I really enjoy raptor photography, definitely much more than any other type of bird photography. Birds of prey are powerful, aggressive, fast, agile, precise and even at times ravenous, having no mercy on their targets. They are also tough to photograph and get close to, since most of them (especially adults) do not like people and their presence. I have been studying raptor behavior and habitat during the last 3 years and have traveled to various locations both in Colorado and in other states to see and photograph these beautiful creatures. In this article, I will show you some of the latest pictures and videos of predators I took during the last month and will give you a few tips on photographing raptors.
I get many emails from our readers asking me how they can get good bokeh out of their point and shoot cameras. I first thought about posting a short paragraph in a Photography FAQ post, but then decided to elaborate more on the subject and explain it in detail, rather than providing a short answer. Hopefully those who have point and shoot cameras will understand everything I say, since I will do my best to explain the subject in simple terms.
1) What is Bokeh?
As I explained in my “What is Bokeh” article, Bokeh is the quality of out-of-focus or “blurry” parts of the image rendered by a camera lens. The key word here is “quality”, since bokeh is not the second name for the blurry parts of the image. When you hear somebody say “the bokeh on that image is creamy and beautiful”, they are simply referring to the overall quality and feel of the out-of-focus area, not the out-of-focus area itself.
Have you ever accidentally formatted your memory card with important images in it? Or perhaps your hard drive crashed, you had no backups and you already deleted images from your memory cards? You never think about it until it happens and when it does happen, it hits you hard. I once lost all images of Red Fox kits that were very dear to me and I even managed to format and overwrite images from a trip to Utah this year. Unfortunately, disasters happen to everyone and if you happen to be in a similar situation, it is better to be prepared and know what to do. In this quick article, I will show you how you can recover and retrieve lost images from memory cards and will give you some information on what can be recovered and under what circumstances.
1) Data disaster types
Whether you are using a Compact Flash or SD/SDHC card, there are several types of disasters that can happen with it:
- Formatted card (Chance of Recovery: High) – if you happened to format the memory card for whatever reason, either in-camera or on your PC. Chances of recovering all data are very high, as long as the card was not touched after the last format. This is due to the fact that the formatting process never actually deletes the images from the memory card – it simply labels the card as “free” and prepares it for writing.
- Deleted images (Chance of Recovery: High) – if you manually deleted images from the card either on the camera or on your PC/Mac, the chances of recovering all data are very high, as long as more images or data were not written on the disk. Just like in formatting, deleting files simply marks certain area of the disk as free for writing. The actual files are never erased from the disk.
- Non-physical damage/data failure (Chance of Recovery: Moderate to Low, depends on type of failure) – there could be different scenarios, but one of the more common ones is when a memory card fails during the process of writing images to the card (corrupted data). This is where your camera would give an error, indicating that the data could not be written to the card. The chances of data recovery are moderate to low, depending on how serious the damage is due to bad sectors, etc. Some unreadable cards can be recovered, again, depending on the damage.
- Physical damage (Chance of Recovery: Low to None) – if your memory card has suffered from physical damage and is unreadable, the chances of recovery are very low. You could try one of the data recovery tools shown below to see if it can recover anything. If all programs fail and the drive cannot be recognized, it might be better to take it to data recovery experts, who can try to retrieve the data in a lab environment.
Do you know that Lightroom 3 can now easily fix geometric distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting issues in your images without having to open Photoshop? In this article, I will show you how to fix lens issues in your photographs, in addition to adding a lens profile to Lightroom 3 if your lens is not supported by Lightroom’s Camera RAW.
1) What is Lens Correction in Lightroom 3?
