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 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
 Wednesday, June 3, 2015
SanDisk 64GB Connect Wireless Flash Drive
B&H has the SanDisk 64GB Connect Wireless Flash Drive available for $52.95 with free expedited shipping. Regularly $94.95.
 
Product Highlights:
 
  • Includes a microSDXC Memory Card
  • Wirelessly Store, Share, Stream Content
  • Preformatted exFAT for Windows
  • Windows, Mac, iOS, & Android Compatible
  • Supports 8 Simultaneous Connections
  • Supports 3 Simultaneous Media Streams
  • Wireless Range up to 150'
  • USB 2.0 Connection, Charges Via USB
  • Up to 4 Hours of Battery Runtime
  • Wi-Fi (WPA2) Password Protection
Category: SanDisk Deals
Post Date: 6/3/2015 11:40:17 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Photoshelter Logo
From Photoshelter:
 
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  • What art buyers want from photographers
  • How to keep your cool on set
  • Marketing tactics to keep you top of mind
  • How to stay true and authentic to your work
  • Tips on estimating and negotiating
Download your copy today!
Post Date: 6/3/2015 10:20:37 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Waterfalls and Going with the Flow
When it comes to photographing waterfalls, one needs to go with the flow. Water flow that is. And spring is often when that flow is just right.
 
While too little flow can be detrimental to waterfall photography for obvious reasons, too much flow can also be a problem. When the water rises, features that can add to a composition (such as rocks) are often covered. Too much water flow can also result in mud-colored water. While I sometimes like tannin creating streaks and paths in the water, a photo with muddy water is not usually going to hit my favorites folder.
 
Start monitoring the weather (both recent and forecasted) at your favorite waterfall location and proactively plan to be there at the right time. My forecast preference often includes some rain and plenty of clouds, allowing a saturated landscape with even lighting.
 
After a heavy rain, B. Reynolds Falls in Ricketts Glen State Park was flowing very strongly on this mid-May day (though the needed rocks details remained exposed). The water was so loud that by the end of the day, I was ready for some quiet time in the car. My ears would have been happier during a drought, but ... my images would not have been nearly as good.
 
To get this particular image, I climbed down the rocks beside a small walking bridge and precariously positioned myself and the tripod legs on the strongly-sloped wet rocks just above the water. I often place the tripod in the water for such shots, but ... that only works if the water flow is not strong enough to cause vibrations in the tripod. The final composition emphasizes a balance of the features contained with most lines moving toward the center of the frame.
 
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.
Post Date: 6/3/2015 8:47:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
SanDisk Ultra 64GB microSDXC Memory Card
B&H has the SanDisk Ultra 64GB microSDXC Memory Card UHS-I with Adapter available for $24.99 with free shipping. Regularly $33.99.
Post Date: 6/3/2015 7:42:32 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Nikon D3200 DSLR with AF-S 18-55mm VR Lens
eBay (via BeachCamera) has the Refurbished Nikon D3200 DSLR with AF-S 18-55mm VR Lens available for $279.00 with free shipping. Compare at $446.95 new after $80.00 instant savings.
 
Note: The listing's title indicates that this auction comes with version "II" of the kit lens; however, I believe that is likely a mistake on the part of the listing's author (typo). Version "I" is the standard kit lens for the Nikon D3200.
Posted to: Nikon News
Post Date: 6/3/2015 7:23:19 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Tuesday, June 2, 2015
LensRentals Logo
Roger Cicala of LensRentals has posted a partial teardown of the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD lens.
 
His takeaway? Tamron's latest wide-angle zoom is well built but isn't nearly as modular as most of Canon's newest lenses; fixing one at home is not necessarily recommended because of the complex nature of the lens's construction.
 
Check out the LensRentals Blog for the well-illustrated (and equally entertaining) partial teardown.
 
B&H carries the Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens (review).
Post Date: 6/2/2015 4:15:28 PM CT   Posted By: Sean
Sharp 32
Post Date: 6/2/2015 12:32:13 PM CT   Posted By: Sean
Canon 1D X, 600mm f/4L II, 1.4x III and a Wing-Drying Double-Crested Cormorant
It is not unusual to find double-crested cormorants drying their wings. Images of these birds doing so are often entertaining, but I am always looking for positive additional elements in my images.
 
