Make or Buy Your Own Inexpensive “White Light” Solar Filter to Watch and Photograph the Eclipse

White Light solar filters for photography, binoculars, and non-magnified viewing.

If you order soon (stocks are running low), you can make or buy your own inexpensive, “white light” solar filter for safely photographing (and viewing) the sun and the upcoming solar eclipse August 21. “White light” filters (unlike others) allow you to see and photograph the sun in a natural yellow-amber color.

Update, August 6, 2017: Many of these items are no longer available. Check the most recent articles in this series to see what is still available.

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Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More

I get lots of photo questions and many of them begin with “What is the best . . . .” They usually come from photographers or someone who is shopping for a photographer.

Here is my list of “best of the best” of articles recommending the best photo gear, software, books, DVDs, calendars, online photo labs, and a whole lot more.

Posted Nov. 19, 2016. Updated and re-posted May 5, 2017.

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Don’t get ripped off! Part Four

We’ve been down this road before. The formula is simple. Take a cheap smart phone telephoto lens you can buy at Amazon for $15, sell it for $54.95, say it is a limited half price offer, and imply the lens will do amazing things that every well informed photographer knows the cheap lens absolutely can’t do.

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How To Work With A Model When The Windchill is 4°

Selina

Selina, Downtown Columbus Ohio

You would think a windchill of 4° Fahrenheit (-16°C) would be too cold for a photo shoot, but not with some models. We booked this January shoot weeks in advance so we knew it would be cold, but we had no idea how cold until the day arrived. Here’s the story behind this image and how to work with a model when it is so cold.

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Get Sharper Images By Using The Best Lens Calibration Tools

Lens Calibration Tools

Lens Calibration Tools

A lot of photographers have discovered their almost sharp lens was actually a very sharp lens once they tweaked the micro-adjustment settings. You will get sharper images if you adjust the settings for your specific camera and lens combinations. You do this using the micro-adjustment settings in the camera menu along with a lens calibration tool which you can buy or make yourself.

Article posted Dec. 28, 2016.

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Putting Together a “Studio in a Backpack”

Portable Studio in a Backpack

Portable “studio in a backpack” set up and ready to go.

If I am visiting family and friends and traveling by car, I usually bring my “studio in a backpack”. I never know when I might be asked to do some portraits and having some studio gear along helps create better images (especially when natural light is not a very good option). If you want to do portraits on the road (or even at home), these items are very useful.

Posted Nov. 22, 2016. Updated Dec. 5, 2016.

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Inexpensive Gifts (Starting at $8) for Photographers

Flash adapter and umbrella for an shoe-mount electronic flash.

Flash adapter and umbrella for a shoe-mount electronic flash.

There are a lot of practical and inexpensive gifts for photographers. Here is a nice list of items from $8 to $130. To make them easy to track them down, most of these items can be found at my photography store (which is powered by Amazon.com with Amazon’s terrific ordering, shipping, guarantee, and service). Most of the items below are in the Photo Goodies section. Prices are current as of this update (Nov. 22, 2016) but prices do fluctuate. Some items can be temporarily unavailable.

Originally posted Nov. 24, 2015. Updated and reposted Nov. 22, 2016.

 

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Radio Controlled Speedlites: Yongnuo YN600EX-RT vs Canon 600EX-RT

Yongnuo 600 EX-RT Speedlite and Yonghuo YN-E3-RT Transmitter.

Yongnuo 600EX-RT Speedlite and Yongnuo YN-E3-RT Transmitter. Click to see a larger version.

Should you spend $469 on a Canon 600EX-RT speedlite, or $120 on Yongnuo’s nearly identical clone, the YN600EX-RT? And what about the radio transmitters? Canon’s is $263 and the Yongnuo copy is $85.49. So you can buy three Yongnuo speedlites plus the radio transmitter for less than the price of one Canon speedlite. The price advantage is clear, but what about quality, reliability, and service issues?

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The Best Closeup Photography Equipment

Forget-Me-Nots, Thorne-Swift Nature Preserve, Michigan

Forget-Me-Nots, Thorne-Swift Nature Preserve, Michigan

There are several ways to do closeup photography. Closeup filters, extension tubes, and macro lenses are the most commonly used options. The best gear for you depends on your preferences, how you want to work, the subjects you are after, how much stuff you want to carry, and what you want to spend. I cover your best options.

Posted Nov. 22, 2016. Updated and expanded Dec. 9, 2016.

