Friday, October 29, 2010

Macro Options

You have multiple options when it comes to getting closer in your images. Here is a brief run down of the ways to it, with visual references for how close you can get. (All images shot from the closest focusing point. Canon products were used for these examples.)

Items you can use:
* a macro lens (for close up)
* a long zoom lens for far away shots (not macro)
* an extension tube
* a lens converter
* a close-up lens or filter
A non-macro image shot with a 50 F1.8 II lens, with the close-pin for size reference

An extension tube (Canon EF12) is added on to the 50 F1.8 lens

Shot with a 100 F2.8 Macro EF lens
 
Using a little trick to achieve a closer shot without a macro lens or extension tube:
The 50 F1.8 lens was mounted to the camera, and then a second lens (85 F1.8 EF) was held up by hand (in between the camera/50 lens and the objects), and then focused and shot through).


Typically for macro shots, a macro specific lens is your best bet. If you're looking for a cheaper option, the next best thing is an extension tube. An extension tube is hollow (contains no glass), and moves your lens away from the camera's sensor (or film) allowing you to focus closer.

A lens converter or teleconverter contains glass elements and increases the entire focusing range. These are better for distance as opposed to macro.

A close-up lens, close-up filter, or macro filter are all basically a simple secondary lens. They contain piece(s) of glass and screw into the filter threads on the front of you camera lens. They enable macro photography by allowing your lens to focus more closely. These work similar to a pair of reading glasses.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An In-Depth Look at Light Meters

With light meters being added to almost all cameras in production, the hand-held meter has been forgotten to a great degree. There are however still plenty of uses for a hand-held meter even with such good meters in the cameras.

Categories of meters-
Ambient light
Flash
Ambient & Flash
Color

Sub-categories-
Spot Meters
Incident Meter/ Reflective

Ambient meters read only constant light and will not respond to light from a flash. Most of the meters on the market in this category are primarily reflective metering. Reflective metering can be a wide-angle of coverage and the meter takes into account all of the various densities within the field. A reflective meter is calibrated to read 18% gray. If you are metering an object with very white or very dark areas, the meter will not be totally accurate. For the best accuracy with a reflective reading, you ideally should use an 18% gray card in the light that you are shooting and meter off of the card. Without a card, there are a couple of tricks that can be used to get a more accurate reading. Outdoors, you can meter off of trees or grass. The gray density on these is approximately 18% gray. Another trick to use is to meter off of the palm of your hand and take off 1 stop (if the meter reads f8 you set to f11).
An ambient meter can also be primarily an incident meter. This type of meter is used by pointing the meter toward the camera from the area that you are shooting. The meter gathers the light and gives a reading that is correct. This type of meter was used and still is used by motion picture studios. They sometimes are referred to as a “studio” meter. The sensor is a white globe, and is usually much larger than a primary reflective meter. Both types will work, either incident or reflective, but they are usually better at one type or another. For example, the Sekonic L398 meter is primarily an incident meter that will do reflective, and a Sekonic L308S or L358 is primarily a reflective meter, with incident available.
Flash meters read light from electronic flash. These are incident light meters. They are used at the subject point, and aimed at the camera. When the flash is tripped, the proper f-stop will be shown. High-end flash meters, such as the Minolta Flash Meter, read in very precise measurements. Some of these types can collect various readings and you can determine an average exposure.
Ambient & Flash meters can do both types of metering. The flash metering is not as precise as a dedicated flash meter, but the readings are still very good. This type of meter is currently the most common one.
Color meters have become the least valuable in today’s digital world. With computer manipulation available, a photo that is off-color can usually be fixed in the computer. If you are using transparency film, a color meter is used to identify the exact filtration needed for correct color.
A spot meter is a reflective meter that can identify the exposure within a very small visible area, which can be as small a one degree. These are very useful when you are not able to get close to the subject. With this type of meter, you select from areas that you know will produce a result the same as 18% gray. Some meters in the Gossen line had an option of adding spot metering to a normal meter. These were in the Luna Pro line.
Cell types and power sources:
Older meters and a few of the newer ones use a light sensitive cell that requires no battery. The most common is the Sekonic L398A.
Meters that require batteries are various types such as CDS, (cadmium sulfite), Silcon Blue, Gallium and others. The oldest type, and not used in new meters at all, is the CDS. The CDS meter retained light and could not be moved from situation to situation without the metering needing to “rest” to eliminate any bright reading. The newer meters in cameras and in hand-held meters have cells that do not retain light. Battery type can be AA or button batteries depending on the model and brand.
Remember this – The correct exposure is always the best whether you are shooting digital or film. You can only adjust an image so much. If a picture is seriously under or over exposed, no amount of manipulation can totally fix it.

