Archive for January, 2008

Photographing the Grand Teton

January 31, 2008

There’s a reason why people travel from all over the globe to enjoy America’s National Parks: our parks are filled with some of the most easily-recognized and oft-photographed natural beauty in all the world. Consider, for example, the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, a 96,000-acre natural wonderland which includes the famous Teton Range, dramatically rising 2,000 feet above the surrounding terrain.

The week of June 8, 2008, WyoFOTO is offering an exclusive six-day field workshop at the Grand Teton National Park with instructors Miles Hecker and Barry Horn. The workshop costs $1495, which does not include transportation, food, or lodging, and space is limited.

Check out the WyoFOTO website for more information on how to register, the planned schedule of events, nearby accommodations, and more stunning photos of Wyoming.

Have you taken a WyoFOTO workshop before? Which one and what did you think of it?

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Taking Photos in Low Temperatures

January 31, 2008

“Snow 1”
© Copyright David Cresine

You can just about feel the crisp chill in the air after the fresh snowfall in David Cresine’s photo “Snow 1” above, taken along Big Bear Lake in California.

Whether you’re intending to take photos while skiing, snowboarding, or enjoying a long winter hike, it’s important to be prepared with the right equipment. The folks at fotohacker.com have compiled an excellent list of considerations which might not only result in the perfect shot, but will also certainly keep you warm and safe in the process:

  1. Clothing. Dress in layers. Make sure you have good boots, gloves, and a warm hat. You especially want to keep your head, feet, and hands warm to protect against frostbite and hypothermia.
  2. Food and Water. Bring carbs (trail mix, chocolate, fruit) and water to keep yourself hydrated.
  3. Gear. Be mindful of the environmental rating of your camera equipment. Protect your camera and extra batteries from the elements by keeping them inside your jacket when not in use. Put the camera in a plastic bag to prevent condensation on the camera lens.

We’d probably also add a cell phone and a GPS to this list, just in case.

Any other gear you’d consider essential for a winter shoot?

Be sure to read the article for details to make sure you’ve planned and prepared before heading out to the great outdoors.

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The Golden Mean

January 30, 2008

Chances are, you’ve heard of the Golden Rule, the Golden Goose, and the Golden Ticket. And, if I’ve done my job, you’re probably now humming “I’ve got a Golden TI-cket” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. No doubt, that’ll be stuck in your head for the rest of the day now. Very sorry about that.

But what is The Golden Mean? Well, glad you asked. It’s a geometric formula invented in ancient Greece that’s still used today by professional photographers in search of a “harmonious” composition. Speaking of harmonizing, if you can stop humming that darn song for just one second, I’d like to direct your attention to this article on The Golden Mean by Klaus Schroiff of photozone.de, our weekly highlight from the Photobird Learning Center.

By dividing a square in half and then extending the base with the arc of a circle, we end up with a 5:8 proportioned rectangle, which closely matches the ratio of the 35mm film format (24x36mm=5:7.5). Within this perfectly proportioned rectangle, create three triangles and then, when composing scenes to photograph, attempt to roughly fit each element into one of these three triangle sections, as seen in the picture above.

It’s all Greek to me, but that may be “‘cause I’ve got a golden ticket and with a golden ticket, it’s a golden day.”

Be sure to check out the Photobird Learning Center to read the entire article and for more great How to… articles.

Photography with Multiple Cameras

January 30, 2008

After you’ve mastered using one, two, or even three cameras at a time, you may find you need more help than a dozen photographic assistants can provide, to shoot with 25 or more cameras aimed at your subject, with shutters snapping in 1/6-second precision intervals from every imaginable angle. We’ve heard of a multi-camera shoot before, but this is ridiculous!

Well, no longer: with software from Breeze Systems, you can build an impressive array of up to 120 Canon digital SLR cameras all firing from a single PC running Windows XP or Windows Vista.

