Multicolored neon lights turning and spinning at night are irresistible to a photographer. Even though I have photographed amusement parks at night for years, it’s still exciting to do it again because the pictures I take are never the same. The colors are always dazzling, and the abstracts are captivating. Sometimes I am happy with these images as I shoot them, like (#1 and #2), and other times I use them as composites as in (#3, #4 and #5). When I took the latter image I immediately thought of a black hole, so I added “stars” to complete the concept. The star field is actually a picture of glitter sprinkled on black velvet.
Underwater photography is a specialty that most of us don’t delve into, but I think it’s fair to say that most nature photographers are intrigued with the creatures seen in public and private aquariums. They are beautiful, bizarre, mysterious and often ethereal. Photographing them can be challenging because there are technical issues to deal with in order to get the best possible images.
I have always found tree bark intriguing. It comes in myriad colors, patterns, designs and textures, and it reminds me of photographing abstract art. I am always looking at tree trunks and branches when I travel, and at home when I visit a botanical garden I know there will be a lot of photographic material. The abstract images you can photograph run the gamut from brilliant and saturated “works of art” to those that are much more subtle. The two images (#1 and #2) illustrate the tremendous range of subject matter available to you.
Studio photographers have used black acrylic glass to create subtle reflections in product shots and portraits for many years. It’s a wonder prop because it adds an elegant quality to the photographs of many different types of subjects, from people to glassware to flowers.
On The Cover
In this issue we bring you a range of camera, lighting, and even pro-graphics-level monitor tests as well as an insider’s look at eBooks for photographers. And in keeping with our respect for and legacy coverage of camera classics, a look at a collector’s camera “bookshelf” and an exclusive report from Tokyo on prices garnered at one of the biggest user/collectible shows in Japan.
I just read an amusing piece by a tech blogger and self-proclaimed photography expert who worried about an impending demise of the interchangeable lens digital SLR camera. I say “amusing” because the basis for his concern was a recent Wall Street Journal report indicating that DSLR shipments could fall 9% by the end of this year as compared to a year ago. From this, the prognosticator made the cognitive leap that “smartphones are likely the culprit when it comes to the declining fortunes of the DSLR market.”
I was recently reading about American documentary photographer and photojournalist Dorothea Lange and was reminded of one of my favorite quotes, in which she said “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” Afterward, I thought it might be fun to take a look at what other luminaries have said about our craft.
You have several Exposure mode choices on the camera, and they affect the exposures you get when using flash. They even have a bearing on the color balance in your pictures. For example, notice in the picture of my wife and Rexie, our great Pyrenees, that the color of the light in the background is yellowish while the lighting in the foreground is white without any apparent color shift. I was able to do this because I used Aperture Priority to choose a narrower aperture which, in turn, forced the shutter speed to be slower. Av helps to give you a correct exposure not just for the light emanating from the flash, but it helps make the ambient light in the room expose correctly as well. In so doing, it picks up the color of the room lights. In this case, since I was using a daylight white balance (which is the same WB as for flash—it correctly balances light that is 5500k degrees Kelvin) the tungsten lights in the room turned out yellowish.
In this issue we look at travel and nature photography with an emphasis on ops and issues in the colder regions. Covered gear this month includes a clever tripod kit, a new EOS Rebel, a fast Tamron zoom, and software for retouch and black-and-white magic.
Backgrounds are virtually as important as subjects in making a picture work. If they are messy and there is a lot going on, they tug at our eyes and pull our attention away from your subject. Just as you carefully consider your subjects, at the same time you need to carefully consider the background. For example, is it too light? Too messy? Too attention-grabbing? Does it have distracting lines or colors? Is it too sharp or too defined?
There are many fun and creative images you can create with flash if you allow yourself to think outside the box. In the past when we all shot film, we had to wait until the film came back from the lab to see the results. If the pictures weren’t what we wanted, we’d have to start over and figure out how to improve the images on the next roll of film.
Macro photography is endlessly fascinating. It opens your eyes to a world that most people never notice. Taking photographs of small, intriguing subjects, especially in nature, can be a life-long pursuit. It’s endlessly captivating as you can see in (#1), the foot of a poison dart frog, and (#2), a close encounter with a caterpillar. Macro photography is very technical, though, and it must be approached correctly or you won’t be happy with the results.
Everyone who loves photography should pick up a copy of the October issue of National Geographic magazine—a special edition devoted to “The Power of Photography” and a celebration of the publication’s 125th Anniversary. Unveiled in October, 1888 as the official journal of the non–profit National Geographic Society, this iconic brand dedicated to funding science and exploration across the globe has inspired countless photographers.
Green screens (and blue screens) are used to make it easy to blend in another background to a portrait or model shoot, anything from a plain backdrop to a scenic or cityscape. Many of us, myself included, have photographed models on a green screen background. The expectation is that it should be quick and easy to remove the green screen in Photoshop and drop in another image or color. Unfortunately, when you’re working with software, things don’t always turn out the way you planned.
LED technology offers low power consumption, dimmable output with no color temperature loss and cool, long lasting lights. A number of different manufacturers sell LED units that fit on top of your camera as well as larger units that require a stand to safely mount the lights.