Tag Archives: advice

Three Ways to Control Depth of Field

My Sunshine

Depth of field (DOF) refers to the amount of a scene in the “sharp” range. Shallow DOF is typically characterized by heavily blurred backgrounds that you might see in outdoor portraits. Deep focus (opposite of shallow DOF) is typically characterized by tack sharp landscapes with no visible blur.

The most widely accepted method for controlling DOF is aperture, or f-number. This is certainly a feasible and convenient way to control DOF, but there are other factors at play. Just like exposure is controlled by three factors (ISO, shutter speed, and aperture), DOF is controlled by three main factors. Let’s take a look at these three factors and how you can use them to your advantage.

[tweetmeme]The examples shown below were taken on a 1.5x crop factor dSLR and the stated focal lengths are actual focal lengths of the lens rather than a full-frame equivalent.

F-NUMBER

The f-number is probably the most widely known and used method of controlling DOF. Most intermediate/advanced cameras have “aperture priority” which allows you you set the f-number. If you’ve toyed with this mode on your camera, you probably found that lower numbers result in a narrow depth of field (blurry background), while higher numbers result in a wide depth of field (everything in focus).

F-NUMBER ⇓ == DOF ⇓

F-NUMBER ⇑ == DOF ⇑

cropped version:

TRY THIS: With a “normal lens” (40-80mm range), find a subject about 5-10 feet away from you and make sure there’s some background object(s) in view behind it. Use your aperture priority and set the lowest f-number you can, and take a shot focused on the main subject. Now stay in the same spot and use the same focal length, but set the highest f-number you can (without bringing your shutter speed too low), and take another shot focused on the main subject. When you compare the two, the main subject should be in focus for both, but you’ll see a difference in the background blur or the amount of focus on objects in the near distance.

SUBJECT DISTANCE

Another way to control depth of field is to change your distance from the subject in focus. If you’ve ever shot macro, you know that the DOF is extremely narrow for 1:1 magnification. This is because you’re so close the subject. On the other hand, if you’ve shot landscapes you’ll know that it doesn’t take much stopping down of the aperture to get everything in the distance nice and sharp. This is because you’re so far from the subject.

DISTANCE ⇓ == DOF ⇓

DISTANCE ⇑ == DOF ⇑

cropped version:

TRY THIS: With a “normal lens” (40-80mm range), set your aperture to a value around f/4 or f/8. Again, find a subject that has some background element in view. Now get as close as your autofocus will allow you and take a shot. Keep the same focal length and the same f-number, but back up about 5-10 feet. Focus on the subject again and take a second shot. When you compare the two, you should see a difference in the depth of field by the amount of background blur.

FOCAL LENGTH

The last factor in your control for DOF is the focal length of the lens you decide to use. Telephoto lenses have a shallow depth of field as compared to their wide angle counterparts. Anybody out there have a sub-20mm lens? It’s pretty hard to get background blur, right? Any super-telephoto shooters out there? Just the opposite.

FOCAL LENGTH ⇓ == DOF ⇑

FOCAL LENGTH ⇑ == DOF ⇓

cropped version:

TRY THIS: Use a zoom lens that reaches from wide angle to telephoto (something like an 18-200, 28-135, etc.) or use two lenses (wide angle and telephoto). Again, find a subject that has some background element in view. Position yourself approximately 5-10 feet from the subject and set your aperture in the low-mid range (f/4-8, but make sure to find something that can be used for both lenses). Take the first shot with the wide angle lens or at the shorter focal length of the zoom lens. Now, hold your position and your f-number, and switch to the telephoto or use the longer focal length of the zoom lens and take the same shot with focus on the same subject. You should see a wider depth of field with the shorter focal length.

PUTTING IT INTO PERSPECTIVE

All this technical stuff is fine and dandy, but how does it translate to real world photography? The answer depends on what you’re shooting with and what you’re shooting at.

If you have a compact camera with no manual controls and you want a shallow DOF (say, for portraits)… zoom in all the way, get as close to your subject as possible (still preserving a decent composition), and take the shot. Also, less light will force the camera to use a smaller f-number and decrease the DOF. If you want a wide DOF (say, for landscapes)… zoom out all the way, get far away from your subject, and take the shot. Also, more light will force the camera to use a higher f-number and increase the DOF.

