Monthly Archives: December 2008

PhotoDump 12-14-2008

This one is for last weekend in the Epic Edits Flickr Pool. I slacked off for a couple of weekends, so I’ve got some catching up to do! Almost there…

OliverDay8-001 by Trevor ConnellMy kitty by Peggy DThe Wait by LügMetal and Glass by Brian AuerWinter Sheep by rh89Baby it's cold outside by Blessed Road PhotographyCappuccino at breakfast by Salvatore FalconeLike I said, the Romans were in for a little surprise by vandyll.netstretched by dawn m. armfieldViewsfromabus-1-2 by Ryan OpazWhat toothbrushes do when they are alone (2008-11-30_EOS 40D_100-1913-1915) by akhaterThe Man, The Legend, Jeff Johnson by Blush ResponsePurple Skies by Brian AuerLight and Shadow by Ed_ZLet's get outta here (335/366) by bryanvillarinRuby & Vasili 114 by icemanukI Crush Your Head - 6/52 by makaio14Passing by, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by tysonwilliams.comQuietdrive Promos by Tasha {Redwall Photo} by Chris Farrugiawe <3 the holidays by vandyll.netChristmas Poinsettia by Sean Phillips~Maggie... in Lights by *ojoyous1*Glittery Nicole 4 by bassqees  t  r  e  t  c  h by lifeography™Locked grid by tenshi_cra little bit of sunshine by poopooramaMoving with the Music by Brian Auer by t3mujinThe Young and The Old by Pronghorn'sMovementes by javiybrooklyn, november 2008 by .sasharappaport~ by *ojoyous1*the man who guards the two fools by xysmas (Aaron)Coming to get you by mustanir by the_wolf_brigade

PhotoDump 12-07-2008

This one is for a couple weeks back in the Epic Edits Flickr Pool. I slacked off for a couple of weekends, so I’ve got some catching up to do!

Day 248: Heartless by __multifacetedbrooklyn, november 2008 by .sasharappaport~Chrysanthemum by *ojoyous1*Worth the 32 miles (334/366) by bryanvillarinimg197 by ch.dean by t3mujinChristmas Quarrel by CdL Creative by anthonyskeltonI'm So Hot I'm Red by Brian Auer"i robot" by lifeography™Shelby by Peggy Drugs by lifeography™Silhouettes in the 1/2 light by xsorsburnSolitary Confinement 2.0 by austincabotA Surfer's Church by binah06Mail Order Bride...Some Assembly Required by Mark OehlerPurmamarca, Argentina by Magical Placesbig savings start here by xgrayRuby & Vasili 009 by icemanukMix 'em up by bryanvillarinTaj Mahal - November 2008 by Ryan OpazLandscape by sebastian.yepes.inOne step at a time by wayfaring.wandererMovements by javiyWall art, Amsterdam, The Netherlands by tysonwilliams.comMotion by {Tasha}fowl play by poopooramaLaundry Friend - 5/52 by makaio14Chapéu de Palha by Jonathan EnnsDrum Circle by Brian AuerTina - Vrai Photo by Neil CowleyKinky Boots by reggiemateoSeasonal by Chris NixonGreens for the ends by MaX´xPinhole Bananas by RussHeath by the_wolf_brigade

Link Roundup 12-20-2008

OK, we should be all caught up with the links from this past week. Enjoy…

Link Roundup 12-13-2008

I totally skipped the roundup last week. My Dad and Brother were in town unexpectedly for the weekend, so I took the time off to hang out and relax. So this roundup is from last week (note the date in the title). The roundup from this week will be published soon.

  • December giveaway: Document Christmas
    ADIDAP
    You still have a few more days to participate in this photography project and win yourself a SmugMug Pro account! That’s a $150 value, and all you have to do is shoot some photos and put them in a holiday season collage!
  • Six Photography Projects You Can Print Or Fold
    DIYPhotography.net
    This stuff is for the serious DIY photographer! 6 pieces of equipment and accessories that you can make from paper.
  • My Canon 50D Book
    PhotoWalkPro
    Our pal Jeff Revell announces that his first book is up for sale. Awesome work, Jeff!
  • 7 Travel Photography Tips
    digital Photography School
    Some good tips for travel photography, and some awesome photos to help make the point.
  • How To Photograph a Bride – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
    Digital Pro Talk
    For all you aspiring wedding photographers out there, here’s a great video from Master Wedding Photographer David Ziser.
  • The Sites that Changed the Photography Business
    Photopreneur
    A good discussion on some of the major players that have shaped the face of photography in the age of the Internet.
  • How to Photograph Children
    digital Photography School
    Kids can be the easiest subjects and the most difficult subjects to photograph. Here are some tips to make things easier.
  • Six Great Swapping Ideas
    DIYPhotography.net
    If you’re thinking of swapping gear for the DIYPhotography project (or even for fun), here are some really good ideas on what to swap.
  • Creating a photo book
    Photodoto
    John takes us through a high-speed journey as he creates a photo book with an online publisher. If only it were that fast in real life…
  • Christmas Gift Ideas Using Your Own Photos
    Photodoto
    It’s getting to be late in the game, but here are some good gift ideas that you can create with your photos.
  • New Site Goes Live and First Flyer Revealed
    Neil Creek Photography
    Our pal Neil Creek made a big decision to go all out and become a full time photographer. He’s off to a good start and I’d encourage anybody considering the same to watch Neil closely over the next few months. And I wish Neil the best of luck with this endeavor!

