by Sean Setters
My use of Allen wrenches/hex keys probably increased 10-fold after taking up photography. Hex bolts are everywhere – tripods, quick release plates, ball heads, sliders – if your photography gear has a bolt, there's a good chance you're going to need a hex key to loosen or tighten it.
Until recently, my method of being prepared involved a small zip-top plastic bag kept inside my main camera bag's outer compartment which held every different hex key, bolt or miscellaneous part I thought I might ever need. And while the system worked, I often found myself without the hex key I needed when I needed it (having forgotten to replace it after use), or simply wasting time trying to sort through the assortment of tools to find the exact one I needed.
Then I came across a video by Mark Wallace entitled "Gear and Tips for Overseas Travel" where he mentions keeping a small bicycle multi tool in his gear bag to cover his photography tool needs. I thought it was a good idea, so I thought I'd pick up something similar.
The bicycle multi tool I chose was the Crank Brothers Multi Bicycle Tool (10-Function). It's a little larger than the one Mark carries, but it also includes a flat head screwdriver which I thought might come in handy at some point. So far, it's proved to be a very useful addition to my kit. If reduced size and weight are priorities, Mark's choice would be a better option overall.
Of course, hex key sets have been around for a long time; they aren't anything new. However, the addition of a few other tools – like the Phillips/flat head screwdrivers and Torx T-25 wrench – makes the bicycle multi tool a photographer's best friend.
Leaning out the side of a helicopter, held only by a harness and his sense of connectedness with the earth's endless sea of light, Vincent Laforet captures cities from above, in a way that resembles pathways on a circuit board, or a network of neuronal synapses. The AIR series began as a creative idea for an image to accompany a psychology article, and turned into groundbreaking aerial photography techniques that have helped define Vincent's own style.
Vincent Laforet is a French American director and photographer. In 2002 he shared the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography with four other photographers as a member of The New York Times staff's coverage of the post 9/11 events overseas that captured "the pain and the perseverance of people enduring protracted conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan." He has been sent on assignment by Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, and Life.
In 2002, PDN named Vincent Laforet as one of the “30 photographers under 30 to watch?. In 2005, American Photo Magazine recognized Laforêt as one of the “100 Most Influential People in Photography.” He is a DGA Director (Directors Guild of America) and of the ICG (International Cinematographers' Guild – Local 600.) Laforet has been awarded 3 of the prestigious Cannes Lions (Platinum, Gold, Silver) for his commercial directing work.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.
Just posted: Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4 Lens Review.
This is my favorite Milvus lens.
From the B&H YouTube Channel:
In this video Chase from Zacuto gives seven simple steps on how to shoot a video interview on location and in the studio. Topics discussed include assessing the physical space, any ambient and/or lighting considerations, setting up lights and the types of lights you might want to use,’ choosing the right type of mics based on the shooting environment, camera positioning, and other details required to produce professional-looking video interviews.
B&H carries all the gear you need to help create professional looking interviews.
According to the Egami Blog, Canon has filed a patent for a CN-E 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for APS-C and Super 35mm sensor format cameras. Note that the lens will likely be marketed as a T2.8 lens to match their CN-E 15.5-47mm and 30-105mm lenses with the same image circle.
Description of the patent literature
Patent Publication No. 2015-230449
1. Install Christmas tree and clean up (this is the hardest step)
2. Wait for dark
3. Mount the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens on a full frame DSLR camera
4. Mount the camera to a tripod, zoom out, move in and level the camera (both pitch and yaw)
5. Turn off all regular lights, turn on all Christmas lights.
6. Take some test shots to determine that 15 seconds at f/16 (to get the starburst effect from the lights) and ISO 200 is right
7. Wait for the kids to go to bed (to avoid any floor vibrations)
8. Shoot until you run out of new composition ideas
9. Brush your teeth
10. Make one more attempt at finding new compositions.
My family and I wish you and your family a very "Merry Christmas!" May all of your photos be amazing!
From the Canon Australia YouTube Channel:
The most important tool for any photographer is the mind. To prove this we invited 6 photographers to a cemetery to capture “eternal life” in a single image…without a camera.
