Free Flash Bounce

Darren wrote this at 6:00 am:

Have you ever used a product like the Lumiquest Big Bounce to give more diffuse lighting when shooting with flash? Have you wanted to try one but been put off by the cost?

Well, here’s a great way to see what all the fuss is about. Thomas Bauer has a plan on his web site that you can download and print out to create your own flash bounce device. You just cut out the shape, fold along the dotted lines, and affix it to your flash. Easy!

Once you’ve got your flash bounce working, do some experiments and see the difference it makes to shadows on flash-lit portraits. You’ll especially notice the softening of the edge of shadows cast by the person on the wall behind them, which looks much nicer than a harsh flash shadow outline.

If you’re happy with your results, you might still like to pay for a Big Bounce or similar to get a more durable solution.

Lens and Filter Cleaning

Darren wrote this at 6:00 am:

Bob Atkins has posted a thorough explanation of Photographic Lens and Filter Cleaning.

The article describes how to use blowers, brushes, lens cloths and tissues, cleaning fluids and other products to clean your lenses and filters properly. It addresses the issue of cleaning mutlicoated lenses and filters, which can often be a frustrating experience because dust and smudges show up so much more readily on them.

Lastly, Bob gives some suggestions on various reasonably-priced cleaning products that any serious photographer should own.

Manfrotto Tripod School

Darren wrote this at 6:00 am:

There’s a lot of interesting information in these ‘lessons’ on how to use your Manfrotto products.

We’ve produced a series of practical photography lessons in collaboration with webphotoschool, aimed at helping you get the most out of your Manfrotto equipment in different “real-life” photographic situations.

The lessons give you valuable information on how to tackle different subjects from still life to macro, from nature photography to portraiture, indoors and out.

Each lesson has been produced using different Manfrotto tripods and heads and gives detailed information on every step of the shoot from setting up the tripod through to making those fine adjustments in framing, lighting and technique that can turn a good photo into a great one.

Of course, the information in these articles is not strictly for Manfrotto owners. Although the example refer to various Manfrotto equipment models, the general techniques are translatable to any brand of tripod.

Leaf Mamiya ProDigital II – 22 MP

Darren wrote this at 6:00 am:

Leaf and Mamiya have announced a 22 megapixel medium format digital SLR, the Leaf Mamiya ProDigital II. The system is made up of a Leaf Aptus digital back combined with the new Mamiya 645AFDII camera body.

Key features include:

  • 3.5″ touch screen
  • 1.2 frames per second shooting rate
  • faster autofocus
  • exposure, shooting information, available storage etc visible in viewfinder
  • 36 custom functions for control over bracketing, flash sync, dial functions, etc
  • save and recall separate configuration sets
  • compact flash or Leaf Digital Magazines for storage

The World of Canon CMOS Sensors

Darren wrote this at 6:00 am:

Canon has recently launched a new site showcasing its CMOS sensor technology: The World of Canon CMOS Sensors

The site is broken into four sections:

  • Image capture
  • Technology
  • Full-frame appeal
  • Shooting options

If you’ve ever wondered about how digital image capture works, what types of issues engineers have to deal with in sensor design and manufacture, and how all this benefits us photographers, then this is a site you’ll enjoy.

Adobe and Nikon RAW Files

Darren wrote this at 8:00 am:

Nikon and Adobe have released a short press release that seems to indicate that Nikon is cooperating with Adobe and other software makers to facilitate the decoding of encrypted portions of their NEF RAW file format.

Nikon believes that the NEF file has provided important image quality through Nikon’s pioneering developments. For the future, Nikon intends to cooperate with Adobe and other industry members in order to pursue its objective of providing images with better quality, convenience and usefulness to end users.

Rob Galbraith provides good background on how this issue came about and how Nikon reacted (poorly) to the concerns of photographers. Adobe is now indicating that the upcoming Camera Raw 3.2 and DNG Converter 3.2 will be able to decode the “as-shot” white balance from Nikon NEF files.

It’s good to see Nikon is finally being sensible about this whole issue.

