This is a photo of two young hummingbirds in their nest, which, to give you a sense of scale, is about the size of a walnut. Finding and shooting these tiny nests is a real challenge. I found the nest 15 feet off the ground when a friend in Falls, PA, noticed a female hummingbird constantly flying around a particular spot in the tree.
In pursuit of articles for various magazines, he’s joined smugglers running from Cuba to Florida, trained offshore with Navy frogmen, and even crawled through Southern California storm sewers to get into the world of forbidden photography.
Options are great, but sometimes all those buttons and menus can slow down your shooting. That’s why Panasonic’s 10.1MP touch-screen Lumix DMC-FX500 rocks. It takes composing on the LCD to the next level: To focus, just touch your subject on the monitor.
Hang & Level will make sure everything’s all lined up. ($20, street; www.hangandlevel.com) Introduce trick photography to your kids with the Digital World Cam. Its Stealth Shot technology lets them play around with night vision and time-lapse modes.
Photoblogs let you keep a diary of picture-taking adventures and share it with friends and family. And it doesn’t take a geek to start one. First, sign up for a Gmail account. Use this to log in at Blogger, where in a three-step process you: (1) name your blog; (2) choose a template design; (3) start posting images (from your hard drive or online) with text.
At 25, Chris Detrick already has more great shots under his belt than many of us will take in our lifetimes. As a high school student in Loganville, PA, he began shadowing photojournalists at Pennsylvania’s York Dispatch newspaper. Soon after graduating from the University of Missouri’s photojournalism program, he was hired on full-time at the Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City, UT. You can see more of his pictures at www.chrisdetrick.com.
This isn’t the photo 38year-old Texan LOWELL GRAGEDA set out to take on his second visit to Shanghai last winter. The automotive engineer decided to take a packed commuter train to capture a few evening cityscapes. He was so impressed with the lights in the tunnel that he returned later when the train was less crowded and positioned himself near the widow to catch a long exposure as they whizzed by. Tech info: Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro and 16-50mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro Tokina lens with Kaesemann Circular Polarizer MRC. Exposure, 1/3 sec at f/2.8, ISO 200.
We live in an area with horizonto-horizon views where the land stretches to infinity and the sky soars high above. Photographing this expanse of sky and land is difficult, even with superwide-angle lenses. In the past, we had to choose between capturing a sliver of land with the big sky above, or a sliver of sky with the big landscape below, though not both in the same photo.
Before this month is out, we’ll all know a lot more about Denver. It’s the setting for the Democratic National Convention (Aug. 25-28). While images of the Mile High City fill our TV screens, you may want to try an “unconventional” approach, focusing on nature and old-time charm—out of town.
Reading Digital Toolbox every month, you might think I have a love affair with Adobe Photoshop. But one thing I hate is using it alone to convert color images to black-and-white. Sure, you can fiddle with Channel Mixer’s infernal sliders, geek out with Calculations, or shuttle between the presets of Photoshop’s mediocre built-in b&w conversion tool.
Want to photograph a moving subject so that it’s not blurred and yet preserves a clear sense of motion, rather than seeming frozen in space? Try stroboscopic flash. Like high-speed flash syncing and wireless TTL flash, it’s one of those seemingly byzantine flash techniques that most photographers never get around to mastering.
Add light, square your frame, and ignite your creativity
Want to fire up your photography? Try using flash in broad daylight and composing for a square. Los Angeles-based photographer Eric Myer (www.ericmver.com) did that in this portrait of a man showing off his homemade flame-thrower. A commercial shooter, Myer’s passion in his personal work is for photographing ordinary people getting together in what he calls “a gathering of tribes.”
The problem: Yes, yes, we know we’re always running feature and how-to stories exhorting you to add drama to your landscape photos! But you can have too much of a good thing. This beachscape certainly says warm sand and blue sky in capital letters, but it’s way oversaturated for our taste.
The problem: The pendulum swings the other way with this lovely study of an egret that’s just too subtle—the bird simply doesn’t stand out enough. Also, the subject is centered, and you know how much centered subjects can bug the Fix Team. What now: We used Curves in Photoshop to brighten the egret and bring up contrast.
