Sunday, June 12, 2016

06.13.06 BrushKnob Brings Hands on Back to Photo Editing

Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with Wataru Kami, concept artist that's worked on such projects as Street Fighter V.  

While having coffee with him he told me about the new tool he had created, the BrushKnob.  BrushKnob was designed because Kami-San wanted a way to speed up his workflow.  Often time when digital artists and photographers are working in Photoshop they have to switch back in forth between their pen tablet and keyboard.  BrushKnob was invented so that you wouldn't be searching your keyboard, and instead have access to the tools you need immediately in your hand.

I pulled out my laptop and gave the tool a try.  I was immediately surprised at how quickly my computer setup the device.  Without needing any extra drivers I just plugged in the USB cable and I was ready to rock.

Unfortunately the computer I had with me for the day didn't have Photoshop on it, so instead I opened up Lightroom.  The integration was great.  With each turn of the knob I could not only see my brush increasing or decreasing in size, but could also feel it.

I borrowed another computer that had Photoshop on it and found that the button would switch back and forth between my brush tool and my eraser tool.  Kami-San explained to me how he wanted to keep the tool simple, and that it was.  But the ability to feel your tools gave me more control, and did actually speed up my workflow.

The device is designed to work with Adobe programs, so if you wanted to use it with other programs like CaptureOne or Gimp then you'll probably need to remap some of your keys.  But overall a great little device with immediate response time.

 Kami-San is currently raising funds on IndieGogo to support the launch of the BrushKnob.  He had decided to launch on IndieGogo rather than other crowdfunding sites because he's based out of Japan, and more Japanese people are familiar with IndieGogo than others like Kickstarter.

The campaign has a little over two weeks left and is offering low introductory prices for those interested in the device.  You can see more at IndieGogo.

I recommend the BrushKnob for any graphic artists and photographers that want to not only increase their workflow, but also want to return to that physical feeling of art when working with digital mediums.

BrushKnob: Refine Your Photographs from kmwtr on Vimeo.

Friday, June 03, 2016

06.03.16 Most Versatile Tripod I've Ever Had

Being based out of Tokyo I am always moving.  Japan has an amazing public transportation system that I take full advantage of.  As a portrait and travel photographer I always have to be ready to go.  Carrying gear from shoot to shoot can be extremely tiresome, so portability is very important to me.  Throughout my career I’ve been constantly replacing gear to find things lighter and easier to carry in order to make things easier for me.  The Befree tripod became the definition of what I look for in all my gear.
            The compact size of the Befree tripod was the first thing to appeal to me.  By folding everything in I was able to reduce the size to about fifteen inches.  The size was so small that I could easily put it in my suitcase.  This allowed me to carry most of my gear in my carry on suitcase ensuring I had speedy disembarkment from my flights.  I could fit my camera, clothes, batteries, and lights all in the same suitcase along with my tripod.  It also became very easy to carry around by hand.  By folding it into such a compact size I didn’t have to worry about bumping into things.  I had full control of the compacted tripod as it was about as long as a suitcase.
            When fully extended the tripod reached to a little over four and a half feet.  I am around five foot nine inches, so when shooting with it I have to bend over a little bit.  However the one foot difference between myself and the tripod is not enough to feel uncomfortable when lining up my shots.  It’s a good size, where if it were a little shorter it would be unpleasant. 
            The BeFree tripod I purchased has an aluminum body that has stood up to every sort of mistreatment I could give it.  The body weighs about three pounds which is a pretty light tripod, and I barely even notice the weight on my day to day trips.  There is a carbon fiber version that shaves off a little more weight, however the aluminum body has been fine for me. 
            The legs lock into two positions, either the standard 51 degree angle or a wider 25 degree angle.  The wider angle allows for better stability, and allows you to take shots of things closer to the ground.  The center column of the Befree tripod is also reversible.  This allows you to get even closer to the ground by mounting your camera upside down on the system.  This is extremely handy for Macro photography.
            The ball head with a quick release mount takes advantage of Manfrotto’s RC2 plates.  This offers a lot of versatility since it’s such a common style quick release system.  The ball mount is controlled by tightening and releasing a wing screw.  This releases tension and allows you to move the camera around to the position you want.
Manfrotto’s BeFree tripod offers all the key features that their tripods are known for.  The durability, portability, compactibility, and ease of use make this probably the best tripod on the market for a photographer that has to do a lot of traveling.  Over all I myself couldn’t be happier with owning this one and take it with me almost everywhere.

