129 — How to Photograph Strangers

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #129 talks about how to pho­to­graph strangers in pub­lic so that your images are stronger and more inter­est­ing. I offer up 4 easy tips on how to make this process eas­ier so that your shots have more punch at the end. These pho­tographs were mostly taken over a period of 1 week. In the pod­cast I dis­cuss the dif­fer­ences between when the sub­ject is aware and unaware of the photographer’s presence.

Thanks to The Cam­era Store (The largest cam­era store in Cal­gary, Alberta, Canada)  for spon­sor­ing the Photography.ca podcast.

Click the player at the end of this post to lis­ten to (or down­load) the 11ish minute podcast.

Tens of thousands of cyclists lining up to start the Tour de L'isle. All it took was me waving my hand, and cyclists did the same. There is much more engagement than if I had not waved my hand and all the cyclists were looking in random directions.

Tens of thou­sands of cyclists lin­ing up to start the Tour de L’isle. All it took was me wav­ing my hand, and cyclists did the same. There is much more engage­ment than if I had not waved my hand and all the cyclists were look­ing in ran­dom direc­tions. I was not an offi­cial pho­tog­ra­pher for the event. I had the same access as every­one else.

 

I shot Raphael Aubry from the band Waiting Game at the Montreal Jazzfest. I had the same access as everyone else. I just waited patiently for this moment of eye contact while I was framing the scene.

I shot Raphael Aubry from the band Wait­ing Game at the Mon­treal Jaz­zfest. I had the same access as every­one else. I just waited patiently for this moment of eye con­tact while I was fram­ing the scene.

 

Every Sunday in Montreal, thousands of people gather at Mont-Royale for drumming, dancing etc. This image has no eye contact, but a strong gesture which for me, carries the image.

Every Sun­day in Mon­treal, thou­sands of peo­ple gather at Mont-Royale for drum­ming, danc­ing etc. This image has no eye con­tact, but a strong ges­ture which for me, car­ries the image.

 

I asked 5-6 people walking down the street if I could take their portrait. 100% of them said yes.Take a deep breath if you feel shy about this, people are flattered and tend to agree.

Just as a test for a group of adults i was giv­ing a course to, I asked 5–6 peo­ple walk­ing down the street if I could take their por­trait. 100% of them said yes. Take a deep breath if you feel shy about this, peo­ple are flat­tered and tend to agree over 90% of the time when I sim­ply ask them for permission.

 

The boy in this image never knew he was being photographed. The second I saw him engage in this behaviour I saw a story.

The boy in this image never knew he was being pho­tographed. The sec­ond I saw him engage in this behav­iour I saw a story. (click to enlarge this image)

 

Links /resources men­tioned in this podcast:

Pho­tog­ra­phy forum assignments

If you liked this pod­cast and want to review it on Itunes, this link gets you to the main page

If you are inter­ested in writ­ing for our blog please con­tact me photography.ca ( A T ) G m ail Dot co m (using stan­dard email formatting)

Please join the Photography.ca fan page on Facebook

My Face­book pro­file — Feel free to “friend” me — please just men­tion Photography.ca
My Twit­ter page — I will fol­low you if you fol­low me — Let’s con­nect — PLEASE email me and tell me who you are in case I don’t rec­i­p­ro­cate because I think you are a spammer.

If you are still lurk­ing on our forum,
feel free to join our friendly :)  Pho­tog­ra­phy forum

Although ALL com­ments are appre­ci­ated, com­ment­ing directly in this blog is pre­ferred. Many thanks to Nuno C., Bare­foot and Christo­pher Steven B. for their com­ments from the last pod­cast. Thanks as well for the emails and wel­come to all the new mem­bers of the bul­letin board.

If you are look­ing at this mate­r­ial on any other site except Photography.ca — Please hop on over to the Photography.ca blog and pod­cast and get this and other pho­tog­ra­phy info directly from the source. |Sub­scribe with iTunes|Sub­scribe via RSS feed |Sub­scribe for free to the Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast — Photography.ca and get all the posts/podcasts by Email

You can down­load this pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast directly by click­ing the pre­ced­ing link or lis­ten to it almost imme­di­ately with the embed­ded player.

Thanks for lis­ten­ing and keep on shooting!

 

Photographing Strangers — Teaser (podcast to follow)

Many pho­tog­ra­phers love to pho­to­graph peo­ple in the street but they are shy to put their cam­eras in front of people’s faces to take a portrait.

For our next pod­cast I set up a pho­tog­ra­phy exper­i­ment with com­plete strangers and I’ll share it (and other tips for pho­tograph­ing com­plete strangers) with you within a week. I give tips for cases when the sub­ject is aware of you, and tips for when sub­jects are unaware that they are being photographed.

For now, if you are feel­ing brave try break­ing your com­fort level; approach com­plete strangers and pho­to­graph them. Tips and the actual pod­cast to fol­low next week.

Stranger meditating in Parc La Fontaine in Montreal, QC.

Stranger med­i­tat­ing in Parc La Fontaine in Mon­treal, QC.

128 — Your First Lens Should be a Nifty 50mm

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #128 talks about five rea­sons why I think the 50mm lens is the first lens you should get for your SLR or DSLR. Two of these rea­sons are all the aper­ture advan­tages this lens has to offer has and the fact that it’s one of the most afford­able brand new lenses you are likely to find (that aren’t garbage).

