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 Sunday, February 18, 2018
Getting one wild animal in ideal position for a photograph is challenging and getting multiple animals simultaneously-posed definitely ups the game. Especially when using a long telephoto lens, depth of field becomes one of the challenges. I love the subject-isolating shallow depth of field look created by these lenses, especially when used at their widest apertures, but keeping that look with multiple animals in the frame further increases the challenge. This bull and cow elk in the Moraine Park meadow cooperated very nicely for me.
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
Post Date: 2/18/2018 6:30:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Tuesday, February 13, 2018
by Sean Setters
 
If you're like me, you sometimes get the itch to photograph something, but your immediate surroundings leave you somewhat uninspired. Thankfully, the Multiple Exposures feature found in most mid-to-high level Canon cameras can help with that.
 
Canon Cameras that can shoot multiple exposures in-camera include:
 
  • EOS 1D X Mark II
  • EOS 1D X
  • EOS 5D Mark IV
  • EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R
  • EOS 5D Mark III
  • EOS 6D Mark II
  • EOS 6D
  • EOS 7D Mark II
  • EOS 80D
  • EOS 70D
While most of the DSLRs above can be set to record the final multiple exposure image and the images used to create the final exposure, the EOS 70D, 80D, 6D and 6D Mark II only allow for saving the finished image (not the component images). This feature limitation can be important as you will not be able to create your own multiple exposure in post-processing using the component images.
 
While testing out some different lighting setups in my studio this weekend, I remembered that a dark silhouette-style portrait can create an ideal base for a multiple exposure image. However, I didn't want a complete silhouette, and instead opted to use two rim lights (studio strobes with gridded strip boxes) for the profile image so that the lit areas of my face and head would still be visible in the combined exposure. A single, bare 580EX Speedlite provided the lighting for the background.
 
Multiple Exposure Base Image Feb 2018

The image was captured with a tripod mounted Canon EOS 5D Mark III and EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro set to Manual mode, 2-second delay (shutter tripped via wireless remote), f/5.6, 1/160 second, ISO 320.
 
With my base image captured and specified in the Multiple Exposure menu options, I switched my camera to Av mode (leaving the camera set to f/5.6 and ISO 320), walked out my studio door and searched for subject/composition that might work well for the multiple exposure. At first, the trunk of a large tree that borders the backyard caught my attention. This was the result:
 
Multiple Exposure with Bark Image Feb 2018

After seeing the combined result on my screen, I thought the bark overlay was interesting, but I wasn't completely satisfied. Looking upward, I found another possible subject – my neighbor's tree. I shot three different compositions using the tree, with my favorite appearing atop this post.
 
If you'd like to try out your camera's Multiple Exposure feature, here are a few tips we outlined in our article, Multiple Exposures: Yet Another Way to Add Value to Your Wedding Services.
 
Set the camera as follows:
 
Multiple exposureOn:Func/ctrl
Multi expose ctrlAdditive
No. of exposures2
Save source imgsAll images
Continue Mult-exp1-shot only

* The option to save source images may not be available on some cameras.
 
  1. Create a silhouette image to use as the base layer. Note that the brighter areas of the each image will be what comes through prominently in the final image. An underexposed profile/silhouette set against a bright sky (or pure white background) tends to work well for a base layer.
  2. Turn on Live View. Use the LCD's preview to help you align the next shot. Note that you may need to use negative exposure compensation (for both the base and second image) to keep from overexposing the final image.
  3. Preview your results. If you don't like the final image, simply go back into the Multiple Exposure options and designate your original base image to be used for your next attempt.
Take this opportunity to think about what kinds of subjects could be silhouetted in your multiple exposure image, capture it, and then brainstorm what kinds of subjects may work well as an overlay (or simply walk out our door and go for a walk as I did). You might even change focal lengths and apertures between your base and overlay images to create interesting effects. With a little bit of practice, and the help of the preview on your camera's LCD monitor, you'll be able to create interesting multiple exposures in no time!
Post Date: 2/13/2018 8:01:33 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Sunday, February 11, 2018
The Cathedral Parish of St Patrick is one of my favorite churches and I previously shared an image of its ceiling captured at 12mm. While I liked that one a lot, I wanted to see what the same scene looked like captured at 11mm.
 
