Friday, 1 of August of 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s been another busy week in the world of photography. With anniversaries such as the D-Day landings and Tienanmen Square falling over the past two weeks, photographers have been busy capturing the remembrance ceremonies or digging through their archives for photos they have of the original events. Beyond that, Panasonic, Sony, Nikon, and Olympus have all been sending out their latest and greatest for hands-on trials from the experts. And, photography professionals have been out and about offering tips and advice on everything from straightening sheets in the background to starting your own photography firm.

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


That’s all for this week. Have a great weekend and see you again next week!

– da Bird


Fun With Photography: Rolling Shutter Effect

Fun With Photography: Rolling Shutter Effect

There are a lot of fun things you can do with photography to capture images in a way that is not always true to life but is still fairly interesting. One of those tricks is the Rolling Shutter Effect which can give you images like the ones shown in this animated .gif.

So, how does this work? It’s actually fairly simple. Most people will hold the camera still when taking a photo. To get the rolling shutter effect, either the shutter needs to be open for longer or the camera needs to be moving relative to the photo being taken or the subject is moving relative to the camera. There’s a great article up at DIY Photography if you’d like to learn more about how to make this technique work for you.

Also, please note that the rolling shutter is really only possible with CMOS sensor cameras. And, if you do have some great photos captured using this effect, feel free to share them with us over on Facebook!


Great Gifts for the Photographer Father

Great Gifts for the Photographer Father

Father’s Day is coming up this Sunday and it’s time to start considering some great gifts to give your dad. Power tools, ties, sporting gear, and computers are all well and good and many dads will love them. However, if your father is into photography, then he might prefer some of the great selections from Sony, Canon, and Nikon for this Father’s Day.

First of all, there’s the Sony Alpha 58. This DSLR comes available in several different bundles to meet your particular needs and is fully-loaded with dozens of great features including auto HDR, SteadyShot INSIDEimage stabilization, lock-on AF for even easier focusing of moving subjects, and an advanced 15-point AF system with three cross-sensors. This camera is great for entry-level DSLR users or for experienced professionals who are looking for a solid camera without all of the bulk of the bigger DSLRs.

Secondly comes the Nikon D3300 DSLR. Like the Sony Alpha, the Nikon D3300 comes loaded with dozens of great features to help you take your photography to the next level. However, the Nikon D3300 also allows for integration with your smartphone, letting you use your phone as a remote viewfinder or remote control. It also is WiFi compatible, making it easy to upload and share your photos where ever you are.

Last but not least is the Canon EOS Rebel T3i. This DSLR is one of Canon’s finest members of the EOS line. With all of the features photographers have come to expect from an EOS, the Rebel T3i also includes great image stabilization, reducing the need for tripods or other accessories, and comes with a price tag that makes it one of the most economical DSLRs for anyone to own.

And, with fast, free shipping on all of these cameras, if you order them soon, you’ll easily have them in plenty of time for Father’s Day!

– da Bird


Photography Blunders

Photography Blunders

Photographers are human beings just like any other professional and sometimes they – as anyone else can – can exhibit bouts of common sense that make observers wonder just how they manage to get out of bed in the morning. However, usually when it’s a photographer involved in making a monumental blunder, chances are it will be recorded on film (or memory card) for posterity. So, what are the five most epic photography blunders we’ve come across? And have you ever engaged in any of them?

1) Isn’t that supposed to shade the lens? — Some photographers will shell out loads of money for new lenses and then will put the lens hood on wrong so that the lens gets a lot of extra light which can cause the photo to come out overexposed.

2) Um, it’s mighty dark in here — This one is a classic that I’m sure everyone has done at some point. You’ve got your camera and you’re ready to record the big moment and you get the photos snapped just in time…to realize that you forgot to take the lens cap off.

3) Where are the photos? — Okay, you didn’t forget to remove the lens cap but you did forget to do something else. Namely, load the film or the memory card in the camera. This isn’t such a huge deal these days with cameras having more and more on-board memory but it was something that I was well-known for back in my younger days

4) The camera will magically fix it — This is something that people who over-rely on Automatic Mode tend to fall prey to — the belief that the chip and sensor inside the camera are some kind of all-powerful, benevolent photography beings who will be able to magically edit out lens flares, ghosting, blurriness, under or over-exposure, and just generally bad photography habits.

5) It said it was waterproof… — Not reading the specs on a camera is a good way to get into trouble easily. Many waterproof cameras can only go down 30 feet at most. After that, the pressure differential causes problems and they’ll spring leaks. Some will not work well in salt water or water with a lot of silt in it. Be sure to check your owner’s manual before strapping on your waterproof camera and going cave diving or something like that.

