Here are some suggestions for self-assignments that can aid you in getting a good handle on mastering your camera. Give each technique a full day then review the images, along with the EXIF data. As you complete these self-assignments you’ll start to make great photos every time you pick up the camera.
One of our feature stories this month, Jason Schneider’s “The Shape of (Digital) Things to Come,” got me thinking about just what might be ahead in the ever-changing world of photography. In the past few years we’ve seen pretty much variations on the theme, with every feature manufacturers can think of being added to digital cameras. We’ve seen GPS, more in-camera processing options, in-camera HDR and tone curve control, and of course the update of virtually every camera line to incorporate HD video. All of this is to the good, but only if it gets you where you need to go.
There are three main elements in depth of field—focal length, aperture, and distance to subject—and depth of field is a very important part of a 2D photograph. It’s how we judge scale (or are fooled by it), how we note the importance of certain subjects within the frame, and how we define content and context in the scene. With these three controls, and using various points of view, it seems we have infinite variations to choose from, and that’s part of the creative play of photography. Now you can add a fourth element to the mix—tilts that range from mild to extreme and that create “slices” of sharpness within the frame. The tool that helps us create that effect is the latest optic from Lensbaby, which they dub the Edge 80.
What qualifies a digital inkjet printing paper as “fine art?” To begin, it should be able to reproduce a wide range of tonal values and colors that satisfy the photographer. It should be “archival”, meaning that there should be no contaminants or even optical brighteners that could affect the print stability long term. And perhaps most important is that it should have that “look,” sometimes described as emulating a well-made darkroom print.
The new super wide angle Distagon T* f/2.8 15mm lens for Canon and Nikon mounts is neither lightweight nor inexpensive (1.6 lb for Nikon, 1.8 lb for Canon mount, $2950) but what you get from this manual focus lens is exceptional image quality and facility that is perhaps unmatched by any other lens in its focal length class. With a 95mm filter thread and integral and fully compatible lens shade, the lens offers an extraordinary 110-degree angle of view that is pleasure to work with on a wide variety of subjects. The fast f/2.8 aperture is matched on the narrow end by a minimum aperture of f/22, which at 15mm means there’s potential for extraordinary depth of field effects using the 10-inch closest focusing range. While decidedly not a portrait lens, the 15mm is ideal for landscape, street photography and creative advertising work, as well as architectural and urban photography, as I discovered in mybrief time working with it.
The Samsung NX200 is a Compact System Camera (CSC) with an interchangeable lens system. It is based on an APS-C-sized sensor and Samsung’s NX-mount system, which currently comprises nine Samsung lenses. The range of lenses will be expanded this year, with the latest being the Samsung 85mm f/1.4 ED SSA, which is a fast portrait lens that supports Samsung’s i-Function technology. The lens ring—which is normally used for manual focusing—can be used for i-Function settings, a very handy feature that can be programmed by the photographer to change various settings right from the lens.
In this and a continuing series of articles in the coming months we’ll bring you the news and innovations from the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held earlier this year in Las Vegas. While the show floor was dominated by “smart” this and that, from phones to TVs and tablets, we’ll concentrate on those items of most interest to photographers. This report is on the new and recently introduced D-SLRs and interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras.
For a number of years we have been presenting the work of photographers that we generally include under a “personal project” heading, meaning essays and long-term dedication to a subject, a “cause,” or a particular field of study that uses images to help tell the tale. These projects generally focus on a point of view, a social commentary, or a distinct subject that the photographer finds of interest. They draw upon a legacy of photo essays that are a mainstay of how the camera has always been and continues to be used to communicate, to amuse, to give you a sense of wonder, or to convince you about changes that need to be addressed to better the world. They are presented as “evidence” of a point of view and often ask you to consider more deeply the topic presented, or inspire you to undertake a body of work that both codifies your perception of the world around you and makes a statement about where you stand.
The new Canon 5D Mark III has a large and handy grip on the right side. The body is a lot smaller than the new EOS-1D X because the 5D Mark III doesn’t use a “motor winder like” bottom for the rechargeable battery and therefore doesn’t offer a second shutter release button and setup dial, convenient for vertical shots. An additional battery grip is offered as an option, however.
The Canon EOS-1D X is a professional camera system that could be considered ideal for sports photography and photojournalism. It offers extremely high speed and is fully customizable to fit the needs of every photographer. It has a massive and robust body, with many functional elements available in a type of “dual version control” that allows for comfortable shooting in landscape or portrait orientation. Small joysticks and a lot of setup dials will help users navigate through the very comprehensive menus and to set up all parameters in a fast and intuitive manner.