How to make studio still lifes without a studio lighting setup
Bryan F. Peterson
Conventional wisdom says photographers should nap— not shoot—when the sun is high. I say, “Wrong!” Harsh midday sun can give you the ultimate in available-light photography and images that viewers would swear were shot in a pro-caliber studio.
Fundamentals: Rule of Thirds placement, plus dynamic curves and diagonals. Rule of Thirds: A dramatic demonstration of the effectiveness of the compositional rule, this picture also has three layers—foreground, more distant rocks, and sky—making up the thirds.
Lens cases are good for protecting expensive optics and keeping things from banging together in a gadget bag. They can be heavy, though, and their extra bulk may force you to use a bigger, heavier bag. Thick sports socks (such as the Roc Soc made by Columbia Sportswear) are an alternative.
Take your photos to a higher level with a new point of view
Standing on a hotel room balcony on Waikiki Beach in Oahu, HI, Clayton Mansnerus looked out toward the palms, sand, and ocean beyond. He was shooting away with his Canon Power Shot S70 digital compact, taking typical, touristy vacation pictures, at first oblivious to the graphic fantasia playing out below him.
Five affordable DSLRs vie for honors in the “step-up” class
If you’re a serious shooter looking to move on up to a better DSLR—with more resolution, faster firing, advanced features like in-camera image fixes and live view—but have been scared off by the $1,000 price barrier, fear no more. An entire class of DSLRs has appeared at this intermediate level, none of them more than $900, street—with a kit lens.
EASE OF USE: While not greatly changed from the XTi, the control layout seems to work better, and the grip is more hand-friendly. The bright, highmagnification finder makes for great optical viewing; the big 3-inch LCD affords a superb live view, though with too much menu-hopping for the setup and AF selection, and some delay for AF.
EASE OF USE: The tiny D60 is easy to grip but not that easy to use in anything but auto modes. For instance, the clumsy flash exposure compensation involves two buttons and a dial (or you can set it with a menu). Menu organization can be odd. Viewfinder magnification is on the low side, and data can be hard to see.
EASE OF USE: A very ergonomic camera to grip, the successor to the E510 gets a bigger LCD: 2.7 inches. This serves as the control panel, and you can scroll around it fairly quickly to access common settings. Its Perfect Shot Preview shows a grid of photos previewing what you’ll get with various settings.
EASE OF USE: While it has many controls in menus, the Pentax manages to be more intuitive than most other cameras in this group. The function button gives you fast access to the most common settings. The main menus have dropped the KIOD’s endearingly garbled contractions for full descriptions with help screens.
EASE OF USE: The clever live view lets you autofocus and fire without delay. And the 2.7-inch LCD screen tilts up and down for low-angle, waist-level, or overthe-crowd shooting. The dual sensors and split mirrors required to do so, though, make for compromises: The viewfinder is dim and a bit tunnel-visioned, and data can be hard to read, especially for eyeglass wearers.
You can get superb images with any one of these cameras. Ranking IQ becomes a matter of looking at results at high ISOs. We gave the lead spot to the Canon EOS Rebel XSi for its consistency in resolution and noise control. The Nikon D60 had higher resolution than the Olympus E-520 and Pentax K200D, plus superb noise control.
WHAT SCIENCE IS LEARNING ABOUT HOW WE SEE CAN HELP YOU TAKE MORE COMPELLING PICTURES
EYES—NOSTRILS—LIPS—SHINY THINGS. My eyes scanned the photo of two women almost the way a monkey’s would, going first to the faces, specifically features that would indicate friend, foe, or possible mate, then to the brightest objects in the image: a blue bottle, a pendant.
We’re subliminally influenced by the faces we see. Pupillometrics has demonstrated that when you look at an image of a person, your pupils dilate to the same diameter as the person’s in the picture. Tests also have shown that people prefer photos in which the pupils—human or animal— are dilated.
Reflection make intriguing, magical photos. Hrer's how to capture them.
With reflections, nothing’s as it seems. That goldfish you saw darting across a pond actually was just sunlight on a ripple of water. What looks like a cavernous drop below a fountain is only the high glass ceiling above. The amazing lights in the window ahead of you?
