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 Monday, June 8, 2015

 
YouTube channel Sky Arts runs a regular segment called "The Unspoken Truth" where British celebrities provide their candid opinions on various topics. In this episode, the celebrities answer the question, "Is photography an art?"
 
If you take pride in what you do while holding a camera, these opinions may leave you shaking your head.
 
However, the video got me thinking. Anyone with a DLSR can set their camera into "P" mode and take a technically correct, eye-pleasing image with even a modest amount of creativity and luck thrown in. No, it's not going to happen every time, but it's much easier to take a good picture (even via inexperienced luck) than it is to create a comparably captivating oil painting from an equally inexperienced artist.
 
In the example above, technology has made the job of creating a decent image much easier; using "P" mode might be akin to using a paint-by-numbers canvas, thereby making "art" easier to create. There's nothing wrong with that, but it has led to a devaluation of photography as an artistic endeavor.
 
I think a photographer's work transcends into the art realm when they consistently produce images that captivate and intrigue those who gaze upon their work. That audience could number in the hundreds or it could simply be the sum of a photographer's close friends and family.
 
But at the end of the day, does it matter whether or not photography is considered an art in general? I don't think it does. What matters is the fulfillment a photographer experiences while creating his or her images. Whether it's an art form or simply snapshots is irrelevant as long as the camera fills a positive role in the photographer's life. [Sean]
 
What do you think about photography as an art form?
Post Date: 6/8/2015 8:20:26 AM CT   Posted By: Sean

 
In this quick tutorial, see how easy it is to create your very own backdrop for a studio photography fashion shoot.
 
Amazon carries canvas fabric.
Post Date: 6/8/2015 7:08:55 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Nikon D810A DSLR Camera
Adorama has the Nikon D810A DSLR Camera in stock with free expedited shipping.
 
For more information on this DSLR designed for astrophotography, check out Nikon's press release for the D810A.
Posted to: Nikon News
Post Date: 6/8/2015 7:00:50 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
creativeLIVE Logo
Free Online Class with Sue Bryce – June 17 to 18
 
Join our friends at CreativeLive for Portrait Startup with Sue Bryce - a free, live online class that will teach you essential elements for building a successful portrait photography studio.
 
During this two-day class, Sue will detail the nine areas of mastery required to build a sophisticated, profitable portrait business. You'll meet several photographers who will share their own unique story of following Sue's business model and what worked (or didn't) for them.
 
Don't miss this chance to watch one of Sue's inspirational, action-packed classes. Tune in live on June 17 and 18 at 9 AM Pacific.
 
RSVP Now for the Free Classes
Post Date: 6/8/2015 6:53:29 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Audio-Technica AT2020USB Condenser Microphone with USB Connection
For a limited time, B&H has the Audio-Technica AT2020USB Condenser Microphone with USB Connection available for $79.99 with free expedited shipping. Regularly $129.99.
 
Product Highlights
 
  • USB Connection for Windows and Mac
  • Condenser Ensures Crystal-Clear Sound
  • Pivoting Stand Mount for Podcasting
  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • Includes Soft Protective Pouch
  • Includes 10' USB Cable
Post Date: 6/8/2015 6:39:24 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Friday, June 5, 2015
Breakthrough-Photography X3 Filter
B&H is now carrying Breakthrough Photography ND and UV filters.
 
Breakthrough Photography got their start via a very successful Kickstarter campaign. Bryan recently ranked their 10-stop X3 Solid ND tops in a comparison of leading black filters.
Post Date: 6/5/2015 3:13:04 PM CT   Posted By: Sean
Photograph the Flowers Now
A rhododendron just outside of my studio was calling me. It was in full bloom and looking beautiful in the wooded landscape. With an already overwhelming to-do list, my mind said "No time!"
 
As you may have guessed, "No time!" was the wrong answer. About 6 hours later I walked by the window again and the flowers were completely wilted. The warm sun had finished them off with amazing speed. It will be at least another year until that opportunity returns, and more likely, it will be many years until the equal opportunity arrives as this shrub is seldom as beautiful as it was in the morning.
 
