Camera Buying Guides
Monday, January 21, 2013
Care to improve your camera-buying prowess? Browse one of superstore Adorama's 65 free buying guides online to help you hone in on the perfect camera and lens for your next purchase. Of course, these buying guides are practical way beyond learning just what gear to splurge on. They're helpful for learning about photography too, as they encourage you to consider the methods and techniques that you use, and to learn more about them as you learn what equipment might be most practical for a given way of shooting. The point is, by learning more about gear options, you can learn more about photography. These buying guides are the perfect way to learn more about cameras and techniques—whether you're considering a compact digital camera for family events or a big dSLR for a budding photojournalist. How you shoot determines what you buy, so thinking about what to buy can help you figure out how to shoot. It's a perfect symbiosis!
Photographing Shadow And Light
Friday, January 18, 2013
The photographer Joey L makes me angry. You see, he's really good. Really, really good. And he's just a kid. Yes, technically he's 21, but when I first learned of his world-class globetrotting work he was only 17. Less than half my age, and more than twice as good! Yes, it's petty jealousy. Joey L (short for Joey Lawrence but in no way the same guy as the 1980s child actor whose catch phrase was "whoa") is a ridiculously talented and successful photographer. By any measure, he's enviable for 99% of photographers in the world. Bottom line, he's just really, really good. And now he's got a new book, Photographing Shadow and Light, as well as a LONG 43-minute documentary video online. And I think all of us, from Strobist's David Hobby to any other kids out there who have just picked up their first camera, can benefit from spending a little time learning from Joey L.
Chuck Close On Creativity
Thursday, January 17, 2013
The next few words I'm going to write will sound like blasphemy to some photographers, but I'm going to write them anyway. Here goes: It seems to me that the best photographs are as much about ideas as they are about execution. By that I mean, it's the content that matters most. It can be all too easy to get caught up in the trappings of technique and equipment—and let's face it, it can also be downright fun. But to a certain extent, all of these things can get in the way of what we photographers are supposed to be doing: making pictures. I have been kicking around this idea for a long while now, but it was only when reading a recent post at the wonderful Brain Pickings blog that I read some quotes from the painter Chuck Close that really galvanized these thoughts for me. Close puts it simply: "Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work." I think that translates for photographers into something along the lines of, "Let's not worry so much about how, and let's just concentrate on doing." As Nike's ad agency so beautifully put it, "Just do it." Work begets work, creating leads to creativity. So the next time you're feeling like something—anything—is getting in the way of making photographs, forget it. And just get to work. (For more from the Chuck Close interview, as well as conversations with many other phenomenal artists, follow the link to Brain Pickings where you can pick up the book from which Close's quotes came: Inside the Painter's Studio, by Joe Fig. Looks like a wonderful and inspirational read, even for us photographers.)
Stop Action Fashion Edit Animation
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
This is a neat video of photographer Kwaku Alston editing the take from a recent fashion shoot with actress Drew Barrymore. Alston isn't retouching here, he's editing to decide which ones he likes the best. And heck, let's be clear: I doubt he edits them this way in reality. But the stop action animation effect is great, and it's a wonderful way to showcase a great bunch of photos from what certainly appears to be a successful, high-energy shoot. There's also a great behind the scenes video, and more information about the Drew Barrymore project on the page. Oh, and thanks to the ever-outstanding Feature Shoot blog for pointing us to this clip.
Reality VS. Photoshop. Does it Matter?
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Our friends at Outdoor Photographer recently published a blog post by Bill Hatcher that I think is a must-read for many photographers. You see, at Outdoor Photographer, whenever the magazine sponsors a photo contest or publishes a gallery of reader photos, the comments fill up quickly with complaints that the photos are "overprocessed." My first problem with the complaint is that quite often the images aren't really overcooked at all. Or at least they don't appear to be to me. It's as if any time someone sees a deep blue sky, or warm sunset light and they accuse the photographer of succumbing to the evils of HDR. Now don't get me wrong—I don't love fake looking overprocessed HDR landscapes either, but I certainly don't think every bold, colorful photo is a function of HDR or too much post processing. My second issue with this complaint is... So what? Even if it is overdone and you don't like it… Big deal! There are plenty of things I don't like, but just because I judge something—someone else's work of art, mind you—not to my liking, it's somehow necessary to decree that this photograph as a lesser work in my eyes? It's preposterous. Get off your high horse, climb down from your ivory tower. There are no rules about photography. There is no "right" and "wrong." If you don't like it, don't do it. But let's agree to stop all of our bickering about what's real and what's not. It's fine to have an opinion, and even to share it. There's constructive criticism, and there's petty whining. Let's not forget that none of us is the ultimate arbiter of taste—especially when it comes to someone else's photography. Ultimately, if you don't like it and want to show the rest of us how it's done… then show us how it's done! Share your work. That makes the greatest statement of what you think a good photograph should look like. Oh yes, and one more thing. If I hear one more comment about the good old days of film and how realistic it was, I'm going to cry. Let us not forget that black & white photography is inherently an abstraction of reality, and perhaps the greatest black & white landscape master worked hard to create photographs that represented his vision more than they represented the facts of a scene. The most popular color film for a generation of landscape photographers—Fuji Velvia—was popular precisely because of how rich and saturated it was. Photoshop is not evil, and HDR is not wrong. So let's all take it down a notch and try appreciate good photography of all kinds, even when it's not our own cup of tea.
Fixing Blue Skies With Lightroom
Monday, January 14, 2013
Here's a useful tip, made even more necessary when working outdoors this time of year. No, it's not about staying warm when shooting in winter, it's about helping those not-quite-as-blue-as-you'd-like-them skies to being more beautifully blue. Jason Weddington writes on the DPS blog about using some of Lightroom 4's simple tools and techniques to help make a washed out blue sky a little more bold, a little more vibrant, a little more straight up blue. No, it's not a tutorial in making unrealistic, candy-colored landscapes. It's just a simple way to help make a blue sky a little more photogenic, and you don't need to be a computer expert to make it happen.
Hands-On Copyright Protection
Friday, January 11, 2013
If you find your photograph on a site where it doesn't belong, do you know what to do about it? I don't mean send an invoice and hire a lawyer, I mean the basics. Namely, how to send a takedown request the quick and easy way via our old friends at Google. Google announced last month that it now receives an average of 2.5 million copyright infringement-related takedown requests every week. (Thanks to Rob Haggart's A Photo Editor blog to pointing me to this interesting statistic.) In the last six months since Google made it incredibly easy to report copyright infringers—whether they're using your photos, music or other copyrighted intellectual property—the company reports that takedown requests have grown tenfold. So if you find your photo being used improperly, yes you can start by sending the infringer an invoice and hiring a lawyer, but you should also visit Google to have the content removed from search results. Check out the cold hard facts, straight from Google's mouth, on their copyright data page, then head over to the search giant's information page for help on removing infringing content from Google's index.
The Earth At Night
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Here's a pretty pretty beautiful image of the earth, not only because it animates the planet's rotation, but because it's comprised of images of our earth at night. It comes from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, via the Pixiq photo blog. The animation was made of images captured over 22 days in the spring and fall of 2012. The satellite had to make 312 orbits to capture 2.5 terabytes of data, which provided a perfectly clear image of every last little bit of the Earth's surface. It's a beautifully subtle image of dark tones punctuated by occasional bursts of map-defining electric light. Simply gorgeous.