I have to confess. I'm a fall leaf color addict. If the leaves have changed to their fall colors, I'm struggling to resist being outdoors 100% of the daylight hours with a camera in my hands. Fortunately, I don't have to go far from home to find some of the best color available anywhere.
Even with colorful trees being easy to find, photographing the fall color can be very challenging and one of those challenges is to create a compelling composition. Many of the most-brilliantly colored local trees, primarily old maples, are found in town, where houses and other buildings, power lines, signs, etc. interfere with the natural look I'm typically seeking. A picture of a complete tree may capture the color, but the likelihood of something undesirable being in the frame is quite high. Even in the countryside, the ideal trees can be difficult to work into great compositions for a variety of reasons including a lack of supporting elements.
One fall foliage technique I like to use is isolation of the colorful leaves of one tree with other parts of the same tree or another tree filling the rest of the frame. Find an attractive leaf or set of leaves that are in good condition and then determine what could be a good background for the composition.
Determine the focal length of your lens based on how large the foreground leaves should be in relation to the selected background. The focal length decision will also be affected by how large the selected background is and the space you have to work in with a longer focal length requiring less background area needed. The longer the focal length selected, the easier it will be to make the background blurred and of course, the vice versa is also true.
Determine the aperture used based on how much depth of field is desired with a very wide aperture capable of putting the background into a primary-subject-isolating blur. Also note that a wider aperture makes a faster shutter speed easier to obtain (at a lower ISO setting) and a faster shutter speed may be necessary to stop any wind-imparted motion of the primary subject leaf or leaves.
Don't stop with your first setup. Continue to refine the shot until you have it perfected. Then find another composition to work on.
The brilliantly colored maple tree in this picture was on the corner of an in-town street intersection with power lines and houses directly behind it. I moved in close to the foreground leaves and aligned the angle of view with the lines created by the trunks and limbs. The backlit leaves on the other side of the tree and some green grass across the street complete the composition. The result is a brilliantly colored fall photo that is, at least somewhat, unique.
If you're a lighting enthusiast like me, this is the kind of video you love to see. Karl Taylor & Urs Recher demonstrate how to use soft & [very well-controlled] hard light to highlight engraving detail on glass.
One technique that I found especially interesting in this video was the simple use of a white card to help illustrate the projection of the back light's modeling lamp.
The functionality of a product must be the highest priority, but I'll argue that us photographers, by trade, appreciate design and beauty in a product more than the general public. Since it is photographers that look at and handle lenses most, it is only fitting that a lens has a beautiful styling. I am pleased that lens makers are taking style into full account with their latest releases, including Sigma's Global Vision lines, Tamron with their latest primes and now Zeiss with their new Milvus lenses.
A few of the new Zeiss Milvus lenses just arrived and product images are usually first on the evaluation to-do list. Avoiding as much of the inevitable-with-use dust and finger prints saves lots of post processing time. I had seen the Zeiss product images distributed along with the Milvus press release, but the new Zeiss Milvus 21mm f/2.8 Lens really caught my attention immediately out of the box.
It was love at first sight. The smooth, modern, curved metal design is drop-dead gorgeous. Lenses are meant to be used for image making and ... this lens makes for a great image. Thus, I'm going to declare the Zeiss Milvus 21mm f/2.8 lens to be the new "World's Most Beautiful Lens" titleholder.
That is my opinion of course. Which lens is at the top of your most beautiful lens list?
People seem to enjoy being creeped out around this time of the year (Halloween) and spiders are a perennial favorite source of creepiness. They happen to be my wife's biggest fear at any time of the year, so when I brought a mother wolf spider carrying a big "cluster" of babies into the house for a photo op (it was dark outside), she was not too happy. And when the spider jumped off of my white paper background and lost her cluster, I went back outside (after corralling what seemed like hundreds of tiny baby spiders).
I wasn't looking to create an award-winning photo of this spider, but wanted decent quality without much time investment. I mounted a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens to a Canon EOS 5Ds R and attached a Canon Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II Flash. The scene was dark (even inside) and the lens shaded the subject at this distance, so I utilized the MR-14EX's focus assist lights to manually focus on the mother's eyes (all 8 of them) with the plane of sharp focus angled to include many of the babies.