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The Best Digital Cameras – 2016 (Including 2010 – 2015)

Canon 5D Mark IV DSLR

The holiday season is here and I am getting the usual questions about which digital cameras I recommend. The camera lists below will point you to the highest rated models. You can start with these lists and then narrow it down to a camera with the specific features you are looking for. I will help you in that regard with some information and advice on choosing a camera. The lists below will be updated throughout the holiday season as new reviews for highly rated cameras become available.

Posted Nov. 19, 1016. Updated Dec. 2, 2016.

This is one in a series of articles on The Best of the Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More.

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Buyer’s Guide: Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More

I get lots of photo questions and many of them begin with “What is the best . . . .” They usually come from photographers or someone shopping for a photographer.

Here is my list of “best of the best” of articles recommending the best photo gear, software, books, DVDs, calendars, online photo labs, and a whole lot more.

Posted Nov. 19, 2016. Updated Dec. 28, 2016.

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Don’t get ripped off! Part Three

It is pretty much the same kind of rip off I have written about before. Take a cheap smart phone lens that people can buy at Amazon for $16.99, jack up the price to $56, make outrageous claims, and see how may people you can sucker into buying the item at the higher price. They even used the same “questionable” technologist who has multiple identities.

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Sigma 150-600mm vs Tamron 150-600mm vs Canon 100-400mm Mark II

Sigma 150-600mm Sports and Contemporary Comparison to Canon. Photo by The Digital Picture

Sigma 150-600mm Sports and Contemporary Comparison to Canon. Photo by The Digital Picture

So you want a longer lens and can’t decide which one to get. There are several good options and one of them might be better for you in particular. What about resolution? Do you want to be at 600mm most of the time or just some of the time? Does it matter if the zoom and focus rings turn in Canon’s direction or Nikon’s? What about size,  weight, and cost?

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Don’t get ripped off! Part Two

You order a set of lenses expecting to pay $29. Your credit card gets charged several times that amount and you get socked with an outrageous $85.00 shipping charge. You find out later you could buy the same lenses at Amazon for less than $10. You’ve been ripped off.

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Don’t get ripped off!

After reading a glowing review you order a set of smart phone lenses and you are billed over $100. You get socked with an additional $85 shipping charge (the ad said shipping was free). Then you find out you could have bought the same lenses for less than $10. To add insult to injury you discover the great review was from a fake review site and the quality of the lenses is disappointing. You’ve been ripped off.

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First Night: Testing an iOptron Sky Tracker, Part Two

Orion Nebula and Nebula NGC 1977

Orion Nebula and Nebula NGC 1977. Three minute exposure with a 300mm lens and camera mounted on an iOptron Sky Tracker. This is cropped from a larger image.

After a one minute exposure using the iOptron Sky Tracker (see the photo in part one), I tried a 3 minute exposure with the same 300mm lens to create the image above (which is cropped from a larger image which you can see below). The Orion Nebula (M42 and M43) shows up quite well and you can even see some of the nebulosity of NGC 1977 just above the Orion Nebula around the 5th magnitude stars Orionis 42 and 45. The iOptron Star Tracker is an impressive piece of equipment.

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First Night: Testing an iOptron Sky Tracker, Part One

Orion’s belt, sword and the Orion Nebula in the middle of the sword. 300mm focal length lens and camera mounted on an iOptron Sky Tracker.

Using a tripod, camera, and lens you already own, am iOptron Sky Tracker allows you to take photos that would be impossible with just a camera and tripod. This is a first look at my first night using an iOptron Sky Tracker and ball head. Details will follow later.

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How To Work With A Model When The Windchill is 4°

Selina

Selina, Downtown Columbus Ohio

You would think a windchill of 4° Fahrenheit (-16°C) would be too cold for a photo shoot, but not with some models. We booked this January shoot weeks in advance so we knew it would be cold, but we had no idea how cold until the day arrived. Here’s the story behind this image and how to work with a model when it is so cold.

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“How To” Series: Off-Camera Flash

Margarita

Margarita, Studio Portrait with Off-Camera Flash

Twelve articles (links below) to get you started with off-camera flash. The equipment you will need and how to use it.

Getting your flash off the camera opens up a whole new world of photographic possibilities. And the really good news: the equipment is way less expensive than it used to be. If you are ready to get started, I just finished writing (or re-writing) a series of articles on off-camera flash that covers the equipment you will need and shows you how to use it.

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