Macro Lighting

There are tools, tips and tricks in Mike Moats’ recent post on the Tamron Angle of View blog all about light control when working with macro lenses. Sure, it’s the Tamron blog, but the tips work just as well no matter what brand of macro lenses you’re using. Just because you’ve got a macro lens doesn’t mean that you’re ready to go macro; you’ve got to deal with lighting for macro differently too. The nice thing about light modifiers for macro work is that the tools, like the subjects, are small: no need for massive scrims or softboxes and stands. Little clamps and diffusers no bigger than a foot around can do as much for a macro shot as a 4×8 softbox can for a full sized scenario. Check out the post and you’ll have more control over the lighting in your next macro setup.

http://tamrontechstips.typepad.com/tamron_blog/2010/11/controling-thelight-for-the-macro-photographer-working-with-natural-light-hereis-atip-and-productsto-helpimprove-your-photo.html

There are tools, tips and tricks in Mike Moats’ recent post on the Tamron Angle of View blog all about light control when working with macro lenses. Sure, it’s the Tamron blog, but the tips work just as well no matter what brand of macro lenses you’re using. Just because you’ve got a macro lens doesn’t mean that you’re ready... Read more

More on back-button focusing

Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned my personal discovery of "back-button" focusing? Well here’s a video about using the technique courtesy of Nikon Blog. With simple use of the AF On button, you can easily separate focus activation from the shutter release. This makes it especially easy to start and stop focus tracking to have a better shot at precisely capturing a fast-moving subject. That’s why sports shooters seem to be so keen on the technique. But even if you’re not a sports photographer, there’s bound to be a back-button focusing approach that works for you. The video is especially useful for Nikon shooters, but the principles apply across other camera brands too. 

http://www.nikonblog.net/autofocus-af-on-lens

Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned my personal discovery of "back-button" focusing? Well here’s a video about using the technique courtesy of Nikon Blog. With simple use of the AF On button, you can easily separate focus activation from the shutter release. This makes it especially easy to start and stop focus tracking to have... Read more

Photography and the law

This is a must read for every photographer—unless of course you never take pictures outside of your own home. It’s a post from Black Star rising, linked to via A Photo Editor, all about the complex legal issues surrounding photography. It helps us understand what we as photographers need to know about our rights. It’s an increasingly important issue both for photographers and for an actively engaged citizenry. You can get a lot of good insights from the comments on the APE post as well. Know your rights, understand the law, make great pictures.

http://www.aphotoeditor.com/2010/09/09/photographers-and-the-law/

This is a must read for every photographer—unless of course you never take pictures outside of your own home. It’s a post from Black Star rising, linked to via A Photo Editor, all about the complex legal issues surrounding photography. It helps us understand what we as photographers need to know about our rights. It’s an increasingly important... Read more
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The most expensive roll of Tri-X ever

Last month The Online Photographer ran a great post about Phase One’s black & white digital back. That’s right: A medium format digital camera back that only records black & white images. If I know one thing about photographers, it’s that there is not a huge clamor for a $40,000 digital camera back that only records black & white images. So why do I want to point it out? Because it offers a great look at the way digital cameras record light, and how they utilize a filter array to turn a black and white image (which is what all but the Foveon sensor captures) into a faux color image. That’s also right: your digital camera’s color is faked from a black & white original. One of the neat things about this digital back is the increased sharpness (or at least the claims of increased sharpness) because the light doesn’t have to travel through a Bayer filter. That’s the thing that makes your digital camera capture in color. The whole idea is just a neat little footnote in the annals of photography because, for the most part, the buyers of this camera are scientific and military users. Though if you’re a solely black & white shooter, why should the digital revolution leave you behind? This camera’s perfect for you—assuming you’ve got 40-grand to dedicate to your next black & white camera.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2010/09/phaseones-bw-digital-back.html

Last month The Online Photographer ran a great post about Phase One’s black & white digital back. That’s right: A medium format digital camera back that only records black & white images. If I know one thing about photographers, it’s that there is not a huge clamor for a $40,000 digital camera back that only records black... Read more

