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Six ways to kick up your photo results for 2014

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As we start the New Year, are you ready to step-up your photography game? With some new gear, this might be the year you shoot the Pulitzer Prize photo or maybe just the best shot ever of your new baby. Either way, without the proper gear and a camera in hand, the picture will never come to life. Let’s get ready.

More Photos

Here’s a selection of gear I’ve been using for the past few months and would offer as recommendations to the beginning photo bug. Let’s look at Lightscoop, Honestech scanners, a great photo book, the Jackery external pack, the Niko camera pack, and Blynk the Lyfeshot camera.

Lyfeshot Camera

If you want to record every moment of your life – The Blynk by Lyfeshot is the way to go. With a simple clip, the camera attaches to your pocket or belt and starts taking photos constantly for a full day’s video of your activities.

The time lapse sequence can be set to any duration (every one second, two seconds, 10 seconds, etc.) so that you capture as many frames as you want to record your day. Playback then can be controlled so you see the video as quickly or as slowly as you’d like.

The enclosed software is some of the best I’ve ever seen as far as simplicity and robustness. The only thing that I’d add is the capability to rotate the video, so if you wanted to wear the clip horizontally instead of vertically, you could.

This is an amazingly light camera, and for 640x480 video, you’ll find the package hard to beat.

Specs:

Format

MJPEG AVI at 640 x 480 resolution

Memory Storage

4 Gigabytes of internal flash memory

Time Interval

From 1 second to 24 hours

Check them out online at: http://www.lyfeshot.com

[See the slideshow above for pics of all the products.]

Niko Camera Bag

Designed for street photographers and action videographers who need a covert utility bag. The world won’t know you’re carrying expensive camera gear until you’re ready to pull it out.

The Niko Camera Pack features a weatherproof 1,000-denier-nylon shell, a military-grade tarpaulin liner, a fully customizable interior for lenses and flashes, multiple pockets for cable and gear storage, and fast, easy swing-around access. Stash your phone, fuel, and an extra layer in the top-loader and securely slide up to a 15” laptop in the padded sleeve.

Outside, you’ll find a U-lock holster and Velcro straps for lashing a tripod, skateboard, or cardboard tubes for your photo prints. And, like all Chrome bags, it’s guaranteed for life.

Check them out online at: chromecamerabags.com

Jackery external battery pack

Imagine recharging your cellphone 4 times before needing to head back someplace with electricity to recharge. With the Jackery Giant+, you can recharge tablet or smartphone multiple times – and quickly. Never again have to end a photo expedition because your cellphone went dead.

The name, Giant+, is misleading, because it’s actually very slim. Small enough to fit in your pocket, this thing really packs a charge. It’s an Ultra-high capacity 12000mAh rechargeable power cell with dual output ports; Super-fast charge output (5V / 3A) though dual USB ports (5V / 2A and 5V / 1A) allow for simultaneous charging of your iPad, iPhone, Android, and more at high speed.

Get this – it also acts as an emergency flashlight – with power to last days and days. Perfect when you are away from base camp – you’ll never curse the darkness again.

With a rugged aluminum case, it looks like this little baby will last forever. Check out their whole line of battery packs at http://www.jackeryusa.com. I’m loving mine.

This is a “Senior Recommended” product by Doug Bardwell.com.

[See the slideshow above for pics of all the products.]

Lightscoop

You say you’d love to shoot better portraits, but you don’t have the money for an expensive auxiliary flash unit. No problem – Lightscoop has you covered with their two new products.

The new Lightscoop Deluxe let’s you use bounced light from your on-camera DSLR flash to give uniform and soft lighting to all your photos…if there’s a wall or ceiling close by to bounce your lighting. This mirror swivels so you can shoot landscape or portrait style – an improvement over their original Lightscoop.

With a change of mirrors, you can easily change the color effect on your photos. Get crazy with all the multiple different color combinations available.

When the unit is done, it folds flat and takes up almost no space in your camera bag.

If you’re shooting with a point and shoot camera instead, the Lightscoop Jr. is for you. Placed in front of the flash on your camera, this device bounces the light to the ceiling for that soft bounced light look.

Caution, you need a powerful light to get the best results. Recommended cameras include: Nikon Coolpix 7100, Pentax Q, Canon G12, G1X, Powershot S100, Olympus XZ1, Fuji FinePix X10. Without a strong flash or a normal height ceiling, this method is not going to work.

Neither of these units should be used outside, in large gyms or churches, etc. However, in the standard ceiling situations, the light effect of bounced lighting is wonderful. Experiment and see the difference.

For more info and usage suggestions, check out Lightscoop online at: http://lightscoop.com.

Capture the Magic

Looking for some inspiration? Maybe you’d like to know why people love some of your photos and find other ones ho-hum at best?

Think composition! That one element probably plays more important than any other in photography. Assuming your camera can take a good picture on Program Mode, what’s left for you the photographer is composition. Even the most expensive camera will never figure that out for you.

Jack Dykinga’s latest book delves into the art of training your eye to improve the composition of your photos. Framing, juxtaposition, light, leading lines and negative space are all explored. Each subject is beautifully illustrated with his photos of nature and the environment. Every other page is a frame-worthy work of art.

As a nice touch, all his equipment, lense openings, shutter speeds, etc are grouped in the back of the book so as to not spoil the appearance of each photo page.

As a blend of fine art photographer and ecological documentary photographer, he has accumulated a terrific body of work in this book which will be appreciated by photographers of any skill level.

See this and more great books on photography at http://RockyNook.com.

This is a “Senior Recommended” product by Doug Bardwell.com.

Honestech Scanner

When you are putting together than amazing video of your family or friends, do you often find you want to add some old, historic photos of your friends taken years ago. You know…those photos actually taken on negative film or slide film. What to do? That sure isn’t digitally friendly material.

It used to be that you had to send your film out to be professionally scanned and burned to photo CD’s. No more. With the Honetech Film Scan&Save, you can easily digitize your images in no time.

35mm slides and negatives can be scanned up to 1,800 dpi giving you nice large 2582 x 1680 pixel images. That’s larger than a typical HDTV image (1920x1280) so your photos will look great even on your big screen TV.

Honestech makes some of the best gear I’ve seen for the beginner. Enough tech to do the job but without all the bells and whistles that make most newbies cringe. Reasonably priced, this is something you might want to look at. Check the video guide.

Honestech also makes a great line of video convertors, video editors, audio recorders and multimedia wireless products. Check them all out at http://honestech.com.

This is a “Senior Recommended” product by Doug Bardwell.com.

Many of these items are in our annual gift guide - check out all the other gear for this year. Also check out all our other Senior Recommended products here.

Doug Bardwell, based in Cleveland, OH, writes about interesting new photography topics across the country and around the world at DougBardwell.com. Feel free to drop him a line at travel.dougbardwell@gmail.com with suggestions for future stories. To get his stories delivered to your inbox, click the RSS feed or the "Subscribe" button above or follow him on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. To read Doug’s disclosure notice, click here. To see his travel photo collection, see BardwellPhotography.com.

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