Archive for March, 2009

Best Selling Cameras on Amazon.com

March 31, 2009

Amazon.com keeps a running tally of its best-selling digital cameras, updated hourly. Check out the Amazon.com Digital Camera Best Sellers page at this link to see the complete list of cameras.

The big news this week, ladies and gentlemen, is something we’ve all been looking forward to seeing — well, at least I have. The Canon PowerShot A590 IS compact digital camera that has been in the number one spot on the Amazon.com Digital Camera Best Sellers list for months has been dethroned. The new leader is shown above: the Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS in blue. Its price has held steady at $150 with FREE Super Saver Shipping, while the price for the Canon PowerShot A590 IS has been steadily increasing and is now at $125.

Despite this changing of the guard, the rest of the Amazon.com Digital Camera Best Sellers list is generally the same as previous weeks. Canon still dominates the top 10 spots, with cameras in 9 of the top 10 positions. The only camera in the list this week that is not manufactured by Canon is the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S950 in black.

The top 10 list for the Amazon.com Digital Camera Best Sellers page is below. This week’s list and the list from two weeks ago are shown. Click on any of the links to go to the Amazon.com page for that camera to read reviews and to obtain more details on each camera.

This week:

1. Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS (Blue) – $150
2. Canon PowerShot A590 IS – $125
3. Canon PowerShot SD770 IS (Black) – $201
4. Canon PowerShot SD880 IS – $248
5. Canon PowerShot G10 – $410
6. Canon Rebel XSi – $680
7. Canon PowerShot SX110 IS – $190
8. Canon Rebel XS – $489
9. Canon PowerShot SD890 IS – $200
10. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S950 (Black) – $129

Two weeks ago:

1. Canon PowerShot A590 IS – $110
2. Canon PowerShot SD770 IS (Black) – $160
3. Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS (Blue) – $150
4. Canon PowerShot SD880 IS – $248
5. Canon Rebel XSi – $680
6. Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS (Silver) – $150
7. Canon PowerShot G10 – $410
8. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W120 (Pink) – $100
9. Canon PowerShot SD890 IS – $199
10. Canon Rebel XS – $489

Before you buy a Canon digital camera or anything else on Amazon.com, please click one of our Amazon.com links on this page or anywhere on Photobird.com. For each product you buy 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 the Photobird Daily and the Photobird Learning Center. Thank you for your support!

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Read Your Histogram for the Best Exposures

March 30, 2009

Image © Copyright Jim DiVitale

The histogram on your camera is probably the most valuable feature on digital cameras that film cameras don’t have, next to storing photos on memory cards. Yet I’d bet that the histogram is probably the least used feature because most people don’t know how to use it. I’ll even admit that I need more experience with it.

Jim DiVitale explains the histogram very well in his blog post entitled “It Starts With The Histogram“. I’ve written before about the histogram in the Photobird Daily article entitled “What is the Graph on My Camera? The Histogram.

Here’s why you should learn to read your histogram for the best exposure:

  • As Jim DiVitale explains, “To get the best dynamic range from a digital exposure, you must expose it as bright as possible without over exposing the image. There is a fine line in finding that perfect place.”
  • He continues: “To find that perfect place, you must master the art of pre-visualization and reading of the histogram.”
  • The histogram quickly and easily shows you the amount of black tones and shadows in your photo on the left side of the histogram and the amount of white tones and highlights on the right side of the histogram, with gray tones in the middle and the rest of the grayscale spectrum spread in between the black on the left and the white on the right.
  • Jim DiVitale explains that on a scale of 0 (pure black on the left) to 255 (pure white on the right), “White with detail is at about 240-245. Above that, white will start to lose any true detail as it approaches pure white of 255. On the shadow side, black with detail lives at about 20-25. Below 20 and you start to lose your shadow detail.”
  • Of course, you can have pure blacks of 0 and pure whites of 255 in your image, but you don’t want the histogram to be overly weighted to one side or another because that will indicate underexposure on the left and overexposure on the right.
  • “Expose for the highlights, and process for the shadows”. What this means is when you take your picture, adjust your exposure settings in your camera to consider only the (white, bright) highlights in the photo, and adjust the photo in photography post-processing software later to bring out the details in the (black, dark) shadow areas. You need to do this because cameras can’t capture the full dynamic range of light that our eyes can. You can read more about this in the Photobird Daily review of the book “Mastering HDR Photography, by Michael Freeman“.
  • Shoot using the RAW file format so you can maintain as much control over the tonal range of the image, which you can modify later in photography post-processing software. Read more about the RAW file format in the Photobird Daily article entitled “RAW Format Diet“.

