Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Shooting the Milky Way

Milky Way over the wind farm near Limon, CO
Milky Way over the wind farm near Limon, CO

Night photography is fun. Night photography is also hard. To photograph the Milky Way, you need to be somewhere dark. In the summer, when the nights are warm, it often isn’t truly dark until after 10pm. That means this time of year is perfect, as the nights are just starting to get longer but temperatures are still fairly warm. You also want to make sure there is no moon to spoil the starlight. I use The Photographer’s Ephemeris to determine when astronomical twilight ends (this is when it gets very dark), and for moon information.

Last weekend, everything came together. I took a nice drive with my friend to Limon, CO, where I’ve shot the wind farm in the past. I’d pre-visualized this shot for over a year; I just finally got around to doing it.

Tech Specs

Nikon D810 with 14-24mm AFS G zoom Nikkor lens
30-second exposure at f/2.8, ISO 1600

Night photography tips after the jump… Continue reading

Odell_20140612_3050-2

Digital Infrared: One Camera, Multiple Looks

Odell_20140612_3050-2

You can have a lot of creative fun with a digital infrared camera. Converting an old camera to infrared is a great way to breathe new life into that camera. I recently purchased a used Fujifilm X-E1 mirrorless camera to use as an infrared body. I chose this camera as a compact complement to my Fujifilm X-T1, which has become my primary travel camera due to its small size and excellent image quality. I don’t want to carry multiple systems in the field, so I figured the X-E1 should do the trick (and it does). I’ll have more on that in another post. The toughest decision about infrared conversion, is choosing the conversion type. Depending on your style of shooting and subject matter, you can choose from a range of conversions, including standard, enhanced color, super color, deep black, and even full-spectrum (UV through IR range). Each of these conversions has its own merits, but most people will probably want to use either standard (720nm) or super-color (590nm) for infrared work. Continue reading

Set up your camera for great bird photos

A blue grosbeak perches at Dos Venadas Ranch, Texas.
A blue grosbeak perches at Dos Venadas Ranch, Texas.

This photograph of a blue grosbeak illustrates just how far camera technology has come in the eight years since I first traveled to the private birding blinds of South Texas. Back then, I was using a Nikon D2x and 200-400mm f/4 zoom lens. I got plenty of good images, but my keeper rate was fairly low, especially as light faded. I also didn’t seem to get the sharpest shots at times and I couldn’t really figure out why, as some shots were tack-sharp. Was it the camera? The lens? Or was it something else about my technique? Continue reading

The Sensor Plane Photography Podcast: Episode #5

In this episode of The Sensor Plane Photography Podcast, I wanted to discuss subject isolation as a creative technique. Getting those creamy smooth backgrounds isn’t as hard as you think, especially if you have the right gear. I find that even when shooting landscapes, sometimes it can be nice to soften the background a bit.

My favorite lenses for shallow depth of field:

For the money, you can’t beat these choices:

Click here for an audio only version (mp3 format)

Making that older Mac Pro zippy

After a long wait, Apple has finally produced a new Mac Pro workstation. While these machines are no-doubt awesome, they are clearly designed for hard-core video production. They offer not only the fastest processors, but dual GPU graphics cards. The most significant feature of the new Mac Pros is its size. They are very small. Gone are any internal storage or expansion options. There is one internal drive, which is flash-based (SSD). There are no PCIe expansion ports. This machine is tiny, but it means you’ll need to utilize external storage options for your data; either via USB 3 or Thunderbolt (there are no eSATA ports on the new Mac Pro).

Despite delivering what I’m sure is a fantastic machine, I’m not quite ready to drop $3500-$4000 into a new computer and then have to spend additional money to migrate my existing internal drives into external enclosures. My 2010 Mac Pro is a robust machine, and one reason why I got it was its expansion options. I’m able to add PCI cards and more memory into my existing machine. With that in mind, here are a few upgrades I did that significantly improved my overall computing experience using Lightroom and Photoshop. Continue reading