Monday, June 20, 2011
I am of the belief that you should not keep a filter on your lens at all times simply to protect that lens from the bumps and bruises and scratches that can occur out there in the world. But I also understand that's just my personal preference, and I do get the logic behind using a $150 filter to protect a $1500 lens. The key is as long as that $150 filter is really high quality. What I will never understand is the idea of protecting a new $1500 lens with a $50 filter, or a filter that is of poor quality. Why? Because if you're going to ruin all of your photos with that cheap piece of glass on the front, why buy a great $1500 lens in the first place? Just buy a cheap lens and don't worry about it. All of that said, DPReview recently directed me to an awesome blog post at the Lensrentals.com web site. It's a bit tongue in cheek, and definitely over the top, but it's actually very instructive too. Roger Cicala stacked 50 filters on the front of his camera to illustrate how horrible a photo looks with 50 filters stacked in front of the lens, but also to showcase the differences between good filters and bad. Even the good filters when stacked don't look great. And a filter-doubter such as myself says that if five filters hurt image quality a lot, one filter is bound to hurt image quality a little. But again, that's just personal preference—and I know that as soon as I ruin my next $1500 lens because I didn't have a filter on the front of it, well, I just may reconsider my position.
Keep All Your Pictures Just In Case
Friday, June 17, 2011
I once read that street photographer Garry Winogrand made a practice of keeping all of his photographs unedited, or in some cases unprocessed, until long after a shoot. Why? Because he wanted to separate his personal, emotional connection to the photo shoot from the visual factors used to determine which images stand out in editing. He didn't want to get caught up in how much fun a shot was, or how difficult it was to pull off. He just wanted to respond to the images alone, and to do that he waited until the session was a distant memory. Photographer Steve Berardi, who writes the Photo Naturalist blog, recommends a similar practice. He doesn't necessarily advocate that you wait to review your pictures until long after a shoot, but he definitely suggests you keep every last one of those digital images just in case at a later date your fresh eyes see something special standing out in the take. Read all about his approach at Photo Naturalist, and start making plans now to build an archive and backup system that will allow you to keep all your photos indefinitely.
Photo by Steve Berardi, Photo Naturalist
New Polaroid Printer Brings The "Instant" Back To Photography
Thursday, June 16, 2011
I'm all for instant prints. In fact, I just bought a Fuji Instax camera to celebrate the birth of my daughter—and to ensure that she'll have photographic prints in albums she can look back on to remember her childhood like most of us old-timers do. Well now there's another option, and this one comes from the folks who used to have the market cornered on instant photography. It's the Polaroid GL10 mobile instant printer. It's a tiny little thing, which makes it easy to carry around and take to parties and events—places where you might actually want to print out, and hand out, prints from the photos you take. It could help you free your photos from your camera and your computer, and maybe it will help you remember why you like taking pictures in the first place. Read all about it at Chase Jarvis' blog, and see how he put the fancy new device to use himself.
How To Shoot Food In The Dark
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Strobist David Hobby just pointed out an awesome video about photographer Robert Caplin, a New York-based foodie who is charged with shooting in some tricky circumstances—namely, cramped kitchens and dimly lit restaurants (which are also usually crowded full of diners). To do this, Caplin suggests using a tiny little LED light panel that he can hand hold and position just so to create interesting, directional light—and to ensure he can shoot in a dark restaurant without having to crank the ISO to hell and back. It's a simple idea that's sure to have a lot of photographers—Hobby included—carrying around light panels for a variety of sticky situations. One commenter on the post mentions a few apps that turn Androids and iPhones into little light sources for just such an occasion, which is another great idea—especially in a pinch.
Get A Grip On Flash Sync
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Flash sync speed isn't an overly understood concept, due in large part to manufacturers sending out D-SLRs that have different sync speeds than advertised. These sync speeds also vary not only from model to model but actually from unit to unit. Practically speaking, a D-SLR can sync with a flash successfully at 1/125th or slower shutter speeds without fail, but sometimes they'll sync at 1/160th and 1/200th, and even on occasion at the advertised 1/250th. But how do you know what yours does? You test it. And with a look at this flash sync primer from Digital Photography School's Marlene Hielema, you'll have a little better idea how to do that. Flash sync isn't an overly complicated concept, but in practice it can be a little tricky, and since it can make or break a photo shoot it's something you definitely want to have a handle on.
Photo by Marlene Hielema
The Working Process Of A War Photographer
Monday, June 13, 2011
Tyler Hicks is a staff photographer for the New York Times. He's a phenomenal photojournalist, and in recent years he's made his name documenting American wars in the middle east. He made headlines earlier this year when he was held captive by the Libyan government and was eventually released. Prior to that time, his friend and colleague, videographer Bill Gentile, made a fascinating 14-minute video of Mr. Hicks and his workflow, processing and filing images from a day's work in Afghanistan's Helmand Valley. What's amazing is watching Mr. Hicks go through all of the rigors of sending his photos to New York, and then to hear him say, "Filing is much easier now." The video provides a unique peek into the life of a war photographer, which the video shows closely parallels the lives of the soldiers he's covering.
Use A Welding Glass As A 10-Stop ND Filter
Friday, June 10, 2011
I love the DIY ethos. You know, take whatever materials you may have at hand and repurpose them to improve your photography. This do-it-yourself project doesn't even require much construction know-how on your part. You just need to buy a piece intended for one thing (welding) and use it to replace a piece intended for another thing (a neutral density filter). In the process, you'll save yourself $50, $100 or even $200. It's simple: purchase a piece of welder's glass—a very dark, dense chunk of glass used to shield welders' eyes while they work—and slap it on your lens as an ND filter. There are two problems with this approach, of course, because there are always tradeoffs with a hack like this. First, the welder's glass doesn't have the convenience of an actual filter (as in, there's no threads to attach the filter to your lens so you'll have to improvise with tape or rubber bands) and two, the welder's glass is bound to have a color tint so it's not truly neutral. But with a custom white balance and a bit of ingenuity to affix the filter to your lens, you can achieve massive amounts of density in a simple little hack. It's a great way to shoot really long exposures in bright sunlight, which can allow you to make pictures that would otherwise be impossible. Read all about this great project at the DIY Photography blog, then do it for yourself.
A new Tronix Explorer Battery To Power Your Life
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Rob Galbraith recently delivered news of a new product I'm especially excited about. It's the Tronix Explorer Mini battery pack. Technically it's a pure sine wave inverter, but I'm no electrical engineer and I don't exactly know what that means. What I do know is that it acts like a big old battery to power my strobes or my laptop or just about anything that requires a regular household AC connection. I have a bigger Tronix Explorer pack, the XT, which, after several years of powering my strobes on location shoots is nearing the end of its useful life, so I'm ready to upgrade. Why wouldn't I consider a more compact power source like the new Mini? At about the size of a first generation cell phone, bag and all, this $350 product ships direct from Innovatronix in the Phillippines. Check the Innovatronix web site for pertinent info, and to order the new Mini.