Monday, April 30, 2012

Understanding Megapixels


Megapixel, that ubiquitous word that gets tossed around so often with little understanding. But what is a megapixel and why do we need to understand its importance in our work? The answer is directly tied to our editing and the intended purpose of our photos.

By now you should know that a pixel is a singular dot of color captured by the camera's sensor. The sensor being an array of multiple photovoltaic elements arranged in columns and rows that, when the shutter is clicked and the data collected, forms an image. A singular sensor can have millions of 'collectors' or photovoltaic receptors. So rather than saying, "I have a 6 million pixel camera," we simplify it by saying, "I have a 6 megapixel camera," mega meaning million.

Unfortunately that 6 megapixel camera won't always give you 6 megapixels.

Friday, April 27, 2012

5 tips for better photos


Ask any successful photographer and they'll tell you that great photographs are not taken, they are made.

I would go further and add that great moments happen that gives the photographer the opportunity to make great photos. We see examples of this every time we say, "Wow" to a print that takes our breath away with its beauty, power, essence; call it what you will. Yet these great opportunities would be nothing more than decent images without the technical skill, knowledge and discipline needed to take that opportunity and make it into something powerful.

This is what many beginners struggle with, myself included. We rely too much on the camera or react too quickly to our situation that we simply click the shutter and move on to something else. The results end up being nothing more than a snapshot. Not that snapshots don't have a place in our lives considering they document our daily lives. But a snapshot will seldom get someone to say, "Wow".

As I have gained experience I find myself looking back at some of my  earlier attempts and find the faults in them. Yet this is part of the whole pyramid of learning. By being able to identify the faults now we are able to anticipate the problems later and apply solutions in order to create better images. Like a pyramid, you cannot attain the next level without having a solid foundation to build on. Here are five tips to help you climb that pyramid.

Fujifilm FinePix F505EXR review


I'm not one to brag about a product unless that product blows me away somehow. Those who know me also know I am not easily impressed. But I have to say, on record, I am throughly impressed by my new little compact camera; Fujifilm's FinePix F505EXR.

I have never owned a compact camera, ever. In the film days when 120mm cameras were all the rage I lugged around my Canon AE-1 program. When I made the transition to digital I went with the larger Kodak EasyShare before upgrading to the dSLR system. A more familiar format for myself. So what made me purchase such a small camera, you ask?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Minimum Distance for Maximum Results


No matter what you are photographing or what lens you are using there will be a time when you will need to get up close and personal with your subject. Understanding how your lens behaves under these situations is a matter of experimentation and understanding your equipment.

In this post we will be going back to some really basic stuff, but it bears mentioning as we often tend to forget (or ignore) some of the more basic functions of photography. In this case it is the minimum focal distance of your lens. Here are three tips that will help.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Quality vs Quantity - The Machine Gun Shooter


I was recently sharing some funny moments with a wedding photographer*, a member of MPG, when the subject on "machine gun" shooters came up. We have all either seen them at a photo event, know one or perhaps are one. They are the type of photographer that keeps their camera on high speed continuous shooting mode and will fire off 15 frames before anyone else has finished composing their first shot.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pixel vs DPI


A recent discussion about image theft from internet galleries spurred an impromptu lesson in image formatting for the internet. We talked about how to re-size and watermark images to deter illegal use of images. The conversation is worth expanding on and repeating here.

First let's define the two terms in the title; a pixel is a small square of colored light on a digital screen that, when viewed along side thousands of others, creates an image. Pixels are created by LEDs (light emitting diodes) assembled into an array called a screen (monitor, tv, touch screen, etc.)

DPI stands for dots per inch and refers to a small microscopic drop of colored ink deposited onto a substrate (paper, card stock, vinyl, cloth, etc.) through a series of ink jets. These drops are deposited in a prearranged order that, when viewed along side thousands of others, creates an image.

