Category Archives: Op-Ed

For Photographers, It’s a Matter of Size

How Size Impacts Everything in Photography

Size matters in photography
It’s a big universe out there… photograph it!

I want to spend a little time talking about the importance of size in photography. While there are numerous factors we photographers must face when we are making decisions about our photographic subjects and adventures, we can’t escape the importance of size. Whether you’re choosing a camera, lens or your next adventure, size does matter. Continue reading For Photographers, It’s a Matter of Size

Nikon Pulls D500, Cites Lack of Pre-orders

Is the DX format party officially over?
Vaporware… Is the DX format party officially over?

Is DX format finally dead? I pre-ordered the Nikon D500 the day it was announced.  I was informed today by my dealer that all Nikon D500 pre-orders have been cancelled. The long-awaited flagship DX body is apparently no more, after suffering from supply chain delays and production disruptions and what appears to be lack of interest in a body that just didn’t have the ISO performance of the new D5 FX flagship.

This disappoints me… no, make that this MAKES MY BLOOD BOIL! Ever since I had a D300s,  I was absolutely looking forward to using the new D500 at 10fps and ISO 51,200 with my Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E VR lens, which in my estimation would be the best damn wildlife combo out there.

In the meantime, I’ll just muddle through  using my D810 and D750 bodies with crop mode and hope that pre-orders can convince Nikon to re-think their position on the role of DX format in professional photography.

Update: At least one shop is still offering  pre-orders for the Nikon D500 here. Perhaps we still have time to change Nikon’s opinion?

Enjoy your day! 😛

Are you overthinking your camera settings?

Modern DSLRs offer many custom image settings, but do any of them really matter?
Modern DSLRs offer many custom image settings, but do any of them really matter?

How do I set up my in-camera settings? I get asked this question a lot. Most modern DSLR cameras offer a tremendous number of options for image quality and other settings that go beyond film, when all that mattered was setting the appropriate exposure.

Camera settings come in several categories, but here are the major ones:

  • Exposure (shutter speed, aperture, ISO)
  • White balance (color temperature)
  • Processing settings (color, contrast, sharpness)
  • Noise reduction settings
  • Other corrections (lens distortion, vignette removal, etc.)

Each of these settings offers the photographer control over the final image, so it’s easy to see how they can quickly become overwhelming. But here’s the deal. Unless you shoot JPEG or use your manufacturer’s raw conversion software (eg, Nikon Capture NX or Canon DPP), most of these settings are utterly meaningless.

For RAW shooters who use a 3rd party software tool such as Lightroom or Capture 1, the majority of these camera settings are completely ignored! Wait… what?! Continue reading Are you overthinking your camera settings?

Is Film Making a Comeback?

Garden of the Gods & Pikes Peak, captured with Fujichrome Velvia 50 film.
Garden of the Gods & Pikes Peak, captured with Fujichrome Velvia 50 film.

In the late 1990s, as the digital camera age dawned, I was shooting with a Nikon N70 film camera and whatever lenses I could afford on a graduate student’s (miniscule) salary. For me, the idea of switching to digital was something that I didn’t even fathom at the time, simply because a $5500  camera was so far out of my price range that I was never going to realistically own one.

Of course, when something costs a lot of money and you know you can’t afford it, you start to rationalize with yourself as to why you don’t really need one. And by “don’t really need” I mean we find ways to explain why our current gear is as good or better than some new technology. As the new century dawned, the “film vs. digital” debate bloomed across the Internet in chat rooms and discussion boards. Recently, that debate has returned, as some photographers are switching back to using film for certain clients. Continue reading Is Film Making a Comeback?

Five things you can do today to improve your photography

Lincoln Memorial at twilight, Washingon, DC.
Lincoln Memorial at twilight, Washingon, DC. This shot would be impossible without a tripod.

Want to get better at photography? Then here’s a quick list of some things you can do right now to start getting better.

  1. Step away from the gear forums and the endless debates over what the best camera/lens is and just use the gear you have. All the online advice in the world is no substitute for getting out there and capturing images.
  2. Get a good tripod and ball head, and use it. Yes, the tripod can be cumbersome at times, but the degrees of freedom it offers you in terms of creative options are worth it. With a tripod, you can capture long exposures that would be impossible to do hand-held. Plus, using the tripod will force you to slow down and think about your shots more.
  3. Learn to shoot RAW. Even if you aren’t a master of post-processing, shooting RAW today means that you’ll be able to have maximum flexibility with your images down the road. Since RAW editing software continues to improve, you’ll be able to use new tools on your old shots and get great results.
  4. Practice zooming with your feet. Use either a fixed focal length lens, or put some gaffer’s tape on your zoom ring. You’ll get a feel for perspective and composition, and it will force you to try new angles.
  5. Get out of Program Mode and tell your camera that you’re in control. Try using Aperture-priority metering to control depth of field. Compare images captured wide-open (low f-number) with those captured while stopped down (high f-number). Use auto ISO if you’re shooting hand-held so that you can get sharp images, or use your tripod for the best results.

Happy shooting!