Monday, January 31, 2011

Handmade For a Photographer 3

Our third installment of fun, handmade items with the photographer in mind...

Camera Photo Necklace By: VectorCloud
And Then I Snapped Necklace By: EmilinaBallerina

Photo Album Locket By: birdzNbeez

Film negative resin bangle By: Bethtastic

i've got 'roids pin By: lolabot

Diana Camera Baby Bodysuit by: Happy Family

Vintage Ansco Camera Canvas Printed Pillow By: in the seam

We Just Click Card By: Dude and Chick
Vintage Dictionary Camera Art Print By: Little Bluebird Studios

Rolleicord Camera iPhone 4 Decal Protect Skin By: Apple Design
(They also have camera skins of Leica M8 & 9, and a Polaroid camera)



All items found via Etsy and photos used with artists permission

Friday, January 28, 2011

Flickr Group + Photo of the Week

We've joined Flickr!  We're adding a new series of blog posts, Photo of the week!!!

Here's what you can expect to find on our Flickr pages...

1. We have our profile page where we will be uploading photos of equipment, and some other behind the scenes images. (Add us as a contact!)

2. We have also started a group on Flickr. This group will be available to share your photos with us. We would love to see the gear you've purchased from us in action, your DIYs, and your photos! We're starting a new series of posts here on the blog- "photo of the week". So, join the group and upload your images to the group pool. We will, for now, be choosing our photo of the week images from this group only.

The Flickr group also has a discussion feature, so it's easy to connect with other photographers, KEH customers and blog readers. We will also be checking in occasionally to answer any questions.


We're pretty excited about all of this and hope you are too! Be sure to join the groups (if you're not already a Flickr member, well, you should be!), and invite your friends too to help us spread the word.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sharing Outtakes


What is an outtake? An outtake (also sometimes known as a blooper or behind the scenes shot) is an image or set of images which are not released in the original set of photos, and are typically "discarded" during the editing process. It's often, but not always, for the sake of humor.

A personal look at why I share my outtakes: I believe even the bad or unintentional shots are part of the process, and it usually reminds me not to take things too seriously and to enjoy what I'm doing.

What do I share? I usually share selected images that either I or others can learn from (i.e horrible mistakes), or shots that captured something funny or interesting (but not what the assignment was about). Occasionally, I will also include "behind the scenes" type shots with my outtakes.

My experience: I've found that people really enjoy viewing the outtakes. Sometimes it may be a behind the scenes shot to a shoot that gives people a little insight, while others might be something funny and lighthearted that reminds us of reality such as a pretty model making a not-so-pretty face. On portrait sessions, I've even had clients order prints of some of the outtakes. While a certain photo may not be one of "the shots", it doesn't mean it's not worth showing. I would, however, recommend to be choosy with the outtakes, as you wouldn't want to show too many of them and overload viewers with bad shots. Because in the end, you still want your best out there. Keep in mind that outtakes are also not for your portfolio website, but much better for a more personal and less conservative site such as a blog.

Link: View some funny outtake photos from i heart faces weekly photo challenge: Hilarious Outtakes

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

An Introduction to Time Lapse Photography

What is time lapse photography?It's a technique where each frame is captured at a rate much slower than it will be played back. When replayed at normal speed, time appears to be moving faster, and thus lapsing. (Not to be confused with stop motion.)

How the below time lapse video was done:

Shot with a Canon 7D (any digital camera will work though), 15-85 lens (IS off and on manual focus), on a tripod (required), with an interval timer remote (I used one by Pixel). I set the camera to shoot Jpg files on the smallest resolution, at 3200 ISO.

I shot on Program mode so that the camera would take into account the changing light. The software I used to put it all together was Adobe Lightroom 3 (can download a free 30 day
trail). For editing, I sharpened, color corrected, and removed noise on each image. I took 744 images 7 seconds apart over 2.5 hrs. The final results were merged at 15 FPS (frames per second) down to 50 seconds of video.





Want to learn more about time lapse photography? Check out these great links:
- A complete video tutorial
- How to combine stills using Quick Time Pro
- Read about Intervalometers or interval timers
- DIY intervalometer, and DIY Time Lapse


- Patrick Douglas, video © Douglas Photography

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rules to Remember

* Sunny 16 Rule-

What it is: Method of estimating correct exposures for daylight without a light meter.