Each pixel or dot refers to a corresponding color captured on your camera's digital sensor, translated into binary code and stored as a digital file. That file is then read by your computer screen, laser printer, inkjet printer or other raster based output device as a photograph. In short, a pixel is an individual point of light on a digital screen while a DPI refers to a point of ink on a printable substrate.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The power of sharing


Mid-CT Photography Meetup Group is a local photography group that Diane and I have the great pleasure of associating with. Many of you may be familiar with Mid-CT as both our groups share membership. But that's beside the point.

Tonight they had a guest speaker, Mr. Kenn Venit, a soft spoken and quite humorous journalism professor from Quinnipiac University with a long list of credits to his name. His presentation was on using photojournalism techniques in "personal storytelling". He then proceeded to talk about how he creates personal photo albums to share with his family and friends.

On the surface the presentation appeared to be a letdown. Mr Venit, after all, is talking about taking your snapshots, printing them at your local drug store photo center and putting them in an off-the-shelf photo album. The whole presentation was accompanied by a slide show of several events he photographed for friends and neighbors.

To say Mr. Nevit is NOT a professional photographer is an understatement. But then he never claimed to be one either. Looking at the images being displayed for us it was plainly obvious that his skills were rather... average. He even goes on to brag how he uses inexpensive point-and-shoot cameras to create his albums. Not quite what 'serious' photography students want to hear. However, I thought the whole presentation was brilliant. Here's why;

Monday, April 9, 2012

Learning from the pros takes work


The wonderful thing about the internet is the vast amount of information there is for learning. Many of those sources are available for FREE! From blogs to videos and online schools. The best thing is that many of these are maintained by working professionals with incredible reputations.

Bryan Peterson
Off the top of my head I can name half a dozen pro photographers that most members in my photo club recognize; Dave Hobby, Joe McNally, Rick Sammon, Chase Jarvis, Bryan Peterson, Scott Kelby... the list goes on. I also find that everyone has their favorites. But if you stop and think about it, these are professional photographers with vast amounts of knowledge, incredible reputations, endless creativity and still find the time to share all that with us on many free platforms.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Using your camera's flash for fill light


Ever go to a concert and notice how many flashes go off from little portable cameras or cell phones? If you have any understanding of how photographic lighting works you probably either chuckle to yourself or shake your head in quiet disbelief that people just don't get it. Unfortunately the majority of point-and-shoot users don't understand the simple principles of light and how it interacts with their camera.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Using flash to alter your background


BTS of one of my recent flower shots
Up until this point I have been discussing exposure dealing with natural, available light. However, there are times when nature needs a little assistance. This is where light modifiers come into play. There are many types of light modifiers available to a photographer. Commercial and home made reflectors, diffusers, lighting setups and who knows what else. But one of the most common type is the speedlight.

The speedlight (or off-camera flash) is that piece of equipment most photographers go out and purchase early in their gear collecting. More so than springing for a better lens. After all, we are told that if we don't have enough light we will need to use flash. But introducing a secondary light source changes our exposure triangle from the familiar triangle to a new shape, the square.

To give a little insight into how off-camera flash can be used to control light I will show a step-by-step example based on the recent daffodil meet up at Hubbard Park.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Daffodils at Hubbard Park - a MPG meet up


Stephen, Warren, Vicki and Greg socialize during a break
With the wacky weather we have had recently it has really played havoc with the local flora. The beautiful lawns of yellow have been threaten with everything from early warm weather, frost, rain, snow... in other words, typical New England weather. Daffodils by nature have a short bloom time and the uncooperative weather had caused the timetable to shift so off kilter that the planned scheduled date had to be moved up in order not to miss the flowers in full bloom. With all that it ended up being a great day, if not a touch overcast and a bit chilly.

Latest Post

Artist interview - Miss Julian Grey

Selection from "Looking Glass" Over the past several decades photography has undergone a massive transformation. Where once it...

Most Popular Posts