No, your computer/phone/tablet isn't having trouble loading the image. Instead of a beautiful flowering rhododendron image leading this post, the image is blank. Blank represents what you might get if you do not take your photo opportunities when they present themselves. Don't wait!
Post Date: 6/5/2015 1:41:32 PM CT   Posted By: Bryan
Toshiba Satellite Radius 15.6
Adorama has the Toshiba Satellite Radius 15.6" 2-in-1 Touchscreen Notebook Computer available for $699.99 with free shipping. Regularly $799.99.
 
Product Features:
 
  • Intel Core i7-4510U Processor
  • 12GB DDR3L 1600MHz memory
  • Intel Integrated Graphics
  • 256GB Solid State Drive (mSATA, SSD)
  • Windows 8.1
  • LED Backlit Keyboard
  • 1080p Full HD
  • Intel Wireless Display
  • USB 3.0
  • SD Memory Card Reader
SIRUI W-2004 Alloy Waterproof Tripod
SIRUI W Series Waterproof tripods expand the capabilities of outdoor photographers and videographers like no other tripod. While most tripods warn against use in or near water and sand, the W Series welcomes it!
 
The SIRUI designed WPS Waterproof Sealing System has a series of waterproof rings that prevent water from seeping into the tripod leg tubes and locks and causing damage.
 
The SIRUI designed waterproof leg locks incorporate waterproof and leak-proof materials used in the automotive industry. The rubber locking components firmly grasp the legs without any gap when they are tightly locked - preventing water, dust or small particles from entering the legs or the locking system. This waterproof (not just water resistant) system lets you safely shoot in extreme environmental conditions (also ideal for use with spotting scopes and binoculars).
 
Equally impressive is SIRUI’s ability to extend and contract the legs as smoothly as their standard models. And with ½ twist leg locks, setup and break down is fast and easy.
 
Using the highest quality materials and precisely manufactured leg tubes lets SIRUI achieve uncompromising stability. The SIRUI W-2204 extends up to an impressive 70.9 in. (1800 mm) - vital when shooting in deeper water or to keep your equipment away from splashes and salt spray - while folding down to only 20.5 in. (520 mm). It weighs just 3.7 lb (1.7 kg.), but, holds up to 39.7 lb. (18 kg).
 
The redesigned Leg Angle Locks make adjustments faster and easier than ever before. Push the lock and it stays open until you select the desired position. Extremely convenient with wet or gloved hands! The slip-resistant rubber feet can be replaced with stainless steel spikes (included) for added grip and stability.
 
The SIRUI W Series tripod’s unique leg mechanism lets you invert the legs 180° - for compact storage and easy transport. And the split center column makes changing from standard center column to short center column fast and easy.
 
One of the legs can be converted into a waterproof monopod! Ideal when a tripod is not allowed or when you’re shooting in tight spaces. Attach the center column to increase the height of the monopod.
 
SIRUI W Series Waterproof tripods are available in economical Aluminum Alloy or Lightweight 10-Layer 100% Carbon Fiber legs.
 
Feaures:
 
  • Waterproof leg design - SIRUI designed waterproof ring system prevents water from seeping into the
  • pod legs and causing damage. Not just water resistant - actually waterproof!!
  • Ergonomic Leg Angle Locks make adjustments fast and easy. Extremely convenient with wet or gloved hands!
  • For speed and convenience, each leg has an automatic leg angle lock mechanism.
  • Tripod leg converts into waterproof monopod. Center column can be attached for increased height.
  • The center column can be detached and inverted for low angle or macro shooting.
  • Legs fold up 180° for extra compactness.
  • Three leg angle positions for uneven terrain.
  • Bubble level for fast horizontal alignment
  • Slip-resistant rubber feet can be replaced with stainless steel spikes (included).
  • Hook on bottom of the center column can hold a weight bag for added stability
B&H carries SIRUI tripods.
Category: Sirui News
Post Date: 6/5/2015 10:55:34 AM CT   Posted By: Sean

 
B&H has posted a hands-on mini review of Rode's first foray into wirless audio – the RodeLink Filmmaker Kit.
 