The rule: On a sunny day and for a subject in direct sunlight, set aperture to F16 and shutter speed to the reciprocal of the ISO. Example: Aperture at F16, ISO at 100, shutter speed at 1/100. Your shutter speed and aperture can be changed from there as long as the F-stop is altered to compensate (think of how Program, Aperture Priority, or Shutter Priority settings work on a camera). Example: 1/250 at F11 gives an equivalent exposure to 1/125 at F16.


* F8 and Be There-

What it is: In photojournalism, this classic saying refers to getting "the shot" and came from when newspaper photographers had pre-focused cameras set to F8 (also without automatic settings and light meters).

The rule: Keep your aperture set on F8 (when not on controlled photo shoots). By pre-focusing, setting your aperture to F8, and setting the shutter speed according to the Sunny 16 rule, your camera is set to "grab and shoot". Approximately everything from about six feet to infinity should be in focus. This setting is good for when things happen quickly and you don't have time to trial and error (manually), or have your digital camera set automatically and handy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Interview: Chad Schaefer

You asked for interviews, so we're bringing you interviews! Welcome to our new series, debuting today. We're going to bring you at least one interview a month, with people from all over the photography world including pros, students, product designers, editors, teachers, and everyone in between. We're starting off with photographer Chad Schaefer...


Tell me a little about yourself and your work.
My name is Chad Schaefer, and my older brother and I have the dubious honor of being named after the British folk group, Chad and Jeremy. I've been living in Austin, Texas for the last six years, after spending most of my previous life in Chicago.

My formal education consists of way less than it should have, as I never really enjoyed school. I spent most of my time passing tests without studying, and passing time in class doodling on everything... all through school I wanted to either design cars or go into animation.
In fact, the only photography education I've had was 1/2 a semester in 7th grade, where film photography was part of our industrial arts class. At that point, I was just amazed that my dad let me even touch his 35mm camera...

Years later, I bought my first digital camera (a bulky 1.3 MP behemoth) to document the vintage Vespa scene I used to be heavily involved with. However, with the proliferation of cameras at the scooter rallies, I quickly got bored of taking the same pictures as everyone else. In the meantime, I was working my way through the older Nikon point and shoot Coolpix cameras, the ones with full manual settings, and learning all the stuff I forgot about like f stop, aperture, etc. I started playing in Photoshop, trying to take my photos and turn them into something different. I love old photographs, especially family snapshots, vacation slides, postcards, and the like. I
spent hours in Photoshop trying to make my digital pictures look like film pictures, and then one day, I decided to just go out and buy a film camera, which happened to be a Holga. I chose that camera mainly because it was inexpensive, and the Holga shots I had seen at that point were about what I was trying to achieve in Photoshop, and I knew nothing about film cameras at that time.


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What do you shoot with?
Today, I carry more cameras than luggage when I go on vacation. Last fall, I took a road trip from Austin to Disneyland, and I had, I think, 10 cameras with me. I rotate a lot, and I DO use all the cameras I have. Lately I have been favoring my Yashica Mat EM, coupled with a Heiland 3 cell flashgun, but I also get a lot of work out of my three Vivitar SLRs, 2 220/SLs and a 250/SL (one loaded with color, one with black and white, and one with color infrared). I have two Universal Uniflex TLRs, from the 1940s, one loaded with b/w infrared and the other is usually loaded with b/w 120. I have a few Polaroid model 100 Land Cameras (again, one loaded with color, one loaded with b/w), as well as two Argus C3s (one 40's model that is M synced for flashbulbs, and one later model that is X synced for electronic flash). I have a Brownie Target Six-20 that comes with me all the time, and a Brownie Starflash that I have experimentally loaded with 35mm. I finally got some of the Impossible Project's SX-70 film, and I'm playing with that in my SX-70 Sonar OneStep. Sitting around at the moment are an Instamatic 500, a Brownie Hawkeye Flash, and few other bits and pieces.
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What type of film do you use and where do you buy it?
I used to use anything I could get my hands on, especially expired stuff. That habit left me with a really underwhelming experience with color film until I started using Kodachrome. On that Disneyland road trip, I went through 8 rolls of Kodachrome, and have been using that almost exclusively in my 35mm cameras, until, obviously, the inevitable end last December. I am still seeking a nice alternative for that. On the 120 cameras, I have really enjoyed the vivid and bright results I have been getting from Ektachrome. Almost all the color film I buy is expired... Since this is essentially an expensive hobby until I can get consistently paid, I have to budget myself in a way to get maximum results with as little expenditure as I can. However, when I shoot black and white, I do buy new, but I don't have a preference. I get most of my new film from Freestyle photo in California. Their house-branded black and white film is extremely inexpensive, and sourced from, I believe, the Czech Republic, which gives the results a vintage feel without really trying. They also sell Fuji's pack film for the older Polaroid Land Cameras, as well as infrared films and 127 format.How are you getting your film developed and printed?

