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 Thursday, January 29, 2015
Winter Photography Tips: Go Shadow Hunting
Normally, the ground is covered in detail including grass, leaves, sticks, stones, etc. and that detail is generally on the dark side of brightness. When it snows, those details are covered over and the ground becomes a smooth bright white palette mostly void of detail except possibly an even snow texture. As all kids know so well, what a blank white palette needs is something on it.
 
Shadows are a great option for that something. Especially helpful in this pursuit is that winter brings a low angle sun that casts long shadows even at mid-day. Additionally helpful is that the deciduous trees are bare in the winter and cast clean shadow lines (instead of complete shadows from a leaf canopy).
 
While trees cast great shadows, there are plenty of other options. Look for shadows beside fences (as shown in this example). Make your own shadows using your body (for a shadow selfie) or anything else your creativity can come up with.
 
This winter, if you are fortunate enough to live or travel to a location where there is snow on the ground, take advantage of that blank white palette. And remember, the clock is ticking after a snow storm. Fresher is better in the case of snow.
 
Camera and Lens Settings
55mm  f/11.0  1/80s
ISO 100
5760 x 3840px
Post Date: 1/29/2015 9:01:56 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
Sony 128GB SDXC Memory Card
Post Date: 1/29/2015 8:15:19 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Rogue FlashBender 2 XL PRO Lighting System
From Rogue:
 
Rogue Photographic Design Updates the XL Pro Lighting Kit with New Attachments and Design Improvements, Including: New Strip Grid, Lighter Weight Materials, Quicker Attachment, and New Travel Bag. The New FlashBender 2 XL Pro Lighting System Includes the Versatile XL Pro Reflector with Two Quick Change Attachments to Create the Soft Box or Strip Grid.
 
Watsonville, California – January 29, 2015 – ExpoImaging, Inc., creators of Rogue FlashBender light modifiers for event and location photographers, today announced availability of the Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Lighting System.
 
“The idea behind the original FlashBender XL Pro Kit was to create a larger light source with studio-style control while retaining the portability and easy setup fundamental to all the FlashBenders,” said Erik Sowder, CEO of ExpoImaging. “With the FlashBender 2 XL Pro, we worked hard to decrease the weight of the original XL Pro as well as to further refine its attachment design. The new FlashBender 2 XL Pro Reflector is 20% lighter. We know that every bit of weight reduction is welcome for location shooters.”
 
“We also know that photographers will be excited by the inclusion of the new XL Pro Strip Grid attachment in the XL Pro System. Combining diffusion fabric with a black fabric grid, the XL Pro Strip Grid provides precise rim and edge lighting control. It attaches quickly to the front of the XL Pro Reflector and is compatible with the original XL Pro Reflector design.”
 
The FlashBender 2 incorporates new custom reflective fabric. The new fabric allows the reflector to be more easily shaped to control light. The new FlashBender 2 integrated attachment strap is adjustable to fit all popular brands of accessory flashes with a flash head circumference measuring from 8” to 9 3/4”.
 
“To keep it portable, the FlashBender 2 XL Pro Lighting System is sized to fit a 15” laptop compartment, or lay flat to allow more room for lenses and other essential equipment in the gear bag. We also include a handy Travel Bag,” said Sowder.
 
The Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Lighting System includes: FlashBender 2 XL Pro White Reflector, XL Pro Strip Grid, XL Pro Soft Box Diffuser, and XL Pro Travel Bag.Pricing and Availability
 
The Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Lighting System retails for $99.95, and is available through ExpoImaging’s distribution partners worldwide.
 
B&H carries Rogue products.
Category: Rogue News
Post Date: 1/29/2015 7:39:01 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
B&H Photo Video Logo
B&H has rolled out a new incentive program for those who share our northern border – free shipping to Canada on orders over $99.00 or more (some exclusions apply). (thanks Dave)
 
From B&H:
 
Now, in order to better service our Canadian Customers, orders over $99 ship free to Canada! Simply select "B&H customs clearance", and select "Canada Free Shipping" as your Shipping Method.
 