On the other hand, if you have a dSLR with manual controls and you want a shallow DOF… use aperture priority, set your f-number low (f/2.8-), get close to your subject, and/or use longer lenses. If you want a wide DOF… set your f-number high (f/16+), step back from your subject, and/or use wide lenses.

If you want to do some theoretical calculations on this topic, check out this handy Depth of Field Calculator. You just choose your camera, focal length, f-number, and subject distance. The calculator outputs your DOF, hyperfocal distance, and circle of confusion.

Links from around the web:

Back to Basics – Depth Of Field
Aperture: How It Affects Your Photography & Why You Should Care
Photography 101.5 – Aperture
HowTo: Use The Depth-Of-Field Preview On Your Camera

ANY OTHER TIPS?

How do you prefer to control your DOF? Any SLR shooters out there have a set of numbers that work well for narrow and wide DOF? How about some good examples of DOF in either extreme? We’d love to see ‘em!

Also — any questions on this stuff? I might be jumping over a few concepts, so let me know if anything doesn’t make sense.

7 Things Photographers Should Never Do

Light Stalking has an interesting twist for offering advice to photographers — things you shouldn’t do rather than things you should do. Three of my favorites are “Don’t be afraid to ask for help”, “Don’t assume your way is the best way”, and “Don’t ever stop learning”.

I guess if I could add one point to the list, I would say “Don’t be so serious”. Photography is fun, interesting, and exciting. Most of us got into it because of one or more of those reasons. If you’ve turned into the cynical job-hating photographer always wearing your grumpy face, why are you still shooting?

Any other tips for things that photographers shouldn’t do?

Save A Life – How To Get The Most Out Of Your Camera Battery

This article has been authored by Neil Austin. Neil likes to write about digital wedding photography for his blog: www.DigitalWeddingGuide.com. Neil’s blog mainly focuses on wedding photography tips.

Get the Most out of Your Batteries

Digital cameras are packed with lots of great features and spiffy enhancements. But a lot of the goodies are big culprits when it comes to power usage. And there is no worse feeling in the world than having your digital camera battery run down in the middle of a crucial shot.

While you can quickly stop and put a fresh battery in, you can’t always go back and recreate what would have been a great moment for the camera. And even though you may have a few backup batteries, the real trick is to maximize the life of the one that you’re using so you can get the most shots per charge possible.

Here are some things you can do to help get more out of your battery’s life.

  • Give your LCD screen a rest and use the optical viewfinder. What ends up happening is with each picture you take, it will appear on your digital camera’s LCD screen, eating up valuable battery power. Looking through the viewfinder saves your power for taking more pictures. Of course, be aware that what you see on the viewfinder isn’t exactly what you’re going to see on the actual picture. Some of the scenes to the sides of the frame may be cropped off so make sure you’re focused on your subject if the LCD screen is off.
  • The same idea applies to previewing pictures on your LCD screen. Taking a picture, then pulling it up on the LCD screen to show your friends is a wasteful use of battery life. You can save more power by only looking at a previous picture on the LCD screen if it’s going to help make the next shot better. Save the photo sharing for when you’ve uploaded your pictures to your computer or burned them to a disc.
  • If leaving the LCD screen off isn’t practical, look at lowering the screen’s brightness to save power. Lower it to an acceptable level, remembering that you may have difficulty in bright sunlight viewing the screen. Shade it with the palm of your hand if this is the case.
  • Using your camera’s menu function, try adjusting the “sleep” option. What this will do is put your digital camera into a power-saving sleep mode after a designated period of time, but it still remains ready to be used and can usually be “awakened” by touching one of the camera’s function buttons or the shutter. You may even be able to leave your digital camera in sleep mode to squeeze more shots out of your battery’s charge.
  • Use the single focus feature whenever possible. You’re asking your battery to work that much harder when your camera is using continual focus, and that feature is really only necessary if you’re taking pictures of subjects with lots of motion – say, children playing or maybe shots of a sporting event.
  • Many amateur shutterbugs find themselves playing with the zoom out of habit. Use your zoom sparingly. The motor that zooms your camera’s lens in and out is another unwanted power drain, and you should only use it when you’re ready to shoot.
  • Only press the shutter button when you’re ready to actually take a picture. Pressing it halfway puts the camera into a preparation mode that drains power because it thinks it’s about to take a picture and needs to be ready – and it gets ready by resetting and refocusing the camera – a big expense of power.
  • Don’t charge your battery if it still has a relatively strong charge. This can diminish a battery’s ability to hold a charge, and that is something you will start to notice when you begin getting fewer shots per charge. Avoid dropping the battery too. This can affect its polarity and therefore its ability to properly charge.
  • If you’re shooting pictures in cold weather, keep your camera warm by keeping it close to your body. Colder temperatures cause batteries to drain faster, and your body heat can help battery performance remain at optimal levels.
  • Save the video clips for a video camera. Recording and playing back video clips eats up lots of power, and if you’re really wanting to shoot videos, get a camera dedicated for that use.
  • Don’t go cheap on the recharger. It’s true with some things you get what you pay for, and battery chargers are one item you don’t want to skimp on. A good charger will extend your batteries’ lives and charge them more efficiently.
  • Keep spare batteries handy, and rotate through the batteries you use so they all get used as equally as possible. This helps to ensure that battery life remains constant from battery to battery, and more importantly it also means you’ll grab a battery that’s been recharged, instead of the dead one you kept forgetting to charge.
  • Use the flash only when necessary. Most professionals will tell you that the flash on digital cameras don’t really add anything to a picture anyway, even at night.
  • Wait until you’re back safely at home before you start deleting pictures. Deleting shots only drains more power, and you can get rid of unwanted pictures after you’ve uploaded them to your computer for review.
  • If you’re using lithium ion batteries you’ll get more life out of them by making sure they’re charged completely and regularly. Lithium ion batteries typically hold a charge longer than regular alkaline batteries too.
  • When storing your camera for a week or more, remove the batteries to prevent an accidental discharge.