I trust my developing to either Holland Photo or Precision Camera, here in Austin. My rationale behind this is: I am kind of the Ed Wood of photography. I don't bracket my shots
and I rarely take more than one or two photos of the same thing. I will go to a concert and take two photos all night. Some of my cameras go months before I finish a roll of film. Each of those shots is highly unique, and I don't want to risk a step that I may screw up.
How do you feel about the new digital apps that try to recreate the look of old film?

I have an Android phone, and I use the retro camera app more than I thought I would... I enjoy the personality it gives a bland photo, and
it’s fun for Facebook and stuff like that.
Part of me feels like I should hate it, but it’s just another toy, and the effects don't really come close to looking like what it is supposed to simulate, so I don't feel like it's a bad thing. Besides, it might steer some people into probing beyond the app and delving into film.
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Who are your favorite photographers?

My self-education created a surprising lack of knowledge of historically significant photographers, although much of their work is vivid in my mind. Jack Delano's FSA/OWI work was really an eye-opener on both the use of color and the sheer awesomeness of Kodachrome, and if I had been born earlier, my ultimate goal would have been to be a photographer for LIFE.
What are your top 2 photography pet peeves?

I'm sure this could wind up a list, but the top two? People who believe that they can be better
photographers by buying the most expensive equipment they can get; the latest lenses, the newest equipment, all those gadgets aren't going to help if you don't have an eye.

That, and digital photographers who are afraid of film.
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What are your favorite things to photograph and why?

Austin has a legendary music reputation, and I follow the smaller, traditional honky tonk scene, which is a perfect complement to my style and medium. I love getting candid images of "regular" people, which goes back to my love of the timeless snapshots you see in junk stores and attics. I really enjoy tourist traps, old motels, abandoned buildings and the like, but
it’s not a particular THING that I like as much as a feeling that I like to capture.

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Whats your favorite tourist trap, destination, and/or roadside attraction?

Disneyland. That is my number one spot. It has to be. It's the pinnacle of the roadside attraction. I grew up going to Walt Disney World in Florida, but only recently had the pleasure of going to the older, smaller, California park. Disneyland is a time machine. Whereas “the World” promptly and completely updates its attractions in a race to stay relevant, Disneyland is a veritable archive of the 1960s.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, I love the mom and pop places, and especially ones that are either labors of love, or just holdovers from another time. Bedrock City, the Thing? (AZ), The Buckhorn Museum (TX), Spongearama, The Burt Reynolds Museum (FL), The Black Hole (Los Alamos, NM)... As a post script, I'm a huge fan of space travel, so Kennedy Space Center, Houston Space Center, Stennis Space Center, Griffith Observatory, and even SpaceX's testing facility in Texas (where I got chased away by a security guard) have all been on my itinerary.

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Whats on your agenda/ what do you want to accomplish next?
I came to Texas with a mythical vision of what Austin should be, and although my imagination and willpower is vivid enough to live as if that myth were true, Austin is a small place, and its almost time to move on. I figure the next myth to live is California. I am working out the logistics of relocating to Los Angeles. I feel I can spend a few years enjoying and photographing its vast beauty and history. After that, who knows?

Cardinal Cyn

What band/musical artist is currently in constant rotation?


