA news. Moore introduces us eventually to Aaron McHardy, FIFA’s Producer. Oh, and more of the same but glossier than last year with an obviously changed roster as teams and players shuffle positions but no. This time around, and as a first, there is a campaign mode. This time round I almost honestly wish I (A) liked video sports games apart from Wave Race 64 and 1080 snowboarding and (B) Understood Football. (There are actually girls that can explain the offside rule better than I EVER could). That said, FIFA is the most popular sports game on the planet.

You follow (play as) Alex Hunter from league to premier league football with four big transformations to the way the game plays. Better ‘dead ball’ control, a new attacking mode, active AI intelligence has been improved and new finishing moves have been added. I hate football with a passion and haven’t played a FIFA game since 1956 but utilising the Frostbite engine I have to admit it looks stunning. One day, all premier league footballers will have a chip implanted in their heads and we’ll be playing ‘as’ them through the beauty that is VR. Total immersion!

Patrick Söderlund, EVP of EA Studios then came on to introduce this years big EA Indie game: Fe. Like Unravelled last year, EA are committed to find smaller developers with a passion for creating games with heart, and with stories to be told, under the EA Originals brand. Cooly enough, all profits go back to the developers so they can continue to create amazing but smaller games we might otherwise miss. Fe looks spectacular, an indie game that a lot of love has gone into producing from Zoink software in Gothenburg.

Fe is set in a world without words. A celebration of nature and our desire to be at one with the world around us. It reminds us that everything is connected and that we live in a world held in delicate balance. You begin the story as a young cub that connects with every living thing, plant and animal, through song. Ultimately the aim is to unite with your family but on the way you meet (and hopefully defeat) The Silent Ones, the bad guys of our tale, (the multinational corporations hellbent on destroying the planet and its ecology in the real world.) The game and it’s audio are lush. With muted colours and audio, the developers set the stage but through discovery, you write the story. Your journey will be different from everyone else’s. I’m personally hugely tempted to try this one.

As Fe fades out a familiar John Williams soundtrack blares out and you half expect a procession of programmers to slide diagonally into the screen to a vanishing point in the distance; a long time ago, EA paid an extortionate amount of dollar to obtain very lucrative publishing rights to an ever expanding galaxy of games…

Jade Raymond, General Manager of Motive Studios appears on screen to seemingly talk for every developer that EA are in league with; Dice, Motive, Bioware, Respawn, Visceral and Capital Games amongst them. There sure are a lot of Star Wars games in development it seems but Jade wants to talk about three; Galaxy of Heroes, Old Republic and Battlefront. But in 2018 Visceral will bring us a new game set in the SW universe, with an all new story and all new characters. Respawn are producing an all new Action Adventure game.

Galaxy of Heroes are adding something for everyone, new characters, new locations, in fact, a way to bring everyone’s personal Star Wars fantasy’s to life (except for maybe that sick and twisted fuck in Boreham Wood who’s fantasy is watching Jabba bone a naked Leia before Luke comes to rescue her and Han.)

Next year will come a new completely instalment of Battlefront adding content that we the players have asked for and the worlds of ‘A Force Awakens’ and beyond.

Lastly but so not leastly; Battlefield 1. The Battlefield community has grown to 60 million players around the world and I’ve only played one of the games for about two and a half hours. Terrible I know but I just love the simplicity of Call of Duty.

As we know Battlefield 1 is set during World War 1. I don’t know if I’m even comfortable with this as it’s only a year or so since the last enlisted soldier to serve in the UK’s army died. WW1 was brutal and Dice want to represent that with knives, shovels and other non-weapons used as weapons in the trenches. By all means let us fight future wars and play the good guy during current wars but to glorify the most brutal war man has ever fought? Personally, I don’t know. But anyways, back to the game and forget my moralistic ramblings…

Battlefront 1 will be epic in scale, 64 player multiplayer, dynamic battles where no two battles will ever be the same, dynamic weather, new dynamic destruction to allow more things to be destroyed than ever before and you’ll be able to control the behemoths in game: The airships in the sky, the battleships at sea, tanks, bi-planes, howitzers and horses. All of course in the new Frostbite engine for maximum high definition carnage. Let’s hope Dice have found a way to tell a story about war that teaches us of the horrors involved. In much the same way as ‘Valiant Hearts: The Great War’ by Ubisoft Montpellier did with approximately a millionth of the budget.