These battery maintenance tips will help you dramatically extend the life of your battery, while getting the most out of each charge. They’ll help you prolong your enjoyment of your digital camera. And they’ll help you and your camera to always be ready to take a great picture – no matter when the right photo opportunity arises!

This article has been authored by Neil Austin. Neil likes to write about digital wedding photography for his blog: www.DigitalWeddingGuide.com. Neil’s blog mainly focuses on wedding photography tips.

Making Fine Art Prints: Shipping

Making Fine Art Prints: Shipping

I think we’re finally winding down on this series of articles — maybe just one more to pull it all together at the end. This article will dive into some of the discussion about packaging and shipping your fine art prints. With each step in the process of print making, the piece becomes a little more complete. At the end, you might have to send it to a new owner, and all that hard work is out of your hands during the transit.

So I’d like to discuss the various methods for packaging prints depending on their final state: print only, large prints, small prints, mounted prints, and framed prints. On all of these points, I’d like to hear from those who have packaged and shipped prints of their own. There are a lot of little ins-and-outs when it comes to this topic, so I’m sure we could all learn something from each other.

PRINT ONLY: SMALL

Packaging and shipping prints without the mount, mat, or frame is generally the most cost effective. If you go this route (also assuming that the recipient is ok with the idea) there are a few options for packaging the print. Smaller prints, such as 8×10 or 11×14 (or smaller), will fit into things like photo mailers. These are reinforced envelopes that resist bending and folding. They’re inexpensive (on the order of $1/envelope) and you can find them at most office supply stores or other stores online.

The downside to these envelopes is that they can be damaged rather easy depending on their construction. I had a few prints go out only to arrive all chewed up and bent because of poor handling at the post office. The lesson here: use a photo mailer that’s large enough to house the print sandwiched between two pieces of cardboard. The extra material will help protect the print.

For small prints, you can also use things like shipping tubes or boxes, but it’s often not necessary if you take the extra steps to protect the print.

PRINT ONLY: LARGE

Any print over 11×14 will be more prone to damage if packaged in a photo mailer or envelope. In this case, shipping tubes provide a good means of protection at a fairly low cost. Yup, prints can be rolled up without damage — they’ll just have to be flattened upon arrival. If shipping via tube, I’d suggest getting a 3-inch diameter tube with the thickest wall you can find. Tubes will get crushed pretty easily, and it doesn’t take much to damage a print that’s rolled up inside.

I actually had a tube (and print) get damaged in the mail recently. So my professional printer, Oscar Medina, suggested a packaging technique to me: roll the print between 1/2-inch to 1-inch smaller in diameter than the tube, then use packing paper to “float” the print in the center of the tube. This method allows for the tube to encounter some amount of damage without harming the print inside. And if you really want to be careful, double-tube the print with something like a 2-inch tube floating inside of a 3-inch tube.

