Saturday, January 1, 2011
Flashes are fun! I have 4 flashes now. Two Nikon SB700s and two Nissin Di866 (these puppies are really powerful!) I will be exploring the use of flash in Macro and Outdoor settings and sharing what I have learned. I am also using them in studio situations. Even more fun.
Old lenses can be great lenses. I was forced - for financial reasons - to sell my Nikon 70-200 AF-S VR lens and "downgrade" to the older 80-200 AF lens. I have discovered that this lens has not hamstrung me at all. I will share this adventure. I also have a 50mm AF f/1.4 lens that I am in love with as well.
Does film have a place in the digital world? The obvious answer is yes, but what does this mean? I have shot some interesting images on film as of late. The cool thing is that I can still edit them digitally. I will share this as well.
Sound interesting? Can I address anything else you would like to talk about? Let me know. I will do just that!
Best to you all!
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Back in the film days, a guy named Bob Harris from Kodak created this contraption called the Harris Shutter. It was a device with three separate color filters that was used with a multiple exposure on a single frame (3 exposures total) that would reveal unusual color effects at any point where movement was present. This was a rather cool effect on moving water like waterfalls, clouds and trees on windy days to mention just a few. Check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harris_shutter .
The problem with this technique was it was difficult and time consuming. You had to have a very good tripod and a steady hand. If not, the whole shot would become a mess. In digital, however, all of this changes.
Here is an example:
In the digital process, all you need are three identical shots from the exact same vantage point. Here is a step by step set of instructions from shooting to final product. Please note I am coming from a PhotoShop paradigm, but it is a simple process that can be adapted to other programs.
1. Find a moving subject like the waterfall above. Set your tripod and use a remote to trigger it. DO NOT touch the tripod and shoot three (or more) exposures. Make sure that you are shooting at the same aperture and speed. I like to shoot 6- 9 so that I can choose those three that seem to give me the best color possibilities. I will often shoot these about 1/3 stop overexposed. Keeping them a tad light helps later on.
2. After uploading the picture files, I create a folder for the Harris composite. I then will copy my three selections into this folder and rename them to: Red.xxx, Green.xxx and BlueMaster.xxx (xxx being the extension of the file. In my case it is NEF for the Nikon Raw Format). You can name any of the three colors as the master, but for purposes of these instructions, I have chosen blue.
3. I do step 2 in Adobe Bridge, so it is still open at this time. I will then open these renamed files in Adobe Camera Raw(ACR). You can also open .jpg, TIFF and PSD files in ACR. In ACR, I will select all three shots so that the processing I do here happens simultaneously on all three shots. I will tweak exposure if needed and make any color adjustments here. ACR is an easier place to do this and it is non-destructive to boot. Regardless of what program you use, you really need to process these files minimally and identically.
4. After I am finished with the ACR, I will open them directly from ACR into PhotoShop. At this point I will save all three as .PSD files. Now the fun begins!
5. Chose the red.psd and open the Channel Mixer. Click on the red channel. This should give you a black and white image that represents the red channel. From the Select Menu, choose ALL (Ctl-A on PC or Cmd-A on Mac) and then Edit menu and Copy (Ctl-C on PC or Cmd-C for Mac).
6. Now go to the BlueMaster.psd file and select the red channel. Choose the Edit menu and select Paste(Ctl-V on PC and Cmd-V on Mac). You will notice that the B&W image will change slightly.
7. Now, chose the green.psd and open the Channel Mixer. Click on the green channel. From the Select Menu, choose ALL (Ctl-A on PC or Cmd-A on Mac) and then Edit menu and Copy (Ctl-C on PC or Cmd-C for Mac).
8. Now go to the BlueMaster.psd file and select the green channel. Choose the Edit menu and select Paste(Ctl-V on PC and Cmd-V on Mac). You will notice that the B&W image will change slightly.
9. At this point simply click on the RGB box in the Channel mixer in the BlueMaster.psd file and you now have a Harris Shutter Effect image. BTW, be sure to close the red and green files.
10. Save As the BlueMaster.psd under a different file name. Now you are ready to rock 'n roll with the image you have created.
Since you have not overwritten anything, you can try rotating through the three images at the various colors.
From here on in, once I have an image I am happy with, I will process the photo with my standard work-flow. With a bit of experimentation, you can get some really interesting images.
My thanks to my friend Roy Harper for showing me how to do this.
Best to all always,
Friday, October 30, 2009
The following are things I use regularly, but in a pinch, I can do without.
Check out these three:
Friday, October 16, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Post Proc Tip#1:Go w/ your gut. Start w/ a basic workflow, but ultimately, what makes a good shot great is how you finish it.
Post Proc Tip#2: Learn how to use curves. I start with a classic S-curve and then work on fine tuning it with the rest of what I am doing.
Post Proc Tip#3: Sharpening should be the last step before printing. It should be adjusted for any size changes, and last but not least don't over-sharpen!
Post Proc Tip#4: All digital photos need sharpening. for global sharpening, High pass filter works well. See Scott Kelby 's Photoshop books for Digital Photography
Post Proc Tip#5: Subscribe to JP Caponigro's site at http://tinyurl.com/2qhcev . Lots of great Post Processing content
Post Proc Tip#6: Use lens correction from your post processing software on WA shots and panoramas if it looks fisheye & you don't want it.
Post Proc Tip#7: When doing B&W from digital, always shoot in color. Post-processing programs create better B&W images from color masters.