Three Steps To Sharpening

Darren wrote this at 8:55 am:

Bruce Fraser has written an excellent article on the sharpening of digital images, and his suggestions for how it might fit into your photographic workflow: Thoughts on a Sharpening Workflow

Instead of trying to handle all the different issues that affect sharpening in a single edit, the sharpening workflow splits sharpening into three stages:

  1. Capture Sharpening is applied early in the image-editing process, and just aims to restore any sharpness that was lost in the capture process.
  2. Creative Sharpening is usually applied locally to accentuate specific features in an image-for example, we often give eyes a little extra sharpness in head shots.
  3. Output Sharpening is applied to files that have already had capture and creative sharpening applied, after they’ve been sized to final output resolution, and is tailored to a specific type of output process.

Bruce’s process makes sense, and would seem to be a great way to prepare images when you’re not sure of how they’ll be output. You can do all your capture sharpening and creative sharpening during the same editing sessions as other creative work – dodging, burning, color-correcting, etc. When it’s time to print, you can apply the last sharpening pass customised for the output size and medium you have in mind.

This system lends itself to some degree of automation, too. The capture sharpening is likely to be mostly dependent upon the capture device used, so you could have a pre-defined script for each digital camera and capture device you use. Similarly, the output sharpening is tailored to the output device and size of the finished work, so you could have scripts set up for each of your commonly-used output media.

Kodak ProPass

Darren wrote this at 6:00 am:

Kodak ProPass is an online magazine for advanced amateur and professional photographers.

No matter what your passion, inspiration, or subject is, ProPass magazine will continue to deliver the content that will help you reach your artistic and your business goals. For the former, learn from the best via interviews with today’s hottest photographers spanning the spectrum from both the commercial and portrait/wedding fields. And when you’re in the market for new equipment and innovative solutions, our product reviews and announcements can help steer you in the right direction.

What’s in it for me?

Discounts and promotions. Access to our publication. Access to all areas of the ProPass website.The ability to learn from your peers through articles, case studies, and shared stories. Connection to photographers just like you through chat rooms, bulletin boards, and by attending seminars, trade shows, and members-only events. Unlimited access to our customer service area through a members-only online link.

Subscription is free, so sign up now and you’ll be notified of future updates.

Air Show Photography

Darren wrote this at 5:43 pm:

There’s a good article over on Photo.net about [Air Show Photography](Epson Stylus Photo R2400 Experience Report).

Most of what makes for successful air show photography is the same as what makes for any other successful photography, so much of the following material may be old hat to you. However, I’ve found that air show photography has a few quirks, and I hope that by relating these on this page, your next air show shoot will be more fun.

The article includes good tips about preparing for your photography in the days leading up to the air show, how to cooperate with security in a post-9/11 world, techniques for shooting aircraft both on the ground and in the air, tips on people photography during an air show, focus and metering advice, and specific advice for both film and digital shooters.

The great images liberally scattered throughout the article should give you plenty of motivation to get out there and give air show photography a go!

Petteri on Mastering Wide Angle

Darren wrote this at 6:48 am:

Petteri Sulonen has written an excellent article on Mastering Wide Angle.

The problem with wide-angle photography is that it’s… wide. That is, if you point your camera at a random subject, you’ll get a lot of things inside the frame. Some of them will very likely be dark, others will be light, some will be near, some will be far. This introduces all kinds of complications, and in fact turns many of the usual rules, techniques, and even desirable lens characteristics on their heads.

He explains what it is about wide angle photography that’s different to normal and telephoto photography, and how to use those differences to your advantage in creating better images. For example, perspectives are exaggerated, depth of field is usually greater, and flare is more likely when shooting with a wide angle lens.

Petteri goes on to explain some of the types of photographs that work well with a wide angle lens, such as landscapes, architecture, and environmental portraits. There are good explanations about handling exposure problems that wide angle lenses can cause, with techniques to fix them both in-camera and in post-processing.

Last but not least, there are some interesting suggestions for compositions that work well in wide angle to get you started.