(Almost) FREE dSLR Exposure Webinar
On Wednesday, April 6 from Noon until 1PM, I’ll conduct a $2.00 webinar for new dSLR users. This is the first (Almost) FREE webinar for members of the Photography Webinars and Photoshoot Meetup Group. The group was established to meet the needs of busy people who don’t have time to attend in-person Meetups but still want to learn about dSLR photography.
The registration page is HERE. The reason we charge $2 is to reduce no-shows. We think $2 will cause people to think whether they really want to attend.
Adobe Acrobat Reader Update Scam, Again
First, just the facts: Adobe NEVER sends e-mails asking people to update Adobe Acrobat Reader.
There are hundreds of millions of PCs and Macs loaded with Adobe Acrobat Reader. It would be totally impractical for Adobe to send an e-mail to every user. How would they even know who has Reader since it’s often preloaded on new computers or loaded when new software is installed.
Notice the Adobe logo is missing on the e-mail (right.) Adobe has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to establish their brand, why would they ever send out any communication without the logo?
I don’t know if this is simply a phishing scam (where you’re the phish) or a virus injection attack. Either way, I don’t care and I never click on such links. Don’t be a dork, don’t fall for this stuff! Even if this were legitimate, what’s the downside to waiting a few days before updating Adobe Acrobat Reader? In the case of a free software like Reader, just go to Adobe’s site and download from the source. Don’t trust any middlemen.
Back to Our Regularly Schedule Program
In looking over the registrants for Gloria Hopkins’ Composition Webinar, I noticed that, so far, they’re all women. Once again, women are the ones who have no problems asking for directions or assistance while men press on muttering, “Just because I don’t know where I am doesn’t mean I’m lost.”
Come on, guys! Composition is the weakest part of almost every photo I see. Just because your “friends” never say anything bad about your photos doesn’t mean your photos are well composed. Just because you learned how to slather on some weird effects using the plug-in du jour doesn’t mean your photos are well composed. In fact, just the fact that your photos need so much help says they’re poorly composed to start. If you already know all this and are ready to register, click this LINK.
You might remember the photo to the left. One of my students, Butch, has tried for months to make a photo that really worked and he got it in this image. It’s not perfect but much, much better than previous efforts. As he looked through the photos from this scene, he noticed that he had captured a 3-shot burst. In the shot immediately after this shot, a tourist walked into the frame. In the frame immediately before this shot, the Sax Man’s intensity was missing. The point is that composition happens both in-camera and in post-processig. We can’t all shoot like Ansel Adams but we can certainly learn how to make simple fixes in post to maximize the impact of our photos.
Monday Morning Tip – 01/11/10
Did anyone notice today is another palindrome? It’s not as rare as 01/02/2010 but 01/11/10 is, technically, a palindrome. What’s that got to do with digital photography? Not a whole lot except that observation is a large part of good photography. Below is a photo I made over Christmas.
We hadn’t made any plans for Christmas so, when we took off in our RV at the last minute, we didn’t have reservations. Readers who own RVs know that usually means boondocking, parking overnight wherever it’s permitted and moving on the next day in search of new adventures. So, Christmas eve found us parked at the San Manuel Indian Casino in Highland, CA. We had boondocked there in the past on our way north and liked the quiet, isolated parking lot with a million-dollar view.
Click to keep reading
Freezing Fred’s Beak
This week’s MMT (posted on Saturday, 1/2) had blurred images of Fred’s beak (shoebill stork) as he chatters (calls). I was curious to know how much of the blur was due to slow shutter speed versus hand-holding so I went back on Sunday. Now, granted, this wasn’t a rigorous scientific test but I was able to confirm that Fred’s beak can be frozen with a faster shutter speed. On the blurred images, I was using 1/1000 second and this time, I used 1/2000 second. I’d like to have taken some at slower speeds but Fred chattered 3 times in 3 hours. The first and third times, he chattered for about 5 seconds so I got a few shots. The second time, he chattered only for 2 seconds which wasn’t long enough for me to get shots. Overall, in 3 hours, I fired off 150+ frames and got 3 usable photos. Another issue is that Fred rapidly blinks his nictitating eyelid while chattering. I managed to capture many images of him with weird “Night of the Living Dead” eyes as in the first photo (below).
