Tip of the Month

November 2017

Wilderness Photography:  When photographing in remote places, either hiking or canoe trips, encounters with aggressive wildlife, though unlikely, can occur.  Carrying bear spray is recommended but not everyone wants to go that route.  While on a recent trip to the Yukon, Parks Canada in addition to bear spray was recommending "air horns".  They are less intimidating to use, cheap, light weight, inexpensive $10.00 and available everywhere, e.g. Cdn Tire. A couple quick blasts and your nosy bear typically turns and scampers away.


October 2017

DIY Macro Flash Adaptor:  Adapt you DSLR and standard mounted flash to provide better lighting for macro photography.  Simply take an empty Pringles container, wash, cut the end off at roughly 45 degrees, cut a matching hole in a disposable paper bowl, tape on to the end of Pringles tube, staple a piece of white packing foam over front of bowl and slide the completed assembly over your flash head.  For macro photography, you will now have light positioned directly over your subject.  Spray paint the outside matt black if you really want that professional look.

September 2017

Printer Print Heads:  I have been researching a lot of YouTube videos recently on printer head lifespan.  The common thread seems to be, "use you printer regularly".  There does not seem to be brand specific issues, so my recommendation is, "doesn't matter what you print, just print something" at least monthly is better than nothing.  Print heads are expensive, up to $250.00 so ink and a bit of paper is cheap insurance.

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.