Can a 1mm difference in focal length make a significant difference in an image? Absolutely. While a 1mm difference is meaningless at 400mm, it is substantial at extreme wide angles and the difference between 11mm and 12mm is very noticeable. Of course, wider is not always better and sometimes 12mm is a better choice than 11mm. If you must decide between these two focal lengths, keep in mind that an 11mm image can be cropped to 12mm framing. Cropping of course results in reduced resolution, but going the other direction requires panorama capture and that becomes especially complicated when mixed with an HDR technique as was required by this image.
 
While it seems that going into a church and photographing straight up would be easy, this image was very challenging to capture. Getting the camera alignment (nearly) perfect was the big part of the challenge. The camera had to be perfectly centered in the scene, directed straight upward and aligned square with the architecture. Any misalignment meant that certain aspects in the scene would not match throughout the image, such as the bottom of the arches being equally aligned with the designs painted on the ceiling.
 
A slight misalignment makes it appear that you didn't do your job correctly. Intentionally framing the scene so that it is not close to square saves a lot of effort. Challenges are fun, but those not wanting to make that effort should consider the latter.
 
If you don't have the very-fun 11mm focal length covered in your kit, the Irix 11mm f/4 Firefly Lens is an inexpensive option that performs very well.
 
Take advantage of an Irix Firefly $50 instant savings promotion (or save $125 on the Blackstone version) at B&H | Amazon | Adorama.
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
Post Date: 2/11/2018 6:45:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Thursday, February 8, 2018
by Sean Setters
 
Let's face it, while light stands can be extremely handy, they can also take up a lot of space in your studio when in use (especially when multiple light stands are being used) and cumbersome to transport. Other times, a light stand simply won't fit where you want to place your light. Thankfully, there are a few good alternatives for propping up your shoe-mount flashes and/or studio strobes when a light stand just won't do or is otherwise unavailable.
 

 
Manfrotto 175F Justin Spring Clamp with Flash Shoe

1) Justin Clamp
 
The Justin Clamp is a spring clamp with a cold flash swivel shoe. It's great for clamping shoe-mount flashes to boards/pipes/banisters up to approx. 1.6" (4 cm) thick.
 
So why is it called a "Justin" Clamp? We have famed photographer Joe McNally to thank for that. According to his 2009 blog post:
I was hanging SB-80 flashes all over aircraft with these cheesy, flimsy, third party [lousy] hot shoe clamping doobers, and getting frustrated as [could be], cause the little ball heads really couldn’t hold more than a thimble full of weight, and they were always slipping and the flashes would spill light in unwanted directions.
 
I called my bud Justin Stailey, then of the Bogen Corporation, and complained. Photographers. We’re good at complaining. I said there had to be a better way, and Justin being Justin, found one. He brought some off the shelf Manfrotto parts over to my studio and cobbled this little Frankenstein of a clamp together. I said "Perfect, that’s what I want, give me 10 of them."
 
I wrote about in American Photo, and called it the Justin Clamp. Got Justin in hot water, though, cause his professors at RIT were pretty upset that a relatively recent graduate all of a sudden had a frikkin’ piece of equipment named after his own self. Justin is now with Leica cameras, and exploring the wonders of German optics.
So now you know!
 
Impact Super Clamp with Ratchet Handle

2) Super Clamp with Stud or Pin
 
The Super Clamp allows you to affix your flash to pipes/tubes 0.5" - 2.1" (1.3 - 5.3 cm) and also includes a wedge insert that allows you to securely clamp the device to flat surfaces as well. The standard Super Clamp comes with a hex stud that you can use to mount an umbrella swivel or a studio strobe (some studio strobes may require a Super Clamp with Pin). Also, if using with a monolight, you may be better off getting a T-handle/ Mafer version of the super clamp as the ratchet version may impede using ratchet mechanism on your studio light.
 
Avenger C1000 Drop Ceiling Scissor Clamp

3) Drop Ceiling Scissor Clamp
 
A drop ceiling scissor clamp is an inexpensive tool that is especially well suited for office environment lighting applications. Hop on a chair (carefully), reach up and affix the clamp on a cross bar and it's ready for mounting an umbrella swivel or strobe. I've had a pair of these in my lighting kit for years and they've been very helpful for on-location headshots (I typically use them with shoe-mount flashes to light the background or for a hair/separation light positioned behind a subject). Drop ceiling scissor clamps are so small, and so inexpensive, there's no excuse not have at least a couple of them in your lighting kit.
 