~ Ed Warrick

Monday, October 25, 2010

Keystone F-8 Aerial Camera


The F-8 is a WWII era aerial camera designed by the Keystone Manufacturing Company, Boston, Mass. The camera was used by the US armed forces namely the Air Force and Navy for aerial view reconnaissance. The camera weighed approximately 16 lbs., and was operated handheld out of the hatch on an aircraft. The effectiveness of the F-8 led to civilians shooting with it also, most famously by photographer Margaret Bourke-White who made photographs for US commercial airlines with it. The Keystone was fitted with a 15 inch F5.6 Wollensak lens. It takes 5x7 inch images on roll film 7 inches wide and 25 feet long. The shutter speed range is 125th of a second to 400th of a second. This exact camera was also manufactured by the Fairchild company and shares the same F-8 Aerial Camera badge.

Aircraft Camera Type F-8, 15" lens, 1944, with yellow filter, instruction book, case.
EX condition, $199.
Online here.


- Michael Reese

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Creepy Effect for Darkroom Printing


Continuing on this week with more creative tips for your Halloween images, Kris Phimsoutham explains one for those of you who are still printing via traditional methods in a hands-on darkroom, instead of by digital printing.


There are several "painting" techniques that can be used in B&W darkroom printing that might be fun to use on your Fall and Halloween images. They are paint splash, splatter, and drop techniques using darkroom printing chemistry in place of paints. These techniques can be used in darkroom or daylight printing operations such as Photograms & Solargrams. The techniques can be done on their own, or can also be combined with background imagery. In any case, these techniques are fun to do and the results can add a feeling of horror to an otherwise static print.






Quick rundown of the process:   
1. Expose your image by your preferred method, i.e. enlarge, photogram or solargram.  
2. Partially fix or develop the print.  
3. Apply techniques, using brushes, sponge or toothbrush.
4. Once happy with the results, fully develop, fix, rinse and dry as usual.  I recommend fiber-based paper for using with these techniques, because you will have at least twice as long, before the print becomes stabilized, to have fun and be creative with the techniques as you would with RC paper. Your solutions dilution is another factor that will shorten or prolong the time that you will have to apply the techniques. Typically, you'll have anywhere from several minutes to about five minutes to mess with your print. 

What you will need:  
1. A full set up of wet darkroom chemistry (+ some extra): 2 trays of developer solution (first tray dilutes to 10% of its normal strength, second tray dilutes to its normal strength), 1 tray of stop bath, 2 trays of fixer (dilute in the same manner as mentioned in the developer), 1 tray of fixer remover (if printing with fiber-based paper), and a large tray of your rinsing bath. 
2. Cheap paint brushes of different bristle styles, foam brushes/sponges and old toothbrushes.
3. Disposible rubber or latex hand gloves and safty glasses/goggles.  
4. And, lastly, a well ventilated print processing area, darkroom or daylight.  To begin, decide the exposure method. Then set up your wet print processing area accordingly. Though the darkroom is an ideal printing environment, daylight print processing is possible as long as the ambient lights intensity is not excessive, i.e. outside of a building.