FRAMED PRINT

Airfloat Systems

Whether the print is only mounted or completely framed, you now have a rigid piece to work with. Smaller prints can be packaged inside cardboard boxes with lots of packing material to keep it away from the edges. But larger prints will require heavier box material, foam liners, and other safeguards. Just doing a quick search, I found a company that produces boxes and sleeves for fine art shipping: Airfloat Systems. I haven’t tried their products, but it looks promising.

I actually haven’t packaged and shipped any framed work, so I’m going to have to lean on you guys for this part of the discussion. Anybody out there have some tips for what to use and what not to use? At any rate, I know that larger framed prints can cost several hundreds of dollars to package and ship — so be aware of this extra expense if you plan on doing this.

SHIPPING

air mail
Creative Commons License photo credit: ‘smil

Once you have your print all packaged-up and safe, it’s time to get it in the mail! I won’t get into the differences between the USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc — they all ship stuff. I find that the USPS tends to be the inexpensive option, even for international shipping. But I also find that they’re pretty rough with the merchandise.

So no matter what shipping service you decide to use, there are a few things you should be doing with your prints. First of all, insure them! The cost isn’t usually outrageous, and it’s an easy way to help recover the cost of a damaged print. Sure, the claims process is painful and your print will never be damaged if you pay for the insurance (half joking here, but it always seems to be the case). But it’s good for peace of mind. Insure the package for at least the cost of the materials — that way the damaged print won’t be coming out of your pocket.

Another thing to do is cover the package in stickers and stamps that say things like “Fragile”, “Photo Inside”, “Do Not Bend”, etc. This isn’t a safeguard, but it might help catch the attention of a careless mail handler and make them think twice about what they’re doing.

WHAT ELSE?

Do you guys have any further tips and suggestions for packaging and/or shipping prints? Like I said, there are a lot of little tricks to this stuff and I’m sure I don’t know all of them. What have you had success with? And what has failed? Any horror stories on this topic?

FOLLOW THIS SERIES OF ARTICLES!
BACK — FRAMING

8 Tips for Shooting Extremely Wide Angles

Wide angle photography can be fun and challenging at the same time. On one hand, it’s great to pull in so much of a scene with a single shot. On the other hand, it can be difficult to produce a well composed photo at such a wide perspective. So I’ve pulled together a few photos and pieces of advice for shooting with wide angle lenses.


For the purpose of this article, we’ll consider anything at or below 30mm (full frame equiv) to be a wide angle.

1. GO VERTICAL

Shooting in a portrait orientation with a wide angle lens can produce wonderful images, even landscapes (which are more commonly shot using landscape orientation). Going vertical allows you to pack a lot of information into the frame, basically from your feet to way up in the sky.

Black's Beach Below, by Brian Auer
Photo by Brian Auer
[CC by-nc-nd]

Just In Time, by Andreas Manessinger
Photo by Andreas Manessinger
[©]

2. GO HORIZONTAL

Though vertical shots are fun, horizontals will sometimes be better suited for the subject. Evaluate the scene and decide which elements you want to be prominent in the photo.

The Watchman, by Brian Auer
Photo by Brian Auer
[CC by-nc-nd]

The Place to Be, by Brian Auer
Photo by Brian Auer
[CC by-nc-nd]

3. EMPHASIZE THE FOREGROUND

Get low or point the camera down to make your foreground the main subject. Since objects in the foreground are much closer than the background, they will appear quite large in comparison. As you get closer to your subject, this emphasis becomes stronger.

Kelp Me, by Brian Auer
Photo by Brian Auer
[CC by-nc-nd]

The Shell, by Garry
Photo by Garry
[CC by-nc-sa]

4. SHOOT FOR THE SKY

If you have some nice cloud formations, don’t forget to point that lens up at the sky. The wide angle can pull in a huge portion of the sky and make for a great scene.

Wide Open, by Brian Auer
Photo by Brian Auer
[CC by-nc-nd]

The Barn and the Sky, by Brian Auer
Photo by Brian Auer
[CC by-nc-nd]

5. PLAY WITH GEOMETRY

Capturing shapes and geometry with wide angles forces you to look at the world a bit differently. Look for large structures containing strong lines or curves, and move around until you find those shapes.

