July 2008 Archives
I will start this series about flash modifiers with the cheapest modifier I can imagine. They do come simpler as we will see later, but at two for 0.99 US$ it's gonna be hard to find a less expensive store-bought modifier. At Saxon Computers you get two mini snoots for less than one buck. You will have to pay for postage of course, but even so... they're really inexpensive.
Apart from being cheap the mini-snoot also separates itself from many of the other modifiers I will discuss by fitting on a built-in pop-up flash. OK, fitting may be exaggerating a bit. Let's make that: meant to be used on. The fitting mainly consists of a bit of gaffer tape. Continue reading A mini-snoot.
I have always loved using off-camera flashes and want to extend my arsenal of different flash modifiers. In this first round I will concentrate on the type you can mount directly on the flash. I may return to umbrellas, softboxes, diffuser screens other larger modifiers later.
I have started assembling a flash modifier kit. You may remember my home made snoot from my coin podcast. Snoots are one kind of modifiers, but there are many more: filters, grids, flags, and gobos to mention some. Diffusers can also be counted, but are on the border if you look at modifiers in a more traditional manner. I will not make this a flash photography 101, but just briefly touch on each type, and then return to each in later posts. Continue reading Flash modifiers.
I browse a lot of images on the web, and very often bump into photographers or individual images that fascinate me. But rarely do I find pictures that leave an impression like Peter Menzel's series "What the world eats". This is a very simple concept, which has been brilliantly executed by Menzel and has resulted in a large series of images, that not only illustrate the point extremely well, but also in all aspects are very well done. Great photography, human warmth, clear and bright signals and no judgment on the wealthy or false compassion for the poor.
Continue reading What the world eats.
Trying to make money from your photography is a very long shot. The market is so saturated with quality pictures with extremely high availability and extremely low prices that getting a foothold is close to impossible.
It's almost a natural law of economy: when a commodity becomes very widely available the price will fall. As demand rises the availability of things will increase because the manufacturers and sellers are interested in serving the market and raise the production. As a result the number of goods available to that market will increase and in order to get a cut, some sellers will lower their prices. Customers generally prefer buy at low prices and if you want to sell, you have to follow the price reductions.
When such a commodity at the same time is becoming more and more easy to produce and is produced by an exploding number of people, you have a price-reduction spiral that goes almost all the way down to free. Continue reading Why your images are worthless.
Geotagging is a huge thing right now. The world is flooding with navigators and GPS-gadgets that can plot anything on a map down to a few feet of accuracy. A good friend of mine - and fellow Nikonian by the way - has a wristwatch that tracks his whereabouts. Every time he enters his home after having jogged or ridden his high tech bike, it downloads his route over a wireless connection and is able to plot it immediately on a map.
Tagging images has been an option in Nikon cameras for a while, and The Nikonians PhotoProShop is now able to deliver a GPS that talks to Nikon cameras. My kind mail-lady delivered such a gizmo this morning (and fed the dog biscuits as she always does), and it's currently charging in a USB-port on my laptop - the GPS, that is, not the dog... Continue reading Now I know where I was.
There's a lot of debate right now about the right to take pictures in public - especially in the UK - where it seems that authorities as well as the public has grown an irrational angst for people taking pictures.
Pedophilia, terror (and paparazzi for the few and famous) seems to be the main driving forces behind a row of incidents where photographers have been harassed in the streets, on playgrounds or in other public places for taking completely innocent pictures or videos.
Add to the the increasing protection of private property, registered brands and copyrighted material, and soon you won't be able to point your camera anywhere without a permission. Continue reading Ban photography!.
Sitting at the computer looking out the window earlier this evening I noticed one of the great advantages of the unstable summer weather we have right now: beautiful sunsets. The drifting clouds and broken cloud coverage mixed with the long, light evening and slow Scandinavian sunsets means long lasting and usually very nice sunsets.
As this evening. I quickly packed a tripod, the camera and the dog and drove a bit into the countryside to find a suitable location. While driving I could witness the sky going more and more colorful and bright, but once I reached a suitable place and set up, the best part was over.
On the other hand I had some nice colorful flowers in the foreground, a cloudy sky and the sun still playing.
I shot a bunch of bracketed series for HDR-work, strolled with the dog and returned home. These are the best frames from that small trip. All shot with the D200 and the Sigma 10-20mm at f18 and shutter speeds between 1 and 10 seconds or so.
And yes, I will return to HDR in one or several future "On Location" podcasts.
Nik Software is the company behind the U-point technology used in Nikon Capture NX, which is also available in the comapny's own Viveza software - a plugin for Adobe Photoshop and Apple Aperture.
