Tag Archives: lens

How to Wet Clean Your Lens

Lens wipe
Creative Commons License photo credit: ant.photos

Just admit it… you haven’t cleaned your lenses in a while, have you? Let alone a good wet cleaning. I know, it’s easy to let it go and forget about it. So go do it now!!!

Here’s a little refresher course on wet cleaning your lens elements (and some product suggestions in case you don’t have the stuff already). Keeping your equipment clean is a important part of basic maintenance and it will make your gear last longer. Lenses are no exception, and it’s easy to forget about deep cleaning the front and rear elements because they usually appear to be quite clean at a glance. But if you haven’t given them a good wipe-down for a while, it’s more than likely that you’ve accumulated some dust and grime.

Here are the basic steps for wet cleaning your lens. If you’ve never done it before, make sure you’re comfortable with the process and you understand the risks involved. As for the products involved… we’re talking less than $40 and the only consumables are the cleaning solution and tissues which should last a year or more.

1. BLOW

Before you even think about touching your lens with any type of cloth, blow off all the big stuff that might scratch your glass. My favorite blower is the Rocket Blaster from Giottos — these things put out a great stream of air and I use mine for lens cleaning, sensor cleaning, film cleaning, and scaring the kids when they least expect it. If you don’t have one already, you can purchase a Giottos Rocket Blaster at Amazon.com for about $10.

2. BRUSH

Even if you blow off the lens, you’ll still have some particles hanging on for dear life. A lens brush will help pull off the rest of the “big stuff” before you hit the glass with a cloth. You can purchase a lens cleaning pen with brush on Amazon.com for about $8.

3. WET

Wet the wipe, not the lens! This is important! Don’t drop any kind of liquid straight onto your lens — it could cause damage to the inside parts. Instead, wet a lens tissue with a few drops of lens cleaner or alcohol (which is what lens cleaners are for the most part). You can purchase Eclipse Cleaning System Solution at Amazon.com for about $10 — this stuff is amazing, plus you can use it to clean your sensor.

4. WIPE

They make these special little wipes called lens tissues that are super soft, ultra clean, lint free, and intended for single use. This is exactly what they’re made for, and they’re cheap — so use them! You can purchase PEC-PAD Lint Free Wipes at Amazon.com for around $8 per 100 pack.

A WORD OF CAUTION: Just be careful when making physical contact with optical quality glass — this stuff is really smooth and it can be scratched with something as small as dust. Just don’t be careless. But at the same time, don’t be afraid to do this simple task on your own. When done correctly, you should have nothing to worry about. Here’s a pretty good instructional video I found that should boost your confidence.

And listen, there’s always more than one way to do the job — so don’t take this stuff as the Gospel. For you seasoned photographers out there, how do you clean your lenses?

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?

What’s On Your Photography Wish-List?

013/2009 Year 2 Want! Seven Deadly Sins: Greed
Creative Commons License photo credit: Tyla’75

Most of us probably have at least a short wish-list of photography-related items. My list usually fills up with things that I don’t have the money for, and over time I stop caring about those particular items. But there are a few things that I’ve been wanting for a while — and I don’t see myself losing interest in them.

  • MINOLTA HI-MATIC 7SII
    I’ve been wanting this camera for quite a while — this thing is freakin’ awesome for an old rangefinder. Some would even argue that this is the best rangefinder ever produced by Minolta. Why do I want it? Street photography. Why am I holding back? Price: they usually go for over $150 (2-3x that for the black version).
  • CANOSCAN 8800F
    This wish-list item is more of a necessity than a craving. I’ve got the Canoscan 8400F (which is more than a few years old), and I’m getting very finicky about my film scans. I’d like to have a bit of extra resolution and possibly better color control during the scan process. Besides… my current scanner could commit suicide any day now.
  • DSLR SPLIT IMAGE FOCUSING SCREEN
    This is an item that’s been in the back of my mind ever since I started shooting film. I like the split image focusing screen with the microprism ring that my film SLR has, and I often find myself wanting the same feature on my dSLR. Why? Low light situations, macro, street, etc. Sometimes autofocus just doesn’t cut it, and manually focusing without a good screen is useless.
  • BESELER DICHRO 67S HEAD
    This one is on my backburner for now, but I’d like to get into color developing and printing by the end of the year. I’ve had a good experience with the b/w printing, but I also have a growing collection of color negs that I’d love to print in full analog glory. Scanning is okay, but nothing beats a true print. This head I have my eye on will bolt right up to my existing enlarger stand, so it’s really just a component swap-out rather than a whole new setup.
  • SONY 35MM F/1.4 LENS
    Yeah… this lens is way out there for me right now, but I certainly wouldn’t mind having it. I often find that my 50mm lens on the dSLR is too tight for many street photography situations. I like the field of view I get with the 50mm lens on a full-frame film camera (I even prefer my slightly wider 38mm sometimes), and the 35mm on a crop sensor would basically be equivalent to the 50mm full-frame. This thing is spendy though!

