Recently we’ve hosted another giveaway and this time it was for those who previously bought our Level 1 Photography Basics Course. In our post back in December of 2015, we asked those who have purchased the course to write honest reviews about our course for a chance to win the Sony A6000. It looks like few people were actually interested in this camera, because only 22 people actually participated in this contest, making the chance of winning 1 in 22. Oh well, I guess it is good for those who participated!
I still remember the first time I met Elia Locardi. I was busy passing through the vendor exhibits of the Photo Plus show in New York, when I saw a small crowd of people watching a presentation. What attracted me was not the crowd, because people were everywhere – it was the large LCD screen with some stunning imagery. At first, I stood there and paused for a moment, enjoying the fine scenery in front of my eyes and as I continued to hear the story behind each photograph, I came closer to the seating area and sat down. It was the Fujifilm booth and the young man with long blonde hair giving the presentation seemed to be very enthusiastic about his story and his technique of blending photographs. I did not even notice how quickly time went by – I probably sat there for at least 30 minutes, getting myself immersed into the presentation. At the end of the presentation, most people left and I just sat there. I really wanted to meet the man face-to-face and get to know him. As I started talking to Elia, I realized that he was not just an amazing photographer, but also a very down to earth guy. I also got to know his equally friendly and welcoming wife Naomi Locardi, who was there to support her husband every step of the way. At the end of our chat, I had a feeling that I had known Elia for years: that’s the type of a person he is. Since then, I have met Elia a number of times and I have been wanting to post about Elia and his work at Photography Life. Sadly, due to Elia’s crazy busy schedule and continuous travel all over the world, that project never materialized, but I am still hopeful that he will share some of his experience with our readers (Elia, it is never too late!). Fast forward to last July, when I found out that my good friends Patrick Hall and Lee Morris at Fstoppers.com collaborated with Elia Locardi in creating a brand new tutorial called “Photographing the World: Landscape Photography and Post-Processing“. Having seen some of the tutorials that Patrick and Lee produced in the past, I knew this one was not going to disappoint.
One of my resolutions for 2016 is to do a better job at timely completion of projects, and one of such tasks is to catch up with all the long-overdue reviews of gear that I had a chance to use, but never had a chance to write about. I will start off by reviewing the Sony A6000, an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera that has been Sony’s flagship APS-C product since it was released almost two years ago (and soon to be be replaced with a Sony A6100). Sony dumped the “NEX” name in its line of mirrorless APS-C products and merged everything into the “Alpha” ecosystem with the launch of the A3000, A5000 and A6000 cameras, so it looks like all the future iterations of these cameras will be labeled similarly. Let’s take a look at the A6000 in more detail, see what it has to offer and compare it to other popular mirrorless cameras on the market.
Today Adobe released a bunch of updates to its Creative Cloud suite, along with a new Lightroom 6.4 update. Aside from the regular bugfixes and new camera and lens profiles, Adobe introduced a new feature to its panorama stitching option within Lightroom called “Boundary Warp”, which is basically a tool that allows straightening the curves we usually see in panoramas. As we have seen before, while bugfixes and camera / lens profiles are available for all versions, new features are only available for Creative Cloud subscribers, so the Lightroom 6.4 standalone update won’t include the “Boundary Warp” feature. In addition, Adobe promises to double the speed of the panorama merging process, as well as much faster thumbnail updates when settings are copy pasted to multiple images at once. I have been running Lightroom CC 2015.4 for a few hours today and while I cannot yet state if it is more stable than the previous version, the panorama stitching process is indeed much faster in comparison. Let’s take a look at the new “Boundary Warp” update in more detail.
During my trip to Death Valley, I experimented a little with timelapse photography using the MIOPS device. One of the moments, particularly at Zabriskie Point, was the one I did not miss and capture it at its full glory, while the light was constantly changing. At first, I set up my Nikon D810 to take pictures every 2 seconds, then I left the camera to go shoot a panorama with another one, as described in this recent article. After I came back, I saw that my camera captured a total of 1675 images. I reviewed some of the photos and really liked the fact that I captured so many different images and the transitions in between – from colorful pink clouds, to sun hitting the Manly Beacon. Since light conditions were changing so fast, I decided to shoot in Aperture Priority mode (see our article on camera modes), with ISO set to 100 and Aperture fixed at f/8. For the Zabriskie Point timelapse in the video, I used the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E VR lens (obviously, with VR turned off). Since I already had plenty of images for my upcoming review, I decided to use the Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art lens. Boy, what a mistake!