Avenger F1000 Pump Cup with Baby Swivel Pin

4) Suction Cup with Baby Pin
 
If you don't have room to set up a light stand, but you have a smooth, flat surface (such as glass) available, the Avenger Pump Cup can really save the day. With a load capacity rating of 4.41 lbs (2 kg), you won't want to use this tool with heavy modifiers on your lights. However, for loads within the load capacity rating, the stability of this device is impressive. I recently got a second one to use in my automobile boom rig, and decided to test the new F1000 before having to depend on it for a shoot. After pumping the cup to the proper suction (the red line disappears), the tool was impossible to remove from a window pane. In fact, it remained there for 3 days (with me trying to release it each day) before it finally released after a significant amount of effort.
 
Note that Avenger makes a swivel pin version (seen above) and one with a straight pin. While the straight pin model is slightly less expensive, I think the versatility afforded by the swivel pin is well worth its slightly higher price.
 
Impact 3in Baby Pin Wall Plate

5) Baby Pin Wall Plate
 
For permanent studio applications, baby pin wall plates provide fixed mounting options at a bargain price compared to quality light stands. For less than $15.00 and the cost of 4 screws, you can mount a 3" or 6" (7.6 or 15.2 cm) baby pin wall plate to your ceiling, a wall stud or a support beam/column. For those with small studios, mounting your lights to the walls and ceiling can help you maximize the space you have for posing your subjects. On that note, I recently installed an Avenger F805 6.0" Baby Wall Plate to a ceiling support beam in my studio so that I could leave a hair/separation light semi-permanently installed in a typically optimal location.
 
Wrap-Up
 
Don't get me wrong, I love light stands, especially C-stands and my personal favorite, the Matthews Maxi Kit Steel Stand. But there are times when adding a (or another) light stand to your setup is impractical or even impossible, given certain constraints. In those situations, the tools above can provide you with various ways to mount your lights without requiring the use of a light stand. Also, don't underestimate the importance of minimizing the number of light stands you have set up for a particular session; one less light stand erected means there is one less light stand leg for your subject (or yourself) to trip over, possibly causing injury or equipment damage in the process.
Post Date: 2/8/2018 7:27:52 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Wednesday, February 7, 2018
How old is your computer? I'm prompted to ask because Sean just posted a hot deal on a model similar to what I upgraded to a few weeks ago (the model I purchased has the i7-8550U 1.8GHz processor).
 
I typically upgrade my laptop annually as the improved performance is usually worth the cost and effort of doing so. But, I had been using a Dell XPS 15 (9530) for nearly 3 years (it was a very fast model when I bought it) and I was still struggling to find the time to make the switch. Finally deciding to make the move, I chose to go with Dell's powerful-but-tiny XPS 13. What it delivers in the tiny form factor is quite impressive.
 
While there are a lot of benchmarks for measuring computer performance, highly relevant to me is the RAW image conversion time. A hand-timed measurement for processing 8 RAW EOS 5Ds R files into 16-bit TIFF files using Canon Digital Photo Professional on the 3-year-old laptop was 2:00. The new laptop smoked the old one, knocking out the same task (same RAW files) in 0:50. Update: I was later testing another feature with a fresh set of RAW files and, for whatever reasons, was getting considerably longer processing times on the new laptop. The times were still faster than the old one, but not so dramatically so.
 
So, how old is your computer? We focus on keeping our camera gear up to date, but today, computers fill a key role in our photography workflow. If your computer is more than a couple of years old, you may find great benefit in upgrading it. Think about the difference I experienced if you are processing images from a sporting event, wedding or other shoot that generates a large number, perhaps even thousands, of images.
 
Not all tasks, especially less-intensive ones, seem to be accomplished noticeably faster in my upgrade. But, does the computer you are using now have an SSD? If not, brace yourself for the speed improvement a model with this drive type will bring. That difference is dramatic even for short tasks like opening applications.
 
If this sweet little Dell XPS 13 is not the model you are looking for, B&H has many other options for you to choose from. Head over and take a look.
 
What do you do with the old laptop/computer? While computers don't hold their value as well as lenses, they are still worth something on the used market. Try selling it on eBay (always use the eBay link at the bottom of all pages on the site).
 