B&H carries the RodeLink Wireless Filmmaker Kit.
Post Date: 6/5/2015 9:40:20 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Bolt Cyclone DR PP-400DR Dual Outlet Power Pack
For a limited time, B&H has the Bolt Cyclone DR PP-400DR Dual Outlet Power Pack available for $199.95 with free expedited shipping. Regularly $499.95.
 
Product Highlights:
 
  • Fast Recycle Time of 1 Sec
  • Up to 1400 Full-Power Flashes
  • For 2 On-Camera Flash Units
  • Lightweight (1.2 lb)
  • Locking Feature for Secure Connection
  • Includes PP-400BP Removable Battery Pack
  • Microcontroller Prevents Overheating
  • Includes 100-240 VAC Charger
  • Neoprene Shoulder Strap Supplied
This is just the battery pack, so you'll need the appropriate cable to connect your flashes.
Post Date: 6/5/2015 7:43:17 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Thursday, June 4, 2015
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
B&H has the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Nikon in stock with free expedited shipping.
Posted to: Nikon News
Post Date: 6/4/2015 11:46:28 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
As usual, this self-portrait was created in order to answer a question I had rolling around in my head:
Is it possible to make an outdoor portrait taken in bright, sunny conditions appear to be taken at night? And with relatively limited gear (shoe-mount flashes)?
I knew that choosing the right location was key to producing the effect I wanted. It was about 1:30pm and the sun was high in the sky and very bright. Speedlites are not necessarily the best choice when overpowering the sun (especially when used with a light modifier). I chose a spot in my driveway that was completely shaded by an overhanging tree. The pointed the camera at a fence that borders my driveway which was also in shade. I set up a tripod mounted 5D Mark III with the versatile EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM (forerunner to the version "II" model) attached and framed the shot. I used a 4-stop ND filter on the lens so that I could use a wide aperture to limit my depth-of-field (the fence behind me wasn't all that interesting) while staying below my flash max x-sync speed. Truth is, I could have easily gotten away with a 2-stop ND filter as I had to use ISO 400 with the 4-stop ND Filter in place. So why didn't I change out NDs having had a 2-stop ND filter inside the house? The answers – 1) laziness and 2) it simply didn't matter. The 5D III's performance meant that the difference between ISO 100 and ISO 400 was not significant enough to worry with, so leaving the 4-stop ND filter on the lens wasn't a problem (especially as the 5D III's autofocus is quite sensitive in low light).
 
The main light (Canon 580EX in Westcott Rapid Box Octa) was boomed overhead using an Avenger 40" Extension Arm mounted to a C-stand. The extension arm allowed me to position the light above me (slightly in front) without having the light stand in the way. I gelled it with two full CTO gels with the intent of shifting the color balance blue to simulate the cooler colors of nighttime.
 
I wanted the picture to have a dark, ominous look to it. The modified main light was positioned a little high to light my face while leaving my eyes in shadow (thanks to my pronounced brow ridge). Having the eyes in shadow added to the effect I was going for. Still, I was asking a lot of the shoe-mount flash. With two gels in place and a diffusion panel in front eating away at the flash's output, I had the flash set to full power and still could have used a bit more light (I upped the exposure a small amount in post).
 
I used a bare 580EX (ungelled) as a rim light (positioned behind me). I decided not to gel this flash so that it would produce a cool rim light that would contrast well with the still-slightly-warm main light. I think that flash was set to 1/32 power. Both flashes were fired via radio triggers.
 
To trigger the camera, I used a wireless RC-1 remote and simply pointed the tripod-mounted camera at my desired spot using the AF points to cover the area where my head would be. Then it was simply a matter of standing in the right spot (roughly middle of the frame) and pushing the RC-1's shutter release button.
 
EXIF:
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM (forerunner to version "II")
125mm, f/3.2, 1/160 sec, ISO 400
 
Click on the post image to see a larger version on Flickr.
 