Notes:
 
  • Certain items are excluded from this offer based on the item's characteristics. Look for the following under these items: Shipping Charges Apply
  • The $99 order total is calculated after all rebates and bundle discounts have been applied. Gift Cards, freight charges, duties, and taxes do not count towards the qualifying order total.
Category: B&H News
Post Date: 1/29/2015 7:00:36 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Dell Inspiron 15 i5547-12500sLV 15.6
For today only, B&H has the Dell Inspiron 15 i5547-12500sLV 15.6" Multi-Touch Notebook Computer available for $699.00 with free expedited shipping. Regularly $1,049.00.
 
Product Highlights
 
  • 2.0 GHz Intel Core i7-4510U (Haswell)
  • 16GB of 1600 MHz DDR3L RAM
  • 1TB 5400 rpm Hard Drive
  • Integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • 15.6" Full HD LED-Backlit Touchscreen
  • 1920 x 1080 Native Resolution
  • 5-in-1 Media Card Reader
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Built-in Webcam, Mic, & Speakers
  • Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
 Wednesday, January 28, 2015
WD My Passport Ultra USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive
eBay (via Buy) has the WD My Passport Ultra 2TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive available for $79.99 with free shipping. Compare at $99.00.
Winter Photography Tips: Get Out of Your Comfort
Yes, it is winter and your comfort "mode" is likely staying in your warm house. While I do encourage you to get out of that "mode", I'm referring to a different "mode". Your camera's Auto mode to be more specific.
 
Today's DSLR cameras have a wide range of fully or semi-automatic modes available, but I still shoot in manual exposure mode at least 95% of the time (as do a significant percentage of other professional and enthusiast photographers). There are many reasons for choosing manual mode, but having full control over image brightness in a snowy environment is the base reason directly related to winter photography. The camera's exposure meter is confused by the bright color of snow and attempts to make it mid-gray in brightness. Yes, you can use exposure compensation to adjust the brightness of the various auto exposure modes, but if the lighting is not changing frequently, I highly recommend using the manual exposure mode alternative. And, winter is a perfect time to perfect your manual exposure skills.
 
Have no fear: Using Manual Exposure Mode is Not Difficult.
 
In manual mode, there are three settings that work together to affect the brightness of an image. These three settings are fundamental to photography and learning them is going to be worth your effort. These are shutter speed (the exposure duration), aperture (how wide the lens opens) and ISO (the amplification of the image received by the imaging sensor).
 
Working backwards, I can't think of a time when I wanted a higher ISO setting for image quality purposes. I want ISO 100 if the other two parameters allow it and adjust upwards as required with noise as the penalty.
 
My aperture setting is usually selected to control the amount of depth of field in the image. The higher the number, the narrower the lens aperture opens and the greater near-to-far distance that remains in focus. So, if everything in the image needs to be in focus, select a high aperture setting number. There is a caveat with going to a very high number and that is diffraction causing the image to become soft. My compromise is usually to shoot at f/8 on an 18-20 MP APS-C body and f/11 on a 20-22 MP full frame body (I go higher/narrower at times). If I want a maximum background blur, I select a wide open aperture (the smallest number available – such as f/1.4).
 
The shutter speed is selected to control (show or avoid) motion blur in an image. If avoiding all motion blur, I can't think of a penalty for using a too-high shutter speed (unless flash is being used and that is a topic for another day). If handholding the camera, there will be a point where a too-high percentage of your images become blurred due to camera shake and usually those images will be sent straight to the recycle bin. Motion blur is sometimes desired in an image (such as moving water) and the right exposure duration is needed to capture this effect.
 
In a perfect world, you would simply select the three perfect parameters for your photo. In reality, there are compromises that are often required and the primary example is a lack of light. If there is not enough light, the shutter speed must be reduced, the aperture must be opened and/or the ISO increased with potential penalties for any of the three adjustments.
 
Dialing In Settings for Manual Mode
 
The more experience you gain, the easier it is to set your manual settings. However, it is not hard for even a beginner to get started and with digital technology where it is today, the learning curve is very short. In the old days (when film was popular), this is the time when the light meter would be pulled out. That piece of equipment is no longer needed for most situations and the meter built into the camera is all you need.
 
