Thursday, 18 of December of 2014

Profiles in Photography: Alex Wild

Profiles in Photography: Alex Wild

This week we’re featuring scientific photographer Alex Wild in our Profiles in Photography. Scientific photography is a very interesting area of photography which can encompass many different fields ranging from astrophotography and cosmological photography (photography and photo-editing from big space satellites like Hubble and Cassini) to microscopic photography of electrons and other sub-atomic particles that can only be seen with specialized equipment. Most commonly, however, scientific photographers capture images of nature — either landscape, atmospheric, meteorological, or animal. Sometimes these photos are lovely and sometimes they are alien. However, they all give us the chance to see the world through very different eyes.

Alex Wild got his start in scientific photography in 2002 when he started photographing insects. He was a biologist who was fascinated by Nature’s six-legged little creatures. He found photographing his subjects provided an aesthetic complement to his scientific work. His photos of wasps, bees, beetles, ants, and various other arthropods has been featured in many publications and on many networks ranging from A&E to the National Geographic and even the Smithsonian.

Bugs might give many of us a creepy sensation but Alex Wild has an uncanny knack for making these creatures look both alien and adorable in turn. And no matter how we might feel about these creatures, they are a very important part of our biosphere and it is wonderful that photographers like Alex Wild are getting more people interested in studying them and learning their habits. The scientific community could use many more photographers like him.

— da Bird


Nikon 1 V3: Third Time’s A Charm

Nikon 1 V3: Third Time's A Charm

A few weeks ago, I got my hands on the new Nikon 1 V3 with a 10-30mm lens for a test run. The results were fairly interesting. Having not had any experience with earlier generations of this line-up, I didn’t have much of a baseline to compare it to. However, based off reviews from other sites, I knew that the V3 had several features that the V2 had lacked such as better customizable controls, a more organized and intuitive menu system, and a slimmer profile.

Still, those things were only the beginning. Working in Auto Mode, I was able to go out and get some really great shots of Christmas lights around town. Shooting Christmas lights in residential areas is always a tricky endeavor since you can’t really carry around a lot of lighting equipment, people tend to frown on you walking through their yards, and the lighting situation is extremely fluid — you have to deal with street lights of varying intensity and color, the brightness of the moon, the cloud cover, and other cars passing by with their headlights on. All in all, it’s probably one of the best challenges for a camera’s Auto Mode. I’m happy to say that the Nikon 1 V3 passed it with flying colors.

Beyond that, the camera’s size made it easy to carry around without having to sacrifice much on sensor power and processing. The Nikon 1 V3 is practically a DSLR minus the bulk. The video features were fun to play with though my results were more evidence that my own video shooting skills need some work. However, the continuous 20 fps shooting for still photography saved me a lot of headaches when I was shooting in hand-held mode (again — carrying around a tripod to get photos of Christmas lights gets you a lot of strange looks). The touchscreen menu makes it easy to make adjustments on the fly while also acting as a replacement for the viewfinder. The built-in WiFi settings are easy to work with and allow you to set the camera up one place and control it with your smartphone using the app provided by Nikon.

If you’re looking for a good, adaptable camera to carry around with you in addition to more specialized gear or if you’re looking to make the transition from point and shoots upwards but aren’t certain you want to go all the way to DSLRs, the Nikon 1 V3 is the perfect camera for you.

— da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s been another busy week in the world of photography as the holidays get closer and closer. Many photography magazines and pros have been putting up guides on suggested gifts for photographers of various levels as well as reviews and hands-on articles concerning newer cameras. In addition to that, photographers around the world have been posting images and stories about the various Christmas and season displays taking place in their area and portrait photographers have been offering specific advice for how to capture the best family photos during the holidays.

All of these stories and more were featured on our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter, we’ll recap the highlights for you below!


That’s all for this week, folks! Have a great weekend and we’ll see you again next week!

— da Bird


Profiles in Photography: Yvonne Zemke

Profiles in Photography: Yvonne Zemke

Weddings can be a very stressful occasion. Ideally, they are a once-in-a-lifetime event and a lot of time, money, planning, and energy go into pulling them off. One of the most important parts of the wedding and reception, though, is ensuring that it is photographed well and in such a way as to capture the joy of the occasion and the details that went into making it happen. That means that couples need to find a really talented photographer to help them with that task. One of the best wedding photographers of our time is Yvonne Zemke, a German photographer known for her very artistic and well-thought-out wedding photography.

