Wednesday, October 2, 2013
I've been a fan of backlighting ever since a professional photographer explained to a teenage me that I should actually shoot into the sun if I wanted to add depth and drama to action photos at a sporting event. Sure enough he was right: backlighting is amazing. That's the moral behind this post from DPS founder Darren Rowse, who recounts all the reasons why photographers shouldn't overlook this simple and powerful lighting tool that can instantly overhaul the look of any image.
Photo by Naughton321: http://www.flickr.com/photos/naughton321/136941541/
iOS 7 For Photographers
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Many moons ago I thought the idea of treating smartphones as legitimate photographic tools was preposterous. Now here we are in 2013 with the introduction of the new iPhone 5S and its accompanying iOS7. Both have made some serious updates to the camera's ability to take great pictures, as evidenced by the fact that I keep finding myself grabbing my iPhone in lieu of my point and shoot. Not to mention the fact that every year we collectively take more pictures than were ever made throughtout the entire history of photography. Anyway, there are some truly remarkable new features of the iPhone 5S—including its ability to shoot super-slow-mo video and the improved buffer that allows for a superfast 10 frames-per-second full-resolution stills. Simply amazing. All that, and the pictures seem to be easier to make and they simply look better too, even on older iPhones. Anyway, my point is, it's official: The iPhone works like a "real" camera in many ways, whether those of us who would rather use SLRs like it or not. Best of all, this revolution is only going to keep improving in the future. For a rundown of new camera features in the new iOS and iPhone 5s, check out the DPReview Connect blog.
How Photographs Can Heal
Monday, September 30, 2013
This month marked the 12-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks. On his Photoshop Insider blog, Scott Kelby published a wonderful story from photographer Joe McNally, who reflects on his photographic reaction to that day. He spent the remaining days that fall photographing firefighters and rescue workers, the first responders to the horrific events of that September morning. Assembled in the book and exhibit “Faces of Ground Zero,” his portraits became a moving testament to the brave men and women who risked, and in many case gave, their lives in the line of duty that day. The centerpiece of the article is the story of a single firefighter and his experiences reacting to, and recovering from, the terrorist attacks. It's a moving story, but also an inspiring one—helping to remind us of the power of photography, not only to tell stories, but to help people comprehend, and heal from, the events they've experienced. A moving must-read.
The Photographer's MBA
Friday, September 27, 2013
Every professional photographer I know says the same thing about their education: they wish they'd learned more about business. Instead of creative tips and photographic techniques, the nuts and bolts of running a business is often what professional photographers talk about when they get together. To that end comes The Photographer's MBA, a new book written by a working photographer that tells you everything you need to know about the business side of the photography business. It's about "the other 90% of the job," everything from incorporating and business plans to branding, pricing and social media strategies. Written by super-successful wedding and family portrait photographer Sal Cincotta, it's a must-read for anyone interested in going into business for themselves. Read more, and order online, from the Peachpit Press online store.
Composition Beyond The Rule Of Thirds
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Do you have two hours to dedicate to improving your compositional skills? I realize that sounds like a tall order, but maybe you can do what I'm doing and break those two hours up into a few different sessions in order to make your way through this tremendous video presentation by photographer David Brommer. In it he explains the complexities of composition far beyond the basics like the rules of thirds, leading lines and S curves. Relying on these rules established by the renaissance masters, Brommer's B&H sponsored presentation is a valuable tutorial for photographers from beginner to experienced, as compositional considerations factor in to every exposure from our first to our last. It's an important topic that doesn't get covered in enough detail. Which is why I think this video is two hours very well spent.
On “Good” Photography
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Michael Johnston, the Online Photographer, made a great point with a recent post that I think is really worth sharing. We photographers, and those of us who discuss photography in public, can do a pretty good job of focusing only on the visual content of pictures. Does the composition fit the rules, perhaps, or was the special effect applied in post production just right? What about when it's the content that makes for an outstanding image? That's the case with the accompanying photo by Jachin Mandeno. The image is, as Johnston says, not much to speak of in technical terms. But when you know the story of the image, it becomes quite powerful. Which is Johnston's point: emotion, meaning and the story of an image are just as important—maybe even more so—than the visual elements that make up the physicality of a picture. And that's not something we talk about enough in the photoblogosphere. Per Johnston, "now you know how I feel when I look at ravishingly gorgeous, richly colored, technically perfect digital confections that are devoid of even a scrap of meaning." Amen. Read the whole story, including what makes this picture so powerful, at Johnston's Online Photographer blog.
Marc Adamus On Maps
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
On newsstands now, in the October issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine, you'll find my interview with landscape photographer Marc Adamus. Every time I talk to Marc I'm impressed with his drive and passion for photographing the outdoors. It seems like he's always traveling to the most remote locations in the world in search of dynamic and dramatic landscapes. During our recent conversation he told me about his secret for preparing for a trip to someplace he's never seen before: traditional topographic maps.
"I'm really a big map buff," Marc told me. "I absolutely love looking at maps. If I'm going to go to a mountainous region, I'll get out a topographic map, which I've loved my whole life. Looking at that type of map for me is like looking at the location itself. I can just imagine myself being there, I know what the peaks are going to look like, what the best routes are, how the light's going to hit the peaks, what the shape of the peak's going to be. I can determine a whole lot just by looking at maps. I like to pore over maps and then just imagine myself exploring some of these beautiful areas."
"For example," he continued, "just this last week I have been spending hour after hour looking across maps of northernmost Norway and Scandinavia, which is where I'm going to do a trip this fall and winter. Even though I've never seen that area in photographic images by anybody else, I recognize just through the map study that there's a huge amount of potential. I'm really putting myself right there. And more than that, I'm determining what specific aspects, or specific points, would look like through my lens. And, of course, how to get to those points. It helps me get to know places. I can determine down to the most finite details exactly what the best route from point A to point B is, and I can learn a whole lot about the terrain in between the two. Just by looking at a topographic map I can tell exactly what a peak is going to look like through my wide angle lens looking at this distance away and I can tell how the light is going to hit that peak at what time of year. It does take a lot of practice to really be able to determine the obstacles, the geometry if you will, to kind of put yourself there on the ground in that scene, but it's something I've become really adept at doing throughout the course of my life. At first just for route planning backpacking and climbing trips, and now it's an integral tool in my photographic research as well."
The U.S. Geological Survey, linked below, is a great resource for downloading detailed topographic maps of areas throughout the United States. And to learn more about Marc Adamus, here's a link to the new OP article, as well as a link to his web site.
Lens-Style Cameras: The Next Big Thing?
Monday, September 23, 2013
Have you heard of "lens-style" cameras? They're pretty interesting, actually, once you get past the initial shock of their peculiar design. Sony's new QX models are the first of this new style of camera that looks like a lens and affixes to a smartphone. No, they're not just lenses for smartphones, but rather self-contained cameras that are shaped like lenses—with all the camera guts, like the imaging sensor, built in. The one thing they don't have, though, is a control panel. That's where the smartphone comes in. Simply affix the lens-style camera to your smartphone and control the camera via an app. Brilliant! Or maybe not; I suppose it's still too early to tell. One thing's for sure: these cameras have legit features like 20 megapixels, HD video recording and image stabilization—so it sure seems like they'll be likely to find an audience. I'm intrigued, that's for sure.