That was EA. Enjoy!


Aug 182014
 

I think I’ve come up with doable and realistically achievable Fifty Five by Fifty Five list. From publishing it today I have 6 years, 10 months, 8 days or 2504 days. The list isn’t in any order, but, I know there’s a method to the madness.

In bold, the task is in progress.

Struck-through, I’ve completed the task.

#1.      Give up smoking.

#2.      Eat alone in three different restaurants c/w starter, drink and main. A Chinese, a posh restaurant and a bistro. Not rushed!

#3.      Take a date for a progressive meal out; starter, main and dessert in different restaurants.

#4.      Get Forty Years a Punk finished and published. Get the secondary projects underway.

#5.      Get the damn Gofundme live!

#6.      Travel to each of the Continents; Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica.

#7.      Swim in at least 15 Lido’s over one year. (2017 – Parliament Hill Lido,

#8.      Visit all three highest points in the UK. Scotland, Wales and England.

#9.      Climb Black Willy, kayak around Kynance Cove, wild swim at Golitha Falls and one, two, three other spots before I leave Cornwall.

#10.    Get PR represented in London

#11.    Kayak on Hyde Park and and one of the Trafalgar Sq fountains.

#12.    Wild Swim at least 10 places in Roger Deakin’s book Waterlog

#13.    Learn another language.

#14.    Experiment with a voluntary role in a workplace for a week or two.

#15.    Reach at least 3* in White Water Kayaking.

#16.    See a Puffin in the wild.

#17.    Sing live on stage with an established Punk band. At least one complete song.

#18.    Get the Canon 1Ds MkIII, 1Dx or 5D, 16-35 f/2.8L III, 24-70 f/2.8L II, 85mm f/1.2L II, Studio Lights x’s 4, Backgrounds.

#19.    Take a train somewhere interesting maybe foreign.

#20.    Go to a music festival complete with camping or Bed and Breakfast.

#21.    Take a cookery course

#22.    Finish two 365 photo projects. One on iPhone and one on DSLR.

#23.    Go for a picnic somewhere random or incredibly scenic.

#24.    Try a bunch (10) of new and possibly repulsive food (Chicken feet, sheep eyes, head cheese, squirrel).

#25.    Go to 10 networking events in a year.

#26.    Read at least 12 novels in a year.

(2016 – Jan – The Prince Lestat [Anne Rice], Feb – Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys. [Viv Albertine], Mar – Japan’s Sex Trade [Peter Constantine], Apr – Shadowrun: Spells and Chrome [John Hellers] Fail!)

#27     Go to at least one music gig a month for a year.  

(2016 – The Damned 40th Anniversary at the RAH & Guest List, Killing Joke, The Members, Spizzenergi, Spizzology, Penetration, Pixies, Buzzcocks, The Tuts, LOCK, The Duel, Dead Men Walking, Department S, Ed Tudor Pole, Adam and the Ants, Healthy Junkies, Church of Eon, The Featherz, Tauru Trakker, Starsha Lee, Hazel O’Connor, Stiff Little Fingers, Fields of The Nephilim, Babymetal, Shonen Knife, Brian James and The Dickies.) 

(2017 – The Tuts, Spizzenergi, The Rezillos, Healthy Junkies, The Stranglers, The Ruts, Charlie Harper acoustic, Tara Rez, Möthballs, Italia 90, Screaming Dead, Future Daughters)

#28.    Do at least one random act of kindness per week for a year.

#29.    Take a photo of 26 people with names starting from A-Z.

#30.    Write a will.

#31.    Inspire 5 people to do a similar list – 101/1001 or 33/33 etc.

#32.    Redesign/revamp my website.