Zemke commands a high price in her line but she is well worth it. Her monochrome photos and her ability to work well with natural lighting give her wedding photos a sense of timelessness and class that many other wedding photos lack. She disdains elaborate posing during the ceremony and reception, preferring to capture more candid and natural images. Her photos are always very atmospheric and the prints can go into an album or up on the wall, allowing the newlyweds to always remember the day that they bound themselves to each other.

Zemke cites the works of Robert Doisneau and Elliot Erwitt as being influential in her own photography. Though Doisneau’s photo “le baiser de l’hôtel du ville” used posing to set it up, she considers it a great example of everything she would like to express in her own photography. Should you have the chance to get her to photograph your wedding, she is highly recommended.

— da Bird


Lytro Illum: Next Generation Photography Today

Lytro is a relatively new player to the photography field. A brand-new start-up founded in 2006 by Ren Ng, a guy who researched light field at Stanford University, Lytro makes very specialized cameras that go far beyond what most cameras on the consumer market are designed to do. Lytro’s first camera was a light-field (also called “plenoptic”) camera. It was pocket-sized and could focus images after they had been captured whereas most consumer cameras require you to focus the image prior to taking it (some sharpening work can be done in post-production but, on average, if an image is out-of-focus in the camera, it’s not going to be in focus afterwards). Light-field photography is a new field that requires a very different kind of lensing and sensor system in the camera. It can be used for range imaging, 3D-TV imaging, and for post-capture focusing.

After the success Lytro enjoyed with their first camera, they have just released the Lytro Illum which takes photography to an entirely different level. With an imaging sensor that is, in essence, composed of many different mini-lenses on a sensor, the Illum doesn’t just capture the overall lighting and subjects of a scene — it captures data about the direction of each lighting aspect in a way that allows for 3D manipulation later on. It also allows you to break the accepted rules on composition, the rule of thirds, and motion in non-flash photography. In short, this is a camera that really does take photography into a completely futuristic direction and that could wind up being a major game-changer in the industry over the next few years.

The Lytro Illum’s design also ignores a lot of the traditions in photography. Instead of just having an eye-level view-finder, it’s got a screen in the back with the entire backside of the camera slanted at an angle that allows for the photographer to use it at chest level or lower without having to go into contortions to do it. The controls are simple, fairly intuitive, and placed within easy reach. Since focusing isn’t such a factor, images can be captured and manipulated both on the camera and later on a computer. The lens that comes with the Lytro Illum is one of the most versatile lenses on the market, matching the Sony RX10 for sheer range of adaptability.

However, like all first-generation in a new line cameras, the Illum is not without some problems. Since the camera is not just an image-capturing device but is almost a mini-photography studio with massive processing power, it can’t capture as many images as quickly as other high-end cameras. The LCD screen can also lag or go unresponsive when the sensors and chips are busy plugging away at data processing. There is a bit of a learning curve with using it since the Illum is such a different kind of photography animal. One must grow accustomed to thinking about the photos as shooting in layers — much like one might layer images in Photoshop — instead of capturing the scene as a whole in one photo. Since it is a light-field camera, it has difficulties capturing images in low-light settings. However, once you’ve become accustomed to the Lytro Illum , you’ll find it quite easy to “think” as the camera does and won’t make the same mistakes very often. The other flaw is that the desktop software needed to import and edit images is still a bit buggy. It requires a higher-end computer and graphics card to run and feels more like an alpha or early-beta program release than something that was thoroughly and properly vetted by an experienced QA department.

Those two problems aside, though, the Lytro Illum is a great camera for photography pros and enthusiasts. It’s completely unlike any other camera on the market and can help you take your photography into a completely different direction regardless of what field you work in.

— da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

This week has been a very busy one in the world of photography with Black Friday on last Friday and the sales on photography gear continuing through Cyber Monday and all this week. If you haven’t check ours out yet, do so before they end! In addition to great deals on photography gear, this week’s news has been filled with gear lists and wishlists from and for photographers of all kinds — novice, pro, portrait, landscape, and wedding. Also, there have been many articles out on how to capture the perfect photo for tree-lighting ceremonies and for residential holiday displays.

All of these stories and more were featured on our Twitter feed this week. But, if you’re not following us on Twitter, we’ll recap the highlights for you below.


That’s all for this week, folks! Have a great weekend and we’ll see you again next week!

— da Bird


Profiles in Photography: Brad Goldpaint

Profiles in Photography: Brad Goldpaint

Astrophotography is probably one of the most fascinating and beautiful fields in photography. Combining the scientific field of astronomy with the artistic field of photography, astrophotographers constantly show us just how vast the universe is and how beautiful and incomprehensible it can be. One of the best current astrophotographers is Brad Goldpaint whose images have been featured in photography and scientific publications.