A big thank you is in order for the photographers who took part: Nancy Liao, Adriana Glackin, Bill Roberts, Murray Bell, Mike Falconer and Jeremy Shaw
Note from Sean: Camera companies don't generally advise you to put your camera down. But in this video, Canon demonstrates that planning and brainstorming without the camera in-hand can be an excellent technique for ultimately capturing the image that conveys an idea or tells a story in a more complete or unique way.
What perspective should we approach the scene with? What elements do we include? What elements should be highlighted and which should be insinuated? Great images more often than not require a vision, and taking a moment to mold that vision without the camera in-hand may prove beneficial.
In this video, a photographer's detached lens hood is mistaken for a "second puck" in a game between the Ontario Reign and Bakersfield Condors hockey teams.
Warning: If you plan on sticking your lens out of the photography port, be sure the lens hood is taped on securely or else leave it in the gear bag.
According to the Egami Blog, Canon has filed a patent for a 16-40mm f/4 lens design.
Might the EF 17-40mm f/4L USM's successor be in the works with an even wider focal length? Only time will tell.
From the Egami Blog (Google translated):
Description of the patent literature
Patent Publication No. 2015-206976
Can't figure out what to get a special photographer in your life? Need a last minute gift idea?
A B&H eGift Card may be exactly what you're looking for.
Each year my mother asks me, "So, what do you want for Christmas this year?" And for the last several years, my answer has always been the same – "A B&H gift card. You know it'll get used." I always said it with an involuntary smile because I knew it would help fund whatever was on my wish list that year (which of course was priced too high to actually request for the holiday).
Buying a B&H Gift Card is now easier than ever with their new eGift Cards. Choose your delivery option ("Email" in this case), the card design, amount and fill in the recipient's information and your own. After purchasing, the eGift Card will be delivered to the recipient's email address within an hour (fast and simple).
Not only is the eGift Card a perfect gift for any photographer to receive, but it's an equally perfect gift option for those whom might have procrastinated a little too long thereby missing the opportunity to ship a special gift by traditional means.
If you look through Bryan's and my own favorite images, you won't see many abstract images. Typically speaking, our subjects are clearly defined and discernable (although our backgrounds may not be). When focusing on a specific subject (pun intended), the quality of your equipment and the sharpness your lenses deliver take center stage. Also, your subject and/or background must be visually compelling to grab the viewer's attention.
But what if you don't have the sharpest lenses? What if you have become uninspired by your immediate surroundings (a common problem I face)? In October, I posted the Top 6 Ways to Inspire Your Own Creativity, but I recently realized I missed a big one – Abstract photography.
My recent fascination with abstract photography began a couple of evenings ago when Amanda had fallen asleep on the couch, lit only by the faint glow of a TV left on in front of the room. Her arms and legs were humorously perched in awkward positions while our two dogs were cozily sharing the couch with her. It seemed like the perfect time for a personal snapshot that I never intended to share with the general public. But then happened...
That's what got me thinking about the benefits of abstract photography. Some of those benefits include:
The quality of gear used for creating abstract images is largely irrelevant as sharpness isn't a priority. According to dictionary.com, "abstract" can be defined as "expressing a quality or characteristic apart from any specific object or instance" or "difficult to understand; abstruse." In photographic terms, an abstract image is one in which the actual subjects are not clearly discerned, and the easiest way to accomplish that is to blur subjects through motion (my personal preference) or bokeh. When doing so, the incremental sharpness of one lens over another is practically meaningless.
And if our subjects are going to be blurred to oblivion, we can use rather uninspiring subjects found around the house to create interesting abstract images. At this point, I've photographed the flowers in my backyard about a dozen times over the past month. While they are still beautiful, they've stopped inspiring me to grab my camera for yet another shot of pretty flowers. But when focusing on abstract photography, the flowers become exciting again. Forgoing the tripod I usually use with macro subjects, I grabbed my 5D Mark III with the EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM attached to capture the following images:
At the end of the day, creating abstract images can be a fun and fulfilling way to spend time behind your camera.