Another good option is keep the old computer for secondary use, including as a backup to the primary model. Turning the replaced computer into a digital picture frame, bringing your deep archives to life, is a great idea. One more suggestion: there are many charities that would love to put your used machine to use in doing good.
 
I had planned to share this suggestion with you, but today's Dell XPS 13 deal accelerated my timeframe for this post. I wanted you to be able to catch the deal.
Post Date: 2/7/2018 9:59:29 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Sunday, February 4, 2018
I previously shared a picture of a mother white-tailed deer cleaning its fawn's ear that remains one of my personal Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park favorites. But, there were twin fawns and when the second one arrived on the scene, pausing for some family ear cleaning time, I was ready. Many hours can be spent searching for wildlife subjects, but it only takes a few minutes with the right subject in the right situation to put a pile of great images on a card and this encounter was one of those.
 
Some aspects of this image that I like include: The early morning light was warm in color and soft in shape, leaving no hard shadows on the subjects. The background and foreground were colorful and the fine pattern of the spring-green grasses, rendered mostly out of focus and framing the subjects, was void of distractions. The left and right-positioned deer were both facing inward and all three deer are interacting. For each subject, at least one eye was showing with a catchlight included. Of course, the cuteness of a fawn is always a sure win and, usually, the more fawns, the better.
 
Especially in Shenandoah National Park, where obstructions are plentiful, I frequently opt for the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens over the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens for wildlife photography. While I love the background separation 600mm can create, getting everything in the frame is sometimes more important. Unless feeding or sleeping, white-tailed deer fawns are seldom still and the zoom ring is much faster than anyone's sneaker-zoom capability. When the fawns move in too close or I need to avoid obstructions while keeping them in the frame, having a range of focal lengths can make a huge difference.
 
You are probably aware that I use Canon EOS 5Ds R cameras for the majority of my photography. I'm addicted to the sharp, ultra-high resolution imagery along with the great color these cameras deliver. But, when the action gets fast, I turn to the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and fawns often warrant the faster frame rate advantage this camera provides.
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
 
Camera and Lens Settings
400mm  f/5.6  1/800s
ISO 1000
5137 x 3425px
Post Date: 2/4/2018 6:45:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Saturday, February 3, 2018
by Sean Setters
 
I had been checking the ISS Transit-Finder web app regularly for opportunities to photograph the International Space Station against the sun or the moon. While there were no solar transit opportunities the month ahead, there was a great lunar transit opportunity with the center line of the transit falling only 1.15 miles (1.84 km) from my front door.
 
ISS Lunar Transit

Transit details, according to the site:
 
Date & Time: February 1, 11:36:36.16 pm
Transit Duration: 0.84 seconds
 
The address provided along the center line of the transit belonged to an apartment complex, which was perfect. I could simply park in the parking lot, set up my tripod there and wait for the transit to occur.
 
As the transit time drew nearer, I packed my Canon EOS 7D Mark II (because of its high burst rate), EF 300mm f/4L USM (precursor to the IS version), tripod and a wired shutter release (TC-80N3) and anxiously watched the sky as patches of clouds rolled overhead. I downloaded an app for my smartphone that could display an NTP synchronized time (down to the milliseconds). This would hopefully allow me to perfectly time my continuous burst. My plan was to composite an entire ISS transit sequence into a single frame using the individually captured burst images.
 
At 11:15pm, I went outside to find the clouds had vanished. I grabbed my gear, hopped in the car and traveled to the apartment complex parking lot.
 
By 11:25pm, my EOS 7D II, lens and wired remote were mounted atop the tripod with the moon centered in viewfinder. I fired off a few images to test for proper focus and exposure parameters. With the moon almost full, the exposure parameters I settled on were f/5.6, 1/640 sec, ISO 200. The lens was set to Manual focus and I disabled Anti-Flicker Shooting in the 7D II's menu so that I could achieve the camera's maximum burst rate.
 
I reasoned that the f/5.6 aperture would give me the sharpest result without diffraction impacting image sharpness, and that a faster-than-1/500 shutter speed would likely allow me to freeze the ISS as it crossed the moon (for longer focal length lenses, an even faster shutter speed would be required). ISO 200 allowed me to achieve a decently bright moon at 1/640 second.
 