Nik has its own products, mainly in the form of plugins for photo editing programs such as Photoshop, Capture NX and Aperture.
Nik has just released Silver Efex Pro, which is an advanced B/W conversion program, that can take your color or existing B/W photos and transform them into exceptionally beautiful B/W photos.
I have downloaded the 2 week trial and taken it for a ride, and while it's fun to make Cyanotypes and Holga versions of your pictures, the program really excels in recreating the tonality, grain and colorcast of certain film and paper types. You can create your own profiles by adjusting structure, paper color, silver grain color and many other aspects, and of course select and adjust film characters from a list of the most common current and old B/W films. This adjustment includes such exotic features as fine tuning the color sensitivity of each of six colors and setting the tone curve of the "virtual film".
It's an amazing piece of software and for an old film buff like myself, going down the Tri-X or HP5 lane again does bring out a lot of memories. And if I want to add a yellow filter and press it a stop or two in development? Well, Silver Efex Pro lets me do it - as close as I can get in this digital world.
And now I'm on Technorati too
No, it's not like I shoot film. I did go 100% digital the moment I acquired my first DSLR. But my photographic upbringing was in film, and that still marks my way of thinking and shooting.
I come from a film background. My photo career has consisted of 30 years of shooting film and 5 years of shooting digital. So my deep dwelling shooting habits are film-habits.
Of course the arrival of the digital age has changed the way I shoot quite a lot. Today I don't bother nearly as much about the number of frames I shoot. I know that each frame will not cost money, eat into my film stock or leave me with significantly less images in the camera. Back in the old days, I would constantly glint at the frame counter, and like a western gunslinger, I would count my shots and always know how many bullets I had left in the drum.
Think about it. You started out with 36 frames, and could be down to 10 within minutes. In situations where things were happening fast, you had to think about every single frame you exposed. And sometimes you had to skip a good moment in order to save images for an even better one that could come... or not. Continue reading I'm a film shooter.
With a title like that and an author called Joe McNally, I think we have a winner. This is allegedly the title of the upcoming McNally book, which will be on small flash usage, and is bound to become a bestseller amongst us small strobe lovers. It's due in December this year according to Amazon, who is already taking preorders.
McNally's publisher - New Riders/Peachpit doesn't even have it on their list yet, so Amazon is certainly quick here.
So the title and the cover is all there is for now. "The Hot Shoe Diaries - Creative Applications of Small Flashes". Coming from McNally that sounds right to me. I loved his previous book, "The Moment it Clicks", and if he continues the style from that volume, the new book is bound to be stuffed with great tips and inspiration.
I have been following the company idée for a while and had fun with their fascinating TinEye search system. The system requires an invite to use it, but it seems to be pretty easy to get one. I registered and have been using the image search a few times since.
You need to try it to really understand it, but the essence is that you can search the web for images similar to one you choose or upload. There's an extension to FireFox, which allows you to just right-click an image and launch a search on TinEye. The thing is that TinEye uses an image-comparison algorithm to match pictures. Not filenames, tags or anything bland like that. This means that TinEye will find scaled images, cropped images and images altered in other ways - even retouched. It even has a way of comparing them right in the search results. Amazing. Continue reading Idee - full of ideas.
You may have heard the term, chimping. Chimping is what 9 out of 10 (if not 99 out of 100) photographers do when shooting digital. They check their images on the back of the camera to see what they just shot.
Many of us chimp immediately after each shot or after each series of shots. Others chimp in breaks in their shooting.
It seems that many hard core photographers disable the image review on the LCD completely. It can give faster shooting speeds, remove the distraction of the image popping up, and real pros need not look at each image. They're of course confident that what they just shot is perfect.
They may replay a single frame or two when they start shooting to make certain that they are not completely off track with exposure, and maybe look at their captures on the LCD when they're done. Some even seem sure enough of their merits that they just empty the card onto the computer and do the review in post processing once back home.
Well, I'm not confident enough to be that cool. I chimp! Vigorously! And I love it. And judging from the chimping I see around me when looking at other photographers, so do they. Continue reading Chimping... or not?.
Another small series shot in my home. I have always loved my espresso machines, and have had several of these Italian machines over the years. They brew a mean cup of coffee, and their chromed surfaces offer a lot of photo opportunities.
This is another series shot with the D40 and the worn out 50mm f1.8. It's a killer combination in spite of the manual focusing - compact and light and with excellent low light capabilities.
I'm grounded these days. Not much moving about. I was unfortunate enough to fall over a network cable running across my living room door, and that cost me at least one strained toe and a swollen knee. Doctors orders: pain killers and rest.
Well, I'm resting. Not able to get around means fewer photo opportunities... or does it? I honestly don't think so. I can't stop taking pictures just because I'm confined within the four walls of my home with the occasional pop into the garden.