If you have a full frame cam­era the 50mm will act as the con­ven­tional 50mm lens from the film cam­era days. On a crop sen­sor cam­era the lens will act more like a 75mm or 80mm lens and many peo­ple are using this lens to make won­der­ful portraits.

Thanks to The Cam­era Store (The largest cam­era store in Cal­gary, Alberta, Canada)  for spon­sor­ing the Photography.ca podcast.

Click the player at the end of this post to lis­ten to (or down­load) the 8ish minute podcast.

This is a 50mm lens and it's the first lens you should buy.

This is a 50mm lens — It’s the first lens you should buy for your DSLR or SLR.

 

This image was shot on a full frame DSLR using a 50mm lens at Palais Des Congres in Montreal, QC, Canada.  The exposure was ISO 400 f/1.8 at 1/2500

This image was shot on a full frame DSLR using a 50mm lens at Palais Des Con­gres in Mon­treal, QC, Canada. The expo­sure was ISO 400 f/1.8 at 1/2500

 

Links /resources men­tioned in this podcast:

Good com­ments from our last pod­cast - Point and Shoot Cam­eras Suck for Learn­ing Photography

The Canon 50mm at The Cam­era Store
The Nikon 50mm at The Cam­era Store
Revers­ing rings at The Cam­era Store

The Canon 50mm at B&H
The Nikon 50mm at B&H
Revers­ing rings at B&H

If you liked this pod­cast and want to review it on Itunes, this link gets you to the main page

If you are inter­ested in writ­ing for our blog please con­tact me photography.ca ( A T ) G m ail Dot co m (using stan­dard email formatting)

Please join the Photography.ca fan page on Facebook

My Face­book pro­file — Feel free to “friend” me — please just men­tion Photography.ca
My Twit­ter page — I will fol­low you if you fol­low me — Let’s con­nect — PLEASE email me and tell me who you are in case I don’t rec­i­p­ro­cate because I think you are a spammer.

If you are still lurk­ing on our forum,
feel free to join our friendly :)  Pho­tog­ra­phy forum

Although ALL com­ments are appre­ci­ated, com­ment­ing directly in this blog is pre­ferred. Many thanks to Alain Casault, Lisa Osta, and Tom Trot­tier for their com­ments from the last pod­cast. Thanks as well for the emails and wel­come to all the new mem­bers of the bul­letin board.

If you are look­ing at this mate­r­ial on any other site except Photography.ca — Please hop on over to the Photography.ca blog and pod­cast and get this and other pho­tog­ra­phy info directly from the source. |Sub­scribe with iTunes|Sub­scribe via RSS feed |Sub­scribe for free to the Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast — Photography.ca and get all the posts/podcasts by Email

You can down­load this pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast directly by click­ing the pre­ced­ing link or lis­ten to it almost imme­di­ately with the embed­ded player.

Thanks for lis­ten­ing and keep on shooting!

 

127 — Point and Shoot Cameras Suck for Learning Photography

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #127 goes into why point and shoot cam­eras suck for learn­ing pho­tog­ra­phy. I actu­ally rag on point and shoot cam­eras quite a bit in this pod­cast but it’s because pho­tog­ra­phy should be fun and learn­ing pho­tog­ra­phy on a point and shoot cam­era is rarely fun and almost never user-friendly. At the begin­ning stages of learn­ing pho­tog­ra­phy you need your cam­era to be user-friendly and it’s nice when your cam­era can han­dle any shoot­ing sit­u­a­tion. Point and shoots are infe­rior to any new DSLRs when it comes to pho­tograph­ing things that move. Given that pre­cious mem­o­ries (that involve move­ment) like your child walking/running are missed with a point and shoot, it’s an infe­rior tool.

That lovely intro aside, I do rec­om­mend a few user friendly Point and shoots for pho­tog­ra­phers that are com­fort­able with a Point and shoot’s lim­i­ta­tions. They def­i­nitely are portable and can be handy in capa­ble hands.

Click the player at the end of this post to lis­ten to (or down­load) the 13ish minute podcast.

Thanks to The Cam­era Store (The largest cam­era store in Cal­gary, Alberta, Canada)  for spon­sor­ing the Photography.ca podcast.

This point and shoot camera is not a good camera for learning photography

This point and shoot cam­era is not a good cam­era for learn­ing photography

 

Links /resources men­tioned in this podcast:

Pod­cast # 76 - Point and shoot cam­eras — Review of Canon G11
Expo­sure exposed — Eas­ily mas­ter cam­era expo­sure and make stun­ning pho­tos by Marko Kulik
Photo tours — pri­vate photo instruc­tion in Mon­treal
Canon G16 at The Cam­era Store
Nikon P7800 at The Cam­era Store
The Eos Rebel T5 at The Cam­era Store
The Nikon D3200 at The Cam­era Store

If you liked this pod­cast and want to review it on Itunes, this link gets you to the main page

If you are inter­ested in writ­ing for our blog please con­tact me photography.ca ( A T ) G m ail Dot co m (using stan­dard email formatting)

Please join the Photography.ca fan page on Facebook

My Face­book pro­file — Feel free to “friend” me — please just men­tion Photography.ca
My Twit­ter page — I will fol­low you if you fol­low me — Let’s con­nect — PLEASE email me and tell me who you are in case I don’t rec­i­p­ro­cate because I think you are a spammer.

