The Bottom Shadow

8/31/2010 1 Comments A+ a-

See that shadow in the bottom/middle of the above image? You may have seen this happen before if you're using an on-board flash. It happens when you're shooting with the on-board flash and a wide angle lens. The smaller and shorter flash on the camera just doesn't have the range to clear the lens, which creates a shadow.

(It may also happen if you're using a hood. In this case, remove the hood to remove the problem).

Fixes include zooming in, or using an external flash (recommended) that fits either on your cameras hot shoe or on a flash bracket.

Vintage Magazine Covers With Dogs

8/30/2010 2 Comments A+ a-

Language Resetting

8/27/2010 0 Comments A+ a-

Occasionally the situation may arise where your camera has somehow gotten into a foreign language and you can't figure out how to get it back to your native language. This may happen if you're unfamiliar with common camera setting symbols, if you don't have an owners manual, and/or if you've purchased an AIJ exceptioned camera. We use the description exception AIJ to refer to a camera that is "all in Japanese". While most of them have English menus, if the camera is reset the menu will automatically go back to Japanese instead of the American versions which when reset will default to English.

While all camera menus are slightly different, most operate on the same basic principles, format, and symbols. Knowing the universal symbols and understanding how to navigate the menus is key to getting out of this situation without an instruction book. Here's a few things to remember...
The language option can be found in the setup section of the menu
If you own an AIJ camera and reset it (which you may want to do to clear settings)- above,
this is what you'll see after your reset- below.
Remember that the setup menus symbol is a tool or set of tools (typically a wrench)
And the language options symbol is (usually) a face with a talking bubble
From there your language options will show, each in its own language and will be easy to reset.

White Balance Guide

8/25/2010 4 Comments A+ a-

While the auto white balance option on digital cameras is usually pretty good in most models, it is not always the best choice. Here, we've done a comparison to show what the white balance may look like on each WB setting, and in the four main lighting conditions. (All photos are unedited to show their S.O.O.C. color casts. SOOC= straight out of the camera.)

Interior, fluorescent lights
Settings used (clockwise from top left): auto, cloudy, direct sunlight, flash, fluorescent, incandescent, shade.

Here, the fluorescent setting worked the best to not only capture the most realistic coloring and WB, but also the S.O.O.C. levels. The auto setting came in second.

Interior, incandescent light (a regular light bulb)
Settings used (clockwise from top left): auto, cloudy, direct sunlight, flash, fluorescent, incandescent, shade.

In this lighting situation, the incandescent setting works much better than auto and color corrects for the light bulbs yellow cast.

Interior, with flash
Settings used (clockwise from top left): auto, cloudy, direct sunlight, flash, fluorescent, incandescent, shade.

In this situation, none of the settings gave a 100% true color representation of the object. The first four are all the closest, but vary with yellow, blue, and green casts.

Exterior, natural sun light
Settings used (clockwise from top left): auto, cloudy, direct sunlight, flash, fluorescent, incandescent, shade.

In this particular lighting situation, auto worked the best. The other options gave color casts to the images that were gray, blue, cyan, bright blue, green/gray, yellow/gray. The other WB settings also slightly darkened the overall image and reduced contrast.

Now that you understand a little more about white balance and the manual options on your camera, we suggest doing some experimenting of your own to fully understand how each one works in different conditions.

images © Andy McCarrick

Mamiya ZD

8/24/2010 0 Comments A+ a-

Mamiya ZD: medium format, SLR, digital, auto-focus, 22 megapixels.
Comes with IEEE cable, CD, battery and charger, IR filter & case, and instruction book.
Takes C/F and S/D memory cards.
EX+, $4,299. Online here.

The Periodic Table and Photography

8/23/2010 1 Comments A+ a-

A short lesson on elements from the Periodic Table that are used in photography...

Magnesium: used in (old) flash photography bulbs
Lanthanum: used in lenses for cameras and telescopes.
Also used by the motion picture industry in lighting and projection.
Palladium: used in electronic contacts, and computers.
And of course used in platinum-palladium printing for photography.
Silver: used in film, photo printing papers, and small batteries
Gallium: used in LEDs (which are found in some cameras and light meters)
Germanium: used in wide-angle lenses
Selenium: used in (early) light meters, photocopying,
and as a toner for photographic prints
Polonium: used in anti-static brushes
Krypton: used in high-speed photo flashes

(Window-box display photos were taken at the Tellus Science Museum in Georgia

Lens Separation

8/19/2010 0 Comments A+ a-

What is "lens sep"? It's when two cemented elements begin to separate.

What does it look like? Like a patch of oil when the sunlight hits it. There will be an iridescent rainbow colored area, usually along the edges. The shape varies, but it's typically crescent or wave-like.

What does it affect? Due to the reflection is causes, it can increase flare and reduce contrast.

Can it be repaired? It is usually not cost effective to have it repaired. It is fairly labor intensive and expensive to fix.

How does it happen? Lens separation typically happens in older lenses. It can be caused by the breakdown of the cement or glue over time. Not storing lenses properly and leaving them in very hot conditions can contribute to the break down. Once the sep has started, it will continue to worsen over time. Sep can also occur in prisms.