For more details and examples of the histogram, be sure to read “It Starts With The Histogram” in Jim DiVitale’s blog.

One final note: I wrote in the beginning of this article that “The histogram on your camera is probably the most valuable feature on digital cameras that film cameras don’t have, next to storing photos on memory cards.” But you may be thinking, “Wait a minute! What about the LCD? It’s very useful and not found on film cameras.” True, it’s not found on film cameras, but I think people rely on the LCD more than they should. As I wrote in the Photobird Daily article entitled “STOP! Don’t Delete That Picture!“, LCD screens don’t show enough detail. People use LCD screens a lot and rely on them because they are a major feature of digital cameras; but just because it’s there, doesn’t mean we should rely on it. It’s a similar argument to more megapixels: More megapixels are promoted as a major feature, but they don’t necessarily give you better photos and we shouldn’t rely on them to improve our photos.

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5 Days Left: Photo Contest for March

March 27, 2009

“Balancing”
© Copyright Sourav Karmakar

That’s a really big pot the acrobat is balancing on his head. It looks like it’s really heavy. I wonder if it’s a real clay pot, or a special, lighter pot made just for balancing. Either way, that’s a really big deal to be able to balance anything on his head.

What’s also a big deal is how this photo was taken. The lighting in the theatre probably wasn’t very good, but Sourav Karmakar got a great, clear, well-lit shot. The photo is composed very well too. Note how level the floor is with the frame of the photo. Quite a balancing act for the photographer!

Sourav Karmakar entered this photo entitled “Balancing” into the Photobird Photo Contest for March 2009. The contest theme for this month is “Big”, and there’s only 5 days remaining. The contest is free to enter and ends Tuesday, March 31, 2009, at 11:59pm Pacific Time.

Photobird Photo Contest details:

The two winners for the Photobird Photo Contest for March 2009 will each receive the following cool prizes:

Read more details about the monthly contest here.

Every monthly Photobird Photo Contest has two winners. At the end of each month, we pick one winner for the Photobird Award, and we will tally your votes to determine the one winner for the People’s Choice Award.

See the previous contests and their contest entries at this link.

Go here to enter the contest. And be sure to have your family and friends vote for their favorite entries to help select the People’s Choice Award. (Send them a quick little reminder here.)

If you have any questions, please ask in the comments below or in the Photobird forums.

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“Dusk @ Fira”, by Rafa Torcida

March 26, 2009

"Dusk @ Fira" © Copyright Rafa Torcida

“Dusk @ Fira”
© Copyright Rafa Torcida

This is a great photo by Rafa Torcida of the village of Fira, perched on the edge of Santorini’s volcanic cliffs in Greece. I like how the lights in the scene along with the buildings still illuminated at dusk set a warm, inviting mood. Looks like a fun, beautiful place. Click the photo above to see a larger version. More of Rafa Torcida’s photos can be seen at photobird.com/rafa.

Photobird.com is the easy way to share your photos. You capture and share so many great photos on Photobird.com that we created the Photo of the Hour feature to give you the opportunity to share your very best with the rest of the world.

It’s really easy to submit your favorite photos to be featured on the Photobird Photo of the Hour: Simply 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 always like to get new submissions.

In return for each photo we use on the Photo of the Hour or People Places and Things, you get more storage space for your photo album so you can store more photos. Details are here.

If you’d like to keep some of your photos private while you share your favorite photos with the world, you can read how easy it is to do that with Photobird photo albums in our Photobird Daily article entitled “Show Off Your Photos, and Keep Some Private“.

You may also discuss your favorite Photobird Photos of the Hour in the Photobird forums.

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The 8-Foot-Wide, 7-Gigabyte Print

March 25, 2009

Photo © Copyright Michael Reichmann

When we take photos, some of us try to create art while most of us simply want a visual memory of that special time and place. Unfortunately though, two-dimensional photos don’t even come close to the feeling and experience we want to capture when we snap the shutter. Photos have no third dimension, no sound replication, no projection of flowery fragrances, and no temperature control to enable us to feel the bitter cold and searing heat depicted in photos.

