Featured Articles and Reviews

Leica M7 Review

This is a review of the Leica M7 TTL .72 rangefinder film camera that I used with the Leica 35mm f/2.0 Summicron M Aspherical Manual Focus Lens. I had … [Continue Reading]

Leica M7

How to Photograph the Milky Way

Many travel and landscape photographers, including myself, try to avoid shooting scenery with a clear blue sky. As much as we like seeing puffy or … [Continue Reading]

Arches Night Sky by Tom Redd

Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Review

When Profoto announced their first truly portable setup with the Profoto B1 500 AirTTL battery powered flash last year, the news immediately caught my … [Continue Reading]

Profoto B1 with Battery

Wildlife Photography Tips Part One

I hope the idea I have in my head for this wildlife photography series of articles turns out on paper the way I imagined it and you find some useful … [Continue Reading]

Coastal Grizzly Bear Photo

Arca-Swiss C1 Cube Review

In this review, I will talk about my experience and impressions with using perhaps the finest tripod head I have seen to date, the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube. … [Continue Reading]

Arca-Swiss C1 Cube

What is Ghosting and Flare?

When light rays coming from a bright source(s) of light (such as the sun or artificial light) directly reach the front element of a camera lens, they … [Continue Reading]

Lens Flare

How To Live Forever (.com)

Throughout history, man has sought immortality, whether by the elusive Fountain of Youth, religion, the cloning process, cryogenics, and many other means too numerous to mention. Forever.com is a new business seeking to ensure that you can indeed live forever – at least the digital aspect of your persona. A friend of mine told me about Forever at a recent party. I was intrigued since the company was located in Pittsburgh and founded by a local entrepreneur, Glen Meakem. Meakem founded Free Markets, Inc., after leaving GE Information Services. Free Markets was eventually bought by Ariba.

I have to admit that when I first heard the term “Forever.com,” my mind immediately raced to that cryogenics company, Life Extension, portrayed in the futuristic psychodrama, Vanilla Sky. The concept of Forever.com is quite simple: Over the course of our lives, we will create or acquire many photos and videos from digital and non-digital sources. These documents depict our family history, relationships with friends, chronicle important moments of our lives, and capture our creative efforts, which may be associated with hobbies and professional pursuits. Why not preserve them online granting friends, family, and the public varying degrees of access, along with a transition path for management of your archive during your lifetime and long after you are gone? Forever’s vision of the future can be found in this youtube video. You can also download the iPhone application here.

Forever.com

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Nikon 1 V2 at the Auto Show

Having shot well over 10,000 frames since I got my Nikon 1 V2 in late August 2013, I thought it would be interesting to test this little mirror-less camera and two of its most popular kit lenses under some very difficult shooting conditions. So, I headed off to the International Auto Show in Toronto Canada with my Nikon 1 V2 and a couple of kit zoom lenses to see how this CX gear would perform. What makes an event like this challenging is the wide variance in lighting conditions. At times you’re shooting feature cars with numerous flood lights beaming down on them and lens flares can be a challenge. Other subjects can be in quite poor light, requiring either shooting at high ISOs, fast apertures, or slow shutter speeds.

Nikon 1 V2 with Lenses

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Please welcome Thomas Stirr!

We continuously strive to bring our readers the best content from many different sources and this time I excited to introduce another addition to our team – Thomas Stirr. You have already seen his articles like how to shoot high-quality videos with a DSLR, his top recommendations for photographing New Zealand and an in-depth review of the Nikon 1 V2 camera. Being obsessed with photography like all of us here at PL, Thomas will be sharing his knowledge and contribute to our site as a resident team member. Here is an intro post from Thomas – please give him a warm welcome!

Thomas Stirr Portrait

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Nikon Df Review

This is an in-depth review of the Nikon Df, a retro-style digital SLR camera that was announced in November of 2013. The Df is a very controversial release, I would say perhaps the most controversial one in Nikon’s DSLR history. After Nikon teased the public with its short videos that slowly revealed parts of the camera, many were excited to see something completely different than a traditional DSLR. Videos titled “it is in my hands again” and “no clutter, no distractions”, with constant repetition of “Pure Photography”, hinted at a camera that combines old style Nikon film cameras with a modern digital sensor. Nikon “Df”, a “Digital Fusion” of retro style and modern technology, became an instant hit on the Internet and one of the hottest topics of discussion and speculation on photography sites and forums. As we got closer and closer to the release date, enthusiasts from all over the world started speculating on the features of the yet to be released Nikon Df and pointed at possibilities of seeing a mirrorless camera, electronic viewfinder and a myriad of other technologies we now come to expect from modern mirrorless cameras. Film shooters had their own list of must-have features, including a large bright viewfinder with a split focusing screen for easy focusing with old manual focus lenses. In a very short period of time, the Nikon Df, a fusion of technologies, became an over-hyped camera with very high expectations…

Nikon Df

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How to Use a DSLR to Shoot High Quality Videos

If you are like many professional photographers, you may be finding that more and more clients are asking if you can also do video for them when you’re on-site doing a photo shoot. Video can be a “strange new world” and you may be passing up some good opportunities. Most modern DSLRs are quite competent in shooting video, and you can use them to create industrial and commercial productions that are ideally suited for use at corporate functions, in sales presentations, as training aids, and as promotional spots on YouTube…so there is a great opportunity to expand your service offering by including video.