As mentioned, I went high-tech with the background: a sheet of white printer paper goes with everything. With the main subject being medium-dark colored, I was able to boost the highlights slightly in post, creating a pure white background, without negatively impacting the mid and dark tones.
Spiders are a popular fall theme and that is probably the only time of the year when you can post a spider picture that gets socially shared. Find out who has arachnophobia. Dig out one of your spider pics or better yet, go create a new one. Share it and peg the creep-out meter.
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr, Google+, 500px and Facebook. Also, if reading from a news feed reader, click through to see the framed image.
Do you ever feel stuck in a rut, creatively speaking? You've got all this great gear at your disposal but you're simply not inspired by your surroundings? That's an unfortunate side effect of the human condition – we start losing appreciation for the things (and people?) we see on a daily basis. Even the extraordinary can seem mundane if we see it every day.
Aside from taking a vacation and enjoying the benefits of exploring a new place (providing an excellent source of inspiration), there are several things you can do right in your own hometown to help quell the "been there, seen that" blues. And many of them require little to no investment in new gear. A common (and useful) technique is to limit yourself to shooting with a single focal length. But as that approach has been covered by just about everyone, let's look at other ways to inspire your own creativity.
1. Multiple Exposures
One particularly intriguing camera feature that has trickled down from high-end bodies in the past few years is the Multiple Exposures feature (found in the EOS 1D X, 5Ds/5Ds R, 5D III, 6D, & 7D II). A multiple exposure is just what it sounds - a single exposure created by combining two (or more) individual shots. The possibilities for creative multiple exposures are limited only by your imagination, and forcing yourself to think about your multiple exposure before capture is an excellent exercise in creative thinking. Using Live View in Multiple Exposure mode enables you to preview the result you can expect after capture. If you don't have a camera that features Multiple Exposures, you can easily recreate the most common multiple exposure effect in Photoshop by layering one image over another and setting the top layer's blend mode to "Lighten" (that's exactly what I did for the image above).
2. Long Exposures
As photographers, we're used to capturing the world in split seconds. Movement is frozen in when our shutter speeds are short enough and our images are sharpest. Capturing an image that spans seconds (if not minutes) can completely change the dynamic the scene. A tripod and 10 stop neutral density (or even more dense) filter can allow water along the beach to appear as flat as a sheet of glass or can aid in reducing the evidence of people when photographing in a crowded place (think architectural photography).
A neutral density filter isn't necessarily required for creating long exposures. If shooting at night, you can easily use just a tripod (or other means of support) to help capture light trails left by passing vehicles.
Shooting in infrared is a great way to help you break out of a creative slump because it allows you to experience the world in a whole new way. Suddenly, drab and familiar landscapes become intriguing when capturing the typically unseen wavelengths.
There are a couple of ways to capture infrared shots. The first and least expensive way is to purchase a filter that blocks visible light but allows IR light to pass through. When using the infrared [passing] filter, your exposure times will be very long (sometimes minutes). That's because your camera has a built-in infrared blocking filter that prohibits most of the infrared light from hitting the sensor. The infrared filter on the front of your lens allows you to create an exposure out of the trickle of IR that makes it through to the camera's filter. For these shots, a tripod (or other stable shooting platform) is essential.
Keep in mind that with the IR filter in place, you cannot see through the viewfinder (and you'll see very little if anything in Live View). Therefore, you must frame and focus your shot before placing the IR filter on the camera. And since IR light focuses at a slightly different point than visible light, you'll want to shoot at or near hyperfocal distances with a narrow enough aperture to compensate for focus shifting.
Another piece of gear helpful for capturing images with an infrared filter is the timer remote. The timer remote/intervalometer will allow you to shoot exposures longer than 30 seconds without having to continually hold down the shutter button (as in Bulb mode). Some newer camera bodies – like the 7D Mark II and 5Ds/5Ds R – feature an in-camera bulb timer and will not require the remote timer accessory.
If you'd like to dive into infrared photography head first, you can have your DSLR converted to an infrared camera. The cost will vary depending on your camera body and filter option, but the conversion will likely be in the ballpark of $300.00 (or more, depending on camera model and options). One big benefit of an IR conversion is that your exposure times will closely mimic your exposure times for visible light, meaning a tripod isn't absolutely necessary. However, you will need to compose and focus using Live View because visible light no longer passes through to the viewfinder.
