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Category Archives: Light Stalking

Interesting Photography Trivia to Casually Drop Into a Conversation

Those nice folks over at Lightstalking have conjured up this interesting piece that will inform and engage you I am sure

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing or so the saying goes. Of course, generally in photographic circles, a little knowledge is not so much dangerous as potentially embarrassing. Misquoting a tidbit of photographic information will soon be jumped upon by the elders of our community leaving you in virtual tatters, your online credibility shredded or worse still, your real life peers looking down at you. One way to combat this is to arm yourself with some entirely useless, but undeniably interesting facts about our chosen pastime, the sort of things that can regain your street cred amongst the photographic elite. So without further ado, lets look at some conversation enhancing photography trivia.

Origins of the Name Kodak

Since the day George Eastman launched perhaps the world’s most famous photographic company, there has been speculation as to the origins of it’s name. Was it derived from some deep light related Latin or Greek? Perhaps it emanated from the mystical east, where names often have spiritual meaning. The reality is a little more down to earth, Eastman liked the letter K, he thought it was strong and incisive. After playing with many combinations of letters all starting with K, the final decision was Kodak and a legend was born.

see more interesting conversation grabbers here

 

Building the Right PC for Your (Serious) Photography Needs

I definitely think a good computer is necessary for photographic needs, what might be fine for your every day work is probably a bit lacking for serious photographic requirements. As much RAM as you can fit is a usual cry from photographers and the monitor, well the best graphics monitor you can afford is preferred but at the top end they do get expensive. Dzvonko Petrovski on Lightstalking starts this article by declaring himself a PC, have to ‘fess up I am definitely a MAC man. Last night I was teaching our Lightroom class and those with PC’s were constantly asking, how do I make a new folder?, where is that? this doesn’t work? The one’s with a MAC just smiled serenely. That doesn’t mean a MAC is better but as they say people love their MACs but like a bad relationship, people tolerate their PC’s. I know contentious but oh so true. Anyway this is just about PC computers because you can’t build your own MAC just like you can’t build your own Bentley

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First of all, I must say that I am a PC guy. Many photographers choose iMacs over PCs for the “stability” and such, but I haven’t seen big difference in it, to be honest.

What kind of a computer does a photographer need? Well, you can go ahead with almost any decent computer, but if it isn’t up to par, it will slow you down significantly. I won’t get into specific brands, as in whether you need a Kingston or Corsair solid state drives for the differences in product specifications.

Photographers, as well as gamers need quite a lot of raw processing power in their computers. But that needs to be paired with so many different things that gamers will never need. For example, a 10-bit monitor. No game (as far as I know, and I do play a lot of games) supports 10 bit color, but photography on the other hand easily goes to 12 bit color space even with the entry-level DSLRs out there……

When talking about monitors: the bigger the better. Opting for factory calibrated to cover the most used color spaces is a good choice. Dell and Asus currently have good 10 bit monitors for affordable prices. 10 bit monitor has 1024 shades of each color, instead of 256 on the regular consumer monitors, which means they get better gradients, and better color reproduction than consumer grade. You should go for decent IPS panel (reading reviews is wise) with refresh rate not bigger than 5ms. You will want to use it for things other than photography sometimes. There are monitors that are much wider than usual, which is practically replacing 2 or 3 monitor setups. This is really good thing to have because it makes editing so much easier.

Want more of this, it is really interesting….

The Photographer’s Quarter Life Crisis And How to Get Past It

From Lightstalking

There may come a time in your life as a photographer when you suddenly find your own photographs distasteful. This is a time when you feel restless, frustrated, and dissatisfied with the images you’ve recently created. You then realize that it’s not a one- time ordeal and it’s already been awhile since you started experiencing this. It’s not that you don’t know how to create beautiful shots because you’ve done it before and quite often too. You’ve created images that surprised your friends and family. Ah, it even surprised you so much that at one point you even thought of turning pro. And maybe you did turn pro. But somehow, things don’t seem to fare well and it feels as if your creativity has plateaued, or worse, regressed. If there was a photographer’s quarter-life /midlife crisis, this would probably be it.

There are two ways to approach this dilemma. You can end your dream of being a world class photographer and sell your gear at a ridiculously low price or you can try to find ways to get out of this seemingly twilight zone you’ve gotten yourself into. The question though is how.

I would suggest you take a course with us, ask anyone who has taken our Intermediate course if it has jump started their photography

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Before we answer how to get off this awkward feeling of always creating boring shots, we need to understand what is happening in the first place. We need to answer why you are experiencing it. Is it a skill deficiency? Perhaps, has your passion for photography started to dwindle? You may or may not yet be in this situation, but the possibility of experiencing it is there.

The Cause

There may be several reasons why this happens. It can be caused by a drop in excitement level, lack of skill, the absence of new things to learn, or too much common shooting opportunities that leads to boredom.