I currently have an unnatural obsession with Annette Funicello. She has a kind of imperfect perfection that embodies a lot of what I love. I mean, honestly, she wasn't the world's greatest singer, but I can't stop listening to her.
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Anything else you'd like to add?
I have hinted, but I have not really hit directly on the real question: Why do I insist on film? The ephemeral vs the eternal. We live in a throwaway culture, and I refuse to be part of that. Film is tangible, and archival. A well-preserved Kodachrome slide will still be viewable 100, maybe 200 years from now or longer, but who knows if we will be able to read a jpeg file even fifty years from now.

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For more of Chad's work, check out his website:
www.starlite-studio.com


- JF

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shooting With Expired Film

Many of us still have old films in our refrigerators, freezers, or wherever we decided to toss them the day our digital cameras arrived. At some point you’re reminded that you still have all of these expired films residing somewhere in your studio or home. And now maybe you’re wondering what to do with the film that has long been expired or past their “use before” dates.
Whether you’re looking to buy, sell or use expired films, knowing their current condition will give you ideas about how much you should pay for, price or plan your shoot with them. Photographers of various disciplines have been buying, selling, using and experimenting with just about every type of film that was made and has expired. The key is to be familiar with the film that you’re using or planning to use. Consulting with the film’s data sheet will give you a good starting point when shooting and processing your expired film.


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The results that you can obtain from one brand or type of film are not typical and should not be assumed that they’re universal. Issues can arise with expired films such as loss of ASA speed, base fog and reciprocity failure, for example, and should be factored in when calculating exposures and planning development processes. How much or how little exposure and process compensation should be made based almost entirely on the known condition of your expired films. Developing the films as soon as you finish your shoot will further ensure your success of obtaining expected results. Exposed expired films deteriorate in a much faster rate than films that still retain their manufactured condition.
Color films are a bit more difficult to manage than their black & white counterparts. Most of us don’t have a home darkroom that is capable of handling color processing. And most commercial C-41 and E-6 processors are equipped with fully automated gear-and-roller transport systems that are easily contaminated if tampered with. Customizing your processing with these machines is difficult. A commercial dip-and-dunk film processing system or a rotary tabletop processor is necessary if any adjustment is required during the developing stage of film processing. Otherwise, your chance of obtaining ideal color images, chrome or negative, will depend entirely on their exposures during the shoot.


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I recommend to always use fresh films to shoot important events or jobs. Shooting with cheap, expired films is really limited to personal and experimental works. And, if you choose, there’s always digital editing to help you bring your images to life from less than ideal post-process materials.
Want a vintage effect on your photos without the use of editing software? Expired film is perfect for this! Many times, expired film will produce a loss of contrast and color shifts much like those in vintage photographs. Keep in mind that the longer the film has been expired (and how the film was stored), the more dramatic the effects and/or problems.
Your expired film may not turn out the way it should have, or did when it was still "good", but don’t be afraid to use it the next time you feel like doing some experimental shooting.

By: Kris Phimsoutham, all images © Kris Phimsoutham

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Giveaway Winners!

Thanks to everyone who commented and shared the site for our one year blogiversary! And now for the two winners of the KEH.com gift certificates.... (winners were drawn randomly through a random number generator)

1.- Mr. Steve
2.- lld

Please contact us at kehcamerablog(at)gmail(dot)com to claim your prize!

Monday, January 17, 2011

An Introduction to Digital Infrared

"The name infrared means below red, the Latin infra meaning "below". Red is the color of the longest wavelengths of visible light. Infrared light has a longer wavelength (and so a lower frequency) than that of red light visible to humans, hence the literal meaning of below red." (origins of the term from Wikipedia)

Some uses of infrared are for military surveillance, night vision, heating, communications, remote temperature sensing, weather forecasting, astronomy, art history to detect underpaintings, and more.


Infrared radiation can be used to remotely determine the temperature of an object. This is what is referred to as thermography. Infrared radiation is emitted by objects (living or non) based on their temperatures. Thermographic cameras detect that radiation and produce images of it, showing the variations in temperatures.

Infrared in "normal" or artistic photography is when the film or image sensor is sensitive to infrared (IR) light. In film photography, infrared was achieved by using a specific infrared film, either black and white, or color. IR wavelengths are longer than that of visable light, and the photography produced from it is often described as "surreal".