If you only have one camera, I wouldn't suggest an IR conversion. Converting your camera to infrared means that you can no longer capture visible light with your camera. However, converting an older DSLR to infrared after upgrading cameras is a great way to extend the useful life of your likely-to-be-neglected equipment (assuming you don't need a backup camera). That was the motivating factor for sending my rarely-used EOS 7D to Life Pixel for an infrared conversion. With my newly converted 7D in-hand, infrared photography has never been more fun and inspiring. The image at the top of this post was created with my EOS 7D modified with Life Pixel's Super Color IR conversion.
As a general rule, I see the world in a 2x3 ratio frame. But even I know there are times when a wider, theater-like view is required to truly experience what it's like to be standing in a specific spot. Maybe you need a wider angle lens but just don't have one. Or maybe you just want to squeeze every pixel of detail out of a scene. No matter the reason, panoramas force you to think about your composition differently. It gets much more difficult to hide "distracting" elements of a scene when you force yourself to capture everything that's in front of you in all its glory.
There are many different ways to create a panorama. The easiest way is to simply stand in one spot and point your camera in different directions and stitch the resulting images together in post. Unfortunately, this may not always work well because of parallax errors caused by not rotating the camera body at its no-parallax point. That's exactly why I built my own panning rig for creating 360-degree panoramas. Another way to create panoramas while avoiding parallax errors is to use a tilt-shift lens to capture images at widest extents along the shift plane.
No matter what method you use to capture your images, you'll need a decent photo editor to stitch them into a seamless panoramic image. Photoshop CC is a full-featured, reasonably priced option; Hugin is free and open source, but the learning curve is [in my opinion] relatively steep.
One way to inspire creativity is to throw another variable into the mix – the element of time. We generally try to capture images that attempt to tell a complete story in a single frame. Time-lapse photography gives us the ability to illustrate changes that happen over time and require a completely different approach to planning and capture.
Creating a good time-lapse requires patience, planning, dedication and a fair amount of post-processing. Preparing for time-lapse capture means that you have to consider what elements in your scene will change over time, how to protect your equipment and how to compensate for changes in exposure thoughout your time-lapse.
To create time-lapses you'll need a solid support system (a tripod is likely best, but any stable platform will do), a timer remote (if your camera does not have an interval timer built-in), and patience.
Shown above is the time-lapse I created when evaluating the Triggertrap Mobile Dongle. The Mobile Dongle (paired with a smartphone) not only allows you to create a time-lapse, but it allows you to adjust the timing and exposure values during capture so that you can be even more creative with your time-lapse.
If you already own a macro lens, then you already have everything you need to explore the wonders of your own back/front/side yard. If you do not own a macro lens (and even if you do), using extension tubes with your current lenses will help increase the maximum magnification possible by shortening the lens' minimum focus distance.
The flower seen above is located about 6 feet from my backdoor in a small flowerbed. Tip: Plant flowers around your home. Not only will they provide you with ample opportunities to shoot beautiful macros, but your significant other will likely enjoy displaying them in your home. And just in case you forgot a special occasion, being able to pick flowers from your yard may help you avoid the ramifications of your lapse in memory.
Is the weather not conducive to venturing outside? Try macro photography with objects around the house. Many everyday objects become much more intriguing when viewed up close (salt, peppercorns, etc.)
So that's our top 6 ways for inspiring your own creativity. Do you have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments!
"In the fast-paced, high-octane world of automotive photography, you might be surprised to learn that changing opinions takes time. Despite this, top car photographer Dom Romney tells CPN writer Mark Alexander that Canon’s new 5DS is beginning to turn heads..."
When I left for my Alaska trip, I was packing on the end of a 90+ hour work week and was still actively fighting against a DDOS attack on the site as I was going out the door. With major distractions, I left without a key piece of kit that I expected to need on this trip – my Think Tank Photo Hydrophobia 300-600 v2.0 rain cover. When I remembered what I had forgotten, it was too late to recover from my mistake.