#33.    At least triple my Twitter or Instagram followers each year. 2016, 2017

#34.    Write for my blog at least twice a month.

#35.    Drive to Spain or Portugal camping along the way. Stay for two weeks at destination.

#36.    Buy an original piece of Art.

#37.    When I have the finances and the freedom, live for three days like Luke Rhinehart’s ‘Diceman’ and see where I end up.

#38.    Spend a week without the computer, TV or Facebook. Can only use my phone to make and receive calls.

#39.    Spend a week detoxing and then eat vegetarian for the rest of the month.

#40.    Give up extra sugar, sweets and chocolate for a month.

#41.    Complete all the numbered Final Fantasy games in order obviously missing out 11 and 14 as they are MMO’s.

#42.    Every year, at the beginning of January, donate to charity (clothing, books etc. rather than money). 2016-17. 17-18

#43.    For each of the 7 years plant a different tree somewhere.

#44.    Clear all my debts and live credit free for three months.

#45.    Attend a foreign festival – Maybe the Kanamara Matsuri, The Japanese festival of the steel phallus in Kawasaki.

#46.    Get my tattooed heart covered up and get at least the two tats I want on each of my calves and the two I want inside both forearms (Keys and Music). At least one tattoo done traditionally with bamboo needles.

#47.    John O’Groats to Land’s End with friends, no time limit, camping along the way.

#48.    Visit The Museu Picasso, in Barcelona, Spain.

#49.    Get published in a ‘national’ publication at least once each year. 2016 – Fail! 2017 – ?

#50.    Stencil graffiti my face onto at least 10 well known London streets and photograph the results as proof.

#51.    Stay awake for 24 hours on a ‘date’ and watch the sunrise with said date.

#52.    Find my ‘Happy Place’.

#53.    Watch 52 documentaries in a year thereby (hopefully) increasing my knowledge and inspiring me.

#54.    Do the London to Brighton bike ride.

#55.    Kayak around Ramsey Island in Pembrokeshire. Get to the Blue Lagoon and tombstone.


Mar 232013
 

So many things are going on in my head right now. I’ve been reading teh interwebs for two days straight and I’m feeling like my dislike for people in general is justified. Of course, ‘teh interwebs’ (sic) is where the trolls live so I’m probably being unjust if I base the whole of humanity on a few, but still.

What made me write this post is a thread I read on an IMDb forum regarding the film ‘Monsters’ [2010] written and directed by Gareth Edwards and shot for around $15,000. It’s an awesome movie considering the low budget.

Filmed on a Sony EX3 with a Nikon 50 MM Lens the director used natural light almost exclusively except for a couple of tiny LED lights for when it was pitch black. The effects were done in Adobe CS4 and the editing in Premiere. The majority of filming was shot with just a sound guy, the director and the 2 main leads. Most of the extras were locals and a lot of the scenes and locations were shot opportunistically.

Awesome! But by fuck were the trolls out to get this one on the forums.

I replied recently to another thread on another site I use to people who were criticising a short animation. Most of them were not criticising the story or the characters, they were criticising the actual cinematography and the techniques used. This was on a gaming site.

My comment was simply; “if you can do better go out and do it. If not, have respect for the man that did. If you actually have the skill to do a better job and think that the film maker could have done things better or improve on his technique, send the director an email and offer to help him.”

Constructive criticism is welcomed by all. I know I welcomed it as a photographer. If someone obviously had more talent than me I learnt from them if I could and listened to what they had to say. I ignored the ‘I could do that’ trolls. If they could, they would’ve and I would be copying them

The two things that got to me on the ‘Monsters’ forum were 1) the thread criticising the lead male for portraying a professional photographer badly and 2) criticising him (the photojournalist) for going with the girl (that he didn’t know) in the first place (into territory infected by the ‘Monsters’ of the title).

Amongst the many reasons Scoot McNairy was criticised for playing a photojournalist badly was that in one of the last scenes he just stands and watches the monsters rather than shooting them (with his camera). That led me to thinking about the incident I was involved with only two days past. And. Bear in mind I ‘am’ (or was) a professional photographer.