Even though it’s still a two-dimensional photo, Michael Reichmann at The Luminous Landscape tried to capture the grandeur of a special scene as he stood on the deck of the Ocean Nova when his group sailed out of Marguerite Bay, south of the Antarctic Circle. The result is shown in the photo above. Michael Reichmann has a version on The Luminous Landscape that you can print out yourself.

Here’s some details of this photo and what makes it so extraordinary:

  • Photographed with the 60-megapixel (yes, sixty) Phase One P65+
  • 13 individual photos, captured handheld, to create a panorama photo
  • Each file was 360MB
  • Processed on a Mac Pro with two 3Ghz Quad-Core processors and 10GB RAM
  • While Photoshop usually takes only seconds to process images on that computer, it took 42 minutes to process this 7GB photo.
  • 34,815 pixels wide by 8,280 pixels tall.
  • Final print measured 97 inches wide by 23 inches tall.

Read the rest of the story at The Luminous Landscape, where you can download a smaller version of the photo that will create a 24-inch-wide print. The 8-foot-wide print is currently on display at The Luminous Landscape Gallery in Toronto.

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The Importance of Exposure

March 24, 2009

Photo © Copyright Bryan Peterson

The text and photos in this article are excerpted from Understanding Exposure Revised Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera by Bryan Peterson. Copyright © 2004 by Bryan Peterson. Reprinted by permission of Amphoto Books, an imprint of Watson-Guptill Publications. All rights reserved.

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The Importance of Light: The Importance of Exposure

“What should my exposure be?” is, as I’ve already said, an often-heard question from my students. And, again as I stated earlier, my frequent reply — although it may at first appearing flippant — is simply, “Your exposure should be correct, creatively correct that is!” As I’ve discussed in countless workshops and on-line photo courses, achieving a creatively correct exposure is paramount to a photographer’s ability to be consistent. It’s always the first priority of every successful photographer to determine what kind of exposure opportunity he or she is facing: one that requires great depth of field or shallow depth of field, or one that requires freezing the action, implying motion, or panning. Once this has been determined, the real question isn’t “What should my exposure be?” but “From where do I take my meter reading?

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How to Photograph Hummingbirds

March 23, 2009

Photo © Copyright Steve Berardi

Spring is here and that means hummingbirds are here too. Also, the weather will be more pleasant for us humans to photograph these speedy little birds.

Here’s some tips on how to photograph hummingbirds from Steve Berardi in his article at the Digital Photography School website.

  1. Know your subject. Steve Berardi says it best: “You need to know your subject for any kind of photography, but it’s most important for wildlife photography (when you have a completely uncontrollable subject), and it’s absolutely essential for photographing hummingbirds.” You don’t need to become an expert on hummingbirds, but you need to know what they like to eat and where to find hummingbirds if they don’t already come to your backyard.
  2. Be patient. Once you know where to find hummingbirds, you’ll just need to wait for them to arrive. As you continue to observe and learn more about their behavior, you can adjust your location to get better shots.
  3. Use continuous focusing on your camera. This autofocus setting on your DSLR camera will help you keep the hummingbirds in sharp focus.
  4. Use a fast shutter speed. Fast hummingbird wings require a fast shutter speed, so shoot with 1/800-second or faster on sunny days. Use ISO 400 or 800 and a wider aperture to help get a faster shutter speed.
  5. Take lots of photos. Steve Berardi took over 400 photos in ten minutes to get three sharp hummingbird photos. Especially with super fast moving objects such as hummingbirds, you’ll need to shoot a lot of photos to get a few good ones because most of them will come out blurry or won’t even have a hummingbird in the frame.

Interestingly, tips 1, 2, and 5 apply to all forms of photography and will help you get great photos, whether you’re photographing hummingbirds or turtles.

Read Steve’s Berardi’s entire article at the Digital Photography School website.

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1 Week Left: Photo Contest for March

March 20, 2009

“Big Dune”
© Copyright Vicki Tinnon

Big Dune” is a great photo that Vicki Tinnon entered into the Photobird Photo Contest for March 2009. What makes this photo great? First, it’s simple. There’s only the sky, the dune, and the two people at the top. The shape of the dune gives the photo a nice, smooth feel. The ridge of the dune lined up with the top of the Rule of Thirds also makes the composition work well. (Read more about composition in “Photobird’s Simple Guide to Great Photos“.)

