A cool camera tool
Friday, September 24, 2010
A great tip, from a great blog. Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools offers up a reader suggestion every day for a tool that is, well, really cool. Preference is given to tools that can be put to use for something other than their original intention—like using a rubber band as a photographic device. More specifically, you can use that rubber band to remove stuck filters from the front of your lens. It’s a great idea—one of those "why didn’t I think of that before" moments. Read all about it at Cool Tools, and stick around to check out all the other great tool ideas—like plastic banana keepers and custom igloo builders and bright lights just for your hands!
Young Photographers Are Taking Over
Thursday, September 23, 2010
A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to Blair Bunting, the 26-year-old with legit advertising photography chops. This week it's an even younger photographer, one who was born in 1990. Joey Lawrence, 20-year-old, can teach you a thing or two about photography. Trust me. This kid is ridiculously good. Like the kind of talent that makes you upset with your own lack of photographic prowess. And did I mention he’s only 20? Seriously, you can learn a thing or two about commercial photography and portraiture from Joey. Check out the video of his photography tips at Silberstudios.tv, then head over to his personal web site to see what else he’s been up to. It includes Twilight movie posters and indigenous tribesmen. Quite a diverse talent, to be sure. Did I mention he’s just a kid?
Wired's August Issue
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Wired’s August issue is old news, having been on newsstands now for more than a month. But I finally got caught up on my reading and found, toward the back of the book, a great story about classic photography meeting technology. It's the story of 1848 Daguerreotype photographs that equal the resolution of a 140,000-megapixel digital capture. That counts as high resolution by anyone's standards. The story is great, and makes you really want to see these images up close and personal. The article helps catapult the issue into must-read territory for photographers, because there’s another equally great display of photographic prowess: the images of funny man Will Ferrell photographed by master portraitist Dan Winters. For those shots, you can also head directly to Mr. Winters' web site and then stick around to explore his photography in greater detail. All in all, Wired continually displays great photography and the August issue is a particularly fine example.
The Guiding Light of Astro-Photography
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I know nothing about astronomy, yet I find it often poking its head into my photographic world. Not only do both photographers and astronomers share an enthusiasm for optics and resolving power, both groups tend to place great importance on the night sky. The star-filled sky has been a subject of fascination for photographers since the birth of the medium, and with the modern advent of high-ISO, low-noise digital capture, I've seen more star-filled photos than ever before. Back in the days of film, short exposures that captured sharply focused stars weren't possible. Consequently, inventive photographers came up with star trails—the natural motion blur pattern that results from the rotation of our planet—making stars slowly arc their way through our camera frames. A lens pointed at the north star, and left open long enough to make a complete 180 degree rotation, will render a night sky filled with perfectly circular star trails. It's a great effect, and it's easy to achieve... but only if you know how to find the north star. I am not so star savvy, but I can usually point out the Big Dipper if pressured. It just so happens that's a great way to find the north star too. DPS recently published a piece by Peter West Carey specifically for photographers who want to find the north star. It’s a great tutorial, and I'd add to it this: use a map. If nothing else, download one of those fancy smartphone apps that lays out a star map over a real-time cameraphone image. Then simply set it and forget it, and watch those star trails form. Oh, one more thing: if you want to put this to good use you'd better get cracking. The north star will change position in 20,000 years and a whole new star will be closest to our north pole. Then you’ll probably have to download a different app.
Landscape Photography Tips with Joseph Holmes
Monday, September 20, 2010
I like video tutorials. Actually, I should clarify: I really like photography tutorials that are presented in video form. There are plenty of these to be found online these days, but the trick is finding the ones that are worthwhile. Some folks are actually doing TV-quality video productions, and perhaps nobody is better at that than Marc Silber and his online TV series of photo tips and tutorials. He recently interviewed landscape photographer Joseph Holmes, and the resulting 10-minute video includes not only interesting photographs and inspiring aphorisms, but actually boots-in-the-dirt practical tips for photographers. Especially useful for landscape shooters, Holmes' compositional tips apply to all kinds of photography. The interview is definitely worth a look no matter what type of photographs you create.
The Digital Labrador
Friday, September 17, 2010
As a Midwesterner I'm fairly used to being overlooked. I don’t mind, usually, as long as I’m not the one doing the overlooking. So I was surprised to learn that I've been ignorant of a great Midwestern photographic resource in the form of Digital Labrador. You see, Digital Labrador is a little bit lab, a little bit gallery, a little bit camera store and a little bit classroom. Turns out that you can stop by this Kansas City store to buy a Canon camera or an Apple computer, a Hassy body or a Profoto kit. Or you can drop in to make prints from your files or stick around and browse the gallery. Heck, sign up for a class or two while you're there. The bottom line is that this is a pretty cool concept—a one-stop shop for all things photographic. And believe it or not, for all of you so unfortunate as to be stranded out there on the coasts, Digital Labrador (by the way, it started as a digital lab. Get it?) also hosts travel workshops around the globe too. As I write this, a group has just returned from a trip through the Italian countryside under the tutelage of Hasselblad shooter Roberto Bigano. They've got more international workshops in the works, so visit their web site to see what's cooking. And if you're in the neighborhood, it sounds like a great place to hang out. If only they'd incorporate a coffee shop too. I'd never have to leave.
Eliminating Reflections from Glasses
Thursday, September 16, 2010
I know of a photographer who has been accused of popping the lenses out of eyeglasses to avoid having to deal with reflections in photographs. This might be fine in bizarro world, but the rest of us need to deal with reflections in eyeglasses the old fashioned way: first by avoiding reflections when lighting, then by retouching away reflections in post processing. This is something that I've spent entirely too much time working on, so I know how important the "ounce of prevention" philosophy is. In short, when working with a studio light or on-camera flash, you've got to get the light above and/or to the side of the subject enough that the reflection on the glasses disappears. I find with a key light at a 45-degree angle to a portrait subject's face, and a few feet above eye level, I can usually eliminate reflections from all but the most bulbous lenses with simple head tilts and chin movements. Those super-bulbous lenses, however, sometimes make it impossible to eliminate reflections completely, and that's when knowing how to retouch them away in Photoshop comes in amazingly handy. I usually use a combination of luminance- and color-clone stamping, built up over what seems like hours of clicking, and in the end I get a passable result. Check out the recent DPS story on preventing and editing glasses reflections. If you ever photograph people—particularly those with less than 20/20 vision—you'll be glad you did.
Gregory Heisler Explains How He Lit Another Iconic Cover
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I'm more and more convinced that you could skip photography school altogether and just watch this ongoing series of videos of Gregory Heisler dissecting his photographs. Created by Profoto, the videos have Heisler explaining the creation of some of his most famous cover shots—none of which are more famous than the most recent video’s subject, the 2001 Time cover with Rudy Giuliani. A phenomenal and iconic photograph, to be sure. What's most exciting about this shot, in terms of the lighting at least, is what Strobist David Hobby points out in his brief writeup: the lighting was environmentally centered. Heisler gelled his lights green and orange to match the warmth of the ambient city lights, and all of them were positioned below (except for the fill) to match the lighting that would be provided by the city below. A genius photograph, wonderfully executed and beautifully explained.