Make Light Real ONE Action

Those who have used Photoshop probably know the power of actions. Some also know the power of LAB color mode. The problem is that LAB can sound like a scary thing, and most actions are “one hit wonders.”

Neil Cowley has created something that will blow you away — The ONE Action. It’s an action set that guides you through the LAB colorspace workflow. I’ve worked in LAB for a few little things in the past, but I hadn’t realized the full potential until I started working with the ONE Action.

Neil is sponsoring our most recent project, the “Action and Preset Extravaganza“, and the top 3 prizes include the ONE Action. I’ve been toying around with it for a couple weeks, and this is my introductory take on it. I should also state that I have much to learn about using this action and working in the LAB color space, so this is by no means a comprehensive review.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

The ONE Action package includes several handy items. Obviously, the Photoshop Action is at the heart of it all. You also get an ACR and Lightroom preset, an HDR action, LAB curve presets, an instruction manual, a really great walkthrough video, and some sample photos.

The video is a great place to start after you’ve loaded up the actions and/or presets. Neil goes through the capabilities of the action, how to use it, and the thought process behind the actions. He explains rather quickly that the ONE Action is more than just a “push and go” type of action — it’s a workflow process.

Here’s another video from Neil that shows an example of how the action can be used. This is not the video included with the action.

HOW IT WORKS

The action “forces” you to work in the LAB color space (which really isn’t a bad thing at all). This gives you the freedom to manipulate the luminosity and color of the image separate from each other. It also gives you the ability to pinpoint specific tonal ranges and apply adjustments only where you desire.

There are a lot of individual actions contained in the set, and each one is intended to target a very specific region of the image. The main idea, though, is to understand the adjustments produced by the actions and apply them in small steps as you work through the image. Masking and tone-mapping are important parts of the ONE Action workflow.

Honestly, once you start working with this action set you’ll really start to understand the power of working in LAB color space. As I went though several of my own photos, I was surprised and amazed at the results that could be achieved with just a few little adjustments.

EXAMPLE PHOTOS

Each of the images below show the unprocessed raw file, the processed raw file, and the final photo after processing with the “ONE Action.” I chose to use the action on a few particular photos from a recent photowalk that turned out less than optimal but had potential. I used the action with the intent of reproducing the scene I saw with my eyes (and in some cases introduce a bit more “life”), and in most cases the ONE Action saved my butt. Click on the photos for a larger view.

You can purchase the ONE Action from Make Light Real, or participate in the Action and Preset Extravaganza for your chance at one of the prize packages.

Photography Gift Ideas for Last Minute Holiday Shoppers

Purple-Orange-Blue
Creative Commons License photo credit: code poet

I’m a procrastinator, and Christmas gifts are no exception. If you’re anything like me, you still haven’t finished your holiday shopping. Lucky for us, Amazon.com has a great selection of goodies and they have one and two day shipping available on most purchases.

So here are a few items to browse through for your fellow photography enthusiasts — we’re not picky, anything photography-related is an awesome gift. And even if you can’t get it to them by the 25th, I’m sure they’ll forgive you.

Feed readers will probably have to visit the the actual webpage to see the selection of gift ideas.

Book Review: Sony Alpha DSLR A300/A350 Digital Field Guide

Typically, the manual that comes with your new camera is less than satisfactory. Sure they tell you how to push all the buttons, but that’s about it. Third party camera manuals or field guides can be a great resource for specific camera model owners.

Tom Bonner recently published a Digital Field Guide for the Sony Alpha DSLR A300/A350. Since the two cameras are nearly identical, Tom wrapped up both cameras in a single book. Myself being a Sony Alpha user, Tom thought I might like to check it out.

The book is a combination of extended camera manual, general photography guide, and hands-on assignments. The flow is very logical and easy to follow. This is one book that A300/A350 owners will certainly benefit from.

The Sony Alpha DSLR A300/A350 Digital Field Guide (ISBN 978-0470386279) can be purchased directly from Wiley or through Amazon.com.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Sony Alpha DSLR A300/A350 Digital Field Guide, by Tom Bonner, is 272 pages with a soft cover. The book is small enough to fit in your camera bag, but large enough to fit in your hands. It’s broken up into three parts and seven chapters, plus two very handy appendices.

