Must-have iPad photo apps

I just got an iPad so I’m constantly on the lookout for great photography apps I can use to make the most of this thing. From what I can tell, it appears that the UK’s Guardian Eyewitness app (free from the app store) is a must-have for folks who are interested in seeing world class photojournalism on a daily basis. The images are presented with an explanation from the day’s photographer about how each photograph was made. I don’t know where I first heard of this app, but I know that in a recent list of must-have iPad apps for photographers it topped the list and was the third time it has come to my attention. I’ll take that to mean I should go get it asap. The list I was just perusing came from BestAppSite.com. That seems like a fairly good URL if you’re looking for the best apps, no? The list is pretty great, including the Guardian Eyewitness app, Photoshop Express (another highly touted iPad app for photographers) and a couple of others I am keen on trying. The one I’m most jazzed about, though, is called LightKit. It turns the iPad itself into a light source for use during actual photo shoots. Impressive! Read all about it, and see the whole list, at BestAppSite.com.

http://www.bestappsite.com/2010/09/22/8-must-have-ipad-apps-for-photographers

I just got an iPad so I’m constantly on the lookout for great photography apps I can use to make the most of this thing. From what I can tell, it appears that the UK’s Guardian Eyewitness app (free from the app store) is a must-have for folks who are interested in seeing world class photojournalism on a daily basis. The images are presented with... Read more

Single Light Quick Tip

I spend a lot of time making portraits and product photographs with multiple lights. It’s fun and challenging and almost always interesting, but sometimes I find myself drawn to the challenge of making equally powerful photographs with fewer lights. Especially when I try to do it with just one light. Just last week I made a one-light still life to illustrate the ominous effects of three red hot peppers I grew in my garden. Not only was it possible to make the shot with one light, it was actually better since the single source upped the drama. I used a light from a high angle designed to rake across the peppers to showcase their shape. I used a soft source (a fairly large softbox about two feet above the peppers) to keep the highlights from looking like specular spots that might distract from the effect. (If the subject wasn’t shiny, or if it had a lot of texture, I would have probably used a harder light source to bring out the texture and increase the drama even more.) It’s a simple shot but one that is improved with the use of a single light source. The lesson in that? You don’t always have to complicate the lighting to make a better photograph. In fact, keeping it simple increases your chances of letting the subject shine through. It’s a great exercise, no matter what you shoot or how you light. So try lighting simply to see how powerful one light can be.

I spend a lot of time making portraits and product photographs with multiple lights. It’s fun and challenging and almost always interesting, but sometimes I find myself drawn to the challenge of making equally powerful photographs with fewer lights. Especially when I try to do it with just one light. Just last week I made a one-light still life... Read more

Learn about depth from Van Gogh

There’s a lot we can learn from Vincent Van Gogh. In this case, though, thanks to an art student we can learn more about Van Gogh’s works—and that can teach us something special about photography too. This young lady has applied tilt/shift focus control techniques in her photographs of famous Van Gogh paintings. It’s weird, I know, but it’s also supercool. The student, Serena Malyon, used a tilt/shift lens to turn two-dimensional paintings into simulated 3D. There seems to be some argument about whether she actually used a tilt/shift lens to make the photographs or whether she simulated the look in Photoshop. Either way, the effect is clear: the illusion of depth is dramatically enhanced by the careful use of depth of field and a precisely placed plane of focus. If you can turn a literally two-dimensional image into such a successful faux 3D picture, imagine what you can do when photographing the actual three-dimensional world.

http://thechive.com/2010/09/21/brilliant-student-uses-tilt-shift-photography-to-bring-van-gogh-to-life/

There’s a lot we can learn from Vincent Van Gogh. In this case, though, thanks to an art student we can learn more about Van Gogh’s works—and that can teach us something special about photography too. This young lady has applied tilt/shift focus control techniques in her photographs of famous Van Gogh paintings. It’s weird, I know, but it’s... Read more
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Shoot empty scenics in crowded destinations

Have you ever been on vacation, or maybe just being a tourist in your own town, and while setting up a perfect shot only to have a crowd ruin your picture? Maybe you’re all set up to shoot a great scenic shot of the Eiffel Tower when suddenly some French dude wanders into your frame. This can be terribly detrimental to an otherwise perfect picture. Well Digital Photography School points out that with just a tripod and a clone stamp how you can still craft a perfect people-free photograph. It’s simple, really. By shooting multiple exposures and layering them together, you can paint away the parts with people and reveal the important parts of the scene to eliminate distractions from the frame. It’s a powerful tip that’s also pretty simple—and those are always my favorite.

http://www.digital-photography-school.com/taking-photos-in-busy-tourist-destinations-with-no-people-in-the-shot

Have you ever been on vacation, or maybe just being a tourist in your own town, and while setting up a perfect shot only to have a crowd ruin your picture? Maybe you’re all set up to shoot a great scenic shot of the Eiffel Tower when suddenly some French dude wanders into your frame. This can be terribly detrimental to an otherwise perfect picture.... Read more

