Upcoming Black Friday Deals

If you are deciding on whether to purchase a camera or lens, I would hold off until next week. As you know, Black Friday is a big day in the US, so we are expecting all major brands including Nikon and Canon to have some killer rebates and instant savings on all kinds of camera gear. As before, our “Current Deals” page will be updated frequently during the holidays. If anything special comes out with a fast time limit, we will post it on the main page.

2013 Holiday Shopping

Nikon will be running a similar “buy together and save” instant rebate program as before, but the list of lenses and cameras will be extensive (yes, the new Nikon Df will be included). As far as I know, up to $300 off will be offered on lenses, some of which are lower-end! So rebates will be very attractive, especially if you stack lenses (you can buy as many lenses as you want, as long as you include a single camera). And I am expecting B&H to be adding those extra 2-4% savings on top of all these again.

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Documentary Photography in Conflict Zones

“Landscape” and “documentary” are two of the most celebrated genres in the photographic arts. These traditions are also the inspiration for the photographic images in my primary area of work as a historical geographer focusing on what is arguably the world’s most intractable geo-political dispute – the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. “Photographs furnish evidence,” the cultural critic, Susan Sontag conceded in an otherwise critical examination of the documentary genre in her work, On Photography (1973). The photographs in this collection for Photography Life build on Sontag’s observation in an effort to reveal how aspects of this protracted conflict have become embedded in the Palestinian landscape.

Documenting Palestine in Photographs © Gary Fields 9

While the Israeli / Palestinian conflict has generated impassioned debate about its causes and consequences, there is little debate that these hostilities have altered the patterns of daily life for both Israelis and Palestinians. At the same time, most observers who travel to the region would probably admit that everyday life on the Palestinian side has been transformed in a more fundamental way. Despite the recent lull in hostilities, the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza are conflict zones. In these areas photographers confront very specific rules established by military authorities limiting the type of images that can be taken, along with cultural conventions that place certain subjects out-of-bounds.

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Fuji X-E1 Giveaway

We were so impressed by the Fuji X-E1 (see our detailed review) that we decided it is time to give one away. Once again, we are happy to announce yet another giveaway for our loyal readers. As before, this is a Facebook giveaway designed to increase our presence in social media. And as before, this giveaway is open to anyone, not just US residents.

Photography Life Fuji X-E1 Giveaway

To enter the giveaway, click the above banner or follow the following link to our giveaway page:

Photography Life Fuji X-E1 Giveaway

If you have a mobile device, please use the following link instead:
Photography Life Fuji X-E1 Giveaway (mobile)

Here is how to enter this contest:

  1. Visit the giveaway Facebook page
  2. Click “Like” to reveal the entry form. If you are already our fan, the form will appear automatically.
  3. Type your email address in the form – we only need it to contact you so that you can claim your prize. If you authorized the “Sweepstakes” app, there is no need to enter the email address – your Facebook profile will be used instead.
  4. Once you click “Enter”, you will be entered for the giveaway.
  5. You can invite your Facebook friends to participate in this giveaway as well to increase your chances of winning. For every friend that enters this contest, you gain an additional bonus entry. Number of referrals is unlimited!

The “Sweepstakes” app might request access to your public profile, friends list and likes – this is needed to get your name and contact info. Likes are needed to verify that you indeed liked our page, while your friends list is used to give you bonus entries. Please note that the app does NOT access any other information in your Facebook account. You can verify this by seeing the App authorization.

Some restrictions apply to non-US participants:
Some countries have tax and other regulations for camera equipment, while others are extremely expensive to ship to. While we will do our best to ship the package internationally, if the cost of sending the package is extremely high or if there are other complications, we will have to give a choice to the winner – either to pay for all the extra expenses, or accept a gift card equivalent to the prize from our trusted partner B&H Photo Video.

Note that those of our readers that do not have a Facebook account are also eligible to participate. Just leave a comment below with your contact info and we will include you for the giveaway.

We will announce a random winner on December 25, 2013 to make it a great Christmas present from us! Good luck!

The Winner of the Nikon D800 / Canon 5D Mark III Giveaway

It has been long, but the winner is here! We had a total of 6114 eligible participants in this giveaway. Since this was a Facebook giveaway, most of the participants were from Facebook. However, thanks to the feedback that we received from our readers, we also manually included those that complained about not having Facebook accounts from our giveaway page. After eliminating some of the duplicate entries (174 people were disqualified as a result), I pulled up all the names on an Excel spreadsheet, then typed 1-6114 at random.org, which gave me the lucky number – 839:

Giveaway Winner

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What do you think about our new Banners?

We have been working with a talented designer from Uzbekistan (which is where Lola and I are originally from) to revamp the look of our site. After our transition from “Mansurovs” to “Photography Life”, we have been thinking about ways to make the site more user-friendly. Our first step was to redesign our logo. The second step was to get rid of that old huge banner with my personal pictures and a square version of the logo. So Lola came up with a few ideas for the new banner concept and she has been working with the designer during the last couple of weeks. After I saw the initial results, I loved them and immediately got rid of the old banners (those really had to go). As of now, the 5 new banners rotate randomly on the top of the page and the designer will be making more interesting ones each month.