The second thing that’s great about the photo are the rich, vibrant colors of the sky and the dune’s sand. They contrast well with each other.

Finally, the tiny people at the top of the dune give it scale. They confirm that, yes indeed, that’s one big dune!

Vicki Tinnon won the Photobird Award for the Photobird Photo Contest for May 2008 with her photo “Moving In“. You can see more of Vicki Tinnon’s inspiring photos in her Photobird photo album at photobird.com/vickitinnon.

Time is running out for you to enter your own big photo into the Photobird Photo Contest for March 2009. “Big” is the theme this month. This contest, which is free to enter, ends Tuesday, March 31, 2009.

Photobird Photo Contest details:

The two winners for the Photobird Photo Contest for March 2009 will each receive the following cool prizes:

Read more details about the monthly contest here.

Every monthly Photobird Photo Contest has two winners. At the end of each month, we pick one winner for the Photobird Award, and we will tally your votes to determine the one winner for the People’s Choice Award.

See the previous contests and their contest entries at this link.

Go here to enter the contest. And be sure to have your family and friends vote for their favorite entries to help select the People’s Choice Award. (Send them a quick little reminder here.)

If you have any questions, please ask in the comments below or in the Photobird forums.

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“Little Beauty” by Robert Romero

March 19, 2009

“Little Beauty”
© Copyright Robert Romero

I like this photo that Robert Romero shot entitled “Little Beauty“, shown above. I like the shape of the flower, very unique, and its color, also unique, and it especially stands out against the black background. Robert explains in the description of the photo that to get this effect, he put a large moving box over the flower, with some black cloth on the back of the box, and lit the flower with a flashlight from the side through a hole. The result is pretty nifty, and eliminates the distracting backgrounds that usually accompany flower photos. Robert likes the effect, and I do too.

Robert Romero won the Photobird Award for the Photobird Photo Contest for February 2008 with his photo “Just Peachy“. You can see more of Robert’s photos at photobird.com/theshootest.

Photobird.com is the easy way to share your photos. You capture and share so many great photos on Photobird.com that we created the Photo of the Hour feature to give you the opportunity to share your very best with the rest of the world.

It’s really easy to submit your favorite photos to be featured on the Photobird Photo of the Hour: Simply 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 always like to get new submissions.

In return for each photo we use on the Photo of the Hour or People Places and Things, you get more storage space for your photo album so you can store more photos. Details are here.

If you’d like to keep some of your photos private while you share your favorite photos with the world, you can read how easy it is to do that with Photobird photo albums in our Photobird Daily article entitled “Show Off Your Photos, and Keep Some Private“.

You may also discuss your favorite Photobird Photos of the Hour in the Photobird forums.

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The Key to Great Photos: Location and Timing

March 18, 2009

“Early Madness”
© Copyright Camil Seisanu

We’ve written before about how important location and timing are to produce great photos. It’s so important that I’m writing about it again — and we’ll probably write about it some more in the future.

Michael Reichmann, a professional photographer for over 40 years, states in one of his articles in the Photobird Learning Center that the two most essential elements of photography are location and timing. Not shutter speed, not aperture, not white balance, not ISO. It’s not important how many megapixels your camera has, or whether you have a compact camera or an SLR. In fact, the photo shown above, “Early Madness” by Camil Seisanu, was shot using a 5-megapixel, medium-sized camera from 2006, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1.

As Reichmann says, “You can have the greatest lenses, and possess the finest technique, but if you’re not able to shoot at an interesting location you’re unlikely to produce successful images.”

Reichmann also writes about the concept of “The Decisive Moment”: that split-second where all of the compositional elements coalesce, which, when captured by a fortunate photographer, result in an indelible picture. A perfect example of this is in Camil’s photo above, with the sun rising, its red-orange color cast on the water and the sky, and the split-second timing of snapping the shutter button when the bird is taking off. None of that would have happened if Camil hadn’t been there at sunrise — with his camera, battery charged, and memory cards empty, ready to go.

Be sure to check out the Photobird Learning Center for more helpful content.

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