A Shortcut To Using Shortcuts
Monday, April 15, 2013
I'm sort of cuckoo for shortcuts and timesavers when it comes to the computer-based part of my photographic workflow. I believe not only should you automate every repetitive task as much as possible, but you should also incorporate keyboard shortcuts—also called speedkeys—to make the hands-on tasks flow even faster. It really is amazing how much more efficient it is to be able to change tools and apply adjustments without having to use the mouse to navigate menus and palettes. With one hand on the keyboard and the other on the mouse or tablet, you can fly through your digital workflow. So here is a great list of ways you can incorporate speedkeys into your Lightroom usage. For those of you who don't use Lightroom, many of the principles at play also apply to other programs, so you can make your own cheat sheets and keyboard overlays for any software you'd like. Check it out at http://www.diyphotography.net/use-keyboard-shortcuts-expedite-your-lightroom-workflow.
Lighten Your Lighting Load With A Superclamp
Friday, April 12, 2013
One of my constant concerns is minimizing the amount of gear I have to take on location. Extra lights, stands, grip equipment... All of these things are crucial for a professional photographer who absolutely has to get the shot. But all that weight and size adds up quickly. With location portrait setups, for instance, I have found that rather than take along a large c-stand to hold the flag that keeps my hair light from causing lens flare, I can simply take the knuckle from a c-stand and affix it atop a regular eight-foot light stand—which is much smaller and lighter than a c-stand. Well just the other day, a new assistant made a suggestion that would allow me to further strip down the equipment I have to carry without compromising on technique. Instead of putting that hair light on its own eight-foot stand near the background, I could simply affix a clamp to the top of the background stand or crossbar and mount my hair light to that. I had the perfect solution on hand—a Manfrotto Superclamp. For $30, the Superclamp comes with a regular stud for mounting a light, and the jaws of the clamp tighten easily around the background crossbar (or many other objects as well). An elegant solution that makes my road kit that much lighter and easier to haul from location to location—which is the toughest part of the job.
MoVI For Cameras
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
If, like me and many other photographers, you find yourself dabbling more and more with motion and video, then no doubt you've run into a challenge: holding the camera steady. I guess we still photographers are a shaky bunch. But seriously, making steady video while handholding the camera is a big challenge. If you're serious about video production, then might I suggest you keep an eye out for this tremendous new device called MoVI. Built by Freefly Systems in Seattle, the MoVI is a digital 3-axis gyro-stabilized handheld camera gimbal. In layman's terms, you might be tempted to call it a Steadicam, but in fact it's poised as competition for the Steadicam brand. The premise is simple: create super-stabilized video, during handholding and even fast movements, that is so smooth it simulates the effect of flying. It's an amazing device. If you're serious about motion, you'll want to learn more about MoVI. I suggest you start at Vincent Laforet's blog.
More Close-Ups Of Eyes
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Just the other day I wrote about the beautifully creepy close-ups of human eyes photographed by Suren Manvelya. Little did I know that Mr. Manvelya has a history of extreme close-ups of eyes—animal eyes, in fact. He's recently released a new series of animal eyes as well, and I think they serve as an interesting counterpoint to the human eye photos I showed here last week. I think the difference, at least to me, as that these animal eye close-ups don't strike me as creepy in the least. The eyes are somehow more exotic and strange, and so seeing them in such minute detail is only fascinating. I think the difference with the human eyes is that we are intimately familiar with what human eyes look like, and so seeing them in a whole new light—one that is immensely personal—does add a bit of an edge. These animal eyes, however, are simply fascinating—stunning in their intricacy, as well as in how differently they look from species to species, and how they differ from our own eyes, and how they are alike. A really tremendous subject that is worth continued exploration. Great job, Suren.
iPhonography On The Cover Of The New York Times
Monday, April 8, 2013
Around this time last year, photographer Nick Laham made lemonade out of lemons. He was, through a wide array of circumstances beyond his control, forced to try to make portraits of Yankees players at Spring Training in a men's restroom. And he did it with an iPhone. And just last week one of his portraits made the cover of the New York Times. Now that is what I call a photographic triumph. You can read the story of the original photo shoot at Nick's own blog, and then follow up with The Online Photographer's mention of the Times cover photo. My favorite part is the way TOP's Mike Johnston also turns proverbial lemons into lemonade, noting that many photographers lament that clients no longer care about top notch quality, and choosing to see that as freeing for photographers to no longer have to continually invest in the newest, most expensive professional gear. If you can shoot a Times cover photo in the toilet with a phone, it seems to me that anything is possible.
Extreme Eye Closeups
Friday, April 5, 2013
Oh, photography, you've done it again. You've shown me, in painstaking detail, something totally familiar in a way that's unlike I've ever seen it before. And all it took was a simple idea from Armenian photographer Suren Manvelyan, and a little bit of technical ingenuity, to create extreme closeups of the human eye. And what do we see? A set of images that's somehow simultaneously creepy and beautiful. No matter how it strikes you, you're sure to be enthralled by this look at the colorful little organ that's somehow so familiar and totally mysterious.
A Titan Pinhole Camera
Thursday, April 4, 2013
If you're either, A) really into depth of field, or B) really into pinhole cameras, or C) really into 8x10 film... then have I got the camera for you. It's the Harman Titan 8x10 pinhole camera. The British company known to American film lovers primarily as Ilford retails it for only about 300£ (which equates to something along the lines of $450 U.S.). At f/288 it's about ten stops darker than f/8, so you'll need a lot of light or a long shutter speed. But still, it's a pretty cool camera if you're into that sort of thing. I might have to give it a shot, if only I like any large format camera that can be had for under 500 dollars.
Red Bull's Illume Photography Contest
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
It used to be that when you thought of Red Bull you thought of an energy drink that was either delicious or disgusting depending on your tastes. And then it soon became clear that Red Bull was serious about action sports, as the company's brand started popping up more ubiquitously than even beer and soda brands in the action sports world. Skydiving, rock climbing, X-games… you name it. If it's action and adventure oriented, the folks at Red Bull are probably behind it. So it makes sense, then, that the company would also sponsor the Illume photography contest, the world's largest action and adventure sport photography contest. And as of today you've got about a month left to make your submissions. Winners will receive a Leica S camera, while runners up will receive a Leica X2. Read the rules and enter at http://www.redbullillume.com.