Protect Your Image Files From The CryptoLocker Virus
Monday, January 6, 2014
Welcome to the future, the year 2014, when digital images are ubiquitous—as are the viruses that can damage them. There's a new one that's been spreading like wildfire in recent months, called CryptoLocker. Once infected, your computer encrypts your files—meaning they're locked up—and demands a ransom in order to decrypt and retrieve them. It might not be so bad if it weren't for the size of the ransom—it's $300! Take a look at this Business Insider story for the lowdown on how to protect yourself. Of course, make sure your virus protection is up to date, and don't download suspicious files—which in this case means those with dual extensions (like "pdf.exe") and be vigilant. The only good news is that the virus does not yet infect Mac computers, but that's no guarantee—especially as the virus gains popularity. So all computer users should keep an eye out and warn their friends. The last thing any of us needs is to pay another few hundred bucks to retrieve the image files we've probably already spent hundreds or thousands to create in the first place.
Balancing Flash And Daylight
Friday, January 3, 2014
I'm a big fan of using flash to complement ambient lighting. More than anything I like the way the task of balancing the two sources comes down to understanding a fairly fundamental photographic lighting principle—that shutter speed does not affect flash exposure. Once you get that straight in your head, you'll find it easier to control two exposures—flash and ambient—separately within the same shot. That little nugget—what Laya Gerlock at DIY Photography calls his "magic bullet" in the link below—makes all the difference in the world. It's is a great demo, courtesy of one of my favorite hands-on blogs, that illustrates this principle quite well.
My Lens Hood Dilemma
Thursday, January 2, 2014
I have a problem with the petal shaped lens hood on my new canon 35mm prime lens. It's a prime, so why the need for the petal shaped hood? I guess maybe it's there to maximize coverage, but my real issue with it is that it's got a curved front edge—which means it won't stand up. After a decade of standing lenses on their hoods' square front, I have to relearn this habit (which may be a bad idea in the first place) or risk dropping my pricey new glass—rather, watching as it tumbles off a tabletop. While I'm busy trying to relearn everything I know about setting down lenses safely, check out this brief primer from Digital Photography School for a reminder of the best reason to use a lens hood—to fight the lens flare that saps contrast and color fidelity. Maybe it's a testament to the importance of a lens hood that rather than remove the thing I keep risking dropping my new glass because of those rounded front edges. Maybe I should look at the glass half full instead: going forward, I won't get in the habit of standing my lenses on their lens hoods, which has to be a somewhat precarious proposition in the first place.
Start The New Year Off Right
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Happy New Year! In an effort to start your year on the right foot, why not consider breaking a few bad habits. Sure, these are different for all of us. For instance, I find that I have to fight to keep out of a rut when it comes to composition and lighting. I can be a little too stuck in my ways, so that's a bad habit I'm going to try to break by experimenting more, breaking out of my comfort zone in 2014. Think hard about your own bad habits, and if you can see them you can start to conquer them. If you're having a hard time seeing yourself as anything short of pure perfection, check out Elizabeth Halford's post at Digital Photography School. In it she suggests five common bad photographic habits we'd all do well to quit. They including hesitating, pixel peeping, and the "spray and pray" method that relies on luck for its success. Whatever your bad habits may be, identifying them is the first step toward putting a stop to them, and starting the new year off on a positive note.
Why I passed On Google Glass
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
I had my chance this year to get my hands on the future of photography, but I passed on it. And I did so for the same reason I also "passed" on a Canon EOS 1DX and a Hasselblad H5D: price. At $1500, Google Glass may very well be worth every penny, but for this wannabe early adopter it's just a bit too rich for my blood. It's a shame that price stands between us regular Joes and all the best new stuff, but it's a fact of life. Assuming the Glass follows in the footsteps of the iPhone (high-priced new technology leading to low priced eventual ubiquity) then I guess we had all better look forward to a future full of wearable cameras. How fast that price comes down will determine just how far in the future a ubiquitous Google Glass, and the inevitable future of wearable cameras, really is. Some days I regret my decision to pass on what Digital Trends calls "the best mobile product of 2013," but I know my children are thankful I didn't overstretch our grocery budget just so that I can take pictures with a nod of my head. I hope the future is more affordable and that it gets here really soon.
The Year In Pictures
Monday, December 30, 2013
When the latest installment of Time magazine arrived at my door, I was thrilled to dig in to the annual Year in Pictures issue. I was even more excited to discover this comprehensive online version via Time's Lightbox blog, including news photos (warning, they can be a bit tough to take), amazing NASA photos with never-before-seen views of Saturn, an in-depth look at the art of the selfie, and the ten images that really made the world take notice. My personal favorite was actually not made by a professional photographer. Tim Holmes snapped a cell phone picture of his wife and grandchildren as they huddled under a jetty for shelter during a brush fire that surrounded them with towering flames, and he did it simply to send to his daughter to let her know that the family was all together. A breathtaking image of a heart-pounding moment: definitely one of the most amazing pictures of the year.
Quick Fix Fridays: Shadows Are Your Friend
Friday, December 27, 2013
Novice photographers often work very hard to eliminate shadows from the background. Sometimes, that's good. However, shadows can add a sense of depth and drama, and interest, to an image.
Case in point: Here you see how the shadows in the background add to the dramatic mood of the photograph. You get strong shadows like this when you have a strong, direct light, position the subject close to the background, and when the background is white or light in color.
Speaking of the mood, I like the mood, created by using only one light, as shown in the behind-the-scenes photograph. Placing a grid over the light created the circular lighting effect. Grids focus and direct the light. The smaller the openings in the gird, the more focused the light.
Here's a fun tip: When you think you need two lights, use one light. When you think you need two lights, use one light.
I used a strobe light for this picture. My Canon ST-E2 wireless transmitter that was mounted in the camera's hot shoe triggered the light. Reducing the number of wires in the studio is helpful because you and your model have fewer wires over which to trip.
There was, however, one wire attached to the camera. It connected my camera to my computer. This is called tethered shooting. When you shoot tethered, both you and your model can easily and immediately see the results on a relatively large monitor.
To change the mood of the image, I used Photoshop's Lighting Effects Filter. You'll find this filter under Render. For this effect, I selected the Omni option and used a blue tone as the color. Using the Color Picker, you can tone the picture any way you like.
Have a fun and creative weekend — working and playing with shadows!
Got questions? Drop by my website at www.ricksammon.com.
New Camera News
Friday, December 27, 2013
Combine the ridiculous news format of The Onion with just about any photo blog and what do you get? The answer is New Camera News, a funny new site full of fake photography info that hits a little close to home. It can't help but make all but the stodgiest among us laugh. It's ridiculous and irreverent and a pretty great send up of the photo industry, everything from new products to the users who fawn over them. From cat protests to fake news about the White House Photography Pool, everything photo-related is fair game on New Camera News, and that's just the way I like it. Check it out at http://newcameranews.com/