Cambridge Photo Walk with a VTech Kidizoom Action Cam

This past weekend my son Malcolm and I joined my friends Kevin and Paul on a Film Revival photo walk in Historic Galt, located in Cambridge, ON. It’s a beautiful part of town that straddles the Grand River with church spires, old buildings, and so on. Avid watchers of The Handmaid’s Tale will recognize parts of it instantly.

My son really wanted to use my Canon SLR, which left me with his VTech Kidizoom Action Cam. This camera has some … limitations… but I thought this presented an interesting challenge.

About the camera

VTech Kidizoom Action Cam

VTech Kidizoom Action Cam

  • At a total size of 1 x 2.3 x 2.2 inches, this thing is small. It was actually challenging to hold it as you can really only use your finger tips.
  • The lens is tiny – about the same as what you’d have on a older smartphone
  • The photo resolution is 640-x-480 pixels or 0.3 megapixels – these are really small images basically. For comparison, an iPhone X has a 12 megapixel camera
  • There is no manual control whatsoever – you just point and shoot… and hope.
  • I can’t say if this is a bug/feature of these cameras in general or just a sign we haven’t been able to clean the tiny lens, but I notice all the photos had really interesting blur and edgy quality that naturally produced something slightly akin to the Fractilus Photo look. It’s like the camera leaves out some details and over emphasizes others leaving a painterly feel.

What all this translated to for me was the framing mattered a lot. I didn’t process these much aside from a converting some to B+W and adjusting the brightness and contrast a bit – the results were really neat and I actually think they’d make neat set of tiny prints.

Would love to hear what you think!




So it’s been a while…

… and I don’t seem to have many new images.

I used to worry that I wasn’t making myself get out there and shoot – that I was missing out on opportunities.

I realize now that forcing myself to go out might be good for my photography, but it isn’t good for me. I have priorities in life that don’t always allow me to go out, and sometimes I don’t even want to (this happens a lot in the winter).

But I don’t worry about it as much anymore. This isn’t a short term pursuit – I won’t run out of things to say, of opportunities to shoot. Years from now I will still have a camera in hand. The world will be there – in some way or another, and so will I.

I am enjoying other things. But I am getting antsy to get out soon. 🙂

For now here’s one from way back. I took this on a cloudy morning in Victoria Lake Park near my house. I was never quite happy with the original, but recently I came across it and decided to play with it a bit. I cropped it a little and played around with the contrast and saturation in Photoshop to give it a bit more punch. I also added a warming filter to make it more inviting – the original felt cold and empty.

I normally try to avoid a lot of manipulation, but in this case I think I kept the tweaks fairly subtle, while bringing out something that I just didn’t have the skill to capture quite right at the time.

Let me know what you think. Too much?


©Michael D. Pereira

The Black Hole

I mentioned briefly in my previous post that I had finally broken down and invested in Adobe Photoshop. The purchase was a combination of both personal and professional interests – in my field of communications it’s definitely beneficial to broaden your software experience.

While I could have chosen any number of programs, I picked Photoshop because it’s more useful than many programs and, frankly, I was getting tired of not having a lot of the functionality I wanted for my photo processing.

Photoshop is not cheap – and I can see why. The complexity and depth of the program is hard to wrap your mind around. One professor I spoke to described it as a black hole – you can just keep going and going without end. That seems pretty accurate.

Since I didn’t really know where to begin, I decided to take a course to show me the ropes. It’s been pretty awesome so far – I’ve discovered brushes, gradients, layers (sort of), and of course dodging and burning.

I’m just past the halfway point and I thought I’d post a couple of my assignments for kicks.

First up is a shot from the fall fair. I converted to a sepia shot and then selectively coloured parts of the image:

Michael D. Pereira

 You can see the original here.

I also learned how to create a brush from an existing image and turn it into a stamp. Using that tool, I created this fun Warhol-esque image of Malcolm:

Michael D. Pereira

This one is based on this image I posted previosuly.

What will become of us?

