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 Thursday, June 4, 2015
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
Photoshelter Logo
From Photoshelter:
 
Break into the exciting world of commercial photography
 
How should you pitch your work to agency art buyers? What’s it like working with ad agencies, or big brands on set? How can you attract commercial clients? These questions and more are answered in our latest guide, Breaking Into Commercial Photography. Dive in to discover how to begin building your client list, marketing tactics to stay relevant in an ever-changing field, and how to integrate your personal style into commissioned work.
 
Get the Free Guide
 
Inside this guide you’ll find:
 
  • 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
 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
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
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
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Image quality results from the EOS 7D Mark II have been added to the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens review.
 
This lens is not performing amazingly at the widest apertures, but stopped down to f/4, it is performing very impressively for the price. B&H has the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens in stock.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 6/2/2015 7:29:29 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Monday, June 1, 2015

 
What's the Difference? is a series of video lighting tutorials. Each episode responds to a single question. In this episode, Jared Platt compares soft light and hard light.
 
The entire series, including all videos, articles and lighting diagrams, is available here.
 
Gear Used:
 
Post Date: 6/1/2015 1:52:21 PM CT   Posted By: Sean
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens
Just posted: Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens review.
 
Very nice lens. Hopefully, after reading the in-depth review, you will feel like you have virtually used the 150-600 Sports.
 
B&H has the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens available for preorder.
Post Date: 6/1/2015 10:53:23 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan

 
"What's the Difference?" is a series of video lighting tutorials. Each episode responds to a single question. In this episode, Jared Platt compares a bareheaded off-camera flash with an umbrella deep.
 
The entire series, including all videos, articles and lighting diagrams, is available here.
 
Gear Used:
 
Post Date: 6/1/2015 9:36:55 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Friday, May 29, 2015
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Image quality results have been added to the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens review page.
 
We know that this lens has the same optics as the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens. Here is the Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM compared to the 50mm f/1.8 II.
 
Look at this lens' image quality at f/4 and then look at the price tag. Very nice.
 
B&H has the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens in stock.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 5/29/2015 8:23:47 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
x-rite Logo
From X-rite:
 
Webinar – Adobe Lightroom Tricks & Tips
Date – June 9th 2015, 15:30 GMT
Guest Speaker: Richard Curtis – Adobe Principle Solutions Consultant
 
The Session will walkthrough features of Lightroom from version 4 to CC and focus on key points in the workflow that can make a huge difference to your photographs. Of course the Creative Cloud Photography plan is much more than the desktop apps, so we will be looking at integrating Lightroom mobile and Adobe slate into the image making process.
 
Richard Curtis is a Principal Solutions Consultant at Adobe and is focused on the Digital Imaging Solutions in the UK (Lightroom and Photoshop). Richard is also a Photographer with an interest in street, travel and landscape photography, and has been making images for over 20 years.
 
Richard will also be joined by Andrzej Szkorupinski from X-Rite Photo Europe, who will be discussing colour workflow with the ColorChecker Passport.
 
Register Now
Post Date: 5/29/2015 6:57:04 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Thursday, May 28, 2015
Nikon Logo
From Nikon:
 
What’s New with Version 1.27.0
 
  • The codec now supports NEF (RAW) photos shot with the D810A and Nikon 1 J5.
  • Fixed issue in which NEF (RAW) images could no longer be displayed after file info had been edited in the “Details” tab of the Explorer “Properties” window.
Download: Nikon NEF Codec Version 1.27.0
Posted to: Nikon News
Post Date: 5/28/2015 1:25:51 PM CT   Posted By: Sean
Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens
From the Lomography Lomography Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens Kickstarter Campaign:
 
Swirl to Freedom with the World’s First Petzval Bokeh Control Lens
 
Bokeh Like a Boss
Using the Bokeh Control Ring on the New Petzval 58, you’re totally free to determine the strength of the swirly bokeh in your photos. You can now get the characteristic swirly bokeh effect in ways it has NEVER been possible before. This revolutionary component is the first of its kind on a Petzval lens!
 
58mm Focal Length and Maximum f/1.9 Aperture
The New Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.9 and is a 58mm lens, which is a fantastic all-round focal length for portraits, landscapes and photos of your cat doing jumping jacks. We promise you will love shooting every scene with your New Petzval 58 in hand.
 
Premium Russian Glass Optics in a Beautiful Brass Body
The New Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens features the finest quality Russian glass optics. Available in a brass or black finish, it’s designed to perfectly mirror the look of original 19th century Petzval lenses.
 
Look Back to the Future
Joseph Petzval invented his revolutionary Petzval optic in 1840 — a hugely popular portrait lens that changed the world of photography. Now, 175 years later and building on our success with the Lomography New Petzval 85mm Lens in 2013, the New Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Lens is here to join the growing Lomography Art Lens Family. The lens has been specially developed to work with modern analogue and digital cameras and is available in Canon EF and Nikon F mounts (it’s also compatible with multitudes of other cameras such as the Sony A7, Fuji X-Pro 1 and Micro 4/3 Cameras using adapter mounts).
 
For more info, check out the Lomography Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens Kickstarter Campaign.
Post Date: 5/28/2015 11:49:02 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
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