In digital infrared, a camera must be specifically outfitted for IR. Usually an "infrared filter" is used; this lets infrared (IR) light pass through to the camera, but blocks all or most of the visible light spectrum (the filter thus looks black or deep red). With most of these outfitted cameras, once its been converted to IR, you can only shoot it with IR (there's no quick switch back and forth). The digital IR converted cameras do not produce quite the same effect as infrared film, but they do produce a similar effect.

SOOC image from an IR converted digi point and shoot

The visual effects of IR are typically in color and tint/shade/tone shifts. The digital IR converted cameras will produce an overall reddish or purplish image straight out of the camera (SOOC). When converted to B&W, the most noticed effect will be that green foliage now shows up in whitish tones.

SOOC image from an IR converted DSLR

enhanced from original SOOC image

The majority if IR photographs are of landscapes, which show the most dramatic effects. When using IR in portrait work, it can give a glowing effect to skin, and shift the colors and tones in the eyes (example in the image below- the model has dark brown eyes which look to be very light in color in the photograph, as if they were a light blue).

IR image from DSLR, converted to B&W and enhanced

Tips: Since the SOOC images are mostly reddish in color, and the filters cut down on the light, keep in mind is that your exposure or light will need to increase. I found that for IR portraits (like the one above), using a hard constant light instead of a balanced flash will help keep contrast in your image instead of muddying it down to all gray tones.

Links: Search for an IR converted camera on KEH.com here.
Read more details on infrared photography here or here.
Check out a company that is doing digital conversions here.
See more IR images here and here.

* IR converted digital cameras are a top seller here at KEH. They sell very quickly when we get them in stock so if you're interested in purchasing a used one, checking back often is recommended. We are also purchasing these cameras at top dollar if you're looking to sell.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Use Old Lens Tubes to Make Snow Globes

Another fun winter themed repurposing idea for you: use old lens tubes to create little snow vignettes (similar to snow globes, minus the liquid inside).




To make:
Use a cupcake topper and stick the end into a small square of styrofoam which you can push into the lens mount of the tube. Fill with fake snow (shaved paper, plastic, wax, or coconut), screw together and its done! Or, instead of cupcake toppers, glue a small item (like the snowman) to a small square of styrofoam (and then complete like above). The great thing about these is there's no gluing on to the tube itself, so when the season is over, you still have your lens tube to use as normal. (Find plastic lens tubes here)


PS- Don't forget to enter our 1 year blogiversary giveaway! You have until Tuesday night (1/28) to enter to win a $100 KEH gift certificate. Enter here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Shutter Actuations


Shutter actuations, what are they? How accurate is the count? What is KEH's policy in relation to shutter actuations?

One of the most common questions asked of the Customer Service Department of KEH is, what is the actuation count of a digital camera I want to purchase? Before a question like that can even remotely be answered, I will define what an actuation is, and why it may be important.

Simply put, a shutter actuation is how many times the shutter has been fired on a particular camera. If you look up shutter actuations on the internet, all kinds of information is available about this subject. In trying to decipher all of this information, the question is, what is relevant and accurate? The relevance of knowing how many times the shutter has been fired on a particular camera is so that you can get an idea how much it has been used. For example, when purchasing a used car, you look at the odometer reading to determine how many miles it has been driven. Sounds logical, but is it an accurate way of determining how much a digital SLR has been fired?

Before I answer this question, I'll give a little background information... Shutter actuations predate DSLR's, but was previously not much of an issue. Digital technology has allowed consumers to fire camera shutters more frequently. Because of the expense of developing film and making prints, the shutter was simply not fired as much on film cameras. Now that a consumer can fire a shot, look at the image immediately, and delete the image if they choose, shutters are fired 10 fold (or more) than their predecessors.

Shutter actuation count ratings are usually available on the internet for many DSLR's. Just type in your camera model and search for the actuation count rating. An example is the Nikon D3. The shutter in this camera is rated for 300,000 shutter actuations. That doesn't mean the shutter will fail within one or two shots past the rating. It's just an average or guideline.
Accuracy is the one factor most people fail to take into account. If a consumer gets their shutter replaced by an independent repair shop, there is no reset button to start the shutter count all over again. The manufacturer may have the capability of resetting the shutter count, but, at this time, none of the manufacturer repair facilities have made that completely clear when questioned. For this reason, the shutter actuation count cannot be completely trusted. Fortunately, for you as a consumer, some of the most recent camera's will have the capability of having a shutter count and a mirror actuation count. This will eliminate the inaccuracy of actuation counts when a shutter is replaced.