Bridge Over Still Water, by Andreas Manessinger
Photo by Andreas Manessinger
[©]

Hypnosis, by Thomas Hawk
Photo by Thomas Hawk
[CC by-nc]

6. TAKE A PORTRAIT

Wide angle lenses can be used to take portraits, if you’re mindful of the distortions caused by the lens. If you shoot around 30mm (or 20mm for 1.5x crop sensors) and keep your subject near center, the distortion will usually be minimal. On the other hand, you can use very wide angles and get up close to produce a distorted portrait on purpose.

On The Other Side of the Fence, by Brian Auer
Photo by Brian Auer
[CC by-nc-nd]

A cow, by Dave Wild
Photo by Dave Wild
[CC by-nc]

7. TRY A DIFFERENT ANGLE

Wide angle lenses allow you to capture a large scene at very close distances. This means that you can shoot from all sorts of different angles that wouldn’t be possible with normal or telephoto lenses.

Jump out of here! by Stefano Corso
Photo by Stefano Corso
[CC by-nc-nd]

Staircase snail, by Éole Wind
Photo by Éole Wind
[CC by-nc-sa]

8. WATCH THAT DISTORTION

Wide angle lenses are prone to various distortions at extreme focal lengths. You might encounter things like barrel or pincushion distortion, especially at the edges and corners of your frame. If you want to avoid them, keep things like people or buildings away from these areas. But don’t always try to avoid them — use them to your advantage if the subjects are suited for it.

Warp, by Cristian Paul
Photo by Cristian Paul
[CC by-nc-nd]

100: I Need More Sleep, by Josh Hunter
Photo by Josh Hunter
[CC by-nc-nd]

As always, feel free to leave your own tips and/or photos in the comments below. For those of you that shoot wide, what advice do you have for others?

Pace Yourself

Sully stands tall
Creative Commons License photo credit: tedreese

Here’s a quick piece of advice taken from an old fable: “Slow and steady wins the race

This moral, or saying, can be applied to many facets of photography (and everyday life). With advances in technology, things can get moving pretty quickly. New cameras and gear, faster rapid-fire, streamlined software, extended networks via the web, etc. It’s great to be able to get so much done in such a short amount of time, but this quickened pace can lead to burn-out with your photography.

Take some time to evaluate your photographic pace and identify any areas that need to be trimmed back a bit. Also look at the activities that you don’t seem to have time for, and figure out a way to adjust your schedule to make time.

  • PHOTO SHOOTS
    Whether it’s for business or pleasure, keep a mindful eye on your schedule and don’t bury yourself with shooting while leaving no time for post processing and photo sharing. Of if you’re not so busy, don’t let your outings be few and far between — get out and shoot, even if you’re all alone.
  • OUT SHOOTING
    When you’re out with your camera, don’t take so many photos that 95% of them are trash or repeats (and be mindful of your memory card or film limitations). On the flip side, don’t be so conservative that you miss a great shot.
  • BUYING NEW GEAR
    Once you start buying new toys it’s hard to stop. Just be aware of your own budget and needs, and don’t go overboard. Likewise, get yourself something every once in a while so you don’t fall into a huge rut.
  • POST PROCESSING
    Post production can be tedious or fun — just depends on how you look at it. Try to spread out your post processing so you don’t burn out. Once it becomes a chore, you’ll start taking shortcuts, putting in minimal effort, and forgetting things.
  • POSTING ONLINE
    If you post photos to photo-sharing sites or a personal blog, find a good pace for posting. If you put up an entire shoot all at once, you’ll overload your onlookers and leave them hanging for the next few weeks. Try to post photos at a rate that matches your rate of shooting and post processing.
  • LEARNING
    There are so many great resources out there for learning photography, especially the web. But don’t overload your brain with so much new information that none of it sticks. Take your time and soak it up, most of the stuff out there will be around for a while… make use of bookmarking.

How else can this advice be applied to photography?

Less Gear Equals More Enjoyment

I was recently speaking with Sam Abell, a very experienced photographer, and we landed on the subject of photographer mentality while out shooting. Sam mentioned that he takes a minimalistic approach to his gear, and that he’d take photos without a camera if he could. Since that’s not feasible, he usually heads out with just two camera bodies equipped with two different prime lenses.

Sam went on to say that, for him, less gear allows him to be more “in the moment”. And this is coming from a photographer with years of experience shooting for National Geographic.