20 March 2013. I was on the King Harry Ferry (a chain ferry) crossing the river Fal when I watched a car roll off of the concrete slipway, onto the riverbank and stop with it’s front wheels in the water. I was on the opposite side of the Fal. The driver, an elderly male had apparently (I was later to learn) stepped out of his car to take a photo and either didn’t apply the handbrake properly or the handbrake failed. As of writing there hasn’t been any more information.

The driver and one other male seemed to dither about by the car, one of them wandered back across the slipway to a moored and beached dinghy with an outboard before sauntering back. Neither male looked overtly worried in so much as they weren’t about to get their feet wet. As we (the people on the ferry) watched, the car began to slide into the water. The driver looked panicked and the skipper of the ferry was already on the radio and the phone to the emergency services. A manager from the ferry company had got into a small boat and was making his way across the river towards the scene of the accident.

A disabled woman was trapped in the car! With two dogs. As it slipped under the water.

When the ferry was about thirty feet from where the car had probably settled underwater I was begging the guy in the boat above the car to throw me a rope so that I could dive down and see what I could do for the woman in the car. He refused and refused. I begged. His reasoning was that the water was too deep, 25/30 feet at that point, and that the visibility was nil and that the river was tidal. I knew it would be too dangerous without some kind of safety line myself and was feeling awful and frantic that I wanted to help but wasn’t being allowed to.

When it was obvious that the ferry could dock and cause no more difficulties to the car it pulled onto the slipway and having the only four wheel drive with a tow bar (I drive a Land Rover) I figured that if a rope could be hooked onto the car I might be able to tow it out of the river. The guy on the small boat was desperately trying to hook the car, which he couldn’t see, and was only approximately sure of it’s location, with his anchor. If he could manage it, I could try to tow it.

Two inshore lifeboats arrived. Neither having a diver they agreed that trying to hook the car with an anchor and me towing it was probably the best idea available at that time.

Two offshore lifeboats and a helicopter arrived but still no diver. The best shot was a local mussel ‘free’ diver named Matt Vernon, (a fucking hero!) he spent ages in just a wetsuit, mask, snorkel and fins diving down in the nil visibility, and near freezing water trying his best to get some kind of line on the car. At one point he did and the line was tied to my car by the coastguard on the shore and I was instructed where to drive and how slow. I moved perhaps 15/20 feet before the car got stuck (I was later told) on the ferry chain and my clutch began to burn out.

The rope was then tied to the winch of a fire engine and at that point it couldn’t tow the car out of the water either.

This was perhaps three quarters of an hour after the car had gone into the water with the woman.

This is a précis of the whole story. There had also been an off duty policeman directing traffic, a community police officer trying to co-ordinate things on shore. The ferry standing offshore with two ambulances and a fire engine. A fire engine on the submerged cars side of the water with two coastguard trucks, four police cars and an ambulance.

Including the emergency services on the opposite side of the river, on the river and in the air there were eighteen vehicles. Not one of them had a trained and equipped diver.

Cornwall has the most coastline of any UK county and this local region, Carrick, is one of it’s most coastal with tourism and fishing both playing a major role. The nearest major town; Falmouth (along with the Carrick Roads area where the river Fal and river Percuil meet) has the third deepest natural harbour in the world.

EIGHTEEN emergency vehicles, at a coastal emergency, and not one diver.

Again, this is a précis. I struggle to think about that afternoon and have prayed for the man that lost his wife and dogs. For the woman that died and for the dogs and for all that were involved and that might be feeling a little raw for their involvement.

As a man, I hope I did everything I could to help. I beat myself up for not getting into the water and forcing the issue of the ferry guy giving me a rope but I know he did the right thing by refusing; while I was giving a statement to the police the officer said that the only thing more galling than losing someone to an incident like this (and he’d never, in ten years been to an incident like this) was losing two people when the person that tried to help ended up dying too. It’s a sobering thought.