As it turned out, I was shooting with my Canon 600mm f/4L IS II Lens on a Canon EOS 5Ds R in light rain about 50% of the time I was in Katmai National Park. While this lens and lens combo is weather sealed, I don't like to test the limits of this sealing.
What saved me? Minimally, from anxiety? A simple garbage bag. Having needed to use this backup plan before, I knew what to do. Place the makeshift rain cover (I usually carry at least two in my larger cases) over the camera and lens. Then tear a small hole in the bag, with the opening just large enough to tightly stretch over the lens hood. The plastic stretched around the hole holds the bag tightly to the lens hood, providing a seal between the gear and the makeshift rain cover.
A hole can also be made for the viewfinder, but I often use the bag's normal opening when shooting. My ball hat brim provides some protection for the exposed back of the camera and I pull the bag completely over the camera when not actively shooting.
This solution is not nearly as elegant as the TTP rain cover. The one problem with this setup is that wind can swiftly blow the bag off of the camera, generally turning it inside out and into a flag blowing from the snug-fitting tear/cut hole hold holding onto the lens. Wrapping some tape (carry a small, perhaps self-made, roll of gaffer tape) around the back of the lens can be enough. Other securing options abound, including the use of ball bungies.
Forget your garbage bags? Garbage bags are ubiquitous; they can be found at most household supply, grocery and camp stores. Your hotel can likely give you one if there isn’t a good one to be found in your room. If your hotel happens to provide shower caps, that is another rain cover option.
Garbage bags have many uses beyond camera and lens rain protection. Use them as a drop cloth/ground matt to keep you and/or your gear clean and dry. You can even put your camera case/backpack in a bag. Use a garbage bag as a makeshift raincoat for yourself (important: allow for fresh air to prevent suffocation). You can of course use the bags for their namesake purpose. Carry a load of trash out of the location you are shooting in.
Choose your bag size and its duty-level based on your need. While a super telephoto lens works great with a full-size garbage bag, smaller lenses work better with a kitchen-sized garbage bag or smaller. When used as a ground cloth, my preference is for very heavyweight contractor bags, though I find lighter weight garbage bags easier to work with as a camera rain cover. I often have various size and material weight selections at my "disposal."
While it is your choice, I highly recommend "unscented" bags. :)
Garbage bag are cheap, readily available and incredibly useful. Put some garbage bags in all of your camera bags now, before you forget. And, add this useful accessory to your packing lists.
"The Rusted" is a Psychological Thriller Inspired by a College Student's Trailer Submission for the Project Imagination Contest
MELVILLE, N.Y., October 23, 2015 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, debuts a new Hollywood short film, "The Rusted," as part of Canon's Project Imagination: The Trailer, a consumer contest helmed by Ron Howard who has championed Canon's Project Imagination creative experiment since 2011. Ron Howard and Josh Hutcherson ("The Hunger Games") chose one winning trailer created by Mark Mukherjee, a college student in Florida, as the inspirational foundation for "The Rusted," a psychological thriller written and directed by Kat Candler ("Hellion") starring Josh Hutcherson and Jena Malone ("The Hunger Games").
"The Rusted" is a film about a brother and sister's attempt to renovate their childhood home into a recording studio, but strange happenings force them to deal with memories from their past. The global premiere of the film took place via a livestream with AOL BUILD, giving consumers everywhere a chance to experience the film, and will now be available at imagination.usa.canon.com.
"I'm honored to continue this journey with Canon, seeking inspiration from those around us and urging everyone to tap into their creative souls and bring stories to life," said Ron Howard. "It's truly been a delight to collaborate with Josh Hutcherson who challenged himself to star in a role that was unlike any he has done to date."
"Working with Canon, Ron and Kat have given me a great creative outlet to flex my filmmaking muscles," said Josh Hutcherson. "I feel so fortunate to bring the vision of Mark's trailer to life and work alongside Jena to create this beautiful film. I'm excited for everyone to see it."
Francesca Silvestri and Kevin Chinoy of Freestyle Picture Company as well as Josh Hutcherson and Michelle Hutcherson produced the film.
