Sunday’s podcast

17 04 2011

I have opinions, sometimes I like to voice them. This week I talk about why you don’t need a super fancy camera to make awesome pictures. Instead you should focus on learning the skills and start with a beginner camera. It’ll save you money and won’t slow you down with learning all the features of your big new camera.


Save your cash, buy the cheaper DSLR by tnepomu

Take your photography to the next level with a flash

16 04 2011

If it’s something that every photographer should own it’s a flash. From experienced professionals to beginners looking to break into photography a flash is one of the most important tools in a kit.

Purchasing a flash will open up a new world of photographic exploration. It’ll allow you to experiment with lighting and fill flash allowing your abilities to grow. Most DSLRs on the market already have a built-in pop up flash which is good but limited. The problem with relying on your pop up flash is that you’re always going to have the same lighting. Straight on, hard light which will result in unflattering images.

Shot with pop up flash

Notice how there are no shadows, and the image looks very flat and washed out. That’s because the light is coming straight on at the subject which will wash out the skin tones, replacing them with a shiny unflattering sheen. This is how red eye is caused in photos. It’s because of the light hitting the back of the eye. Also, pop flash is extremely restricting in the fact that you can only shoot light at one direction.

If you’re looking to spice up your images, invest in a hot-shoe mounted flash. I recently bit the bullet and purchased a Nikon SB-600 to use on my D90. The SB-600 has Through The Lens (TTL), Intelligent Through The Lens (iTTL) , and it uses commander mode. Also, the SB-600’s head can tilt and swivel, allowing for the light to be bounced off surfaces or diffused, which makes it a pretty versatile flash unit. I picked mine up at Best Buy for about $219.00 but since the new SB-700 came out, prices on the SB-600 should go down and you may even find them on Craigslist for cheap.

Having a flash, and being able to experiment with lighting is a great way to spice up your photos. If you want to get even fancier, you can buy a sync cord which will allow you to take the flash off your camera allowing you to play around with different lighting setups.

Here’s an image I shot with an off-camera flash. I positioned the flash to the side of my subject, which will provide hard, directional light to create those dark shadows on the opposite side of the face.

Shot using an off-camera flash

Notice how much different the two images look. The one shot with pop-up flash is ugly, and unflattering. There are not shadows or textures in the image and the subject has red-eye. Now look at the bottom one. By using an off-camera flash, I can reposition the light source where ever I want, giving me complete control over the final image. The bottom image is much more appealing, notice the shadows, textures, skin tone, and lack of red eye. Making a flash one of your greatest assets.


Photoshoot locations

10 04 2011

Sometimes it can be tough to find a place to take photos. With warm weather on the horizon, you’ll undoubtedly want to get out of the house and take some fantastic shots.

But where?

There are plenty of locations around the Northwest and Central Ohio along with Michigan. There are photographic opportunities right outside your door step and to help you on your way, I’ve created a map of some of the best places to take photos around Toledo.

View Great photo spots in a larger map

Nikon hits the 60 million mark

6 04 2011

After 52 years Nikon finally produced 60 million Nikkor lenses yesterday, just two months after Canon’s 60 millionth EF lens rolled off the line, according to a press release.

The road to 60 million lenses started in 1959 when Nikon, Nippon Kogaku K.K at the time, released their first SLR the Nikon F. Which at the same time, Nikon released the first Nikkor lens. Canon wouldn’t release their first EF lens until 1987.

Nikkor comes from adding an “R” to Nikko. At the time Nikko was the Romanized version of Nippon Kogaku K.K. and adding “R” was common practice when it came to branding photographic lenses, according to Nikon’s website. In 1933, Nikon released the Aero-Nikkor, a lens used for large-format aerial photography.

The current Nikkor selection has 60 lenses ranging from fish-eye to super-telephoto.

What’s your favorite Nikkor lens?

CCD and CMOS sensors explained

5 04 2011

If you have shopped for a digital camera recently you may have noticed on the specs sheet that the camera has either a CCD or CMOS sensor. Which stands for the the kind of sensor that your camera is using to convert light into a digital image.

Sensors work just like film. In the old days, light entered the camera and struck the film. The light corresponded with chemicals on the film; which released dyes and created a color photo. In the digital age, film has been replaced with digital sensors. Which both do the same thing, make a digital image, but in a different way.

Both sensors start by converting the light from the image into electrons. Next is where they deviate to their own methods.

CCD sensors take that electron charge and transport it across the sensor’s surface where it is then read at a corner. Where an analog to digital reader then takes each pixel and assigns a digital value to it. CMOS sensors have transistors at each pixel that boost and transport the electron charge using wires, according to Howstuffworks.

Due to differences between the two sensors, the end product is different. According to Howstuffworks, imaging devices with a CCD sensor produce higher quality images, especially under low light. Due to how the light is moved across the sensor itself. CMOS sensors, tend to produce noisier images lowering their image quality. They also have a lower sensitivity because of the light hitting the sensor may hit the transistor and not the photo diode, according to Howstuffworks.

I used to own a Nikon D60, which uses a CCD sensor, and I’m currently using a Nikon D90, which uses a CMOS sensor. Although CCD images are supposed to be less noisy images shot under low lights with my D60 were more noisy than my D90 pictures. Even then, both Nikon’s and Canon’s professional cameras, D3x from Nikon and the 1D Mk.2 from Canon, both use CMOS sensors. So, I feel that saying CMOS sensors produce images of lower quality than CCD sensors is incorrect.