Fall Color Finder

It’s not often as a photography writer that I get to cite the Christian Science Monitor, so I’m going to seize this opportunity and enjoy it. And I’m going to really enjoy telling you what the Monitor called a recent post: Fall Foliage Smackdown. What a great name for a great gallery of fall color imagery from across the globe. Besides being a great gallery of colorful autumn images, it works as a bit of a guide to help you figure out when and where you should go out to find great changing leaves to photograph. Since the images in the gallery are from last year, you can see when these peak colors happened in order to better help plan your travel this year. That makes it a worthwhile gallery because of the great photos and because of the useful info for foliage photographers everywhere.

http://www.csmonitor.com/CSM-Photo-Galleries/In-Pictures/Fall-foliage-smackdown-The-vibrant-reds-yellows-and-oranges-that-come-only-once-a-year

It’s not often as a photography writer that I get to cite the Christian Science Monitor, so I’m going to seize this opportunity and enjoy it. And I’m going to really enjoy telling you what the Monitor called a recent post: Fall Foliage Smackdown. What a great name for a great gallery of fall color imagery from across the globe. Besides being... Read more

A cool camera tool

A great tip, from a great blog. Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools offers up a reader suggestion every day for a tool that is, well, really cool. Preference is given to tools that can be put to use for something other than their original intention—like using a rubber band as a photographic device. More specifically, you can use that rubber band to remove stuck filters from the front of your lens. It’s a great idea—one of those "why didn’t I think of that before" moments. Read all about it at Cool Tools, and stick around to check out all the other great tool ideas—like plastic banana keepers and custom igloo builders and bright lights just for your hands!

http://www.kk.org/cooltools/archives/004690.php

A great tip, from a great blog. Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools offers up a reader suggestion every day for a tool that is, well, really cool. Preference is given to tools that can be put to use for something other than their original intention—like using a rubber band as a photographic device. More specifically, you can use that rubber band to remove... Read more

Young Photographers Are Taking Over

A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to Blair Bunting, the 26-year-old with legit advertising photography chops. This week it’s an even younger photographer, one who was born in 1990.  Joey Lawrence, 20-year-old, can teach you a thing or two about photography. Trust me. This kid is ridiculously good. Like the kind of talent that makes you upset with your own lack of photographic prowess. And did I mention he’s only 20? Seriously, you can learn a thing or two about commercial photography and portraiture from Joey. Check out the video of his photography tips at Silberstudios.tv, then head over to his personal web site to see what else he’s been up to. It includes Twilight movie posters and indigenous tribesmen. Quite a diverse talent, to be sure. Did I mention he’s just a kid?

http://www.silberstudios.tv/videos/joey-lawrence-professional-photography-tips
http://www.joeyl.com

A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to Blair Bunting, the 26-year-old with legit advertising photography chops. This week it’s an even younger photographer, one who was born in 1990.  Joey Lawrence, 20-year-old, can teach you a thing or two about photography. Trust me. This kid is ridiculously good. Like the kind of talent that makes you... Read more

Wired's August Issue

Wired’s August issue is old news, having been on newsstands now for more than a month. But I finally got caught up on my reading and found, toward the back of the book, a great story about classic photography meeting technology. It’s the story of 1848 Daguerreotype photographs that equal the resolution of a 140,000-megapixel digital capture. That counts as high resolution by anyone’s standards. The story is great, and makes you really want to see these images up close and personal. The article helps catapult the issue into must-read territory for photographers, because there’s another equally great display of photographic prowess: the images of funny man Will Ferrell photographed by master portraitist Dan Winters. For those shots, you can also head directly to Mr. Winters’ web site and then stick around to explore his photography in greater detail. All in all, Wired continually displays great photography and the August issue is a particularly fine example.

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/07/ff_daguerrotype_panorama/
http://danwintersphoto.com

Wired’s August issue is old news, having been on newsstands now for more than a month. But I finally got caught up on my reading and found, toward the back of the book, a great story about classic photography meeting technology. It’s the story of 1848 Daguerreotype photographs that equal the resolution of a 140,000-megapixel digital capture.... Read more

The Guiding Light of Astro-Photography

I know nothing about astronomy, yet I find it often poking its head into my photographic world. Not only do both photographers and astronomers share an enthusiasm for optics and resolving power, both groups tend to place great importance on the night sky. The star-filled sky has been a subject of fascination for photographers since the birth of the medium, and with the modern advent of high-ISO, low-noise digital capture, I’ve seen more star-filled photos than ever before. Back in the days of film, short exposures that captured sharply focused stars weren’t possible. Consequently, inventive photographers came up with star trails—the natural motion blur pattern that results from the rotation of our planet—making stars slowly arc their way through our camera frames. A lens pointed at the north star, and left open long enough to make a complete 180 degree rotation, will render a night sky filled with perfectly circular star trails. It’s a great effect, and it’s easy to achieve… but only if you know how to find the north star. I am not so star savvy, but I can usually point out the Big Dipper if pressured. It just so happens that’s a great way to find the north star too. DPS recently published a piece by Peter West Carey specifically for photographers who want to find the north star. It’s a great tutorial, and I’d add to it this: use a map. If nothing else, download one of those fancy smartphone apps that lays out a star map over a real-time cameraphone image. Then simply set it and forget it, and watch those star trails form. Oh, one more thing: if you want to put this to good use you’d better get cracking. The north star will change position in 20,000 years and a whole new star will be closest to our north pole. Then you’ll probably have to download a different app.