Stop and think about that for a second. How often do you go out shooting fully geared and you end up fussing around with all your lenses and accessories. Not to mention hauling around a bag full of stuff that gets in your way or weighs you down. At the end of your session, did you really need everything you brought? Or did you take it just because you might have needed it?

Sam’s thoughts on the subject made me realize that I had already discovered the same for myself, I just hadn’t been cognizant of it. Some months ago, I started ditching my camera bag and running out with just one or two (or sometimes three) cameras around my neck. OK, three gets to be cumbersome, but I can’t help myself sometimes. In doing so, I’ve found that photographing is more enjoyable and I’m not missing shots while messing with a camera bag or swapping lenses. I’m more “in the moment” when I have less gear on me.

So here’s a tip: Every once in a while, just head out with one camera and nothing else (alright, a pocket camera bag is allowed). If you really want to go minimalist, slap on a prime lens and leave the zooms at home. Oh, and while you’re out shooting, don’t ruin the moment by being regretful for leaving your equipment behind… just be in the moment and enjoy it.

Oh, and you’ll find out more about the conversation with Sam Abell on October 21st.

Link Roundup 05-31-2008

Some really cool stuff going on out there this week!

  • Perennial Images
    Tim O’Rielly
    I was in Little Italy today dropping off some film at my camera shop and I encountered another photographer shooting in my general vicinity. I struck up a conversation with him and he turned out to be a pretty interesting guy. He’s mainly a travel photographer and he likes to focus on people in their environments. Check out the photos in his website — this guy’s been all over the place!
  • Going Pro – The Cost of Doing Business
    dilvie.com
    A quick rundown of some common expenses that a pro photographer will have to face from day to day.
  • Unsharp Mask: How Do You Actually Use That Thing?
    Photojojo
    Some tips and techniques for using the Unsharp Mask in Photoshop, including an explanation of what the slider controls actually do to your pixels.
  • The Best Photo Tip I Ever Received… What Was Yours?
    digital Photography School
    Jim Goldstein offers up the best photo tip he ever received, then he asks the readers what theirs was. Reading through the comments results in quite a few great tips!
  • digital workflow: image processing
    pro photo life
    Jim Talkington goes over his digital workflow and he talks about processing the RAW files.
  • My Photo and Computer Back-up Strategy
    Photoshop Insider
    Scott Kelby lays out his back-up techniques and some of the hardware he uses to do so.
  • How to Make a Light Box and Macro Studio for Under $20
    Beyond Megapixels
    Need a cheap DIY light box for shooting objects and macro work? Check out this one that you can make for under $20.
  • Get a Little Action In With Droplets
    PhotoWalkPro
    Ever hear of Photoshop Droplets? Here’s a handy little article that describes what they are and what they can be used for.
  • Great Photo Books You Can Buy New
    The Online Photographer
    Photo books are great things. If you’re looking to pick one up in the near future, check out this list of reissues from some amazing artists.
  • Street Photography
    Sharing My Light
    A good set of basic street photography tips.
  • Internet Acronyms for Photographers
    All Day I Dream About Photography
    Wow, a huge list of crazy photography acronyms. If you’re ever confused by the lingo, check out this list.
  • It’s Easy Being Green
    Photodoto
    Here are seven ways to be a “Green Photographer”.

What Should Our Next Project Be?

I’ve been feeling the urge to run another project here at Epic Edits. We’ve had decent success with past projects such as 66 Faces of Photography and 28 Ways To Interpret A Photo. I want to do another one that’s just as exciting and inspiring. Here are three ideas I had for the next project:

[UPDATE] I’ve added links to the project results because we actually completed them all!