With the transit time only 90 seconds away, I reframed the scene to put the moon slightly lower and to the left of the middle. My earlier tests had given me a pretty good idea of how the moon was traveling through my frame, so I had a good idea where to put the moon so that it would fall right into the middle of the composition to take advantage of the lens' sharpest area of the image circle projected. And then I waited, with the wired remote in one hand and my smartphone in the other, counting down the seconds. As my app passed 11:36:35, I waited roughly half a second and then held down the shutter button for roughly 2.5 seconds. Excitedly, I flipped through the captured images on the camera's LCD screen.
 
And.... I quickly realized that I had missed the first half of the transit, roughly, with my first image in the burst showing the ISS having already covered approximately 40% of the Moon's surface. My timing was off. I should have taken full advantage of the 7D II's 3-second RAW buffer and started my capture at 11:36:35 to give myself a small buffer before the calculated transit time. Regardless of my failure to capture the entire transit, I really liked the [heavily cropped] composition of the shot shown above.
 
ISS Lunar Transit Tips
 
  • Download a synchronized time app that shows NTP time down the milliseconds.
  • Use a tripod, your longest telephoto lens and a wired remote shutter release. Using a tripod with a high max height can make framing the moon high above much easier.
  • Set your camera to continuous shooting (burst) mode with a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the ISS (approx. 1/640 second @ 300mm on APS-C, faster for longer focal lengths). Disable Anti-Flicker Shooting (if available) to maximumize burst rate.
  • Try to time your continuous burst duration so that your camera's RAW image buffer gives you an equal time before and after the event to ensure you capture the entire sequence, even if your timing is slightly off.
Relevant Article
 
Post Date: 2/3/2018 6:47:08 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Thursday, February 1, 2018
by Sean Setters
 
When presented with a scene that requires more exposure latitude than your camera can capture in a single image, exposure bracketing (taking several images at varying exposures) and HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing with programs such as Aurora HDR can be used to capture detail in both the highlight and shadow areas of the scene.
 
Below are a few tips for capturing exposure brackets with Canon cameras.
 
1) Set your desired AEB (Auto Exposure Bracket) variables in the Custom Function menu, if applicable.
Those with mid-to-higher level cameras (in Canon cameras, the EOS 80D and above) will have the ability to choose the number of bracketed images (a higher number tends to produce a cleaner final image with smoother transitions between highlight and shadow) and the sequence in which the bracketed images are captured. The default sequence (0,-,+) can be a little confusing when perusing bracketed images in post-processing, so we prefer to change the sequence to either (-,0,+) or (+,0,-) for a more natural layout of the exposures in post processing.
 
2) Choose an Exposure Compensation range in which the highlights and shadows are easily contained in the darkest and brightest images, respectively.
Sometimes it can be difficult to survey a scene and determine the exact exposure latitude needed to capture all the details in your composition. Therefore, try a ±1 stop exposure bracket and see how your bracket looks. With the histogram enabled, if you see clipped highlights in your darkest image or clipped shadow areas in your brightest image, either increase the exposure compensation range (if the base exposure is ideal) or otherwise adjust the whole exposure range up or down accordingly (up for an overall brighter image, down for darker). Rinse and repeat until desired results are obtained.
 
3) Use a tripod.
When capturing an exposure bracket, a fully stabilized camera is ideal, necessitating the solid support a good tripod and head provide. Even though most HDR programs can automatically align images that may not be perfectly identically framed, the best results will be achieved using a tripod.
 
4) Disable lens image stabilization and autofocus.
While many lenses feature tripod-sensing IS systems, if you're unsure about the design and capability of your lens' built-in stabilization, then your best bet is to turn it off. Doing so will prevent motion blur (sometimes caused by a non-tripod-sensing-IS) and slightly shifted compositions between bracketed images. And because you want the scene that's captured to be absolutely identical between exposures (aside from the varying exposure times), using manual focus (aided by your camera's Live View at 10x magnification) will ensure your focus doesn't drift between frames (take several brackets of the same scene in case movement occurs in one or more images).
 