As a photographer. As the only photographer on the incident side of the river. I actually considered being able to get photos that no other journalist would be able to get and wondered the financial value of said photos…

Ultimately, I decided against it. As a photographer I decided against it. This wasn’t a tsunami or 9/11 where the disaster was worldwide news. This was a local, personal tragedy and as such my role was to help and not to document a media event that would not have world wide ramifications and photography would not be part of it’s history.

Thinking about the forum comment that sparked this blog post, unless you’re there, unless you’re a photographer you have no idea how you’re going to react to a situation or whether you feel the need to document it. By saying that ‘not taking photos’ is a bad representation of a photojournalist the troll has no idea. I was there and I didn’t take photos. To not take photos shows humanity in some situations and an actors job is to be as naturally human as possible.

Troll… You have been pwned!

As for item #2. Why did the photojournalist decide to go cross country (across a monster infected area) with a girl that he’d just met?

I’d like to think that all things being equal. In that situation, I might make that decision too. Like Luke Rhinehart. The ‘Diceman’, sometimes you have to throw the dice and take a risk. Even if the dice are metaphorical, sometimes you have to roll them and do something unexpected. As the events of the 20th have shown, life is too often, too short. We have no idea when ours will run out and one has to make the most of each moment. One minute you can be admiring the scenery and within ten minutes either yourself or your family and pets can be dead.

Dead is forever. This moment, this life is fleeting. Even your allotted eighty or so years, seen in perspective, in time, is but an eye-blink. What percentage is your allotted life, of time that has gone before, since the beginning of time until the end of time with the implosion of the universe? It is an infinitesimally small amount of time. That’s all you have, all you will ever have and you don’t even know how long that time is.

Live! Live in the moment. Live for today. Take risks, take calculated gambles and live. Experience life. Enjoy life and if you don’t, find a way to. Find someone to share it with. Take a risk and talk to the girl you feel you’ll have no chance with because the chances are she feels just as insecure as you do. Take that walk in the countryside. Stop and smell the flowers. Play with your kids and pets. Take a holiday. Spend some money recklessly, swim in the ocean, hike cross country. Talk to a stranger. Look out to sea and smell the salt. Tell your folks you love them, eat ice-cream in the winter, try sushi for the first time. Just fucking enjoy and experience life because it is too fucking short not to.

Why did the journalist go cross-country with a girl he’d just met (but probably fancied)? Because he could!


Feb 122012
 

When asked what the best camera was, Pulitzer prize winning photojournalist Barry Staver said, “It’s the one you have with you.” Photographer Chase Jarvis liked the quote so much he went out with his iPhone and created a book, an app and a website around it. Recently, ‘living legend’ Annie Leibovitz called the iPhone 4S “the snapshot camera of today.”

I’ve already said myself how owning one and using one has rekindled my love for photography. The iPhone’s simplicity rocks! It only has one button; shoot. If you want more, more you can have in the way of apps; Camera+ gives you shoot, focus and exposure. You can edit on the fly and post your photos to all of your social media sites or keep them to yourself in the Camera Roll.

Annie Leibovitz described the iPhone as accessible, easy and the modern version of the “wallet with the family pictures in it”.

Grrr to the fucking gadget!! Fuck Apple and fuck Steve Jobs. I resisted the whole iPhone thing for so long until ultimately I saw the photos a 4S could take and I wanted one. So much thought has been put into the camera. There are rumours, that knowing how important a part of the iPhone the camera is, Jobs was in talks with the Lytro inventor Ren Ng about including the Lytro technology in a future rendition of the iPhone.

I could have waited until the iPhone 5, and then waited until 6 then 7. I’d have waited forever. It’s called procrastination, so I climbed aboard the 4S. And now. Now. The fucking thing has taken over my life a little. So much so that I’ve gotten a little responsibility back and started to blog again.

That’s right, blogging is part of the Neolestat experience and it isn’t updating a Facebook status. It’s a small step forward. I’ve started a 365 photography project and I have ‘productivity’ apps. All down to an 8mp, f2.4 gadget, phone aside.

