Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blog Vacation & Happy Holidays!

Just a reminder in case you missed our post on 12/1... the blog is taking a mini vacation. There will be no posts from today (other than this one of course) through January 2nd. We will be back blogging bright and early on Monday, January 3rd!

This is a great opportunity for our readers who haven't been following since the beginning to go back and catch up on past posts that you've missed.

We have a lot of great posts in store for the new year, including something special to celebrate our blogs one year blogiversary, so stay tuned.

Until then, all of us here at KEH would like to wish you Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Photo Calendars

There's many options for creating your own photo calendars, including the traditional wall and desktop calendars. Most of the websites and places that offer photo card printing services also offer calendar printing services.

But what about something different...

Calendar from Calendar Project
Pola-Calendar!

It can be changed around every month, customized, created 100% by you, seen from farther away, and is a little more design driven than the typical wall calendars.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Basic Video Tips

This holiday season, follow these tips for better homemade videos...

* Be sure to leave about 3-5 seconds of space before and after the shot you are going for. This makes editing easier later, especially if someone is speaking to the camera. If you don't leave enough time before and after for trimming, your video and sound may be choppy.

* Try to avoid camera shake by using a tripod or bracing your arm on a wall or flat surface. This is especially important when zoomed in to further distances or filming an extended scene.

* Provide lots of light. Natural light is best but not always convenient for indoor shooting. Use windows when available, or turn on several lights in the room. External video lights are also available that will work for video cameras, or DSLRs with video. Be sure to watch for shadows, back lighting, fluorescents, or harsh lighting.

* Don't always zoom in and center the subject unless you are doing an interview style video. Try filming with your subject to the side, or try to frame them with surroundings. Framing can make for a more interesting scene. You do want to focus on your main subject, but don't fill the frame with them. Likewise, make sure your subject doesn't blend into the background.

* Shoot lots of B-roll (or secondary footage). This is just extra filler and really helps your video flow. You want your video to be entertaining and not just stuck on one subject. B-roll can include shots of decorations, scenery, people, etc. Just shoot anything that looks interesting to be featured under a musical track or voice-over later. B-roll can also include pictures from the event being filmed. Look around at your surroundings and if it looks interesting, film it. You can never have enough B-roll. You won't use it all, but better to have too much than too little.

* If you want to film several areas of a room or place in one scene, pan slowly. Too many quick movements can make a viewer feel a little dizzy. Start at one end of a room and slowly pan to the other side allowing plenty of time at the start and end for editing later. You may not want to use the entire pan in your finished product, but at least you'll have the footage to make that decision later. Pan shots also make great B-roll.

* Try using creative shots. One interesting idea is to zoom in tightly on your subject and then slowly zoom out revealing the surroundings. Again, this makes for good B-roll. Another good idea is to pan around your surroundings and then reveal your subject into the frame. Shoot from
different angles- shoot from above, below, different sides, focusing on different areas, framing with various surroundings.

* Leave plenty of head room. Don't put the top of your subject's head at the very top of the frame. Leave some space above their head for a better composition.

* Quick scenes are best. It is easy to lose the viewer's attention with longer scenes. They tend to get drawn out and boring. Also, a musical track under the video adds to the final product. Try not to use songs with lyrics if you are using audio from the video, as this can be distracting.

* Even though you may be having fun and playing with new shooting techniques, don't get too caught up and forget to film the "main event".

* Be sure to have batteries charged, and memory cards or tapes clear and ready before shooting!


- Katie Conner

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Leica Freedom Train

If you're a big Leica fan, then you've probably heard this story that surfaced a few years back. If you're not a big fan, then there's a good chance you haven't heard it yet as it's still not that widely known. Either way, it's an interesting part of history and a story worth passing along.


