Monthly Archives: February 2009

Birthday Gift #3 Winners

Old Bessie

The third and final Epic Edits Birthday giveaway ended a few weeks back, and I’m finally getting around to publicly announcing the winners. This birthday gift was for 3 analog prints from my darkroom, and the winners were allowed to choose from any of my film shots.

So here are the winners and their choice of prints.

Udi Tirosh
Vj Day Statue

Jeff McNeill
A Bird's Life

Andrew Leonhard
Still Deciding???

For those who didn’t win a free print, I’m considering offering a small selection of 8×10 photos at a VERY low price in the near future — so keep your eyes peeled for that post.

Notification List for Southern California Photographers

Last week, my professional printer (Oscar Medina of San Diego Photos and Prints) contacted me about a brand new service he’s offering to local artists. He’s put together a notification list for upcoming shows and juried competitions in the Southern California area — most specifically San Diego County.

This is an extremely valuable resource because the notifications are filtered by Oscar himself and they’re for REAL events — not just online stuff. Yes, that’s right… printing your photos and putting them up on a wall somewhere (gasp!). These types of shows and contests are sometimes difficult to find and keep track of, so the notification list provides us with a quick and easy method for it all. I, for one, plan on participating in several local events this year in attempts to better my photography.

I would 100% recommend this free service to all San Diego photographers, and I’d also recommend it to all other Southern California Photographers. Once you sign up (using the link below), you’ll start to receive email notifications of new events as Oscar posts them. You’ll also get access to an archive of previously posted events so you can see everything that is and was available. The notifications include the name of the event, a short description, and a link to the event website for further information.

And again, it’s FREE! So sign up and see if you find anything of interest.


What Camera Should I Buy?

I Don't Have A Problem...

At some point in time, this is a question that every photographer asks. It’s also a question that I get asked frequently — probably several times per week. And that’s totally cool! It’s just that I find myself usually giving the same answers to people. So I thought I’d wrap a few thoughts into a post for those who haven’t ventured out to ask the question yet.

First of all, you have to understand that I never give out the answer as a specific make and model. If you ask that question of anybody and they give you a specific answer, don’t listen to it. The process of selecting a new camera is so involved that somebody else can’t answer it for you. But if you’re in the market, here are 3 important things to ask yourself:

1. Do You Own Equipment?

If you already have lenses, flashes, and other accessories for a specific camera brand, it’s probably a better choice to stick with that brand. The main reason is cost — starting over with a new brand can be a real hassle. This applies to those of you who shot film in recent years, and you still have equipment that fits modern cameras. If you don’t have existing stuff, just ignore this question.

2. What’s Your Budget?

Money makes the world go ’round. Before you even start comparing brands or models of cameras, think about how much money you’re willing to spend on a camera. This is VERY important — set that limit, and stick to it. Otherwise, you’ll be having nightmares for the next two years.

3. How Does It Feel In Your Hands?

Once you get past the first two questions, it really boils down to this. If a camera feels out of place in your hands, you won’t enjoy it (and it’s all about fun, now isn’t it?). Put aside all the resolution-noise-speed-focus-format-button-menu-stabilization-etc… CRAP! And make sure you’re comfortable with how the camera feels in your hands. You’re the one who has to hold it and use it for the next long while, so you might as well make it enjoyable. Once you get a feel for the cameras, then you can jump back into all the technical stuff and proceed to torment yourself.

And if you’re looking for some follow-up reading material on the subject, here are a few good ones:

What other tips and advice do you have for buying new (or used) cameras?

PhotoDump 02-08-2009

More great stuff from the Epic Edits Flickr Pool! For some reason, I was seeing a lot of cool tree photos this time around. This selection of photos is from those entered in the pool between 2/1 and 2/8.