Processing prints:  
1. Make an exposure and then put the print in the first fixer bath, agitate it lightly for about 5 seconds and leave it in the tray for about 15 seconds. Agitate it for another 5 seconds. You should keep track of time, so you'll know the remaining time for the print to be in the second bath of fixer once you've finished applying the techniques. The total fixing time from both fixer baths should not exceed the time that is recommended by your chosen fixer, typically around 5 minutes for fiber-based paper.  
2. Take the print out of the solution and let the fixer drip from the print until it stops. Keep track of the time.  
3. Place the print on a flat surface and over the sink area. I use a 1/8" sheet of plexiglass that is 1 size bigger than the size of my print (for example, an 11x14" plexiglass if I'm printing an 8x10" print). A stationary, flat surface is also useable, but you'll limit yourself in techniques that you can apply without being able to move the print around or tilt its surface.  
4. Apply your techniques using developer in place of paint/ink to areas of the print that you want to crate effects- basically, you dip the brush, sponge or toothbrush in either tray of the developers and splash, splatter or drop the solution on the print to create the effects. You can also use other objects such as a hand (with glove on) like in the above image. Always wear gloves and safty glasses/goggles during this entire step as you need to protect yourself, especially your eyes from any chemicals that may splash up. A more diluted developer will give a lighter shade, a normal diluted developer will give an instant dark shade as well as develop that area of the print. If you're printing outside of a darkroom, be aware that the ambient daylight will fog your print faster than the ideal darkroom environment. So, if the ambient light in your daylight print processing area is too intense, put dark curtains over your windows to lessen the intensity. This will also help prolong the working life of your printing chemistry.  You can also dip your print in a 10% strength of developer quickly, to darken the print's overall appearance, then sqeegee off the access solution. Repeat the process a few times to get the prints density to what you want.  
5. Once you're happy with the results, put the print in the second fixer bath and fix it for the remaining duration of the required fixing time.   
6. Rinse your print. If you're using fiber-based paper, use fixer remover or washing aid before giving it a final wash. Then, dry your print by your normal method.

You may need a few good practice sessions before you get the hang of these printing techniques, and it's best to treat it as an experimenting project. For those of us who love darkroom works, this is just another way we can express our creativity. 

images © Kris Phimsoutham

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spooky Effects for Halloween Shooting

Whether you're shooting film or digital, consider having fun with one of these spooky effects this Halloween season:


* Use a hard directional light from below to cast ghoulish shadows. How: Use a flashlight, spotlight, or external flash unit with a slave or off-camera shoe cord.

* Use multiple exposures to give a ghostly feel. How: For film- take multiple shots on the same frame. For digital- layer images in your editing software. Note a few digital cameras do have a multi exposure option and can therefor be done in camera similar to the film process. Another way to achieve a similar effect is to have a long exposure in a dark setting and set off a strobe unit multiple times.

* Add some smoke for an eerie setting. How: Use a fog machine, dry ice, or Smoke EFX Drops.

* Shoot in low light. How: In darker settings (or low light) bump up your ISO, use a tripod, and/or open your aperture to let more light in.


* Add some texture and add to the creepy factor. How: See Create a Filter post. Shown above: baby powder.



* Create eye-popping 3D images. How:
1- Stand with your feet and body facing your subject. You will take two photo's (exposures should be the same).

2- For the first photo choose a side (left or right) and shift your body to that side and take the first photo.
3- For the second photo shift your weight to the other side and take the second photo. That is it!
TIP: Keep your feet in the same place and camera on the same plane/level for both shots. The only movement should be your body shifting from one side to the other. (4-6 inches between photographs will suffice)
4- Now use your preferred editing program to combine the pair of photos side by side. (I use a pre-made photoshop template now, but have also printed them out and mounted them side by side as well.)
5- Once they are combined into a side by side pair of pictures you are ready to view them.
6- How to view them? You need to be at arms length away from the photos or from the monitor. Look at the middle line and "Cross your eyes". The 3D photo will pop-up in the middle, no glasses required.
TIP: The best way to practice this tecnique is hold one finger up in front of you and try to make it become two by crossing your eyes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Shooting Water for Blog Action Day


Today is Blog Action Day! "Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all."

The theme for 2010 is water. We figured it was a great time to offer a few simple and quick tips on taking photographs of water...



* For soft waterfall or rapid shots, put your camera on a tripod and use a long exposure. This will make the still areas in the shot not blurry from movement during a long exposure, and will give the moving water a time-lapse feel.

* To freeze moving water, such as close-up water drops, use a fast shutter speed and a flash. (How-to here)

* To capture details under the water (when standing above), use a polarizing filter. The filter will reduce or eliminate reflections on the surface.