Monday, March 17, 2014

03.17.14 Pocket Photo Printers

Recently I’ve been looking to fill a missing piece in my life. That missing piece is unique to my situation, however there are probably other’s that are in the same situation as me. Those of us that need (as in must have) a portable traveler printer. I am a photographer and frequently find myself in exotic countries. There are times where I think to myself “I wish I could print this off and paste it in my journal.” or “I wish I could give this person a copy of this photograph I took to them, because chances are they’ll never find a computer in this area to see it on my website.”
So I began the quest to find the perfect portable printer. Canon has their little Selphy series printers that spit out 4x6 images using an inkjet system. But I need something smaller because when you’re traveling with as much gear as I do then ever ounce and every inch matters. The focus of this article is to compare the three main printers I found, while introducing a surprise fourth choice at the end.

Polaroid CZA-20011B PoGo 
The first printer I found was the Polaroid PoGo. This is Polaroid’s attempt to bring instant pictures to the user. The device uses the zInk, Zero Ink, technology which allows you to print without working about a print cartridge. Since it uses the zInk the device is able to remain compact. zInk, for a lack of better explanation, uses chemistry and microcrystals that change the color of the paper when heat is applied. So the PoGo ends up being extremely compact. The PoGo can use PictBridge if you camera has that function, and can also receive images over Bluetooth. However iPhones do not allow you to send photos of Bluetooth, so you would need an Android phone, or a phone that allows Bluetooth sending. The biggest complaint people have with this printer is the quality. It is in no way designed to print professional photos, however the cost per print is extremely low making it overall the least expensive option.

Fuji Pivi MP-300 
This is the more advanced version of the Fuji Pivi. Previous models only had an infrared port on them so that you could send your photos to it via your infrared sensor on your phone. As this is mainly a feature for Asian phones and not western phones it didn’t have much of a market outside of Japan. The MP-300 still has the infrared sensor but also has a PictiBridge USB port on it. The best part about this printer is that it uses film paper very similar to old Polaroid cameras. The print will come out of the camera and then you wait for it to develop, and will no doubt probably shake the photo in hopes of it developing quicker.

LG PD233 Pocket Photo Printer
This printer comes in two models, the PD233 and PD223. I read somewhere that the only real difference in the two is that the 233 was developed for the global market so has less compatibility issues. The PD233 uses the zInk technolgy, just like the PoGo. The PD233 has an App that can be downloaded for either iOS, or Android. The device does have a mini-USB port however this appears only to be useful for charging, not for Pictbridge or desktop support. The printer also comes in an assortment of colors, for those of you that want to accesorize your assories.

Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1
(Available in America June 1, 2014)
Lastly after searching through the ends of the internet I finally decided to head to Japan’s largest electronic store, Yodabashi Camera, to see if they had anything I hadn’t found yet. The SP-1, much like the MP-300, uses film paper. The big difference in paper is that the SP-1 is using the Instax mini film, which is the same film that Instax cameras are using. The SP-1 uses a smartphone app, and Wifi connectivity to send your photos to it’s printer. There are no USB ports on it, so you can rule out Pictbridge or computer printing. However if you’re willing to put your photos on your tablet or phone before printing then this is no problem.

Additional Notes:
The zInk technology is pretty amazing, and also offers things like photo stickers. However if you want a true polaroid look to your photos then Fuji is the way to go. All the printers have the option of charging with an AC adapter, however some adapters are sold separately.
If you’re trying to decide which is better, that’s all a matter of preference. I’ve decided to go with the Fuji Share since it’s the most recent and also prints off the polaroid style prints. The price per print is a little more expensive on the Fuji Share, however they are making enough Instax Mini Cameras to ensure that their film will be around for a long time. Unfortunately none of the devices are versatile enough to offer every type of connectivity available, but that’s probably a good thing since it keeps the price down. Most of these cameras can be found on Amazon, however the Fuji PIVI MP-300 doesn't seem to be available in the US.

Fuji PIVI MP-300
7.2V Rechargable Lithium-Ion
CR2 x2
7.4V Rechargable Li-Polymer
CR2 x2
Battery Life
10-15 Photos
100 Photos
20 Photos
100 Photos
(not iOS comptabile)
4.7 x 2.8 x 0.9 inches
5.7 x 4.0 x 1.1 inches
2.8 x 4.7 x 0.9 inches
4 x 1.6 x 4.8 inches
8 oz.
8 oz
7.4 oz.
8.9 oz.
300x300 dpi
254 dpi
313 dpi
254 dpi
Print Size
2x3 inches
Image 2.4 x 1.8 inches
Film 3.4 x 2.1 inches
2x3 inches
Image 2.4 x 1.8 in
Film 3.4 x 2.1
Print Time
60 Seconds
20 Seconds
45 Seconds
16 Seconds
Price (as of 03/2014)
Refill Price

Sunday, August 11, 2013

08.11.13 Dia De Obon

::Before and After::
This week I'm bringing you a photo from our series "Dia De Obon".  It was inspired by Julia Kuzmenko McKim's Sugar Skull series.  You can see hers on her site.