Anything else? All lenses that come in to KEH and have "sep" are automatically graded as UG. Also, the coloration in sep should not be confused with an overall rainbow-ish reflection on a front element of a lens. Some lenses (again, mostly older) have a coating that can appear rainbow when moved in the light. If it's even and covers the entire lens, it probably isn't sep. If it's a visible patch on a part of the lens, then it probably is sep.

Experimenting With Cyanotype on Photo Paper

8/17/2010 1 Comments A+ a-

By: Kris Phimsoutham

In recent years, traditional photography has been utilizing the technological advancements of digital photography to gain many benefits from it. Expanding materials limitations and enhancing image quality are a few examples of such benefits. I feel that the processes of alternative printing gains the most from this type of "hybrid photography". Precise multi-negative registration and color separations, for example, are the most common tools used in multicolor gum printing. The color separation negatives are made from digital files. My experience with practicing hybrid photography happened almost accidentally. While experimenting with the cyanotype process, I've made several images using bubble jet photo paper. The results were quite unique and the quality of the images exceeded that of other cyanotype prints that I've made previously.

"Bubble Jet Cyanotype"
This "bubble jet cyanotype" print has a sheen on it's surface and the image itself is sharped beyond the cyanotypes normal capacity. It also appears to set inside the substrate rather than on its surface, which effectively crates an illusion of depth. It reminds me of a Polaroid print (the dye-destruction type).
My "typical" cyanotype print

A typical cyanotype print, (one of mine at least), is made with a medium weight, hot pressed watercolor paper. The appearance of the image's sharpness relies heavily on the surface's texture of its substrate. Textured paper such as heavy weight, cold pressed or handmade paper will soften the image dramatically. Unless you intend for a softer look, a uniform and smooth surface is ideal for the job.

textured cyanotype
After understanding what made this "bubble jet cyanotype" so unique, I feel optimistic about sharing this finding with you. The paper technology that was invented to accommodate ink jet and bubble jet printing can also enhance and improve a century old process with a very impressive result.

Various types of traditional art papers stretch and contract according to its ambient moisture level. If the paper is not properly stretched and sized, controlling the art medium on its surface will be difficult. Painters and printers encounter this problem often. Ink jet paper technology has developed methods to overcome this issue.

cross section illustration
Ink jet photo paper has a nanoporous layer technology incorporated in to its design and construction to control the spreading (bleed) of ink and contain it within designated areas. Remember that this paper is made for a digital printing process. The inks of each color know exactly where they're supposed to go to. But it's the paper that does the controlling and containing of the ink and makes sure that they stay where they belong.

properties of paper illustration
Now, when I coated the cyanotype solution on to a bubble jet photo paper, it treated the solution the same way it does with ink. So, I've got this sensitizer sitting nicely in a uniform and orderly manner in the nanoporous layer of a rigid substrate ready to be printed. This is the key to what makes this "Bubble Jet Cyanotype" print appear so much better, especially its sharpness, than the typical cyanotype. None of the traditional art paper (that I've used) can match its image's appearance to this Bubble Jet photo paper, which was made specifically for the digital printing process.

bleed control illustration
While traditional photography techniques are quickly becoming passe to the mainstream photographic world these days, I feel that we can combine old and new tools and concepts to craft a new identity for both the traditional film and digital photography sectors.
photos © Kris Phimsoutham
Reference illustrations from Mitsubishi Paper Mills Limited

Nikon D5000 Service Advisory

8/16/2010 2 Comments A+ a-

Nikon has issued a service advisory for the D5000. Get all the info HERE.

(Update: this is an old advisory but is still in effect. We've been seeing this issue recently, so thought we'd point this out regardless)

Get Another Perspective

8/13/2010 0 Comments A+ a-

It's been "tip week", and we've been bringing you one creative shooting tip a day. This is the final one for the week. Hope they've been helpful!

Tip 5: Get another perspective. Go out shooting one day with a non-photographer- a friend, a spouse, a child. Come back and compare images. See what they saw that you didn't. It may be a helpful reminder to slow down, pay more attention to the details, frame something more creatively, etc. 

(Here, my husband and I were on a road trip and shooting in a "deserted town". I, the photographer, was so busy trying to get pictures of so many things, I snapped a photo of this church and moved along to something else without taking my time to actually take a good picture. My husband, who's a welder, wasn't interested in creatively framing the church, but ended up doing so. He was in fact taking his time to get pictures of the iron work, and in turn framed the church in a much more interesting manner. It reminded me that even though I wanted to document as much of our trip as possible, if I wanted good photographs, I needed to slow down and make them.)

Create a Diptych

8/12/2010 0 Comments A+ a-

It's "tip week", and we'll be bringing you one creative shooting tip a day...

Tip 4: Create a diptych. Put two images together to tell a story, show multiple perspectives, or to show the overall and the details. (I wouldn't suggest over using this technique, pick and choose wisely. It can be a powerful tool in certain situations.)  
(Shot for a small business owner who feels very strongly about being able to carry a gun and is very  open with his customer base as to why he does, and why he does not carry one.)

