Showing posts with label digital photo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label digital photo. Show all posts

Saturday, November 13, 2010


This is a follow up to a previous post on the same subject.  I love Canon Products.  I am a part of Canon Professional Services (CPS).  They don't favor their APS-C shooters.  I think much of the lens line is redundant and the third party manufacturers like SIGMA are taking a similar stance.  We need innovation beyond the 18-200mm do-it-all & nothing f/5.6 travel lens.

Here is the case.  I shoot a variety of subjects.  Some on land, some underwater.  Some WIDE and some needing TELEPHOTO and MACRO.  On land, I find it easy to carry two cameras to cover a wide range of subjects but the current Canon lineup of lenses isn't wide enough to fill the bill.  I was weaned with a Vivitar 20mm lens in my hand on my old screw-mount Pentax Spotmatic.  That is about a 90 degree field of view.

90 degree wide allows an extra measure of perspectivie and creativity without fisheye distortion.  For APS-C, taking into account the 1.5 magnification factor, that means lenses in the 12- 13 mm range.  1.5 x 13 = 19.5mm which is about 20mm.  EVERY MILIMETER COUNTS. However, for APS-C, Canon only has the 10-22 EF-S.  ALL THE REST start are woefully inadequate like the closest Canon 15-85 3.5-5.6 IS USM.  15mm =  22.5 in APS-C terms.  But it isn't enough.

I want L (Flourite) glass that Canon produces for full frame sensors.  I want a 2.8 Lens, not 5.6. The popular 24-70 mm 2.8 L USM is the laughable equivalent of a 36mm in APS-C terms. The widest L Zoom is 16 - 35.  16mm full frame = 24mm for an APS-C or about 70 degrees at the widest.  Not good enough.  Subjects occur between 35mm and 70mm.  THREE milimeters of Focal length cuts off 20 degrees of capability / creativity for APS-C users.  Nobody has noticed.  If you have, you need get vocal to Canon.

A lens from 13mm - 70mm EF-S 2.8 L would be the perfect solution to accompany a 70 - 200 EF 2.8 L.  Subjects occur between 35mm and 70mm.  Encourage the rumor.  I invite your comments.  Part 3 will talk about the huge gap in Canon telephoto lenses.

Shot with my really sharp Tokina 10-18 Fisheye.  Stock photo available for sale at ALAMY.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

SOFTWARE: Aperture 3 Released

Apple has released Aperture 3. Click here for more info. Aperture is Apple's competitor to Adobe's Lightroom. Meaning it is a combination RAW converter, organizer, limited editor and "workflow" tool. If you shoot RAW and work with a lot of photos, you need one of these. A big plus for Aperture 3 is that is now handles video. Lightroom Version 2.6 currently does not. Version 3 is in Beta.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lightroom 3.0 Beta is Available

(Click on image to enlarge)

I live in Lightroom so this is a big deal.

According to Abobe:
Some of the new features included for you to play with in the Lightroom 3 beta are:

  • Brand new performance architecture, building for the future of growing image libraries
  • State-of-the-art noise reduction to help you perfect your high ISO shots
  • Watermarking tool that helps you customize and protect your images with ease
  • Portable sharable slideshows with audio—designed to give you more flexibility and impact on how you choose to share your images, you can now save and export your slideshows as videos and include audio
  • Flexible customizable print package creation so your print package layouts are all your own
  • Film grain simulation tool for enhancing your images to look as gritty as you want
  • New import handling designed to make importing streamlined and easy
  • More flexible online publishing options so you can post your images online to certain online photo sharing sites directly from inside Lightroom 3 beta (may require third-party plug-ins)*

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography

The late Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography is perhaps the finest book on Photography I have read. It is a compilation of articles he wrote for Outdoor Photography Magazine. It is copyright 2001, so much of what he writes predates the digital age. But is not really a book on technique as much as "seeing." The first third of the book is worth the price of entry alone. The book is divided into four parts:
  • Visions
  • Preparations
  • Journeys
  • Realizations

