The Problem With Pulling Stills From Video
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
This great DSLR video tutorial from The Slanted Lens touches on a topic that's always been possible, but as video image quality improves it's sure to become an increasingly popular request. It's about pulling still images from videos—which is a great idea in theory, but this video explains why in practice it's not as useful as you might think. More than that, though, I think this video serves as a great primer about video shutter speeds, how they affect motion, and how that affects the finished look of a video—or a still photo. It all makes perfect sense, when you think about it: slow shutter speeds plus moving subjects create blur. And while blur is usually not helpful in stills, it's often necessary to convey motion in video. A great tutorial, and a great explanation, all rolled into one.
Drying Out A Damp Camera
Monday, March 25, 2013
The calendar says it's spring, but the snow in my yard disagrees. If Spring ever arrives, I'm guessing it will eventually be followed by summer. And once the really warm weather gets here we photographers will start spending our time in the great outdoors with our cameras. That's also when we really start putting our cameras in harm's way. Maybe not this month, maybe not this year, but eventually the odds are good that we'll drop our camera in a swimming pool, pond, river, ocean or cruise ship toilet. So what do you do when your gear gets wet? Peter Hill has perfected a wet camera resuscitation technique, and he's published his guide at his Redbubble blog. Ultimately it's the same basic technique you may be familiar with for drying out a damp cell phone: remove the battery, don't turn the thing on, use a blow dryer, and submerge it in dry rice for a week. There's also a handy video I found on YouTube that does a pretty good job of illustrating the technique and demonstrating the drying capabilities of rice. It too is worth a look, but for the particulars of pulling off this delicate procedure on a pricey DSLR, check out Mr. Hill's blog. You might want to bookmark it for future reference, too.
DxO Lens And Sensor Tests
Friday, March 22, 2013
I'm intrigued by DxO Labs. The French company tests everything camera related—including, most importantly, image sensors and lenses. I find the lens ratings especially helpful when it comes time to purchase a new lens for my kit, or to rent a lens for an upcoming assignment. Because there's nothing I hate more than lenses that aren't unbelievably sharp. And while I can't personally vouch for the testing methodology or the scientific credentials of the fine Francophones at DxO, I can tell you that they seem to think some of my favorite lenses are pretty sharp, which bodes well. Plus, they're accepted by many as the resource for sharpness testing of dSLRs. The point is, the next time you're pondering what lens or camera you might want to try, consider making a stop at dxomark.com to check out their findings. If nothing else it will give you a frame of reference for interpreting the sharpness of the cameras and lenses you're considering.
Learn Color Lookup Adjustment Layers From Adobe TV
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Do you know Julieanne Kost? Do you watch Adobe TV? If you answered "no" to either of those questions, you've got some work to do. Ms. Kost is the principal "evangelist" for Adobe Photoshop, which means she's a prominent voice in the quest to increase the overall reach and understanding of Photoshop as an image-making tool. I've long read her blog posts and other helpful articles online, but recently I started learning straight from the expert's mouth thanks to the wonderful resource of Adobe TV. Just like it sounds, Adobe TV is an online channel filled with amazing videos from Photoshop professionals—including Ms. Kost and many other experts. It really is a wonderful resource, no matter what Photoshop topics you're interested in. I recommend starting with this great video about using Color Lookup Table Adjustment Layers. It's a quick and easy to understand lesson in a tremendous CS6 tool. So not only should you add Color Lookup Table Adjustment Layers to your retouching repertoire, you should add Ms. Kost and Adobe TV to your learning repertoire as well.
Black & White Conversion Cheat Sheet
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
When I convert an image to black & white in Photoshop, I choose my method—from the dozens of different approaches available—practically on a whim. Then I do a lot of experimenting to arrive at a finished image that delivers the look I want. Well what if there was a better, faster and easier way—not a better way to convert to black & white, but a better way to determine which conversion method will work best for a given image? Well there is. It's courtesy of the DIY Photography blog, where Ladislav Soukup has created a Photoshop document containing a bunch of preset conversion method thumbnails that can be used to preview your own image with the click of a mouse. Just open the cheat sheet in Photoshop, drop your image into the Smart Object layer, and in an instant you'll see how these different conversions will look when applied to your image. What a resource, what a time-saver. What a great idea! Download it at DIYphotography.net.
The World's Largest Panoramic Photograph
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Ever seen the largest panoramic photo in the world? As of 2013, the record belongs to a 320-gigapixel photo of London. I adore these gigapixel panos of the world's cities, and I'll never miss a chance to sink my teeth into one and go exploring for an hour. I think I must be a bit of a voyeur, because anytime someone posts a photo like this, I find myself spending several minutes navigating the city in close-up detail. Sure, the possibility of finding a sunbather on a rooftop is titillating, but more than that I'm interested in the mundane bits of life that gigapixel city panoramas reveal—like a cup of tea cooling in a window, or a mother lifting her child out of her carriage. I love catching a glimpse of the world's citizens going about their day unaware. It's fascinating, and that—more than the image quality, stitching issues or HDR-style processing—is what interests me about an image like this. So thank you to the diligent photographers who spent three days creating this great photograph. World record or not, I love this kind of thing.
One More Shot At Winter
Monday, March 18, 2013
Unless you live in the most northern or high-altitude climes of North America, chances are good you're getting close to the official end of winter. But even those of us who can sense that Spring is in the air are not completely out of the woods. Many areas of the country could still be due for a late season surprise snowstorm. If and when it arrives, be ready with the know-how to make the most of your last chance at a snow photography opportunity. The problem is, many winter photo tips are always the same; adjust your exposure compensation because of all the snow, yadda yadda yadda. But this collection of uncommon snow photography tips from James Maher is chockablock full with good, insightful advice that is definitely not the same old stuff. So assuming that global warming doesn't bring us an early summer, check out these snow photo tips at DPS and get your warm socks on.
Shooting Food In Studio
Friday, March 15, 2013
I recently stumbled upon a video from Adorama TV that offers a great glimpse into what it's really like to be a studio food photographer. Rick Gayle offers a look inside his studio, as well as his equipment and workflow, which is immensely helpful for photographers who may be looking to build their portfolio with food. In this day when everybody with a smartphone is a "food photographer," setting your work apart requires an understanding of actual tools and actual lighting techniques that the pros use. And this video offers a short but extremely informative look into that world. There's a lot here, and even more across the Adorama TV channel. 600+ videos, in fact. So after you've finished watching this video, check out the dozen or so other food photography videos in the channel, and then consider subscribing for a wealth of photographic information right at your fingertips.