In my dream life, I would be a fashion and documentary photographer, but until that happens, I’m a barista. Every day I show up to work, serve the same customers, make the same drinks, hit the same cash button on the register, wipe the same tables and bake the same pastries. It can get a little mundane after two years. Everyone has to work, pay the bills, put in your due time so you can play later, right? This was my thought process for years. I always thought I would need to work a full-time job in order to support my true passion, creating images. But in reality, why can’t the two go hand-in-hand?
Zoom lenses are convenient, as everyone knows. I’d imagine that the vast majority of us started our photography with a simple 18-55 kit lens – I know I did, and I used it to take some of my favorite photos. However, it never seemed like a good fit for my style of photography. My first prime lens was the Nikon 105mm f/2.8G VR macro, a truly fantastic lens. At the time, I had never attempted macro photography. It is no exaggeration to say that the 105mm macro opened new worlds for me, and its sharpness was unbelievable. I had discovered the magical world of prime lenses.
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.
Without question there is a skill component in photography. Understanding our gear, lighting, composition and post processing are all important ingredients when creating images. Photography captures specific moments in time and on occasion it can be extremely helpful when Lady Luck is on our side. Most of us can remember particular instances when we just happened to be at the right place at the right time to capture an image. Maybe it was the expression on a child’s face. A rainbow. Or perhaps one of those sunsets that can simply take our breath away. On occasion Lady Luck has ridden shotgun with me, sometimes when capturing nature images.
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.
Each year camera manufacturers are pushing the limits of sensor technology and the latest trend has been to increase sensor resolution to numbers that were considered unfathomable before. With full-frame cameras reaching 50 megapixels (MP) and medium format cameras pushing beyond 80 MP, we now know that the megapixel race won’t stop there and we will most likely be seeing cameras with even more resolution in the future. But the big question remains – how much resolution does one truly need today? Is 12 MP too little? Is 50 MP too much? While it is a subject that can be open to endless debates, I have been working on a methodology to determine the ideal megapixel range for one’s needs. In this article, I will share what I came up with and it will hopefully serve as a good guide for our readers in deciding how to address the megapixel quench. I highly recommend to read my camera resolution explained article as a pre-requisite to understand the relationship of resolution to printing, cropping, display size and to understand such terms as down-sampling in more detail.
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.
Let me first be clear. Anyone who knows me well would tell you I’m not a materialist and money is not my primary aspiration. I have food on my plate, a shirt on my back and a photographic imaging device around my neck; believe me, I’m happy. But if I had a pound (British Sterling) for every time someone asked to use one of my images for the reward of ‘exposure’ I could probably make a decent living as a photographer. Well, no, probably not. But often enough I get such a request from some organisation or company to use one of my images with the promise of ‘great exposure’ for my generosity. Presumably in the same way that a lottery ticket would expose one to the possibility of winning?
Just as the market is once again graced with higher resolution cameras, so too is the Internet awash with salivating consumers desperate to lap them up. Surely having a 50-megapixel camera will make them all much better photographers than they were 44 megapixels ago? The extra resolution must be the push they needed to take them from mediocrity to greatness.
There is so much duality in photography. On one hand, it’s the light and the subject, it’s the story we tell and the story the viewer sees, it’s a feeling, an emotion, a state, a symbol, a metaphor. Sounds poetic, doesn’t it? On the other hand, it’s pure science, every single bit of it – from the said light traveling through a complex lens design, all the way to the scene being imprinted whether on a piece of light-sensitive film or, temporarily, on a digital sensor. And that scientific part of photography brings all sorts of terms with it, terms that may not be necessary for the creative process, but as far as skillful execution goes, you can’t do without understanding them for very long. A painter needs to know his brushes at some point, right?
And so we are back to covering basics, something you surely must have noticed. In this article, I will talk about yet another, confusing-at-first-encounter term used in photography, more specifically – exposure stops. I will try to explain what they are and how stops of different exposure parameters – shutter speed, aperture and ISO sensitivity – correlate, as well as give you examples of what are considered to be regular stop values of each parameter, and what are full, half and third-stops.