The Power of Graphic Simplicity

Over on Tamron’s Angle of View blog, photographer Andre Costantini just published a few great photographs that illustrate one of my favorite photographic concepts: graphic simplicity. Andre had the opportunity to shoot the Golden Gate Bridge from a unique position, and so he utilized his zoom lens across its wide focal range to find the compositions that worked best to showcase the subject—and to do so with the utmost graphic simplicity. It’s no mind-blowing revelation, but sometimes we do forget: less is often more. It’s frequently better to compose with fewer and simpler elements in the frame rather than to try to tell a whole complex story amid a muddled composition. Thanks, Andre, for the simple reminder about simplicity.

tamrontechstips.typepad.com

Photograph by Andre Costantini

Over on Tamron’s Angle of View blog, photographer Andre Costantini just published a few great photographs that illustrate one of my favorite photographic concepts: graphic simplicity. Andre had the opportunity to shoot the Golden Gate Bridge from a unique position, and so he utilized his zoom lens across its wide focal range to find the compositions... Read more

Photo and/or Video

I’m conflicted about us still photographers moving into the world of shooting video. On one hand, I don’t necessarily believe that just because my camera is equipped for some new capture methodology means that I have the skills to do it well. On the other hand, the creative and inquisitive parts of me are intrigued by the idea of exploring the possibilities. Well all of this theoretical consideration finally became a reality as I had the opportunity to work on a multimedia project shot entirely with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II. My focus was a modified photo essay augmented by natural sound, video and personal interviews. I learned a lot working on it, not the least of which was that I needed to spend more time on the photography, and even more time focusing on the kinds of images that would tell the story best. In the end, I used up the better part of a week learning video editing, but it was a very rewarding challenge. Shooting for a multimedia piece involves a whole different mindset than shooting just stills, and I think simply exercising a different part of your mind has to be a good thing. I’m still not convinced that all photographers can shoot video any more than all videographers can shoot stills, but I’m a little more willing to explore all of the options available to me. And—who am I kidding—I’m kind of excited about that. Check out the results at Vimeo.com.

vimeo.com

I’m conflicted about us still photographers moving into the world of shooting video. On one hand, I don’t necessarily believe that just because my camera is equipped for some new capture methodology means that I have the skills to do it well. On the other hand, the creative and inquisitive parts of me are intrigued by the idea of exploring... Read more

Take bad pictures, get sued. Yikes!

I’m not exactly a TV addict, but I’ve seen my fair share of awful programming—and enjoyed most of it. Judge Joe Brown recently redeemed the daytime TV judge profession by showing off his skills as an amateur photographer and making for some entertaining watching along the way. A woman found herself in his “courtroom” being sued for making bad wedding photos. The result is especially entertaining for photographers when the judge talks in detail about the cameras, lenses and apertures being used. But the question does arise: if you’re not really a wedding photographer and you take an assignment to photograph a wedding, are you liable for the sub-par results? Or perhaps it’s the begrudged bride who is responsible for hiring someone who clearly doesn’t know what she’s doing. There’s a lesson here, both for brides and wedding photographers, as well as for budding professionals and clients on a budget everywhere. Maybe that lesson is as simple as, “you get what you pay for.” Or perhaps the lesson is don’t agree to get sued on TV. Whatever the takeaway, it sure is fun to watch the disaster unfold.

slrlounge.com

I’m not exactly a TV addict, but I’ve seen my fair share of awful programming—and enjoyed most of it. Judge Joe Brown recently redeemed the daytime TV judge profession by showing off his skills as an amateur photographer and making for some entertaining watching along the way. A woman found herself in his “courtroom” being sued for making... Read more

Anything’s Possible with Photoshop

People always ask when I make portraits of them, “Can you Photoshop me to make me look great?” They’re usually somewhat tongue-in-cheek requests, but the answer is yes, I can make you look great. (And depending on my mood, I might add that anything is possible if you’ve got enough budget!) Well if you’re ever wondering about exactly what is possible with Photoshop in terms of retouching and beautifying, check out these examples from the Society of Publication Designers. My favorite is the simple fake advertisement for Photoshop Day Cream, but the others (in video form) will blow you away when you see what’s possible with a few mouse clicks. And remember, as I tend to remind people when they exclaim how amazing Photoshop is, yes the program is truly amazing but it’s the skilled hands of the photographer/retoucher who is really doing the work. So check out these videos and see that anything truly is possible.

spd.org

People always ask when I make portraits of them, “Can you Photoshop me to make me look great?” They’re usually somewhat tongue-in-cheek requests, but the answer is yes, I can make you look great. (And depending on my mood, I might add that anything is possible if you’ve got enough budget!) Well if you’re ever wondering about exactly what... Read more

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day, and thank you to all who have served our great nation. The Boston Globe’s Big Picture photoblog always serves up an interesting gallery, and I suggest this Memorial Day you look at a series of images from the Vietnam War posted at the Big Picture earlier this month to commemorate the fall of Saigon and the end of the war. boston.com AP Photograph by Henri Huet

