Featured Articles and Reviews

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

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

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

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

Nikon D4s and Nikkor 800mm f/5.6 for Bird Photography

My D7000, Nikkor 500mm and I have had some wonderful times together – the shots of a Peregrine chick jumping off the ledge for the first time, the … [Continue Reading]

Mating Black Hawks

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

How to submit your photos for a Case Study

Update: Due to an overwhelming amount of submissions, we are no longer accepting case studies at this time.

To make it easier for our readers to submit their images for a Case Study, I created a dedicated form which allows uploading images. The form is located on the top of this page and can be accessed through the case study link. I have been getting a lot of good feedback regarding the case studies I have posted so far and it seems like our readers find them beneficial, not only in terms of learning the gear side, but also the post-processing side.

As I have pointed out before, photography is not just about what gear you use and how you use it, but also about how you present it to your viewer. You have probably heard some people say that altering images in post-processing is “cheating” and that everything should be done right from the camera. I do agree about the camera part – you should always strive to do it right in camera. However, I certainly do not agree with calling post-processing work “cheating”. If you look at some of the masters of photography, you will see that a big portion of their photography workflow is dedicated to work with images in Lightroom/Aperture and Photoshop. Even those who shoot film, spend a considerable amount of time working in darkroom, after which they spend additional time making final changes in software. Ansel Adams, one of the most famous photographers of all time, used to spend countless hours working on his photographs in labs. He was a true darkroom magician and I am sure that he would have loved the ability to digitally manipulate images, if he was still alive. So don’t be scared to manipulate your images in any way you want. Learn how to perform the essentials first, such as aligning images, cropping them and adjusting exposure with white balance. Then after that, learn how to work with colors and how to add various effects such as vignetting to your photographs. Experiment and play with different settings. As far as post-processing software, don’t start out with Photoshop, because you might get lost and get frustrated with it. Photoshop is not a simple tool to learn. Instead, start out with either Lightroom or Aperture and spend a considerable amount of time in getting to know it inside out. Once you get a good grasp on Lightroom or Aperture, then get a copy of Photoshop and start exploring it.

Let’s get back to the Case Study Form. If you are having some challenges with your camera gear, photography or techniques and need some tips on how to improve your skills, please fill out the case study form. I can’t promise that I will post every single one I receive, but I will do my best to respond to each one via email at the minimum – it all depends on how many requests I get.

Have a good weekend! I will be working on posting the Nikon D7000 review this weekend.

Case Study: Image Quality

One of our readers sent me some sample images from his camera, asking why his photos are not sharp and often too bright and flat-looking. He is using a pro-level body (Nikon D700) and very good lenses like the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 and the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 that he bought after reading my reviews and he is disappointed with his setup. Here is what he wrote me:

I really need your help.

I own the Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 + recently bought the Nikkor 16-35 f/4 after reading you review. I wanted the 14-24mm f/2.8, but without filter it is a big problem for me. Anyway, I have owned the camera for about 8 months and I am not satisfied with the results…

I mostly shoot in RAW with Active D Lighting set to “Auto”. My photos never seems as sharp as the samples you put on your site and they always looks too bright and flat. It’s like they are “dead” without contrast and color and I don’t know what’s wrong with my setup. Maybe it’s a problem with the camera sensor or I don’t know what… I am not a pro photographer and not even close, but I expert much better results from what I have. I mean I can always fix in post-processing software like Aperture 3 which I have, but i want great photos out of the camera without playing with it too much in post.

Please let me know if you see what the problem is and if there’s something wrong with what I am doing? I totally feel hopeless…

Thank you for your time.

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Happy Birthday to My Most Amazing Husband!

My dear Nasim, I’ve been through many difficulties in my life and was at my wits’ end when I met you. From that point on I knew I found my soul, my strength and my true love. You have uplifted me to new emotional heights, given me hope and have been supporting me, my dreams for the past 5 years. Together with you we are raising two most amazing children God could give us. Thank you for being so giving, a very loving husband and a perfect father to Omar and Ozzy. I go to bed every night and wake up every morning thanking God for having you as my husband, my soul mate and my best friend. We love you very much and wish you to be healthy and happy. Like you say: Once healthy and happy, we can achieve other things by our own will.

Lola

Omar

Although your sons never have a perfect hair day, they are precious in every way :D

Ozzy

Love forever,

Lola, Omar and Ozzy.

Drobo S Review (USB 3.0, 2nd Generation)

This is a review of the new Drobo S second generation 5-bay storage array by Data Robotics. Although the Drobo S is officially known as the 2nd generation unit, my PC recognized it as a 3rd generation Drobo S, so I’m not sure what I should call it. I guess I will simply call it the “new Drobo S” for this review. There are several reasons why I decided to write this review. First of all, Drobo products are gaining more and more popularity among photographers and in many cases are becoming a part of their workflow. While some well-known photographers have already endorsed Drobo as a photo storage solution, I wanted to see exactly how fast and reliable this unit is for storing photographs, compared to internal and much cheaper single/dual disk external storage. Second, I have been working with some of the best DAS/NAS/SAN storage solutions during the last 5 years (from small business to enterprise-level storage solutions like EMC Clariion) and having a pretty good idea on what to expect from a storage array, I wanted to see what Drobo has to offer compared to other similar products like Netgear ReadyNAS Pro. Lastly, I wanted to test and see how well the new Drobo S works with the latest technologies like USB 3.0 and how the new eSATA port performs in comparison. I will do my best to make this review as objective as possible, with plenty of data and screenshots to back up my words.