Problem is though, at heart I’m an artist and in the real world, f2.4 should give you some smidgen of creativity. A little depth of field as it were. But, with such a small lens, what was I expecting? As a photographer and as an artist I’m always looking for more. I love taking snapshots but I also love creating images that fall within the realms of art; images that have effect, technique, colour, and composition. I bought my first DSLR so that I could add depth of field to my images. That’s a fact. A DSLR purely to be able to incorporate depth of field into my photography.

So, seeing as the iPhone is going to be my goto camera until some modicum of success means I have the spare change to be able to go out and buy a Leica M10 and the new Canon 1Ds X I need a way to improve on the iPhone’s ‘kit’ lens as it were: It’s with the Olloclip that I mean to do this.

Olloclip

The Olloclip

Designed by Patrick O’Neill the Olloclip is a 3-in-1 quick-connect lens solution for the iPhone 4/4S that includes a fish-eye, wide-angle and macro lenses that work with both the still and video cameras. Made from CNC machined aircraft grade aluminium, precision ground glass and soft plastic the Olloclip isn’t a cheap lens solution but it’s certainly the best and worth every penny. As a Kickstarter project people had faith in it as a blueprint alone and so far its funding is at 454% of the original figure asked. It seems that Kickstarter is the place to go to fund an iPhone project… Hang on a minute while I register!

Cleverly designed to be one product rather than 3 separate lenses banging about in a pocket or bag the Olloclip is fashioned to clip on and off the iPhone with ease and is engineered to be foolproof with regard to lining up the lenses. It’s soft plastic body means that no matter how many times you slide it on or off the phone you are never going to damage the glass front or back. Like the previously reviewed product; the Glif, the Olloclip is designed to work on a caseless iPhone so for an all in one tripod and lens solution the Olloclip and Glif are an ideal pairing.

To operate the Olloclip, simply slide it onto the iPhone and enjoy the wonderful fish-eye lens with it’s approximate 180 Degree field-of-view and shoot some rad and gnarly skateboard trickery! Or don’t. I just threw that old cliché in for the sick boarders that want a convenient solution that doesn’t weigh them down. As with even the most expensive cameras and fish-eye lenses there is a certain amount of vignetting, don’t hate on it, love it. It’s part of what makes shooting fish-eye so much fun.

When you tire of all that fish-eye goodness, slide the Olloclip off, turn it around and slide it back on. Wide-angle for the win. Tire of that, unscrew the wide-angle lens and you have a perfectly functioning x10 macro-lens. What I do assure you of, is that with three options you’ll never tire of using them all and the standard iPhone lens will seem just that; standard.

Raisin Muffin

Giving Birth to a Raisin (Olloclip macro) Shot and edited with Camera+

Measuring about 20mm (0.78 in) across on average, weighing only 20 grams or 0.7 of an ounce, having lens caps for the wide-angle and fish-eye lenses and coming with a micro fibre cleaning cloth that handily doubles up as a carrying bag a there’s absolutely no reason to leave home without it and more to the fact you’ll probably find that you look for excuses to leave home with it. You’ll become a keen landscape photographer, an URBEX photographer or most importantly you’ll get that fish-eye on, dust off your skateboard and get grinding again.

I can’t gush about the Olloclip enough. For my Canon 1Ds Mark II I only had three lenses. I had the 24-70 f2.8L, the 70-200 f2.8L and the 85mm f1.2L. Now I have three lenses for my iPhone and didn’t have to spend in excess of £5800 ($9140 with today’s currency exchange rate). With an Olloclip attached I’m a happy iPhoneographer!

Skateboard Deck

Longboard Truck (Olloclip fish-eye) Shot and edited with Camera+

Feb 072012
 

I said this on Facebook and no-one bothered to comment, so, either, I have no friends or perhaps it’s one of those “Doh! Did you imagine any different?” comments, but, since buying my first iPhone, a 4S, I can’t imagine life without it.

