A winter storm hit the Boston area sometime in February and when various weather channels called for a clear evening/night, I got thinking. I live close to Merrimack River and have tried photographing it several times before but so far not have not been satisfied with the resulting images. Sometime it is either an out of place tree limb that destroys visual harmony or distant apartments, houses or other man-made structures that compete for attention. I realized that if the storm started to clear 30-40 minutes prior to sunset, I might be in luck. A quick 4 pm peek outside the window signaled just that and I immediately rushed out with my camera bag. Since I already knew what I was after, and possibly needed to react quickly to changing light, I opted for a shoulder bag that contained a Nikon D610, along with 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G and 24-120mm f/4 VR lenses.
While photographing famous landmarks and photo spots is usually a safe way to obtain a beautiful photograph, being able to scout and find own subject to photograph is a skill that many of us have to acquire at some point. Identifying good light, finding the right angle for proper framing and composition, pre-visualizing the end result and using the right tool for the job in order to create a unique and compelling image takes years of practice in the field. This is the area that many of us, including myself, struggle with the most. Despite the difficulties and the challenges, it is important to keep on advancing the “photographer’s eye”. Sometimes we look at a beautiful image and really like it, but have a hard time understanding exactly what in particular attracts us to it. Is it the beautiful light, the composition or the subject itself? An untrained eye often sees certain elements of an image, while neglecting to see other, equally important elements that make an image successful. Being able to see and visualize all the minute details in order to properly execute a photograph is something we all need to continuously work on, because those details really do matter. Personally, I find great help in “dissecting” a solid photograph, to try to understand what kind of thought process and work went into making it. During this process, I pay close attention to everything from light, framing, composition, colors, subject, area of focus and other details, so that I can apply that knowledge in the field. In this article, I would like to present a landscape image that I recently captured in Joshua Tree National Park and go through the process of unveiling everything that went into making this image.
Please note that the below article is compiled from some of the chapters from our upcoming eBook “Creative Landscape Photography” that Spencer Cox and I are currently working on. This will be our first eBook, specifically written on the subjects of Light, Vision and Composition when photographing landscapes.
Last month my wife and I spent a number of weeks in the eastern portion of South Carolina with Garden City Beach acting as our home base. In the summer the Grand Strand area of the state is a renowned ‘sun and sand’ destination. In February, with temperatures often hovering in the 35 to 55 degree Fahrenheit range many days (2-13 degrees Celsius) – sun and sand isn’t on most people’s minds! I spent some time at Murrells Inlet photographing pelicans and other birds, and my wife and I did some exploration south of Myrtle Beach during our stay.
Adobe Lightroom is a complex piece of software, and it includes countless features that are buried beneath the surface. In this article, I will cover four useful Develop options that aren’t obvious at first glance, ranging from precision cropping to local color adjustments. If you are a Lightroom guru, you certainly may use each of these already; however, for most Lightroom users, these features are somewhat difficult to find.
This week I have been heavily working on keeping our lens database up to date. With so many lens announcements coming out from different manufacturers, keeping the database current has been a challenge, since it takes quite a bit of time to add all the relevant information. Big thanks to everyone who has been sending feedback, requests and recommendations to improve our lens database. We want to make it the best and the most complete database in the world and everything we build today will be hugely beneficial for current and future readers of the site. This is why we need your help today! By letting us know about the missing lenses, errors and inconsistencies, you will be joining our efforts in compiling a great source of public information. But before that, let me first shed some light on some of the changes that we have made to the database.