If you are still lurk­ing on our forum,
feel free to join our friendly :)  Pho­tog­ra­phy forum

Although ALL com­ments are appre­ci­ated, com­ment­ing directly in this blog is pre­ferred. Thanks as well to all the new mem­bers of the bul­letin board.

If you are look­ing at this mate­r­ial on any other site except Photography.ca — Please hop on over to the Photography.ca blog and pod­cast and get this and other pho­tog­ra­phy info directly from the source. |Sub­scribe with iTunes|Sub­scribe via RSS feed |Sub­scribe for free to the Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast — Photography.ca and get all the posts/podcasts by Email

You can down­load this pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast directly by click­ing the pre­ced­ing link or lis­ten to it almost imme­di­ately with the embed­ded player.

Thanks for lis­ten­ing and keep on shooting!

126 — 6 Tips to Improve the Edges of Your Photos

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #126 dis­cusses the impor­tance of the four edges of your pho­tographs. They are seri­ously impor­tant and pay­ing atten­tion to them will improve your pho­tog­ra­phy. The pod­cast offers up 6 (actu­ally a few more than 6) prac­ti­cal tips on how to improve the edges of your photographs.

Thanks to The Cam­era Store (The largest cam­era store in Cal­gary, Alberta, Canada)  for spon­sor­ing the Photography.ca podcast.

A sneak peek to one of the 6 tips which is use­ful to pho­tog­ra­phers of all lev­els is to check out the work of mas­ter painters. They knew about the edges, about the over­all com­po­si­tion, and the rules of com­po­si­tion. Those rules directly apply to pho­tog­ra­phy. This famous paint­ing below done by Rem­brandt shows dark edges all around which is of course no acci­dent. He did it all the time. Notice where your eye ends up in the paint­ing; on the wave at left and this too is no acci­dent. When we can apply some of these prin­ci­ples to pho­tog­ra­phy, our images almost always improve.

 

1633 - Rembrandt (1606-1669) Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee.

1633 — Rem­brandt (1606–1669) Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee.

 

Talk about how edges can add inter­est! This image by Selena Rhodes Scofield from our forum is framed in an extremely cre­ative way and the unusual per­spec­tive just adds to the visual inter­est. In addi­tion, both the seagull’s neck and its wing are cre­at­ing inter­est­ing pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive shapes as they inter­sect with the edges and the rest of the image. Being on the look­out for these shapes is another way to spi­cify your photography.

 

seagull 3 by Selena Rhodes Scofield

seag­ull 3 by Selena Rhodes Scofield

 

Of course when you want to break guide­lines, you break them when­ever you want to. Just be aware that you are doing so. In this image below, Cana­dian Mas­ter pho­tog­ra­pher and teacher Free­man Pat­ter­son does just that.

From his book Pho­tog­ra­phy and the Art of See­ing he wrote: “I saw this elderly lady as pass­ing away from me and my world, so I pho­tographed her through a win­dow clouded by reflec­tions and cur­tains. The shal­low depth of field, which throws the reflec­tions and cur­tains out of focus, cre­ates a sense of the sur­real and the unknown. The hand of the woman’s friend appears in the lower right cor­ner. By all tra­di­tional stan­dards of com­po­si­tion, the hand should not be there because it looks ampu­tated. Yet it seems strangely appro­pri­ate, rep­re­sent­ing sup­port that may be needed in the present, while at the same time adding to the impres­sion of the world dissolving”

 

Photograph by Freeman Patterson from The Art of Seeing.

Pho­to­graph by Free­man Pat­ter­son from The Art of Seeing.

 

Links /resources men­tioned in this podcast:

Pho­tog­ra­phy and the Art of See­ing by Free­man Pat­ter­son. If you can only afford one pho­tog­ra­phy book this year, buy this one.
Com­po­si­tion Basics by oopoomoo

If you liked this pod­cast and want to review it on Itunes, this link gets you to the main page

If you are inter­ested in writ­ing for our blog please con­tact me photography.ca ( A T ) G m ail Dot co m (using stan­dard email formatting)

Please join the Photography.ca fan page on Facebook

My Face­book pro­file — Feel free to “friend” me — please just men­tion Photography.ca
My Twit­ter page — I will fol­low you if you fol­low me — Let’s con­nect — PLEASE email me and tell me who you are in case I don’t rec­i­p­ro­cate because I think you are a spammer.

If you are still lurk­ing on our forum,
feel free to join our friendly :)  Pho­tog­ra­phy forum

Thanks as well to Don Crasco and Daniel Cybul­skie who posted com­ments directly on the blog.  Although ALL com­ments are appre­ci­ated, com­ment­ing directly in this blog is pre­ferred. Thanks as well to all the new mem­bers of the bul­letin board.

If you are look­ing at this mate­r­ial on any other site except Photography.ca — Please hop on over to the Photography.ca blog and pod­cast and get this and other pho­tog­ra­phy info directly from the source. |Sub­scribe with iTunes|Sub­scribe via RSS feed |Sub­scribe for free to the Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast — Photography.ca and get all the posts/podcasts by Email

You can down­load this pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast directly by click­ing the pre­ced­ing link or lis­ten to it almost imme­di­ately with the embed­ded player.

Thanks for lis­ten­ing and keep on shooting!

125 — How Much Post Processing is Too Much — Interview w/ Darwin Wiggett and Sam Chrysanthou

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #125 fea­tures an inter­view with pho­tog­ra­phers Dar­win Wiggett and Sam Chrysan­thou (apolo­gies to Sam for muck­ing up her name) of oopoomoo.com where we talk about post pro­cess­ing in pho­tog­ra­phy and how much post-processing is too much.