PAIN by JeezoPeezowhich one? by lifeography™Abandoned Sunset by piston9Sexy Zombie by hitkaiserAstia Sunshine by RussHeathSunny Sailing by Brian Auer by toriclementsFirst Class by ★ Mathias Pastwa ★The World Has Passed Me By by marctonysmithyour curl by Victor BezrukovPark City, UT by 2Bluelondon, january 2009 by .sasharappaportFisherman by ergatesScare the Birdies by RussHeathFaces from out past by AIA GUY..RwoodWinter Tree by Rory.WMy 1st by RamNLighthouse Landscape by by the_wolf_brigadeMid winter's tree by noelleWIced Over by DemiArtsLow Tide Sunset by Brian AuerThough a tree grows so high, the falling leaves return to the root. by reggiemateoThe Favourite Place by kwerfeldein

Link Roundup 02-21-2009

Great things happening around the web this week — here are a few good ones.

  • It’s The Lens, Baby!
    Most of us have heard of the LensBaby, but what exactly is it and what can you do with it? Here’s a nice little overview of the system.
  • Build a Tilt-Shift Camera Lens for Peanuts
    One of the fancier lenses in the world of SLR and digital SLR (DSLR) photography is the tilt-shift lens. Learn how to build one and create stunning photographs with it.
  • Steady that Point ‘n’ Shoot
    Beyond Phototips
    Point and Shoot cameras are notoriously difficult to keep steady in low light situations. Here are a couple of tips that should help you steady your swaying forearms when taking these photographs.
  • Waterfall Digital Photography
    digital Photography School
    Waterfalls do present themselves as a wonderful and challenging subject matter to photographers. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of waterfall scenes.
  • Facebook’s Terms of Use: From Bad to Beyond Worse
    Over the course of the last week, Facebook updated their terms of use and created a lot of (negative) buzz around the web. Jim wrote a good article covering the topic from a photographer’s standpoint.
  • Guide to matting, mounting and framing photographs
    Reyns Wim Photography
    For as little as most of us actually print our photos, there are probably even fewer who mat and frame them. Here’s a nice DIY tutorial on the topic.
  • Thoughts from Zack Arias
    Photoshop Insider
    You have to watch this video. I don’t care what level photographer you are, watch it. Then watch it again.
  • Photo Tip Video: Twist Your Grip
    Neil Creek
    Here’s a nice little tip for improving the stability of your camera a low shutter speeds.
  • Edit My Photo project
    Phill Price
    Phill is running a cool project that requires you to edit one of his unprocessed photos. These are always fun, so don’t miss out!
  • Blog Project: View from Your Studio
    Latoga Photography
    Here’s another project open to everyone. This project requires you to take a picture or set of pictures describing “the view from your studio”.

Sunset Photos and Tips from the Readers

I recently posted an article titled “7 Ways to Avoid a Cliche Sunset Photo” and offered up some ways to think outside the box when the sun sets. I used my own photos as examples for my points, and at the end of the article I invited the readers of the blog to share their own tips and photos in the comments.

After 12 days, we had a whole lot of great tips and photos posted. So I decided that it was time to show them off! Here are 35 sunset photos and 30 sunset photography tips from 26 photographers. And keep an open mind while reading the tips because many of them can be applied to much more than just sunset photography.

John Milleker

A Sunset can be taken anywhere in the world. Give your viewer some hints to help them figure out where the image was taken.


Silhouettes tend to be a fail-safe way of enhacing your composition. Get someone to stand between you and the sun.

Scott Coulter

OK, one thing you haven’t mentioned yet is HDR… this can be good for emphasizing the colors that are present and making the cloud patterns more dramatic. Works best on days with not too much wind, so the clouds don’t blur/ghost when the exposures are blended.

Andrew Ferguson

Tim Solley

You could try HDR, as I’ve done…once.

Or, go for a detail shot.


Look to shoot the sunset reflected in an object. It can help to make the shot more abstract, and gets the viewer more engaged in the photo as they try to figure it out.

