Choosing the Right Photo Paper

Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t really feel like an image is done until it’s on paper. I find reflected color to be much prettier than the garish color that comes out of a computer monitor, and there’s just something about having a physical object that is very enjoyable. However, choose the wrong paper, and you can easily end up with a very disappointing final product. These days, paper choice is a good news, bad news situation. The bad news is that there are lots of papers out there to choose from, so it’s easy to become overwhelmed. The good news is that there are lots of papers out there to choose from, so you should be able to find something that precisely meets your needs.

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Why You Need a Pressure-Sensitive Tablet

Over the years, I’ve found that photographers tend to fall into two categories: those that edit heavily, and those that rarely edit at all. Of course, this is a generalization, and most users do some kind of editing. But in general, it seems like photographers either edit heavily, or they simply try to work with what comes out of the camera. If you’re the type who edits heavily, then you should seriously consider getting a pressure-sensitive tablet. For re-touching, cutting masks, or performing any painting-based edits, a tablet can make your editing process much easier, and even enable some edits that are impossible, or extremely difficult, with a mouse. If you’re not clear why you might want a tablet, here’s a detailed discussion of the advantages, and a look (with video) at the new Wacom Intuos 4 Wireless tablet..

Some new photo gadgets

As many of you probably know, it isn’t easy being a nerdy gearhead. Oh sure, exploring and mastering a new gizmo isn’t too hard, but keeping your gizmo fix satisfied is not only expensive, but time consuming. Fortunately, with the recent spate of photo-related trade shows, there are a number of cool new photo gadgets to consider. Here’s a quick look at seven photo-related hardware accessories that you might want to consider.

Choosing a tripod

You may think you’re a camera geek, but if the thought of a new tripod or head doesn’t get your palms sweaty, then you still have a ways to go to plumb the true depths of your photo-related nerd potential. Personally, I have two tripods, a couple of heads, and a fairly large assortment of smaller stabilization gizmos, and yet it’s always hard to walk past the tripod section at the camera store without stopping to feel the weight of this tripod, admire the new composite material of another tripod, or test the latest locking levers on still another tripod. If you don’t have a tripod fetish, then choosing a tripod might be something of a mystery, as it may seem like little more than three sticks joined at the top. But oh, a tripod can be so much more. Read more »

Quantity Leads to Quality

One of the most common mistakes I see in photo classes is that students don’t shoot enough. I don’t mean that they don’t spend enough hours out taking pictures, I mean that when they see a potential subject they don’t shoot enough frames of it. Many people have the mistaken idea that a good photographer walks into a situation, sees their subject, determines how best to shoot it, takes the final shot, and then goes home to wait for that image to appear on the cover of a magazine. Alas, this isn’t true. To get good results, you have to shoot a lot of frames of your subject. This process of working your subject can be a difficult one for some people to learn, but here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

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Build Your Own Network Attached Server (Drobo)

I’ve been writing about digital photography for a long time, and I’m not sure how many times I’ve written something to the effect of: “one of the great things about digital photography is that you can shoot and shoot without having to pay for film and processing.” And while this is true, it completely ignores the fact that you still have to pay for disk storage. As your image archive grows, choosing a storage strategy can become fairly complicated. I recently found what I think is an ideal solution, in the form of a do-it-yourself Network Attached Server called an unRaid. My unRaid has many of the best features of other systems such as RAIDs or Drobos, but for far less money.

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Shooting People with Paul Mobley

Last October, I had the good fortune of assisting photographer Paul Mobley at a 4-day workshop in Oklahoma. Paul’s got a new website up, that is well worth checking out. He’ll also be teaching a workshop in Santa Fe in March. If you have any interest in portraits, shooting strangers, or any other types of people shooting, this is a great opportunity. You can check out more of Paul’s work here.

The Mac Netbook Revisited

With Apple’s announcement of the iPad, there’s a lot of talk lately about the “death of the netbook.” But for the photographer, a netbook is still a much better alternative to any other portable option. Smaller, lighter, and cheaper than a typical laptop, a netbook provides plenty of storage for offloading images, but can run the same software that you use on your everyday computer. In addition to replacing your digital wallet-type device, having a real keyboard and connectivity options make netbooks capable terminals for the traveling photographer. If you’re a Mac user, though, you won’t find any netbook options from Apple. However, it’s now easier than ever to hack certain netbooks to run the latest version of Snow Leopard.

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Luma Loop – A Radical Camera Strap Re-Design

You wouldn’t think that there’s much you could do to change the design of a camera strap. Oh sure, you can build it out of better materials, and make the strap easier to attach or detach, and maybe make one strap that’s more fashionable than another. But actually creating a truly different strap, one that functions in a different, better way? That’s a tougher call, because a camera strap seems to be a fairly basic piece of gear. But, Luma Labs has proven that even something as seemingly simple as a camera strap can be given a radical new spin, and dramatically improved. For your consideration: the Luma Loop.

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Make Your iPhone Into a Better Camera

I like having a camera on my phone, and the iPhone camera is surprisingly good. (In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that the iPhone is a much better camera than it is a phone.) However, when you’re used to a “real” camera, with a certain level of control, switching to the iPhone camera can be frustrating. Similarly, if your photo process routinely involves a trip to an image editor, then you might find yourself frustrated with the iPhone’s lack of editing capabilities. Here are ten iPhone applications that will give you more shooting control, and the type of editing power that you’re used to having on your desktop. From color and contrast control, to panoramic stitching, and retouching, these apps turn your iPhone camera into a very useful photographic tool.