Good Light

A lot of photographers think that if they buy some new gear, or learn to unlock the hidden power of some feature on their camera, they’ll move into a world of better shooting. But most of the time, the magic bullet for better images has nothing to do with gear, technique, or technical understanding. In most cases, the key to better shooting is simply to learn what separates good light from bad. On the one hand, this is great news, because light is free, and often plentiful. On the other hand, your study of light and lighting is something that will continue throughout your photo career. Check out this article for some tips on improving your understanding of what makes some light good, and other light not.

Choosing A Starter Camera

If you’re looking to buy a starter digital camera – either for yourself or as a gift – then you might be surprised to find that your options are fairly limited. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Are you crazy?! Every time I go into Best Buy there’re huge piles of little point-and-shoot digital cameras!” While this is true, there are very few of those that I would consider a “starter” camera. “Starter” implies that this first camera will be a start – that you’re looking for a camera that will be a jumping off point, and that you (or your gift-ee) might want to learn from this camera, and one day move on to something more advanced. Here’s what you should buy, and why.

Read more »

Epson, Snow Leopard, Printer Sharing, and You

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been leading a workshop built around a lab of twenty 20″ iMacs. Apple generously loaned the computers, and when I unboxed them, I found that they were all running the latest version of Snow Leopard (10.6.1). I didn’t think much of this as I set up the computers, figuring it was nice to have an OS more stable than Leopard. However, once I tried to get the two Epson R2400’s working, things got far more complicated. It turns out that, despite Epson’s release of a Snow Leopard-compatible R2400 driver, you may have trouble getting the printers to work with your Snow Leopard-based Macs. And if you want to use Printer Sharing, you’ll need to jump through a few additional hoops.
Read more »

Remembering Some Basics

Ask any educator and they’ll tell you that teaching is usually a two-way street. While, as a teacher, you always hope to impart useful knowledge to your students, (and possibly even understanding) you almost always come away learning something yourself. For the last four years I’ve had the great privilege to work at the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, an exceptional arts camp for 14 to 18-year-olds. And every year, our students remind me of some very simple, essential photographic tenets. If you’ve lately been feeling uninspired, or “stuck” with your shooting , perhaps some of these ideas will help you re-find your photographic footing.

Read more »

Shooting Landscapes by Moonlight

One of the great advantages of a digital image sensor is its extreme capability in low light. With a digital image sensor, you can work at light levels far below what is possible with any type of film. This sensitivity opens up a lot of photographic possibilities, such as shooting landscapes by moonlight. However, while your camera can be very sensitive to low light, your eyes might have trouble getting by when shooting in the dark. As such, you’ll need to employ some specific procedures when working in low light.

Read more »

Build Yourself a Faster Mac

I have a few Macs that I use for my various jobs, but the main machines that I use are a MacBook Pro, and a Dual 2.7 GHz G5 tower. Since the tower is connected to a large monitor, it’s what I use as my primary image editing workstation. After a few recent jobs, including a computationally-intensive video gig, I started to wonder if it wasn’t time to think about upgrading to a faster machine. A friend mentioned that he was going to build a Hackintosh. As his machine came together, and he sent me some benchmarks, I decided that this was the upgrade path that I would choose. The result? A machine with Mac-Pro like performance that crushes all the other Macs in my house, and cost only about $1000.

Read more »

Batch Converting DNGs to JPEGs

DNGReader Bill Baum writes in asking if it’s possible to batch convert DNG files to JPEGs. Bill says that several years ago, he converted several thousand images to DNG, but now wants them as JPEGs to ease the process of working with them in Nikon Capture NX, which doesn’t natively read DNG files. Fortunately, if you have Photoshop CS2 or CS3, you can easily use Bridge to batch process DNG conversions into JPEGs, Photoshop files, or TIFFs.

Read more »

Wet Camera Pilaf

Uncle BenReader panzeriv88 sends in a very interesting tip that might help in the stormy, wet months of winter. If you end up with a submerged camera, don’t give up all hope. If you’re careful and take quick action, it might be possible to dry the camera without damaging it. Read on for details.
Read more »

Nikon Compressed Raw Format – Lossy or Lossless?

NikonLike most digital SLRs, Nikon’s family of digital SLRs offer the ability to shoot in raw mode. However, Nikon’s raw offerings provide a twist, in the form of compressed raw. The promise of compressed raw files, of course, is that they take up less space and allow you to store more images on your card. Data compression algorithms fall into two categories: lossy techniques, which degrade the quality of your image; and lossless techniques, which reduce file size without affecting image quality. Nikon users often ask whether the compressed raw format is lossless or lossy, so I decided to look into the question.
Read more »

My Favorite New Bridge Feature

Bridge CS3Bridge CS3 offers a lot of important improvements over the Bridge 1.0 that was included in Creative Suite 2. Interface improvements, stacking, comparing, importing, and much much more have all been added, and Bridge remains an excellent cornerstone for a Photoshop Camera Raw driven raw-workflow. I covered most of the the new Bridge features in my Photoshop CS3 First Look book, but Adobe managed to sneak in one or two more before the final release of the software. Here’s one of my favorites.
Read more »