Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

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

The When and the Where in Photography

As someone who does a lot of outdoor/landscape photography, great locations are important to me. Being in a photogenic location is a wonderful way to experience the outdoors. However, when you photograph a location can be just as important as where you are. The “when” of photography occurs on multiple scales. Within a day, within a year, and even across years. Consider one of my favorite locations to photograph, the South Dakota Badlands.

If you visit the Badlands like most tourists, you’ll arrive at a nice time during the summer after you’ve had your morning coffee. By this time of day, the sun is nearly overhead, and you’ll get photographs like this one:

Door Trail in the Badlands, as most tourists see it, well after sunrise.
Door Trail in the Badlands, as most tourists see it… well after sunrise.

Continue reading