So here they are for your viewing pleasure:

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Announce to Announce

We at Photography Life are always interested in new things. We constantly come up with new ideas and plans for our community. We try to learn something new ourselves all the time, and then pass on to our readers whatever knowledge we acquire. We do our best to remind you that photography is all about composition, light, story and result rather than gear. But it is the gear getting out of your way that helps you concentrate on things that matter in photography. And so, cameras, lenses and software tools also manage to intrigue us every now and then. In other words, we are not against new, improved equipment as long as the said improvements are real and help whatever camera you use get out of your way better. Fujifilm X-E1 didn’t seem to interest Nasim all that much back when it was announced, but Fuji made so many improvements via firmware updates, he now seems to be in love with it. Innovation is also good. Sony RX1, for example, left me with extremely mixed feelings. On one hand, it is very expensive, and even more so if you purchase any accessories. Lack of a built-in EVF was also an enormous disappointment for many. On the other hand, it is an impeccably machined and tiny camera with an enormous sensor. It is discreet, has a very capable lens and one of the very best full-frame sensors on the market. As skeptic as I was about it, I would love to give it the full beans and run it through several weddings very much.

Announce to Announce

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Basic Image Backup Tips for Beginners

One of the first things that comes to mind when faced with some sort of a disaster (fire or flood, for example) is the safety of the people we love. If one’s family and friends are well and within arm’s reach in the case of such a tragic event, people often tend to think of… photographs. Wouldn’t you? After all, photographs ensure the memory of our children, parents, siblings, friends and the greatest days of our lives remain no matter what. Consequently, it is a good idea to always have a safe copy of all or at least the most important photographs you may have. If you have been storing images on a single computer, DVD or other simple storage, there is no way to make sure that your photographs are 100% safe – all types of storage unfortunately fail, it is just a matter of time! There is a way, however, of eliminating the possibility of loss almost entirely. In this article for beginners photographers, I will provide you with several inexpensive basic backup ideas. Even if you choose not to follow this particular backup strategy, it should give you a decent starting point and help you figure out a way that suits you better. It is worth noting that we do not recommend these tips for professional photographers, as they should take more serious, reliable and faster means of backing up their work.

Basic Image Backup Tips for Beginners

1) Keep a Copy at Home

In addition to storing photographs on your hard drive, it is a good idea to have a copy of them on an external drive somewhere at home. This is in case your computer suffers from some sort of malfunction, data loss or physical damage. Storing copies of your photographs on the same disk isn’t a backup – if the disk breaks down, both originals and backup copies may be lost. Also note that it is a good idea to store original copies on a separate internal hard drive rather than the one used by the operating system. This way, if you ever need to format your computer you’ll know all the important files will remain untouched.

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The Full Moon

What do you do when you have an 800mm super telephoto lens with a 2x teleconverter? Well, if you were me, you would be spending a couple of weeks in a lab environment, testing the lens inside out and comparing it to the 300mm, 500mm, 600mm and the new Sigma 120-300mm. Otherwise, you would be out shooting fun stuff, like the full moon! A couple of nights ago, I got really tired from all the testing, so I got out to get some fresh air. When I looked at the sky, I noticed that the moon was in its full glory. The skies were partly cloudy, so I waited it out for a few minutes, then got out with the Nikon 800mm f/5.6 VR with the 2x attached to it and took a few shots of the moon. Although the whole setup was incredibly shaky (and that’s mounted on a full Gimbal head and the sturdiest of Gitzo tripods), I managed to get some shots that were sharp. Then I went back in and uploaded the photos to my computer. When I opened up the image and zoomed in to 100%, I was pretty shocked to see so much detail. By far, this is the sharpest and the most detailed photo of the moon I have taken! So I decided to share it with our readers in a wallpaper format for high resolution monitors (1920×1200). So here is the photo:

The Full Moon Wallpaper

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Nature Photography Prints

A couple of quick updates, with an announcement before the weekend. First, we are finally offering printing services through Smugmug for nature photography. For now, I have only uploaded some of my images, but we have plans to soon start selling images by other Photography Life contributors as well. This is something that our readers have asked many times about in the past, but I never had a chance to set it all up due to time constraints. So we are excited to announce this service and we will be enhancing it even more going forward, with more images and printing options. To access the online store for printing, please use this link, or click on the image below.

Photography Life Printing

We made sure to select the best lab for photo printing – Bay Photo. All ordered prints will be printed with accurate color and I made sure to allow selecting different types of sizes – from square and wide to panoramic. You can also choose different type of material to print to, including Metal prints, which are very cool.

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Double Rainbow

I was sitting at home today, playing with the newly received Fuji gear, when my brother stormed into the house and told me to go outside and see the rainbow. I grabbed the Fuji X-E1, with the Zeiss 12mm mounted on it and ran towards my car. I drove about a mile north to an open area and took the below shot:

Full Rainbow

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