Project Imagination: The Trailer contest launched in February 2015 and was open for submissions through April 29th. Based on the concept that anything in life can be a movie, and every movie starts with a trailer, Canon invited all consumers - even those who have never picked up a camera before - to turn everyday photos and video footage into a creative movie trailer with titles, Hollywood style voice-overs and epic soundtracks. Consumers of all skill levels were encouraged to create and submit trailers of their everyday moments using Canon's Trailer Editor tool. One winning trailer was then selected by Ron Howard and Josh Hutcherson.
Replace an existing arca-compatible plate with the Tripod Plate 50 or 70. This product allows you to switch from your tripod to your R-strap effortlessly, without having to unscrew the plate. Comes with our FastenR Tripod screw and fits all 1/4-20 sockets. It is available in two sizes 50 and 70mm.
High grade aluminum alloy
Lengths: 50mm | 70mm
Weight: 31g | 40g
FastenR Tripod (FR-T1):
Length of screw: 0.8cm
Width of handle: 2.5cm
Width of screw cap: 1.5cm
Net Weight: 14g
LOCKING BERT EXTENDER
BlackRapid’s Locking Bert extender is a great solution to lengthen your R-Strap. This option lets you add an extra 15 inches (38cm) on your sling to ensure the best fit. Comes in a locking version and a Non-locking (original) version for Curves and Doubles without the locking buckle on the back.
10/22/2015 – Two of the photo industry’s most tenured women, Lily Fisher, a senior camera bag designer, and Deanne Fitzmaurice, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, collaborated to create the ideal camera bags for female photographers. After a decade interviewing female professional photographers and a year-and-a-half developing the bag, the result is the Lily Deanne shoulder bag line from Think Tank Photo — the perfect marriage of function and style.
Make no mistake, Lily Deanne bags are serious camera bags designed for quick access to pro-size camera bodies and lenses through the oversized zipper opening. The rare-earth magnetic closures on the main flap and front pockets allow for silent access while protecting delicate clothing. The adjustable non-slip shoulder pad is cushioned for all day comfort.
The Lily Deanne Lucido holds one standard size DSLR with one to three lenses and accessories, or a complete Mirrorless camera system with three to four lenses and accessories. An 8” tablet fits inside a dedicated compartment. The Lily Deanne Mezzo holds one standard-size DSLR with mid-range zoom attached, plus two to three additional lenses and 10” tablet or 11” laptop inside a dedicated compartment. The Lily Deanne Tutto holds one gripped DSLR with mid-range zoom lens attached and two to five additional lenses and 2 flashes, or one standard-size DSLR with 70-200mm f/2.8 attached and two to five lenses in its main compartment and 2 flashes, and a 15” laptop inside a dedicated compartment.
Lily Deanne bags come in two colorsChestnut Brown and Black Licoriceand in three sizes: Lucido (sleek); Mezzo (middle); and, Tutto (everything). A professional photographer can now look stylish with the full-grain Dakota Leather flap and accents, metal hardware with chrome finish, and the Robin’s Egg blue liner.
Lily Deanne bags are ideal for wedding and event photography, portraiture, editorial, corporate and commercial photography.
Exterior: All fabric exterior treated with durable water resistant coating while fabric underside is coated with polyurethane for superior water resistance, full-grain Dakota leather, chrome plated metal hardware, neodymium (rare-earth) magnets, highest quality YKK RC-Fuse zippers, 420D velocity nylon, 420 high-density nylon, nylon seatbelt webbing, 320g airmesh, silicone non-slip screenprint, 3-ply bonded nylon thread.
Lily Deanne Lucido Internal Dimensions: 10" W x 8.5" H x 4.5" D (25.5 x 21.5 x 11.5 cm) Exterior Dimensions: 11.4" W x 8.9" H x 5.3" D (29 x 22.5 x 13.5 cm) 8” tablet compartment: 9.3” W x 7.7” H x 0.6” D (23.5 x 19.5 x 1.5 cm) Weight: 1.9 lbs (0.8 kg)
Lily Deanne Mezzo Internal Dimensions: 12.2" W x 9.4" H x 5.3" D (31 x 24 x 13.5 cm) Exterior Dimensions: 13.8" W x 9.8" H x 6.1" D (35 x 25 x 15.5 cm) Laptop/tablet compartment: 11.8” W x 8.9” H x 0.8” D (30 x 22.5 x 2 cm) Weight: 2.3 lbs (1.0 kg)
Lily Deanne Tutto Internal Dimensions: 15.4” W x 10.2” H x 6.7” D (39 x 28 x 17 cm) Exterior Dimensions: 16.9” W x 11.4” H x 8.3” D (43 x 29 x 21 cm) Laptop compartment: 15” W x 10.4” H x 0.9” D (38 x 26.5 x 2.3 cm) Weight: 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg)
It seems I missed these updates when they hit Canon USA last week. (thanks for the heads up, Peter!)
