Coffee Cup White Balance
Friday, November 26, 2010
Did you know you can use a coffee cup for white balance? No, not by photographing the white cup and setting a custom white balance based off of it (though that might work too, actually). I’m talking about using the translucent white disposable coffee lid that’s ubiquitous at every coffee shop everywhere. Simply stuff the lid into your lens shade and it acts like one of those fancy Expodisc white balance tools. It may not be perfect, or quite as precise as the real thing, but it sure is cost effective.
Goofy Photo Gift Ideas
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
If any of you are thinking about getting me a gift this holiday season, might I suggest starting at Photojojo? Actually, PJJ is the perfect photo gift shopping stop for all sorts of photographer types because it's always got something unique and interesting and affordable. Instead of $1000 pro lenses, they've got $30 coffee mugs that look just like $1000 pro lenses. Instead of fancy camera straps, they've got T-shirts with illustrations of cameras and straps printed right on them. And instead of complicated panoramic digital photo stitching software, they sell a downright affordable 360-degree spinning panoramic film camera. I want one, and I want it now. So do some shopping next cyber Monday at Photojojo. Send all my gifts to the magazine, please.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Did you miss the news of NASA's big comet fly-by? I read about it earlier this month in the New York Times and was wowed by the accompanying photograph. It seems NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft passed within 500 miles of the comet and happened to make a series of amazingly detailed photographs. The story and the picture are worth a read, but what's really impressive is the movie put together from the series of stills the satellite made. It's a close-up, of a comet, in motion. Simply amazing. Check that out at the NASA site and take a look at the whole gallery of NASA comet images too.
Rubber Band Update
Monday, November 22, 2010
A few months back I wrote about using a rubber band to remove a stuck filter, but never before did I have the opportunity to try it myself. But that just changed. Shooting an architectural image last week, I strapped on a polarizer to darken the blue sky and remove reflections from windows in the building. All the while improving the color and contrast in the image. (A polarizer works absolutely wonderfully for this, by the way.) Anyway, when I was done I needed to remove the filter from my lens for storage when, whammo, it was stuck. Really stuck. I couldn't budge it at all. So I remembered this rubber band tip—which is to put the rubber band around the filter ring in order to provide more traction when removing the stuck filter—and I put it to use. Voila. With hardly any force at all, I mean the tiniest little oomph, the polarizer unscrewed immediately. It really was a Eureka moment. So the next time you're faced with a stuck filter—especially if it's a rotating circular polarizer—pull out a rubber band and put it to use.
Friday, November 19, 2010
This post is a bit of a two-fer: you get two great photography recommendations for the price of one. That's because it's both a link to a simple collection of gorgeous black & white portraits from photographer Nelli Palomaki, as well as an endorsement for the blog that introduced us to her work. Simple, timeless and striking, these portraits of children are inspiring for their sheer beauty. If you are at all interested in portrait photography, this series is a must-see. As for the blog that brought her work to us, it's Jorg Colberg's Conscientious photo blog. Jorg stays on the cutting edge of contemporary fine art photography from around the world. With book reviews, show critiques, and simply pointing out the works of great and largely unknown photographers—much like Ms. Palomaki—Jorg's blog is an absolute must-read for anyone interested in what's going on in the world of contemporary photography.
How to tell if a photo’s been faked
Thursday, November 18, 2010
A few weeks ago I saw a video online showing what appeared to be a dumpy old woman (or maybe even man in drag) speaking on a cell phone in an old film from 1928. Turns out it’s part of this whole new wave of "time traveler" photos and videos. Basically, people find these clips and shots from throughout history with inexplicably modern people or elements in the frame. Now there's this photo of a dude wearing a Nine-Inch-Nails T-shirt and sporting an SLR and sunglasses—even though the photo is from the 1940s. Weird, right? Even though it’s probably not really a time traveler, it’s neat that nobody really seems to know what exactly is going on in these pictures. It gets really fun when you start throwing science at the photos, and when the science says it’s not faked. There’s this software called the Error Level Analyzer which can unearth composited and faked photographs by searching out differences in the level of JPEG artifacts that occur in composites. Read all about it, including links to those old time-traveler photos, at Photojojo.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I like this. File it under ‘simple idea, valuable product.’ So for years, the way you gelled your strobes—particularly your handheld and hot-shoe mounted Speedlights—was to cut a piece of a big gel and tape or Velcro it to the flash head. But this is a great product that eliminates the need to do it yourself—and it makes it work much better with increased functionality. There’s only one problem: this sticky filters set works out to ten bucks for a little square of gel, and that’s pretty steep. I especially like that the chart tells you this particular gel will make your flash look like this type of light. That makes it really simple to balance your flash with other sources. I wholeheartedly approve. But did I mention how they're so darn expensive? Check out the review at SLR Lounge and decide for yourself if it’s worth it.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I'm a big fan of time-lapse video, though I've only dabbled with creating the effect once or twice. With everybody making videos on their DSLRs these days, it's a nice way of bridging the gap between still photography and video. What I especially like is it's a great effect; nothing else looks quite like a time-lapse video, and you can’t really fake it in post. If you want a time-lapse look, you shoot a time-lapse. What a great way to turn a boring vacation landscape into a more interesting memory, or an ideal way to tell a story that stills just won't do or a video wouldn't capture in quite the same way. But time-lapse isn't quite the same as still photography, and it's not quite the same as video. The techniques are a little specific to time-lapse: things that would work in a single still image may not work in a time-lapse series of hundreds of images. So here's a collection of simple tips to help you make great time-lapse videos.