Lens Correction, also known as “Distortion Correction”, is a brand new feature that was introduced in Lightroom 3 to allow photographers to fix such lens problems as distortion, chromatic aberration and vignetting “non-destructively”, without leaving Lightroom. This is a great addition to Lightroom, since all of the above had to be manually performed in Photoshop using a Lens Correction filter, which was a rather tedious task (especially for a large number of images). The beauty of the lens correction feature in Lightroom 3, is that just like any other setting, lens correction settings can be copied from one image to another, or applied to hundreds of images at once without having to open each image individually. Take a look at the following image that was taken with the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G lens:
Move your mouse over and out of the image to see what it looks like before and after Lens Correction is applied to the image. The curves around the edges are straightened and the building looks more natural. This is not an extreme case with distortion, but you get the idea. The corner darkness (vignetting) is also taken care of.
Wondering about how to photograph fireworks on 4th of July, New Year or some other event / occasion? In this quick article, I will provide some basic tips on how to best capture fireworks, what type of equipment to use and what camera settings to use during the process. Although the process is relatively simple, there are some things that might be worth considering, as outlined below.
In this fourth issue of the Photography FAQ, I will focus on Nikon-specific questions that have been sent by our readers. Big thanks to our readers for continuously sending questions to us and participating in the comments section of our blog. We truly value your feedback and we do our best to respond to your queries as soon as we can.
- Should I enable Active D-Lighting on my Nikon DSLR?
It depends on whether you shoot in JPEG or RAW format. If you shoot JPEG, then yes, I would certainly recommend enabling Active D-Lighting. Use “Auto” setting, if it is available. If “Auto” is not available, then use “Normal”, which should work well for most situations. However, if you shoot in RAW format, then enabling Active D-Lighting is only going to be useful if you use Nikon’s Capture NX software. If you use Lightroom or some other third party application for post-processing your images, then Active D-Lighting is a useless overhead that you do not need – it will only darken your images a little. The reason why this happens, is because Active D-Lighting is essentially a tone curve applied to a RAW image in Nikon’s proprietary format. Current Adobe products are unable to read this data, so they automatically discard such data as Active D-Lighting, sharpening, color saturation, etc.
- I have a Nikon D80 that I have been using for a while and I was wondering if the D5000 represents a step down from what I currently have?
Yes. While Nikon D5000 might seem like an upgrade for a D80 user, it is actually a lower-class camera. Nikon D5000 is an upper-entry-level camera, while Nikon D80 is a semi-professional camera that has more features (almost twice as many custom functions) than D5000. If you are currently using the Nikon D80, then you should be looking at D90 if you want to upgrade. A more detailed comparison of features can be found in my Nikon D5000 vs D90 article.
- Do you have any information on when an upgrade to Nikon D90 is supposed to be released? Will it happen this year?
I get this question a lot. If you look at Nikon’s release schedule in the past, then yes, there should be an update to Nikon D90 at the end of this summer. However, nobody can tell you for sure, because the information is kept in secret and Nikon makes select people sign special “non-disclosure agreements” (NDA) before they can see any of the unannounced products. I personally do have a problem with a possible summer update of D90 and I think that it is not going to happen. Why? Because Nikon has not released a new sensor on the professional DX line this year. Nikon released the D300s, but it uses the same sensor as in D300. This does matter, because historically, Nikon released semi-professional DX cameras only after a major update to the professional DX cameras (D80 came out after D200 and used the same sensor, D90 came out after D300, same sensor). So, if an update to D90 does come out this summer, would Nikon reuse the same sensor as in the current D90? I don’t think so, it just wouldn’t make much sense. Adding more features to D90 is also not a good option, since Nikon would not want to threaten the current D300s sales with a more capable D90.
NOTE: Nikon D7000 has been announced, no D90 update is planned for 2010.
- What about an update to Nikon D700?
Everybody was hoping for a Nikon D700s or Nikon D700x this spring, but it didn’t happen. Since Nikon D3s has a brand new sensor, a Nikon D700s would make the most sense. The Nikon D700 was released on July 1, 2008, so there could be a Nikon D700s announcement in July or later in the year (most likely November announcement for general availability before Christmas), but again, it is just a mere guess. There is also a possibility that it will not happen at all this year, due to Nikon’s financial situation. I hope Nikon understands that a lot of people are waiting for a D700s/D700x release – it will surely be a hot seller, especially in the wedding photography business.
