Friday, 29 of August of 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s been another busy week in the world of photography. Sports photographers have been making the trek down to Brazil to capture the action of the World Cup. Canon, Fujifilm, and Olympus have been putting out guides and updates on camera and photography gear maintenance. And, as always, photographers have been giving advice on everything from how to capture the perfect selfie to how to get great underwater shots.

All of these things and more were covered 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 weekend and see you again next week!

– da Bird


2014 iPhone Photography Award Winners Announced

2014 iPhone Photography Award Winners Announced

Just a few days ago, the 2014 iPhone Photography Award winners were announced. Looking over the entries, it’s clear to see that a skilled photographer can make any rig or gear work for them (within reason). Entrants are not allowed to manipulate their photos on a computer at all but can only apply effects or filters through iPhone/iPad apps such as Instagram.

Still, even with that limitation, the winning entries are stunning. I think my favorite this year is the one of the sky at twilight reflected in water by Littel Su of Taiwan. The colors are very rich and smooth and it takes a lot of skill to be able to get a properly balanced image in a darkened environment on a smartphone. The smiling fox is also adorable and would have required a photographer who is skilled at dealing with wildlife and quick on the draw — something that is difficult with smartphones since the least little wiggle will cause blurring.

While the IPPAs showcase the skill and talent needed to be a truly great iPhone photographer, the fact that mobile photography continues to grow and evolve means that camera manufacturers will need to make a lot of improvements in their point-and-shoot cameras if they want to continue to stay relevant and ahead of the trend of using cameras built into other gadgets as the first camera of choice for instant photography.

– da Bird


Firework Photography

Firework Photography

July 4th is just around the bend which means it’s time to start thinking about how to improve your firework photography technique so that your images don’t come out hazy, overexposed, or otherwise distorted. In the past, we’ve offered a few short tips on how to photograph fireworks but this year, we’d like to go a little more in depth.

1) Make certain you have a sturdy tripod, a good remote, and an extended life battery — If you’re a fireworks photography novice, you’re going to be constantly reviewing and adjusting your settings until you hit the sweet spot so you want to make certain that your camera isn’t going to wiggle or tip while you’re photographing several seconds’ worth of exposures. Also, the remote not only decreases the chance of user-caused camera shake, it also allows you to enjoy the show instead of focusing on what you can see through the viewfinder only.

2) Turn off long exposure noise reduction and live view — Long exposure noise reduction works by taking 10-second exposures and averaging them. However, fireworks don’t generally last 10 seconds so relying on this mode will cause you nightmares. Additionally, using live view is supposed to be for previewing video, not stills. If you’re using live view, you’re going to eat through battery capacity very quickly.

3) Focus your lens ahead of time and turn off auto focus — If you have auto focus on, your camera will try to refocus the lens after every shot. Not only does this take power, but, unless you’re moving your camera between shots, you shouldn’t need to refocus the lens.

4) Shoot most of your shots at the start of the show — After a few volleys of fireworks, the air is going to be thick with haze and smoke which can blur your photos. So, you’ll want to get most of your shots done before the haze is too thick.

5) Face east — You’ll want darker backgrounds to contrast against the firework explosions. That means you’ll want to face east since the sun sets in the west.

6) Don’t be afraid to try different lenses if you canWide angle lenses are the most popular for photographing fireworks but telephoto and zoom lenses can capture great images as well. Don’t be afraid to experiment — just remember to focus the lens and not rely on Auto Focus!


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