Astrophotography Tutorial

Horse Head

Astrophotography is a hobby rapidly gaining popularity thanks to the fast advancing CMOS sensor technology. Over a decade ago, the light recording material employed in astrophotography was primarily chemical emulsion. Its low sensitivity makes it very hard to record the weak signal from deep space. In addition, the lack of real-time feedback is a huge source of frustration for beginners. Operational errors such as out-of-focus can only be realized after several nights of hard work after the film is developed. In the mid 90s, the advent of cooled CCD cameras provided solutions to both the sensitivity and real-time feedback problems. However, their high prices and miserably small sensor areas limited their uses to only a few kinds of astrophotography and to very enthusiastic astrophotographers. While CCDs revolutionized astronomical research, this technology has never really changed the landscape of amateur astrophotography. The true turning point took place in 2002. After Fujifilm announced its FinePix S2Pro DSLR and showcased amazing astronomical pictures taken by this camera, people started to seriously explore DSLRs for astrophotography. DSLRs can provide real-time feedback, which is very important for beginners. They have sensitivities not much worse than CCDs, and DSLRs with large sensors (APS-C) are quite affordable nowadays. Today’s landscape in astrophotography is shaped by a series of CMOS-based DSLRs from Canon, but DSLRs and mirrorless cameras based on Sony sensors are gaining popularity very quickly.

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Sigma 150-600mm Sport Goes on a Safari

PL Photo 14

Earlier this year I had a chance to go on a safari to the Serengeti to see the Great Migration and other wonders. After reading Gord Aker’s excellent article about his trip to Africa I thought it could be interesting to make a field report and share my experience with the brand new Sigma 150-600mm Sport which accompanied me during the trip.

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Don’t Be a Gear Junkie

Bluestribute (7)

Lately, I’ve noticed a trend of stories popping up about a lucky break from a friend, a relative, a previous connection, and those lucky breaks launching a career. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that (I am kind of jealous!), but I also notice how people keep asking for a story of how work and perseverance paid off instead. As a shy introvert with cheap gear, I thought my story might be something worth sharing with other Photography Life readers – I’ve relied entirely on my work to get where I am today.

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Stitching Images with Microsoft ICE

ICE2_1_welcome_screen

I enjoy taking panoramic images of landscapes, cityscapes, street art or any other time when the view exceeds the frame. While an increasing number of cameras (particularly smartphones) are offering an in-camera panoramic mode, individual images and good stitching software is essential for high quality images.

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Know Thy Rights: Photography Abroad

Male Lion

There is nothing more appealing than grabbing your gear, draining the last vestiges of your current account, and heading off to some distant and exotic location. The more conscientious of us may look into the possible dangers to us or our gear and plan accordingly, even going so far as to take a painful premium on our insurance to cover the additional risk. Not only does this provide you with financial security, it gives peace of mind. Personally the latter is a godsend when I find myself in conditions to which I would normally never subject my equipment. Doing so enables me to get shots I would otherwise have never made. The picture below for example, was taken almost waist deep in a swamp with my old sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM.

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Why Bother Shooting RAW If You Are Culling JPEGs?

1866_UE

What do you think is the possibility, when you are choosing and sorting images based on the JPEG previews, that you are going to discard the better-quality image, and keep the lesser-quality one? Let’s take a look at a typical “training” shot for a holiday – noon of a sunny day, blue Ionian sea, bright white limestone pebbles, bushes with dark-green, high-detail leaves (which lose all detail if the shot is underexposed), deep shadows under the bushes. These types of scenes typically have a very wide dynamic range. We will see later, however, that the real range of the shot we are examining is pretty much only 8 EV, if the exposure is technically correct.

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Going to Antarctica – Part One

Weddell Sea

After having some experience with seabirds in Scotland, Norway, Canada and Alaska we wanted to watch and photograph penguins in Antarctica and the sub Antarctic islands: But how to get there? There is no possibility of individual travel in and around this huge continent. So after some research we decided to use a cruise ship as a base for our travel plans. Fortunately in 1993 we were asked to share a book project on Antarctica by a German (Munich based) publisher. They had already sent a photographer to Antarctica and needed text material on nature, ecology and species accounts. Both of our studies we cramped with scientific stuff on exactly these topics. So we did half of the books text. The other half – a text essay – was done by a well known travel author. This book appeared during spring 1994 sold very well. So we used it to appeal for jobs as bilingual biology and geography lecturers on the German- an US-managed ship “World Discoverer.” We were invited to come to the agency in Hamburg and… we got our favourite trips!

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Preparing for a Safari Trip to Africa

Leopard Posing

In September of 2014, my wife and I had the great fortune to take the trip of a lifetime to South Africa, Botswana and Zambia. The trip was more than a year in the planning which gave me the chance to think about what camera equipment I wanted to take along. Our itinerary was not one of the ones designed specifically for photographers however I had no doubt we would have plenty of opportunity to take pictures!

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Concert Photography Tips

Nick Cave

I was recently asked how many concerts I’ve photographed, and realized that it is coming up on thousand in the last 15 years. Any given week you can find me shooting anything from a 20 person house concert to The Who in a 30,000 seat arena, and anywhere in between. Tonight, it will be an up-and-coming band called The Spring Standards, who I’ve shot 7 times in the past. They are a dynamic, high-energy band with a lot of emotion, character and flying hair to capture.

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