There are multiple ways to get the proper manual settings established. You can turn the camera to fully automatic mode and use the settings it picks for you as your initial manual mode settings. You can use the Sunny 16 rule: For a subject under a full sun, set the aperture to f/16 and shutter speed to the 1/ISO setting. Or you can take a guess (what the most-experienced can do).
 
After establishing the initial settings, the next step is to take a picture of a typical scene you can expect to be photographing in (ideally with bright whites included). Then check the camera's histogram for adjustments needed. The histogram shows a graph of the relative brightness of the pixels in your image. This chart is your best friend – learn how to use it. Here is the Canon DPP histogram from the title image.
 
Histogram Example
 
Press "Info" while reviewing an image to turn the histogram on in Canon cameras and I recommend using the RGB histogram to allow all three color channels (Red, Green Blue) to be monitored. Dark details are mapped on the left side (RGB=0) and bright are on the right (RGB=255). Usually to be avoided are pixels stacked on either side of the graph, indicating a loss of details due to blown highlights or blocked shadows. If possible, adjust your manual mode settings to bring the details within the limits of the chart, but use discretion. Pay attention to the brightness of the details in your scene and reflect their relative brightness on the chart. You don't often want to make black or white colors into mid gray.
 
I highly recommend shooting in RAW and adjusting the final image brightness to perfection during post processing. Shooting in RAW, I generally like to expose to the right, commonly referred to as ETTR. This means that the brightest pixels in the image are at or very close to 255, the right-most extent of the chart. This method allows the maximum amount of color information (the most photons) to be captured for each pixel with dark areas especially benefitting from this strategy. Image brightness can later be reduced as desired in Lightroom, DPP, etc. ETTR does not work well in all situations and shutter speed is often what is compromised to get a brighter image, so as always, use this technique with discretion.
 
New York City Blizzard Forecast
 
Especially Useful in Snow
 
As mentioned, if shooting in the auto zones, cameras will usually underexpose snow images (unless adequate exposure compensation is called for). A manual exposure allows you to dial in the ideal settings and, unless the lighting is changing (such as dark clouds moving over), every image will be identically exposed, making batch adjustment (if necessary) a fast post processing task.
 
When shooting in bright snow, you are going to want the histogram to show pixels with very close to 255 brightness values (regardless of your ETTR strategy) and you might even want to allow some very small areas to go completely white (enable Highlight Alert and watch for the blinkies during image review). The brightest pixel in the tile image has a max RGB component value of 253. I know, this image is of ice, but there is enough air in the ice to appear nearly as white as snow and similarly confound an auto metering system.
 
While exploring a small stream deep in the winter, I came across this smooth ice with interesting patterns under it. Capturing this photo and many others like it was very easy. The day was very cloudy, giving me even light without shadows. I setup the tripod with the camera directed straight down, focused on the surface of the ice, determined the manual exposure needed to make the ice as bright as possible without blowing the highlights and took the picture. I then slid the tripod on the ice to the next composition and took that picture. Repeat.
 
With a manual exposure locked in, the biggest photographical challenge presented by this opportunity was finding a composition that I liked. The patterns were completely random and, in the end, I captured a number of images to sort through. This one is my favorite. I think.
 
Your turn. Get the camera out and turn the dial to the "M" mode. Learn to make your own fundamental camera setting decisions and your photography will be improved in all seasons.
Post Date: 1/28/2015 10:48:56 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
LensRacks Sample Image
From LensRacks:
 
About LensRacks
If you love photography as much as we do, then we are sure that you have a collection of lenses and other camera gear. We all know lenses can get very expensive and they are investments that can last a long time under good care. Our patent pending LensRacks system is the perfect way to store and organize your precious investments with style.
 

 
Who is LensRacks for?
LensRacks is designed for owners of Nikon or Canon lenses who want to be organized with their camera gear. With LensRacks’ modularity and expandability, the LensRacks caters to amateurs, professionals, and everyone else in between.
 
Check out the LensRacks Kickstarter Campaign for more information or to back the project.
Post Date: 1/28/2015 10:39:01 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Nikon D810 DSLR Camera
eBay (via GetItDigital) has the Nikon D810 DSLR Camera available for $2,299.99 with free shipping. Compare at $2,996.95.
 