So, in light of these facts, KEH does
not give out shutter actuations when selling used DSLR's. All of our used equipment is tested before reselling it to a consumer. We give a 6 month, non-transferable warranty and a 14 day return period for the customer to return it if they are not happy with the camera. We also provide the availability of a 2 year MACK warranty for most of our DSLR's.

There are logical conclusions that can be drawn from actuation counts even though they are inaccurate. For example, if the actuation count is five thousand, you know that the camera has not been used very much. If the count is 500,000, then the shutter has probably already been replaced. Again, for this reason, we always suggest that the 2 year warranty be purchased with the purchase of our DSLR's.

Hopefully this will clear up some misinformation you may have previously read, and let you know what our policies here at KEH are in regards to shutter actuations.

- Dennis Rouse

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Anniversary Giveaway!

This month marks the one year anniversary (or blogiversary) for the KEH blog! We have really enjoyed being able to publish this page for you and hope that you have enjoyed reading it. We are also really looking forward to what's in store for this next year!

So, because we want to share the celebration with the people that have made this possible (that's you!), we're hosting a giveaway right here on the KEH Blog. Contest runs for one week, Tuesday, January 11- Tuesday 18th. This time around, we're choosing TWO people to win, and each winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to KEH! Winners will be drawn at random and announced on Wednesday 1/19.


*To enter, leave a comment on this post telling us if you: Were a KEH customer before the blog, have become a customer since the blog, or have yet to purchase from us. Only one of these entries per person.

For an additional entry: Tweet, Facebook, and/or blog about our site and the giveaway. Leave a second comment on this post with the URL to your post or tweet in it. Make sure to leave the URL in a second comment, separate from your first one.

For those of you without a Blogger account, please make sure NOT to use the "anonymous" option. Under "Choose an identity", select Name/URL. If you have some type of website, you can enter it into the URL space. Make sure to fill out your first AND last name. We will post the winner by name, and it is the winners responsibility to contact us with their information so that we can send your gift certificate. You can also choose to leave an email address in your comment so that we can easily contact you. If the winner has not contacted us by Monday 1/24, another winner will be chosen.

Now enter, spread the word, and good luck!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tips for Shooting Snow



Shooting in snow and ice can be a little trickier then one might think. The two most common problems are exposure, and white balance. Keep the following tips in mind when shooting outdoors this winter.


* Get a good exposure, make the snow bright and white: If your scene is mainly snow, then your TTL (through the lens) meter will meter it as gray. To counteract this, you can overexpose (on manual mode- open up your aperture or slow your shutter speed), use exposure compensation (+ 1 or more stops), meter in a non-snowy area (a tone that would be approx. middle gray). To meter in this situation, it's best to set your meter on spot (read more about meters here).
You can also adjust your in-camera histogram so that you have correct levels. While yes, you can adjust these in your editing software program, it's always better to get a good exposure in-camera so that you're capturing to most data possible.

Another idea is to bracket, getting multiple shots of the same scene exposed slightly differently.

When brightening up your whites, make sure not to take it too far. Since you'll still want detail in the whites, there's a fine line between a good detailed white and whites that are blown out or clipped. In most snowy sunlit scenes, there will be some clipping, but expose so that the clipping happens in the appropriate areas.


* Adjust for color temperature and/or white balance. Some cameras allow you to adjust for color temperature, but for the majority of you, adjusting your white balance is your best bet. Shooting on a manual WB (and even using a tool such as an ExpoDisc) works well. If your images are too warm and need to cool the color off, you can set your WB to tungsten, which will add a blue cast.


* Pay attention to the sun/ light. Early morning and late afternoon are typically the best times of day to shoot outside. The sunlight is at it's most interesting because the sun is at a low angle which is less harsh than mid-day sun. It creates better shadows, and allows for more room to use the light in different ways (front light, side light, back light). If you want "bright" photos, wait until the snow has stopped since the sun isn't out when it's actually snowing (it's a gray sky).

