There are a lot of us out there that have a crazy passion for photography, but not necessarily the funds to get the equipment we want. When I purchased my first DSLR I set a ceiling of $1000 for my budget. Believe it or not, that still leaves quite a few cameras to compare (FPS, VIDEO, BUILT-IN MOTORS). I figured we would have everyone out there weigh-in on which camera they would buy and why?
Please not that the poll was limited to Canon and Nikon as they are the two dominate forces in the photography world.
Sharing the fun stuff with everyone is nice. However if nobody shared their mistakes then we wouldn’t be able to learn from them. So here is one of my mistakes.
This past weekend we got a good amount of snow here in New Jersey. I was so excited. This was the first time that I would get to shoot beautifully snow-covered trees and lakes with my new D5000. Or so I thought…
The night prior to the storm I had taken a lot of pics. This exhausted both of my batteries. So the next morning I place one battery on charge so it was ready for shooting the snow. The mistake here was that the location I charged my battery was nowhere near my camera.
Fast forward to 3:30pm the day of the snow fall. I grabbed my gear and headed out to the local park to take some amazing sunset pictures of the snow-covered lake. I park my car, open my bag, and turn the camera on. I looked down at the screen and the battery is blinking. Not to worry, I had my newly charged battery with me. Let me just go into my bag and…wait a minute…where is it? OH NO! It was still on the charger back at home. UGH!!!!
The park is 10-15 minutes away. By the time I traveled back to get the battery and back to the park, the light would be gone. It was hard to swallow but I wasn’t able to take any pictures of this beautiful park. While I was there I did take the time to scout the park for good shooting locations, for when I come back.
So the lesson here, always keep your equipment together!
If you are a listener of the Photo Focus podcast, then you are aware of the sweet deal of 5 free 8×10 prints from White House Custom Colour (WHCC). If you are not a listener of this podcast you should really check it out. It is full of great photography info. Plus there is a great blog to go with it, that is updated daily. Without getting to far off track. I recently took advantage of the WHCC deal. I have to tell you, I really liked what I got.
You have to set up your account first (as is the case with any online ordering). After that the process went pretty smoothly. The files that you submit do have to meet certain specs (sRGB, 300dpi, ect). If you have Photoshop then converting your pics is very simple and probably part of your workflow. If you do not have Photoshop, then this might be a bit more tough for you.
Once I submitted the files, I received confirmation emails every step of the way. Then, just 2 days later, my prints arrived. I inspected them carefully. They looked great. Not only did I receive the prints. I also received a nice little welcome packet and paper samples to use for reference for future prints.
Overall, I was very pleased with the WHCC experience. The next time that I have to make large prints, I will be using WHCC.
With the holidays here, a lot of people are taking and creating their own pictures. This video shows you a quick way to spruce up your picture and make it stand out a little bit by adding a quick frame around your picture in Photoshop.
Using a tripod is the ultimate way to stabilize you camera. Sometimes you find yourself in situations where you can’t use a tripod. Sometimes they are too bulky to carry around. Other times your are simply in a confined situation and it’s just not practical. So what do you do in those situations?
I use a small bean bag. This is perfect for taking shots from your car or other confined space. You may not have a lot of room to move around and the bean bag comes in handy. There are many out there with various prices. Depending upon what you are shooting, you may not need the biggest and best bean bag out there. In fact, you can get one for not a lot of money.
I have picked up one of those bean bag wrist supports for your arm when using a computer mouse. The thing was only like $10. It gives me enough stabilization to get the shot I want. It is not too big and my lens sits on it perfectly. Plus it’s small enough to keep in my camera bag.
So if you can, pick one of these up. They come in handy in a pinch.
I learned this technique from Scott Kelby. If you don’t know who Scott Kelby is, then you need to check him out here – http://www.scottkelby.com.
I went to the Giants/Eagles game Sunday night and was able to finally use the techniques learned from Scott, to get this great pano.