Do you have abstract photos you'd like to share? Just add them to the site's Flickr group and tag them with "abstract".
I believe that this is the oldest Canon zoom lens still currently available new.
Fresh on the heals of their Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM & Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA teardowns, LensRentals has now opeened up the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens to see how its construction compares to the other two.
If you don't have time to read the lengthy post, here's a small paragraph from Roger's conclusions that sums up the lens's construction succinctly:
"For the most part, there weren't many surprises in this teardown. We've seen how Sigma has remade themselves as a company making only superb optics at very reasonable prices in the last few years. This lens is constructed very well. There isn't the amazing heavy-duty construction of the Canon 35mm f/1.4. Instead, I'd characterize the construction of the Sigma as very efficient and carefully laid out. There's a solid metal core with other parts all connecting directly to that core. Little touches like pegs to make sure a part is inserted in the proper rotation and shields over critical parts didn't add much expense or weight, but show care was taken in the design. There's nothing in this teardown that looked like a weak point."You can find links to the other 35mm lens teardowns at the beginning of the this teardown.
Putting up and decorating is a big family tradition at our house and the annual photographing of the tree is my own sub-tradition.
The photo setup starts long before the camera comes out, beginning with the position of the tree. In addition to the location selected in the house (ours has a very logical one), make sure that the tree appears vertically straight (regardless of the trunk's curvature) and, if the tree is being centered on a feature (such as a set of windows), fine tune that position.
The next item on the checklist must be attended to before you string the lights on the Christmas tree (I know, that is the favorite job). The key is to make sure that all of the strings of lights have bulbs with the same brightness (or that they are dissimilar enough to look proper). Perhaps I'm not the brightest bulb in the pack as I skipped this step (thought we corrected this issue last year) and ... apparently there are two different Christmas light models in our tree kit. At least I have a dark-light-dark-light pattern going up the tree. Hopefully most will think that design was intentional.
After the tree is fully decorated, clean up the area around it – minimally all that will be included in the frame. This task may include smoothing the carpet if it shows tracks.
The Best Time of Day to Photograph the Christmas Tree
A Christmas tree can be photographed at any time of day or night, but the best time of the day is when the ambient light is right for the image you want. A tree located in a room with many windows will, without significant shading, show mostly green with ornaments and a subdued look to the strings of lights. This is a very nice look.
My preference for photographing our tree, installed in our great room/living room, is to use only the light from the Christmas tree lights with very low or no additional ambient light. With windows behind our tree, I am quickly limited to the after dark timeframe. After dark comes early in late fall and early winter, but there is another issue. People walking around cause the floor to flex slightly and that makes the ornaments swing, becoming blurred in a long exposure. So, after the kids are in bed (or plan to be somewhere else in the house for a period of time) works best for long exposures sans kids in the picture.
Having windows in your photo quickly complicates the tree photo session for a couple of reasons in addition to the ambient light they provide. One reason is what is outside of the window. Waiting until after dark usually takes care of this problem unless there are other lights visible through the windows (such as street lights). In the latter case, blocking your windows from outside, such as with black foam core, may be a solution to the issue. In this photo, I waited until late in the blue hour on a very foggy day to get a slight even blue glow through the windows. I wasn't sure how bright I wanted the blue to be, but capturing a frame every few minutes allowed me to choose what I thought was ideal at a later time.
Reflections are another issue with windows. If Christmas lights are being reflected, those reflections are often beneficial to the composition. But, if something else in your house is being reflected (such as the LCD panel on the microwave or thermostat), the effect will not likely be appreciated.
Lens Selection for Christmas Tree Photography
The desired perspective should always drive focal length selection and in this case, working space may limit the perspective options. Within the bounds of walls and other furniture (consider moving it), the optimal perspective will often result in a wide angle lens being selected.
Experiment with perspective, utilizing the various focal lengths at a variety of distances. Also try a variety of camera heights, but do so with an understanding that a vertically level camera is going to keep vertical lines in the frame straight. Windows, corners, furniture and other items will provide those straight lines.