Ernst Leitz' optics company, founded in Wetzler Germany in 1869, produced precise, minimalist, and efficient 35mm cameras and lenses. The company was family-owned, socially oriented, and acted with uncommon grace, generosity and modesty during the Nazi era.
As soon as Adolf Hitler was named chancellor of Germany in 1933, Ernst Leitz II (son of the founder) began receiving frantic calls from Jewish associates, asking for his help in getting them and their families out of the country. As Christians, Leitz and his family were immune to Nazi Germany's Nuremberg laws, which restricted the movement of Jews and limited their professional activities.
To help his Jewish workers and colleagues, Leitz quietly established what has become known among historians of the Holocaust as "The Leica Freedom Train," a covert means of allowing Jews to leave Germany in the guise of Leitz employees being assigned overseas.
Employees, retailers, family members, even friends of family members were "assigned" to Leitz sales offices in France, Britain, Hong Kong, and the United States.
Leitz's activities intensified after the Kristallnacht of November 1938, during which synagogues and Jewish shops were burned across Germany.
Before long, German "employees" were disembarking from the ocean liner Bremen at a New York pier and making their way to the Manhattan office of Leitz Inc., where executives quickly found them jobs in the photographic industry.
Each new arrival had around his or her neck the symbol of freedom – a new Leica.
The refugees were paid a stipend until they could find work. Out of this migration came designers, repair technicians, salespeople, marketers and writers for the photographic press.
The "Leica Freedom Train" was at its height in 1938 and early 1939, delivering groups of refugees to New York every few weeks. Then, with the invasion of Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, Germany closed its borders.
By that time, hundreds of endangered Jews had escaped to America, thanks to the Leitzes' efforts. How did Ernst Leitz II and his staff get away with it? Leitz, Inc. was an internationally recognized brand that reflected credit on the newly resurgent Reich. The company produced range-finders and other optical systems for the German military. Also, the Nazi government desperately needed hard currency from abroad, and Leitz's single biggest market for optical goods was the United States.
Even so, members of the Leitz family and firm suffered for their good works. A top executive, Alfred Turk, was jailed for working to help Jews and freed only after the payment of a large bribe. Leitz's daughter, Elsie Kuhn-Leitz, was also imprisoned by the Gestapo after she was caught at the border, helping Jewish women cross into Switzerland . She eventually was freed but endured rough treatment in the course of questioning. She also fell under suspicion when she attempted to improve the living conditions of 700 to 800 Ukrainian slave laborers, all of them women, who had been assigned to work in the plant during the 1940s. (After the war, Kuhn-Leitz received numerous honors for her humanitarian efforts, among them the Officier d'honneur des Palms Academic from France in 1965 and the Aristide Briand Medal from the European Academy in the 1970s.)
Why has no one told this story until now? According to the late Norman Lipton, a freelance writer and editor, the Leitz family wanted no publicity for its heroic efforts. Only after the last member of the Leitz family was dead did the "Leica Freedom Train" finally come to light.
It is now the subject of a book, "The Greatest Invention of the Leitz Family: The Leica Freedom Train," (American Photographic Historical Society, New York, 2002) by Frank Dabba Smith, a California-born Rabbi currently living in England.
For more information on this topic, this site has some good resources.

Information from Wikipedia shared under the Creative Commons Attribution License

Monday, December 13, 2010

Filters 103

Note: The filters we are referring to are the traditional filters that screw onto the front of a lens, drop-in, or slide in as gels (not the Photoshopped kind).

Filters 103
by: Andy McCarrick
(reference: filters 101, filters 102)



  • Cross-screen VariationsAs mentioned in Filters 102, Cross-screen filters play off light sources and bright reflections. Most common are the starburst filters with varying star-points, usually anywhere from 4-8 points. These filters usually come fixed with the lines intersecting in a uniform fashion. One variation is a cross screen filter with 2 independent, rotating layers. This allows the user to play with the angles at which the lines intersect. Another way to achieve this effect and to push your filters further, would be to combine the use of cross-screen filters, creating new and unique patterns.


  • Multi-image filters - These unique filters create an on-the-spot effect that looks like they have passed through photo-imaging software. They are made of thick glass that is flat on one side and angled on the opposite side, creating an almost kaleidoscope effect. Each angled surface is referred to as a “face”, and the most common types are 3 and 5 face filters. A cool twist on these filters is a multi-color, multi-image filter, where each face is a different color. Using these filters together can also endlessly multiply an image.


  • Color grad filters – A color grad filter offers a half clear, half color effect. There is no defining line where the color ends, but the color slowly dissolves towards the center of the filter. This allows the photographer to include more subjects that cross the horizon of the photograph, without having the effect take away from the composition. These filters are commonly used to create dramatic sunsets. Used above: grad orange, shot horizontally.


