Think of the image you capture with a digital camera as a digital negative and that you are a master printer who can take that negative and make as good a print as you have ever seen in a gallery and you begin to understand the potential of each shot. The expectation that you can do something more with an image can be built into every type of lighting condition, contrast and exposure problem you might face. It is not that you can “fix it” in software, it is that you should think beyond the exposure to what can be done to the image later, right at the moment you make the photograph. This approach can open you up to many other possibilities and make you take chances when you work; it can also raise expectations of what you have obtained beyond what you see on the playback right after the shot.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The compact Olympus E-PL3 has a retro body design and is available in different colors. The camera has a large swivel LCD on the back which allows the user to flip the monitor up and down. This is handy but is not as flexible as a swivel monitor that allows side-to-side movement. The LCD screen is a standard TFT screen instead of the OLED system used by the Olympus E-P3.
While parts of the nation are blessed with warm or let’s say tolerable weather during these winter months there are many more areas in which we inhabitants spend the short days thinking about the springtime to come. For photographers who earn all or part of their keep with their camera some of the planning has to be preparing for what is hoped will be a busy season—the myriad social events that photographers are paid to document, including weddings, graduations and concomitant senior portraits, Easter and First Communions, and whatever social and familial events that come along. Granted, a good many jobs are already booked by now, but there are always late calls, cancellations, and rebookings.
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 diminutive Nikon 1 series of cameras, including the J1 reviewed here and the coming V1, introduces the new CX-format CMOS sensor to the interchangeable lens, mirrorless camera field, which we dub Compact System Cameras. The sensor is smaller than APS-C and Micro Four Thirds sensors, coming in at a 2.7x multiplication factor using standard 35mm focal length designations. The 10.1-megapixel sensor has a native speed of ISO 100, with speeds up to 3200, and 6400 with a 1 EV push.