Shooting Panoramic (panos) photographs has become extremely easy now thanks to Photoshop. There are a couple simple steps to follow when shooting. If you do them correctly, Photoshop will give you great results.
Shoot vertically, not horizontally
Start from the left and make your way to the right
Take a shot of your finger (trust me)
Overlap each shot by 20-30%
After every 2-3 shots, adjust your feet to turn your body (Thanks Scott!)
When finished, take another shot of your finger (trust me again)
Import your pics into your computer
The pics that are between the two shots of your fingers are the ones you use for your pano. This is very helpful when you are trying to locate your 6-7 pano pics from a batch of 100 or so.
Click File, Automate, Photomerge
Add the pics
Photoshop takes care of the rest. The processing speed depends on the file sizes of the pics and the specs of your computer. Working with JPEGS tends to go pretty quickly.
I say it every time I want to learn a new piece of software. “It would be so cool to know all there is to know about this.”
Let’s take Final Cut Pro for example. When I began editing video in iMovie, all I could think about was how cool it would be to learn FCP. Oh how the possibilities would be endless if I knew FCP. So I undertook the task of learning FCP. Much to the thanks of online podcasts, books, and videos, I have gotten pretty good with FCP. Things like adding chapter markers and rolling credits that were once impossible, are now part of my everyday workflow. Sure, it took some time to learn keyboard shortcuts. Mistake after mistake, leads to learning!
Making mistakes and learning from them along the way was so much fun. Trying to figure out different techniques was a joy. I was so intrigued to learn more. However, I am at the point now where the fun of learning a new piece of software has turned into a chore of using a tool. I have achieved my goal. I am now able to use FCP to create pretty much whatever I want. However, my vision of having fun at this level is no longer here.
In a way this is good. It forces me to move on to continue learning other programs. Maybe one day I will look back an admire all that I have learned through the years. Until then, I feel strongly that in order to become a master of something, you must study it to the point at which you are completely sick of it. It is at that moment you realize that you may be a master, but it is no longer fun.
We put up our Christmas tree the other day. Since I just got my new Nikon D5000 DSLR, I wanted to make a really nice photograph of our tree. I wanted something a little different though also. So I decide to shoot an HDR.
For those of you that don’t know, HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. You basically take a picture at normal exposure, then one a bit higher and one a bit lower. You then use software to combine the images together. The point of this process is to put together an image that resembles the way a human would see it. The end result is supposed expose the highs and the lows properly.
This process has come under some criticism. Some people think the photos look too “fake.” Well, I say make them look however you want. You are the one making the photograph. Make whatever you see in your mind.
This is the process for creating the above photograph:
Set my camera up on a tripod
I turn on exposure bracketing and set for 0ev, -2ev, +2ev
Set the camera to manual mode and used f5.6, 1 sec, ISO 200, and manually focused the picture
I set my camera to continuous shooting mode
I hold down the shutter until all three shot are done (I used a cable release in this case to avoid all possible camera shake)
Import the photos to my computer
Open in Photomatix
Create the HDR
Played with the settings until I got the picture that I liked
Used Topaz Adjust bring out more detail in the tree
If you want to learn more about HDR check out Trey Ratcliff’s site – http://www.stuckincustoms.com. He has an amazing tutorial for shooting HDRs and even more amazing pictures
Winter is drawing upon us. Today in the Northeast, we are getting hit with some cold weather (rain, snow, hail, wind). What does this mean for photographers? That means working with cold gear. Working with cold gear isnt terrible, but working with cold batteries is terrible. Cold batteries will have a shorter duration between charging cycles and that leads to more downtime when shooting. This is where pockets come in handy. Keep those batteries warm by keeping them in your pockets. Pockets on a photo vest are good. I like to use my jean’s pockets, mainly because they are so tight and close to my body. If for some reason I dont have them on me, I will keep them insulated like heck using whatever I can find (gloves, shirt, hat). So keep those batteries warm and yourself too!