So, you’ve taken a photograph of a beautiful sunset or a peaceful, fog-covered valley. But something is missing in the picture – it just doesn’t look as good straight out of camera as the scene you were seeing at the time. By using simple Lightroom tools, such as Clarity, Graduated Filter and Curves, enhancing a landscape can be a very simple and fast process. While there are many advanced ways of processing landscapes, not all images require that much post-processing. In this Mastering Lightroom series article, I will show you how to quickly enhance landscape photographs using just Lightroom 4.
Buying a DSLR often means having several accessories to go with it, among which are lenses. But choosing your first lens isn’t easy – there are so many choices available at so many different price points, which can make it quite confusing for a beginner to find a lens for a particular need. In this article, I will discuss several budget Nikon fast prime lenses most suitable as a first step into the fixed focal length world. Which Nikon prime should you buy first? Which one would make the most sense? You need a lens to stay on your camera for years to come, you need it to be good for family portraits and some occasional snaps. Or maybe even for your future photography business – who knows?
Well, read on as I highlight the strengths of each affordable fast prime Nikon has to offer. I hope this article will help you with this tough choice most of us had to make at one point or another.
1) Why Buy a New Lens?
So you bought yourself a brand spanking new DSLR and now you want better pictures. Where do you start? When our images do not turn out good, we usually blame the camera, without even having the patience and time to learn how to use it. Do you find yourself using the camera in Auto mode all the time? If yes, then why don’t you first educate yourself and learn what those other “PASM” modes are for? We have plenty of beginner tutorials on this website and our photography tips for beginners page is a good place to start.
In recent years, zoom lenses have been taking over the hearts of many working professional photographers as the more obvious, versatile choice. With the latest image sensors producing amazing quality, even at extremely high ISOs, it makes sense why more people have been leaning towards the convenience of zoom lenses. Zoom lenses have also gotten impressively sharp – most, even some cheap kit lenses, are sharp enough for day-to-day needs and also boast effective image stabilization systems. Some of the modern pro-grade lenses offer image quality that matches or even surpasses primes lenses in the same focal range. Despite all this, prime lenses haven’t really lost their desirability. Lens manufacturers such as Nikon and Canon have been rapidly updating and expanding their lens arsenal with new and better choices. Third-party manufacturers like Sigma are stepping into the game with confidence. Thanks to this, choosing between a zoom and a prime lens is now harder than ever. In this beginner guide, I talk about prime vs zoom lenses in detail, explaining their differences, along with some image samples.
1) What is a Prime Lens?
A prime lens is a lens with a fixed focal length (also commonly referred to as a “fixed lens”). What this means is that such a lens has a set angle of view which can not be changed – unless you move, you can not make the image appear larger or smaller within the frame. The only way of enlarging your subject and making it fill more of the frame is by physically getting closer to it. In turn, the only way to fit more into the frame is to step back.
As we have promised earlier, we will be posting some Black Friday deals on Photography Life throughout this week. The best holiday season deals for photo gear will be posted on this page, so instead of writing separate posts and spamming your mailboxes (we have to respect our readers from other countries), we will be updating this post regularly. As usual, expect some crazy sales on all cameras, lenses and accessories this week, especially on Thursday and Friday. Some items will run out quick, so the ones that expire fast will be posted on the very top of the page.
In this article, I will talk about new Canon lenses – the 24-70mm f/4L IS and 35mm f/2 IS – and compare them both to most direct alternatives within Canon lens lineup. Both lenses have been very recently introduced and are best on full-frame cameras, such as the 5D series and the 6D, but will work well with APS-C sized sensors, too. By further implementing IS into new lenses, Canon is making them very tempting for photographers and aspiring videographers, but are advantages of new optics and IS worth the high asking price? A difficult question to answer, as Sigma and Tamron are now offering very well priced and high quality alternatives for both lenses. Lets see what Canon has released for its DSLR customers.
1) 24-70mm f/4L IS Lens
This lens was a huge surprise for me. The first thing I thought when it was announced – would I like a 24-105mm f/4L IS lens, but with a shorter focal length at the long end and for a lot more money? $1499, to be precise. I doubt first answer to come to your mind is “Yes, please!”. Obviously, it will have stellar optical performance with Canon’s latest Hybrid IS on top, but the old 24-105mm F/4L IS is no slouch, either. It is also a very popular lens and can be had for about $850 in the used market, brand new. Professionals use it for PJ work, as well as weddings. It’s also great for street photography and as a very versatile, lightweight travel lens. So what exactly does this new and, I must say, expensive addition to Canon L optics lineup offer? In a word – macro.
It doesn’t happen often, this. Water was everywhere, dripping, flowing, consuming anyone who dared take even the smallest step under that pitch-black sky. Not many did, too. Stores were crowded not with mothers holding their vegetables and sweets for unsuspecting children. Not with children and their ice cream, chips or, sadly, energy drinks. No, they were crowded with those who weren’t ready for the rain. And you should always be ready for rain in Lithuania in Autumn. I guess we’re not as pessimistic a nation as we think we are.