Monday Morning Tip – 1/4/10
Here’s a photo of Fred, a shoebill stork. Students who have attended a Hands-On Photoshoot with me know Fred is one of my favorite critters. He looks as if he has a real attitude but is described to be fairly mild mannered. In the left photo, Fred is calling his girlfriend. On the right, Fred is smiling and showing his sensitive side.
At first glance, both photos appear to be perfectly fine in terms of focus. The feathers on Fred’s wing are clear, crisp and finely detailed. Moreover, Fred’s eye is sharply in focus and contains a catch-light. However, at 100%, it’s easy to see the beak in the first photo is slightly blurred due to Fred vibrating his beak when calling.
Both were taken at 1/1000 second and you can see the rest of the photo is perfectly sharp so the only explanation is that Fred moved his beak. The point to all this is that shutter speed is relative. Because I didn’t know Fred’s beak vibrated or quivered at such high speed when calling, I assumed 1/1000 was more than adequate.
During my next Hands-On Photoshoot Workshop on Jan 23, if Fred is cooperating, I’ll try again with my shutter set for 1/1500 or more to see if I can freeze his beak. With such a high shutter speed, I’ll need a wide open aperture and/or a higher ISO. Since this photo was taken at f/6.7, 1/1000 and ISO 200, I can gain 1.5 stops more light by going to f/4 at ISO 200 and increase my shutter speed to 1/2500. Fortunately, depth of field isn’t too important here since Fred is practically up against the reeds in the background so there’s really not much room for a nice smooth bokeh. Of course, this also assumes we’ll have a nice bright San Diego day.
Here’s a final photo of Fred “mad dogging” a photographer. This is his usual station. Notice the sun is to his right (camera left) and there’s enough space behind him for a nice creamy, soft bokeh. This was taken with a Canon 20D and a 100-400/4.5-5.6L (1/640, f/5.6, ISO 200, 390mm).
There are three take-aways from this MMT. First, always keep an eye on your shutter speed. If you’re in Shutter Priority, don’t assume whatever you set it to is adequate for the situation. If you’re in Aperture Priority, don’t let the Shutter Speed drop below a predetermined point in your mind. The second take-away is: Know your subject. Had I known how fast Fred’s beak vibrates when he’s calling, I would have compensated. As it was, I learned something new but this could have been a bummer if I had traveled to Africa to learn this. Finally, third, if you’re using the LCD to examine focus, be sure to magnify the image to closely examine areas of interest. In this case, I examined the feathers but failed to examine the beak.
Good light, good memories and good luck for 2010.
Dual Monitors for $39.95
This is the most useful product I’ve purchased in a decade. Click the ad below to learn how you can immediately improve your editing efficiency, speed your workflow and reduce chaos on your desktop.
Monday Morning Tip – 12/21/09
I bought a Canon G11 for my wife’s (mumblty-mumble) anniversary of her 29th birthday. I’d always heard the Canon G-series were great cameras but didn’t like the direction they took when they removed RAW from the G7. The G9 and G10 (there was no G8) just seemed to be entries in the megapixel race and I wasn’t convinced a 1/1.7″ sensor could support low noise at 12.1 and 14.7 megapixels.
With the G11, Canon seems to have addressed all the negatives of previous models and put back all the positives they had previously removed. This is the first time in the history of digital cameras that a company has actually reduced the number of megapixels (from 14.7 back to 10) on a new entry. Trust me, you’ll never miss those extra pixels and you really love the clean, noiseless images.
First, let me show you some things I really like about the G11. Canon has struck the perfect balance between usability and compactness with the G11. Click to read the full MMT