Monthly Archives: January 2007

Camera Handy, Camera Holding, and Photoshop Tips

Keeping Your Camera Handy

Peter Marshall at About: Photography presents an article today called “Quick Tip: Keep Your Camera Handy“.  These are perfect tips for those times you’re out with your camera.  There’s nothing worse than missing an opportunity after fiddling around with your camera to get it ready.  He goes over things like using neckstraps, holding the camera, and keeping the lens cap off.  To add to these tips, I’ll share some of my personal techniques that I use in the field.  1) Keep the camera on — most cameras will go into “sleep mode” when not in use to save battery, and the startup time is usually quicker and more seamless using this method.  2) Keep the camera in priority mode — let the camera make the aperture and shutter speed decisions when time is of essence, and switch to manual controls when you know you have the time to do so.  3) Use auto white balance — again, let the camera make the decisions in time constrained situations, you can always change to manual balance or other presets when you have time.  These are the things I commonly do when I’m wandering around waiting for an opportunity to strike, otherwise I’ll use the camera’s manual features for more control.

How to Hold a Camera

The guys at Tips From the Top Floor posted a short tutorial video called “How to Hold Your Camera“.  This one is short and sweet, about 2 minutes.  The address how to hold a dSLR and a compact camera to avoid camera shake.  When you avoid camera shake, your photos will turn out much sharper and you’ll avoid tossing out a good deal of shots.

Photoshop Tips

“The Photoshop Guys” at Photoshop TV put out another great video tutorial today — “Photoshop TV Episode 65″.  They go over two main topics in this episode: 3D text effects and how to use the Apply Image command.  The text part is good if you’re doing any of your own graphic design work, I was pretty surprised at how relatively simple it is.  The Apply Image tutorial is something that’s worth experimenting with if you want to create an image composed of multiple images.  I’ve seen this technique used to apply textures to a photograph and results in a somewhat-abstract image.  The first 17 minutes of the video is tutorial, and the rest is photography news.

Photo of the Day…

Tile Ceiling

Photo by Brian Auer
11/05/06 New York, NY
Interior ceiling of Ellis Island building
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
Konica Minolta AF DT 18-200
157mm equiv * f/5.6 * 1/60s * ISO400

Following the Porn Example

Mike Johnston at The Online Photographer brings up an interesting idea in his rescent post called “Do Photography Websites Need to Grow Up?“.  Basically, he talks about the state of most photography-related web sites as being in a “sole practitioner” stage rather than a “group of specialists” stage.

He brings up a good point that each source of photography information produces some amount of noise that readers must wade through to find what they’re looking for.  I can see eye-to-eye with Mike’s article because that’s why I created this blog — cut the crap, show the good stuff.

His solution to the problem of “too much crap” is to follow the model pioneered by the internet porn industry.  Create a single resource aimed at a group of individuals (readers) in which new material is very clear-cut, organized, easy to find, and extremely relevant.  Put these resources inside of a subscription service and it’s starting to look like a more respectable version of an internet porn site.  Something to think about anyways.

Photo of the Day…

Pink Clouds at Sunset

Photo by Brian Auer
07/28/05 Flemington, NJ
Pink sunset clouds at home
Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3
59mm equiv * f/3.2 * 1/40s * ISO50

Sigma Camera & Photo Challenge

Sigma SD14 White Papers

The folks over at DCViews posted some links to white papers on Sigma’s new (unreleased) camera called the SD14 in an article called “Sigma publishes white papers on the SD14 digital SLR with Foveon sensor“.  This is an interesting camera because of the sensor it utilizes.  The sensor records all 3 primary color values at every single photo receptor on the sensor, in contrast to a traditional CCD sensor that records 50% green, 25% blue, and 25% red pixels and fills in the blanks with interpolation.  Great Idea, but I’m not sure it’s ready for a serious camera.  They’re claiming 14MP (which would be great for high level photography), but in reality there are only 4.65 million pixels times 3 layers.  The overall size of the picture is that of a 4.65MP camera rather than a 14MP camera.  Although the quality of the resulting 4.65MP photo may be much higher than that from a CCD sensor, actual size still matters when it comes time to print.

International Shooting-All-The-Time Day

 I saw a couple of posts to this interesting challenge.  The Photocritic posted in an article titled “Time for Some Frame Storming!” and the PhotographyBLOG posted in an article called “International Shooting-All-The-Time day“.  It’s basically a challenge put on by Popular Photography & Imaging Magazine to take 225 photos or more in one day — Sunday, January 21st, 2007.  There’s also a contest (with a prize) attached to the challenge.  The winner of the challenge gets to take home a Pentax K100D with a couple of lenses and a memory card.  Not a bad deal for spending the day doing what you already love to do.

