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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Capturing Movement As A Fashion Photographer | Devil Is In The Details

Posted by on Apr 21, 2016 in Fashion, Featured, macro, nikon, Photography Tips, portrait

Capturing Movement As A Fashion Photographer | Devil Is In The Details

Being a model is a tough gig, and I say that in complete earnest. As a vocation, it’s fiercely competitive, and the shelf life of a model isn’t typically very long. That’s obvious, but the actual modeling isn’t exactly easy either. Among other things, it requires being physically bold and emoting in front of people you don’t know and just met; facing physical critique with maturity, and somehow managing to evoke in the viewer what the photographer/brand wants. A major way to evoke a feeling in the viewer is to show the right kind of movement, and nailing that movement is often difficult, and certainly not glamorous. In fact, it takes patience to repeatedly do something as banal as jumping whilst being mindful of every part of your body and expression – otherwise referred to as ‘keeping the face.’ This is where photographers can really show their merit, in how they communicate and direct and work with the muse. A photographer needs to be aware of the larger macro picture, as well as the micro details, but it helps if you know what to seek and what to look out for – there’s a difference. Things you seek are things like body symmetry and a graceful facial expression, and an example of things to look out for would be a foot that is hidden behind the other if facing a model head on. To learn this kind of thing, Melissa Rodwell has released a video with BREED on capturing movement wherein she discusses some of these finer points. Rodwell, having shot for brands like Ralph Lauren and Nike, to name a few, speaks to us as we look over her shoulder in-studio as she tries to coach a scantily clad model into delivering the perfect result. As the shoot progresses there are moments of pause and reflection where Melissa examines the shots she’s been tethering into Capture One and explains why some work and why some don’t. This isn’t a discussion on camera settings or lighting set-up, but rather on the finer details of capturing movement. [REWIND: FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY PORTRAITS | RECREATING THE WORK OF AN ICON WITH THE ICON WATCHING (DAVID BAILEY)] Not quite right Better Note*: Understanding how to move and direct and post, and what to seek and avoid in images with movement isn’t solely of interest to the fashion photographer. This information is widely applicable to anyone photographing people, like wedding photographers. If it is more of the technical details you want, BREED has released their Advanced Fashion Photography Lighting tutorial which I reviewed last year, in which you can find 22 detailed set-ups that encompass a wide gamut of the lighting looks you’ll see adorning the pages of fashion magazines. Check it out here. And on that note, I know many of you will be wondering what equipment she is using here, and while...

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Change Your Background To Any Color In Photoshop

Posted by on Apr 21, 2016 in Featured, lightroom, nikon, Photography Tips, photoshop, portrait

Change Your Background To Any Color In Photoshop

Whether you’re shooting a product, person, pooch or child, there may come a time when you want to change the color of your background. I’ve seen lots of different methods of doing this over the years and most are unnecessarily complex. The method I’ll show you today is quick, easy, and works perfectly. I’ll be demonstrating this on a product photo, but the same technique can be applied to any subject shot on a solid color background. The more complex your subject, the harder it will be to change the color of the background. The reason for this is you must create a very accurate mask. Things like hair and clothing can be problematic to cut out. However, there are loads of tutorials floating around with guidance on that. The more complex your subject, the harder it will be to change the color of the background, and the reason for this is you must create a very accurate mask. Things like hair and clothing can be problematic to cut out. However, there are loads of tutorials floating around with guidance on that. How To Change Your Background To Any Color And Make It Believable When changing the color of a background, it almost goes without saying that your mask will need to be very good. If not, you’ll have the outline of your old background around your subject. A dead giveaway that something has been done. You also might want to consider how your lights will be affecting the background. For this image, I’m not too fussed. It’s a product shot, and our eyes are used to seeing this type of thing. However, if it were a person I was placing on this background, it would look weird if the background didn’t vary a little, as though it had picked up some of the light from your strobes. A similar point can be made when it comes to the brightness of your subject in relation to the background. A bright, evenly lit subject will look odd on dark background. Thus editing the subject is often necessary. Having created an accurate mask around your subject, you can change the background to any color – that’s obvious and easy; although mask creation can be very time-consuming. Shadows, on the other hand, are another matter. How do you transfer the shadow from one image to another? I’ve seen people do this using Luminosity masks to select dark areas, painting shadows on, all sorts. Transfer Shadows From One Background To Another As you can see the SOOC image above is thoroughly uninspiring. My intention was always to cut it out and place it on a more vibrant background which complimented the bag. The first step with anything like this will always be to create your mask. I do not care how you do it; luminosity masks, pen tool, select focus area, select color...

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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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