Digital Photo Professional 3.15.0
Supports EF35mm f/1.4L II USM, EF50mm f/1.8 STM, EF-M15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM.
Digital Photo Professional 4.3.31
Newly supported EOS M10, PowerShot G9 X, PowerShot G5 X, EOS Kiss X6i / EOS REBEL T4i / EOS 650D, EOS Kiss X5 / EOS REBEL T3i / EOS 600D, EOS Kiss X50 / EOS REBEL T3 / EOS 1100D, and PowerShot SX60 HS.
Supports EF35mm f/1.4L II USM, EF50mm f/1.8 STM, EF-M15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM.
Adds a function that enables playing back movie files on EOS MOVIE Utility (Ver. 1.4 or later).
Fixes a malfunction that occurs rarely when "Distortion" is ticked off during the editing of RAW images shot with EOS 8000D / EOS REBEL T6s / EOS 760D or EOS Kiss X8i / EOS REBEL T6i / EOS 750D.
EOS Utility 2.14.20a
Supports EF35mm f/1.4L II USM, EF50mm f/1.8 STM.
EOS Utility 3.3.0
Supports EOS M10.
Picture Style Editor 1.15.30
Supports EOS M10.
EOS MOVIE Utility 1.4
Adds a function that displays saved images on Digital Photo Professional (Ver. 4.3.20 or later).
Supports vertical image playback for vertical movies.
New Auto-Sensing Transceiver allows photographers to combine on-camera TTL flash with remote manual flash.
So. Burlington, VT – October 21, 2015 – LPA Design, manufacturers of PocketWizard Photo Products, the world leader in reliable wireless control of cameras, flash lighting and light meters, announces the new PocketWizard Plus IV Transceiver. The new Plus IV includes all the features and reliability of the Plus III and adds key new functionality. When used as a transmitter, its top shoe provides on-camera TTL compatibility with most Canon, Nikon and Panasonic cameras and flashes. And although testing is not complete, we are optimistic it will work with some Fuji, and Olympus gear. When used as a receiver, you can easily mount and trigger virtually any speedlight in the shoe, set to a manual power level.
“Photographers love the Plus III, but they’ve expressed their desire for a Plus III with a top shoe. So we designed one. We took it a step further and added TTL pass-through for an on-camera flash, and a metal foot. It’s like a Plus III on its side, with the most-requested features added in,” comments Heather Ambrose, PocketWizard Marketing Manager. “The Plus IV is by no means a replacement for the Plus III. They complement each other. An ideal set-up might be a Plus IV for on-camera flash in TTL mode, another Plus IV with a speedlight mounted in manual mode and two Plus IIIs connected to studio lights. The Plus IV features the same Quad-Zone Triggering as the Plus III so you can easily turn any one of those remote flashes on or off directly from the camera, and either create different looks or work in different areas.”
The Plus IV has the performance enhancing features of the Plus III including Long Range and Repeater Modes to help photographers tackle the most challenging shooting environments, opening the door for never-attempted image ideas. All features, channels and zones can be easily set using the soft-touch keypad and are clearly displayed on the backlit LCD display.
The versatile new PocketWizard Plus IV is compatible with all other PocketWizard radios and virtually every popular flash and professional digital SLR camera system. The standard ISO compatible hot shoe can accommodate almost any speedlight for simple manual triggering, including newer Sony models. It also communicates with all PocketWizard-enabled photo gear including select Profoto, Dynalite, Norman and Photogenic flash systems and Sekonic light meters.
The new Plus IV will be demonstrated at the PocketWizard Booth (#663) at PhotoPlus 2015 in New York City, NY, October 22 – 24, 2015. The product is expected to be available at retail in January 2016.