So, those are five of the most epic (and easily avoided) blunders we’ve seen. What are some of the funniest blunders you’ve seen a photographer make? Let us know in the comments below!

– da Bird


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s Friday again and, even with Monday having been a holiday, it’s still been a busy week in the world of photography. Now that the kids are out of school for the summer, there have been a lot of articles written for parents who want to capture the special summertime moments of their kids’ lives and for children who are just beginning to express interest in photography. There have also been a lot of reveals and hands-on with Olympus, Pentax, and Sony over the past week as they get the cameras scheduled for fall release into the hands of testers across the web.

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

That’s all for this week. Have a great weekend and see you again on Monday!

– da Bird


Group Stock Photography

Group Stock Photography

Taking photos of large groups of people — such as at family gatherings, business meetings, conventions, etc — can be very tricky. And, while this article over at Improve Photography has a lot of great advice on how to get better photos of groups, the photos its using literally set my teeth on edge. It’s pretty obvious that these are all heavily posed stock photography shots using professional models which is a great way to convince the real, normal people out there that there is something terribly wrong with them when the group photos they’re involved in turn out looking like groups of real human beings.

For the most part, I have no real beef with stock photography. We make use of it a lot to showcase examples of certain kinds of photography — nature, wildlife, scientific, etc. And, marketing departments use it all the time which is why it’s becoming increasingly obvious when a photo is a “real” photo as opposed to a stock photography photo. So, I’d like to offer some advice to stock photographers out there in hopes of improving the quality of the photos they sell to stock photography sites and decreasing the number of “some VP will love this photo that would absolutely never happen anywhere in the multiverse because real people don’t act that way” style photos that tend to pervade such exchanges.

1) Stop with the overblown expressions already — The only way a photo like this would actually exist in nature would be if the two women were looking at a hated rival’s computer screen that had, helpfully, shown them every single bit of information they needed to ensure that said rival would have their life, career, marriage, and social life completely destroyed. Or if they were looking at Godzilla, King Kong, and Mothra working together to rebuild Tokyo. Yes, I know, these photos are popular with marketing departments. They’re also extremely unpopular with customers.

2) In any group of people, there is going to be someone who looks like crap — If you take fifteen people at random, someone in that collection will have had a poor night’s sleep. Or they might have sunburned over the weekend. Their hair won’t be perfect. They’ll have freckles. Someone will be overweight. So, seriously, stop with the groups where everyone is trim with fresh makeup and in suits. Also: suits. Suits do great on the East Coast. They get you laughed at for being a complete Poindexter on the West Coast. And that business casual yuppie thing needs to stop right this minute. No one dresses like that. Ever.

3) Tokenism is still bigotry — Any photographer or company who uses images with only one black person, only one Asian person, or only one person in “ethnic” dress to try to communicate how diverse they are is a company run by people who are socially inept. So, seriously, stop with the tokenism in stock photography. It’s stupid.

4) Never again take a photo of false enthusiasmThis never happens. Never. So stop photographing people doing it. There will never, in the history of the multiverse, be an instance when a bunch of people dressed like they just walked out of JC Penney’s will stand around a laptop without a logo on the back looking beyond it with their fists in the air in a victorious manner. The closest you might get is a bunch of sports fans watching a game or something but their expressions won’t be so fake and they’ll be looking at the screen and not the camera.

5) There is no family that sits in bed with a laptop and someone holding up a credit card — Generally, if someone has a laptop in bed, they’re single, in their 20s, and aren’t going to have immaculate living spaces. If someone is old enough to have two children and a spouse, they’re not going to gather the whole family in bed to do online shopping. Actually, they’ll probably rarely consult with the children on a purchase (seriously, are there any parents who involve young children in financial decisions?) that isn’t for the children themselves. So, photos like this one should not exist.

Now, with all that said, there are some really great stock photographs out there that involve people and look real, sincere, and communicate a clear message other than “I’m doing this because some idiot above my pay grade thought it was a great idea.” If you’re ever curious about which category a photo should go in, ask yourself if you could imagine the photo happening without being elaborately staged. If the answer is “no,” then that is a stock photo you should stay well away from.

– da Bird


Memorial Day

All gave some. Some gave all. Today, we honor those who have paid the price for our freedom.

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. While many take today to barbeque, get together with their families, and enjoy the warming weather, it is also a day of remembrance for all who fought and died in the wars from the Civil War to the War in Iraq. According to our resident historian, the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries were something of a charnel house with the Civil War, two World Wars and then a longer Cold War with several flare-ups. Yet, through it all, brave men and women answered the call to fight and die so that others could live their lives in peace and freedom.

Memorial Day is more than just a day for cooking on the grill, catching the latest sales, or spending time with the family. We should all take a few moments today to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live on, carrying their lights in our memories even after they themselves returned to dust.