As I was reviewing the tips here I wanted to restate how important I think Brian’s #5 is. Turn around is a terrific way to get the out-of-the-box shot, and it is also SO MUCH easier to do, because you don’t get contrast issues and such… This shot is from a sunrise, but I think its a good example…


Neil Creek

Try HDR. One commenter above mentioned it, but I wanted to emphasise tonemapping for realism, not effect. Halos and dirty clouds aren’t attractive.

Shoot landmarks or icons against the sunset. Locals will recognise them and those from elsewhere can discover a beautiful new scene.

Strobe it. Wait till after the sun has set and use the fading sky as a backdrop for some strobe action.

Get experimental. I took a full spherical panorama of an iconic church in New Zealand, and remapped it into a “little planet”. Here we can see both the last of the setting sun, and the golden-lit church opposite.


Wait for the right moment.


Don’t miss the right moment. Here’s the photo of a sunset I shot from the balcony of our condo last year. We’ve had 4 days of non-stop rain in Vancouver and then all of a sudden the sky has cleared and the sun was shining, just minutes before the sunset. The sky was unbelievably beautiful, see for yourself.


Play with perception. Silhouettes work well, but get creative with them by using the +/- exposure control to really bring out the effect in camera.

Steve Berardi

Just one quick one to add: don’t put the horizon in the center–you’re photographing the sunset, so the sky should take up the vast majority of the frame.

Trevor Carpenter

OK, so here’s a couple. The first one is of the wonderful light cast by a setting sun. The second one I incorporated Jeremy Brooks’ sweet ride, in the shot.


Look for the unusual. Sometime certain weather conditions will throw interesting lighting out, even after the sun is below the horizon. For example this shaft of light.

Jeremy Brooks

And for the exception to the “the sky should take up the majority of the frame” rule, here’s one I took that is mostly railroad tracks and train cars, but with the light of the sunset at the top of the frame and reflected from the tracks.

Antoine Khater

Get low pickup a low view point.

Do not include the sun specially if you follow your tip “Go Wide” with a wide angle the sun will look just like a small spot in the picture and will loose interest and would rather look like a dust bun or something.

Use a foreground as focal point Include an object relatively big in the foreground to serve as the picture’s focal point.


There’s no need to get the sun in the frame if you’ve got something interesting in the frame….particularly a silhouette against the sunset sky.

Martin Wolf

Why not go vertical? This photo is a sunrise, but I think sunset and sunrise are very similar.


Hanging around long enough, say about half an hour, after the sun disappears below the horizon gives you the opportunity to take some long exposures, and lets you include some painting with light techniques.

Maureen Bond

I like the tip about turning around. I’m trying to use this tip with all of my photography outings. As for sunsets and sunrises I like to look for elements if possible for framing. This shot is a sunrise.

Phil Lane

Silhouettes are a good idea I agree – you can get something stark to stand out against the background.

Also, using a flash is a good ldea to let you balance the subject and the sunset

Eric Gitonga



I love the sky a half hour or so after sunset, in this image I found something that might be pretty boring during the day, but has a whole different feel in the evening.

This one might be somewhat cliche, but I tried to get silhouette’s of a couple mosque towers along the banks of the Nile, coupled with a relatively wide angle to capture as much of the clouds as possible.


This is a shot i took some time back from my balcony in Kuala Lumpur. In fact there was a plane passingby during the 30″ long shutter. Created a cool streak along the sky.

Dememtrios the traveller

Great photos and tips from all who participated! The photo-in-the-comment thing was a new feature I was testing out, and I’m so pleased with the outcome that I’ve decided to keep that feature on the blog. So you can post (relevant) photos in your comments at any time from here out!

Seeking Environmental Photos for a Magazine Article

OK, so I’m working on submitting another article to Soura Magazine. Just like last time, I’m looking for a few photos to supplement the article. The topic of this one is “green” photography, and here’s the blog post that I’ll be using as a basis for the magazine article:

12 Ways to be an Environmentally Friendly Photographer

I’m planning on using a few of my own photos, possibly these ones (or others):

Trash Sewage Contaminated Water What's the Point?

