Best Photography Sites for Photographers

Here is my personal collection of what I consider some of (but not all of) the best sites for a photographer to use: Continue reading

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How to Shoot Better Photos More Quickly

When you see a great shot or say to yourself “that would make a great photo,” you want to be able to actually take that photo – right now. You don’t want to fumble around with your camera and lenses. Here’s a simple, simple way to take shots more quickly. (And, you’ll get better results.)

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Easily Set Up Your Camera for Exposure Bracketing and HDR Stacking

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HDR (high dynamic range) image processing can be very cool for some types of photos. Whether done manually or with a dedicated HDR program, it almost always requires shooting multiple RAW images at various exposures then combining them in software during post-processing. I’ll show you how I set my camera to get the photos – without using a tripod in most cases. Continue reading

Why Center-Weighted Average is the Right Metering Mode 85% of the Time

metering modes

metering modes

I Think That “Center-Weighted Average” Metering is Best (Usually)

As you can see from the image above, most cameras have at least three metering modes (the region where the camera measures light to calculate the exposure.) Some have four or more. For years, I only used “center-weighted average” because it was how I was taught, and it worked well. Well, it still works the best. After trying the other types of metering and thinking about it a bit, I think I know why.

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Back-Button Focusing and Why You Should Use It

back of camera

Back-Button Focus

Ever want to be able to switch from shooting a static landscape to shooting action without having to worry about changing focus modes? Want to capture moving objects in crisp focus? Use back-button focusing and you can have it all. Here’s how to set it up. Continue reading

Microstock Photo Rewards and Rejections

I’ve submitted many photos to microstock sites (sites that sell stock photos) and have had many rejections. All my rejected photos are perfectly good – even excellent.  However, the microstock sites have their specific criteria, and they are very, very picky.  Rejections are either for the noise of various kinds or content.

I’ve developed a technique that works to clean up the photos for submission that I will share with you in an upcoming post.  As for the content, now that’s a different story, and you have to learn what these sites want before shooting and uploading.  The microstock sites themselves will have content guides to help you.

With all the difficulty and prospects of rejection, why bother with microstock sites?

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Meaningless Labels on Photographers

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I’ve been reading a lot of camera and lens reviews lately, and they all label the users as one thing or another: Pro, Semi-Pro, Enthusiast, Novice, Casual User, Hobbyist, Amateur. I’m here to tell you; that’s all a bunch of nonsense. I stop reading when I see them labeling me or my equipment as one of these. I think you should too. Here’s why: Continue reading

Native ISO and Noise

ISO Settings In Your Camera

ISO settings can drastically affect your photos and you should know where to set the ISO in every circumstance.

Your goal as a photographer is to both get the shot and to have an acceptably low-noise photo as a result. High ISO levels result in higher noise levels in your photos. The best ISO level for the least amount of noise is your camera’s “native ISO.” Native ISO (also known as “Base ISO”) refers to the ISO level that is where the camera sensor’s “fullest” light level corresponds to the same level of fully exposed film. The details are unimportant, but it is important to know the following: Continue reading

Easy Night Sky Photography

Milky Way

How to Take Great Night Photos

What a lot of people don’t know is that it is relatively inexpensive and easy to take great night photos. The Milky Way, stars, and Moon are all within your reach. You can get some extremely cool-looking photos of them without a lot of effort. Here’s how…
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Expose to the Right? NO! Go left!

Exposure

“Expose to the right” has been a popular saying and method of exposure for digital photographers for years, and it works in some cases. I’ll show you how to go the other way and make it work also. Maybe the time of “expose to the right” is almost over (in some cases). Here’s why… Continue reading

Maximum Lens Sharpness – The “Sweet Spot”

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What is a lens’s “sweet spot?”