©Michael D. Pereira

I don’t really care much about technology – at least not for its own sake.

Improvements and innovations are only as valuable as what they allow me accomplish. If I can’t do something I like with a given piece of technology, then it isn’t really a worthwhile innovation.

But, I am interested in how technology can change the way we do things.

©Michael D. Pereira

Take photography.

I don’t often carry a camera around with me. I set aside time for photography and outside that I rarely take a picture. If I see something beautiful, I just admire it and move on.

But I must admit, it can be fun to keep a small camera handy, and lately doing so seems to be getting easier.

My old smartphone had a 5MP camera built in, which meant I didn’t have to carry a lot of gear, or even both a phone and a camera, to take a photograph.

©Michael D. Pereira

But how did that change my behaviour?

Firstly, I tend to photograph more when I have quick access to a camera. Not necessarily a good thing as I also tend to be less careful. But it can yield some neat results.

Secondly, I tend to photograph things with a small camera that I might not were I using my Canon Rebel.

©Michael D. Pereira

I’m a different kind of photographer when using a small point and shoot.

What I find even more interesting is how the current technology allows me take a picture, process it and post it online in a matter of minutes using a single device.

The images in this post were taken with my Torch, cropped and processed using a filter app called Instaphoto, and originally posted to Facebook, and most of this was done while I was on a 165KM, 2 Day bike ride (no room for my Rebel).

It’s interesting to speculate on where the technology is headed.

Will we soon have Photoshop level capabilities built right into a DSLR?

Would we ever really want that?



©Michael D. Pereira

The portable advantage

Last week I posted a couple of photos I took with my smartphone. As I said, in the past I have had little use for camera phones – the quality is almost always terrible. However, lately, I have found my new smartphone to be a marked improvement over its predecessors.

This little camera offers decent picture quality, exposure presets (like “sport” and “close-up”), and even has evaluative metering which allows the camera to adjust the exposure based on the light source.

Of course, these are pretty standard features for a low-end point and shoot, so why do I care?

Well, reality is that I don’t take my DSLR set up with me everywhere. It’s too much gear to lug to work on my bicycle. Even packing a compact point and shoot, when I already carry a phone and an iPod (my Torch’s memory can’t quite handle my 50GB music collection just yet), is more gear than I want to carry. So having a decent phone camera is appealing.

But these aren’t images I am likely to print and frame, so again, what’s the point?

Well, for me, this is about two things: practice and fun.

Having a camera handy allows me to snap quick glimpses of things I might want to return and shoot later, or just work on seeing the light in various situations. It provides the flexibility to experiment when I might otherwise miss out.

It also provokes me into doing things I might not otherwise do. When I have the DSLR, I tend to be a little more ‘serious’, only taking shots that seem to have some weight to them. Not always, but usually.

But with the Torch, I tend to be a little more playful, something I’d like to bring into my work overall. So this provides a way for me to think outside the box and then try to go back and build better images around a similar theme – things I might not have tried otherwise.

Anyways, here are a few more shots from the Torch. Enjoy 🙂

©Michael D. Pereira

©Michael D. Pereira

©Michael D. Pereira

©Michael D. Pereira

©Michael D. Pereira

©Michael D. Pereira

©Michael D. Pereira

Mr. Boyle, I owe you one!

I was doing a little reading today and realized that Canadian-born scientist Willard Boyle was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics this year. Boyle and his partner invented the digital image sensor, used in every digital camera since the Sony Mavica was launched in 1981, which converts light into a digital image.

As an amateur photographer I just thought it would be only appropriate to acknowledge what his work has meant to the field of photography and to people like me. It has made the pursuit of artistic photography so much more accesssible through affordability, and raised the artistic bar in allowing photographers to go further in their learning and experimenting with their art.

So thank you Willard, your work has helped to change my life, and I think that is something very special. Your accolades are well deserved.

For those who want to know more, here are a few links:

The Toronto Star: Canadian scientist Willard Boyle accepts Nobel

Wikipedia: Willard Boyle