Tip of the Month

July 2017

Eclipse:  There is a total eclipse of the sun occurring over North America on August 21st this year and here is Ottawa at 1:35 pm we will see about 85% coverage.  If you want to observe or photograph this occurrence, protecting you vision is critically important. There are many ways to protect and save your eyes and I have found a relatively inexpensive special solar filter sheet made by Thousand Oaks Optical for just that purpose.  It is available on Amazon for about $13.00 and is simply a 4"x4" piece of solar filter sheet film that only transmits about 1% of 1/1000 of the light being transmitted by the sun, in other words it is virtually black.  Not sure what the exposures will be with the eclipse, but some initial tests of just the sun against a blue sky were approximately 1/1000 @ f-9.0 @ ISO 100 with a 100 mm lens through the filter of course.

June 2017

Panoramas:  Shooting panoramic is a dramatic way to photograph a large landscape.  This usually involves taking a number images and splicing them together in post processing. Usually works fine but sometimes with an item in the foreground, maybe a log or large rock, it can looked warped.  The solution is to find the nodal point of the lens and this typically involves sliding the camera forward on the tripod so the center of the lens pivots as you pan the scene.  Amazon lists a nodal rail made by Neewer with an Arca Swiss mount for about $23.00 that is an economical solution to the phenomenon.

May 2017

Portrait Position: Setting a DSLR in the portrait or vertical position on a tripod can be a bit awkward and a challenge at times when tilting the tripod head off to the side..  There are expensive solutions but I found a reasonable fix on Amazon.  It is a universal "L bracket" for Nikon and Canon with an Arca Swiss mount under the name FOME MPU-100 for about $17.00. Now the camera sits centered comfortably on the tripod with no offset weight or positioning to deal with.

April 2017

Sensor Dust:  I never gave much thought to sensor dust, however, the other day I did a test and found 22 spots on one body and 19 spots on the other.  Set your camera to aperture priority, 100 ISO, f-11 and shoot a picture of a plain white wall with a 50 mm lens.  Either enlarge on your camera screen and scroll through looking for spots or import to Lightroom and in the develop module use the visualize spots mode and count the spots.  I bought a batch of cleaning swabs, brand name VSGO, on Amazon for $20.00, they come in APS-C size and FF and after gently wiping the sensor once in each direction, virtually all dust spots were gone leaving only 2 and 4 respectively, good enough for me.  Will repeat the rest from time to time.

March 2017

PINTEREST:  Pinterest is the name of a free web site that post thousands of interesting little facts, info sheets and ideas.  It then allows you to pin them to various folders that you create and name for safe keeping.  It covers just about everything from all aspects of photography, survival, home design, star gazing, you name it and they have a sheet for it.  Just a good way to save info on stuff you may or may not need today, but now have a good place to find it when you want it.

February 2017

Tripod Table Top:  Convert your tripod into a convenient little table top for macro, flora or whatever you are working on.  Simply mount a 1/4 x 20 blind nut into a suitable piece of wood and attach to your tripod with the camera screw, cover with an old T-shirt or whatever and you now have an infinitely adjustable table.

January 2017

Reference Cards:  When you figure out something new or interesting for your camera, write it down on a little 2"x3" piece of card stock and then throw it in your camera bag.  For example after shooting something like the Northern Lights, a rising moon, a particular portrait session or attend a seminar, write down all your camera settings or particulars so when in a similar situation many months or years later, you can quickly see what you did and be ready to start the new shoot with a better chance of success.  Even things like how to access certain settings, etc on your camera can be a useful reminder.  If you didn't note your settings at the time of the shoot, you can always look them up in post in your metadata.and then write up your reference card.

October 2016

Mono-pod:  While on an April back-packing trip this year I started using hiking poles and came to really like them, so while on my latest photo trip I decided to try a mono-pod. I found it not only stabilized me while trekking up and down mountain climbs, it worked extremely well at stabilizing the camera.  It was simple and convenient and coupled with an Arca-Swiss quick release was fast and easy to use and saved the hassle of lugging the tripod.  It cannot replace a tripod completely but it can do a lot.

June 2016

Fine Tune Auto Focus: Wanted to mention something that many photographers may not be aware of and this could help you achieve sharper pictures.  The auto focus on your camera from the factory may not be calibrated as accurately as you think and so there are in many cases fine tune adjustments built into your camera for this reason. I know of at least four companies offering products to help you fine tune your camera; Lens Align, FoCal, Dot Tune and Focus Pyramid. Check them out on YouTube. I am using Focus Pyramid and have made adjustments to all my lenses.

May 2016

Comfort Tape:  Came across some tape that is a fabric and soft and yet has no adhesive so it is easy to remove at some later point with no mess. I am using it to wrap the legs on my tripod making them easier to grab and warmer to the hands in winter. The brand name is McNett and is available at Henry's.  I believe there are other brands available at hunting stores for wrapping firearms etc. and also available to vets for wrapping animal injuries as again there is no adhesive to stick to the fur and yet it holds firmly.