Photo of the Day…

Green Uprooted Tree

Photo by Brian Auer
10/07/06 Delaware Water Gap, NJ
Fallen tree in the forest
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
Konica Minolta AF DT 18-200
75mm equiv * f/4.5 * 1/30s * ISO400

Photo Storage Tips

Camera Labs put out an article on storage devices called “Backup your digital photos part 2 – it’s a RAID!“.  They talk about the different options for storing and backing up your priceless collection of photos.  Most importantly, they give some good direction for RAID 5 setups and how they work.

If you have a few thousand photos sitting on your hard drive, ensuring your data safety should be a very high priority.  I just checked my archive — I’ve got over 16,000 photos stored on my drives.  I use several redundant backup methods, such as annual or semi-annual DVD backups and a RAID 1 storage setup.  A RAID 5 setup is looming ever closer in my “must have” list, but that type of setup is somewhat expensive.

If you have a stash of photos that you couldn’t stand to lose, and you’ve got the money to pick up or build a RAID 5 setup — DO IT NOW.  The peace of mind will be well worth it.

Photo of the Day… 

Double Lightning Strike

Photo by Brian Auer
06/12/05 ???, MT
Lightning storm somewhere in Montana
Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3
110mm equiv * f/3.5 * 1/40s * ISO320

Image Doctors & Picture Poppers

Advice From the Doctors

The Nikonians site gives a download link to an audio file in their post called “The Image Doctors #32“.  It’s an MP3 file that’s almost an hour long, but there’s some pretty good stuff in there.  The main topics are sensor cleaning, vacation photo workflow, color management and monitor calibration, and memory cards.  If you’ve got an hour to burn, it’s definitely worth a listen.

REALLY Simple Photoshop Tips

The Digital Photography School posted some quick-tips on Photoshop editing techniques in “4 Easy Photoshop Techniques to Make Your Pictures Pop!“.  These are super-simple things that you can do in about 5 minutes and they’ll add a great effect to your photo.  The 4 tips include blur overlay, background filter, neon glow, and easy blur.  The two tips on blurring effects are very very good.  They don’t make the photo look abnormal, but they add such a nice mood to the photo.  Check it out, they have some sample shots in the post.

Photo of the Day…

Autumn Waterfall

Photo by Brian Auer
10/07/06 Delaware Water Gap, NJ
Small waterfall on a creek feeding the Delaware
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
Konica Minolta AF DT 18-200
195mm equiv * f/16 * 2.0s * ISO100

Nature, Flash, and Photography Business

Outstanding Nature Photos

I love this type of stuff — links to great photos.  The editors at Nature Photographers Online Magazine posted their “2006 Editor’s Pick Awards“.  AMAZING photos here.  They’ve chosen stuff from categories like birds, animals, macro, landscape, plants/trees, and more.  A must see.

Doing More With Your Flash

Once again, the Digital Photography School had posted another great photo-tips article.  This one titled “Slow Sync Flash“, teaches us about different ways of using your flash’s slow sync feature.  If you have a flash with this capability and you’re looking for new ideas on things to photograph, this is pretty dang interesting.  I know what I’ll be doing next time I’m out in the dark with my camera.

Photography Business

I found this great blog by John Harrington called Photo Business News & Forum that talks about different aspects of photography as a business.  If you’ve ever thought you might like to get into the business of selling your photos or services, this is going to be a good source of information for you.  I’m in that group of people who want to make something of their work, and I’ve found that the more you learn about this topic, the less scary and out of reach it seems.

Photo of the Day…

Mid-Air Mountain Biker

Photo by Brian Auer
09/17/06 Vernon, NJ
Mountain Biker at Diablo Freeride Park
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
Konica Minolta AF DT 18-200
39mm equiv * f/8 * 1/60s * ISO100

Painting, Silhouettes, and Sony CF

Painting With Photos

A post on Photocritic.org called “Think of photos as paintings” takes a really good look at the artistic side of photography.  With business stock photography becoming ever more popular, photographic artists are becoming less popular in the eyes of beginner photographers.  Personally, I would love to make a living selling fine art photos to be framed and hanged in a gallery or art lover’s home.  This form of art is very difficult to make a descent living off of, especially in the eyes of the beginner or amatuer.  Even so, it doesn’t mean we should forget about taking photos just for the sake of taking photos.

Silhouette Tips

The Digital Photography School blog is one of my favorites to read.  There is an updated post called “How to Photograph Silhouettes – Updated” that takes a look back at one of the posts from a while back.  This one is pretty good, and it’s filled with great tips and inspiration on taking silhouette photos.  Aside from black & whites, these are one of my favorite types of photography.  With that said, I can’t really make the claim that I’m very good at either of them — but I do enjoy trying.