How to photograph your pregnant wife

Perfect timing! Well, perfect for me, anyway. My wife and I are expecting our first child, and so far we’ve been documenting the progress with a monthly profile portrait of her growing tummy. So this DPS post couldn’t have arrived at a better time. I especially like the idea of making tummy portraits outside. I think those will show our future daughter how her mommy got out and about with baby in tow. It seems that outdoors shots might also help us make pretty pictures rather than, well, creepy belly shots. I’ve seen some of those before, and I don’t think I want any part of that. I know my wife doesn’t. So if you’re expecting, or if you might be called on to photograph an expectant mother, check out these tips for making better maternity portraits.
 
http://www.digital-photography-school.com/tummy-time-7-tips-for-taking-great-maternity-shots

Perfect timing! Well, perfect for me, anyway. My wife and I are expecting our first child, and so far we’ve been documenting the progress with a monthly profile portrait of her growing tummy. So this DPS post couldn’t have arrived at a better time. I especially like the idea of making tummy portraits outside. I think those will show our... Read more

All about photo contests

A judge recently awarded the $160,000 grand prize in a major Australian photo contest to a friend of his. The friend also won the prize last year too. This may not be fishy at all, but it sure raised some eyebrows. After all, the appearance of impropriety is as dangerous as actual impropriety. It’s an interesting read at The Online Photographer that also serves as a cautionary reminder: not all contests are worth entering. Keep in mind that some folks use photo contests as ploys for income derived solely from registration fees. Others simply use contests to gather a pool of images to be used for a commercial purpose, with pitiful prize money reflecting a fraction of the actual commercial value of the images. The point is: keep your eyes peeled to avoid being taken advantage of. The TOP piece also contains links to other great photo contest info, as well as resources for finding the good ones.

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2010/10/judge-defends-choice-.html

A judge recently awarded the $160,000 grand prize in a major Australian photo contest to a friend of his. The friend also won the prize last year too. This may not be fishy at all, but it sure raised some eyebrows. After all, the appearance of impropriety is as dangerous as actual impropriety. It’s an interesting read at The Online Photographer... Read more

Ansel Adams, Street Photographer

We all know Ansel Adams as the granddaddy of all iconic western landscape photographers, but did you know he was a bit of a street photographer too? In the World War II era, Adams made pictures for many commercial clients. Like so many artists, commercial assignments taken outside of their own area of expertise helped fund the iconic imagery the artists would ultimately become known for. This series of Los Angeles images was made for a 1939 Fortune magazine article about the aviation industry in L.A. It’s an interesting glimpse into a whole different set of photographic talents Mr. Adams possessed. And it helps remind those of us who are struggling to balance art and commerce that even legends need to pay the bills.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2010/10/26/130838664/adamsla

We all know Ansel Adams as the granddaddy of all iconic western landscape photographers, but did you know he was a bit of a street photographer too? In the World War II era, Adams made pictures for many commercial clients. Like so many artists, commercial assignments taken outside of their own area of expertise helped fund the iconic imagery the artists... Read more

How To Price Photography

There are a lot of photographers out there these days, and an increasing number of them are dipping their toes into the waters of professional assignments. Maybe it’s shooting a wedding for a friend, or creating baby photos of your cousin’s new kid, or perhaps going so far as to establish a web site and hang out a shingle for shooting commercial assignments and events. Whatever kind of photography you’re going to charge for, there’s one important factor that many photographers don’t pay enough attention to: how should you charge?