Goldpaint originally became an architect, getting degrees in that field and going to work for a firm in California that specialized in modern and contemporary architectural designs. He had been possessed with a deep love of the wilderness and wandering since he was young. However, he did not make the transition to photography until after his mother passed away. Needing to get away from the stresses of his life, he spent several months hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. He had a camera with him and began taking outdoor photos as a way to chronicle his journey. From there, he began capturing images of nature and the night sky.

His work is frequently based is Oregon with Crater Lake been a common destination. He usually works on the Pacific coast or in areas within the western states. If you ever get the chance to see an exhibit of his work or attend one of his workshops, go prepared to see the majesty of the wilderness and the night sky in a way that will knock the air from your lungs. You can check to see what he’s working on by following him on Twitter or Facebook.


5 Christmas Light Photography Tips

5 Christmas Light Photography Tips

This is the time of year when just about everyone with pretensions towards being artistically inclined (or who are really, really proud of their house) starts decorating their homes and yards with Christmas lights. Strands of lights, tinsel, garlands of pine or holly, seasonal displays — all of these things can be found in just about any suburb in the United States. Investing in power companies would be wise this time of year since the way that people like to light up the night with their holiday arrangements has to have the power meter spinning.

Many of these arrangements are beautiful and well worth taking photos or video of them. However, actually capturing them can be difficult — much like capturing images of lightning or fireworks can be very tricky. But, if your heart is set on this, we’ve got some tips to help you out!

1) No flash, please — And here’s the killer. Flash partly allows you to capture images in lower light settings by providing enough light for your camera’s sensor to “see” the scene. However, though it will need to be dark (or at least the sunlight will need to be very, very muted), flash is the last thing you want because it will overwhelm the lights you’re trying to photograph.

2) Take longer exposures — Since you are shooting in a low light setting, you need to leave the shutter open longer, using a slower shutter speed to do this. Note that this works best on non-blinking lights since blinking lights can create “ghosts” in the photo.

3) A tripod is required — With no flash, longer exposures, and a lower-light ISO set, you really can’t have the camera move. At all. So get a tripod and use it. Holding the camera isn’t going to work unless the thing holding is a lot more immoveable than your arms.

4) Change the white balance — If possible change the white balance setting to “tungsten” or the like as that will help you with the metering. Tungsten is the kind of setting you would use indoors with just normal household lights for lighting.

5) Tinker with background and foreground contrasts — Sometimes letting the lights appear as blurred dots while you focus on something in the foreground can make for a better photo. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find out!

Christmas lighting displays are something that many people take a great deal of pride in arranging. Follow our Christmas light photography tips and take a bit more control over your camera’s settings to help you to capture the fruits of their hard work and share those photos with others!

— da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Even with the holiday yesterday it’s been a busy week in the world of photography. Photographers are looking ahead to the holidays to come and have plenty of advice on matters ranging from choosing your first camera to whether or not to set up a photography studio. There have also been a veritable smorgasbord of reviews and hands-on articles with new cameras, advice about photography techniques, and gear that you can use in the year to come.

All of these stories and more were featured on our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter, we’ll recap the highlights for you below!


That’s all for this week, folks! Have a great weekend and we’ll see you again next week!

— da Bird


Profiles in Photography: Norman Reedus

Norman Reedus is a name that many of you out there will know. He’s one of the leading actors in AMC’s runaway hit series The Walking Dead. Until he was cast in the role of Daryl Dixon — specially created for him after he auditioned for the role of Merle — Reedus was one of the many thousands of underrated actors. Best known pre-Walking Dead for his performance in Boondock Saints, Reedus tends to play the bad boys. However, off the screen, Norman Reedus is an avid amateur photographer. He first became interested in photography while traveling around shooting for some of his earlier works with John Carpenter.

He even has a photography book out: The Sun’s Coming Up Like A Big Bald Head. In it, he features some of his best work. Reedus has a way of finding beauty in some of the most unusual things — such as roadkill. With his contractual obligations, Reedus is unable to show some of the candid behind-the-scenes photos he shoots while working on The Walking Dead. However, he does like to show off images from around the area he’s working in. Much of his work is in black-and-white photography though he does dabble in color and contrast.

Norman Reedus is not classically trained in photography but he does have a definite eye for finding hidden beauty in many settings. His travels around the world have given him a rare opportunity to see strange sights and to capture them with his camera to show them to his fans and to the rest of the world. Should you get the chance to visit any exhibit showcasing his work or to get his book, do so. He’s not just a talented actor; he’s also a fine photographer.

— da Bird