Every once in a while, I bump into a great idea that I wish I came up with myself. Recently, I came across such an idea – a website called “KeepSnap” and I thought that the concept behind it was very smart. Many of us photographers often go to the streets and events armed with cameras, in hopes of finding something or someone interesting to photograph. And sometimes we do indeed come across fascinating people that we immediately get attracted to, wanting to take their pictures. Many of us can relate to such situations. While I was photographing a beautiful sunset in the mountains last fall, I saw a couple, sitting on chairs and enjoying the sunset and the surrounding beautiful scenery. I approached them and asked for a permission to photograph. They not only immediately agreed, but also requested me to take more photographs, because they had not been photographed for many years! I took a few photos, including some close-ups. When I showed the photos to them, they were really excited and they were ready to pay me for preserving their moment of happiness and joy.
When photographic architecture, landscapes and even people, photographers often desire to increase detail and resolution, capture a wider angle or create a unique look that is impossible to achieve with standard camera gear. That’s where panorama photography comes in – it can be a great technique to utilize in order to accomplish such goals. Although the concept and the technique itself are fairly straightforward, panoramic photography often confuses many photographers. We often get many inquiries about this topic from our readers and one of the most frequently asked questions is about the specific type of gear to buy in order to produce stunning panoramas. And that’s certainly one of the biggest myths about panoramic photography – you rarely ever need such gear! Most of the panoramas I have stitched so far have been done without panoramic gear and although I do own a panoramic slider, I rarely ever get to use it. Read on to find out why!
When photographing landscapes and including a bright source of light like the Sun, we often end up getting quite a bit of ghosting and flare in images. Although seeing lens flare is quite normal in both images and video (in fact, videographers and movie makers often purposefully add ghosting and flare to their footage to make the scene look more natural), sometimes the effect can heavily harm images. Since every lens reacts differently to bright sources of light, with some having special coatings and optical optimizations in place to reduce such effects, the effect of ghosting and flare and its damage are not something that can be easily predicted – there are too many variables involved, like focal length, optical design, coating, light source angle and even dust within the lens. So what do you do when you have a beautiful sunrise / sunset moment and you want to capture it with the sun in the frame without traces of ghosting / flare? I have been using a “finger the sun” technique for many years and today I want to explain how this technique works and how you can use it to create stunning, dramatic landscape images.
A couple of days ago Fujifilm finally announced its long-awaited flagship camera, the Fuji X-Pro2. I have been personally waiting for this to happen for a while, because the X-Pro1 has been out for way too long – 4 years, which is a huge stretch of time if you consider how quickly the mirrorless market has been moving in the past few years. I have just gotten back from my 3 week trip to Death Valley and while I have a lot of catching up to do, I did not want to miss on this important announcement. Being a proud owner of the superb Fuji X-T1, I have been wondering what Fuji would do with the X-Pro1 successor. The X-Pro2 is finally out and it looks like it was well worth the wait. While the overall design of the camera has not changed much, Fuji has made a lot of improvements to the interiors of the X-Pro2. With its brand new 24.3 MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor (highest resolution X-Trans sensor we have seen to date), pushing native ISO sensitivity by a full stop from ISO 200-6400 to 200-12800, an improved focal plane shutter capable of handling 1/8000 sec shutter speed (electronic shutter up to 1/32000 sec), 1/250 flash sync (finally!), a brand new Hybrid AF system with a whopping 273 focus points (77 phase detection points covering 40% of the frame) that promises to be Fuji’s fastest AF system to date, a fully weather-sealed camera construction, dual memory card slots (finally!) and an amazing hybrid viewfinder, the X-Pro2 looks like a very serious tool for professionals. Although its pricing of $1,699 might not sound particularly attractive, Fuji has never been a cheap brand in the first place and it has been known to make attractive, functional and enjoyable cameras that many photographers are willing to pay a premium price for.
I love Death Valley. Despite its name, it is one of the most stunning places on this planet to visit, enjoy and photograph. While I have been to many areas of the park, every time I visit, I find something new to explore. Since my first visit to Death Valley back in 2009, one place that really got me hooked was Zabriskie Point. Thanks to its vivid colors, delicate shapes and beautiful contours, it is truly a magical place to be. However, in spite of my continuous attempts to capture the place in its grande beauty, I have been constantly treated with bland blue skies, overcast days and whenever I got even a hint of color, it would always seem to be taking place elsewhere – not in the direction where my camera was pointed at. By now, I lost count of how many times I have attempted to photograph Zabriskie Point at sunrise (my guess is over 20), it really has been a place of zero luck for me, my archenemy.