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

8/11/2010 0 Comments A+ a-

It's "tip week", and we'll be bringing you one creative shooting tip a day...

Tip 3: Get out of your comfort zone. Take a chance, push yourself to shoot something out of your familiar areas, and something that you may not have 100% confidence in. It will help you learn and grow as a photographer, and could help to create really meaningful images. (When I say "get out of your comfort zone and familiar areas", I am not referring to any unsafe situations. Please always remember to be smart first, and to not put yourself in any compromising situations.)
(The above image was taken as part of a series. I was asked to shoot a bikers funeral procession which left me feeling a little uneasy. I was worried about someone getting offended by taking photographs in a situation where in America, it's very uncustomary. I was also worried that since it was a one time thing, and that the thing I needed to capture would be moving quickly, that I might not be able to get the shots that the family wanted, and of course I wouldn't have the option to re-shoot. I accepted the assignment regardless of my fears and ended up with an amazing series that meant a lot to a large group of people, as well as myself.)

Children at Play

8/09/2010 0 Comments A+ a-

It's "tip week" starting today, which means we will be bringing you one creative shooting tip a day.

Tip 1: Shoot children at play. It puts them at ease to be in a familiar and fun setting. It will loosen them up and can get them comfortable with their photographer in a short amount of time. When a child is having fun, it shows, and isn't that what being a kid is all about?

(These images were shot at a playground, inside one of the small tube slides)

Zeiss Ikon With Blue Leather

8/06/2010 1 Comments A+ a-

You may remember this camera from a few months ago when we included it in a "colorful leathers" post. Well, we now have one available for sale...
Zeiss Ikon 35mm rangefinder camera- silver with blue leather, EX+, $1120

Tripod Lamp

8/04/2010 1 Comments A+ a-

Tripod lamps are certainly not a new idea, but there's been a resurfacing of the style recently... There's new versions currently being sold in pretty houseware stores, as well as older versions at antique markets, both of which are selling for hundreds of dollars.

Well how about making your own for a fraction of the price and a little time? Saving money, a plus. The satisfaction of DIY (do it yourself), plus. And the ability to design it to your specific style, also a plus.

Here, I'm going to run you through a few options to DIY, including how we did the one below, and the cost factors. I chose this used tripod (from KEH of course) with chrome legs and attached survey style head.

Price factors: Tripod (+ optional head), lamp parts, lamp shade, and bulb. All of these prices vary depending on the styles you choose.

What you'll need: A tripod, lamp wire (this is the cord), nuts and bolts, plug end (attaches to the wire to plug into the wall socket), light bulb socket, lamp nipple, zip ties. + Option one: threaded pipe and reducer also needed. Option two: tripod head and bracket also needed.

Lamp kits are available at most hardware stores, or you can purchase the pieces individually. We purchased each piece because we wanted a longer cord (12 ft.). Most kits come with a 6 ft. cord. The total of all the pieces was $18.50 (not including the tripod and shade).

Depending on the style of lamp and shade you want, there are a few additional items you will need. Most floor lamps and larger style shades have a spider/harp fitting and require a harp and finial. The other options are a slip UNO fitting or a clip-on fitting. We used a harp and finial, and chose a shade with a spider/harp fitting. (There's a great lampshade buying guide here that shows the fitting options.)

There are two main ways to do this. Option one: Use tripod legs only (no head). Remove the center column or center screw if installed with the legs. Mount threaded pipe through the hole in the center of the legs with a nut on each side. Add reducers that are the size of the lamp nipple, and then mount the lamp kit on top. Option two: Find or make a bracket to attach in between the tripod head and the lamp kit.

I chose option two because I wanted to utilize the tripod head. It gives the lamp aesthetically something extra, and we kept it to where the controls still function with the lamp on it. The lamp parts can also be taken off the tripod at any time and can once again be used as a tripod with no damage to it (this is true for either option). We made our own bracket using a piece of steal that was cut with a torch into a strip, bended with a vice, and then drilled two holes at the ends for the bolts to fit into. This way does require additional tools and skills over option one, so plan accordingly.

Once the lamp parts were assembled, we pulled the tripod legs in so that it would take up less room on the floor, and tightened all of the screws and bolts so that it couldn't move. We then added a few zip ties to hold the cord to one of the legs so that it wouldn't be in the way. This is essential if you have children, animals, or clumsy adults around!

All that's left now is to add your chosen lamp shade.

Our final product

Happy lamp making! You can view our selection of (new and used) in-stock tripods here.


Handmade For a Photographer 2

8/03/2010 0 Comments A+ a-

A few fun, handmade photography related items for the photographer or photo enthusiast
(spotted on Etsy, part 1 here)

For the home: Camera pillowcases, by Branch Handmade

For the studio, or as favors: Oh Snap Cotton Candy Camera Soap, by LoveLeeSoaps

To send or frame: Vintage camera postcard, by BlondeShot Creative

For the kitty: Organic camera catnip toy, by Oh Boy! Cat Toys

For baby or for the shelf: Polaroid plush camera, by One Late Night

For shooting kids- keep their attention and make them smile:
Crab lens pet, by Mandee Franee Designs