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.

Foundations of Photography: Exposure

If you’re new to photography, or have been shooting for a while but still don’t feel comfortable with the fundamental theories of exposure, then you’ll want to check out my new Lynda.com course Foundations of Photography: Exposure. This three-and-a-half hour video training course works you through every fundamental aspect of exposure theory. You’ll learn what the exposure controls on your camera are for, and how to use them. In addition to learning how exposure control can help you solve problems, you’ll learn how to use exposure control to expand your creative palette. Shot on location in Southern California, this all “live-action” course was a lot of fun to make, (especially when the horses and mules got involved) and should get you a deep understanding of some of the fundamental concepts that you have to know to move beyond the auto modes on your camera.

Icelandic Horse Roundup

My friend, photographer Paul Taggart has been on assignment in Iceland, shooting the historic annual round-up of horses. Each year, traditional herdsmen round up thousands of highland horses for the winter. Paul and photographer Lindsay Blatt have spent the last few weeks, living with the herdsmen and following them across the Icelandic landscape. You can see some of the fruits of their labor at the Herd In Iceland site. (You can also follow the project on Facebook and Twitter.)

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.

Learning Exposure the Old-Fashioned Way

The automatic features on today’s digital cameras greatly improve your chances of getting a good exposure in just about any situation. However, because these features provide an ever-present crutch, they can preclude an in-depth learning of basic exposure theory. It used to be that, when you didn’t have a light meter and only had manual exposure, you had to know your exposure theory inside and out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to extoll the virtues of a “simpler timer” but the sink-or-swim reality of a meterless, manual camera forced a photographer to learn a lot of technical concepts. While those concepts aren’t required to get good shots nowadays, understanding them can help out – even with a fully automatic camera – when you find yourself in a situation that confuses your camera, or if you’re finding situations where the auto features of your camera aren’t delivering the type of images you see in your head.

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Panasonic DMC-GF1

Panasonic’s DMC-GF1 marks the company’s first release of a compact Micro Four Thirds camera, and a direct competitor to Olympus’ E-P1. Offering SLR quality and power in a package that’s close to point-and-shoot size, the GF1 (and Olympus’ E-P1) defines an entirely new class of camera. Bridging the market between high-end point-and-shoots, and SLRs, the camera will appeal to beginning shooters who want to expand their capabilities, and high-end shooters who want a second camera that’s easy to carry. Read my Panasonic GF1 Review.

Notes from PMA ‚2008

PMA is not a typical photography trade show. Because it’s geared for photo dealers and studio photographers, there are lots of vendors hawking goods that the typical photographer doesn’t need. Laser etching machines, photo printing kiosks, industrial-grade large format printers, and other exotica, abound at PMA. However, many of the usual suspects attend PMA—Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax, Fuji and all the other major camera vendors—as well as many accessory and software vendors. This year’s PMA included a couple of important announcements, and a stroll through the maze of camera booths revealed some great new technologies.

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New law for flying with camera batteries

For those of you who travel by air with your cameras, be aware that as of January 1, 2008, it’s no longer legal to put lithium ion batteries in checked baggage. From now on, all spare lithium ion batteries must be kept in carry-on bags, with the terminals covered. REVISED: The US Department of Transportation has clarified its rules. Small lithium-ion batteries – like the types that are used in laptop computers and cameras are exempt from the new rules becuase they contain less than 8 grams of lithium. So, you should be able to travel normally, even after the new restrictions.

These days, most cameras use either Lithium Ion or Nickel Metal Hydride batteries. Lithium Ion batteries are usually marked with an Li-Ion monicker of some kind.

Obviously, batteries in your camera aren’t a concern, unless you’re hoping to put your camera in your checked bag, which is usually not a good idea, for any number of reasons.

Most spare batteries ship with covers for the contacts and it’sa good idea to use these when packing your batteries.

Though I’ve never tested this, it’s probably better to carry on your batteries anyway, as keeping them in your checked baggage could subject them to cold that will make them lose their charge. Cold won’t permanently damage your batteries, but it could result in them needing to be topped off.

For more info, click here.

Bruce Fraser dies at 52

With great sadness, we heard this morning that our good friend, Bruce Fraser, passed away on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2006.

To many of us, Bruce was “Mr. Photoshop‚” and/or “Mr. Color Management.” He was the author or co-author of a number of the most successful computer titles of all time, including Real World Photoshop and Real World Camera RAW, as well as one of the founders of PixelGenius. To many people throughout the digital imaging industry, Bruce was an icon, but an approachable soul who was unstintingly fair in his criticism and generous with his time. Our thoughts go out to his family and close friends. He will be missed.

Bruce and I worked together for more than 15 years, starting with my time at MacWEEK, and continuing through my recent tenure at Macworld. A remembrance of Bruce has been posted there.