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Digital Photography Hack: A Hands-Free Shooting Rig
Pages: 1, 2, 3

Going Further

As you can see, Mac OS X makes it very easy to create an innovative way to capture candids. Yet, this rig suffers from three major shortcomings. First the image is low resolution, because you're using a webcam. The iSight fares better than many others, but its image quality is far from what a pocket digital camera can produce. The second problem is the lack of video feedback. Mounting the webcam on your shoulder makes it difficult to aim correctly. Maybe a better way to go is to mount the iSight on a pair of glasses. Finally, the PowerBook heats up very quickly and it might crash while in the backpack.

Each of these issues can be solved quite easily. Instead of a webcam, you can use a real digital camera, if the manufacturer provides remote control software. Both my Digital Rebel XT and A70 ship with very nice remote control software. Just attach your camera on your tripod, and fix it onto your backpack. Some bags even provide special attachments for tripods on the side.

figure 7

Using a digital camera is even a better idea than you might think, for some have a video output plug. Eyetop sells video glasses at a tolerable price; for $400 you can purchase a pair of Eyetop Classic ( glasses. A tiny video screen is mounted on those glasses in front of one of your eyes. Since you can plug the glasses into any video source, be it a digital camera or your PowerBook, you can have video feedback from the shooting device. If you plug the Eyetop into the VGA output of the PowerBook, you can even use a webcam.

The most difficult problem to solve is cooling the PowerBook. As it depends on which model you are using, and into which kind of bag you put it in, I cannot offer you a universal answer. That said, you can try any of many solutions including heat pipes, USB fans, or bags of ice. Whichever solution you choose, it's certain you'll have to add holes in your backpack to help the air flow.

So it looks like we also have an alternative method for moblogging. Instead of using your cell phone as a digital camera, use it as a Bluetooth modem. Connect the phone to Mac OS X, log onto the internet, and hack the script to make it upload each picture taken to an FTP server. Combined with a digital camera, you can now take high-quality pictures on the go and show them live on your web site.

Romain Guy is a French student currently working as an intern with the Swing Team at Sun Microsystems. He has seven years of experience in Java development, as an open source and freelance developer.

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