Saturday, October 30, 2010

BOOK: Moose Peterson: Captured

Moose Peterson has released a new book well, well worth a look. "Captured". The blurb below says it pretty well:

Captured: Behind the Lens of a Legendary Wildlife Photographer is more than just a photography book—-it's a chronicle of more than 30 years' worth of unbelievable moments that only nature can reveal.

And Moose Peterson is more than just a wildlife photographer—-he's a storyteller in both prose and pictures.

If you're looking for the ultimate guide to wildlife photography from a man who has devoted his entire career to capturing nature's finest and most rare moments, you'll find it here in Captured.

If you're looking to be transported into the wild to confront a grizzly bear and her cubs, stumble upon a pack of wolves, or capture an owl in flight, you'll find it here, as well. You'll also find a healthy dose of inspiration as the stories behind the photos are revealed as only Moose can tell them.

In the end, you'll come away with invaluable photographic techniques gained through a lifetime of experience and a new appreciation for the passion of wildlife photography. You'll gain knowledge that you can put to use on your next excursion into the wild, your local or state park, or even your own backyard.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Foto Rally photos

Finally finished a few of the photo's for the Sydney foto rally. This was a good event, and as I've probably mentioned before, we were surprised just how many people attended.I'll be really keen to get a few more people going to the next one, and we can have our own little group. Now that I know what to expect, it'll be even more fun.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

BOOK: Photoshop Layers

If you're new to Photoshop layers, or just want to understand them better, you'll need to pick up an easy to read book on the topic. No photographer can unleash the full power of Photoshop to make an image look like the photographer's vision without understanding the power of layers. (At the very least layers allow the Photoshop user to make selective adjustments to an image, without actually changing the underlying data.)

Yet many Photoshop books treat layers in bits and pieces rather than as an integrated whole so that the photographer has a hard time grasping the overall concept. That's where a book aimed solely at layers comes in.

Matt Kloskowski's book deals with all the major applications of layers. The subjects include the nature of layers, blending layers, adjustment layers, layer masks, type and shape layers, enhancing and adjusting photos with layers, layer styles and smart layers. It's all here, but in a short simple quick form.

There are much more larger books that can go through ever possible feature of layers, and maybe something to look at later, by Matt's book is probably going to suit many photographers who want a really good grasp of the topic without wanting to change professions.

The author's text takes the form of tutorials. One can either download files for these tutorials or work with one's own pictures. The tutorials are short, well illustrated and have plenty of white space. If you make a mistake at an early step you won't have to backtrack through twenty or thirty steps to find out where you went wrong.

Even if you work out each tutorial, this book will not take more than ten or twenty hours to complete, and it will teach you almost everything you need to know about the subject. Along the way, Kloskowski teaches the reader about other Photoshop tools, as when he integrates a discussion of gradients into a lesson on blend modes, or deals with selections in a tutorial on layer masks.

The author has an easy-going, breezy, humorous style.
For experienced Photoshop users this book will contain nothing new. However, for the photographer who doesn't have a firm grip on the use of layers in Photoshop, this book will help him or her to master the subject.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Caught Up in Technicalities

Every now and then, I found myself with a burning desire to know everything about a particular topic. I become obsessed with it. Like, for instance, how the brain functions. I starting acquiring books on psychology and learning about how the neurons work. It still fascinates me and I still don't quite get it. I love getting down to that level of detail.

Every now and then, I'll speak to a someone who wants that same level of detail about cameras. And that's ok..... sometimes.

Occasionally, people ask questions that cannot be answered in a sentence. Or they don't like your answer, or they're just being tools.

Today was such a time. Someone started asking questions about a large zoom camera like the Pentax X90. He said e though he image quality should be better than the point and shoot he's got because it looks bigger and has 12 Megapixels.

After explain to him about sensor size and and pixel size and using some analogies with buckets and water, the bigger the bucket the more water it should hold etc etc etc, he told me that the 12MP on the Pentax X90 and the Nikon D5000 should give the same image quality. Well, in some circumstances yes, but in lower light, no.

We then moved onto why small compacts are rather good at macro. This resulted in lots of  "Why?" "Why?" "Why?"

"What are the exact reasons a compact is good at macro, and why can I get closer?"

I couldn't answer that in any simple way.The problem wasn't that he was asking these questions. I get many really technical questions asked every day.

No, the problem was he was getting narky. I wasn't disrespectfully and I certainly didn't talk down to him. So why on earth would you walk into a store and act like a dickhead.

He was getting narky because he didn't understand the technicalities of how it worked. But my job isn't to explain every single detail to him. If a car salesman tells you that this car uses less petrol than this brand, do you really need to know how the engine works to achieve that?

Fine if you do. Go look it up or download the white paper from the manufacturers website. If you want to know how Rolex achieve a stepless moving second hand arm on their watches, look it up.

But don't think the salesperson's an idiot because they don't know.

Here's another scenario that happens. Customer asks Q. "Which camera is better?"

ME: "This one".

Q. "Why?"

ME: "Takes better pictures"

Q: "Why?"

ME: "The colour is better, better contrast, etc etc etc"

Q: "Why? is it better". What makes it take a better picture? How does it do with the electronics it has?"

I'll show them two pictures printed 8x12 inches from the two models, and they still want to know why?

The answer is I don't care why. This happens all the time. I applaud people for wanting information rather than just relying on what a salesperson might say, but there are limits. It inhibits you ability to pick up on the good information. You know, the relevant stuff.

Asking the speed of a frontside bus IS relevant. Asking how it achieves this and what materials they use in making it, isn't.