Thanks to The Cam­era Store (The largest cam­era store in Cal­gary, Alberta, Canada)  for spon­sor­ing the Photography.ca podcast.

In this pod­cast we get into talk­ing about the dif­fer­ences between pho­tog­ra­phers and dig­i­tal artists in this chang­ing age where any­thing seems to go photography-wise. This dis­cus­sion pod­cast is inspired by a blog post by Dar­win where he asked How Far is too Far?  The post refers to Darwin’s pho­to­graph of an owl and a swal­low shot at the same time, but shot as two sep­a­rate files that were blended together in Pho­to­shop after capture.

What do you think, did Dar­win go too far?

Great Grey Owl and Tree Swallow on Fence - Composite image by Darwin Wiggett

Great Grey Owl and Tree Swal­low on Fence — Com­pos­ite image by Dar­win Wiggett

 

Butterfly and Flower - Composite image by Darwin Wiggett

But­ter­fly and Flower — Com­pos­ite image by Dar­win Wiggett

 

In-camera capture by Sam Chrysanthou using a long exposure and a flashlight. The results look surreal but the effect is in-camera not post production

In-camera cap­ture by Sam Chrysan­thou using a long expo­sure and a flash­light. The results look sur­real but the effect is in-camera, not post production

 

It goes with­out say­ing that both Dar­win and Sam DO post-process their images but they spend min­i­mal time doing so. They just released an e-book out­lin­ing the short­cuts they use to process their images and they rely mostly on Adobe Bridge and Pho­to­shop to do their edit­ing. The book is called 7 Quick & Dirty Pro­cess­ing Short­cuts for Lazy Pho­tog­ra­phers.

Links /resources men­tioned in this podcast:

How Far is too Far?
Should We Change the Word Pho­tog­ra­phy?
7 Quick & Dirty Pro­cess­ing Short­cuts for Lazy Photographers

If you liked this pod­cast and want to review it on Itunes, this link gets you to the main page

If you are inter­ested in writ­ing for our blog please con­tact me photography.ca ( A T ) G m ail Dot co m (using stan­dard email formatting)

Please join the Photography.ca fan page on Facebook

My Face­book pro­file — Feel free to “friend” me — please just men­tion Photography.ca
My Twit­ter page — I will fol­low you if you fol­low me — Let’s con­nect — PLEASE email me and tell me who you are in case I don’t rec­i­p­ro­cate because I think you are a spammer.

If you are still lurk­ing on our forum,
feel free to join our friendly :)  Pho­tog­ra­phy forum

Thanks as well to Terry Babij who posted com­ments directly on the blog.  Although ALL com­ments are appre­ci­ated, com­ment­ing directly in this blog is pre­ferred. Thanks as well to all the new mem­bers of the bul­letin board.

If you are look­ing at this mate­r­ial on any other site except Photography.ca — Please hop on over to the Photography.ca blog and pod­cast and get this and other pho­tog­ra­phy info directly from the source. |Sub­scribe with iTunes|Sub­scribe via RSS feed |Sub­scribe for free to the Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast — Photography.ca and get all the posts/podcasts by Email

You can down­load this pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast directly by click­ing the pre­ced­ing link or lis­ten to it almost imme­di­ately with the embed­ded player.

Thanks for lis­ten­ing and keep on shoot­ing! Happy New Year everyone!

124 — Luminosity Masks — Interview with Tony Kuyper

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #124 fea­tures an inter­view with Ari­zona fine art pho­tog­ra­pher Tony Kuyper. After years of exper­i­men­ta­tion Tony has devel­oped an inter­me­di­ate post pro­cess­ing tech­nique NOT based on the pix­els that make up the image but rather the bright­ness lev­els or tones that make up the image. One of the game chang­ing rea­sons to work in this way is the tonal con­trol and level of pre­ci­sion you can achieve with your selec­tions and the fact that these selec­tions are nat­u­rally per­fectly feath­ered.  This is accom­plished by cre­at­ing a lumi­nos­ity mask (in Gimp, Pho­to­shop Ele­ments or Pho­to­shop) and Tony describes how and why to do this in the podcast.

Although this is an inter­me­di­ate level pod­cast, newer pho­tog­ra­phers might want to lis­ten to get ideas for future study and post-processing play. Tony explains the con­cepts clearly!

Thanks to The Cam­era Store (The largest cam­era store in Cal­gary, Alberta, Canada)  for spon­sor­ing the Photography.ca podcast.

Here are some of Tony’s images processed with and with­out lumi­nos­ity masks. You can see that the images processed with the masks ‘sing’ louder.