Happy Memorial Day, and thank you to all who have served our great nation. The Boston Globe’s Big Picture photoblog always serves up an interesting gallery, and I suggest this Memorial Day you look at a series of images from the Vietnam War posted at the Big Picture earlier this month to commemorate the fall of Saigon and the end of the war. boston.com... Read more

Zeiss Glass Finder

Are you a die-hard Carl Zeiss lens lover, or maybe you’re someone who’s interested in finding out what the Zeiss buzz is all about? In the old days that probably meant you shot with a Leica, Contax or Hasselblad film camera, but these days photographers have lots of great Zeiss options for Canons and Nikons and many more digital cameras as well. The point is, practically any camera user can work with Zeiss glass. So what if you want to know how a certain Zeiss lens performs, or what other photographers are doing with particular glass, or just what the differences are between two focal lengths when used on a similar scene? Thankfully you’re living in the future, because now you can head over to ZeissImages.com and browse the sites photographs by a particular lens model. Perhaps you’re considering the purchase of a Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/1.4. Click on the lens and see how it performs in real life pictures uploaded by other Zeiss shooters. It’s a great resource, and an example of photographers with a passion for Zeiss lenses helping each other—as well as other photographers who are considering the purchase of a Zeiss lens. It’s homespun resources like this that represent so much of what’s great about being a photographer in the Internet era.

www.ZeissImage.com

Are you a die-hard Carl Zeiss lens lover, or maybe you’re someone who’s interested in finding out what the Zeiss buzz is all about? In the old days that probably meant you shot with a Leica, Contax or Hasselblad film camera, but these days photographers have lots of great Zeiss options for Canons and Nikons and many more digital cameras as well.... Read more

Shoot tethered… wirelessly.

Sometimes it’s nice to shoot with your camera tethered to a computer. I do it on occasion when working in the studio, because you can check exposure and sharpness details precisely, control the camera via the computer, and ultimately save significant downloading time and get to editing much faster when the shoot is through. But there are also drawbacks, and the biggest problem most photographers have with shooting tethered is… the tether. Even if you’re shooting in a studio, that cable connecting camera to computer can feel a lot like an anchor chain. It’s hard to be mobile when shooting tethered. That’s why the ingenious photographers/handymen at DIYPhotography.net have come up with a way to shoot tethered, wirelessly. It’s so simple it’s genius. Utilizing wifi transmission and a wireless USB setup you can convince your camera that it’s plugged directly into the computer, but without that pesky cable. So why not just use a wireless CF card like the eyeFi system? Because one of the key features of shooting tethered is the two-way communication—the ability to control the camera and change settings from the computer. That means that if you have the camera placed remotely where you can’t easily access it, tethered control is a huge advantage. Make that tether wireless, and it’s a phenomenal feature. Learn how to do it yourself at DIYPhotography.net.

diyphotography.net

Sometimes it’s nice to shoot with your camera tethered to a computer. I do it on occasion when working in the studio, because you can check exposure and sharpness details precisely, control the camera via the computer, and ultimately save significant downloading time and get to editing much faster when the shoot is through. But there are also drawbacks,... Read more

Preserving RAW options in Photoshop

The ASMP’s Strictly Business blog is a phenomenal resource for photographers who are trying to make a buck. It’s a place where established commercial shooters frequently discuss topics related to the business of photography—copyright issues, usage licensing, pricing, etc. It’s especially helpful for young photographers who are trying to figure out how to navigate the business stuff—which may not be much fun, but it’s crucial for survival if you’re hoping to make a living with a camera. All that said, the blog can also be a great resource for practical photo tips that apply even if you’re not interested in the business of photography. Judy Herrmann recently wrote about a Photoshop feature that allows photographers to carry their RAW image file functionality into Photoshop when working with layers—Smart Objects. Working with Smart Objects allows you to directly reference RAW data, meaning images can be resized and scaled without loss of quality, and even reprocess the RAW file and update it directly in the layered Photoshop file. It’s a simple but really useful feature, definitely worth checking out if you shoot RAW.

asmp.org

The ASMP’s Strictly Business blog is a phenomenal resource for photographers who are trying to make a buck. It’s a place where established commercial shooters frequently discuss topics related to the business of photography—copyright issues, usage licensing, pricing, etc. It’s especially helpful for young photographers who are trying to figure... Read more