Here’s a list of some of the magic now possible with the DSLR Remote Pro Multi-Camera software:

  • Control the settings of all the cameras (e.g. setting ISO, Tv, Av etc.).
  • Synchronize the clocks on each camera.
  • Synchronize camera settings.
  • See a summary of the settings for each camera.
  • Select an individual camera and take preview shots displaying the image at 2x or 4x magnification for accurate alignment and focusing.
  • Take a picture on all cameras either from the PC or using a remote shutter release.
  • Edit the owner string for each camera so that it can be used for naming the images as they are downloaded.
  • Automatically download the images to the PC and name them according to which camera took the picture.

There’s even a free fully-functional 15-day trial version of the software available here, though, sorry, it’s limited to just 4 cameras.

If this product were just, say, a little more portable, I’m sure the paparazzi would have a field day; annoying, in turn, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and then, of course, us with their resulting photographs. But honestly, I’m a little hard-pressed to think of any practical use for this extremely cool technology, at least for us amateur shutterbugs; even so, of course, I feel like going out and buying it without delay!

Priced at just $95 per camera, it’s certainly affordable. Well, that is until you get up to 120 cameras, which would set you back a cool $11,400. Oh, and that’s not including the cameras themselves. Sold separately.

What do you think of the DSLR Remote Pro Multi-Camera software? What would you use it for?

Swan, Swan, Hummingbird

January 29, 2008

Richard Deadmond’s “Taking a Break”

Did you know that hummingbirds in flight have a higher metabolism than any other animal? Their heart rate can reach as high as 1,260 beats per minute! But unlike many animals with relatively high metabolisms, hummingbirds have a surprisingly long lifespan, with documented instances of some species living as long as 17 years.

We’ve got hummingbird feeders in the front and back of our house. I love looking up and seeing one of these beautiful birds enjoying some delicious nectar. I’m partial to the new hummingbird feeders like the one featured in Richard Deadmond’s “Taking a Break”, our Photobird Photo of the Hour, because you rarely see these marvelous creatures at rest. And even when they are resting, they don’t stay that way for long.

It looks like Richard has captured a photo of the Calypte anna or Anna’s Hummingbird, as it’s commonly known. These very colorful birds are quite territorial and are common along most of the Pacific coast.

Why don’t you submit your favorite photos to be featured on Photobird Photo of the Hour? It’s easier than capturing a beautiful shot of a hummingbird: just view the photo from your photo album and click the “Submit for Photo of the Hour” checkbox. There is no limit to the number of photos you can submit and we’d love to see your submissions.

Read here about how to get more storage space and how to keep your photos private when submitting your photos for Photo of the Hour.

Discuss your favorite Photobird Photos of the Hour in the Photobird forums.

The Super Bowl, Behind the Lens

January 29, 2008

If we watch the Super Bowl at all, we usually only watch it for the commercials. But this time, after reading this article on PopPhoto.com, we finally have something else to look forward to: During the game, we’ll be intensely focused on the sidelines, on the lookout for the photographers’ memory card runners, or messengers as they’re formally called.

Each major news service employs as many as 15 strategically placed photographers to cover the Super Bowl. During the event, each photographer takes about 450 shots. Because they shoot with the new Canon EOS-1D Mark III camera, the photographers capture each picture as a 15MB RAW file, so you better believe those memory cards fill up fast!

That’s where the runners come in. Even though they’re not wearing NFL team jerseys, they play a critical role on game day: Runners are responsible for quickly retrieving full memory cards, getting them dumped, duped, erased, and back to the field photographers as quickly as possible.

Who knows, perhaps one of these unsung heroes will blossom into a future Super Bowl Running Back some day? What do you think? Here’s a photo of them getting ready before the big game:

Top Ten Tips for Photographing Pets

January 28, 2008

“Lazy-Spud”
© Copyright Mike Saunders

Elizabeth West has written an excellent article on photodoto.com about how to get good pictures of your pets. I forwarded this article to my girlfriend because the memory card in her camera is typically chock-full of our ongoing attempts to document the unique and playful character of our two house cats. The photos usually end up as mostly out-of-focus shots of two ordinary cats in the throes of a long nap.

