A photographer friend recently sent me this extraordinary collection of color images shot during the Depression. One of the things that’s fascinating about looking at them is that we simply are not accustomed to this subject matter being in color. It’s a fine example of McCluhan’s “medium is the message” idea. Your choices of black and white or color, grungy or sharp, saturated or muted – all of these have a huge impact on the reaction the viewer will have. For film photographers, many of these decisions are determined by film choice, and the ability to choose specific films to achieve a particular look or feel is one of the great advantages of film shooting. Alien Skin Exposure, a sophisticated film-simulating Photoshop plug-in, gives this same power to digital photographers. Read more »
I just spent the last week motorcycling from San Francisco to Oklahoma, (to teach at the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute) camping and motelling along the way. As is usual on a motorcycle, I tried to stay on the smallest roads possible, and so ended up in some fairly interesting locations. I was probably supposed to be blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking my exploits as I went, (Karaoke night in Roswell, NM will definitely make you believe in alien visitations) but to be honest, one of the nice things about such a trip is to be out of the media bubble, not engaging in it further. So rather than trying to provide heavy coverage of my trip, I decided to simply enjoy myself. But also, I have a penchant for mail – the physical kind made from crushed wood pulp. Sitting in a forest or remote desert at night, writing letters and postcards, is a pretty nice way to spend an evening, but just because I’m using analog communications doesn’t mean I have to scrimp on imagery. Thanks to the amazing Polaroid PoGo printer, I was able to print images in the middle of nowhere!
Photoshop CS5 has been shipping for a couple of weeks now, and if you follow such things, you’ve probably already heard about its new features. Photoshop serves many markets, from photography to graphic design to movie and web site production, so determining an overall assessment of the program can be tricky, as different markets have different needs. For photographers, though, Content-Aware Fill and the new Camera Raw are reason enough to upgrade. Many other features abound, and you can read about them in my comprehensive review.
As I’ve said before, anyone who performs a lot of image editing needs a pressure-sensitive tablet, and no one makes better tablets than Wacom. A lot of people, though, don’t like the coordination of drawing in one place while looking at another. For these people, Wacom has long sold the Cintiq line of screen/tablet combos. These are LCD screens that have a built in pressure sensitive tablet.
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.
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 »
January 30, 2010 by Ben Long & filed under Reviews
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.
January 20, 2010 by Ben Long & filed under Reviews
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.
December 21, 2009 by Ben Long & filed under Reviews
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.
December 8, 2009 by Ben Long & filed under Reviews
While the Panasonic GF-1 Micro Four Thirds camera is a great option for SLR or point-and-shoot users, photographers who are used to an optical viewfinder – especially those shooters coming from an SLR – might find themselves frustrated by the camera’s LCD-only viewfinder. For these users, Panasonic has created a clip-on electronic viewfinder that serves as a credible replacement for a quality optical viewfinder, though with a few caveats. Read more »