Drobo S

1) Introduction to Drobo S

Drobo S is a 5-bay Directly Attached Storage (DAS) device developed by Data Robotics, targeted at “creative pros, photographers, videographers, small office/home office”, as stated on their website. While designed with simplicity and reliability in mind, the Drobo S uses a fairly complex, proprietary “BeyondRAID” technology with a single or dual drive redundancy, which means that your data would be safe even if two drives were to fail at the same time, as long as dual drive redundancy was enabled before drives failed. On top of that, “BeyondRAID” has some great features like mixed drive size utilization, which allows mixing any size SATA hard drives, and instant expansion, which allows users to insert additional drives when more storage is needed. Traditional RAID technologies such as RAID 5 and RAID 6 have certain limitations and do not provide as much storage as BeyondRAID, especially when mixing small and large hard drives of various sizes. Lastly, the self-managing and self-healing features of the Drobo family are very attractive – if a drive experiences a failure such as a bad block, the system switches to a “self-healing” mode, where it will try to work around bad sectors and return to normal state. During such failures, the system will blink with red lights in front of the unit and will prompt you with warnings (through Drobo Dashboard), indicating which drive must be replaced. Drobo S also proactively monitors the amount of free space available on the unit. If you get to near full capacity, Drobo S will notify you through lights and its dashboard software.

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Best of 2010 – Other

This is a bonus post to my Best of 2010 series, with pictures that did not make it to landscape or wildlife categories. I’m posting images that have received positive feedback from our readers and some of the below images were specifically requested to be provided in high resolution.

Some of our readers sent me emails and posted comments, asking if any of the images I have posted so far were processed in HDR software. With the exception of one image called “Sunrise“, every single picture I have posted so far is a non-HDR image. The dynamic range and soft shadows you see in the wallpapers are a result of RAW images from a full-frame sensor (although some images were shot with D90 and D300s cameras) and a little “Fill Light” use in Lightroom. Obviously good technique and use of various filters do play a substantial role here, as explained in my landscape photography tips article. When I really want to bring out the shadows, I typically overexpose by a stop, which gives me plenty of detail to recover. If the sky is blown out because of this, I will shoot in brackets of three and then pick one image to work with in Lightroom. Another key is to try to photograph early in the mornings or late afternoons – that’s when the shadows are always light and soft, giving an “HDR” feel to photographs.

I hope you liked the “Best of 2010″ collection!

San Juan Streets

1) San Juan Streets 1920×1200 Widescreen Wallpaper

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Best of 2010 – Landscapes (Part 4)

This is the last, fourth part of the “Best of 2010” for my landscape images. The first part can be found here, the second (BW) part is here and the third one is here. I hope you enjoyed my wallpaper collection from 2010 and I will be posting more of these in 2011 as well.

Lake Reflection

1) Lake Reflection 1920×1200 Widescreen Wallpaper

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Best of 2010 – Landscapes (Part 3)

This is the third part of the “Best of 2010″ for my landscape images. The first part can be found here and the second (BW) part is here. As I have pointed out before, some of the images were already posted earlier as wallpapers, so I am simply reposting them.

Hells Half Acre

1) Hell’s Half Acre 1920×1200 Widescreen Wallpaper

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Transformation v2

Are there places you go to several times a year? If you are thinking about the next photography project, I suggest finding something interesting/unique and then coming back to the same spot at different times of the year to photograph the location. Two of the three images below were shot by accident at the Rocky Mountain National Park – I just liked the way the four trees leaned to the left and were all very unique and beautiful in their own way. I photographed the image in the middle first, then when I was at the same location in fall, I happened to photograph those four trees again. I was reviewing my images in Lightroom one day and noticed that I have two different images of the same trees – not sure how I even remembered them. Next time I visited the park in winter, I went to the same spot and took another picture (left) to add to the collection. Now I need another image in the spring and I will have a complete set :) Note that all three images were taken at different angles, which is why the backgrounds appear so different.

Seasons

Best of 2010 – Wildlife (Part 2)

This is the second part of the “Best of 2010″ for Wildlife series. The first part can be found here. If you are looking for the technical information on how these images were shot (shutter speed, ISO, etc), the information is preserved as EXIF data in each file. Lola and I specifically preserve EXIF data in all of our images, so that our readers could learn from us.

Roseate Spoonbills

1) Roseate Spoonbills 1920×1200 Widescreen Wallpaper

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Best of 2010 – Wildlife (Part 1)

Before posting two more landscape wallpaper collections, I decided to publish some wildlife images from 2010. There will be two parts and this is the first one. Unfortunately, I did not do much wildlife photography in 2010, so I only have a few images to share. Please note that all of these were taken in a natural habitat and the wildlife was not disturbed or hurt during the process :)

Geese at Sunrise

1) Geese at Sunrise

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