Rowell is a master teacher and visual artist. This is for intermediate and advanced photographers that want to hone their skills even further. Some of his observations include:
  • "[Photographs] are visual illusions that trick our senses into believing that the images represent theyway the eye would see a real scene."
  • "Cameras capable of making great photographs have become commonplace but photographers have not. While technical innovations have made photography even easier in recent decades, the art of producing images that other people will care about has become even more formidable."
  • "Literal images of nature no longer wow the public."
  • "...a visionary image communicates the intentionality of the artist's experience."
  • "The best pictures show us a world different from the one we directly observe."
  • "We all take pictures to communicate what is important in our lives."
All these quotes are just in the first three pages of the Preface. To paraphrase Al Pacino from "Scent of a Woman," HE'S JUST GETTING STARTED!

 You can purchase Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Photographing Birds

When I was a kid, I was a naturalist at heart. Maybe it started at age 6 with impromptu talks the nuns selected me to give to the 8th grade. I used the Powerpoint of the time, a book on Fish. Birds get a bad rap. I have heard people downgrade birds as being something for "old people." How does an entire classification of biology get associated with an age group? What age group are Amoeba associated with?

BIRDS and FISH exhibit the same hard to photograph behavior as individuals and in schools or flocks. True, you need much more equipment and training to photograph fish. But the "eye," focus on behavior, concentration and fast reflexes are the same.

PHOTOGRAPHING BIRDS by Rulon Simmons and Bates Littlehales of Nat Geo fame is a great book. These veterans share their secrets of different methods such as feeding, vs stalking, vs blinds, nesting, flight, etc.

There are sections on using remote controllers and accessory tree limbs on feeders. I shot the Cardinal below using these techniques. This alone was worth the price of admission for me. Some text is still back in the film era, but most is still valid in the digital age because of its concentration on the subject matter: the birds.

You can purchase PHOTOGRAPHING BIRDS by Rulon Simmons and Bates Littlehales here.

See my gallery of birds.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

BASICS: Using the Levels Tool to get WOW!

The worst comment a photographer can get on their work is "NICE" or "INTERESTING." If your photography is not generating WOW reactions, this technique could help. Many factors of course effect the WOW reaction, but for photos to be dramatic or LEAP off the page, you must edit using some kind of Editor such as Photoshop Elements, Paintshop pro or iPhoto.

Despite all the marketing, digital cameras do not always produce perfect photos. Today's cameras are after all, dumb computers with a lens attached. An Editor can quickly correct TONAL RANGE problems, the factor that is responsible for photos looking muddy or "lacking something."

The quickest way to get the most out of the tonal range is to use the LEVELS tool to set the White point, Black Point and Contrast or Gamma. A Japanese photographer named Sammy (Masafumi Tanaka) taught me how to do this in five minutes in the Maldives back in 2003. It got me hooked on the power of digital editing. As this is a powerful tool that changes the picture, you may want to first make a copy of the file as you practice. You can also CLOSE the picture without saving if you are not happy with the results.

1. Open the Editor application. In this example, we are using Photoshop Elements.
2. Open a picture
3. Press the COMMAND + L keys (Mac) or CTRL + L (Win) and the following histogram shows up. Very similar to your camera histogram. In iPhoto, click Edit your picture and click the Adjust Icon. For others, check for Levels help.

In this example, the photo has poor tonal range in both the shadows (to the left) and the highlights (to the right). This shape of the Histogram "mountain" tells us this. The picture will have a muddy quality to it. Using the controls it is easy to improve this picture.

1. Click and hold your left mouse button on the White Point slider, circled here in Yellow.
2. Drag it toward the left until it almost touches the "mountain" of the Histogram.
3. Repeat with the Black Point slider, circled here in Red.
4. Drag it toward the right until it almost touches the other side of the "mountain."
Your picture will appear "crisper"and the controls will be in their new positions as shown:

The last control is to adjust the center Gamma slider (or Contrast) circled in green. Click and hold and move to the left and right slightly to see the effect and leave it where you think best.

Save your picture when you are happy with the result.

If you reopen the Levels tool, the changes to the histogram are evident showing a much better tonal range, one step closer to WOW! Once you are proficient with Levels, it will be time to explore the next step up in editing sophistication, the Curves Tool.