- You recommend Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX and Nikon 50mm f/1.4G lenses for low-light situations. If I have a room lit with just candle light, can those lenses create good, acceptably sharp images?
If you are shooting hand-held in a candle-lit room, then no, neither the 35mm f/1.8, nor the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 would help. Remember, there is a big difference between low-light and dark. Candle light is dark. What I consider low-light is your typical indoors light in your room, with one or more 60-100W light bulbs. Also, don’t forget that focusing with a camera in low-light situations is extremely difficult and even though you might get a camera shake-free image, it could be soft due to bad focus. If you have a camera with good high ISO performance like the Nikon D700/D3 or D3s, then you could certainly bump up ISO to a really high number and get acceptably sharp images, but you would once again have to watch for possible focusing problems. Having fast-aperture lenses does not mean that you can photograph night scenes by just hand-holding the camera.
Please let me know if you have any questions!
If you convert RAW files to DNG as a part of your workflow in Lightroom like I do, you probably get frustrated with the fact that Windows does not display DNG image thumbnails or let you view files in Windows Photo Viewer. Windows by default does now know how to read DNG files and the only operating system today that has some support from Adobe, is Windows Vista. Adobe officially released a 32-bit DNG codec for Windows Vista, but it does not work with the 64-bit version of Windows Vista, Windows XP or Windows 7, making it pretty worthless. Gladly, there are a couple of workarounds to get all Windows operating systems to display DNG thumbnails and open them in Windows Photo Viewer and I will show you how to do that in this quick article.
DNG support in Windows XP
Interestingly, Windows XP (32-bit) comes with full DNG support, but it needs to be activated from the Windows registry. If you are running Windows XP, here is what you need to do:
- Download this registry file and save it on your desktop
- Double-click the file, which will ask you to confirm if you want to add entries to your registry. Click “Yes”, which then will modify the registry as needed.
- Reboot the computer.
- Go to a folder with DNG files and switch to thumbnail view. Verify that you can see the thumbnails, as you can see with JPEG files.
- Delete the downloaded registry file from your desktop.
1) What is Lightroom Process Version?
After you convert all of your Lightroom 2 catalogs to Lightroom 3, you will notice that images from the converted catalogs will have a warning sign when you view them in Develop module (under the image). In addition, you will also see a new drop-down under “Camera Calibration” that was not there in Lightroom 2 called “Process”, which contains “2003″ and “2010 (Current). Here is how it looks:
This is a quick guide on how to upgrade Lightroom 2 to Lightroom 3. One of the good news for Lightroom 2 (LR2) users, is that unlike the beta version, the full version of Lightroom 3 (LR3) allows upgrading the LR2 catalog to LR3 catalog without having to re-import all images into a clean catalog. Also, Adobe allows keeping both versions of Lightroom on the same machine, which means that you can install LR3 and continue to use your old LR2 with the old catalog. Until performance issues are all addressed in LR3, I would keep both versions on the machine in case of failures or problems.
1) Download and install Lightroom 3
If you are hesitating about downloading the online version of Lightroom 3 versus buying a boxed version from a store, don’t – they are both exactly the same. Adobe lets you download the full version of Lightroom and use it for 30 full days until you input the serial number from a retail boxed version. This is a great way to try it out and see if you want to keep it or not. If you do, then simply purchase the retail version of Lightroom 3 later and when the package arrives, use the serial number to unlock the 30 day limitation – you don’t even need to insert the CD.
I wrote this tutorial for those who want to learn about panoramic photography and how to photograph and stitch panoramas using a point and shoot or DSLR camera. The technique consists of two parts – photographing a scene using a camera and then using special software to align and stitch those images together to form a single panoramic image. I will go over both and will show you how to create stunning panoramic images of any subject, including landscapes.