In the Japanese tradition of Obon families gather at cemetery and prepare the graves.  During Obon season the dead can go home to visit their houses.  So families prepare the grave sites and clean them up for their families return.  During Obon they prepare an eggplant as a horse by putting sticks in it to represent four legs.  The dead person uses this eggplant horse to ride to the families house.  The family takes the eggplant home and then will later return it to the grave so that the dead can return to their resting place.
On the Mexican holiday "Dia De Los Muertos" families go to the grave yards and decorate tombstones with deceased family members' favorite foods and candies.  This is done in order to encourage them to return where they can spend time with family and hear prayers that will be taken back to heaven with them.
There are a few similarities with these holidays that we wanted to explore, so we decided to merge them for this art piece.

Let's take a look at the images.
First thing I did on this image was smooth out the colors and add some accessories. I also modified the face shape on my model.

Modified face shape, and smoothed skin

My next step was dodging and burning.

With dodging and burning
My final step was to add some color variations.
Final Image
So that was everything.

Before and After

See the entire series at FANTiM.COM

Saturday, February 16, 2013

02.16.13 Leaves

::Before And After::
This week's photo idea came to me one night as I was falling asleep.  I had an image slip into my head.  Dressed in a business suit, floating through the clouds, buildings rising from below.  It was a very peaceful dream, the kind of feeling you get right before you start dreaming.
I woke up and decided to create what I saw.  It's not exactly as I saw it in my dream because I would've needed to rent a hot air balloon to get the angle on the buildings that would've been needed.
I decided to include a before and after of this week's photo.

Completed Image

Main Building Used

Composed Buildings

Extended Buildings

Falling Man
For the falling man I modeled myself.  We used the umbrellas and windows to create the light coming from in front of me.  We also used the lights in my apartment to guarantee that my back wouldn't be too washed out.  We tried using a fan at first to create the shirt flapping, but it wasn't strong enough so we ended up using string and photoshopping it out later.

Finished Composition
Before Crop and Color Removal

Final Image

Zoomed In For Detail
So something interesting about working on this composition.  During the time of this photo Japan and Russia are feuding over a few islands in Norther Japan.  There was originally a sign on the building saying that once Japan reacquired these islands Japan would have peace.  We decided to replace this with a custom haiku Risa Takeuchi wrote just for this photo.


Roughly translating to: Fluttering leaves don't tell me where they're going.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Twisted Princess - Snow White

::Before After::

So this weeks twisted princess was Snow White. My idea for it was that once she bit into the poison apple you would see the effects of the poison, starting at the mouth.
My original concept was to have this shot in the studio with a white background.  But once I started editing the outdoor shot I ended up liking it better than the studio shot.
One thing that disappointed me was that I didn't have my reflector with me at the time of shooting the image. I've been packing and moving around alot lately so I had no idea where I had left it.  If I had it I could've used it to create a great catch light which would've helped out alot while darkening the eyes.
I'm so grateful to FilmReadyFace for providing the makeup, and Lace for making a special trip to Nashville just to shoot this shot for me.


Non Twisted Version
For more from the Twisted Princess series visit

To see larger sizes of the images and for purchasing information visit

Behind the Scenes:

Stacey setting up the makeup

Our little groupHailey, Stacy, Lace, and Me

Next Princess: Cinderella

03.09.12 Emma Frost and Sleeping Beauty Videos

So this year I started up some video tutorials.  First one being from my Emma Frost and Cyclops photoshoot.

Emma Frost and Cyclops

The second was from the first in my Twisted Princess series.

Sleeping Beauty

Monday, November 28, 2011

The 2011 Christmas Giveaway

Ok so I've decided to give a run at the whole contest thing.  So here we go.  You can win one of three different things in this giveaway drawing.  And here they are:

-A gift card from Starbucks, because who doesn't like some coffee?

-An 8x10 print of your choice from one of my 52 Projects.

-A 30 minute photo shoot of your choice.  This can be headshots, portraits, whatever you need done, or you can just let me have my way with you and do some crazy cool Photoshop project staring you.

So you must be wondering "How can I win one of these amazing gifts!?"  Well it's very simple

1) simply click here to “like” FANTiM Fotography on Facebook or here to add FANTiM Fotography to your Google+ circle.
2) update your Facebook or Google+ status with: 
“I want to win FANTiM Fotgraphy's Christmas Giveaway! You can enter, too!” 
In order to get credit for the entry, be sure to mention (using the @ symbol) FANTiM Fotography and make sure it's a public post so that it links to my page and I can see it!
3) And I'll even give you a second entry in the giveaway if you leave a comment here telling me why you want to win.

You have until December 17th at 11:59PM CST, so make sure you get your entries in.   Good luck!

Note   For the 30 minute photo shoot to work you just have to live close enough to make it to my studio or be in one of the locations I'm visiting, otherwise we could try a Skype photoshoot? ;)