Aperture Selection for Christmas Tree Photography
While a wide variety of apertures can be used for Christmas tree photos and blurred Christmas trees are quite beautiful, f/16 is one of my favorites. I know, your first thought was to cringe at the softness that diffraction will impart at this aperture and that is a true concern. But, the narrower the aperture used, the bigger the star effect created by each light on the tree. The f/16 aperture is a bit of a compromise in that the images remain reasonably sharp (and sharpenable) with rather large stars being created. Experiment with f/8 through f/22 to determine your own preference.
While ISO 100 is ideal, I went to ISO 200 for this exposure to reduce the amount of time each frame was taking. This one stop increase in ISO meant little in terms of noise, but it took 15 seconds off of the exposure and another 15 seconds off of the long exposure noise reduction information capture following the exposure.
You have spent (or are going to spend) all that time and expense putting the Christmas tree up and decorating it, so ... plan on spending some time taking pictures of it. If you don't think the right lens is in your kit, this would be a good time to buy it. Renting a lens to use over the holidays is another great idea.
From the Canon Professional Network:
By Laura Morita, Professional Child and Family PhotographerSee the entire article on the Canon Professional Network.
"It's pretty much the most amazing thing in the world when you look at the back of your camera and you see the incredible image you have captured. Perfect light, perfect moment, perfect expression. You get it home and and upload it onto your computer only to discover that it's out of focus. Wompwomp. In the early days of learning about photography, I struggled with getting sharp images. In this article, you'll learn my tips for getting sharp images. "
From the Profoto YouTube Channel:
The Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, Sweden is a place like no other. Designed in a gracious Art Nouveau style and constructed in white marble with details in pure gold, the proud 100-year-old is built to impress both kings and queens.
Join us on a dramatic photoshoot at this extraordinary location, as photographer Klara G shoots a group portrait of the nine actors playing the Ekdahl family in this year’s production of Fanny & Alexander, a popular play based on legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s film of the same name.
Just posted: Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/2 Lens Review.
I know, the Zeiss Milvus lens reviews are all starting to sound similar. Fact is, these lenses are very similar to each other outside of their image quality and focal length. Consider jumping directly to the "Image Quality" subheading to get right to the meat.
With so many family meetups planned for the near future, we encourage you to take advantage of the personal connections to protect yourself from catastrophic data loss by giving a trustworthy family member an offsite backup in the form of a portable hard drive. Doing so is easy and will provide you a little peace of mind that your images are protected.
And with a price-to-storage-capacity ratio that seems to get better by the day, protecting your data with offsite external hard drives is a more reasonable option than ever. Our personal favorite is the WD My Passport series, but there are certainly a wide range of options to choose from.
Bad things happen; a house fire, flooding, theft or a primary hard drive failure can easily wipe away years of photographic treasures in a matter of seconds. So this year, give your family something that requires no wrapping, no assembly, and batteries – a pre-filled portable hard drive – and help ensure your beautifully crafted 1s and 0s remain safe.
This is another oldie but goodie. The 23 year old EF 85 f/1.8 is another perrenial favorite with a good everyday value price made bargain grade with a $70.00 instant rebate.
According to the Egami Blog, Canon has filed a patent for a 600mm diffractive optics lens for mirrorless cameras.
Plans to release an EF-M 600mm f/5.6 DO IS may indicate that Canon is planning to take their mirrorless camera system to the next level by making it more attractive to high-end shooters as a primary imaging platform.
You can find more information regarding the patent on the Egami Blog.
Just posted: Acratech GP-s Ball Head Review.
I've been looking for a better ball head for use on small and medium-sized tripods and this one handles that assignment nicely.
In an effort to ease the pains of procrastinating gift-givers, B&H is offering Free Next Day Shipping on hundreds of popular items.
Just look for the "Free Next Day Delivery (USA)" label [seen below] to find qualifying products or use the link above for already-filtered product and brand categories.
From the Canon Europe YouTube Channel:
Learn how to do creative bokeh photography and come and see more about Bokeh photography here.
My studio was still set up with Christmas lights after a portrait session yesterday. After seeing this video, I decided to capture some creative aperture shots using my Lensbaby Spark to add to my collection of stock backgrounds and textures.
I love this lens.