Fun Fact: Conveying a specific image is often about the ideal framing. In this instance, you'd never know that I was wearing baggy, tan colored cargo pants with my button-up shirt and suit jacket. Because of the framing, I knew that changing into matching black dress pants (on this warm day) would be superfluous. ;-)
Post Date: 6/4/2015 9:37:01 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Heat Waves on Railroad Bridge
Did you ever look at images you captured with a telephoto lens on a beautiful afternoon and wonder why they were not sharp? As I write this tip, I have been evaluating several long focal length lenses that share an attribute common with other telephoto lenses. Ever see shimmering in the distance such as where a road goes over a hill? Telephoto focal lengths magnify these heat waves and longer subject distances are more likely to be negatively influenced by the distorting effect.
 
If there is a heat source (relative to the ambient temperature) between you and your subject (or below that line of sight), you can expect some heat wave impact at even relatively short subject distances. Heat waves can occur practically anywhere, but this issue is primarily encountered outdoors and the sun is the primary (but not the only) cause. I frequently see degradation caused by heat waves over artificial turf athletic fields, running track surfaces and even thick green grass in the front yard. Asphalt, being dark in color and high in heat absorption/retention, is a classic source of heat waves, including the source in my "road goes over a hill" example.
 
Many other heat waves sources exist, including a flowing river on a cold day as illustrated in the included photo.
 
That image is a 100% crop from a 600mm picture of a steel railroad bridge. No, I did not use an "Art" filter on this image. Yes, the steel should be straight and sharp. No, this blurry image is not the fault of the lens.
 
When present, heat shimmer will create optical distortion that will diminish the quality of medium and long distance photos. It was 13° F (-11° C) on a clear, sunny morning when I photographed the distant railroad bridge. The warmer water in the river I was shooting over was creating turbulence for the light waves reaching the lens.
 
Know that heat waves are not limited to affecting only long distance subjects. While testing a lens at 600mm on a sunny afternoon, the strong focal length magnification made heat wave micro-distortion easy to see over thick green grass with only a roughly 100' (30m) subject distance.
 
The moon is a common photo subject for telephoto lenses and to photograph the moon means that light must pass completely through the earth's atmosphere. That distance leaves plenty of opportunity for light bending to occur.
 
Heat waves are definitely an obstacle for creating accurate outdoor lens comparisons. Generally, a clear sky is needed for consistent lighting between captures and the sun of course needs to be at least relatively high in the sky. That means the sun will be heating anything it shines on.
 
Note that heat waves can negatively impact AF performance as well. Because the optical irregularities caused by heat waves are presented to the camera's autofocus system(s) (both phase detection and contrast detection systems), focus distance calculations can be impacted. Especially keep this in mind when dialing in AF microadjustment.
 
What can you do about this problem? Heat waves are an image quality factor that you generally can't spend money to put behind you. For example, a sharper lens and a better camera are not going to be helpful. Selecting a different location, a different time of day and/or a different day completely or even a different season is often the best solution. A cloudy day with low temperature fluctuation may work for your image.
 
Many times, the photographer does not have control of the day and time of a shoot and will need to deal with the issue. Sports photographers typically fall into this group. For example, auto racing often takes place mid-day on asphalt tracks and photographers capturing these events will encounter this distortion.
 
If opting to shoot through the heat waves, move closer if possible (but not dangerously so – referring to the auto racing scenario). The less air that light passes through, the less likely that heat waves will cause strong distortion. Also, capture lots of images to allow selection of the least-influenced and to give your camera opportunity to lock in proper AF distances.
 
How Heat Waves Affect Photography Summary
 
The summary is short. The reason why some of your telephoto images are not sharp is because heat waves are bending the light and confusing your camera's AF system. The basic lesson here is that using the long focal lengths to photograph distant (and sometimes no-so-distant) subjects must be done with consideration to the effect of heat waves.
Post Date: 6/4/2015 9:23:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
Lightroom CC Cheat Sheet Screenshot
Graphic designer Jamie Spencer of SetupABlogToday has created an Adobe Lightroom CC Quick Keys Cheat Sheet that may prove useful for Lightroom customers. You can find the full cheat sheet on their website or you can simply download it here (PDF).
 
Adobe's Creative Cloud Photography Plan (USD$9.99 per month) is an excellent value and includes Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC.
Post Date: 6/4/2015 7:57:21 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
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