http://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-find-the-north-star-and-why-youd-want-to

I know nothing about astronomy, yet I find it often poking its head into my photographic world. Not only do both photographers and astronomers share an enthusiasm for optics and resolving power, both groups tend to place great importance on the night sky. The star-filled sky has been a subject of fascination for photographers since the birth of the... Read more

Landscape Photography Tips with Joseph Holmes

I like video tutorials. Actually, I should clarify: I really like photography tutorials that are presented in video form. There are plenty of these to be found online these days, but the trick is finding the ones that are worthwhile. Some folks are actually doing TV-quality video productions, and perhaps nobody is better at that than Marc Silber and his online TV series of photo tips and tutorials. He recently interviewed landscape photographer Joseph Holmes, and the resulting 10-minute video includes not only interesting photographs and inspiring aphorisms, but actually boots-in-the-dirt practical tips for photographers. Especially useful for landscape shooters, Holmes’ compositional tips apply to all kinds of photography. The interview is definitely worth a look no matter what type of photographs you create.

http://www.silberstudios.tv/videos/joseph-holmes-landscape-photos

I like video tutorials. Actually, I should clarify: I really like photography tutorials that are presented in video form. There are plenty of these to be found online these days, but the trick is finding the ones that are worthwhile. Some folks are actually doing TV-quality video productions, and perhaps nobody is better at that than Marc Silber and... Read more

The Digital Labrador

As a Midwesterner I’m fairly used to being overlooked. I don’t mind, usually, as long as I’m not the one doing the overlooking. So I was surprised to learn that I’ve been ignorant of a great Midwestern photographic resource in the form of Digital Labrador. You see, Digital Labrador is a little bit lab, a little bit gallery, a little bit camera store and a little bit classroom. Turns out that you can stop by this Kansas City store to buy a Canon camera or an Apple computer, a Hassy body or a Profoto kit. Or you can drop in to make prints from your files or stick around and browse the gallery. Heck, sign up for a class or two while you’re there. The bottom line is that this is a pretty cool concept—a one-stop shop for all things photographic. And believe it or not, for all of you so unfortunate as to be stranded out there on the coasts, Digital Labrador (by the way, it started as a digital lab. Get it?) also hosts travel workshops around the globe too. As I write this, a group has just returned from a trip through the Italian countryside under the tutelage of Hasselblad shooter Roberto Bigano. They’ve got more international workshops in the works, so visit their web site to see what’s cooking. And if you’re in the neighborhood, it sounds like a great place to hang out. If only they’d incorporate a coffee shop too. I’d never have to leave.

http://digitallabrador.com

As a Midwesterner I’m fairly used to being overlooked. I don’t mind, usually, as long as I’m not the one doing the overlooking. So I was surprised to learn that I’ve been ignorant of a great Midwestern photographic resource in the form of Digital Labrador. You see, Digital Labrador is a little bit lab, a little bit gallery, a little... Read more

Eliminating Reflections from Glasses

I know of a photographer who has been accused of popping the lenses out of eyeglasses to avoid having to deal with reflections in photographs. This might be fine in bizarro world, but the rest of us need to deal with reflections in eyeglasses the old fashioned way: first by avoiding reflections when lighting, then by retouching away reflections in post processing. This is something that I’ve spent entirely too much time working on, so I know how important the "ounce of prevention" philosophy is. In short, when working with a studio light or on-camera flash, you’ve got to get the light above and/or to the side of the subject enough that the reflection on the glasses disappears. I find with a key light at a 45-degree angle to a portrait subject’s face, and a few feet above eye level, I can usually eliminate reflections from all but the most bulbous lenses with simple head tilts and chin movements. Those super-bulbous lenses, however, sometimes make it impossible to eliminate reflections completely, and that’s when knowing how to retouch them away in Photoshop comes in amazingly handy. I usually use a combination of luminance- and color-clone stamping, built up over what seems like hours of clicking, and in the end I get a passable result. Check out the recent DPS story on preventing and editing glasses reflections. If you ever photograph people—particularly those with less than 20/20 vision—you’ll be glad you did. 

http://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-prevent-edit-out-reflections-on-glasses

I know of a photographer who has been accused of popping the lenses out of eyeglasses to avoid having to deal with reflections in photographs. This might be fine in bizarro world, but the rest of us need to deal with reflections in eyeglasses the old fashioned way: first by avoiding reflections when lighting, then by retouching away reflections in... Read more
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