So here then are Elizabeth’s top ten tips:

  1. Be patient. Pets aren’t likely to “strike a pose”.
  2. Try to capture a characteristic action or activity. I suppose this would be “sleeping” if you own a cat.
  3. Get on the same level. Unless your pet is a horse or giraffe, this means you’ll need to crouch or sit down.
  4. Fill the frame with your pet. A good use of that telephoto lens you purchased.
  5. Don’t ignore the background. Just like composing any good shot, eliminate distracting background items and avoid mergers.
  6. Try for natural light. Flash will upset kitty and kitty likes to bite!
  7. Use a fast shutter speed. Elizabeth recommends 250 (1/250 second), or “sports” or “action” mode if available on your camera.
  8. Aim for the eyes. They say eyes are the gateway to the soul and, yes, it’s true, all dogs go to heaven.
  9. Overexpose a bit. Adjust the exposure depending on the available light and the color of the animal’s fur.
  10. Include people in the shots. Family members interacting with pets can bring out the best in both subjects.

Be sure to read the full article for more details. Interestingly, most of Elizabeth’s tips apply just as well to photographing people.

New Kids on the Block

January 28, 2008

In the 80s, it was Whitney Houston who first counseled us in song that the children are the future and that we should let them lead the way. And what she sang about back then still rings true now, some twenty years later. If you’re seeking photographic evidence of this, look no further than Rozana Mahdi’s “My new best friend…” a recent entry in our Photobird Photo Contest for January.

Speaking of the contest, there’s only four days left to enter. We’re accepting entries through January 31, 2008. This month’s theme, if you haven’t already guessed, is “New”.

Two winners are chosen every month and each winner will receive the following prizes:

Be sure to read more details about the monthly contest here. The contest is free to enter and be sure to get your friends and family to vote too!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the Photobird forums.

Amazon.com Best Selling Digital Cameras

January 25, 2008

One of the secrets of Amazon.com’s success is their superior inventory management system.  In order to offer the lowest prices, they keep a close eye on which cameras are selling with their list of the best-selling camera models, which is updated each hour.

The top ten cameras right now are all manufactured by Canon. They must be doing something right. Click on any of the links below to go to the specific page in the Photobird Digital Camera Buyer’s Guide for that camera model to read reviews and obtain product specifications:

  1. Canon PowerShot A570 IS
  2. Canon PowerShot SD1000
  3. Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
  4. Canon Digital Rebel XTi
  5. Canon PowerShot SD870 IS
  6. Canon PowerShot A720 IS
  7. Canon PowerShot A560
  8. Canon PowerShot G9
  9. Canon PowerShot S5 IS
  10. Canon PowerShot SD750

Before you purchase a Canon digital camera or anything else on Amazon.com, be sure to click one of our Amazon.com links anywhere on Photobird.com. For each product you buy within 24 hours after your click, we receive a small referral fee, at no additional cost to you. Your clicks and purchases allow us to continue to publish this blog and the Photobird Learning Center. Thank you for your patronage!

Camera of the Week: Fujifilm FinePix F40fd

January 25, 2008

The Fujifilm FinePix F40fd sells for under $250 and features an 8.3-megapixel CCD, a 2.5-inch LCD, and a 3x optical zoom. The camera works with both xD and SD memory cards and is powered by a lithium-ion NP-70 battery.

Steves-digicams.com has called the F40fd “a great value…”. Thinkcamera.com opines that the F40fd is “a fabulous little camera…”, while megapixel.net cites its “very good image quality”. For these reasons, we have chosen the Fujifilm FinePix F40fd as our Photobird Camera of the week.

You can read more reviews of the Fujifilm FinePix F40fd and similar cameras on the Photobird Digital Camera Buyer’s Guide as well as discuss this camera in our Fujifilm forum.

Buy this camera at B&H Photo
Buy this camera at Amazon.com

View the Fujifilm FinePix F40fd product page

Your clicks and purchases at Amazon.com allow us to continue to publish this blog and the Photobird Learning Center. For each product you buy after clicking on any Amazon.com link on Photobird.com, we receive a small referral fee, at no additional cost to you. Thank you!