Now Available: Foundations of Photography, HDR

As amazing as current digital camera technology is, it can’t compare with those two squishy orbs in the front of your head. In addition to great autofocus, exceptional white balance, and amazing low light capabilities, your eyes also have tremendous dynamic range (that is, an ability to perceive an extremely wide range of dark to light). In fact, your eyes probably have almost twice the dynamic range as the digital camera you’re currently using.

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All Photos Are Manipulated

Unlike film photographers, most of whom would never have considered carrying a darkroom with them, (though there are some that do) as digital shooters we expect to have a little post-production capability in the field, if for no other reason than to offload media. While I normally travel with a Macbook Air, or a netbook Hackintosh, for this trip, I decided to try to make due with only an iPad, for a few different reasons.

The whole story of what I did, and how it worked is detailed right here.

The iPad, the HyperDrive, and the Traveling Photographer

Unlike film photographers, most of whom would never have considered carrying a darkroom with them, (though there are some that do) as digital shooters we expect to have a little post-production capability in the field, if for no other reason than to offload media. While I normally travel with a Macbook Air, or a netbook Hackintosh, for this trip, I decided to try to make due with only an iPad, for a few different reasons.The whole story of what I did, and how it worked is detailed right here.

Like a lot of photographers, I like gear. Lots of gear. Sometimes I think that I like gear because buying new gear is easier than trying to take a good picture. But still, I buy more. But when it comes time to actually travel somewhere, all that gear presents a bit of a quandary. The sad fact is: while I like gear, I don’t like carrying it. When traveling, I used to carry a rather full kit – lots of lenses, flashes, anything I might possibly need. But these days, even for extended travel, I tend to go pretty stripped down. Usually just two lenses, no flash, possibly a lightweight tripod. On a recent 3-week trip to Turkey, I decided to go even more bare, and travelled with only a small backpack as my only luggage – both for clothes, and camera gear. Needless to say, this presented a bit of an issue in terms of gear choice.

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Re-considering Good Light

No matter how good, or how experienced a photographer might be, there will be times when they hit a slump. If you’ve been shooting for any length of time, you’ve probably experienced this – that feeling that there’s simply nothing that catches your eye; that there’s nothing worth taking a picture of. Or maybe you feel like you’ve already shot every potential picture that you see, or that it’s a cliché. If this happens to you, one of the best ways to get out of it is to go back to basics, and there’s nothing more basic than light. In this article I take a detailed look at what makes some light good, and some light bad, and then offer some light-based exercises that will help get you back to seeing compelling scenes.

Foundations of Photography: Black and White

In an effort to make the world less colorful, I recently produced a course on black and white photography for Lynda.com. That course is now live and, thanks to the incredibly talented Lynda.com crew, it looks great! They did a fantastic job of crafting evocative noirish sets using only light and shadow, all of which serve to reinforce the fundamental vocabulary of black and white shooting. Covering shooting, post-production, aesthetics, and how to “see” black and white images, the course is available for immediate viewing here.

Flare: Push-button image editing effects

Whether you’re an experienced Photoshop user, or a casual image editor, there will be times when you want to quickly and easily get a stylized look on an image. The Icon Factory’s Flare 1.0 is an inexpensive, capable little application that makes it easy to get stylized treatments and borders onto an image through a simple push-button interface. Check out my full review here.

An Easy Way to Try Out Micro Four Thirds

If you’re not already familiar with Micro Four Thirds, you should be. A standard camera spec that offers a nearly perfect compromise between the size of a high-end point-and-shoot, and the image quality and shooting flexibility of an SLR, Micro Four Thirds might be the perfect companion for your SLR, or high-end point-and-shoot. (You can learn all about Micro Four Thirds – what it is and why you should care – here. The best way to find out if Micro Four Thirds is right for you is to try it, and that’s now easier than ever thanks to Borrowlenses.com, which now rents Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses. Check out their offerings, rent a camera, and see if Micro Four Thirds is right for you.

nik Silver EFex Pro 2.0

There are lots of ways to convert color images to black and white. In Photoshop, you can use a grayscale mode change, or convert the image to L*A*B color and then extract the Luminance channel. Or, you can pull a single RGB channel, drain the saturation out of an image or use Photoshop’s excellent Black and White conversion tool. The list goes on and on, but in my opinion, the best way to perform black and white conversion (more accurately called grayscale conversion is with nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2, a plug-in for Photoshop, Aperture, and Lightroom.

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Foundations of Photography: Lenses

Many of the creative options available to a photographer hinge on an in-depth understanding of lenses. Foundations of Photography: Lenses, will give you that in-depth understanding, as you learn how to choose lenses and take full advantage of their creative options. This 2.5 hour course covers fundamental concepts that apply to any camera, such as focal length and camera position, and shows how to evaluate and shop for DSLR lenses. The second half of the course focuses on shooting techniques: controlling autofocus, working with different focal lengths, and managing distortion and flare. You’ll also learn about filters, cleaning, maintenance, and more. You can find it all right here on the Lynda.com web site.

Choosing the Best Resolution for Inkjet Photo Printing

The last step of any photo workflow is to sharpen and output. If your final goal is an image for the web or email, then output simply means resizing and saving your image. If your final output is to print using an online printing service, then you’ll need to follow their size, resolution, and format specifications very carefully. Similarly, if your final destination is your own desktop printer, you’ll also need to set size and resolution before you print. While choosing size is pretty simple – you just resize the image to the printing dimensions that you want – choosing a correct resolution is a little trickier. In this article, we look at exactly what you need to consider when choosing a resolution for desktop inkjet printing.