5) Set the camera to 2-second delay in Live View mode.
With Live View enabled, you will ensure that the mirror assembly's movement does not create internal vibrations which can impact image sharpness (same as having Mirror Lock-up engaged). Enabling 2-second (or 10-second) delay has two distinct benefits. First, the delay allows for vibrations to settle down before the shutter is released. The second benefit is that your bracketed images will be captured automatically in succession without you having to touch the camera again. If the possibility for movement in your scene is high, you may want to leave the camera in single shot mode and use a wired remote release (or your camera's built-in wireless features) to trigger each image when the time is right. Note: Mirror Lock-Up must be disabled for automatic AEB capture to work. In this case, we don't need Mirror Lock-Up because shooting in Live View accomplishes the same goal of eliminating vibrations caused by the mirror assembly.
 
After you've captured your bracketed images, all you need to do is load them into your favorite HDR program (Aurora HDR 2018 is my current favorite, but Photomatix is another good option) and tweak the final image to your heart's content!
Post Date: 2/1/2018 5:50:52 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Getting a lens for the ones you love makes a lot of sense at the time of the year just past (Christmas just passed in case you are reading this later) or any time of the year, really. But, getting a lens because of the ones you love is another great idea.
 
I have never heard anyone say that they had too many pictures of their kids. If your kids are still at home, photograph them like crazy. Time flies – they will not be with you for long. If your kids are coming home, be ready to do the same.
 
Visiting with your parents? Getting together with friends and other family members? The same advice applies.
 
The chances are that even those who claim to hate having their picture taken will be glad you pressured them into it.
 
Few lenses are as well-suited for photographing people as the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM Lens, especially because the 85mm focal length provides an ideal perspective at normal portrait working distances. The image stabilization feature in this lens makes it even more capable in that role, especially when the light goes dim.
 
Your skills aided by this lens are sure to make even the most difficult subjects look their best, including under very challenging lighting. Performing well the first time usually means the second time is more likely to happen.
 
That photographing people is one of the easiest paid photography jobs to find is certainly an attraction for this lens. Portraits of specific individuals cannot be found in stock libraries and, in the marketplace, unavailability adds value. Of course, earning money helps to justify the purchase in the first place.
 
Get this lens for your family and friends, for capturing treasured memories of them. Get this lens for gaining clients and for keeping them happy. Get the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS Lens for you.
 
While I expect that you would love the 85 f/1.4L IS, even if you don't get this lens, I still strongly encourage you to photograph those you love with the lens you have. That you will not regret.
 
The Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM Lens has been hard to find in stock since it first hit the streets, but it has just arrived in stock at B&H, Amazon and the Canon Store. It is coming soon to Adorama and WEX.
 
Not convinced that this lens is for you? Or, want to spend only a short time enjoying it? Schedule some quality time via Lensrentals.com.
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
 
Camera and Lens Settings
85mm  f/1.4  1/100s
ISO 100
5792 x 8688px
Post Date: 1/31/2018 7:00:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Monday, January 29, 2018
For those of you who purchased a Solar ND filter to photograph the total solar eclipse we enjoyed in August of last year, you may be looking for more opportunities to use the highly specialized gear before the next total solar eclipse graces North America in April 2024. Thankfully, there's a large articificial satellite orbiting overhead which begs to be photographed as it crosses paths with the sun.
 
Of course, I'm talking about the International Space Station (ISS), a 239 x 356 x 66 ft (72.8 x 108.5 x 20 m) platform in low Earth orbit that circles the earth about 15.5 times per day. The frequency of the ISS's orbits means that there's a decent chance that its path will fall between you and the sun in the not-so-distant future. When exactly will the next ISS transit occur in your area? There's a website designed to answer that very question.
 
Simply enter your coordinates on the ISS TRANSIT FINDER website (or give it permission to auto-detect your location), enter a start date and an end date (up to 30 days in the future), and a travel range from your location (up to 149 mi / 240 km), and the website will show you the dates and times of all solar (and lunar) ISS transits available for viewing from nearby locations. If you never purchased a solar filter, you can still take advantage of the lunar transits occurring in your area or you can simply pick up a solar ND filter to take advantage of all available transits.
 
WARNING: Use only ND filters certified for solar photography. Do not look directly at the sun. Do not frame the sun using your camera's optical viewfinder while using telephoto lenses. Use Live View for framing your composition and focusing.
 