Use a polarizing filter. This helps reduce reflections from the snow. Keep in mind that these filters reduce the amount of light coming in, so you may need to overexpose a little more.


* Consider your gear. Cool down/ warm up your equipment properly to avoid lens fogging and condensation (read more about this here).

Cold batteries loose power more quickly, so put them in a warmer spot, or bring extras.


If you are unsure how to use exposure compensation, change your metering preferences, use your histogram, change white balance, bracket, or any other camera related function, refer to your cameras owners manual or instruction book.



PS- Make sure to come back by tomorrow for our 1 year blogiversary giveaway!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Backing Up Your Data


Back Up Your Data:
The Modern Photographers Creed
Enter the age where the majority of what we create is being done digitally; it has been an amazing revolution to say the least. The benefits of creating in a digital age are endless, the most important being that the digital files can be copied infinitely with no noticeable signs of degradation. In the digital age, making copies or backing up is a necessity that comes with the medium. Sadly, not enough of us take the crucial steps in insuring our data remains accessible by making regular backups.

Backing up your data is as important as the initial capture whether we want to admit it or not, we are all guardians of what we create. If you don’t take this approach in the digital age you will most likely loose the irreplaceable. The irreplaceable that I speak of is primarily the photographic image of everyday life, our collective memories through pictures. This can be as informal as children playing around the house or as formal as a wedding, these moments are once in a lifetime. The apparent difference between the good old film days and current times is that most people don’t print their images anymore. This unfortunate phenomenon has made the total loss of images more possible than ever. In the not-so-distant past, images were put into photo albums and negatives were stored away in the ubiquitous shoebox. Today the image and the negative (the digital capture) are one in the same which is why diligence is needed to preserve it. The backing up of all your data should be a regular practice with photos and videos taking precedence over music and commercial movies. Again, focus on the irreplaceable in understanding what should be backed up.

When shooting digitally, I do not erase my memory cards or reformat them until I’ve made copies into my computer and external hard drives. An external hard drive is a peripheral to your main computer that lets you easily make scheduled or manual backups of your data. An extra hard drive is now considered a crucial accessory in the photographer’s arsenal. It’s equally important as all the must haves in the most well stocked of gadget bags. Storage is very affordable nowadays as we’ve reached a point in technologically where’s it’s cheap to manufacture. This being said, you can never have enough storage. You can purchase either portable or desktop external hard drives. Most portable drives are roughly (3 x 5 x 0.5) inches in size, which will hold 250GB’s to 1 terabyte of data. You can never have enough storage space but an extra 250GB’s in your pocket will suit many photographers needs. The 1 terabyte drive is substantial for most and should really appeal to those shooting video, or RAW still images, which will require massive amounts of space. The external desktop hard drive sits on your desktop and is roughly (10 x 6 x 1) inches. You can buy desktop external drives with a maximum of 2TB’s of storage space available. This is plenty for most users and can easily backup your entire system with one click. In most current computers on the market today, backup automation comes standard with the operating systems. If you have an older computer running Windows XP or a dated MAC OS, you can do it manually by the simple copy and paste action onto your external hard drive. It’s important to copy and paste, not cut and paste because cut and paste moves one set of files to another location. Copy and paste replicates your original files, which is what you want.

After backing up your data and creating more, one must be able to find it, quickly and efficiently. Luckily we live in an age where our computers find things easier than we do, so employ your computer to find your images. There is a an endless amount of software you can purchase for image organization but one of the best is free and that is Google’s Picasa. If you don’t have it, I suggest getting it, as it has amazing search and organization abilities. It neatly displays and uploads your images and has several interfaces to choose from. Picasa is quite robust and once you use it you’ll ask how you lived without it.

