How Facebook's New Terms Of Service Affect Photographers
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Facebook's new terms of service are creating quite a buzz. It's an unhappy buzz as far as many content creators are concerned. The new terms state that Facebook users no longer have any right to limit how their likeness, information and content are utilized. In conjunction with other updates to the terms, that means Facebook now has broader rights to resell your information, identity and—perhaps most notably for photographers—your photographs uploaded to the service. Obviously, many content creators object to the idea of their photographs being licensed without explicit consent, and without reaping any rewards from commercial usage. If you're interested in evaluating the new terms and how they might impact your own use of Facebook, the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) has published an informative breakdown of how the changes impact photographers.
How Sports Illustrated Photographers Shoot Football
Monday, September 9, 2013
It's finally football season again. In honor of the return of this great sport, I wanted to share with you something specifically football-photography related. My first thought was a gallery of some great Sports Illustrated football photographs, but then I found something even better: a video of Sports Illustrated photographers in action, photographing the NCAA BCS Championship last year, and explaining how they tackle such a daunting job as photographing football on the national stage. They discuss everything from their preferred lenses to ideal positioning and techniques to help you photograph football successfully. They also talk about something very important in their jobs, which none of them can control: luck. Sometimes it's simply about being at the right place at the right time. If you're interested in photographing football, or if (like me) you simply love watching it, it's neat to see how these pros handle such a high-profile, fast-paced assignment.
Lightroom 5's Hidden Gems
Friday, September 6, 2013
I love all the great video tutorials I've ever seen from Adobe's chief evangelist, Julieanne Kost. She's a talented photographer, and an immensely talented teacher as well. Here, courtesy of John Paul Caponigro's wonderful blog, Ms. Kost leads us through ten "hidden gems" of neat features in the newest version of Lightroom. These aren't big, flashy features (as she explains early in the video), but rather neat and powerful little tips--the kinds of things that have always made my post-processing life easier when I eventually stumble across them. Here's a chance to learn about some favorite new gems straight from the Photoshop guru's mouth. Pretty cool stuff, presented in the easily approachable and straightforward manner that's come to be the hallmark of Ms. Kost's video tutorials.
The RAW Adjustment Brush
Thursday, September 5, 2013
At this point, I don't think it's a stretch to say that most photographers have heard all about the wonders that come with shooting RAW image files. But many photographers still don't believe all the great things about shooting RAW—or maybe they're aware, but they still don't do it. Well maybe this little tidbit from Kent DuFault will help convince them. It's a primer on using the RAW Adjustment Brush in order to not only gain the exceptional control of a RAW file, but to wield it with precision in select areas of an image. I use the RAW adjustment brush as a standard part of my digital workflow directly from Lightroom's Develop menu, but as Kent demonstrates in the link below, it's also accessible via Photoshop. The RAW adjustment brush allows you to make those precise adjustments in tiny areas of the image—just as if you were dodging and burning. Take a look at Kent's great post at the Lightstalking blog, and if you aren't already on the RAW bandwagon, it's never too late to hop on.
A Power Boost For Your Flash
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
When I shoot documentary assignments that call for portable hot-shoe flashes, it’s a constant battle to keep my kit powerful yet compact. For years I lugged around a high-capacity third-party battery pack. It was—and still would be—the best way to get superfast flash recycling times and more flashes out of a single charge. But then some innovations in the capacities of rechargeable AAs meant that I could largely replace the bulky battery pack without sacrificing usability. That is, until those AAs start to wear down toward the end of a shoot and the recycling times really start to lag. I’ve been thinking about this increasingly lately, and I'm thinking that rather than going back to a big external belt-mounted battery pack, maybe the Lumedyne X would be the perfect addition to my location lighting arsenal. The X is like a little supplemental battery pack of its own that plugs in to the high voltage plug of Canon, Nikon and other flashes, in order to boost longevity and dramatically shrink recycle times—cutting them in half, or even more, when your AAs start to get low. This little device is a pretty cool addition that doesn't add the cumbersome bulk of a typical external battery pack. At $300+ it’s not cheap, but the ability to get added life out of a set of batteries is a deal at almost any price.
Understanding Light Falloff
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
One of my favorite lighting principles to share with young photographers and students is the inverse square law. That's the physics principle that states that light falls off two stops for every doubling in distance from the source to the subject. I love this law, because it is an immensely useful. And it's something I think most new photographers don't think much about. But once they understand it, the sky is the limit in terms of how they can apply it to their advantage—changing the brightness of a background, for instance, simply by moving the key light. Anyway, the point is, I love the inverse square law, so I'm happy to pass along to you this inverse square law primer from DPS. It includes a simple graphic that shows exactly how the law functions photographically, as well as a good explanation of how you can apply it to your own work. Once you get the hang of the intricacies of light falloff, a whole new world of lighting will open up to you.
Quick Fix Fridays: Two “Sammonisms” That Can Help You Make Better Photographs
Friday, August 30, 2013
I like to make learning fast and fun. That's why I developed what I call my "Sammonisms," one-liners that drive home an important photo tip.
In this post I'll share two of my favorites. All my "Sammonisms" are listed on my website: www.ricksammon.com/about.
Light Illuminates, Shadows Define
Every picture you have ever taken has one main element: light. Break down light and you have two sub elements: highlights and shadows. As photographers, we need to learn how to see the light - the highlights and shadows in a scene. We need to realize that light illuminates – shadows define. Without shadows, pictures look flat, which actually could be the goal is some photographs.
In the opening image for this post, the sand dunes in this Death Valley photograph have good definition due to strong shadows.
The sand dunes in this photograph have little definition due to soft shadows.
The combination of shadows and highlights in this photograph of Herbie Hancock are the result of very careful lighting. That lighting produced nice shadows that added to the mood of the scene.
Hey, here is a bonus "Sammonism": Shadows are the soul of the photograph.
Very wide-angle lenses distort horizontal and vertical lines in a scene. The wider the lens and the closer the subject, the greater the distortion. Distortion can be fun, unless you are shooting for an architectural magazine. So I say embrace the distortion.
I used a Canon 15mm full-frame fish-eye lens to photograph this section of a lounge car in the South East Railway Museum near Atlanta, Georgia. I think the cool distortion makes the railway car look even cooler.
I used the same Canon 15mm lens for this shot of the observation area of the same car. In both cases the scene is distorted, but, again, I think that adds to the impact of the photograph.
Here I used a Canon 14mm lens to photograph this old Caddy. Shooting very close added to the impact of the fins in this photograph. Again, the wider the lens and the closer you are to the subject, the greater the distortion.
Got questions? Drop by my website at www.ricksammon.com.
Abstract Images Of Earth From High Above
Friday, August 30, 2013
NASA isn't the only game in town when it comes to amazing images from outer space. Don't forget about the European Space Agency, which has a pretty amazing archive of its own (there's a link below). The blog awkwardly titled but always interesting blog, "But Does It Float" has curated an awesome gallery not just of any old images from space, but of our amazingly beautiful earth. These images are often abstract, and always interesting, including views of everything from Africa's Namib desert to the geometric abstraction of Peru's Andes foothills. It's a beautiful, colorful, fascinating collection—exactly what I want to see our space explorers working hard to bring back to us here on earth.