Nikon’s New Feature: Automatic Autofocus Lens Calibration

Posted by on Apr 23, 2016 in canon, Fashion, Featured, landscape, nikon, Photography Tips, portrait

Nikon’s New Feature: Automatic Autofocus Lens Calibration

If we looked at the long list of annoyances in photography (and it is long), few would contest that sitting right near the top would be autofocus problems. There is nothing quite like special kind of fury felt when coming back from a shoot and loading up those image on a big screen only to find the majority are just enough out of focus to be unusable. Of course, this happens more frequently for some types of shooters than others; Landscape photographers shooting at infinity likely won’t have the problem quite to the same extent as a portrait or wedding photographer shooting at f/2 or shallower, but the problem is malignant. It’s one of the reasons we sing the praise of tethering and urge you to do it as much as possible, and why we care so much about being able to program buttons for single-press 100% zoom – so we can quickly analyze in-field when without a tether station. However, even when tethering and checking focus, that just tells you if you’re off; showing the symptoms rather than administering the cure. At least, however, the diagnoses is generally straightforward – your autofocus needs tuning. Just like any piece of machinery cameras and lenses go wrong sometimes and need calibration, and the problem is that most photographers don’t ever address autofocus calibration. In fact, the problem is of pandemic proportions. It’s somewhat understandable because it’s a bit of a geeky thing, and the traditional ways to calibrate are geeky endeavors, even if easy and inexpensive. You can buy a simple and straight-forward calibration tool (and should), and most cameras have menu options that allow you to do the fine tuning with these kits in no time. Lens Calibration tool example. Get this one as used by our Jay Cassario here. To be fair, these systems aren’t perfect, and many of these systems allow for AF fine tuning to only affect a single focal length and distance, but in my experience, it tends to be worth it. That said, Sigma – surprise, surprise – is doing it well and better with their dock. But Nikon is stepping up to the plate with their new Auto Autofocus calibration system to be found on their D5 and D500 cameras. The new cameras will be the first to offer the option, but there is hope that Nikon will be able to usher in the feature to other camera models via a firmware update. Essentially the Auto AF fine tuning just cuts out a few steps of the tuning process, but it still requires you to set some ‘controls’ when using it. Nonetheless, the controls required aren’t much, and you can do it in the field, on the fly. Now, mirrorless cameras are generally less symptomatic of these AF problems due to how they focus – right off the sensor, so it sort of...

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A Guide To Content Aware Fill | Is it Still Useless?

Posted by on Apr 22, 2016 in Bokeh, canon, Fashion, Featured, lightroom, Photography Tips, photoshop, portrait

A Guide To Content Aware Fill | Is it Still Useless?

Ever wanted to remove something from your photos? Stupid question. We all have, and Content-Aware Fill is one of the many tools Photoshop provides which aids us at this endeavour. Whether it be a blemish, person, car, or building, Photoshop is your friend. Content-Aware Fill, however, has often been thought of as less than useful, to putting it politely. But advances in technology have improved it drastically, so Is this still the case, and for those that don’t know, what is Content-Aware Fill anyway? What is Content-Aware Fill? Content-Aware Fill, in the conventional sense, is accessed via Edit > Fill. Make a selection around the item you want to be removed, go to Edit > Fill, and you’ll be presented with the dialog you see below. Select Content-Aware from the drop down menu at the top, click ‘OK’, Photoshop analyses the pixels surrounding your selection and perfectly removes the offending object. At least, that’s how it should work. In practise, the results can vary wildly. As well as this “conventional” form of Content-Aware Fill, you will also find it in other forms throughout Photoshop. There’s Content-Aware Scale (Edit > Content Aware Scale), Spot Healing Brush, Healing Brush, Content Aware Move and the Patch tool. To one degree or another, each of those tools utilises, what I can only assume to be, a similar algorithm. The algorithm analyses the pixels surrounding your selection (or brush strokes) and replaces those pixels, thereby removing the object. The big difference between using Content-Aware Fill via Edit > Fill Vs. any of the other tools mentioned above, is that applying the effect through Edit > Fill requires your layer to not be empty. In other words, you’ll need to duplicate your background or create a merged layer for the effect to work. That can be annoying as it increases the file size dramatically and makes maintaining a non-destructive workflow a little more problematic. However, if you insist on continuing in that fashion, at the very least use the shortcut Shift + Backspace (PC) or Shift + Delete (Mac). [REWIND: AN EASY & QUICK WAY TO REMOVE DUST SPOTS USING CONTENT AWARE FILL] As well as the blank layer annoyance, another big difference between the methods mentioned above is the ability to adjust Structure and Color. The Patch Tool and Content Aware Move tool allow this refinement, even after you have made the adjustment. Now, I’m sure some of you are going “huh!?”. Let me explain. If you head over to Photoshop and select the Patch tool (hit shift > J until it appears) you’ll see the following menu and, hopefully, ‘Structure’ and ‘Color’. Those two settings allow us to restrict Photoshop. The higher the number, the more we give Photoshop free reign to adjust either the color or structure of whatever we are editing. Pick an image, use the patch tool to remove an...

