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Saturday, December 20, 2008
Winston Churchill By Yousef Karsh

This photo, taken almost 90 years ago, remains one of the most famous portraits ever taken. The story goes that Karsh wanted Churchill to remove his cigar from his mouth but Churchill did not want to. Reaching forward to appear as if he was going to adjust Churchill's collar, Karsh suddenly pulled the cigar from Churchill's mouth and snapped the picture. Cheeky fellow, that Karsh, considering WW2 was raging and Churchill was leader of the then world power, Great Britain. But the end result is truly a mesmerizing portrait.

Here's a question. From what angle did Karsh take the photo? Yes, from waist level. From where does an archer shoot his arrow? Eye level. From where does a deer hunter fire his rifle? Eye level. No wonder Clint Eastwood shot from the hip. Nobody saw it coming. They could not look away from those steely blue eyes! When the photographer holds a camera up to his face and points it at another person something happens, and in most cases it is not good. It often makes the subject uneasy. Maybe after some time he will relax, and overcome this intimidating lens pointing at him. Maybe not.

When you shoot from waist level, you can look face-to-face with your subject. There is no camera in the way. You can briefly look down to frame your subject then look up and carry on your conversation and fire away at just the right moment. Not to say there are not many amazing portraits taken from eye level, but shooting from the hip will in most cases be less intimidating for your subject.

Flipbac and relax. (Cheesy, I know, but it I could not resist).

Send comments to: comments@flipbac.com

Posted byFlipbac
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Thursday, December 18, 2008
Have your say.
Until we get the add comment / view comments options sorted out please send your comments to: comments@flipbac.com

Let us know if you would like it to be posted.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Head games.

Have you ever taken a painting and drawing class? Who has heard their instructor say ‘draw what you see and not what you think you see!’? After your first class you realize this is much easier said than done.

Many art students will draw a ‘still life’ that contains common items such as a chair, a table, maybe some fruit, flowers etc. Here is when our mind starts to deceive us - our minds already have pictures of tables, chairs, fruit and flowers. As a novice we often start drawing the images in our minds and not the objects in front of us.

We don’t see the negative space, the converging lines, the shadow, the light, etc. We attempt to draw some image in our head of what we think a chair should look like.  And the end result? Poor. We are not drawing what we see.

So what has this to do with photography? Many people are asking “isn’t it weird to see the image upside down when using the Flipbac?”

Maybe for the first few minutes. But after that you will actually see much better. Things that you may have overlooked with stand out like a sore thumb: a sign, wires crossing the scene, distracting reflections, disheveled clothing, crooked glasses. All of these things might be quite acceptable, but the point is, the upside down image will force you to see these things. It will take the familiarity you have with the setting and you will start to see what is in front of you and not what is in your head. Your composition will improve.

Photographers who have used medium format cameras with waist level viewers will readily agree that even though they shoot fewer images their hit rate, their “keepers” are much higher. Why?

With these cameras, the photographer composes the photo by holding the camera at waist level and looking at a reflected upside down image. They naturally concentrate more on the composition and the result is better composed photos.

There are still many other facets that make a great photo, but I have found that the reflected “upside down” image has slowed me down and I look harder at the scene. My pictures become more than just snap shots and often have a better design. It prevents my mind playing games and I start truly seeing what is in front of me.

I'm interested to hear your thoughts on this subject. Send comments to comments@flipbac.com

Posted byFlipbac
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Saturday, November 22, 2008
The search for the Holy Grail.

Why isn’t the Flipbac removable?

We developed the Flipbac over a period of 2 years. We had several designs and mounting methods – both mechanical and with adhesives. We also built and field tested several prototypes, most notable was one with a slotted track that allowed the Flipbac to be removed.

So why didn’t we further develop this removable function?

The first issue with the removable function was it always increased the total thickness of the Flipbac. It went from 5 mm to 7-8 mm. All of a sudden it made the camera too thick and bulky to fit in most camera bags.

Secondly, it was unattractive and had a wiggly or unstable feel on the camera.

Thirdly, it didn’t bother us that the Flipbac remained on the camera. We honestly never found it a hindrance. If we wanted to directly look at the LCD we just opened the Flipbac a little further. When we did want to use the Flipbac it was there, on the camera. We didn’t have to fumble through our camera bag, put it on and take the shot. In other words, we could take the shot before the moment was gone.

Also, we enjoyed the protection the Flipbac gave the LCD. Often my camera was without its case in my pocket or shoulder bag and to date my camera’s LCD has suffered no damage.

So in the end we consciously decided to make the Flipbac as thin as possible and build it to the same finish and quality as leading Japanese cameras. We wanted the Flipbac to appear as if it was part of the camera
and not some goofy gadget stuck to the back.

We haven’t given up on the removable function though. We continue to look for methods that don’t increase the thickness or complexity.  

Cameras and camera gear are strange objects. As many of us have owned many cameras, we soon learn that the perfect camera doesn’t exist. Cameras continue to improve but so do our expectations.

The search for the Holy Grail continues.

Any thoughts? Send your comments to: comments@flipbac.com


Posted byFlipbac
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Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Shoot from the hip...

Or from other unique positions: ground level, waist level or overhead. Join us on Flickr and show everyone your photos taken using the Flipbac.


Posted byFlipbac | Send comments to: info@flipbac.com
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Tuesday, November 04, 2008
What to expect.

We plan to invite trade professionals and accomplished amateurs to be guest bloggers as the months go by. It will be more of a photography forum versus a gear/technology forum.

We will first draw on viewpoints from professionals who until recently used waist level medium format gear but are now using digital cameras. They will discuss photographic philosophies and how they go about reaching their photographic goals. How they look at things and previsualize their assignments.

The goal of this blog is to help you be a photographer who is not burdened by the gear but one that is more intuitive and free. We feel image quality is important but image content is king.

Flipbac, relax, and enjoy the coming entries. If you have any comments please email us at: info@flipbac.com

Posted byFlipbac
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Monday, September 22, 2008

For many years I have enjoyed using medium format cameras that let me shoot from “the hip.”  The Rolleiflex TLR camera and the Hasselblad 500 are historic cameras that let the user view the lens image from a camera held at the waist height and other positions. When I look back at my photographs, my favorite ones, my best ones, most often have been taken from the waist level position.  These photos are candid and relaxed, often because my subject did not know the photograph was being taken.

When I bought my first digital camera seven years ago and noticed the large LCD (liquid crystal display) screen on the back, I immediately thought of an angle viewer: A simple mirror that hinged on both an X and Y axis that would easily let me view the digital camera rear LCD screen in different positions other than in front of my face.
Some time later I made a prototype and started to use it at social occasions and to show it to some trusted professional photographers. Whether novice or professional, all liked the idea immediately and could see its practical and ease of use.

However those early years many digital cameras had flipout screens ( early Canon G series, Olympus C 8080, etc). But as time passed camera bodies became smaller, and LCD screens became bigger - all to the demise of the beloved flipout screen.

Noting this change in the market we decided to give it a go. It has been a long road from the first  prototype to now. As simple as it looks, there were many details that took a long time to get just right. Many months were spent testing the friction, finding the perfect adhesive tape, slimming the profile, etc. Many favors called for, hours of help and advice given by family and friends.

So now it is almost here! By mid October we look forward to being "open for business".  We look forward to offering the Flipbac Angle Viewer for you to try.

Posted byFlipbac
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