Unpronounceable Icelandic Volcano + Stop Motion = Really Cool Video

So just when I thought I’d seen enough photography of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano, and just as I felt fairly certain nobody could wow me with stop motion video any more, somebody comes along and combines both into a really great video. Photographer Sean Stiegemeier got a wild hair and decided he needed to go to Iceland and photograph the volcano for fun. (He normally shoots musicians and celebrities commercially and even makes films, as evidenced by the work on his web site.) Stiegemeier used a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and a fancy motorized dolly to add motion to his time lapse, and the motion makes all the difference. The subtle movement of the foreground as the camera moves along the dolly really adds to the illusion of a third dimension in the video—and that makes the whole experience infinitely more interesting and dynamic. It’s all the more impressive because Stiegemeier initiated it as a personal project, and now it’s going viral so it’s bound to lead to more work too. An ideal example of following your artistic impulses and making great work; it’s good for your creative development as well as good for business.

vimeo.com

in-perfidia.com

So just when I thought I’d seen enough photography of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano, and just as I felt fairly certain nobody could wow me with stop motion video any more, somebody comes along and combines both into a really great video. Photographer Sean Stiegemeier got a wild hair and decided he needed to go to Iceland and photograph the... Read more

Visit D-Town

Have you visited D-Town? It’s a great place to learn. D-Town is actually the web-TV series hosted by Photoshop gurus Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski where they delve into all things digital, photography and D-SLR related. They’ve just kicked off season 3 in which they cover topics such as low-light shooting, creating edge lighting on location, working with filters to gel off-camera flash, and even learning from phenomenal photographers (and personal favorites of mine) Moose Peterson and Tyler Stableford. So go to D-Town and see what you learn.

kelbytv.com

Have you visited D-Town? It’s a great place to learn. D-Town is actually the web-TV series hosted by Photoshop gurus Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski where they delve into all things digital, photography and D-SLR related. They’ve just kicked off season 3 in which they cover topics such as low-light shooting, creating edge lighting on location,... Read more

Cheat Sheets

I like cheat sheets. I have a customized cheat sheet to remind me of the specific gear I take on location. I have a cheat sheet taped to my studio strobe pack outlining a couple of unique setups I use for a couple of particular clients. I am not shy about putting together detailed cheat sheets if they will help me make better pictures. That’s exactly the idea behind a couple of cheat sheets put together by the DIY Photography blog. First they assembled a portrait lighting cheat sheet, in which they worked out in detail the lighting results they’d get from various lighting positions in relation to the subject’s face. It’s the sort of thing you’ll naturally pick up over time, but it can be immensely helpful when you’re getting started. That cheat sheet was such a rousing success, they created another one—this time, all about lighting modifiers. With this sheet a photographer can see the results achieved from a variety of strobe modifiers (like various sizes and configurations of umbrellas, softboxes and reflectors) on a portrait subject’s face. This one is especially valuable, even for experienced photographers. To be able to see the subtle differences achieved by different modifiers is invaluable. Best of all, both of these cheat sheets are available in downloadable and printable form from the DIY Photography site.

diyphotography.net

diyphotography.net: lighting modifiers

I like cheat sheets. I have a customized cheat sheet to remind me of the specific gear I take on location. I have a cheat sheet taped to my studio strobe pack outlining a couple of unique setups I use for a couple of particular clients. I am not shy about putting together detailed cheat sheets if they will help me make better pictures. That’s exactly... Read more

More New Old Cameras

There’s another pair of new “old” camera on the block, and it’s Sony’s Alpha NEX-3 and NEX-5 combo. Another, because lately cameras in this format seem to be popping up with a bit of buzz almost every couple of months. They’re new because they’re high-tech and fancy, fitting high-res APS-sized CMOS sensors into “pocket camera” bodies. And the cameras I describe are “old” too because they’re capitalizing on the trend that was popularized in the 1960s when camera makers worked to make 35mm film cameras into pocket cameras without sacrificing image quality and manual control. That’s what cameras in this category—referred to by some bloggers as DEVIL cameras (because they are Digital Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens cameras)—strive for, and it would appear that the Sony Alpha NEX-3 and NEX-5 deliver. The most interesting thing as far as I’m concerned appears to be the large interchangeable lenses that fit on the tiny cameras (Sony says they’re the tiniest when compared to other interchangeable lens bodies). I’m assuming the lenses seem larger because the cameras are so small, and also because they are larger to work with the APS-C sized sensors—which are a bit larger than many DEVIL cameras’ Micro Four Thirds sensors. The bottom line certainly appears to be that these two cameras can do quite a lot, packing considerable quality into a little package. I’m excited about these DEVIL cameras in general, so it’s exciting to see all of the new entrants into the category. Check out hands-on reviews of the NEX cameras at DPS and C-Net’s web sites, and then go shopping at Sony’s dedicated NEX microsite.

digital-photography-school.com

news.cnet.com

bit.ly/ctRgVe

There’s another pair of new “old” camera on the block, and it’s Sony’s Alpha NEX-3 and NEX-5 combo. Another, because lately cameras in this format seem to be popping up with a bit of buzz almost every couple of months. They’re new because they’re high-tech and fancy, fitting high-res APS-sized CMOS sensors into “pocket camera” bodies.... Read more
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