Brine Stones by Tony Kuyper - processed without luminosity masks

Brine Stones by Tony Kuyper — processed with­out lumi­nos­ity masks

 

Brine Stones by Tony Kuyper - processed with luminosity masks

Brine Stones by Tony Kuyper — processed with lumi­nos­ity masks

 

Elephant's Feet by Tony Kuyper processed without luminosity masks

Elephant’s Feet by Tony Kuyper processed with­out lumi­nos­ity masks

 

Elephant's Feet by Tony Kuyper processed with luminosity masks

Elephant’s Feet by Tony Kuyper processed with lumi­nos­ity masks

 

Navajo Bridge by Tony Kuyper processed without luminosity masks

Navajo Bridge by Tony Kuyper processed with­out lumi­nos­ity masks

 

Navajo Bridge by Tony Kuyper processed with luminosity masks

Navajo Bridge by Tony Kuyper processed with lumi­nos­ity masks

 

Links /resources men­tioned in this podcast:

Lumi­nos­ity masks — Tuto­r­ial on Tony’s site
Tony’s tuto­ri­als page
GIMP lumi­nos­ity mask tuto­r­ial
Pho­tog­ra­phy assign­ment on our forum — Space
Level 2 pho­tog­ra­phy assign­ment on our forum — Dip­tychs
Illu­minight — Pho­tog­ra­phy exhi­bi­tion by Marko Kulik

If you liked this pod­cast and want to review it on Itunes, this link gets you to the main page

If you are inter­ested in writ­ing for our blog please con­tact me photography.ca ( A T ) G m ail Dot co m (using stan­dard email formatting)

Please join the Photography.ca fan page on Facebook

My Face­book pro­file — Feel free to “friend” me — please just men­tion Photography.ca
My Twit­ter page — I will fol­low you if you fol­low me — Let’s con­nect — PLEASE email me and tell me who you are in case I don’t rec­i­p­ro­cate because I think you are a spammer.

If you are still lurk­ing on our forum,
feel free to join our friendly :)  Pho­tog­ra­phy forum

Thanks as well to Mike Bons, Lucy 72, Jimmy Brown, and Dar­nell B who posted com­ments directly on the blog.  Although ALL com­ments are appre­ci­ated, com­ment­ing directly in this blog is pre­ferred. Thanks as well to all the new mem­bers of the bul­letin board.

If you are look­ing at this mate­r­ial on any other site except Photography.ca — Please hop on over to the Photography.ca blog and pod­cast and get this and other pho­tog­ra­phy info directly from the source. |Sub­scribe with iTunes|Sub­scribe via RSS feed |Sub­scribe for free to the Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast — Photography.ca and get all the posts/podcasts by Email

You can down­load this pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast directly by click­ing the pre­ced­ing link or lis­ten to it almost imme­di­ately with the embed­ded player.

Thanks for lis­ten­ing and keep on shooting!

A Good Day by Michael Orton

Today was one of those days.  After 35 years of car­ry­ing a cam­era I con­sider myself for­tu­nate indeed to have expe­ri­enced some of these days, when every­thing seems to align, the weather, the light, the sea­son, the loca­tion, and let’s not for­get, the pho­tog­ra­pher. After all, with­out the act of mak­ing the deci­sion to set out, noth­ing will be cre­ated. While work­ing in the stock photo busi­ness my work­flow was quite dif­fer­ent from today . My goal was to cre­ate mar­ketable con­cept images and I would research loca­tions to shoot spe­cific images. I would have to place myself in the right loca­tion, at the right time with the best light which was not always easy. Remark­ably I did have some of ” those days ” back then, but not like the ones that have occurred since I became immersed in ICM (Inten­tional Cam­era Move­ment) these last years. I have an inti­mate knowl­edge of the land­scape within a close dis­tance from home and can almost visu­al­ize before set­ting out the like­li­hood of there being the type of sub­ject mat­ter that will feed my imag­i­na­tion. And of course the more I explore the more data I have to draw from. With ICM the required “raw mate­r­ial”, unlike mak­ing a con­ven­tional pho­to­graph, is not a spe­cific object or rec­og­niz­able scene, but rather the start­ing point, like a piece of clay , shape­less until forged and formed into shape. This is the essence of work­ing in this fash­ion. It has lit­tle to do with the actual tech­nique of mov­ing the cam­era and every­thing to do with how you can imag­ine and explore that which is the start­ing point, the raw material.

Today is a late fall day. Leaves had been falling for weeks, morn­ing mists were begin­ning to appear, skies were a patchy blue. If I’m lucky this time of year lasts a few weeks. I love work­ing when there are spaces in the trees and the branches con­trast with the inter­spersed leaves. I set out to walk the edge of a river not far away. There are a vari­ety of trees, bushes and growth, with logs, large and small stones lin­ing the shore­line. (And the salmon are run­ning ) I made many more than the four images shown, but these I selected because they were made stand­ing in almost the same spot.

 

"A Good Day" - Image 1 by Michael Orton

A Good Day” — Image 1 by Michael Orton

 

Image one is the light reflected off of the leaves of a small bush , which I ren­dered into hun­dreds of shards of light with a fast cam­era move­ment and short shut­ter speed. When viewed at full size this image has remark­able com­plex­ity and blend­ing . The bush was a short dis­tance to my left.

 

"A Good Day" - Image 2 by Michael Orton

A Good Day” — Image 2 by Michael Orton

 

Image two is sim­ply fallen leaves on a spread of medium sized round stones with the sand washed from between them. They are in the shade , and the blue comes from the reflected blue of the sky. The sky had some clouds which occa­sion­ally gave me over­cast light. - 1/2 sec­ond with what I refer to as medium cam­era move­ment speed , using a some­what oblique line and chang­ing focal length dur­ing expo­sure. When I move my cam­era most often I do not swivel from a fixed point but move it in a sim­i­lar fash­ion to a movie cam­era on a track. These stones and leaves where just to my right.