Post Proc Tip#8: Always work on a copy! Protect the original file! As your skills improve, you may want to render a different version.
Post Proc Tip#9: Always use RAW if your camera has it - I adjust the White balance first. Whites and Blacks should be clear, then mid tones. OK, last tip was not clear. I adjust the White Balance first and then the White and Black points. I usually don't have to set the mid tones.
Post Process Tip#10:Backup your photos. I make 3 copies of everything. 1-Working drive 2-Duplicate Drive&3-Off-site Duplicate once monthly.
Bonus Tip: When I seek Post Processing info, I am reading Scott Kelby or JP Caponigro . Both are exceptional in their advice & both are on Twitter.
Best to all,
Friday, October 2, 2009
Here is what confuses me, a number of people think that, in the DSLR world, only Nikon and Canon can make superb lenses? If that were true, what can be said about Pentax, Olympus and others? One might think that they are simply unable to create lenses that perform at the same high standard as the "Big Two". Sigma, Tamron and Tokina must be clueless as well.
I know there will be people who will site tests that they claim proves one lens is better than the other. For me however, the proof is what the lens does for a photographer taking photographs in the real world. There are specific qualities that show the folly of the Nikon/Canon think out there. Here are three lenses from the aftermarket companies that lay to rest this issue.
There are other lenses that these manufacturers have that I could use. Tamron's 180mm macro; Sigma's 8mm-16mm and Tokina's 16.5mm-135mm lens all interest me. The point is, that For some lenses, you can get a bigger bang for the buck without a drop in image quality.
Best to you all!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Tokina 12mm - 24mm f/4.0 PRO DX Autofocus Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
Good, Sharp and worth evey penny...
Pros: Consistent Output, Durable, Sharp Focus, Strong Construction
Cons: Average Focus, Heavy
Best Uses: General Use, Night Photography, Landscape Photography, Special Effects, Macro
Describe Yourself: Semi-Professional
This is a good hearty lens that is as good or better as any DX WA lens out there. The only WA lens I have seen that beats it is the Nikon 14-24... of course that lens is the best available these days. The Nikon 12-24 is a fine lens, and some consider it better than the Tokina, but I honestly can't tell the difference.
Further, focus is not a real issue on WA lenses, this is not AF-S or its equivalent; but I can tell you I have never missed a shot because of the AF. The lens just doesn't have to travel far to focus... the nature of Wide Angle lenses.
It is sharp from corner to corner from f/5.6 on and there is only minor corner focus issues wide open. Very very sharp!
It can take filters very well, but don't expect it to take standard height filters if you want to go to the wide end. I have a thin line B+W CPL that I use with it that seems to do a great job.
There is a slight distortion at 12mm, but it is very minor and easily straightened in post processing.
It is really a fun lens with Macro tubes. Mostly at 18-24mm, this is a great and fun lens.
If you have the lower end cameras such as the D40, 60, 3000 and 5000, you will need to get the newer version with an internal motor.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Tamron SP 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD-IF Autofocus Zoom Lens for Nikon AF - U.S.A. Warranty
Simply a Great Lens at a Great Price
Pros: Has Aperture Ring, Sharp Focus, Well designed, Lightweight
Cons: Not as Wide as Others
Best Uses: Night Photography, Landscape Photography, General Use
Describe Yourself: Semi-Professional
This is a great lens for anyone who wants to have an f/2.8 zoom that is very sharp and has good color and Contrast. Images are very good and they do pop! CA is well controlled and it is at its best from F/4 on; though f/2.8 is quite nice.
Is it as good as the Nikon, not quite; however, is the Nikon $1000+ better? Not in my estimation. Its focus is not as slow as many complain. Why Tamron has not adopted the newer motor tech, I can't understand.
To its credit, this lens is significantly lighter than the Nikon lens and will be a real asset to people who do alot of walking with their camera.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
For a person who is buying their first DSLR, a protective filter is probably a good idea. Especially of Children's fingerprints are an issue! :-) But, it should not be a UV filter. The digital sensors on your camera are already protected with a UV blocking filter! If you feel that a protective filter is needed get one of the clear filters that is designed for digital cameras. They are specially coated and are designed to minimize flair and ghosting. And don't get the cheapest. I use B+W filters when I do need one. They are not cheap, but they are not going to affect my pictures as much as that $20 un-coated filter from some no name company.
On the other hand, even a great filter has the potential of affecting the image. After all, it is an additional piece of glass added to a lens that was not originally designed for it. Thus many of the pickier Pros don't even use them. As protection to dropping, a good rigid lens hood will do as good a job - if not better - as a protective filter. However, many of these same pros use Circular Polarizer(CPL) filters a lot and they can doubles as additional protection anyway. So, barring your lens getting licked by your 5 year old, you lens is probably protected just fine by your rigid lens hood.
In the middle of this is the reality that in extreme situations (think a wind storm in a desert), many pros will use a filter. It just makes sense to protect your gear in extreme situations!
So the answer is clear as mud, right? Don't sweat it. When you buy that first camera, get the filter, but make the sales person really happy with you and tell them you want a good clear multi-coated filter designed for DSLRs. Yes it will cost more, but it will be the right piece of equipment! At the same time, get a CPL and you will be thanking me later when the water looks real and hte glare is all but gone... (more on this in another article). And yes, as time goes along, the Protective filter will be used less and less as you learn to care for your equipment properly. So, don't sweat it and let the "experts" argue the nuances of the issue. Do what is necessary for you to enjoy your photography!