For more information on Blog Action Day 2010 and on their efforts to bring clean and safe water to millions worldwide, check out the website here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

ExpoDisc

An ExpoDisc is a professional white balance filter. If you remember our white balance comparison guide, auto white balance was not always the best option. Especially in tricky lighting situations with mixed types of light, the preset settings also are not ideal for capturing great WB straight out of the camera. The ExpoDisc is a tool that works with your cameras custom white balance function. "Whether you’re shooting RAW or JPEG, simply read and set white balance with the ExpoDisc before shooting and you’ll reduce or eliminate the need for post-capture color adjustments. Why spend time fixing color if you don’t have to?"



Exterior (natural light + bounce flash)
Left: using auto white balance, Right: custom WB with ExpoDisc

Interior mixed light (tungsten + strobes)
L: auto white balance, R: custom WB with disc




images © Patrick Douglas

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mystery Item

We need your help! You see, we have this lens kit...


It's made by Hugo Meyer and Co., and comes with a Plasmat lens, focal length tube adapters and masks.

And then there's this one part in it that we are unsure of what it is, and can't seem to find any information on it. We are hoping someone out there reading can help...
What is this piece?
If you know, please email us! We appreciate your help.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Capture the Colors of Fall



A few tips for capturing the beautiful warm tones of the season:

* Use a polarizing filter (we have talked about this filter before for multiple uses and in this case it really helps the color saturation. It reduces haze and makes blue skies bluer resulting in even better contrast between the blue of the sky and the warm tones of the autumn leaves).

* Pay attention to the colors and how they react with the light. During the hours around sunrise and sunset the light is extra special and golden. It adds a nice warm glow to an outdoor scene. You may also want to avoid shooting into the sun since it may wash your photos out and/or use a lens hood.

* Take your white balance off of auto mode and choose the best camera setting for your situation.

* To add extra warmth to your photos, you can also add a warming filter on to your lens (you can do this with digital or film, but is typically used when shooting film).


Other ideas for Autumn shooting:

* Get multiple perspectives- pull back and take a nice landscape shot and then pair it in a diptych with a nice close up or macro shot
* Have fun in fallen leaves while taking portrait shots
* Think outside of the "fall leaves" category. There's plenty of things to take photos of this season. Capture the essence in the food, festivals, clothing, activities, decorations and more.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The New Generation of Digital Memory Cards

There's constantly new digital memory cards coming out on the market, and with many of today's digital cameras coming with video capabilities, it's important to know which card will best meet your needs. Here's a little run down of the newer cards available...

SD Memory Cards
These come in various speeds indicated by a “Class”. The least expensive cards may not show a class designation, they are usually a Class 1 or 2. A Class 6 card is the minimum that should be used when shooting digital movies. A Class 10 card should be used with High Definition Movies. The difference in the classes indicates the speed at which the card can handle information. Even if you are not doing movies, the faster speeds will transfer to the card in a camera and transfer information to the computer faster. An SD HC card is adding High Capacity to the type. The transfer rates on these cards are Class 6: 15 megabytes per second & Class 10: 20 megabytes per second. These will work on almost everything made in the last few years.

SDXC Memory Cards
Just starting to enter the market, these cards are the same size as the SD and SDHC cards, but will attain extreme capacity. The next-generation SDXC memory card specification dramatically improves consumers’ digital lifestyles by increasing storage capacity from more than 32 GB up to 2 TB. Its exFAT file system handles large volumes of data. The specification for increasing bus interface, "UHS-I," with speeds up to 104 MB per second and a road map to 300 MB per second, and UHS Speed Class are available for SDXC cards and host devices. SDXC's extended capacity will provide more portable storage and speed, which are often required to support new features in consumer electronic devices, mobile devices, and industrial devices. Currently there are a couple of Canon SLR models with this capability.