Do you remember when you started doing photography? You were so excited about everything from understanding camera bodies, lenses, lighting equipment, and even enhancing your images for hours with Photoshop. Even reflectors, filters and slings were very interesting at that time. It’s a time when you suddenly see a big difference between your old pre-basic photography class shots and your i-feel-like-a-pro-after-basic-class photos. In fact, as you continue to learn more, you also see big positive changes in the way you create your images. The improvement is so huge that it keeps you excited. But the more you progress, the less improvement can be seen. Not because you’re learning less, but because you’re seeing less of the differences in your shots. The once steep learning curve is beginning to flatten out.

 

Want more…….

5 Fundamental Elements of Great Photographs

Yes I agree with all of these points made by

I’m a freelance travel, culture and documentary photographer based in the Philippines. My passion lies in creating images that communicate a strong sense of place and cultural awareness in unique, challenging situations. You can see my work at www.jacobimages.com

There are five common elements that great images typically have; Good use of light, color, a captivating moment, correct composition for the given situation, and the photographers choice of distance to their subject. Many times good images will use one or two of these elements, but lack strength in the others.

I will be the first to admit that it is difficult to have all of these elements come together in one frame. Rarely do I take what would be considered a great photograph, but by aiming to capture all of these elements makes me strive to be better. Essentially, these are five tools we have as photographers to work with allowing us to create higher quality photographs. If we start to recognize and become more aware of how to best use these elements we will start to make more great images rather than good images. Bring them all together correctly under one frame and you will have something really special.

1. Light – Light is the fundamental element all photographs need because it illuminates the scene or subject. Whether it be natural or artificial light the quality and direction of light is what’s important. Light helps to create a particular mood within the photograph and can bring emphasis to key elements within a frame. Likewise, light can help create depth and textures in an image by creating a mix of highlights and shadows.

Everyone knows there have been countless books and tutorials on this subject and this article isn’t the place to go into depth with this. However, we should recognize that light is probably the most important tool we have to use as photographers to create better quality and beautiful images.

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2. Color – Like light, color helps to set the mood of an image and can play a significant role in touching the viewer on an emotional level. Color is one of the main factors responsible for making a photo feel mysterious, exciting, sad, or gloomy. Evoking emotions is important in creating strong images and color is one of our primary tools to do this. Again, this is an in-depth topic which this article will not go into, but be thoughtful that by using appropriate colors in our images we can better convey different emotions and make a stronger impact on the viewer.

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want to see what the other 3 essentials are….go here 

Travel Photography – A Different Point of View

Tom Dining, on Lightstalking this time, is one of our favourite contemporary writers on photography and the difference he has between most of the others is that he is a photographer too, always worth reading his wise words

Who doesn’t like to travel. Certainly none of the photographers I know. New experiences, new opportunities, new photos with which to bore the relatives on your return home.

But are they boring? Are they purely descriptive? This is where I went, this is what I saw, this is what I did. How many shots of London Bridge or the Opera House have you seen already?

So, then you go searching for the new angle and find another dozen or so photographers are also there. They must all subscribe to Light Stalking.

Here are some suggestions that might make your photographic experience just that bit more enjoyable as a photographer.

1. Create Interesting Content in Your Frame

Although there is a tendency in the excitement of the moment to get close and crop in the frame so you have no doubt what the subject is, you can always include the personal touch by including yourself or someone or something else in the foreground to add to the story and provide a viewing point for the viewer.

2. Get Some Detail

Someone famous once said: “If you’re shots aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”. Although, I suspect, this could be the cause of his very demise, it is worth considering if the territory is safe. How close? As close as you dare.

 

Want more….go here

6 Practical Ways to Unlock the Real Power of Colors in Your Photography

From what looks like an updated Lightstalking site comes this very useful and practical guide to improving your colour photography. I agree with all of it so go and have a look.

1. Shoot Raw

Setting your camera to shoot in raw format is perhaps the first and easiest thing you can do to set yourself on a path toward shooting vibrant colors. Just consider this raw vs. jpeg comparison: The 8-bit jpeg format can contain a maximum of 16 million colors (256 shades each of red, green, and blue), but 12-bit raw files can reproduce 68 billion colors and 14-bit raw files are capable of a staggering 4.3 trillion colors. Hence, it’s only logical to capture as much color data as possible; you will have far more success bringing those colors to life in post processing when working with raw files.

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3. Avoid Harsh Light

Harsh lighting, whether natural or artificial, will wash out the vibrance already present in any scene and you won’t be able to do much to restore it in post processing. If you are working outdoors in natural light, try to keep the sun at your back or find some shade. If you are working with flash be sure to diffuse it; there are a variety of ways to accomplish this (reflector, soft box, bounce card, etc.) and it will provide the added benefit of preventing blown-out spots on your subject.

