Back Button Focusing

Do you know about back button focusing? It's the method of focusing your camera (via autofocus, of course) that relies not on pressing the shutter button halfway with your index finger, but rather pressing a button on the back of the camera with your thumb. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but photographers who use the technique tend to sing its praises very loudly. Here's an article from James Brandon--author of an ebook all about achieving perfect focus--that advocates switching to back button focus at all times, and provides a few good reasons for re-learning this fundamental photographic technique.

http://digital-photography-school.com/back-button-focus
DPMag
Do you know about back button focusing? It's the method of focusing your camera (via autofocus, of course) that relies not on pressing the shutter button halfway with your index finger, but rather pressing a button on the back of the camera with your thumb. It doesn't seem like that…

Sun Flare Photography

I've long used this blog to demonstrate my appreciation for NASA's astrophotography. But they've outdone themselves this time, with some really crazy detailed photos of the sun. I know, it sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, but apparently if you've got a small enough aperture and a short enough shutter speed… Well, you can actually see amazing detail in the surface of the bright ball of gas we know as the sun. So first I recommend you check out these stills of the sun via a blog called But Does It Float. Then I recommend you check out the Flickr feed from NASA that inspired the post, because while you may notice a massive CME (coronial mass ejection) in one of the stills, they've got video of the thing on the Flickr feed. And it is, basically, a ridiculously cool event. I love when photography takes us places we could never even comprehend otherwise. This is a perfect example. Science!

http://butdoesitfloat.com/Who-Loves-the-Sun
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/7938936660/in/set-72157631408160534
DPMag
I've long used this blog to demonstrate my appreciation for NASA's astrophotography. But they've outdone themselves this time, with some really crazy detailed photos of the sun. I know, it sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, but apparently if you've got a small enough aperture and a short enough…

Sammon On Subtle HDR

As someone who finds himself physically nauseated by most over-the-top HDR photography—with its syrupy colors and coarse textures—I'm a big proponent of the technology being put to use for more subtle image making. So I was thrilled to see that nature photographer Rick Sammon recently created this post at DP Review showcasing how "the rest of us" can use HDR to more realistic, more subtle, less obnoxious effect. The capability to combine multiple exposures for the simple benefit of enhanced tonal range is one of the best uses of HDR—the kind of use where you hardly know the technique has been applied.

http://www.dpreview.com/articles/1944596440/hdr-for-the-rest-of-us
DPMag
As someone who finds himself physically nauseated by most over-the-top HDR photography—with its syrupy colors and coarse textures—I'm a big proponent of the technology being put to use for more subtle image making. So I was thrilled to see that nature photographer Rick Sammon recently created this post at DP…

Talk About A Compact Lens

You can file this in the "what might be the next generation of major photographic technological enhancements." It's the flat lens, and it's been developed by the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Made of silicon, this ultra-thin lens is totally flat yet functions like a larger, physically convex glass lenses we've been using since… well, since the dawn of photography. This, of course, means that lenses could look dramatically different in the future, and we could have super-tiny, super-flat elements that make for super-flat cameras. Hard to know what amazing technological advancements will become practical technology and which will stay for the most part theoretical. But either way it's exciting to consider the possibilities of a lens that's measured in nanometers instead of millimeters.

http://www.wired.com/rawfile/2012/08/new-flat-lens-could-revolutionize-cameras-as-we-know-them
DPMag
You can file this in the "what might be the next generation of major photographic technological enhancements." It's the flat lens, and it's been developed by the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Made of silicon, this ultra-thin lens is totally flat yet functions like a larger, physically convex…

Schatz On Going Beyond

I'm working on a little article with Howard Schatz. Howard is the kind of guy who speaks in real gems. Unfortunately, I can't always find a way to fit them all in to every story. Thankfully I have this blog, where I can share these gems with you. We were discussing how much studying and research Howard puts in to his photography in order to push himself and to continue moving forward with every shoot. "It's very important," he told me, "for a photographer, an artist, anyone in creative life, to have a vast databank. In terms of photography, a vast visual databank. So that when someone looks through the camera they can recognize 'I've seen this before, I'm not going to do this the same way he did it. I'm going to try to find another way of seeing it.' So I study, hard; I'm a scholar of my work, of my field. I read everything, I look at every magazine, I look at books, I look online… I don't want to repeat. I want to find a new way of seeing. And it's very hard. The more you do it, the harder it gets, the fewer choices you have, the harder you have to work. That's why I also say when you hear simple, simple, simple… Well simple has been done thousands of times. Simple is not necessarily going to be so unique or original or magnificent. It could be nice. Generally, what I do is very complicated. There are dozens and dozens of ingredients that come to make an image right. And it has to do with the passionate striving to surprise myself." So the next time you look through the lens, try to recognize whether you've seen this same scenario before—in your own work or the works of others. Then push yourself to go farther. For more inspiration, take a look at Howard's web site, then visit your local bookstore to get your hands on his newest book, At the Fights, the culmination of many years spent photographing boxers in the ring and in the studio. 

http://www.howardschatz.com
DPMag
I'm working on a little article with Howard Schatz. Howard is the kind of guy who speaks in real gems. Unfortunately, I can't always find a way to fit them all in to every story. Thankfully I have this blog, where I can share these gems with you. We were…

Flowers Or Fireworks?

Just when you think everything's already been done, along comes a guy like David Johnson to do something totally different. Mr. Johnson started making long exposures of fireworks. But, of course, they don't look anything like any long exposures of fireworks that I've ever seen. I was looking at them and wondering how in the world he achieved such a unique effect—one that in its own way is actually more representative of the true beauty and power of fireworks. And here's the answer: he simply refocused. He'd start with his composition out of focus—creating the large blurry central area of each explosion—and then he'd click the shutter and refocus in order to bring the explosions into tack sharpness, resulting in a really unique set of fireworks photos. Who knows: this may become the de facto new way to photograph fireworks. What a brilliant, and brilliantly simple, technique. Bravo!

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2012/08/unusual-long-exposure-firework-photographs-by-david-johnson/
DPMag
Just when you think everything's already been done, along comes a guy like David Johnson to do something totally different. Mr. Johnson started making long exposures of fireworks. But, of course, they don't look anything like any long exposures of fireworks that I've ever seen. I was looking at them…
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