 

"A Good Day" - Image 3 by Michael Orton

A Good Day” — Image 3 by Michael Orton

 

Image three is look­ing across the river . You can see the sandy embank­ment ren­dered as a soft­ened wash while the trees and their reflec­tion remain some­what rec­og­niz­able. I used an extended oval motion at 2 sec­onds to retain the ver­ti­cal lines.

 

"A Good Day" - Image 4 by Michael Orton

A Good Day” — Image 4 by Michael Orton

 

Image four is, yes wait for it, a pho­to­graph, and was taken stand­ing in exactly the same spot as # 3 . Some­times you just take what you are given and make the best of it. I took the polar­izer and ND fil­ter off, kneeled down and scooped this image from the sur­face of the river.The intri­cate, jagged lines of the reflected trees and a hint blue from the sky were to good to pass up. Hand­held at 1/125.

So yes it was a good day. One that I wish every pho­tog­ra­pher could expe­ri­ence, because when you do, it will fuel your pas­sion . This is what keeps us looking.

The video ” A Walk In The Palm Grove ” on our web­site is another good exam­ple of what can be cre­ated at one location.

There is no sub­sti­tute for see­ing… Michael

The pre­ced­ing arti­cle is copy­righted and writ­ten by Cana­dian fine art land­scape pho­tog­ra­pher Michael Orton. You can see more of his work at michaelortonphotography.com

The Nikon 105 with Defocus Control is Dreamy

The Nikon 105 f2.0 DC lens is one of the most inter­est­ing lenses that I’ve ever tried. I just tested one from The Cam­era Store. This lens is super-solidly con­structed, mostly of metal, and feels great both in your hand and on the cam­era. It has a built in lens hood which I found con­ve­nient but the high­light of this lens is the defo­cus con­trol which brings its cool­ness fac­tor to eleven.  What’s cool about this DC (Defo­cus Con­trol) lens, is that you can defo­cus the fore­ground or the back­ground to accen­tu­ate the bokeh (zone of blurriness/creaminess/dreaminess) in the fore­ground or the back­ground. It takes a lit­tle bit of play and the results are sub­tle, but if you are into this type of sub­tlety and you are pre­pared to pay more than a grand, you won’t be dis­ap­pointed. This lens is in a class all by itself.

Nikon AF DC105mm f/2.0 D Lens

Nikon AF DC 105mm f/2.0 D Lens

 

Let me say imme­di­ately that this spe­cialty lens is not for every­one. It is made in my esti­ma­tion for por­trait, land­scape or fine art pho­tog­ra­phers that love to play with selec­tive focus and who want to be in supreme con­trol of their bokeh. If this last sen­tence was con­fus­ing then you are prob­a­bly not ready for this lens. But if you already love bokeh and want to play in the bokeh-olympics, this might be the finest tool available.

But Doesn’t Nikon Have Another 105mm Lens That Also Does Macro?

Yes they do and that lens is another fab­u­lous por­trait lens that does true macro. The Nikon AF-S 105 mm F2.8 Micro is a lens that I’ve owned for a num­ber of years and it’s about 300. cheaper than the DC lens. It’s razor sharp, has Vibra­tion Reduc­tion (VR) and does true 1:1 Macro. If you like to do por­traits as well as Macro work, get this lens instead.

But if you don’t do that much Macro and want a fab­u­lously unique tool that is great for por­traits and bokeh-play, the DC may be the bet­ter choice for an expe­ri­enced pho­tog­ra­pher. The DC lens is also an f/2 lens. The f/2 is brighter in the viewfinder and always deliv­ers more bokeh than f/2.8 all things being equal.

In terms of head to head sharp­ness and aut­o­fo­cus speed, I found the aut­o­fo­cus a bit faster on the Micro (Macro — Nikon calls their Macro lenses Micro just to be spe­cial) lens and I found the sharp­ness to be a hint sharper. The 105 DC lens is also razor sharp (but has no VR) and has very fast  aut­o­fo­cus, but head to head with the 105 Micro, it loses by the small­est of mar­gins to my eye. Please be aware that I only tested this lens on 2 shoots in cold­ish Mon­treal weather which unfor­tu­nately lim­ited my play.

How does it work?

The instruc­tion leaflet that comes with the lens is near use­less. You’ll want to play with this sucker for a while. But basi­cally, to get good bokeh effects you need a large aper­ture so you’ll choose an aper­ture like f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4, or f/5.6. Once you set that aper­ture, you’ll focus on your sub­ject. Then you’ll decide if you want to defo­cus what’s in front of the sub­ject, what’s behind the sub­ject, or not defo­cus at all. The defo­cus­ing sim­ply soft­ens the back­ground or fore­ground more than it would be with other lenses. The effect is sub­tle and not every­one will even notice it espe­cially novice pho­tog­ra­phers. Per­son­ally though, I love this lens and I made a mis­take when I pur­chased the f/2.8 Macro lens. I don’t do that much macro and would have got­ten more use and joy from the bokeh play offered by this lens.

From L to R - Zero defocus, defocused foreground, defocused background - Click to enlarge

From L to R — Zero defo­cus, defo­cused fore­ground, defo­cused back­ground — Click to enlarge

 

The images above were shot against a giant Christ­mas tree. The mid­dle image makes the fore­ground lights around the neck have an inter­est­ing glow due to the defo­cused fore­ground, but the eyes lost sharp­ness. In gen­eral I found that defo­cus­ing the fore­ground looked weird most of the time. To my eye the nor­mal set­ting and the defo­cused back­ground set­tings are the best look­ing in this set and in gen­eral. The non defo­cused images looked superb actu­ally. But a lens like this is usu­ally bought for the abil­ity to defo­cus it.