Stop getting caught up in completely irrelevant technicalities, you'll live a much happier life. And though I wasn't going to add any thing further I will. It's a book on the Art of Photography. Helps you think about the important part of the craft. Due in November it promises to be an excellent read.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nikkor 55-300mm f3.5 - 5.6mm

After the last few days of using the excellent Nikkor 28-300mm lens, we picked up and put in some mileage on the 55-300mm DX kit lens that will be used in the likes of the D3100.

Let's start with the good stuff. On first impression, the lens is actually quite sharp and will suit many of the people that pick it up with their cameras.

Now, the bad. This is possibly the slowest focusing lens I have every used. This is the one of the first things you notice It can take 5 seconds to lock onto focus of an object.

We will have accurate tests and numbers on these later with some test pictures.

In the mean time, enjoy the twin kit lens option you will get with the D3100. If you're thinking about picking one up as a light weight long zoom, I'd probably save my money and pickup the 70-300 VR instead.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Nikkor 28-300mm lens review

The review of the Nikkor 28-300mm f3.5 - 5,6 VRII lens has been published on

There is nothing to not like about this lens. Whether you have a DX or FX camera, this lens should be in your bag. You can checkout some of the images below.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Art and About Sydney Foto Rally

The Foto Rally was held in Sydney today as part of the Art and About Sydney Festival. This is trying to encourage people to get out and see Sydney. You had to take photos based on the 8 symbols presented to you. These include a symbol of an apple for instance. That didn't mean you had to find an apple, it could be for instance the shop front of Apple computer or a silhouette of an apple cider bottle.

I think we will see a lot of great photo from the participants.

The extreme windy weather didn't stop the hordes of people turning out for the event. A pleasant surprise actually. Everywhere you turned you would see a person with a camera with the Foto Rally card angin from their neck.

This is a great idea, and next year, if it runs again, I'll try and get a bit of a group going.

If you didn't go, you should use the idea to do your own Foto Rally. I think I will organise my own in the next couple of weeks. Should be fun.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bad Customers

I'm just venting, but these are some of the comments we sometimes have to deal with. I help a lot of people and have some very loyal customers. These are just ridiculous.

"Only 12mp, Only 720p, No 60p.. $7000! You must be kidding me, the Canon 7D has 18mp, 1080p 24p-60p for only $2200! Seriously, you could use the Canon 7D on any project and get pro results, Nikon is really falling behind in the Professional user category."


Honestly… a pro camera with 12 mp? That is idiotic. I am sure they had to sacrifice mega pixels for fps and the ISO boost to 102,400"


"I have to sell my all Nikon gear because everyone in the photography class uses Canon. I have a Nikon D90. I want a Canon 500D because I've seen the photo's and they look great and I can't get good photos from my Nikon."


And my favourite of recent times.

Lady: "I'm doing a camera course and I picked up a Nikon D90 from a friend. I hated it. It has a top LCD and I don't want that, I want a more professional camera like the Canon 500D. I can see the settings on the back of the LCD."

Me: Well, the most popular package we have with the 500D is a twin IS lens kit, tripod, a bag, three year Canon warranty, memory card, free photography lesson, some free digital printing. It's only $1399.

Lady: And why is it the most popular package you have.

Me: It's just very good value for money if you're looking at this level of camera and it takes good photos too boot.

Lady: I'll just go somewhere else and ask them.


Friday, October 8, 2010

500 Metres of Photography

I can't think of many photographers who have not had a creative block. I've had many of these where I just couldn't see anything worth photographing. Then the thought of selling my camera equipment enters the brain.

I try to take a camera with me almost everywhere. Be it the Nikon D300, Olympus C-7070 or a film camera , or any of the other multitude of cameras that are in my possession, something has to come with me. I would hate to feel like I missed a photo opportunity.

The cameras travels from the car to my work with great intention that after work or during lunch I will find some super inspiration and take a Pulitzer winning photo. All too often though, the camera just doesn't even get turned on.

Inspiration can come in many forms, and the best and most simply has to be to see other peoples photos.  Not to mimic their photo's, but just the make you want to turn the camera on and see photographically.

And that's what I've been doing lately. By looking at the work of a few photographers, I want to get off my butt and do something creative.

Since I don't have a lot of time at the moment, the challenge I have set myself is to take a few photos during the 500 metre walk from where I park my car in the morning to work (and back again in the afternnon if I'm feeling doubly inspired).

Mode of choice is black and white.Though I love my colour, the black and white allows you to concentrate on the lines and the shade and the composition. I can't "trick" the viewer with colour to look at something I want them to see in my shot. I have to use the above mentioned properties to do it.

It has become a fun experiment and really does bring you back to some very important basics. I have found that street shooting in a terrible ordinary suburb to be as hard as it gets. But that 500 metre walk can reveal some interesting objects like the  junk people throw away.

I have since found an obsession with junk. Like the solitary dining chair next to a driveway I saw the other day. The lines of the driveway lead nicely to this old wooden chair. The thing about it, was that it could be photographed in a million ways. 

If you can position yourself in the right place, it can look "arty". Without touching the surroundings or the objects you want to photograph, you can make it looked "staged". It's possible to make it look like you placed the chair next to the drive way.

I love that concept. Take a photo of something that looks like you staged it.

Another great place for inspiration is lunch time. It could be the shopping centre food halls or out in he street with the cafes and  fruit markets and the like. Whatever it is, you will find something interesting to take pictures of.

For those who haven't already done so, pick up the books "The Photograhers Eye" by Michael Freeman. It's a very good read and will re-inspire your thinking.

In the meantime, pickup your camera and take it to work. Try and capture something in a 500 metre space. It could be from the car park to the railway station or bus stop, or could be from your office to where you get your lunch.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Buzz of the Fuji X100

Fuji has announed the X100 camera and it looks hot. Have a read of the article The Buzz of the Fuji X100.