I armed my D40 with an old 50mm f1.8, and had some fun. Yes, that means focusing manually, which is actually great fun and reminds me of the old days. The focus ring is just ridiculously small on the 50mm, and I actually think I'll construct an attachment I can slide over it to get some more grip.
Apart from that it works like a charm, and the softness and bokeh you get at full open is amazing. I love B/W and routinely thought in B/W when I shot and converted the images in post. The result may not be great art, but a fun drill when you can't get around as you want to.
So you want to shoot like McNally? Well, here's step one: gear up. Renowned Nikon shooter Joe McNally's assistant Brad Moore has compiled a list of the gear the the McNally crew uses.
I did a head count of my gear recently to have a list for the insurance in case something happened and was actually pretty satisfied with what I saw. But my list is about one tenth of this one in length and probably about one third in quality. OK they do list each gel color separately. If I did that I could add a few items to my list. But it's still not quite the same. I know when Brad writes D3 it should say D3's (three at least) and when he writes D700 and SB-900 it also most likely to be more than one of each. Products which aren't even in the shops yet.
What can I say? Galloping NAS once again. More like a NAS stampede...
Using several speedlights means using many batteries - at least four times the number of strobes and most likely eight times as many batteries as you have speedlights if you have a couple of sets for each flash.
Personally I only use rechargeable batteries - nowadays of the NiMH-type, Nickel-Metal-Hydride - which mark the current optimum between capacity, price and other traits you want from batteries.
They have a high capacity, no memory (like the old NiCd cells had) and keep their charge fairly well, and can be "topped off " - boost charged right before use - with no loss of capacity in the long run. They are also more environmentally friendly than previous types due to a large number of recharge cycles and the lack of the poisonous cadmium and other nasty substances.
The available capacity per cell is increasing year by year, and while 1,800 and 2,000 mAh (milliampere hours) was the norm just a couple of years ago, today's AA-cells have capacities of 2,300, 2,600 and even 3,000 mAh.
Continue reading Rechargeable Battery Blues.
Right now the annual Copenhagen Jazz Festival is at its peak. There is music all over Copenhagen - and really good music too. No matter your taste in jazz you can find something, and should your favorite music not be in the jazz realm you would probably be able to find something to listen to anyway. And if you don't want to listen, you can just suck in the atmosphere, which is really nice and warm.
I wanted to shoot some concert shots, but haven't really had the time to pursue this. I also wanted to do some street shots during some of the afternoon outdorrs concerts, but haven't attended any, so all'n'all my Jazz Festival production is very limited.
Continue reading Shooting bottles.
OK, I know that the merits of Henri Cartier-Bresson have been mentioned more than often and that he has already been touted as a true master many, many times. But I cannot help reminding you of his brilliance, and encourage you to look at his vast portfolio for inspiration. If you haven't made the acquaintance already, you're in for a treat.
Cartier-Bresson has coined the term "the decisive moment", a photographic technique where you observe your scene and subjects and the way they move and interact and then press the shutter release in that exact split second where all elements meet in a higher synergy. Cartier-Bresson has demonstrated again and again that he mastered this method to perfection, showing it in many of his legacy photos.Many call him the father of modern photojournalism. I find his style of photography more like what many refer to as street photography nowadays. The fact that he used a very compact Leica and fast B/W film for almost all his images made it possible for him to shoot quickly and be on the move all the time. He traveled quite extensively during his life. Continue reading Cartier-Bresson.
Now this is no "great, another convert!" sermon, but rather a comment on some of the reflections Scott made before the change - and quite a lot of envy over Scott's shopping list....
He is obviously a serious shooter. His Canon gear has consisted of high-end Canon bodies with a recent acquisition of the flagship EOS1DS Mk. III (Yup, Canon likes long names).
His lenses have been what Canonians refer to as "L-glass". In the Nikon world that would be similar to the lenses with gold rings - even though that will not quite cover it. The 85mm f1.8 has no gold ring... but I digress.Continue reading From Canon to Nikon.
Everybody seems to be going haywire over the new D700 - which is of course an interesting new item from Nikon - but being a flashaholic, I have been waiting for someone to cover the new SB-900 flash in a decent way.
And who better to trust with that job that than Joe McNally?
McNally (of National Geographic and "The Moment it Clicks" fame) has had the chance to play with a couple of these puppies for a couple of weeks, and has a thorough writeup of his findings on his blog.
Now I have personally always thought that the people who designed the user interface on the SB-800 should be punished in ways not fit to mention in a good-mannered blog like this, and have never come to terms with the awkward and clumsy interface on this 300-dollar-baby.Continue reading New flash on the block.