It won’t ever roll a cigarette for me but it’s enough that I can Facebook and Twitter in front of the TV without having my PC in my lap. It’s got a timer that helps me cook and I do enjoy a bit of Angry Birds. However… Although it seemingly syncs my whole PC; music, photos, films, books, notes and calendar it’s the camera that amuses me the most.

Not completely surprising, seeing that I’m a photographer, but I am utterly surprised at A) how good the camera is (I bought a Nokia N8 purely because on paper it had the best camera on a cellphone, I was underwhelmed!) and B) how it seems to have completely rekindled my love for photography.

I love the quality of the images and I love the apps; Camera+, Hipstamatic, Instagram, TiltShift, 8mm, Shoebox, Vintage Cam and PS (Photoshop) Express. I love that I can take a photo, edit it on the phone and immediately post it up on Facebook or Twitter. I can fire up Hipstamatic, give the phone a shake to randomise the film, lens and flash combo, aim the camera, press the shutter button and immediately I have a Holga/Diana style photo without the need for either sending a medium format film off for developing or doing some serious Photoshop editing on my PC.

What’s not to love?

Oh… The iPhone is tiny, it doesn’t feel like a substantial camera in your hand. It doesn’t have a 1/4-20 UNC thread to attach it to a tripod head, it doesn’t stand up on it’s own easily even though Apple gave you the option to use the supplied headphones as a remote shutter button.

Although it has a digital zoom, it doesn’t have a macro mode, nor a wide angle mode nor a fish eye lens. If you drop an iPhone it’s more likely to break than your average prosumer camera and if you use the camera for more than fifteen minutes you’d better take a way to recharge it on the fly.

Have you ever tried to watch a movie or catch-up TV on your iPhone? Did you wander around the house looking for a non-slippery surface to stand the phone on? Did you try balancing the phone against a banana for the optimum viewing angle? Did you look for a portable non-slip surface AND a banana so that you could watch catch-up TV in bed? Did you wish that there was a better way? Did you wish that better way was also a 1/4-20 UNC thread so that you could watch TV or shoot photos with your iPhone attached to a tripod? I did.

You did too? But for the life of you couldn’t find a solution… Enter the Glif+ the solution you’ve been searching for!

The Glif

The Glif

Made by Studio Neat and being a Kickstarter success project, the Glif is made from recyclable rubberized plastic and is basically an iPhone 4/4S accessory with two primary functions: Mounting your iPhone onto a tripod and propping up your iPhone at various angles. It’s small enough to fit snugly in your pocket or backpack. It has a 1/4″-­20 thread that fits any standard tripod or camera mount. The Glif is designed to work with a “naked” (caseless) iPhone.

Glif Stand

The Glif as a stand

Additionally (and the package I have) the Glif+ comes with the Serif which will keep your phone safe in more extreme situations. When you are not using the Serif, it fits snugly inside the Glif, making it very compact.  Also the Glif+ comes with the Ligature, a simple keyring loop that attaches to the tripod thread on the Glif.

The Serif

The Glif and The Serif

If you have £19 ($30 at the time of press), burning a hole in your pocket, forget buying more apps and buy yourself a physical product. Buy the Glif+. Us iPhone users are all the same; I’m guessing that you’re never really more than a room away from your phone and I have to say that now my phone is never more than a room away from it’s new best buddy; the Glif.

As a stand for watching movies, catch-up TV or FaceTime it clips on and off in seconds and is far better than a banana for getting the viewing angle spot on. As a tripod mount it clips on and off in seconds and even with the Serif attached (which I have tried safely with a Gorillapod tripod clipped to my bike) it is small enough and secure enough to allow for charging and/or using the headphones as a remote shutter button which is crucial if you want to avoid camera shake and which is surely the whole point of a tripod mount? That is, unless you’re lazy like me and while lying in bed, on your back, use a small Gorillapod perched on your chest to watch BBC iPlayer…

In summary; The Glif+ isn’t the best £19 I’ve spent in my life, (that was for a hand-job in the back room of a strip joint by a red-headed teen with awesome boobs) but it sure comes a close second. The Glif is better than a banana and I for one wouldn’t be without it now.

Get one… You know you want to!