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4. Expose for the Situation

Getting a correct exposure doesn’t, in this instance, necessarily mean settling for whatever you camera deems to be a proper exposure. In some cases, such as when shooting the color red, underexposing by a stop or two can actually be a good thing. Blown-out reds are ubiquitous in digital photography; this is not simply a matter of an overall luminance issue, it is a problem specific to one color channel — red. The problem is due, in part, to the fact that the range of red that a digital camera sensor responds to is wider than that perceived by the human eye.

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5. Calibrate Your Monitor

Every monitor differs in on how it displays colors. Furthermore, the factory settings are not optimized for the monitor to look its best. Monitor calibration is something that tends to scare people off, but it surely needs to be addressed if color reproduction is important to you. In short, a properly calibrated monitor ensures that the colors you see on the screen are accurately matched to the colors in the image file. In order to get a color-managed workflow up and running, you should invest in a colorimeter. A colorimeter will quickly perform color and brightness calibration.

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For the full article go here

 

Texture: The Secret Sauce of Atmospheric Photography

Knowing how to properly use texture in your images can make a profound difference to your photography. Composition, lighting, and tonal range are all important elements to consider…but by looking at the texture as well you can really ensure that the image you create is a true work of art……..more here Here’s a question for you…..why do photographers take long siestas in the middle of the day?


Storm Photography Tips (With 10 Stunning Examples)

Heading out to shoot a storm can be a great way to come back with some exceptional photographs. As you can see from the photographs below, storms often result in moody, dramatic and eye-popping images. But there are a lot of things to think about before you go out on a shoot like this, not all of them necessarily photography related. These are a few things you may want to consider. Read more

How to Make Sure You are Using Image Stabilization Correctly

From Lightstalking

A good photo isn’t automatic. It doesn’t matter how new or expensive your camera is; good shots don’t just happen because you press the shutter. There are all sorts of things that can ruin a shot: overexposure, underexposure, poor composition, missed focus. Regardless of what camera you’re using, things like this are remedied almost entirely by way of good technique. It’s a must that your camera have a reliable metering system and an accurate focusing system, but you, the photographer, have to make sure you’re making proper use of it all in order to minimize the number of useless photographs you make.

Go Away, Camera Shake!
Perhaps chief among factors that can ruin a shot is (unintentional) camera shake; you’ve got a proper exposure, you’ve locked focus, you’ve got a good composition…and you’re rewarded with a blurry shot. Exasperated and disappointed, you’re thinking to yourself — probably aloud — “What gives?!”

The most common culprit is shutter speed. Trying to handhold a camera at too slow a shutter speed is going to be a problem. The rule of thumb concerning how to achieve sharp images when handholding your camera is to use a shutter speed faster than or equal to the focal length of your lens. This means that if you’re using a 50mm lens, then you’ll want to set your shutter speed to no slower than 1/50. It’s an easy rule to remember and it’s generally effective, but there are time when you simply need a more powerful solution.

Image Stabilization
Enter image stabilization technology. It goes by many different proprietary labels: Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (VR), Canon’s Image Stabilization (IS), Sigma’s Optical Stabilizer (OS), Tamron’s Vibration Compensation (VC), Sony’s Super SteadyShot, Pentax’s Shake Reduction (SR). Nicknames and particular implementation methods notwithstanding, the goal of all this is to allow photographers to capture sharp images using shutter speeds significantly slower (usually up to four times slower) than would otherwise be possible.

The Real Road to Greatness in Photography

Rob, over on Lightstalking usually has good articles that I like to recommend and this is one. He talks about what it takes to become a photographer, good, bad or whatever, but the aim to make pictures that matter, to you and hopefully others. I agree with all the points he makes, these are the ideas I try to instil into the students who come to our courses, that owning a camera doesn’t make you a photographer, that buying better kit will not improve your pictures, that if you don’t like your pictures it isn’t your cameras fault. The simple basics of becoming a photographer are learn your craft, learn how to use your camera and software, then practise as often as you can. I suggest that you can take say 50 pictures in half an hour, they will not be earth shattering pictures but in that time you will have practised. If you do this is a sensible manner you will practise one thing at a time, just like learning how to hill starts when you are learning to drive. Stand in your back garden and take 50 pictures using the focus selection point, each picture select a different point, just spin on your axis, don’t go anywhere just get into the habit of using the equipment. The last thing I say is vital is look at the work of great photographers, learn from the masters. Research the areas of photography you enjoy, see what has been done by others. Any idea you have will not be unique, but the way you approach it might be.

Learn, Practise, Look

here is that article by Rob

There is a pervasive idea among artists and the public in general that great photographers have an innate ability to produce brilliant photography. That you can be naturally endowed with an inherent ability in this medium. That the truly great photographers simply possessed something that the rest of us didn’t and could never achieve.

The only problem with that hypothesis is that it is complete bunkum.

Great artists (or people of any talent) are made, not born. And increasingly, the science and the studies of great people, are proving it.

If you want to be a technically great photographer, then there is one thing and one thing only that will get you to that point.

Practice.