Thursday, May 27, 2010

D-Town TV

Scott Kelby's name is synonymous with photography and photography instruction. Many people own his photography and Photoshop books, read his blogs, attend his seminars, etc.

What I didn't realize is that Scott has significantly streamlined his online presence in recent months, and I stumbled across two things to share here.

First, this is a link to his main Kelby TV web site. This site contains all of Kelby's online videos across a wide range of photography, software, and instruction topics.

Second, and more specifically geared towards DSLR shooters, is this link to his D-Town TV web site. The explanation of D-Town TV from the site is: "D-Town TV is a fresh approach to teaching camera tips and photographic techniques to today's digital photographers with Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski as its hosts. No matter what the skill level or interest, each episode covers a wide variety of topics".

I've found the D-Town videos to be interesting and helpful. Take a look through the latest episode and archives to see what you can get out of it. It's an interesting resource!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Canon AF micro adjust

Most of the latest wave of high end digital SLR's from Canon come with an auto focus micro adjust feature. This feature allows you to tweak the operation of the AF system when a particular lens is attached to the camera to (hopefully) improve AF performance for that lens if it has a problem.

Many of the popular photography web site forums are buzzing with discussions about lens calibration and AF micro adjust, so I wanted to post a link here to what seems to be the most popular technique for performing AF micro adjust on your lenses.

Here is the link to the Northlight Images web site article with the adjusting technique.

It takes some time (and adequate distance for long lenses!) to run through this procedure, so set aside enough time to complete the process start to finish. It requires some patience but it seems to pay off in the end for many people...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Local photography - Explore your home area!

I live in a nice area of New York state. There are trees, hillsides, country roads, etc here. Despite that, I have never felt like it's a particularly photogenic area except for certain times of the year when the tree colors are turning or there's a nice winter storm. Consequently, I don't do much local shooting close to my house. It's certainly no Yosemite National Park here...

Unfortunately, that way of thinking shut down my drive to explore my local area more for nice shooting situations, and also stopped me from extending my definition of "local" to also include 2-3 hours from my home. Basically, I got lazy when looking for good photo ops...

Some things have been driving me to explore my local area lately (including 2-3 hours out), and I wanted to share them here in case you're also stuck in a creativity rut like this.

First, look around! Take out a map or some mapping software and explore the areas around your house on the map within a few hours drive. Landmarks, lakes, waterways, parks, bridges, beaches, coastal communities, interesting architecture, a major city, etc. Whatever your type of photography, this is probably a good place to start to get your bearings and get some initial ideas.

Second, look up local photography clubs. If you're not interested in joining one, at least take a look at their web site to see where they've taken some field trips in your area in the past or are planning others in the future. If they interest you, add them to your list of places to explore.

Third, explore the web sites of local photographers (many of whom exhibit at local craft shows are have local galleries). They photograph all over the place and you might be able to get some ideas there. Note that I'm not saying to go out and copy anyone's previous shooting. I'm suggesting this just to get an idea of nice locations to explore on your own. A perfect example of this is referred to in this post of mine about the web site of Robert Rodriguez Jr., who specializes in photography in my area.

Fourth, explore the web sites of the major photo magazines like Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography, Shutterbug and others. These web sites often have galleries and forums where people discuss shooting locations and post pictures of them.

The main point: Don't get lazy like me and get into a creativity rut. Set aside the time to explore your local region and get out and shoot! The spark of seeing new things feels good!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Perfect Exposure

In a previous post, I reviewed a book called "The Photographer's Eye - Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos" by Michael Freeman. I think this is an excellent book that any person looking to improve their photography should read.

One of the keys to a successful photograph is proper exposure. I won't get into an endless discussion about what the "right" exposure for a given scene/subject is, but we all tend to "know it" and "feel it" when we see it.

In addition to composition skills, learning to go beyond the 'Auto' exposure mode on your camera and get creative with exposure and lighting is another big step most photographers need to take. This is the subject of another book that I'm reading by Michael Freeman called "Perfect Exposure". It's another must-read from Freeman! Here is a video about the book.

In this book, Freeman discusses how to move yourself away from Auto exposure mode and get into expressing yourself creatively with exposure. As with his "Photographer's Eye" book, it seems like a lot to digest at first but if you start at page one and work your way through then it all makes complete sense.

Freeman opens the book with some exposure basics to level set the reader and prepare for the following chapters with a discussion of the concept of "key tones". In Chapter 3 called "The Twelve", which is the heart of this book, he then dives into the twelve most common exposure scenarios with examples and case studies that contain great discussion about how to recognize and handle these various scenarios.

The good thing about the book is that Freeman doesn't slide into the mode of telling the reader "what" to do. He's merely trying to help the reader recognize the most common exposure situations so that you can react to them creatively and let yourself run with them using effective metering techniques to achieve your photographic goals.

I'm currently on a quest to take my photography to the next level using creative exposure and the concept of key tones, so I discovered this book at just the right time. It's fantastic, and I would highly recommend it to everyone who wants to take their photography into the next creative realm.