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Archive for the ‘Tips & Techniques’ Category

Because a JPEG is ‘cooked’, the camera locks in all image parameters when the file is processed and modifying the image later on is well, less than optimal. I lent one of my camera’s to a friend and upon receiving it back, I forgot to make sure the camera was set back for RAW (as I am assuming he would have shot JPG). Anyway, I did a semi-important shoot with the D700 as a back-up body, switching over to it occasionally instead of changing lenses on the D3.

Upon reviewing the photographs, I then saw that photographs from the D700 were JPGs – oh no! So, the image parameter that I am complaining about in this regard is the image ‘clarity’ which is one of the most important RAW controls. Clarity controls mid-tone contrast which, when tuned in the RAW process, allows one to tighten up the image and make it appear sharper and conversely to produce a soft-focus glow effect on highlight regions of the image. This is only possible however, if the RAW image data is still accessible by the software. In a JPG, moving the clarity control is an absolute train wreck. Positive clarity will muddy-up the mid-tones and a negative adjustment just makes the image flat and drab-looking. A complete disaster. Reason # 782 for hating JPEGs.

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This tripod accessory (or something like it) is an indispensible tool for the landscape photographer for panorama stitching.  In addition to that, it is better to use this mount for vertical shooting on a tripod rather than tilting the tripod head 90 degrees.

With respect to general shooting, it is incorrect to turn the head 90 degrees a) because depending on the weight of your camera/lens and the strength of your tripod, it may sag and not hold in place @ 90 degrees, and b) you will have to re-center the tripod on your subject (because now it is offset) and recompose your photograph.  By using this vertical bracket, it is just a matter of rotating the camera (as if you were handheld and rotating it).  Pop one quick release plate out, flip, and pop the other one in.

Homemade L-bracket on Manfrotto 488RC2 ballhead.

Homemade L-bracket on Manfrotto 488RC2 ballhead.

There is a website called www.reallyrightstuff.com and they are a company who manufactures really great camera support equipment.  All types of brackets, adapter, supports, accessories and they are also dealers for Gitzo and other great tripod manufacturers.  Some of the products they offer are a vertical brackets designed specifically for particular camera models.  They are very expensive for what they are – beginning at $160, then depending on what camera you have it may be higher than that.  Also, they want you to buy their own brand ballhead, because the brackets are initially designed to fit into them.  It isn’t until you dig deeper into one of the information sections that you find out, “oh, by the way, if you have a Manfrotto 488RC2 (among others), you may be able to fit the quick release onto your existing tripod head.”  Unless it is really necessary, you may not want to spend $300 on another ballhead in addition to the vertical bracket.  Your choice!  I’m just going to tell you what I did.

Flipped onto the vertical position

Flipped onto the vertical position

Parts you need:

  • Steel or aluminum L-bracket (I picked up a Stanley L-bracket at Home Depot for $4.82)
  • Two quick-release plates for your tripod head
  • 4 small (I will double-check the size) screws to lock down the quick-release plates

From there, it is just a matter of your time.  Parts investment is approx $20 and it took my father and I about 1 hour to complete the project.  You will of course have to measure (and re-measure) your camera so that you can find center for each axis of the bracket.  This is very important ( especially when photographing panoramas (which is what I have used this bracket for on our trip to Italy.)    Check back soon for my post about shooting for panorama stitching which will go into more detail about why this is an indispensible tool for getting more accurate panoramas.

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The Nikon SB-900 is an excellent flash, which I reviewed here a couple of months back.  However, I ran into an issue with the flash during a critical moment at a recent Bat Mitzvah shoot.

Here’s the scenario:  There I am, happily snapping away at the family of the day as they dance around, interlocked, in circles on the dance floor.  Next thing you know, the circle of people becomes ever-increasing as more family and friends join in the revelry, culminating with the hoisting up of the mitzvah-ed young lady above the crowd on her chair for the hora.  So, I get up on my step stool to get a better shooting angle, she is hoisted up… (more…)

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Many people outside of workshop settings often ask me  how I get such sharp, crisp images.  Seriously, they do – and I usually tell them that I just have a really smart camera.  Although that might be true, there is certainly more to it than that.  In a not-so-formal essay, today I will outline some basic tips and techniques that I employ in order to achieve crisp photographs.  You can try them too, if you like.

While in workshop sessions, and people ask me how I get sharp photographs [particularly landscape & architecture shots] this is what I tell them:

  • I tripod mount my camera
  • Attach my cable release
  • I set my camera to the lowest native ISO
  • I close down my aperture approximately 2-3 stops from the widest opening (usually f/5.6-f/8).
  • Compose, meter, and focus the scene
  • Enable mirror lock-up
  • Depress my cable release

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by Eric Kazmirek & John-Paul Palescandolo

In Part 1 of our Infrared Photography Discussion, John-Paul provided us with great comparisons of the various IR films available on the market.  Additionally, he took the time to discuss the similarities, differences, and unique properties of each film.  This week’s discussion will focus on the various possibilities for black and white infrared photography using digital equipment and digital post-production processing techniques.  The day John-Paul made his IR film comparisons, he also made a digital capture of the scene we used to illustrate the various IR films in Part 1.  The digital capture can be seen below:

Digital Capture on Canon 5D w/ Canon 24-105mm lens

Digital Capture on Canon 5D w/ Canon 24-105mm lens

(more…)

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I am happy to announce that this week’s Tips & Technique article is from one of our forum’s contributing photographers, John-Paul Palescandolo.  John-Paul spends a great deal of his photographic endeavors experimenting with older and unique films.  He shares his findings with us this week in this two-part article on Infrared Photography.

Naked Trees Against Sky - Infrared

Naked Trees Against Sky - Infrared

Article by John-Paul Palescandolo & Eric Kazmirek (more…)

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This morning Nikon released updated firmware for the D3 and D700 cameras.

Nikon D3

v. 2.01  Windows or     Macintosh

The D3 update most notably addresses the following issues:

  • Autofocus-response performance in focus mode C (Continuous-servo AF mode) with relatively dark subjects has been increased.
  • An issue that, in extremely rare cases, resulted in noticeable black dots in images captured with Long exp. NR in the shooting menu set to On has been resolved.
  • An issue that, in some rare cases, caused images captured with the following lenses to be under-exposed, has been resolved.
  • AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8
    AF VR Zoom-Nikkor 80-400mm

Nikon D700

v.  1.01     Windows or     Macintosh

The D700 update most notably addresses the following issues:

  • When Custom Setting a4 Focus tracking with lock-on was set to Off in Continuous-servo AF, the lens drive moved gradually without achieving focus. This issue has been resolved.
  • When the Speedlight SB-800 was mounted on the camera with flash mode set to Distance-priority manual (GN) mode, and then the exposure meters were reactivated or the camera was turned on, the distance information displayed on the SB-800 changed. This issue has been resolved.
  • When the Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D10 was mounted on the camera and an EN-EL3e battery inserted in the camera but no batteries inserted in the MB-D10, and SB-900 flash mode set to TTL auto flash mode, the flash mode changed to A mode when the exposure meters turned off or were reactivated, or the camera was turned off or on. This issue has been resolved.(This issue has also been resolved with SB-900 firmware Ver. 5.02.)
  • An issue that, in extremely rare cases, resulted in noticeable black dots in images captured with Long exp. NR in the shooting menu set to On has been resolved.

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