You can photograph the night sky year around, but winter brings an added bonus: SNOW! When you don’t have the benefit of moonlight, most of the year land forms a dark to black silhouetted skyline against the night sky. In winter you have the possibility of including the highly reflective snow. You can see both in this photo. Any place not covered with snow is very dark to black. Having reflective snow is why winter is the favorite time of year for a lot of photographers to go out and photograph the night sky.
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.
Originally posted Nov. 1, 2017. Most recent update: Dec. 20, 2017.
After seeing too many incidents when smart phones popped out of their tripod mounts and came crashing to the ground, I decided it was time to write this article.
Posted Dec 16, 2017. Revised and expanded Dec. 22, 2017.
It’s not a good thing when the mic on your DSLR is visible at the top of your videos. That’s the first thing I learned when I started doing research before buying a video mic. It is also not a good thing if the sound quality is disappointing. Fortunately, I found just the size I wanted with the quality I needed.
If you aren’t careful, you could end with with a fake RØDE Microphone. If you already bought one, here’s how to tell if it is fake. If you don’t have a RØDE mic, here’s how to avoid buying a fake.
Water, sand, and grit can wreak havoc with ordinary cameras, so unless you have a waterproof case for your camera (more about that later), your best bet is to get is to get a rugged, waterproof camera for underwater and the beach. This is especially true if you are around salt water.
Your camera falls down a mountainside and off a cliff. An unexpected wave drenches your valuable photo gear in salt water. Your photo backpack is stolen from your home, motel room, or trunk of your car. To add insult to injury, you learn your homeowner’s insurance will not replace the value of your damaged or stolen gear.
When using studio flash units, usually the best way to check your exposures is to use an incident light meter which is capable of metering flash exposures. But what if you don’t have an incident flash meter? Or what if you have a subject that absorbs a lot of light? Or a subject that reflects a lot more light than your typical photographic subject? You can double check your exposure settings by using the histogram on your camera. FYI: Do not trust the LCD image on the back of your camera to judge your exposures.
Off-camera flash can provide more pleasing light and a much more dramatic photograph than on-camera flash. Using two off-camera flash units provides even more dramatic lighting possibilities.
Off-camera flash is so useful because it gives you a different look from the millions of photos that are taken with the flash on the camera. The light can come from any direction you choose, no matter where your camera is, and the latest technology makes automatic flash exposure quick and reliable.
If I am using flash for an environmental portrait, I usually prefer having the flash off of the camera. In this portrait of Warren Stevens (program director and mid-day air personality at Magic 106.3 FM in Columbus), the flash is above Warren and to his right, providing a nice semi side-lit photograph. On camera flash is flat and even. Getting the flash off of the camera and moving it to the side provides more shape and texture to the subject.
After testing a Bob Davis 45 inch Halo Softbox and Yongnuo YN600EX-RT radio flash on my most available model (my dog), I needed to test it out on a real model. Opportunity called in the form of a message from Kristina, a professional model based in Los Angeles (and an absolute delight to work with). She would be in Ohio for Thanksgiving and she wanted to schedule a shoot. I was leaving town for Thanksgiving, but fortunately for us we had one day to shoot after she arrived and before I left.
If you have never used an umbrella adapter to put a flash and umbrella or softbox on a tripod or light stand, the steps below will show you exactly what is involved. If you have already used an umbrella adapter, setting up a Halo softbox will be ridiculously simple for you. Skip to the Halo section below.
Why use an off-camera flash? It gives you more lighting options. And much of the time, the light from an off-camera flash is just plain better. The image above was created with one flash to camera right.
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.
There are a lot of practical and inexpensive (more or less) gifts for photographers. Here is a nice list of items from $8 to $179. To make it easy to track them down, these items are individuality linked plus most of these items can be found in the Misc Goodies section of my photography store which has direct links to Amazon.com. Prices are current as of the date of this post, but prices do fluctuate. Some items can be temporarily unavailable.
Posted Nov. 21, 2017. Updated Dec. 4, 2017.
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.
There are lots of advantages to getting your flash off the camera, and it is probably much less expensive than you think. If you already have a shoe mount speedlite and if your camera has a built in pop up flash a simple $23 optical slave (see below) is all you need to get your flash off the camera.
Photographers are always looking for ways to soften the light when doing portraits. The light from an accessory flash can be quite harsh so there are a wide range of modifiers to soften the light for more pleasing portraits. Here are my favorites for both on-camera and off-camera flash.
CamRanger provides wireless image transfer from your camera to your laptop or smartphone. CamRanger also give you wireless control of your camera with your smart phone or laptop.
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 how much you want to spend. I cover your best options.
Posted Nov. 19, 2017. Updated Dec. 6, 2017.
A good tripod head will save you lots of frustration. For still photography I recommend two types of tripod heads. If you do a little of everything you will want a quality ball head for the quick and easy aiming of the camera. If you only do landscape or architectural photography and you want precise separate controls in each axis of motion, you will want a 3-way head.
Looking for a tripod? Choose wisely. Other than a camera and a good lens, nothing can make a bigger difference in your photography than a good tripod. This is the place to find information, recommended models, and links to more information.
There’s no question that in some complex metering situations, an incident light meter can be quicker, faster, simpler, and more accurate than the meter in your camera. Many incident light meters can also measure light from an electronic flash, a huge bonus when you are using a flash in the manual mode.
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 $285 and the Yongnuo copy is $88.00. 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?
For the best combination of quality and price, it is hard to beat AlienBees studio lights. I’ve been using AlienBees in my studio for over 10 years, and like so many other photographers, I’ve been singing their praises. It would be hard to find the same quality for less money.
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. You can order these items from Amazon via the link at the end of this article.
Looking for a small, mountable, “ideal for sports and action”, inexpensive, high definition video and still camera with a waterproof housing and image quality that Lucasfilm (the Star Wars people) calls “amazing”? This camera will go anywhere and mount just about anywhere. Prices range from $499 to $149, depending on the model (which is a lot less than your typical DSLR with HiDef video).
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. 6, 2017. Updated Nov. 28, 2017.
Do you want to buy a Canon DSLR and/or lenses on a budget? This article is for you.
Originally posted May 2, 2017. Revised and re-posted Nov. 1, 2017.