Tip of the Month

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.

March 2015

Speedlites:  If you are in the market for a good reasonably priced Canon/Nikon equivalent flash, the Yongnuo brand from amazon.ca is getting good reviews on the internet, so of course I bought a couple and was able to demo them at our workshop on flash photography.  The Yongnuo 560 IV is $99.00 with built in receiver and if coupled with their 560 TX transmitter at $55.00 you have a pretty good combination of an off camera flash set-up that you can add unlimited 560 IV's to in the future.  I also bought the Yongnuo YN 14 EX ring flash at $132.00 which so far seems to be an excellent clone of the OEM Canon ring flash.

February 2015

Flash for Macro:  Came across a very cute little flash modifier (made by Neewer) that meets those wonderful criteria of inexpensive, lightweight, functional & portable.  I've been using it mainly for macro work with convenient on camera flash tilted to 45 degrees up.  So if out in the field chasing bugs or flowers, add your flash, slip this on and you have wonderful soft lighting.  In manual mode, I use an ISO of 320, settings at 1/160 & f-20, and can hand hold with no worries of camera shake, have great depth of field and no need to carry a tripod, reflectors, etc.  Got mine from Amazon.ca for $10.00 and I've seen it for less.

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January 2015

Practice with Dummies:  Persuading friends or relatives to pose for you while you practice your portrait techniques, i.e.  lighting, posing, backgrounds, etc. can be frustrating.  The Dollar Store has a solution, for $2.00 "Little Miss Mufffett" (roughly life-size) is available 24/7, never complains, holds still and waits patiently while you review test shots.  Now when you read a portrait article or see a favorite portrait, you can spend the time to recreate and learn that shot at your leisure.  Obviously any other mannequin would provide similar results.

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