CF Memory Cards
CF (CompactFlash) cards are primarily used in Professional grade SLR cameras. There have been changes in the last year in regard to digital SLR cameras, such as many models now offer High Definition movies. As with the SD memory, if you are going to shoot HD movies, you need a high speed card. We now have cards that are rated as high as 600X speed. A better gauge is the amount of write and read speeds that card can do. A 400X speed card can read at 90 megabytes per second and write at 30 megabytes per second. A 600X speed card can read and write at 90 megabytes per second. These are necessary when shooting 1080 resolution HD movies, plus transfer to your computer will also be very much faster.


Missed our card maintenance and tips post? See it here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

October 10, 2010

The date 10/10/10 is quickly approaching as this coming Sunday marks the day where the month, day, and year all match. There's a few photography and video projects that are happening on this day, and are open for anyone to participate.

* 10/10/10, A most auspicious day- a photography project where each participant will take and share one photo (via Flickr) from this day. Read more about the project here, and join the Flickr group pool here.

* One Day On Earth- Help document the world's story through a video project where each participant documents their day, a 24-hour period, on 10/10/10, and then shares it. Read more about it here.

One Day on Earth Open Source Global Documentary Project Badge

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Oracle at WiFi

No matter who you are or where you are, you can participate in artist Beth Lilly’s project “The Oracle @ WiFi”. A highly acclaimed, interactive, cell phone performance art project that will occur on October 7th, 2010.

What’s the project about?
Artist Beth Lilly wanted to involve individuals directly and make photographs specifically for them. She also loves to play with random chance in the creation of art. She put the two together and came up with a photography project that uses her cell phone camera to pair your questions with images created randomly for you as an answer. You can think of it as cell phone divination, yes, telling your fortune. But remember, this is not a psychic hot line – it’s performance art.
How To Join In:
* Think of a sincere question about your life, the world, other people
* Call Beth’s cell phone at 404-805-5431 on Oct 7th from 8am – 7pm
* Keep your question a secret!
* Wherever she is when she takes your call (that’s the random part) she will make three images starting right there, just for you.
* After she emails the images to you, you just need to reply back and reveal your question.
* After the question is paired with the images, artist and caller speculate on the meaning of the images as they relate to the question.
Results are often humorous, scathing, haunting and sometimes even profound.
A sample of past “readings” can be found at bethlilly.com as well as all that were created from the last Oracle event.
This Oracle @ WiFi event is part of the month-long city wide Atlanta Celebrates Photography festival.
Cell Phone Number: 404-805-5431
Date: Thursday October 7th
Time: 8am – 7pm

Editors note: I have personally participated in one of theses "readings" before, and it was a lot fun. I will let you know that the phone line will probably be busy most of the day and if you really want to participate, you'll have to stick with it and keep calling back.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pixel Problems

HOT PIXELS are individual pixels on your camera's sensor that read high/ records as light spots on longer exposures and images shot on higher ISOs. A warm sensor can also cause hot pixels. (Not to be confused with noise)

DEAD PIXELS are are pixels that read nothing/ records as black on all exposures (not to be confused with sensor dust).

STUCK PIXELS are pixels that read high on all exposures/ records as light spots.

The pixels can range in color from white, yellow, red, blue and purple.


Almost all cameras will have one of the three pixel issues at some point, it's a common problem, especially having hot or stuck pixels, and also does not matter if the camera is low-end or high-end. Do not panic, everything will be OK. And if you haven't yet noticed them, then they're obviously not a problem!

Many of today's software programs map out/remove the hot pixels and can be set to automatically fix them. You can of course also remove the spots in your editing software, and if a specific pixel is problematic in every shot you take, you may also want to think about creating an action in your photo editing software to remove the spot.

There is also a little trick however to do a manual "reset" of your image sensor that may (or may not) remove some of the hot or stuck pixels. Dead pixels are a little more rare, and the manual reset will not work for them. Editors note: There is very little factual information released on fixes for pixel issues. This "resetting trick" is a home remedy type fix... some people swear by it, while others are non-believers- aka we have no real facts to back this trick up, and aren't guaranteeing anything.

To reset:
* Remove the lens and put the cameras body cap on.

* Put the camera in to "manual sensor cleaning mode" or "clean manually".
You should hear the click of the mirror going up. Leave the camera in this mode for approx. 40-60 seconds.

* Power off the camera (you should hear another click as the mirror drops
down into place).


- Patrick Douglas