Left image had no defocus. Middle Image had background defocused to f/4 but aperture was f/2.0. The image at right was shot with the 105 Macro lens at f/2.8 its widest aperture - Click to enlarge.

Left image had no defo­cus. Mid­dle Image had back­ground defo­cused to f/4 but aper­ture was f/2.0. The image at right was shot with the 105 Macro lens at f/2.8 its widest aper­ture — Click to enlarge.

 

The rea­son to get the Nikon 105mm DC lens is for the (De)focus play that it offers and nor­mally you’ll set the defo­cus to the same aper­ture you are shoot­ing on. But you don’t have to fol­low that rule and when you break it, it throws the back­ground or fore­ground into an even softer or dreamier state. In the set of images above, the left image shows beau­ti­ful f/2.0 bokeh with a very sharp head­stone and no defo­cus was used. The mid­dle image was shot at f/2.0 but the rear defo­cus was set to f/4 which thinned out the zone of sharp­ness in the fore­ground in this case and soft­ened the back­ground to an even dreamier state com­pared to the pre­vi­ous shot. For com­par­i­son pur­poses the shot at right was shot with the 105 Macro lens that has no defo­cus con­trol. It still shows excel­lent sharp­ness in the head­stone and lovely bokeh in the back­ground, but it is lim­ited to f/2.8 with­out defo­cus con­trol, and so it can’t be as dreamy as the DC 105mm.

 

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Mount Royal Ceme­tery in Mon­treal. Rear Defo­cus used on the Nikon 105mm DC — Click to enlarge

 

In sum­mary, if you are just start­ing out in pho­tog­ra­phy and you want an awe­some fast por­trait lens that also offers macro, the 105mm f/2.8 with VR is prob­a­bly a bet­ter choice for you and it’s 300 dol­lars cheaper.  If you just love bokeh and exper­i­men­ta­tion and are a more expe­ri­enced pho­tog­ra­pher that rarely uses Macro, you might well want to try the Nikon 105mm f2.0 DC lens.  It’s a one of a kind lens that will retain and go up in value in the future due to its unique­ness. I plan on adding it to my arse­nal in the very near future.

Two Photo Accessories Reviewed

Hi photo lovers!

I’ve tried a cou­ple of photo acces­sories recently that I’d like to share with you because they make my life easier.

1 — The S&F deluxe tech­ni­cal belt by Lowe­pro.

Lowepro S&F deluxe technical belt

Lowe­pro S&F deluxe tech­ni­cal belt

My wife picked this up for me recently as a gift and I’m lov­ing it. As men­tioned in pre­vi­ous posts and pod­casts, I’m a big fan of lens pouches and I use them almost exclu­sively (ver­sus car­ry­ing a cam­era bag) on most per­sonal photo shoots. Usu­ally I have 3 lenses on me and 2 of them are car­ried in lens pouches. Until a few weeks ago I sim­ply clipped the pouches onto an actual belt that goes through my jeans. It works well enough but get­ting into the jean pock­ets is dif­fi­cult and my wife felt I looked all dishev­elled espe­cially if I needed to wear a jacket. She was right.

I have to say, the tech­ni­cal belt is WAY bet­ter than clip­ping the pouches to a reg­u­lar pants belt. It is so much more com­fort­able and you can see the solid back sup­port if offers, it’s a pure joy to wear. Espe­cially when going from shoot­ing to the car, the whole belt comes off in a flash with the pouches firmly secured onto them. If you do need to get into your pants pock­ets you just slide the belt around. In addi­tion, it looks and feels great when you have to wear a jacket. It might well be my favourite acces­sory of 2013. It can be pur­chased imme­di­ately at B&H in the USA or at the The Cam­era Store within about 1 week.

2 - Pho­toRe­pub­lik Twin Speedlite Holder — This acces­sory was loaned to me for review by our spon­sor The Cam­era Store and I find it to be an extremely well built acces­sory. Some of the com­mon gripes peo­ple have with flash hold­ing acces­sories are their over­all ‘dink­i­ness’  and that the actual point of con­tact between the flash and the hold­ing shoe is flimsy (read risky) and dif­fi­cult to con­trol. Good new or used flashes are at least 100–600 dol­lars, why would you want to attach it to a bracket with a flimsy flash shoe holder that looks like it costs less than a nickel. One care­less bump into the light stand can snag the bot­tom part of the flash right off.

This twin flash holder is crazy solid in all respects and oper­ates smoothly. The point of attach­ment to the flash as well as the whole unit (except the knobs which are still very solid) is made of steel and oper­ates very smoothly to attach to your flash. It feels safe and that will make you feel more secure about the setup. There’s place for an umbrella holder and it tilts from front to back for eas­ier angling of light. It’s a per­fect attach­ment for shoot­ing with an umbrella when when you need more punch than one flash can offer.

PhotoRepublik Twin Speedlite Holder

Pho­toRe­pub­lik Twin Speedlite Holder — Comes with a  threaded mount­ing screw (shown in between the 2 flash hold­ing units)

 

 

123 — Entry Level Camera Trigger Showdown — PocketWizard versus Cactus

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #123 com­pares 2 entry level trig­ger­ing devices for your cam­era. A ‘trig­ger’ is sim­ply a device that allows your cam­era to fire nearly any portable flash, mono­light or stu­dio flash while it is OFF-camera. The abil­ity to fire a flash or other light source while OFF-camera allows you to mod­ify the direc­tion and the qual­ity of the light(s) to pro­duce much more cre­ative and pro­fes­sional look­ing pho­tog­ra­phy ver­sus direct on-camera flash. The 2 units tested are the Pock­etWiz­ard Plus X and the Cac­tus V5 Duo.