Thanks to all who have served and are serving now!

– Beach Camera


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s Friday again bringing an end to another busy week in the world of photography. And, there have been plenty of things for photographers to cover this week from the flooding in the Balkans to the latest cameras from Sony and new lens design materials from Nikon. There have been plenty of helpful how-tos and guides posted as well covering everything from indoor photography to astrophotography.

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


That’s all for this week, folks. Have a great Memorial Day weekend and see you again on Monday!

– da Bird


A Good Start on Photography Basics

A Good Start on Photography Basics

If you’ve been wanting to get a good grasp on the basics of more advanced photography and a good reference guide you can consult in one place, you should check out Improve Photography’s Photo Basics guides. In five simple-to-understand installments with plenty of good illustrations and examples, they explain everything any aspiring photographer would need to know in order to start moving up in the more advanced fields of professional photography. They also have a great series of articles on setting up a professional photography business and studio for those who are further along the path in their photography.

Probably the best piece of advice given is to get off Auto Mode and start learning how to gauge and handle exposure yourself by manipulating the aperture, shutter speed, and the ISO so that you have greater control over the white balance in your photos. White balance is a very important part of making a photo look “right” and, on auto mode, the camera tends to overexpose images and let in too much light instead of muting the images and going with less light. That’s why beginning sunset and sunrise photographs generally look very washed out or look good only if the photographer is also using HDR mode tricks. HDR can bring a lot of depth of color to a photo but relying on it to always do that is unwise and is a crutch that photographers should work to get away from. Additionally, there are many cases where HDR will not help you at all but knowing how to manipulate the settings would (cave photography, nighttime photography, shooting in a forest with thick overhead foliage).

Additionally, once you understand the different parts of how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO work, it will make it easier for you to decide which lens to use in a DSLR for a given effect you want to achieve. For instance, while macro lenses are great for scientific photography (close-ups of flowers, bugs, etc), they can also be used for portrait or landscape photography but with a different look-and-feel. Telephoto lenses are generally used for wildlife or nature photography but a skilled photographer with a good sense of humor could easily use them for capturing images of friends and family at play.

What are some of the questions you wish you’d had easy answers to when you first got into photography? Let us know in the comments below!

– da Bird


Working With the Sun in Photography

Working With the Sun in Photography

This weekend will be Memorial Day weekend and that’s when many of us here in the United States consider summer to start — regardless of what the calendar and the moon say. Summer photography means generally more light, brighter light, and more heat needs to be taken into account when doing any kind of outdoor photography. Lens flares and ghosts from the sun’s rays can be either intrusive or desirable depending on the effect you’re going for in that particular photo. So, with that in mind, here are a few tips to help you deal with the sun and its impact in your outdoor photography during these summer months.

1) People will squint if forced to look towards the sunlight. This is not a controllable thing. Plenty of parents and novice photographers seem to think that their subjects can control all of their involuntary reactions. The desire to use the sun as any other lighting source is strong and far too many photographers have their subjects face into the sun and are then displeased with the squinting eyes.

2) Be careful of shooting into the sunlight. The optics and sensors in the average commercial camera are not designed to withstand repeated shots of the sun. Generally you’ll need to place a screen of a welder’s mask over the lens to protect the optics if you are trying to get a shot of an eclipse or a transport or something else crossing between Earth and the Sun. Also, if you’re doing sky photography or sunset photos, then you will still need to be careful to use the proper settings and filters to keep from burning out your camera.

3) Don’t go to the other extreme of no-light. Okay, so you’ve finally gotten sick of squinting photographs and decided to put your subjects in the shade where the light is diffuse and the temperature moderately cooler. Only now, your photos are too dark. What’s a photographer to do? Well, you can pick a shady area that isn’t completely dark but where the sunlight is softened and muted by overhead foliage, a screen, or buildings.

4) If the lighting is getting to you, try bouncing it. You don’t need a big, expensive muted or frosted-glass mirror that weighs a ton to help you redirect light. A few pieces of cardboard and some tin foil will do the trick nicely. This way, you can reflect and refract the light from the sun to exactly where you want it and, with practice, you can even control the intensity of the lighting to a limited extent. Portrait photographers often do this with those umbrella lighting rigs you see in their studios.

5) Sunscreen. Don’t be reckless about being out in the sun and don’t demand that your subjects be reckless. Use sunscreen to ensure that the next day’s photos aren’t either painful or involving people who are beet-red and tired from a night of not sleeping well.

6) Water. As the temperatures climb, take frequent water breaks and insist that your subjects drink water as well. Better that you need to arrange for an unscheduled trip to the loo than an unscheduled trip to the ER for heat exhaustion.

– da Bird