Everybody wants sharp and focused photos. You can get good sharpness near to far in a photo by hyperfocal focusing, but what are the limits of sharpness of your lens? At what aperture (f-stop value) will you get the sharpest photos? This is also known as the “sweet spot” of the lens. Here is a simple test you can do to find out where your lens is sharpest. But first, some basic rules…

General Rules for Lenses

The rules are about the same for every lens. Here are the general ones: Continue reading

How much camera do you need?

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How Much Camera Do I Really Need?

The question inevitably will come up: “How much camera do I really need?”

It’s not possible to know the answer to this unless you know what you will do with the camera.  But, here is a rough guide:

  • Pro: the most camera you can buy for the money, dSLR, of course.
  • Semi-pro: not more than a 15 Mp dSLR (Canon T1i/D500)
  • Amateur: a high-end point and shoot (Canon G-series)
  • Hobbyist: a compact point and shoot (Nikon L-series)
  • Novice: a low-end point and shoot (maybe even just a camera phone)

This is a proven list by the way.  I’ve lived it and I own those listed above.

What am I?

“But, what am I?”, you ask. Well here is another list for that: Continue reading

Copyright Your Photos

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Why Copyright? Why not?

With the software for image processing and the cameras available today, is there any reason why someone would not apply copyright information to their photos?  Why, yes, yes there is — it’s called “oversight” and “stupidity.”  For as easy as it is, there really is no excuse not to apply your copyright to your images.  Protect them.  They’re yours.

I use Lightroom software to import and touch up my photos, and there is a provision for applying copyright information to the metadata of your image right at the point of import.  I simply fill in the field that applies metadata and save it as my own preset.  When the photos are imported from my camera into Lightroom, the copyright notice is automatically applied.

In-Camera

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The Sigma DP2 Merrill Camera

SigmaDP2m

The Strangest but Most Wonderful Camera

The Sigma DP2 Merrill is about the strangest camera I’ve ever used, but at the same time it is one of the very best also. The list of weird things about this camera:

  1. No viewfinder – only a screen on the back.
  2. X3F RAW files – a weird format that almost nothing reads except Sigma’s own software.
  3. No built-in flash. (Yay. Never use it anyway.)
  4. Huge files – Image size is 4704 x 3136 (15 Megapixels) but the RAW file is a whopping 44 Mb.
  5. No zoom. A fixed lens with no zoom capability. If you’re used to using a zoom to get a shot, this will feel super awkward.

More limitations far below, but first, the great things about this camera (and this is a truly great camera)…

The True Photographer’s Camera

These weird things though are minor compared to the feeling this camera gives a true photographer. By “true,” I mean the photographer that remembers using a film camera with a hand wind on it.

Aim. Shoot. Hand crank the film roll. Repeat.

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My old Zeiss Ikon Contaflex 35mm camera.

This camera will make anyone into a better photographer and make them feel like a true photographer. Here’s why: Continue reading

Instruction Manuals

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Believe it or not, it is very important to keep those instruction manuals that came with your cameras.  With the complexity that is inherent in almost every high-end digital camera sold today, it is nearly impossible to master all features of your camera right out-of-the-box, or even years later (as in my case). Continue reading

Choosing a Focus Mode and AF Frame

Focusing Modes Explained

Choosing a focusing mode (also called AF Mode) for your camera can be confusing. Very confusing. It’s not something you’re going to want to be thinking about when you’re ready to shoot, that’s for sure! Here’s a simple explanation for some common focus modes and how I use them. Continue reading

Camera Lens Filter Effects You Can’t Get From Post-Processing

Software can do a lot to post-process your photos, but it can’t do everything. Sometimes, you just have to use a filter on your camera to achieve certain photos. Here are what filters you will absolutely have to have on hand in order to get those shots! (click to tweet) Continue reading

How to Make Your Camera Settings Before You Need Them

Mode dial with custom settings of C1 and C2 shown.

Mode dial with custom settings of C1 and C2 shown.

I often take my camera with me, and rarely know exactly what I will be shooting. The best photos are not planned ones. How frustrating when I have to stop and set-up my camera. Here’s one thing that I do to make sure I am ready to shoot: Continue reading