1 FIND THEM EVERYWHERE. The strongest reflections come when a relatively low angle of light strikes directly on the object being reflected, not directly on the reflecting surface. But side-lit reflections give you nice gradations of color, especially with a blue sky, and backlight creates moody results in a limited color palette.
Tamron means business with its first high-speed tele zoom in more than 10 years. This full-framer ($700, street) scales up, approximately, to a 109-31 Omm on most DSLRs, and as a member of Tamron’s SP (Super Performance) family, was designed as a pro-quality lens.
This digital-only, 5.3X, wide-tomedium-tele, general-purpose zoom ($600, street) is an attractive upgrade for Nikon shooters underserved by their entry-level 18-55mm kit lens. No longer a beginner? It offers Vibration Reduction, plus extra reach in both directions, scaling up to 24-127.5mm on most Nikon DSLR bodies.
Olympus continues to push digital’s optical envelope with the industry’s widest non-fisheye lens for sub-fullframe DSLRs. A 14-28mm equivalent ($1,595, street), even by 35mm standards, this lens is extremely wide. Its unusually large and doublesided aspheric elements, plus multiple elements of extra-lowand super-extralow-dispersion glass (a total of three) help deliver performance unequalled in the ultrawide digital-only zoom category.
I travel all over with my camera, and I want to know precisely where I took each photo. Is there a device that will pull this information into my file’s metadata? Thanks to GPS (Global Positioning System) navigational systems, you can automatically embed latitude, longitude, altitude, and exact time into a digital image file.
Stop procrastinating! You know you should turn those sleeves, slide mounts, and shoeboxes full of negatives, transparencies, and prints into digital image files. And if you want complete control, it’s a buy-a-scanner/DIY project. But how much do you have to spend to get high quality?
1THE RIGHT RESOLUTION. To capture all the detail in a 24x36mm slide, use the highest optical resolution you can. Dedicated film scanners generally provide 4000-spi (samples per inch) resolution, while flatbeds typically offer 4800 spi.
1. Site unseen: This unconventional view of the Statue of Liberty was produced by New York freelance photographer Hugues Colson, who, like most New Yorkers, had never visited the monument until he took this picture. Colson used a 35mm SLR with a 50mm lens. The film was Kodak Ektachrome 64, exposed exactly as metered.
1. Rockin’ roll film: of 35mm frames marked this issue’s theme-35mm photography-which was enjoying renewed importance as the preferred format. The cover photos, by R. Cummings Vance of New York City, depicted model Shawne at Gilgo Beach, N.Y. He used a 35mm f/2 Summicron lens.
Simple ball-bearing grease, but with the following caveat: Lubricants and collar-type tripod locks (like the Tiltall’s) are a slippery subject Apply too much, and a lock can become overly loose and slip when exposed to heavier loads. Also, excessive lubricant can seep into the lock’s internal cloth bushing, trapping dust and grit which can, over time, cause threading to strip and bushings to ball up.
It’s a must-have tool for sharp photos, low-light work, and long exposures. But a tripod can be a pain to carry, and it’s often forbidden to use one in areas you’d like to photograph. While a tripod is still essential gear, here are three ways to stabilize your camera when you have to do without:
As summer ends, you’ll want to take one last family trip. Here’s how to get the most fun from your photos. Use selective focus. Grinning next to the Statue of Liberty? Been done. If an object or landmark is important, try a different vantage point (say crouching down) and open up your aperture to focus on the object, leaving your family member slightly out of focus as an observer.
“I dream that someday the step between my mind and my finger will no longer be needed, and that simply by blinking my eyes I shall make pictures. Then, I think, I shall really have become a photographer.” ALFRED EISENSTAEDT “It may be that the influence of images cannot be proved to a scientist’s satisfaction, yet we always seem to be living with the results...”
“This is one of a series of portraits I shot at the Collingwood Elvis Festival in Ontario last July. It claims to be the largest Elvis festival in the world. You walk down the street and there are 10 Elvises on every corner. I wanted to get to meet them individually, isolate them from the environment, and focus on them as people.