Courtesy of Dell, I received the latest version of the Dell XPS 13 Notebook a couple of days ago. Although I have not spent much time with the machine yet to be able to write my initial thoughts, I have already installed the latest versions of both Lightroom and Photoshop. Both ran just fine together, something I have not been able to do very successfully with my Surface Pro 3. The main reason is RAM – my Surface Pro 3 only has 8 GB of RAM, whereas the XPS 13 has 16 GB. In addition, the XPS 13 has the latest generation Skylake CPU (mine came with a powerful Intel Core i7 CPU), which also sports a faster Intel GPU, so I expect it to be faster at doing everything. Lastly, the machine has a whopping 1 TB of fast PCIe storage, which means that I don’t have to constantly carry an external hard drive with me, since its local storage is sufficient for most of my needs when traveling. Hence, I expect the XPS 13 to be a much superior machine for post-processing work when working in the field.
The first issue I have noticed so far is the power plug – unfortunately, Dell has not changed it for a while now, so it is still the same old power plug that goes on the side of the machine. I wish Dell engineers came up with a better designed power plug, so that it could attach to the machine simpler, perhaps with a magnetic connection like on the Surface Pro. This way, if one were to unintentionally stomp on the cable, it does not bring the machine down with it. In fact, it would be even sweeter if someone came up with a way to charge laptops from each side! How many times do you catch yourself moving around just to accommodate the direction of the power cable? I know such a design would take more space, but it would be really convenient. Another potential issue is lack of an HDMI output. Looks like Dell wants its XPS 13 users to purchase an optional accessory to be able to output HDMI from the laptop, which is not that big of a deal, as long as the accessory works well. Still, some people might not like the idea of carrying another accessory and cables in their bags.
A definite plus I see is the availability of two USB ports and a Thunderbolt port. Yes, you heard that right – this little puppy has a Thunderbolt port on its side! I have not seen many PCs with it, which is definitely new, but welcome, since the number of Thunderbolt devices on the market is increasing dramatically. With the ability to transfer up to 40 Gbps, Thunderbolt is a pretty sweet option to put on any machine, let alone a compact travel laptop. And by the way, if you have a monitor with a Thunderbolt port, you should be able to output video without the third party accessory. I cannot verify this 100% yet, but hoping to be able to find out by the time I do the review.
I am planning to travel with the XPS 13 extensively in the next 3-4 months, so expect a review fairly soon. As before, I will be providing benchmark data and comparisons with a number of Microsoft Surface Pro alternatives, as requested by our readers.
Have you ever wondered why you are instantly drawn to some photographs, but not to others? Or why some of your images lack that wow factor that you see in other’s. It may be related to how you compose your pictures. How a photograph is composed has a huge impact on how long we look at it. The longer our brain is allowed to wander through an image, the more likely we are to like it. Photographs that are not composed well do not have staying power, and are quickly discarded by our brain. In this article I want to discuss four very basic compositional tips. I won’t be talking about the “rule of thirds” or “leading lines”, but rather four pointers you should consider before you take a picture. These tips will save you a lot of post processing time, and will allow you to create much stronger images.
One of the most exciting news from today is Sigma’s announcement of the 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art lens designed for APS-C sensor cameras like the Nikon D500. That’s another f/1.8 constant aperture zoom lens from Sigma with a groundbreaking design! With an equivalent field of view of 75-150mm, this lens will surely be a popular choice among sports and portrait photographers, especially when working in low-light situations. Thanks to the complex optical design that incorporates 21 elements in 15 groups, the Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art is optimized to yield excellent sharpness at its widest aperture throughout its zoom range. And with its MSRP of $1,099, this looks like a killer offering for cropped sensor cameras. The only downside is its weight – at 1,490 g (3.28 lb), the lens is almost as heavy as the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II! But what did you expect from a constant aperture f/1.8 telephoto zoom lens?
Thanks to the CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2016 that is taking place in Japan this week, we have a slew of exciting announcements from different camera manufacturers. Tamron was the first to make a big announcement last night, presenting two brand new lenses designed for full-frame cameras. The first one is a significant release, because it is world’s first image stabilized 85mm f/1.8 lens for full-frame DSLRs, the Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD. This is an important release, because Tamron is now upping its game like Sigma has done with its latest-generation lenses, allowing both lens firmware and AF fine tuning to be performed using an external USB dock.