Tip of the Month

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.

March 2016

Stroboscopic Flash: Not all flash have this feature, but it may be worth your while to read your manual carefully.  Something fun and interesting to experiment with. A typical example might be to have say a 1/2 sec. exposure with the flash firing 4 times so you effectively capture a multiple exposure.  Best results are with low ambient light and your flash will of course have to fire at less than full power in order for it to cycle quickly enough. Since I did not have a 5 year old available to jump off a balcony into the snow while I took the shots, I offer the very poor substitute of billiard balls rolling across the pool table.  This was a fixed camera position at a 1/2 sec. exposure, f-10, ISO 100 with flash at 1/8 power firing 4 times.  Similarly you could pan a moving subject in a reasonably dark environment and get dramatic results.

January 2016

Portraits:  Picked up a good book over the holidays, Peter Hurley's "Head Shot", a very worthwhile read.  Though lighting is a big part of a good portrait, Peter spends most of this time explaining how the big success in good portraits is subject/photographer relations and subject specific poising details i.e. head tilt, face angle, eye position, amount of smile, etc.  As a follow up, check out this YouTube channel: Fstoppers critique Peter Hurley and play along as they critique/analyze 20 head shot portraits and as you watch you quickly begin to see the same things they do.

November 2015

What's In Focus:  Recently a few members were asking how to use aperture and what it does other than let in light.  The two simplistic answers I gave were in say a typical outdoor portrait, a wide open aperture focusing on the subject would produce a sharp focus on the subject of course but result in a very soft non-distracting background.  The other example might be a typical landscape with maybe a leading line or a strong foreground element that required both foreground and background to be sharp.  Here the technique is to frame the landscape, then re-aim the camera and focus on the foreground element or alternately focus 30% into the composition, hold focus, recompose and take the shot using a stopped down aperture of something more than say f-10.  Now both the foreground item, rock, log, flowers or whatever and the background should be sharp and in focus.

October 2015

Large Prints:  Recently I was looking to make a really large quality print, 20"x34", and happened to find a shop locally in Merrickville; CoBa Printing.  They have a 44 inch Epson Printer and seem to know what they are doing, cost is approximately .05 cents per square inch so you can do the math and budget your print size accordingly.  I submitted my print as a TIFF file on a memory stick and they were able to print it while I waited. I was able to get it framed locally as well at Canal Gallery & Frame in Merrickville.

June 2015

Lightroom 6, should you buy it:  Probably.  I've been using for about a month now and my 2 cents is that it is worth the money.  My new favorite feature is within the gradient and radial filters, there is now an erase brush that lets you remove filtering on the portions of the image that get overlapped by the gradient or radial filters, i.e. a skyline that has irregular features such as a mountain or trees can now easily erase the filter from just that section.  As well the HDR and stitching features work really well and are ridiculously simple to use.

May 2015

No Pain in the Neck:  For those of you who often walk around with a back pack, Black Rapid make a "back pack strap" for just that purpose.  It clips to the upper shoulder strap and then down to the opposite belt support and thus means no need for a strap around your neck.  Very convenient to use, camera is stable and does not bounce around and if bending over, it does not swing out hitting things.  Black Rapid has an excellent little video on it's use in their website.

April 2015

Choosing a Book:  There are tons of free "How To Videos" and "Blogs" on the internet.  Sometimes though it is nice to have an instructional book available in your studio area or bed side table for casual reading, but how do you decide which to buy from the thousands listed on Amazon.ca.  Chapters/Indigo have a very limited selection in their stores for you to choose from.  However, from Amazon you can download a free preview of the first 3-4 chapters for any of their books to your tablet, PC or Kindle.  So download a half dozen for free, check them out and then order the one that suits your needs.