It might seem like one of the simplest parts of photography: leveling your horizon. Most photographers want their horizons to be straight, of course, but this isn’t an area of photography that gets too much attention. And why would it? Leveling the horizon is a very easy task — right? In practice, though, it requires more care than many people think. You can’t just rely on your camera’s “virtual horizon,” or your post-processing software’s “auto straighten” tool. Our perception of a level horizon is more complicated than that.
These past couple weeks have been a roller coaster for photography software. For some companies, the past couple years have been a roller coaster, too — Nik software in particular. In May of 2017, Google (which had owned Nik software since 2012) announced they were ceasing new developments on the program. No new features, bug fixes, or guaranteed support for updated operating systems. That happened just a couple months after making the software completely free. Justifiably, Google’s decision to end developments disappointed many photographers who relied on the software, and who happily would have paid for further updates. Today, though, there is some cautiously good news: DxO, the company behind DxO OpticsPro (which — also as of today — is now called DxO PhotoLab), announced that they bought Nik from Google. On top of that, they announced the development of a new version of the Nik Collection planned for mid-2018. If you use Nik software as part of your workflow, what does this mean for you?
Following Adobe’s announcement of two new versions of Lightroom, there has been some confusion about the exact purpose of each one. Many photographers on Adobe’s subscription plan are looking forward to using the new version of Lightroom and gaining the most recent feature set. But, which one is the new version? The two new options are called “Lightroom Classic” and “Lightroom CC,” and they’re quite different from one another. In fact, I suspect that many photographers won’t even use Lightroom CC at all, and they’ll stick entirely to Lightroom Classic. Below, I’ll outline the differences between the two.
Four years is a long time in the digital realm. In the past four years, new products, services, and software have uprooted many parts of the old world and put something new in its place. It also is enough time — as many people suspected, but wasn’t confirmed until today — for a company to break a promise. I’m talking about Adobe, with their new release of two separate versions of Lightroom: a split “Lightroom CC” and “Lightroom Classic CC.” Both of them are subscription only, which runs counter to Adobe’s own words during the release of Lightroom 5: “Future versions of Lightroom will be made available via traditional perpetual licenses indefinitely” (source). Although it helps to define indefinitely just to be sure — dictionary.com says “ Below, I’ll dive into some new features in these Lightroom releases. I’ll also provide some suggestions if, like me, you are against the idea of monthly payments in order to access a catalog-based editing software (which makes you keep paying if you want the ability to re-edit your old photos).
There are no times of day more famous for photography than “Golden Hour” — sunrise and sunset. Although great light can happen at any time, the edges of the day are perhaps the most consistent sources of inspiration you can find. Still, just because they’re beautiful doesn’t mean they’re easy to photograph. In this article, I’ll cover some suggestions for capturing sunrise and sunset as well as possible, including tips for exposure, creativity, and post-processing.
Backpacks are a sore spot for many photographers. Personally, I’ve owned so many different types over the years that I truly can’t remember them all. I know photographers who have entire gear closets filled with bags, and nothing else. The problem here, I think, is that bags look amazing online (or in a store) — seeing them, reading reviews, and even trying it on for a few minutes — but then reality kicks in a few weeks later, and you realize that your new purchase isn’t all that spectacular. That brings me to the company Peak Design. I’m sure you’ve heard of them; they made headlines a couple years ago after fundraising millions of dollars on Kickstarter for their lineup of bags. We haven’t yet reviewed one of their bags on Photography Life, so, when they reached out to send a copy for testing, I decided to see how it measures up. This review specifically covers the 20 liter version of the “Everyday Backpack.” So, does it live up to the hype? Can you finally clean out your closet of bags and turn it into something more productive? The answers are more nuanced than you might think.
One of the most misunderstood parts about landscape photography is the correct way to fit your entire scene within a photo’s depth of field. Where do you focus? What aperture should you use? You might think that these questions are easy to answer with a hyperfocal distance chart, where you provide your focal length and aperture, and the chart tells you exactly where to focus. There’s only one hiccup — if you want the sharpest possible results, these charts are spectacularly wrong. For most landscape and architectural photographers, that’s a big deal. This article explains everything about hyperfocal distance charts: what they are, why they fail, and where to focus instead.
If you’re trying to photograph the small world of plants and bugs, you’ll face plenty of challenges along the way. Macro photography is a difficult genre — you’re pushing up against the physical limits of depth of field, diffraction, and motion blur. Naturally, focusing in macro photography isn’t an easy task, but it’s a crucial one. How do you optimize your focusing technique for capturing small subjects? The answer depends upon exactly what you’re photographing.
Something I noticed recently made me stop and think for a moment, since, if true, it means that the modern era of photography is an especially noteworthy time: With very few exceptions, there are no scenes or subjects that are impossible to capture with today’s technology. Nearly everything you come across, from nighttime landscapes to microscopic insects, can be photographed with high levels of precision and image quality, so long as you know what you’re doing (and you pack along the right equipment). That’s a powerful fact — so, how can you make the most of it?
It’s common to think that most professional photographers, or all professional photographers, shoot in manual mode, for the simple reason that it offers the greatest possible control over a photo. Why would you leave your camera to make important decisions without your input? However, as valuable as manual mode is, you may not need to use it 100% of the time — even as an advanced photographer. In this article, I’ll explain semi-automatic modes and cover some cases where they can be the quickest option available, without sacrificing any control over your settings.