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Travel People Photography – Tips and Pitfalls

Posted by on Apr 22, 2016 in canon, Featured, Photography Tips, portrait, sony

Travel People Photography – Tips and Pitfalls

“Oh the people you will meet!” goes one of Dr. Seuss’ famous lines, speaking to a particular joy of travel. We don’t just travel to see new places, we travel to experience new cultures full of new people – and as photographers, we’re intrigued to take their photo. Yet it’s not as easy as taking photos of foreign mountains or cityscapes. because, gasp!, those people are full of life and feelings and opinions. They might be speaking a language we don’t understand. We are left wondering what they are thinking as we start to bring our camera up to our eye. I’ve been photographing for 26 years, and traveling regularly for the last eight. I don’t know it all, but I have learned, through trial and error and research, what helps and what hinders travel portrait photography. The Tips Watch the light Photography is about light. You’ve likely heard it a hundred times before. Sometimes we forget that when out of our comfort zone, but it’s important to remember that great photos need great subjects, and great use of light. Before raising your camera, know your light. Know what light will be available, and how best to use it. This article: Understanding Natural Light Part 3: Direction of Light – has a wealth of knowledge to get you thinking about the natural light at your location. Of course, you can use a flash as well, but most of us rely on natural light for our travel portraits. Connect Hot Button Topic: To connect before or after you take a photo? This decades-old discussion will not be settled here, but I will give my opinion as fuel to the fire. I believe in give and take. If I’m always taking photos when I travel, I feel more the part of an interloper than a welcome guest. There are irresistible times when someone is doing something soooooo perfect, we have to have a photo, we think. Introducing ourselves will ruin the moment and break the magic we are witnessing. My advice is to take those photos, but give something back. Approach your subject after the fact and introduce yourself. Smile, make eye contact, promote goodwill, and be nice. If they are a vendor, buy something they are selling, or at least take a look. Canon, Sony and others now have portable printers you can bring with you, and what better way for give and take than to hand over a printed copy of the portrait you now treasure. It’s more work than just taking photos and continuing on your way, but it is also more rewarding. Get their feedback Building on the point above, show your subject their portrait. It’s part of giving back. Get their feedback on how they think they look. You might hear good things or bad, because everyone tends to be their own worst critic. Ask their...

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New & Noteworthy Photography Gear | Cheap Fast Prime, Dreamy Storage Units & More

Posted by on Apr 20, 2016 in canon, Featured, nikon, Photography Tips, portrait

New & Noteworthy Photography Gear | Cheap Fast Prime, Dreamy Storage Units & More

In case you missed it, the most interesting piece of news on my feeds that wasn’t depressing or political, was that it turns out the dinosaurs weren’t exactly wiped out by that bastard of a meteor after all. No, in fact, it seems they were already on their way out tens of millions of years before, and the asteroid was just a bit of amphetamine added to a cocktail of doom – an evolutionary nudge. According to the brain-boxes who have deduced this, evolution of dinosaurs as with many things, is really rapid early on, and it made me think of photography, because digital photography is rather neonatal right now, and the changes are so quick. Of course, like evolution, there are fewer giant leaps and more incremental hops. They are the necessary precursors to the significant, the iPhone ‘S’ to the iPhone 7. In photography terms, those hops are the tweaked gear variants that tempt us, and likely make up the majority of releases, but it’s the more evolved that we want, and recently there have been some significant releases: Zeiss 18mm f/2.8 Lens fiends the world over have been treated in recent years to a slew of great lens releases for all formats and brands, and leading the pack with the most enticing and exciting is likely Sigma and Zeiss. Zeiss’ Batis family of lenses are for the discerning, though perhaps not AS discerning as the Otus line, so the price point is a bit better, and the lens performance is still brilliant. Continuing the success the Batis has had with the 85mm 1.8, and the 25mm f/2, comes the widest fixed focal length E-mount lens with AF: Batis 18mm f/2.8 The ‘Batis,’ named for an African bird known for its speed, agility, and contrasty appearance is a super wide angle lens with a 99 degree diagonal FOV with 11 elements, an OLED on the lens itself, much like its brethren, showing focus distance and DOF – both of which adapt to the camera sensor you’re using. By all accounts it’s brilliant, and you can get yours here. [REWIND: Huge Savings On Canon & Nikon Full Frame DSLRs & 50% Off Memory Cards (Deal Dash)] LaCie 5Big Thunderbolt 2 If you’re looking for some class leading storage solution for your burgeoning business, this looks like a gorgeous option. LaCie, best known for their ubiquitous orange-clad Rugged Series of drives like the portable 4TB RAID option, has released an upgrade to their 5big RAID array, now with Thunderbolt 2, and it comes with Seagate’s 8 TB Enterprise Class hard drives that support close to 9,000 hours of operation a year. All together it is boasting a total 40TB capacity, in what is the most compact 40TB unit currently on the market. There are 2 Thunderbolt 2 ports, allows for daisy-chaining up to 6 devices, and given the drive-types...