Those are probably my top 5 items outside of the low-budget realm. I’ll probably be lucky to pick up one or two of these within the next year, but it’s fun to dream!

WHAT’S ON YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY WISH-LIST?

Leave a comment and let us know what you crave. I’m always curious about the things that other photographers want when it comes to equipment. And be sure to check out the results of the last poll: What’s Your Experience With Film Photography? Believe it or not, there are actually a good chunk of photographers shooting film today (around 40%). But another 40% gave it up and never looked back.

Link Roundup 04-11-2009

Wow… it’s been almost a month since I’ve posted a link roundup. Not sure if I’m just getting tired of the content out there, or if things have actually been slow on the web due to the changing seasons. In any case, here are a few articles to chew on this weekend.

And if you’re a Delicious user, you can tag any interesting photography articles you encounter with “for:auer1816″ and I’ll be sure to check them out each week as I search for new content.

Birthday Gift #2 Winners

Our second giveaway has come to an end and we’ve got three winners for the 2-week lens rental via BorrowLenses.com. Here they are:

And if you’re still looking for a freebie, be sure to enter the giveaway for three black & white prints, fresh out of my darkroom.

I had a few other sponsors in the works, but they may or may not pan out. So this may be your last chance at some free stuff… for now.

Birthday Gift #2 – Three Equipment Rentals

The second gift for the birthday party will be camera equipment… but you have to give it back. Yup, three lucky winners will get their choice of equipment rentals from BorrowLenses.com.

BorrowLenses.com

BorrowLenses.com offers up a rental service for photographers in the United States. You can get a wide selection of lenses and camera bodies for the Canon and Nikon systems, along with things like tripods, camera bags, and lighting equipment.

For the birthday party, they’re giving out three two-week rentals. Here are the terms and conditions attached to the offer:

  • You need to be in the US.
  • The order will need to be made online and you will need to provide a credit card number. This won’t be charged but they will need it to ensure you don’t run off with their lens :-) BorrowLenses.com is a reputable business but if you don’t feel comfortable with this condition please don’t enter.
  • The offer excludes super telephoto lenses and pro camera bodies.

… so anything else is game!

TO ENTER THE RAFFLE…

Same as the last one — leave me a comment and let me know you’d like to be entered. REMEMBER — this offer is limited to US participants and it excludes pro bodies and super-telephoto lenses. I would highly encourage you to visit their site and browse their inventory before entering the giveaway. And if you’re not a Canon or Nikon user, you might consider picking up a rental for a tripod, camera bag, or lighting equipment. The winners will be randomly chosen one week from the date of this post.

Link Roundup 12-20-2008

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

Link Roundup 11-29-2008

For those of you in the US, I hope the rest of you had a great holiday! I know I certainly spent too little time working and too much time eating! But hey, I managed to snap a few rolls of photos, so not all is lost.

Link Roundup 11-15-2008

Link Roundup 10-18-2008

Another round of informative and inspirational photography stuff…

  • How To Use Vintage Lenses with Your DSLR
    Photojojo
    Those good old manual lenses are the best! Here’s a rundown on how you can use them with your newer digial SLR.
  • Chidren Shot Dead in West Bank Village
    ZORIAH
    A sad story of the brutal reality that plagues the Middle East… two young boys shot in the head, and the story of the effect it’s had on their families.
  • Review: Cactus Wireless Flash Trigger V2s
    Beyond Megapixels
    Ever want the ability to fire an off camera flash without cables? Check out this review of the Cactus wireless flash trigger.
  • Discover How to Become a Photojournalist
    digital Photography School
    Tips and suggestions for improving your photojournalism skills. This includes things like focusing on people, submitting photos, and using the right equipment.
  • High Speed Photography
    Chase Jarvis
    Chase gives us a rundown on high-speed flash photography. And he uses the material from the Kung Fu project to show us how it’s done.