The PocketWizard Plus X transceiver (sold as a single unit) and the Cactus V5 Duo (2 transceivers)

The Pock­etWiz­ard Plus X trans­ceiver (sold as a sin­gle unit for $99.00) and the Cac­tus V5 Duo (2 trans­ceivers for $99.00 or sold indi­vid­i­ually at $59.00)

 

Thanks to The Cam­era Store (The largest cam­era store in Cal­gary, Alberta, Canada)  for spon­sor­ing the Photography.ca pod­cast and for loan­ing me the test equip­ment for this week’s podcast!

Both these units do the identical job with identical (100%) reliability in both my indoor and outdoor tests.

Both these units do the iden­ti­cal job with iden­ti­cal (100%) reli­a­bil­ity in both my indoor and out­door tests. The top photo shows how the Cac­tus trans­ceiver attaches to both the cam­era and to an off-camera flash. The bot­tom photo shows how the Pock­etWiz­ard Plus X trans­ceiver attaches to both the cam­era and to an off-camera flash. The main dif­fer­ence is that the Pock­etWiz­ard is miss­ing the extra hot shoe so it attaches to the off cam­era flash with (an included) sync-wire.

 

The build qual­ity of the Pock­etWiz­ard is slightly more robust than the Cac­tus V5 and its leg­endary reli­a­bil­ity (Pock­etWiz­ards have been around for decades) and the fact that they work with every other Pock­etWiz­ard ever made are its main advantages.

Where the Cactus V5 duo really shines is with the addition of the extra hot shoe on the unit. Both these units will do the identical job, but the cactus's design is more elegant and user friendly.

Where the Cac­tus V5 duo really shines is with the addi­tion of the extra hot shoe on the unit. Here the flash will act as an on axis-fill flash to fill in shad­ows cre­ated by another light, and it fits snugly into the hot shoe on top of the Cac­tus V5. At left is the Pock­etWiz­ard attempt­ing the same task but because it has no extra hot shoe it must be attached to the camera’s flash via an included sync-wire

 

Both these units will do the iden­ti­cal job, but the Cactus’s design (at right) is more ele­gant, eas­ier to attach and the Cac­tus V5 Duo is half the price of the Pock­etWiz­ard Plus X. Unfor­tu­nately the Cac­tus V5 will NOT work with Pock­etWiz­ards or even dif­fer­ent Cac­tus models.

Links /resources men­tioned in this podcast:

The Pock­etWiz­ard Plus X at The Cam­era Store
The Cac­tus V5 Duo at The Cam­era Store
Illu­minight — Pho­tog­ra­phy exhi­bi­tion by Marko Kulik

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Thanks as well to Enrique Waizel, Bernard Dal­laire, Jason, Dar­nell B and Royce How­land who posted com­ments directly on the blog.  Although ALL com­ments are appre­ci­ated, com­ment­ing directly in this blog is pre­ferred. Thanks as well to all the new mem­bers of the bul­letin board.

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Thanks for lis­ten­ing and keep on shooting!

I Waited 30 Minutes in Line to See Chihuly — 6 Days Left

Dale Chi­huly is an Amer­i­can glass blow­ing artist/genius/innovator. I went to see his show at The Mon­treal Museum of Fine Arts last week and waited 30 min­utes in line because his pop­u­lar show is com­ing to an end and I’ve been busy for the last few months. The show ends offi­cially on Octo­ber 27th.

_MK18015

One of my great­est pet peeves on planet earth is wait­ing in line. Give me the best restau­rant in Paris, New York or Mon­treal and if I have to wait more than a few min­utes, I’d rather pick up a falafel or pizza slice and eat it on the go. Don’t get me wrong, I love good food, but my hate for line-waiting wins over nearly 100% of the time. Need­less to say, when I went to the museum last week and saw a line of about forty peo­ple I was not happy.  My wife and I sur­veyed the line. She knows me (and my bad whiny behav­ior) with lines…so she quickly told me that it was ‘my call’ and that we could leave imme­di­ately with­out con­se­quence. As we (mostly me) were mak­ing this deci­sion, the line sud­denly started to move rather quickly and a forty per­son wait turned to a thirty per­son wait. I bitched a bit but we sucked it up and waited in line.

Here’s my review. Words or pic­tures can’t do this show jus­tice and I only stayed at the show 60 min. It’s a 10/10 mas­ter­piece that needs to be expe­ri­enced. Period. So long as you are not colour blind, all I can say is go see it. It’s worth a 30 minute wait. It’s worth a one hour wait which is my max for wait­ing for absolutely any­thing non life-threatening. If you are a patient per­son though, it’s worth wait­ing all day.

Take your cam­era because pho­tog­ra­phy is 100% per­mit­ted and encour­aged. This mod­ern aspect of the exhi­bi­tion also impressed me because plenty of exhi­bi­tions are still in the dark ages with regard to pho­tog­ra­phy. Expect crowds but expect that the wait and bus­tle will be worth it. Expect to see the work of a Master.

chihuly-MK18041