Friday, July 9, 2010
Nikon has just announced the 33rd iteration of its Nikon Photo Contest International. The 2010-2011 challenge is open to photographers of all skill levels, all around the world, working with any digital or 35mm film cameras. Entries will be accepted September through November of this year, so start working on your prize-winning entries now. All the information you need, including judges, past winners, contest rules and regulations, is available now on Nikon’s NPCI web site.
Launching a Career in Commercial Photography
Friday, July 9, 2010
Selina Maitreya has built her own successful 30-year career by helping photographers polish their portfolios and position themselves most effectively to build the type of creative and commercial success crucial for a long-lasting career in photography. She offers inspiration and guidance to photographers interested in their own business development. Now she has also moved her personal consulting approach into the online world with a series of MP3 downloads called “The View From Here.” To accompany this program she’s also created a brief introduction video, as well as the first in a monthly series of video challenges for photographers who are up to it. She promises that if you take her challenge you will move your photo business forward. Tune in to learn more at Selina’s web site.
Solar Eclipse Imagery
Thursday, July 8, 2010
As I’ve stated on this blog many times before, I know almost nothing about astronomical photography, yet I’m totally hooked on finding the best examples of it. It’s a classic, “I don’t know much, but I know what I like” scenario. And the most recent astral work that really impresses me comes courtesy of the National Geographic Blog. It’s a composite of 55 calibrated images made by a team of astronomers, and it’s simply stunning. In the accompanying text, Jeremy Berlin explains that I’m clearly not the only one hooked on these total eclipse images. In fact, there’s a tour company dedicated to traveling the globe specifically for optimum eclipse viewing, and a web site all about eclipse chasers. Check it out, whether or not you plan to ride a freighter to the South Pacific to watch the sun disappear briefly behind the moon.
Get the Shot
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Speaking of great video tutorials to be found online, here’s a great one from the creative duo of Larsen & Talbert put together by the folks at PhotoShelter.com. Ever been to a celebrity photo shoot? How about dozens of them? In this hour-long webinar, the photographers explain how they made their way in photography and walk viewers through shoots with top celebrities. Check it out, as well as a number of other PhotoShelter-sponsored webinars, on Vimeo.com.
Heisler on Lighting
Monday, July 5, 2010
I’m such fan of Gregory Heisler and his masterful, understated use of strobe lighting, I’d watch him diagram a passport photo. Thankfully I don’t have to resort to that since Profoto has recruited him for a series of explanations about some of his most well-known portrait setups. Most recently he diagrammed a portrait of Yankees great Derek Jeter for the cover of Sports Illustrated. It’s a perfect example of using precisely placed lights to recreate a natural illumination, totally ambient in appearance. And it’s well worth a look. Check it out at Profoto’s YouTube channel.
How to shoot a TV drama with your D-SLR
Friday, July 2, 2010
Remember earlier this spring when the photoblogosphere was all at witter with news that the season finale of Fox’s House had been shot entirely with a Canon EOS 5D Mark 2 D-SLR? Well if you happened to be living under a rock at the time—or if you have better things to do than read the Internet all day—trust me, it was. This was (and still is) big news, because instead of a $50,000 setup (or god knows how expensive a traditional high-def video rig and lenses could be) you can now shoot primetime TV dramas with a $2500 camera and a couple of $1000 lenses. That’s big, right?
Well now you can learn exactly how it was done by tuning in to an interview with the director of that episode, Greg Yaitanes, on the blog of filmmaker Philip Bloom. Philip interviewed Greg to create the hour-long radio-style interview full of experiences from a seasoned television professional on working with the little D-SLR that could also do TV. (If you’d rather not stream the audio, you can save the clip to your desktop or even peruse a transcript instead.) Anyone interested in broadening their video horizons would be well served by a professional TV shooter’s insights and inspiration.
A close-to-home photo safari
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Let’s face it: much as I’d love to try my long lenses photographing wildlife on an African safari, I’m much more likely to photograph exotic animals at the local zoo. And that’s okay, I say, because a beautiful photograph is a beautiful photograph no matter where it’s made. If you’re planning your own zoological photo safari, there are a few special precautions to take. True, you have a much lower chance of being trampled by a rhino at the zoo than on the open plain, but there are other problems. Things like enclosures and power lines and other manmade structures that sort of spoil the wild appearance of your wildlife images. To do a better job of eliminating these, use the longest lens you can and create the shallowest depth of field with a wide open aperture. To read more about the specific challenges of photographing at the zoo, check out this recent Lightstalking post. It may not offer advice on wildlife photography in general, but it does prepare you for the specific challenges of photographing at the zoo.
Movie or Strobe?
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
T.1 and T.5 surely pertain to Terminator movies, no? I must confess that I’m not terribly well versed in the current state of action movies, but I do know about photography stuff. It turns out that T.1 and T.5 are designations for the time it takes a flash to output a burst of light. The duration of a flash, as you know, is really short. But not all flashes are equal. In fact, some flashes are less powerful than others even though they can deliver the same amount of total illumination. They do this by lasting longer—say a 500th of a second instead of a 1000th of a second. The strobe pulse duration may not mean much in many situations, but sometimes it can make the difference between a sharp shot and a blurry one.
For example, if you’re photographing a dancer in motion and you’re relying on a flash to freeze her in midair, you’d be much better served by a shorter flash duration—say 1/2000th of a second—than you would a flash that lumbers along taking all of 1/200th of a second. There’d be a big difference in motion blur there, just as there would be with the same sort of shutter speed changes. (In fact, I always suggest to folks who are looking to stop motion with their flash to set the unit for its lowest power output and make that exposure work in camera—because the lower power translates into a shorter flash duration that’s much better at stopping fast action.) Now back to those Terminator numbers.
Manufacturers publish T.1 and T.5 numbers that can be used to compare different flashes. The T.1 number represents the time it takes for a flash to output almost all (90%) of a strobe pulse, whereas the T.5 number is in indication of the time it takes to output 50% of a pulse. Generally faster is better, but the most important thing when you’re comparison shopping is to compare apples to apples—if you’re looking at a T.1 number for one unit, be sure to compare the T.1 (as opposed to the T.5) number of another. Think of the T.1 as the time it takes to pump out the entire flash, and you’re closer to understanding the overall speed a flash is capable of delivering.
All of this photo-geekery comes to mind courtesy of the Strobist blog, which is the place to geek out on obscure flash technical information like this. I recommend heading over there asap to read the recent post all about T.1 and T.5 numbers to get a better understanding of how they work and how to put that knowledge to use.