Once you’ve completed your scheduled backup (say once a month?) it’s now time to find a strategic location for your backup. If your main system is a desktop or a laptop the goal is to keep your master files and backups in separate locations. This is good insurance against fire or theft. If you are a real stickler or true guardian of all that you’ve created, I would keep a backup of your files in a safe deposit box or a separate residence from your own. Again, these are safe measures against the unforeseen threats of floods, fire and theft. I make backups of my backups for that very reason and they all live in several locations for added insurance. Backing up should be a regular practice because hardware does fail, computers are lost, stolen and found, so one does need (all puns intended) a backup plan. The beautiful reality is that there are now sizable solid state drives (meaning no moving parts) showing up not only as CF and SD cards but as hard drives. This doesn’t mean we can stop worrying about backing up our data, but it does mean much more stable (less chance of failing) hardware.
- Michael Reese
***
Editors note: While I agree with most of what Michael suggests, my views differ slightly and thought that it would be good to give a different perspective. He suggests backing up only what is important, while my views are back up everything! I've lost things before that I didn't even think to back up, or didn't think were that important until I've actually lost them. I suggest backing up all your files: photos, documents, music, applications/programs, etc. Another thing most people don't think to back up is their Internet bookmarks. Earlier this year I lost years worth of bookmarks, probably in the high hundreds, for stuff I haven't been able to go back and find through Internet searches. This is easy to do, just go up to the bar at the very top of your Internet browser, go to the bookmarks tab, "organize bookmarks", and then "import and backup". I always back up as a file and backup using "export HTML", which I then email to myself. This also allows me to access my bookmarks through email from any computer I may be on.

Another thing we slightly differ on is file organization. Instead of just relying on a search feature or online organizing tool, I organize my personal files so that I can always go back and easily find them myself. I start with a folder for each year (ex. 2010, 2009, 2008). Then comes a sub-folder for each month (January, February, etc.). In each month, my folders are labeled by photo shoot title, project, event name, etc. Folders that would not be included by chronological dates includes a work folder with other folders for "website", "promos", and other business related files that don't fit into a specific month. Beyond that, I even keep folders organized with things I use often for home such as addresses and printable address label files, or documents to be read and then trashed.

No matter what your preferences, find a system that works best for you, set a schedule for regular back ups, and just do it!

PS- For non-digital files- paperwork, photos, etc. This is a great article on Taking Care of your Personal Archives.

Monday, January 3, 2011

KEH's Best of 2010

Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. We're moving right along again and have some exciting things in store for you. For this months "roundups" post, we have the usual categories, plus we've added a bunch of links to our "best of 2010" posts. I know many of you haven't been reading with us since we started the blog last January, so this gives you the opportunity to go back and check out some of our very best and readers favorites.

We truly hope that you have been enjoying our site and have been learning some new things along the way. We're planning on doing a little virtual expanding here this year, and hope that you'll stick with us, spread the word, and communicate back to us. We're always open to suggestions, so don't be shy... if you'd like to see an article written on a specific topic, let us know and we'll do our best to make that happen. We're here because of you and for you! The last thing I have to say before we move on, is a huge "thanks" to everyone who has/will read this site, follow it, link to it, contribute to it, leave comments and suggestions, and just plain like and appreciate it.

Must see posts December:
* Repurposing vintage flashbulbs
* Gift wrapping with photo items
* Leica Freedom Train
*
Video tips
*
Shaped bokeh

January post preview:

Backing up your data, vintage magazine covers for winter, New Years photo resolutions, tips for shooting snow, a note on shutter actuations, infrared portraits, a new series debuts, more of your favorite products, tips, and links, and our 1-year blogiversay (with giveaways!).


Best of 2010

Most popular:
* Showing Their Love Permanent Style* Camera Killers- dust and fungus
* Keeping Things Clean
* Machine gun camera
* Photo Charities
* Flashbulbs and gift wrapping (see above, December)
* Vintage ads
* Camera guessing game

Best tips, learning, and most important company related info:
* Our grading and checking system
* PDFs on Website
* Light Meters
* Macro Options
* Memory cards tips and updated info. on new memory cards
* The Periodic Table and Photography* Crop Factor
* Digital Lens Compatibility pt. 1, 2, 3
* Troubleshooting light leaks
* Choosing the right lens
* Tips for quicker returns and exchanges
* Reasons to buy used
* Gear theft and damage tips
* If you drop your camera into water
* Tips for selling us your gear

Most fun:
* Tripod lamp- DIY
* Word Search
* Create a filter
* Camera robots
* Repurposing: old lens cases and large format film holders

Best "other":
* Brief history + old photos
* A Techs Tools* The Path of Equipment


PS- We have also added 3 new "topic quick links" over on the right sidebar- Cameras, Lenses, and Lighting... for easy topic searches and browsing!