  • Split color filters – These filters are half clear, and half color, with the division going straight through the center of the filter in a defined line. These filters can be used to change the color of the sky, or of water. They are most effective in photographs where some sort of horizon can be achieved and played upon. Used one at a time they can be used to make subtle changes in the atmosphere, or they can be combined to create quite unique images. If not used properly, the result can be anything but subtle however. Used above: Purple split, shown vertically for example purposes.

  • Center Spot (not shown) - Using several different techniques, a center spot filter keeps sharp focus in the center of the photograph, while enriching the areas surrounding it. Most commonly, a generic center-spot filter will have a soft-focus effect on the outlying areas. A unique variation is a radial filter, which creates the effect of zooming-in on the subject. Also, a Rainbow-spot filter, which diffracts the light around the center-spot, creating bright rainbows out of the images in the surrounding areas.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gift Wrapping

Gift wrapping ideas for the photographer...

* Use camera straps in place of ribbon
* Make your own ribbon out of film (and wrap your gifts in recycled KEH catalogs)

* Use vintage camera boxes (below) for small items or gift certificates
Other ideas:
* Make a woven basket out of recycled photos
* Have wrapping paper customized with your photos (a few examples here, here, and here)
* Make your own wrapping paper with camera & photography designs (use a roll of butcher paper and use rubber stamps with ink, or potato stamps with paint).... or find a pre-made roll: ex. here & here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shaped Bokeh With Holiday Lights

With Christmas lights aplenty, it's a great time of year to try your hand at some shaped bokeh shots. Here's a basic how-to guide to get started.

Materials needed: Lens cap, tape, thin craft foam (cardboard or construction paper work also, preferably black), shaped hole punch or razor to hand trim your shape, drill and drill bit (drill bit needs to be larger than the shape you are using), sand paper, lights.

Construction:
1- Drill your hole in the center of the cap.

2- Sand both sides of the hole.

3- Cut a small foam/paper square for the inside of the cap.

4- Cut out the shape in the center of the foam/paper. (Test the size you want
to use by punching a shape on a 3x3 square piece of paper and hold over your
lens, smaller shapes work better.)

5-Tape or glue the square onto the lens cap.

Note: There's another method to making a shaped bokeh mask which is done by creating a paper hood for your lens. Both methods work fine, but the cap construction described will hold up better over time. The possibility of shapes are also endless- stars, hearts, letters, custom shapes, etc. Be creative and have fun with this!


Choosing a lens:
Any lens that has an aperture of F 2.8 or larger (preferably F 1.8 or even larger, the bigger the better for this).

Shooting:
Shoot with a wide open aperture (or lowest aperture number), and on manual focus.

To achieve the best results: Shoot the photo's at night time or in the dark. You can shoot different types of lights, but Christmas lights work best. To get the shapes to appear you must take the photo out-of-focus (don't focus on your lighted subject, but focus the shapes in the lights). The smaller the light source is, the closer to the subject you'll need to be. Experiment!


A short video clip showing the focus and loss of star bokeh...



© Patrick Douglas


Want to learn more? Read about Aperture and Shaped Bokeh relations

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Flashbulbs for Wintery Decor

Since vintage flashbulbs come in clear (with little silver filament wires) and shades of blue, they are great for repurposing this time of year. Here's a few ideas...


Make a wreath-

This one was created by covering a wreath form
(available at craft stores), hot gluing on M3 size bulbs,
and hanging a camera ornament from fishing line.

Display them in a pretty way-

in a jar with fake snow
If you've been keeping up with your holiday decor trends, you'd know that displaying a bowl or jar of vintage ornaments is "in". So why not bulbs too?

Or, turn them into tree ornaments!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wireless LiveView Remote Control

New and in stock: The Inspire by Hahnel- wireless remote control with LiveView



For Canon or Nikon DSLR cameras. Has a built in 3.5" color LCD screen (and CMOS camera) which displays a live view image independent of DSLR. It allows you to control four different receivers connected to four different DSLRs. Remote works up to 60 meters away. Record and playback on handheld transmitter.

New, $299.95. Find it online here for Canon or Nikon.

Friday, December 3, 2010

December Gift Guide





JTL Studio Light Kits: DL-320, New, $219. SL-160, New, $89.

Medium format lomo camera, Diana type "Banner", Bgn, $39



Other great gifts:

- Rechargeable batteries- a tripod or camera case
- a KEH gift certificate (available by phone sales)