Most of the tips shared for capturing the solar eclipse apply to photographing an ISS solar transit, with the main difference being the duration of the events. When positioned in the middle of a total solar eclipse, the entire event may take several hours (with totality ranging from seconds to 7.5 minutes). However, an ISS transit of the sun or moon will last no longer than about 1.75 seconds (with typical transit times being significantly shorter). That means that you'll want to have an accurate clock available (down to the seconds), with a wired (or radio remote) trigger in your hand and your camera set to high speed continuous burst mode.
Post Date: 1/29/2018 8:22:01 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Mikayla wanted to go riding and I wanted to give the Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens a workout. Those "wants" fit together perfectly. For this session, we headed to the top of a nearby small mountain. With an unobstructed view and a low camera position, a very attractive, non-distracting background often becomes available in these "top" locations and that enables the primary subject to become prominent in the frame. The sky usually makes a good background and distant landscape also works well in that regard.
 
The 100-400mm focal length range is a great one for chasing the kids with. In this case, when the horse was standing as seen here, I could move in close and zoom out to make the horse and rider appear large in their environment. When the horse was moving at a fast speed, I could zoom in to catch more-distant (safer) action and zoom out as the pair approached.
 
The FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens is a great and much-needed part of Sony's lineup. Those with Sony-based kits should seriously consider acquiring this high-grade option (if it is not already there). This lens has the perfect combination of excellent performance and extreme usefulness.
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
 
Camera and Lens Settings
128mm  f/5.0  1/400s
ISO 100
7952 x 5304px
Post Date: 1/29/2018 8:05:40 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Thursday, January 25, 2018
I love images featuring patterns and textures and thought I would share one today. One way to find patterns is to look for large numbers of a similar subjects (practically anything qualifies) that are close together or can be moved close together.
 
Subjects for pattern and texture images can be found anywhere, including in:
 
Photographing patterns is often quite simple once the pattern is found. Orient the camera as ideally as possible for composition and lighting and then zoom in (or adjust your distance) so that the pattern fills the frame or fills the desired portion of the frame. There are few rules (the subjects may not even need to be in focus), individual tastes vary widely and there is plenty of room for creativity.
 
I am especially fond of patterns/textures that occur naturally. When this flock of snow geese took to the sky, it was a matter of zooming to appropriate focal length and photographing the most-dense area of the flock. The thousands of white, orange and black birds against the blue sky resulted in a bright, colorful image. So, on this day, a frame filled with a random pattern of snow geese worked for me.
 
While texture and pattern images will not usually become the most-liked in your social feeds, they can work very well for wall art, in commercial advertising and for a large variety of other purposes. And, if you like them, that is reason enough to create them.
 
What are your favorite texture and pattern subjects? Let us know in the comments!
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
 
Camera and Lens Settings
400mm  f/7.1  1/1600s
ISO 640
8688 x 5792px
Post Date: 1/25/2018 7:27:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Tuesday, January 23, 2018
I was literally "in the field" during the Tamron 18-400mm VC Lens evaluation when this scene availed itself. The sun had set, the sky took on great color and the foreground seemed scenic enough. This lens has an incredible range of focal lengths available, so I simply needed to select the distance that gave me the compression I was looking for and adjust the focal length to retain the desired elements in the frame. That was easy.
 
Still, two significant challenges remained. The first was the huge dynamic range and the second was the color balance disparity. Those two issues were resolved by HDR processing. One image was captured for proper exposure of the sky while a second image was exposed brighter and processed with a warmer color balance for use in the non-sky portion of the image. The HDR processing utilized Photomatix along with some manual adjustment in Photoshop.
 
I jogged/walked close to 3 mi (4.8 km) on this afternoon and the Tamron 18-400mm and Canon EOS 80D combination in a Lowepro Toploader Zoom 50 AW (a snug fit with an L-bracket installed) was easy to have along. The 18-400mm focal length left little to want in terms of angles of view. The Really Right Stuff TQC-14 Tripod and BH-30 Ball Head performed stellarly despite the very cold conditions and these were also easy to carry.
 
Please note a couple of corrections made to the Tamron 18-400mm VC Lens Review: This lens is indeed compatible with the Tap-In Console. Tamron has suggested that I reinstall my software to make the lens recognizable. Also, I tweaked the focal length discussion to mention focus breathing.
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
Post Date: 1/23/2018 7:00:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Saturday, January 20, 2018
Have you heard of Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park? That answer is most likely "Yes!" Oxbow Bend is a mandatory bucket list location for any photographer remotely interested in capturing landscapes. Aside from being incredibly beautiful with a potentially huge mirror surface in the foreground waiting double that beauty and create vertical symmetry, you can drive up to this large area alongside the Snake River and photograph with little or even no hiking involved. The imagery to effort ratio is potentially huge.
 