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How to Create Simple Studio-Style School Portraits in Your Own Backyard

Posted by on Apr 20, 2016 in canon, Featured, nikon, Photography Tips, portrait

How to Create Simple Studio-Style School Portraits in Your Own Backyard

Welcome to Time Out with Tanya, where I’ve put my fast paced graphic design career on hold in favor of adventures in motherhood. I’m capturing every moment on camera, and you can come along if you’d like. Sign up for my weekly email here so you’ll never miss a Time Out. As a professional photographer, I find myself not photographing my kids as much as I used to. It’s not necessarily a bad thing since I tend to sit back and enjoy the moment more when I leave my camera in the bag, but when their birthdays came and went earlier this year I realized it had been a long time since I sat them down for an actual portrait session. Annnnnd, I still didn’t do anything about it, until my sister called me up one day lamenting about the crappy school portraits she felt obligated to buy, “Anything would be better than these,” she said, and wondered if I could take a quick portrait of her kids instead. So, we put a date on the calendar and made it happen. We decided if it was nice weather we would do it in my backyard. If it was raining we could do it in my living room. We got lucky and it was actually a nice day. I had dyed a cheap canvas painter’s cloth I picked up at Harbor Freight tools for the occasion, and while it didn’t exactly turn out the way I had envisioned, it worked out just fine. In fact, the color actually lends a very “school portrait” feel to the images, but I spent a lot more time with the kids eliciting some genuine expressions, which is a practically impossible feat with toddlers, preschoolers, and silly, silly school aged boys. The Mobile Portrait Studio SetUp & GEar For these simple studio style portraits in my backyard, I used a very affordable setup. It’s so quick and easy to make a little mobile studio anywhere I go with this gear. Here’s my list of gear for your convenience: Manfrotto Backdrop Stand Pony Clamps Lightstand & Softbox Stool or Chair Canon Speedlite (I use the 430 EX II) Radio Trigger for Speedlite (I use these from Cowboy Studio) Canon 5D Mark III Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II lens I set up the backdrop in the shadow of a tree in my backyard, grabbed a stool for the kids to sit on and set up the umbrella soft box with speed light and triggers on a light stand. It took about 5 minutes, and the cleanup is equally quick. [REWIND: Huge Savings On Canon & Nikon Full Frame DSLRs & 50% Off Memory Cards (Deal Dash)] The Lighting Golden hour was approaching so I decided to use that light coming up over the trees to highlight the camera-right side of the hair and face and use my flash...

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My Favourite Travel Lens – The Tamron 28-300mm

Posted by on Apr 20, 2016 in canon, Featured, nikon, Photography Tips

My Favourite Travel Lens – The Tamron 28-300mm

Last year I was given an incredible opportunity to travel to the US for three and half weeks just to take photos. My trip was sponsored by an amazing woman, which spurred me to try and get other sponsors for my photography. When you are travelling you can’t take everything with you, so being able to get a lens that could handle a lot of the scenes that I wanted to shoot was very handy. To be able to go from a wide angle view, then zoom right in, was going to be a great lens for travelling, I hoped. Tamron 28-300mm Lens – image courtesy of Tamron for both Canon and Nikon mounts. I had read about the Tamron 28-300mm lens, and how it was a good for travelling. I decided to contact Tamron Australia to see if they would loan me the 28-300mm for my trip, and they did. It is a full frame lens and if you have a cropped sensor then you need to remember that you won’t be able to get 28mm (more like 42mm), and that it will be far longer than 300mm (similar to 450mm). Golden Gate Bridge with US Flag, taken through a car window. Focal length 65mm Physical Size The first thing I noticed when I opened the box was the size. For a lens with such a big zoom length, it’s quite small. It isn’t a heavy lens either. Straight away it seemed like the perfect lens to carry, that wouldn’t contribute to breaking my back. It fits nicely into any camera bag, due to its compact size. The bag I used on my trip was quite small, and it was easy to pack. The light weight meant I didn’t have to worry about making my bag heavier. Imagine how your back would feel if you had to carry a bunch of other lenses to cover that range! Some of the old building at the ghost town in Bodie, CA, focal length 122mm. Versatility When travelling you can’t always get close to places to get the best angles, and having a lens that allows you to take photos when you are close, or far away, is an advantage. You can take an image of a building and get most of it in, then zoom in to get some details of it as well. The following images of the Flatiron Building in NYC, show how you can take a photo of the whole building, and then a close up of some detail using the 28-300mm lens. The Flatiron Building in New York, focal length 28mm. Detail of the Flatiron Building, focal length 300mm. There is also the advantage of not having to constantly change your lens. If it is busy, or crowded, you won’t have to stop, get out another lens and change it. This compact lens is great for...

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