The Handmade ND Filter

I'm a little embarrassed to say that this photographic tip hadn't occurred to me until I read John Neel's post at the Pixiq blog. It's a technique that literally any photographer can do, and it doesn't require any special equipment at all. And it's genius in its simplicity. It's useful to help render bright, washed out skies darker, richer, and with more detail. It's a homemade neutral density filter—no, it's handmade, because all you need is your hand. Here's how it works. Starting with a long exposure—like 30 seconds in order to give yourself time to work carefully—you use your hand to burn in the sky, essentially blocking exposure from that part of the frame in order to make it appear darker in the finished picture. It's a technique that originated with large format film, and it's clearly a great one to have at the ready. Read all about it at http://www.pixiq.com/article/graduated-nd-effect.
DPMag
I'm a little embarrassed to say that this photographic tip hadn't occurred to me until I read John Neel's post at the Pixiq blog. It's a technique that literally any photographer can do, and it doesn't require any special equipment at all. And it's genius in its simplicity. It's useful…

The Woven Photo Viewer

While it's not strictly a serious photo enthusiast smartphone app, the Woven Photo Viewer (currently available for iPhone and Android at the grand ol' price of free dollars and free cents) is a super-cool photo app. It compiles the photographs from all your different online sources—like Facebook, Instagram, SmugMug, Flickr, Dropbox and more—and wrangles them all together in one place. I just downloaded it and I'm excited to get started. Instead of having a variety of shots available in a variety of disparate locations—none of which are conveniently accessed on my phone on the fly—finally my cell phone will act like a real honest to goodness pocket photo album. And the price is as right as can be, making it a super low-risk investment.

http://www.woventheapp.com
DPMag
While it's not strictly a serious photo enthusiast smartphone app, the Woven Photo Viewer (currently available for iPhone and Android at the grand ol' price of free dollars and free cents) is a super-cool photo app. It compiles the photographs from all your different online sources—like Facebook, Instagram, SmugMug, Flickr,…

Great Portrait Lighting With Just One Reflector

I've always been an advocate for simple lighting in photographs, especially in portraits. I even wrote a recent article in Digital Photo Pro all about lighting simplicity and working with one or two lights, and also wrote a few months back about high-key portrait lighting in which I utilized one light (or just a reflector and the sun) to make beautiful portraits. So I'm sure to love a post like this one from DIY Photography, which is all about making great portraits with nothing more than a single reflector. The site is usually geared more to promoting gear, homemade and storebought, but this how-to video from Sasser Stills shows just how great some simple sunlight and a reflector can be. In fact, it's arguably the most beautiful portrait lighting you can find anywhere. Well worth a look if for no other reason than to serve as a reminder that you can find great light anywhere, and make it even better with the simplest of tools.

http://www.diyphotography.net/it-only-takes-1-reflector-to-create-beautiful-portraits
DPMag
I've always been an advocate for simple lighting in photographs, especially in portraits. I even wrote a recent article in Digital Photo Pro all about lighting simplicity and working with one or two lights, and also wrote a few months back about high-key portrait lighting in which I utilized one…

Speedlite Timer Tip

I've been a flash user for many years, but only recently have I started harnessing the power of multiple off-camera Speedlites (or Speedlights on the Nikon platform) as an upgrade to a single handheld flash. The nice thing about this approach is it allows for more refined lighting setups without the bulk, expense and time investment of working with larger studio-style strobes. But one problem, at least with my Canon 580EX, is that it goes to sleep after 90 seconds of disuse. Many strobes do this, and it can be pretty inconvenient if you're not using the flash on camera. You go to take a picture and... nothing. This is a real killer if you don't have the flash mounted to the hotshoe on your camera, and even worse if it's all the way across the room on a light stand. I finally figured out how to harness my flash's custom functions to disable this sleep timer. With my Canon, it's accomplished by setting custom function 14 to state 1. Access this by holding the CF button for at least three seconds until it starts blinking on the LCD screen, then use the scroll wheel to adjust it from 0 to 1. Simple! No matter what flash you're using, there's usually a similar fix. So don't just settle for a flash that keeps shutting off at inopportune times. Do a little Googling to find out how to fix your flash and make it perfect for remote triggering. Then step up your lighting with multiple off-camera flashes.
DPMag
I've been a flash user for many years, but only recently have I started harnessing the power of multiple off-camera Speedlites (or Speedlights on the Nikon platform) as an upgrade to a single handheld flash. The nice thing about this approach is it allows for more refined lighting setups without…

The Best Venus Transit Photos

Last week Venus passed in front of the Sun. (While this happens constantly, it only happens every couple-hundred years from the perspective of those of us living on earth.) So all the astrophotographers were out in force making photographs of this literally once-in-a-lifetime event. I've been keeping an eye out for photos of the transit, and I've found some to share with you. The best photos, I'm sure, are the ones that come straight from NASA. The Light Stalking blog has a collection of the best of these, so I'd start there. But that's only part of the puzzle. I also wanted to see what regular folks were able to do, and for that I suggest checking out the Discover Magazine blog which has a great gallery full of fun and funky transit photos from all over the world—including shots made by astronauts on the International Space Station too. Lastly, to see how professional documentary photographers tackled this special assignment, visit The Atlantic's photo blog for a series of images of not only the transit, but the folks who turned out around the world to see and photograph it. 

http://www.lightstalking.com/19-of-the-most-incredible-photos-of-venus-passing-in-front-of-the-sun-this-week
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/06/06/the-june-2012-transit-of-venus-gallery
http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/06/the-2012-transit-of-venus/100313
DPMag
Last week Venus passed in front of the Sun. (While this happens constantly, it only happens every couple-hundred years from the perspective of those of us living on earth.) So all the astrophotographers were out in force making photographs of this literally once-in-a-lifetime event. I've been keeping an eye out…

Have A Nice Book

Have you seen the site called Have a Nice Book? It's all about photo books. And since this week has been devoted to a few photo books I've been keen to get my hands on, I thought it might be nice to mention this site too. I know it's not technically a photo book—but it's seriously the next best thing. And it really does put photo books on a pedestal. You see, the Have a Nice Book folks get their hands on great photo books, and then they make videos of them. They browse through the books, providing you with a great glimpse at the art therein, which is not only interesting but practical—it gives you a better idea of whether or not a book might be perfect for you to purchase. Think of it like a service that allows you to preview hot new photo books, as well as one that introduces you to beautiful books by artists you may not be familiar with. More than anything, it's all very nicely done to boot. Take a look and just try to tell me the photo book isn't thriving in this new digital world. The site represents a great combination of the old print technology merged with digital video and the Internet. I, for one, absolutely love it.

http://www.haveanicebook.com/blog
DPMag
Have you seen the site called Have a Nice Book? It's all about photo books. And since this week has been devoted to a few photo books I've been keen to get my hands on, I thought it might be nice to mention this site too. I know it's not…
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