Tip of the Month

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.


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.

October 2014

Pain in the Neck:  Lugging our wonderful DSLR's with us all day on the conventional neck-strap can be tiresome and leaves the camera flopping around forcing you to constantly grab and hang on to it.  Here are two sites worth checking out; cottoncarrier.com and peakdesignltd.com.  Just the belt clip/carrier from Andy Cotton without all the bells and whistles coupled with the quick and infinitely adjustable neck strap from Peak Design make a relatively inexpensive combo that leaves your camera ready for action, securely held and your hands free.

July, Aug, Sept 2014

Revisit the Scene:  Just when you think, "been there, done that" try going back and revisiting the scene where you took a great photograph.  You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.  After our recent club outing to Merrickvile, I thought I had a pretty decent sunset photo, but decided to revisit and maybe improve the shot a bit.  A few visits later I suddenly had four very nice photos.  Remember things change, lighting, weather, seasons, angles, composition, go back, keep exploring and experimenting.  In this digital world, film is cheap.

June 2014

  • Instructional Website:  Found an interesting website with short videos in the blog section that puts some basic technical  photo concepts into plain English, grahamclarkphoto.com.  One in particular on dynamic range shows graphically how the human eye sees about 22 f-stops whereas a typical DSLR might see about 14 f-stops and how to deal with this.  Worth looking into.

April 2014

  • Lightroom Inspiration:  Check out sergerameli.com or find him on Youtube, he has hundreds of 5 to 10 minute videos that demonstrate beautiful before and after photos.  So scroll though his listings, pick the type of photo you are working on, i.e. nighttime, sunset etc. and see what can be done, you will probably find something interesting.

March 2014

  • Refill your own inkjet cartridges:  with new inkjet cartridges costing upwards of $20.00 each, my math to refill them yourself works out to something less than $1.00 each.  Calculations on the internet (Red River Papers) estimate ink consumption at retail for a 13x19 print to be about $2.25, do it yourself and I estimate the cost at something like $0.25.  Buy a kit from precisioncolors.com in Toronto; for an 8 color printer like the Canon Pro 9000, the kit costs $60.88 and includes 4 oz. each of the 8 colors plus all refill needles, plugs and a chip re-setter.  Quality of the ink seems really good; I have had poor results with other brands.  Ink costs now become almost negligible.  So using Canon paper as an example, to produce a 13x19 print at home will cost you something like $2.50.  Hard to beat.

February 2014

  • Ikea has some nice 16x20 frames "NYTTJA" for $6.99, plastic instead of glass so very lightweight, clean simple design, great if you want to be able to display at home or take to a showing of some sort.  Transport can be as easy as using a cardboard box leftover from a computer monitor, even has a handle, and interleaving a piece of bristol board from the Dollar Store $0.50 between each frame  means no scratching.  No need to matt, again cut a piece of bristol board to 16x20 and affix trimmed print to bristol board with two sided tape, slide into frame.

January 2014

  • Use a cold weather neck warmer as a camera shield;  slide your camera completely in and slip an elastic over the end of the warmer and lens leaving the lens viewable. Everything is functional from the rear and it keeps snow and light rain off, your hands can be inside and cozy, your camera is protected as well from abrasion on zippers and branches, etc. and if you slip or fall, I've done it, the camera survives very nicely.
  • Use colorful translucent file covers from the Dollar Store as color gels for your flash;  simply cut to shape, place over the front of your flash and attach with an elastic or whatever.  It is an inexpensive alternative to the professional $25.00 set from Lee or Rogue of which you only get one of each color and probably many you don't even want, and bonus, you can cut a dozen or more from this one sheet.
  • In Lightroom hit the shortcut "F" key alternately to toggle to complete full screen viewing;  this is handy when scrolling through a batch of photos and not wishing to view all the peripheral info and settings around the border.
  • Use off camera flash and remotely fire using a high shutter speed to eliminate background;  typically place flash off to the side of your subject and use normal aperture but a high shutter speed in manual mode, maybe 1/250, thus eliminating ambient light, to achieve a very dramatic stark lighting of your subject.