And then, surprisingly, there was silence. For a moment, the rain stopped, and with it everyone else did. A brief moment that was. Now, mothers were running, children were running, and everything came back to chaotic life. It was more peaceful with the rain.
It doesn’t happen often, this. Clouds split and, before they could cover all the blue again, sun shone through. It was both dark and immensely bright all at the same time. I could barely see where I was going, could barely hear people rushing by urgently, hands covering their eyes. Everyone was rushing, no one saw where. Natural order of things, I thought, and looked for a camera I didn’t have with me. Or didn’t I?
During Photokina 2012, Sigma announced three new rather exciting lenses – the fast 35mm f/1.4 prime lens, 17-70mm f/2.8-4 standard zoom for APS-C cameras and the still-unique 120-300mm f/2.8 telephoto zoom for sports and wildlife photographers. Two of the three seem to be mildly refreshed versions of their predecessors, but the 35mm f/1.4 has been highly anticipated and may prove to be very popular. Very recently, it’s price has been revealed and stands at a mere (in comparison with brand 35mm f/1.4′s) $899. Interestingly, it doesn’t feel right to say these new lenses will join Sigma’s lineup. In fact, it seems more like they are starting a new lineup, fresh. If you ever found yourself thinking Sigma was always about cheaply priced, cheaply built and cheaply performing lenses, well, they seem to have had an epiphany.
Lightroom has always had a lot of interesting features on offer. With the introduction of the latest version, Lightroom 4, Adobe has added two more modules to the already existing five – Map and Book. In this short and simple Mastering Lightroom series tutorial I will show you how to geotag your photographs in Lightroom using the map module.
1) What is Geotagging?
Simply put, geotagging images allows you to input location information within your image EXIF data so that you can know precisely where that particular image was taken. Ever felt like you were at an amazingly beautiful place for landscape photography but missed peak colors by a couple of weeks? Geotagging will let you remember your physical location, so that you can come back to the same spots next year. Many modern smartphones and cameras with GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity make geotagging a very simple and automated process. If you own a camera without such a feature, geotagging can be made possible with an external GPS unit, such as GP-1 unit for Nikon DSLR cameras (see our Nikon GP-1 Review).
2) So Why Bother with Lightroom?
No need if you have a camera with built-in geotagging feature. However, if you don’t find yourself needing the feature more often than occasionally, Lightroom 4 is about to save you a couple of hundred dollars. It is also a very quick and simple process, so why not? In a year or two you may be glad you geotagged your photographs to know where to look for those locations.
Lightroom 4 is a great tool for post-processing your work, especially if you tend to shoot RAW most of the time. It’s quick, easy to manage and offers an extremely wide range of color adjustment, as well as other kinds of processing. But what if you need to retouch your photographs? Does that mean Photoshop is the only way to go? While I certainly use Photoshop CS5 for more complicated retouching, I’m glad that Lightroom 4 offers options that are sufficient at least 90% of the time. In this short and simple tutorial I will teach you how to use the Spot Removal tool in Lightroom. This simple yet powerful tool will then let you remove small objects out of your photographs or fix flaws, such as skin blemishes or sensor dust spots. You will be able to perform these actions very easily and quickly and, more importantly, all within Lightroom 4 environment.
1) Where to Find It?
Lightroom is a very photography-centered piece of software. Unlike Photoshop, which, from the very start, had a very broad range of applications, Lightroom doesn’t need many tools. Luckily, this makes finding them that much more simple – all the tools, including Spot Removal, are located under the Histogram tab. You can, alternatively, press “Q” to pick it up for use.
2) What’s Wrong with the Photograph?
I will be working on a photograph a friend of mine snapped while enjoying a walk in a park, and you can see it shown above. Nothing is really wrong with it per se – I think it’s a great, fun street shot. However, since Spot Removal is so simple to use, I would like to get rid of a small white spot right between the dog’s front legs. Take a look:
3) Let’s Get Rid of It!
Most of the time, Spot Removal works with just a single click. In order to remove the white spot (which may have been a chewing gum once, but let’s not think about that), first select the tool by pressing “Q” on the keyboard. You will notice your mouse pointer has been replaced by a circle, which defines how big is the area to be affected. My settings are currently at 75 (Size) and 100 (Opacity). Lets go ahead and just click on the white spot we dislike so much. Here’s what happened:
Photography is meant to be looked at and admired, and what better ways are there to start showcasing your work if not by entering a photography competition? In this short article I will present you with several extremely large photography competitions currently open for entries, organized by World Photography Organization, Nikon, and the very prestigious National Geographic.
The Encouragement Part
Before I begin listing categories and entry rules, there’s the part where I’m supposed to make you feel encouraged, make you feel like the good photographer that you are. But I have no magic words, no loud, heart-stopping speeches ready. I’m not going to tempt you with substantial prizes – it’s the participation that counts. There’s nothing I can do but ask – would you like to win? Would you like your work to be noticed and admired by professionals all over the world? Would you like to finally get off that comfortable chair of yours and do something exciting, learn and improve your skills as a photographer?