The first positive additional element in this image is the still, shallow, reflective water the bird is standing in. The reflection doubles the primary subject of interest and brings in the blue sky color.
 
The reflection also pulls in the white and orange color of a flock of white pelicans standing in the water behind the cormorant. White pelicans are not so common in the places I frequent, so having a large flock of them behind my wing-drying bird provides me a positive additional element. That the light-colored reflection provides higher contrast on the cormorant's dark head, where the viewer's eye is to be drawn, is also positive.
 
The location for this photo was Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida. The choice of the 600 f/4 L IS II Lens with a 1.4x III behind it was made for maximum reach for the 1D X (along with the superb image quality the combo provides).
 
I love tightly framed bird portraits, but in this case, my 1D X was focal length constrained, limited to the angle of view provided by the 840mm lens combo (unless I cropped and that option still remains). Composing good environmental bird photos is often more challenging tightly-framed portraits, but when done well, they can look great. In this example, I chose to have a clean bottom border of water and a mostly-white top border. If you follow my work, you know that I like how borders free of contrasting lines keep the viewer's eye within the frame. Beyond that strategy, I was trying to balance the elements remaining in the frame.
 
While that last sentence may sound easy, the cormorant was constantly changing its head angle. If the bird was looking to my right, I needed to frame farther to my right. And, vice versa. That meant that I had to either change the selected AF point very quickly or that I had to recompose after focusing. My choice here was to quickly select the AF point to one that landed on the bird's head. I made this choice over the recomposing options because I was counting on capturing more than one image before the head moved to another position.
 
I ended up with many keepers from this short session, but ... I think that this image is my favorite.
 
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.
Post Date: 6/2/2015 10:48:54 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
Canvas On Demand Logo
Through 6/3, use coupon code SHOP50 at CanvasOnDemand.com to save 50% on your custom canvas print order.
 
Canvas prints make excellent gifts for loved ones and can turn a blank space of wall into something quite eye catching. They are an excellent way to display your best – and/or most cherished – images.
Post Date: 6/2/2015 10:15:03 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Nikon Logo
From Nikon:
 
Nikon D3200 Firmware v1.04
 
Changes from “C” Version Firmware 1.03
 
  • Addressed an issue that caused the memory card access lamp to light longer than normal or the message “This memory card cannot be used. Card may be damaged. Insert another card” to be displayed while the memory card was accessed.
Download: Nikon D3200 Firmware v1.04
Posted to: Nikon News
Post Date: 6/2/2015 9:28:53 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Hot Deal: Induro CT314 Carbon 8X Tripod
Hot Deal: FocusCamera has the Induro CT314 Carbon 8X Tripod available for $399.95 with free shipping. Compare at $550.00.
 
Product Highlights
 
  • Height - 24.2" Folded / 74.2" Extended
  • Load Capacity - 39.6 lbs
  • Ultra Lightweight Carbon Fiber
  • Dust & Moisture Resistant Leg Locks
  • Half-Turn Leg Lock Mechanisms
  • 3-Position Adjustable Angle Leg Locks
  • Interchangeable Rubber Feet and Stainless Steel Spikes
  • Closed Cell Foam Grip on all 3 Legs
  • Weight - 5 lbs
Note from Sean: I love this tripod. It's been my primary tripod for almost 18 months now and I couldn't be happier with it (I use it very often). It's not necessarily the best tripod for hiking as it's a bit heavy, but for everyday use, it's an excellent, solidly built choice.
 
I'm 6'2" tall, and I usually use the tripod without the smallest leg sections extended. However, I love the that this tripod can extend over my head if necessary (and I have used it that way on a few occasions). Paired with an amazing ball head – like the Arca-Swiss Monoball Z1 – this a tripod that will work well for many photographers.
 
In fact, I was just using the tripod yesterday while testing out some new equipment. You can see the top part of the tripod in the left part of the image below.
 
Induro CT 314 Tripod with 7D II Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art and Teleprompter
Post Date: 6/2/2015 9:07:18 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
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