Note: This is likely a grey market item and therefore not eligible for Nikon USA warranty or service.
Posted to: Nikon News
Post Date: 1/28/2015 10:17:47 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Photoshelter
From Photoshelter:
 
In The 2015 Photo Business Plan Workbook, get a step-by-step guide to help you implement a rock solid business plan, target the photo clients you want, and land more gigs. Download the guide today!
 
Download the Free Guide
Post Date: 1/28/2015 9:58:19 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Impact Collapsible Background - 5 x 7' (Black/White)
For today only, B&H has the Impact Collapsible Background - 5 x 7' (Black/White) available for $39.95 with free shipping. Regularly $69.95.
Post Date: 1/28/2015 9:15:43 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Canvas On Demand Logo
Through tomorrow, use coupon code SNOWDAY35 at CanvasOnDemand.com to get 35% off plus free shipping on your canvas print order.
 
For what it's worth, I just received my first Canvas On Demand order yesterday. The 20x30 canvas print looks great and it arrived in extremely protective packaging. I don't have it on the wall yet, but below you can see what it looks like on my futon. :-) [Sean]
 
Canvas On Demand 20x30 Print
 
Post Date: 1/28/2015 8:11:49 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Nikon Logo
From Nikon:
 
Updates included with 1.1.0
 
Modifications that apply to both the Windows and Macintosh versions:
 
  • Support for the D5500, COOLPIX S3700, S2900, L32 and L31 has been added.
  • When Capture NX-D is used to edit files that were once edited with Capture NX 2, additional adjustment of editing performed with Capture NX 2 is now possible.
  • However, only items in the Develop section of the Capture NX 2 Edit List can be adjusted with Capture NX-D. In addition, images that have been edited using Color Efex Pro may be edited after settings are reverted to their original values.
  • A PF Flare Control item has been added to the Camera and Lens Corrections palette.
  • This item can be used to reduce flare (ring flare, circular flare, etc.) caused by bright light sources in images captured with compatible lenses.
  • A Revert to Last Saved State option has been added to the Adjust menu.
  • This option resets adjustments applied with Capture NX-D.
  • A Launch Camera Control Pro 2 option has been added to the Tool menu.
The following issues have been resolved.
 
  • When images to which Distortion Control has been applied are opened, edges were fringed with color.
  • When Noise Reduction was applied, the application would quit unexpectedly.
  • When a RAW image captured with a camera that does not support the Picture Control system (D2XS, D2X, D2HS, D2H, D1X, D1H, D1, D200, D100, D90, D80, D70S, D70, D60, D40X, D40) was displayed, the icon indicating that the image had been edited was displayed, even if the image had not actually been edited.
  • When Quick Adjust was applied to RAW images captured at a Picture Control setting of Neutral, Flat, or Monochrome, and for which Recorded Value was selected in the Picture Control palette, the Quick Adjust value reverted back to "0.00" when the images were again displayed in Capture NX-D after the application was once closed and then launched again.
  • A Noise Reduction setting of Better Quality 2013 could be selected for JPEG and TIFF images.
Additional modifications to the Windows version
The following issues have been resolved.
 
  • Multiple images in the My Pictures folder could not be selected to copy or move under Windows 7 or an earlier operating system.
  • When files were saved with different file names using the Convert Files function, the new file names were not accurately reflected.
Additional modifications to the Macintosh version
 
  • Support for OS X version 10.10.1 has neen added.
  • OS X version 10.7.5 is no longer supported.
Download Nikon Capture NX-D 1.1.0
Post Date: 1/27/2015 2:37:23 PM CT   Posted By: Sean
Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens
Post Date: 1/27/2015 10:37:06 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
ESPN Logo
ESPN Films has created a great documentary about one of photography's most exclusive clubs – those photographers that have photographed every Super Bowl. The film features John Biever, Walter Iooss, Mickey Palmer and Tony Tomsic as they recount their experiences and most memorable moments as history unfolded before their eyes year after year.
 

 
If you enjoy sports and photography, don't miss seeing this film. For DirectTV subscribers, set your DVR for Channel 209 (ESPN2HD) Thu, 1/29, 7:00 - 8:00 PM ET.
Category: ESPN News
Post Date: 1/27/2015 8:15:20 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
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