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
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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

Gregory Heisler Explains How He Lit Another Iconic Cover

I’m more and more convinced that you could skip photography school altogether and just watch this ongoing series of videos of Gregory Heisler dissecting his photographs. Created by Profoto, the videos have Heisler explaining the creation of some of his most famous cover shots—none of which are more famous than the most recent video’s subject, the 2001 Time cover with Rudy Giuliani. A phenomenal and iconic photograph, to be sure. What’s most exciting about this shot, in terms of the lighting at least, is what Strobist David Hobby points out in his brief writeup: the lighting was environmentally centered. Heisler gelled his lights green and orange to match the warmth of the ambient city lights, and all of them were positioned below (except for the fill) to match the lighting that would be provided by the city below. A genius photograph, wonderfully executed and beautifully explained.

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2010/09/gregory-heisler-whiteboards-guiliani.html

I’m more and more convinced that you could skip photography school altogether and just watch this ongoing series of videos of Gregory Heisler dissecting his photographs. Created by Profoto, the videos have Heisler explaining the creation of some of his most famous cover shots—none of which are more famous than the most recent video’s subject,... Read more

Primes vs. Zooms

I’ve often liked using prime lenses. In fact, all things being equal, I tend to prefer them to zooms. I’ve always felt like working within the box of a fixed focal length forces you to be a more active seer. I could never quite put my finger on it, but I figured it had something to do with the idea that when working with a zoom lens, if something doesn’t fit just right you adjust the focal length and make an easy fix. But with a prime lens, you move in and out, side to side, up and down… you’re engaged with your subject, working to see, conscious of making the perfect composition.

Then I read an offhand comment by Michael Johnston of The Online Photographer blog. In a post about what makes Leica rangefinders so great (which you can read at http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2010/09/the-secrets-of-the-leica.html) he listed the cameras’ prime lenses as a major benefit. He wrote, "You learn how to see like the lens sees." Aha! That’s it! The difference between prime lenses and zoom lenses is that simple, and that profound. A prime lens forces you to see as the lens sees, while a zoom lens can be forced to see the way you see. It may be simple, but it means a lot. At least, it does to us prime lens shooters. 

If you don’t shoot with primes, I recommend trying one out. They’re often really sharp, and really fast, and they can be pretty affordable too. The normal 50mm prime used to be industry standard in a new camera kit, but it’s been replaced by the mid-range zoom in recent years. If you’ve got an old dis-used prime of any size, strap it on and go for a walk. Or consider purchasing a new prime; the lenses are popular enough that Nikon has just introduced another great professional prime—the 85mm f/1.4. Whatever prime you choose, enjoy giving up a bit of control to the camera, and see how the lens sees. You might like it. You may even find it freeing. 

I’ve often liked using prime lenses. In fact, all things being equal, I tend to prefer them to zooms. I’ve always felt like working within the box of a fixed focal length forces you to be a more active seer. I could never quite put my finger on it, but I figured it had something to do with the idea that when working with a zoom lens, if... Read more

Big Old Polaroids

Forbes magazine just did a great little writeup on the massive 20×24-inch Polaroid Land camera. Only seven were made, with four of them remaining in useful existence. If you’ve got the budget—close to $2000 a day and $200 per exposure—you can rent the camera for your next shoot. If you’re looking to differentiate your work in this increasingly all-digital world, I’d say you can’t do much better than a mammoth 20×24-inch Polaroid original. See what some renowned photographers have done with the camera online. Jennifer Trausch, mentioned in the Forbes story, takes the 20×24 on location to shoot in the real world—not something often seen with the cumbersome machines. William Wegman popularized the format with his series of portraits of his dogs, and Elsa Dorfman is perhaps the photographer most closely associated with the format as she has one in her own studio. Each of these photographers is worth investigating, and if you have the good fortune to see original 20×24 Polaroids in a gallery or museum near you, be sure to search them out. They’re unlike any other photographic format you’re likely to have seen before, nor ever will again.

http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/0913/life-art-photography-cameras-polaroid-land-grab.html
http://www.jennifertrausch.com
http://www.wegmanworld.com/gallery/works.html
http://elsadorfman.com/camera.html

Forbes magazine just did a great little writeup on the massive 20×24-inch Polaroid Land camera. Only seven were made, with four of them remaining in useful existence. If you’ve got the budget—close to $2000 a day and $200 per exposure—you can rent the camera for your next shoot. If you’re looking to differentiate your work in this increasingly... Read more

Pix Boom Ba

Well this is a fun idea. Ever want to ask a studly National Geographic photographer for some picture-taking advice? Now you can, thanks to the new web site Pix Boom Ba. The ridiculously named URL should give you an idea of some of the charm of this photo tips site, and that’s the fact that the guru photographers involved—Bob Caputo and Cary Wolinski—are having fun while answering questions and offering photographic advice. With so many online resources geared to teaching photographic basics via blog, text and video (as this site also does), it’s great to see someone putting effort into making photo tips entertaining too. And that’s something this site does better than almost any other. 

http://www.pixboomba.com

Well this is a fun idea. Ever want to ask a studly National Geographic photographer for some picture-taking advice? Now you can, thanks to the new web site Pix Boom Ba. The ridiculously named URL should give you an idea of some of the charm of this photo tips site, and that’s the fact that the guru photographers involved—Bob Caputo and Cary... Read more

Light Painting with Harold Ross

While recently surfing the Photography Served photo blog, I stumbled upon some excellent work quite unlike anything I’d ever seen before. That’s increasingly rare these days, so it came as a very pleasant surprise to discover that the amazing light painting photography by photographer Harold Ross was not a fluke; his whole portfolio is full of amazing work like this. So I got in touch with Harold, a well established commercial shooter from Philadelphia, to find out how he goes about making such great light painting photographs. 

While recently surfing the Photography Served photo blog, I stumbled upon some excellent work quite unlike anything I’d ever seen before. That’s increasingly rare these days, so it came as a very pleasant surprise to discover that the amazing light painting photography by photographer Harold Ross was not a fluke; his whole portfolio is... Read more
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