Part 1 focuses on the two cameras and their various controls and menus. The A300 and A350 are so similar in construction that Tom covers both cameras simultaneously while pointing out the differences. This section of the book by itself could potentially replace the user manual that comes with the camera.

Part 2 starts with the basics of photography, including camera control, exposure, and composition. Then it goes into the specifics of lenses and other accessories, including various types of lenses available for the Alpha cameras. This section ends with a chapter on lighting — theory, application, and equipment.

Part 3 is more general in nature, covering subjects, types of photography, and digital workflow. Though this section is applicable to any camera, Tom constantly gives specific examples and tips for the Alpha photographer. I liked this section the best because it gives a lot of great examples and the content is structured in an academic manner with miniature assignments designed to explore and learn the A300 and A350.

The appendices are a good resource for Sony shooters. The first appendix is a listing of businesses and websites dedicated to Sony cameras. The second appendix is a troubleshooting guide specific to these cameras.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Bonner is a 30-year Minolta/Sony camera enthusiast and photographer (my kind of guy!). He’s spent many years as a freelance photographer and writer. Some of his photographic experience includes automotive and motorsports subjects.

I’ve been following Tom for many months because of his blog, Alphatracks — a website dedicated to the fledgling Sony Alpha DSLR line. Being a Sony/Minolta user myself, the subject of his blog caught my attention. But Tom’s ability to write and teach is what keeps me going back for more.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

This is a great resource book for the Sony A300 and A350 photographer. It covers just about everything you can find in your user manual, plus a whole lot of practical stuff. New users will benefit the most from this book, as the assignments in Part 3 will familiarize them with the camera in-use.

For those who aren’t A300/A350 users, it’s probably not a book you’d buy. The entire book is sprinkled with Alpha details and it would be frustrating trying to translate the features and functions. But, I’m sure that Tom wasn’t targeting Canon or Nikon photographers when he wrote it.

But regardless of which brand you use, I’d still go check out Tom’s blog. A lot of the stuff he publishes isn’t completely specific to Sony or Minolta.

The Sony Alpha DSLR A300/A350 Digital Field Guide (ISBN 978-0470386279) can be purchased directly from Wiley or through Amazon.com.

eBay Camera Buyers Beware

1 pound of fury
Creative Commons License photo credit: jj look

I’ve had a decently positive buying experience on eBay when it comes to old cameras. I’ve purchased six cameras and four of them arrived in great condition just as the seller stated. But I was disappointed with two of them.

In both cases, the seller stated “Camera is in good working condition. Now generally, if I see that I’ll assume that the camera is operational in every aspect and that I won’t have to pull it apart to fix it. But I guess the phrase “good working condition” is open to interpretation.

The first camera had a screwed up rangefinder with sticky joints and a half-silvered mirror with far less than half the silver left on it. I got the sticky joints fixed, but the half-silvered mirror is probably worth more than what I paid for the camera — so now it’s a nice little viewfinder camera that has to be used at f/16 to ensure focus.

The second camera (which I just received in the mail) was in far worse shape. The latch mechanism for the film compartment door is totally beefed up. It holds the door closed as long as you don’t touch the camera. And the viewfinder… well, it’s more than a little foggy. Oh yeah, and the focusing ring feels like it’s running on sandpaper. So I’ll be pulling this one apart to see what I can do with it. But, for a $10 camera I’m not too disappointed — I just wish the seller’s description was a little better.

The point of my whole rant: “good working condition” on eBay doesn’t always mean that the camera is in good working condition. Many times, the people selling the camera know nothing about cameras so they really wouldn’t know the difference. Anybody else have bad experiences with eBay camera purchases? Do share.

Is it Best to be a Specialist or a Generalist?

The poll this week is an open ended question. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time, but I can never convince myself to form an opinion.

Is it best to be a specialist or a generalist?

A Specialist is somebody who focuses their photography on a very specific topic or style, while a generalist is somebody who has no single specialty. I could argue for one or the other depending on my mood at that moment, but I keep coming back to “no opinion”.

Specialists can have a very recognizable body of work based on subject matter or photographic style. This can be good if you want to have your name associated with that subject or style. But it could be bad if you don’t want to feel limited to that one thing.

Generalists are often less recognizable because they cover so many different subjects and their style can be varied to suit the need of the subject. This can be good if you like doing something different all the time. But it could be bad if you find that you’re never well known for any one thing in particular.

I see myself as a generalist — film, digital, b/w, color, street, macro, landscape, portrait, architecture, candid, sport, etc. I’ll basically shoot anything that comes my way with whatever camera I happen to have in my hands. And yet all along, I feel like I should be focusing on something more specific in order to take myself to the “next level”… whatever that means. I think I’m giving up on trying to define my photography — I’ll just let it do its own thing.

What about you guys? How do you see yourselves? Are you striving to become one or the other? Do you feel one is better than the other? Do we even have a choice in the matter?