Without a doubt, shooting video with a DSLR can be more complicated than shooting stills, but you can achieve beautiful, creative results by following a few, simple guidelines. And, while you may add more video-related gear over time, you can make some initial, fairly modest investments and get into video production without having to break the bank. If you are a consumer reading this article and you are considering buying a DSLR thinking you can replace your camcorder to shoot family events, don’t bother – a camcorder is much better suited for “family memories” type videos. While I concentrate on shooting video with a Nikon DSLR (since I shoot Nikon), the below article applies to shooting video with any brand DSLR.

Nikon D800 Video Setup

My D800 rigged up with Rode VideoMic Pro and iDC System Zero follow focus. The 327RC2 Manfrotto pistol grip is attached to a Cinevate FLT camera slider.

1) Is your DSLR the right tool for the proposed video assignment?

This is the very first question that you need to ask yourself before accepting any video assignment. Generally speaking any assignment where you would be shooting people moving around in a scene (like a wedding for example), especially if autofocus needs to be maintained on specific individuals as they move towards or away from the camera, it is not well suited for DSLR use, and would be best shot with a professional video camera. This is because the auto focus on most DSLRs is slow, somewhat jerky, often hunts a lot, and is noisy. The audible noise from the focusing motor in your camera body and/or lens will transmit readily onto your footage…and it can be a pain to try and filter out. Also, the lenses used on DSLRs do not have power zoom functions so they are cumbersome to use if a lot of in/out zooms are required in the footage. Any assignment that requires the recording of long (30+ minutes), uninterrupted video clips is not suited to DSLR use as your camera is often limited to less than 30 minutes of single clip recording time.

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Composition in Photography: Assignment Discussion

A few months ago, I started working on our “Mastering Composition” series articles. The idea behind them was to cover all the basics of composition in photography (and, consequently, visual arts in general) starting with some extremely simple concepts, and also provide assignments for beginner photographers to make the educational process fun and engaging. With some luck and effort from our side, the project would gain momentum and we’d be able to not only touch more advanced composition rules / theories and discuss specific examples sent in by our readers (eventually), but also organize a few online and offline workshops along the way. Unfortunately, after writing just two articles, I had to put the project on a bit of a hold. Even worse, I did not assess the assignment results for a very long time. This assignment discussion is long overdue and it is about time I fixed my mistake! In this article, I will discuss the task and the answers provided by our readers under the first article of the series.

The Assignment

Before we begin, let me just remind you what the assignment was. I asked you to name basic varieties of composition you were familiar with. I also wanted you to list just one variety and try not to repeat types that have already been named by someone else – to make the assignment more interesting. The following image was provided as a hint for one of the more basic compositions types:

Street Photography in Vilnius_2

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Fujifilm Camera and Lens Savings

Nikon is not the only one feeling generous lately. Fujifilm also has some savings for those looking to purchase a new lens or even a camera, and they are, arguably, more impressive than those offered by Nikon. For example, the extremely popular XF 27mm f/2.8 pancake lens is currently selling for less than half its original price. Other rebates include the X-E1 (body only or kitted with the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R OIS lens, it offers the most impressive savings), X-Pro1 and the lower-end bodies, and almost all primes lenses along with the Fujinon XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R OIS zoom lens.

Fujifilm Lens Savings

Fujinon Lens Rebates

Let’s start with the lens savings:

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New Nikon Lens Rebates – Up to $400 Off

You are going to like this. Each time Nikon did a rebates program for its lenses, one had to buy a DSLR body first to take advantage of the savings. It has really been a while, but not this time. The savings range from a welcome $20 for the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens all the way to frankly impressive $400 for the likes of AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G VR. More than that, there are a total of 15 lenses that are part of the rebates program. The offer expires on the 1st of March.

Told you you’d like this!

Nikon Lens Rebates

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Latest Sony A7/A7r Rebates

Sony is joining the rebates party with its own “Buy Together and Save” program at B&H. These lens savings are valid when purchased alongside either one of their popular full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Sony A7 and A7r and in all cases are $200 off the price of each of the four available lenses.

Latest Sony A7 and A7r Rebates

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Post-Processing Pains

Over the last several years operating this site, I have been incredibly lucky to meet many talented photographers from all over the world. Some I met face to face (whether in my workshops or other gatherings / conferences), while others I met and interacted with online. One interesting pattern that I noticed in the majority of photographers, and I am talking about the ones that understand light, composition and proper technique, is that they often lack the key component of completing the image and making it successful – post-processing skills. It turns out that most of us spend our time learning our gear and how to take good pictures, but we fail to take that beautifully captured photograph to the next level and make it look amazing by enhancing it further in post-processing. Yes, camera technique, light and composition are all extremely important and those are certainly key ingredients that each of us needs to learn and eventually master, but we need to understand that a captured photograph is just the beginning of making the image. What happens to the photograph after it is taken, is as important as the process of capturing it. I have seen many photos that would have looked breathtaking, had the person put some extra effort into making it work. Even worse, I have seen so many examples of great photos that get slaughtered by very poor post-processing techniques and ugly presets.

Dead Horse Point Sunrise

How many times have you seen an overdone HDR, over-saturated, over-sharpened, over-contrasted, over-recovered, over-preset, over-insert-any-photoshop-term-here mess? Unfortunately, I have seen too many. The worst examples are what I call “forced photos”, where the photographer takes a terrible image and thinks that it can look better when post-processed. So much time and effort is spent on making a terrible photo look absolutely horrendous. How do I know? Because I have done it many times myself.

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