  1. THE $50 FILM CAMERA
    SEE RESULTS HERE
    I’ve been buying old film cameras on eBay lately, and it got me thinking about photography projects. The project would require that you purchase a film camera of your choice from a vendor of your choice for under $50. You’d run a roll or two through it, write up a short review on the camera, and post one entire roll of photos. I figured this would be good motivation for non-film shooters to give it a try, and old film shooters to get back into if for a few shots. The downside to this project is that it would require you to buy a camera and some film. The upside is that you’d have a new camera and possibly a new hobby. The point of buying a camera (even if you already have a film camera) is to show what kind of neat old equipment you can pick up for relatively little money.
  2. EDIT YOUR PHOTO
    CURRENTLY RUNNING
    Similar to the Edit My Photo project, we’d all be asked to process the same raw photo. But this time around, we could break it up into two parts: picking the photo, and processing the photo. In part one, everybody would have a chance to enter an unprocessed photo and you would all vote on which one would be used for the second part of the project. In part two, we’d do the same as last time and distribute the raw file to participants for processing.
  3. THE PHOTOSHOP ACTION COLLECTION
    SEE RESULTS HERE
    Not too long ago I talked about How To Create Photoshop Actions. I think it would be pretty cool if we gathered up all the actions from you guys and put them in a big action set for redistribution. You could use your blog or a Flickr page to describe the steps in the action and show what it does. Then, I could compile the actions in one big set and include a pointer to the web addresses for the tutorial portion that goes along with each action. Might be kind of a nifty way to share some cool actions. We could also do the same with Lightroom/ACR presets — or we could do both.

Ok, so those are three of the better ideas I have rolling around in my head right now. Maybe you love them all or maybe they all suck — I don’t know. Give me an indication as to what you’d be more prone to participate in. Oh, and comments count more than votes on the poll (most of the people who vote on the poll might not actually participate) — so if you feel really strong about a particular project or two, leave a comment and let me know.

{democracy:47}

And don’t forget to check out the results from the last poll: What’s Your Gender? I watched the numbers throughout the entire poll and the shares stayed the same: 33% female, 67% male. That’s 1/3 of you who are female! A bit higher than I expected, but not completely surprising. What IS surprising, however, is that only one out of 14 Fine Art Photoblog portfolio entries came from a female photographer. That is NOT 33% ladies… where the heck are those portfolios?

The Scariest Part of Digital Photography

Digital photography has been a revolution. The clumsy stage of major innovations, breakthroughs, and failures seems to be a thing of the past. Cameras are reliable, fast, friendly, and affordable. Digital storage is cheap and expandable. Software is usable and powerful. Everything is just perfect, right?

Wrong. Nothing is free in this world. With each step forward, we pay a price. Sure, digital cameras are great… but what about the headaches they cause? The more photos we capture and store, the harder it is to keep track of them and keep them safe. Many new photographers don’t realize this, but a year or two down the road they’re going to find themselves in a sticky situation due to poor data management techniques.

I can hardly imagine that many people have a foolproof plan laid out for photo management the instant they buy their first camera. The need doesn’t become apparent (or necessary) until you reach a certain critical mass of files. And the brutal realization for this need usually crops up shortly after you decide that you want to make money from your photos. But that’s the catch, you never can tell if that’s where you’re heading until it’s too late.

Experienced photographers will tell you that photo management is very important… yes, we’ve all heard it. Again, this advice doesn’t become obvious until it’s too late. It’s easy to find reasons for skimping on the data management, but it’s hard to find time to fix our mistakes. I often wish I could send my past self a piece of advice:

When it comes to data management, do it right the first time… and do it religiously. Do your research and take the advice from the experts — they know what they’re talking about. Spend a few extra minutes managing your photos NOW, and save yourself hours LATER.

While I’m in no place to call myself an expert at this point in my photography career, I feel that I can offer some bits of expert advice on certain topics within data management. Neil’s series on Image Organization really helped to drive home a lot of things that I knew I should be doing. From that point forward, I’ve been developing and refining my good habits and practices.

I’d like to expand on Neil’s articles, but with a heavy emphasis on my most important tool for file management. I now use Adobe Bridge to manage my photos and I can’t believe I haven’t been doing this for the last several years. In the course of the next few weeks, I’ll cover topics directly related to using and utilizing Adobe Bridge — sort of a user guide, tips, tricks, and reference.

By the looks of our current poll on Photo Editing Software, nearly 40% of us use Photoshop/ACR. For those folks, Bridge is at your fingertips. We also have over 25% Lightroom users — and (from what I’ve seen) it looks like Lightroom shares many common features with Bridge and Camera Raw.

So I’ll lead some discussions on targeted topics and functionalities within the software, and I’ll rely on you more experienced folks to fill in the cracks and expand upon what I present. For those of you with access to this software, listen closely as the discussions go on and don’t take the advice lightly. And for the folks who don’t use or plan on using these pieces of software, listen up anyways — you may need it someday.

I’m looking forward to it, but is anybody else interested?