If you’d like to have your photos published in the magazine article (with name credits), just leave me a link or post the photo in the comments below. Just read the article linked above and make sure that the photo fits in with one or more of the main points.

Last time, I was able to offer the photographers a free copy of the magazine (which should be arriving soon). But this time around I’m not able to do the same. I’d love to be able to, but I just can’t this time. I can direct you to the nearest venue that sells the magazine, but that’s about all I can do. If you’re okay with that, go ahead and leave the comment.

I’ll pick out the photos on 2/22/09 — so about 5 days from now. I’m looking for maybe 3 to 5 additional photos.

Epic Styler Contest Winners and Download

Download the Epic Styler Package

I’ve been putting this one off for way too long. If you remember back a few months, I announced the 8th Epic Edits project: “Action and Preset Extravaganza“. The deadline was over a month ago, and we had 6 people contribute 15 different Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets.

Neil Cowley of Make Light Real, sponsored the project and gave out three grand prizes to the best entries. He’s also hosting the package of presets and actions as a free download, so don’t forget to jump over to his site and grab them!


  1. Tasha Schalk with her Rock Concert Photoshop Actions.
  2. Martin Kimeldorf with his Photoshop Action for exposure blending.
  3. Phill Price with his monochrome architecture pink Lightroom Preset.

The other entries included a color pop Photoshop Action from Tom Weeks, a Flickr resizer Photoshop Action from me, and a 300 movie style Lightroom Preset from Mike Lao.


    Valued at $290, this prize includes a Nostromo n52 left-hand keypad, “ONE” Lightroom/ACR preset, “ONE” Photoshop Action, and tutorials. This is an awesome package! This winner will also receive a $39 credit to use toward any additional items from Neil.
    Valued at $250, this prize includes the “ONE ACTION” workflow scripts plus a 4 hour training course covering the workflow scripts and working in LAB color space. This winner will also receive a $39 credit to use toward any additional items from Neil.
    Valued at $79 and $49, respectively, this prize includes the “ONE ACTION” scripts and presets for Photoshop and Lightroom, plus extra training materials along with additional Photoshop actions and 30 textures.


First of all, I want to thank all the participants that took the time to post their actions and presets for the greater good of the community. It’s great to see people willing to share their knowledge and their tools with fellow photographers.

I’d also like to thank Neil for sponsoring the project and hosting the final download package. He’s had a very active role in this project, and I look forward to working with him again in the future.

Don’t forget to download the actions and presets from the project entries. And if you’re into free stuff, check out Neil’s other free downloads.

PhotoDump 02-01-2009

More great stuff from the Epic Edits Flickr Pool! Still catching up on submissions from the previous weeks… yes, still. This selection of photos is from those entered in the pool between 1/25 and 2/1.

015 by nansanBoy at the Canal by marctonysmithBig Black Cow by DemiArtsHappy As Can Be by Brian Auer_DSC2669-20090124 by Ian MearsRed sea ; The Brothers Islands by javiyLike a caged tiger (B&W) by bryanvillarinMike Mistry by JanneMSpin Me! by Brian Auer by the_wolf_brigadeOut the window by Blessed Road PhotographyCitroën 2CV by sebastian.yepes.inMunroe @ The House of Blues by Tasha {Redwall Photo}We Are 3 by kwerfeldeinSunrise over the downtown Los Angeles skyline by secondcareerSunny Weeds by RussHeathCan you see what you've done to my heart, and soul? by Mario PleitezAtlantic by Lomoseb* Underwater Sign 4 "Cool Man" by javiyUnjustified intimidation by bryanvillarinDay Break by Chris Nixon© Rex Lisman-4355_ver_1 by Rex Lisman Photographyheather on the ledge by poopooramaJan/23/09 by NATEPERRO

Link Roundup 02-14-2009

Here’s what’s happening out there this week.