This is not the first image I shared from this morning and place (and I have more favorites yet unshared). But, with ever-changing cloud patterns, new scenes were continuously presented and a huge range of focal lengths could be utilized to isolate only what is considered positive to the composition. On that latter note, at the time this image was captured, I was having trouble determining what should be isolated. After capturing a variety of images, I opted for a 2-image panorama framed to include the most of the amazingness in one pair of images. I figured that, after creating the higher resolution stitched image, I could later decide what the final crop should be.
 
This pic needs to be viewed larger: Flickr, Google+, Facebook and 500px.
Post Date: 1/20/2018 7:18:41 PM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Sunday, January 14, 2018
Former Pennsylvania Gov. William Cameron Sproul built this little hydroelectric plant in 1915 to supply his home with electricity. Sitting above a waterfall on Adams Creek in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, this historic stone water wheel house is individually photogenic and especially-so with its picturesque surroundings. Obviously, this photo was captured in the winter, so I'll share a few thoughts on ice photography.
 
Cold Temperatures Required
 
Obviously, for ice to form, the temperature must be cold. While cold temperatures make us want to stay inside, ice is a great subject to pull us out of our comfortable houses. Note that, even after a long cold spell, a single warm day can degrade the ice formations in some locations. If there has been a period of below-freezing temperatures, don't wait to take advantage of the ice. Check out the Cold Weather Photography Tips page before leaving home.
 
Water is Required
 
Along with cold temperatures, ice requires water to form. Thus, ice is found where there is water. While that also may sound trivially-basic, start thinking about locations that have water, including non-obvious ones. Or, consider creating your own ice.
 
Make Safety Paramount
 
Ice can be extremely slippery and it is a very hard surface to impact upon falling. A thick stocking hat with a thick folded-up rim can keep you warm and add a little protection to what matters most, though a helmet is a better idea in certain scenarios. Other thick clothing can also offer impact protection. Micro-spikes or crampons along with other ice-climbing supplies (and the training to use them) may also be required in the more extreme scenarios. Be careful out there.
 
Snow Changes the Appearance
 
Snow tends to stick to ice. While snow can be at least as beautiful as ice, if photographing ice is your goal, snow may cover your subject, turning everything white. Time your ice photo sessions so water has frozen before the snow falls or after water has sufficiently frozen over a prior snow fall. Also, look for vertical ice that snow cannot cling to. Of course, mounds of snow covered ice surrounded by water are great to have in a scene.
 
Snow Confuses Auto Exposure
 
Bright ice and snow consuming a significant portion of the camera's selected metering area will cause the camera's autoexposure algorithm to underexpose the image. The amount of underexposure can vary, so learn to watch the histogram and compensate the exposure for a brighter result. Enable the camera's blinking overexposure warning and adjust the exposure so that only a small number of the brightest pixels are blinking to get a typically-best exposure.
 
Find Interesting Ice
 
While ponds and lakes can have interesting ice to photograph (and methane bubbles are always calling us landscape photographers), flowing water tends to create more-unique shapes (including bubbles), with falling water creating some of the most-interesting stalactite and stalagmite formations.
 
Back to the safety concern: combine rapidly moving water freezing at angles with the slipperiness of ice and the safety risk factor grows. Also, while non-moving water tends to freeze to an even thickness and safety can often be discerned (permitting ice fishing, ice skating, snowmobiling and other activities), moving water tends to freeze unevenly and can be risky to walk over. Always use caution if traversing over ice.
 
Make Ice Secondary
 
While ice can make an excellent primary subject, it works especially well in a supporting role. Finding a great waterfall is an easy example of this strategy. Consider taking your portrait subject along to photograph in front of or beside the ice formations.
 
The ice photo shown here incorporates many of these tips. While waterfall photography often works best on a cloudy day, this shoot was secondary to another one and I had to accept what the day delivered. Fortunately, I liked the color balance difference provided by the sunlit (warm) and shaded (cool) portions of the image.
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
Post Date: 1/14/2018 6:30:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
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