Sony CF Cards

I saw a couple of announcements today on Sony’s decision to enter the CompactFlash card market, obviously to supplement their new A100 dSLR.  DCViews has a post called “Sony announces its entry into the CompactFlash market“ and Photography BLOG has a post called “Sony CompactFlash Cards”.  Both of them lay out pretty much the same information on the upcoming card release.  Here’s a short exerpt from the press release: The initial line-up will include CompactFlash Type I cards with 66x and 133x transfer speeds and capacities between 1GB and 4GB. Hopefully they’ll be cheap enough to compete with the ever-dropping prices of existing cards, but I have little doubt based on the outstanding prices I’ve seen on the A100 camera.

Photo of the Day…

Washington DC Silhouette

Photo by Brian Auer
11/15/05 Washington DC
Silhouette of statue and Washington Monument
Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3
134mm equiv * f/7.1 * 1/320s * ISO50

Clearing Out Your Memory Card

There have been several posts at The Online Photographer related to deleting photos and formating memory cards, but the one by Dave New called “To Delete or Not: Computer Expert” is pretty good from a technical standpoint.  If you want a perspective from a photographer, see Josh Hawkins’ post called “To Delete or Not: Photojournalist“.  Carl Weese also makes some pretty good points in his post titled “To Delete or Not, That Is the Question…“.

If you’ve ever wondered if there is a right way or a wrong way to delete photos or transfer photos off of your camera, you’ll probably find some sort of answer in at least one of those posts.  These guys all make a pretty good case for not deleting your photos in-camera, and they also provide some good tips on how to handle these compact flash memory cards.

I’m personally guilty of deleting my photos in-camera, filling up the memory card, using a cut-and-paste method to transfer photos from the compact flash card to my hard drive, and not (ever) reformatting.  So from here out, I vow to format my card after each time I dump photos off the camera.  I can’t make any promises for my other faults though.

Photo of the Day…

One-Legged Bird

Photo by Brian Auer
04/23/05 Dana Point, CA
One-legged seagull at Salt Creek Beach Park
Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3
420mm equiv * f/5.6 * 1/800s * ISO50

2006 Pictures of the Year

This topic is a little past it’s prime, but this weekend is slow in the world of photography news.

Mike Sturk posted some links at Rob Galbraith Digital Photography Insights in an article called “A roundup of 2006 pictures of the year“.  There are 26 links to various sites that have a display of great photos from 2006.  Most, if not all, of these are definitely worth looking at.  The content of these photos span the world and cover some of the best and worst accomplishments of the human race.

My favorites were from the New York Times, Time, Reuters, and MSNBC — but again, all of them are worth looking at.  I’m always amazed at what we’re capable of when I see things portrayed in photos like these.

So if it’s a slow day for you too, check out Mike’s links and take the time to reaffirm how good you’ve got it.

Photo of the Day…

Eye Macro

Photo by Brian Auer
12/25/06 Flemington, NJ
Testing out my new extension tube
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
Konica Minolta AF DT 18-200 & 25mm extension tube
300mm equiv * f/9.5 * 1/90s * ISO100

Time, Performance, and Money

Money 

Peter Marshal at About: Photography has us take a good hard look at how expensive digital photography really is in his article titled “Is Digital Cheaper Than Film?“.  The article makes a good point, but I think it needs to be put into perspective.  It’s not just about cost, you should be thinking in terms of time, performance, and money (as an engineer, this phrase has been burned into my mind forever).  Even if shooting digital costs more money, how much time are you saving?  And, how much more quality do you get from it?  Both of those things alone will far outweigh any slight negative impacts on the cost of digital.  For me, it’s worth it.  Peter’s article addresses the cost differences between the levels of photographers, but the same principals apply for time and performance.

Time

I’m guessing that most photographers will receive some time benefits from going digital.  The beginner/amateur probably more than the professional.  As a beginner, it’s almost instant gratification when you plug that camera into your computer and you’re looking at your photos 30 seconds later.  I think the time benefits start to drop off as you do more archiving, backups, editing, tagging, file conversions, and printing.  When you spend that much time dealing with your photos, though, you begin to reap the benefits of accessibility; finding that one photo from years ago in an archive of 10′s or 100′s of thousands of photos.  I can’t imagine trying to do something like that with film.  So either way, I say digital wins here.

Performance

I’ll admit it, digital used to suck compared to film.  But due to market demands and growth of technology, not so true anymore.  Nowadays, when comparing a similar level film and digital camera, the digital outperforms hands down.  It’s not until you get up to the medium or large format cameras that digital can’t keep up.  I don’t doubt that digital will catch up pretty soon though — we’ve already got medium format DSLRs on the market.  It’s only a matter of time before we see some large formats.

Conclusions

Digital is better overall… unless you fall into that less than 1% category of people that can do more good with film.  Even though digital may cost pennies more than film, the other benefits definitely make up for this.

Photo of the Day…

p6281466.jpg

Photo by Brian Auer
06/28/03 Farragut Park, ID
Sailboat on a calm Lake Pend Oreille
Olympus Digital Camera