I like to boil it down like this: if you’re going to do the work of a professional, you should price your work as a professional would too. That doesn’t mean you need to charge as much as an established pro would. It just means that you need to understand the ins and outs of assigning appropriate fees. To that end, this story from New Media Photographer illustrates a great point: price the photographs, not the intangibles. There was once a fairly standard industry practice of charging by the hour. Then photographers who were really good and worked efficiently realized they were being penalized for their skill. So a more fair pricing standard—one that charges based on the type and number of photographs to be created—has emerged. It’s better for clients and better for photographers. The key is that new photographers understand how to price their work fairly so that they won’t be taken advantage of. And this story is only the start. There are countless resources online for photographers looking to understand pricing for professional services. For a good start, check out the ASMP’s Paperwork Share and other resources for professional pricing guidance.

http://www.newmediaphotographer.com/2010/09/still-not-learning-the-per-image-pricing-lesson/
http://asmp.org/links/32

There are a lot of photographers out there these days, and an increasing number of them are dipping their toes into the waters of professional assignments. Maybe it’s shooting a wedding for a friend, or creating baby photos of your cousin’s new kid, or perhaps going so far as to establish a web site and hang out a shingle for shooting commercial... Read more

Things We Can Stop Photographing

File this under funny but true. Here’s a link to an online comic that’s a bit dirty (PG-13, I’d say), funny enough, and especially inspiring. It’s about what we should stop photographing. We talk a lot about things we can and should photograph, and how we go about doing it. But what should we stop photographing? The comic makes a joke out of pop culture photographic references that pertain more to Facebookers than photographers, but the idea is a good one. There are some things that have just been done to death and maybe we should stop shooting them. My own knee-jerk reaction is to say we don’t need any more HDR images of abandoned buildings. Perhaps we don’t need so many portraits of shoe-gazing hipsters either. There are plenty of things that are overdone, but the real question to ask is how do we push ourselves not to do the same old things over and over. It’s a not-so-subtle reminder that we need to work to get beyond the same things that everybody else sees, or that we’ve shot ourselves a thousand times before, and start making photographs that are a little more special, a little more unique, a little more creative. So what do you think you’ve done to death? What do you think you should stop photographing?

http://gotopublicschool.com/photography-things/7-things-we-can-stop-photographing

File this under funny but true. Here’s a link to an online comic that’s a bit dirty (PG-13, I’d say), funny enough, and especially inspiring. It’s about what we should stop photographing. We talk a lot about things we can and should photograph, and how we go about doing it. But what should we stop photographing? The comic makes a joke out... Read more

How To Deal With Demanding Clients

Here’s a question a young semi-pro shooter recently asked me. "I did a shoot yesterday," he said. "The client wants me to digitally add cars to an empty parking lot. Our agreement was for me to photograph the property, but he’s now expecting, and sort of demanding, a lot more work. What should I do?"

I told him that this is fairly common, and clients can sometimes get a little pushy with photographers who are just starting out. The key is to remember that just because something can be done "easily" in post-production doesn’t mean it doesn’t take time and have an associated expense.

"You weren’t hired to digitally alter the scene to be something different," I said. "You were hired to shoot it as it was. The client has moved the target after you started shooting. If the fix could have been made ahead of time—whether that’s filling the parking lot or painting a wall—it should have been. The client can’t pass that cost along to you—it’s simply unreasonable. So if you do the digital imaging, you would have to charge him for it."

From the client’s standpoint, digital imaging can seem like magic. For those who do it, though, it’s a skill that took many years to perfect, and many more hours to execute on the client’s project. That’s why we charge for it.

"If it were my client," I continued, "I’d tell them that they would be better off shooting when the cars are there if that’s what they want in the finished shot. Of course, that would entail another shoot—which perhaps I’d offer at a discount, depending on the client. Adding cars digitally would look worse and cost more in the long run, so you can actually help your client and save them money and provide a better result by doing another shoot."

The bottom line is that even when a client changes the requirements after an agreement is reached, you can still service their needs and help deliver what they need without being taken advantage of. And perhaps the biggest takeaway from all of this is to make sure, even for seemingly simple little shoots, that you’ve got an agreement in writing that spells out all the tasks to be performed and all of the associated costs. It’s better for the photographer, and it’s better for the client too.

Here’s a question a young semi-pro shooter recently asked me. "I did a shoot yesterday," he said. "The client wants me to digitally add cars to an empty parking lot. Our agreement was for me to photograph the property, but he’s now expecting, and sort of demanding, a lot more work. What should I do?" I told him that this... Read more