Saturday, July 26, 2014

Why Facebook Images Look Awful


Also in this issue:


  • Free Ebook Upgrades
  • What's Meaningful Photography?
  • Los Angeles Seminar
  • A Sony A-mount lens on a Fujifilm X-T1


Why Facebook Images Look Awful

I've often joked that no matter how much television may improve in the future, people will still be watching reruns of "I Love Lucy" on them.  Despite the march of technology, some things just don't change.

The same is true of common snapshots.  No matter how fancy or sophisticated our cameras / phones become, no matter how miraculous an engineering achievement they represent, people will always be taking pictures that look like the ones gracing this blog post.  (Always!)  The photos shown here are real snapshots taken across the decades using popular instamatics of the day.  In all cases, the scene looked perfectly good to the eye, and after all, doesn't a camera just capture how it looks to the person shooting it?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Preventing Bit Rot, Part 2

Boy, did I get a lot of email from last month’s blog!  Most people had no idea that even though they were making regular backups and they did a file system check on a regular basis, their valuable files were STILL vulnerable to corruption.  It’s rare that anything I write leads other people to action, but it happened in this case with Patrick Corrigan, author of the book Data Protection for Photographers, created a blog post which essentially mirrored my own conclusions.  You can read his scholarly take on the issue here.

So I've learned that every time I hit a nerve like this, it makes sense to delve deeper.  One of the best suggestions to come out of the blog comments was the reinforcement of the idea to use a more advanced file system like ZFS (Unix) or ReFS (Microsoft Windows 8.1, a compelling reason to upgrade right there!) which is designed to combat this very problem.  One of the most cost-effective and easiest ways for a technically-inclined person to do this is to download and install FreeNAS onto some old computer hardware and have that act as your server.  It's free (except for the hardware), and your data gets the extra level of protection it deserves without you having to switch computers or operating systems.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Preventing Data Decay


Data Decay (sometimes referred to as "Data Rot") can corrupt your .jpgs as they idly sit on your hard drive.  How many of YOUR precious memories are deteriorating on your storage media right now?

Also in this issue:
  • Unobvious Things about the Sony A7 and A7r
  • New Ebooks out!
  • The Friedman Archives is Hiring!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Elegant Product Shots


Also in this issue:
  • So How Sharp Is This Lens?
  • Homeless for 5 Years
  • Welcome a New Member of the Team
  • A Surprise Gift
  • More!
Elegant Product Shots


I'm quite engrossed in book writing right now, and to support the effort I took these two brochure-worthy product shots using the A7r and a Minolta 100mm macro lens (with LA-EA4 adapter, of course.)

These shots are easier than most people think.  All it takes is one wireless flash off to the side, preferably with a diffuser like a white sheet in front of it to soften the light.  In my case I used a softbox designed for wireless flashes which does the same thing (see photo below).

Friday, January 17, 2014

My First Month with the Sony A7 and A7r



It's been a busy month, and during that time I've been putting both the A7 and A7r through their paces.  Let me share with you both the good and the unexpected.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Untangling Fill-Flash


In last month's blog post I promised I would share the secret of getting perfect fill-flash shots using the latest generation of Sony equipment (which behave differently from any other camera ever made).  I'll get to that in a minute.  But first, I want to tell you about my latest e-booklet, and how you can get it for FREE!!!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Grizzlies in RRBL (Really, REALLY Bad Light)



So here I was, on my way up to British Columbia, Canada to photograph some grizzly bears during their most photogenic time - when they're on a salmon-feeding frenzy.  I had with me the new Sony 70-400 G II lens (an amazing lens that's just perfect for wildlife) and my A99 and I was looking forward to taking pictures that were so sharp that I'd be able to blow them up to wall-sized enlargements, and then people would stand 2 inches away and exclaim, "Wow!  I can count every hair in their fur!"  (My equipment is capable of that.)

That's what I was hoping for, anyway.  Instead I ended up having to deal with RRBL (Really, REALLY Bad Light).  Without good light, even the best equipment might mean mediocre results.  Could I manage to bring home sellable shots in such poor conditions?

Monday, September 16, 2013

What's in My Camera Bag(s)? (And other stories)

(This works, but technically it's not wireless. :-) )
Also in this issue:

  • Wireless Flash with the RX-100 MK II?
  • Original Cameracraft Magazine from 1901
  • Seattle Seminar
  • Two new e-books
  • What's in My Camera Bag(s)?


Wireless Flash with the RX-100 MK II?

Many of you who are fans of the new RX-100 MK II (one of my favorite cameras!) have noticed that the camera has the new hot shoe gracing its top plate.  I got excited about that when I first got the camera, for it meant I should be able to employ my #1 technique for getting “Wow!” shots: Wireless Flash.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cellos and Monster Trucks

Also in this issue:
  • Seattle Seminar
  • Shooting Monster Trucks (and getting great results with the "worst" equipment)
  • Other Stuff

Light is everything in photography.  It's more important than sensor size, resolution, high ISO performance, or shooting RAW.  Just as there's no substitute for proper focusing, there's no substitute for good light.

Case in point: Have a look at this photo of a talented young cellist taken in ambient light (click on this or any other image to enlarge):

1/60th, f/5.6, ISO 1000
Even though I used an A99 and Zeiss optics for this shot, its an incredibly bland shot.  Nobody will ever say "Wow!" when they look at it.  (And shooting RAW wouldn't have helped! :-) )  Let's see if we can improve this shot by improving the light. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

A99 & A77: Same Settings, Different Exposures


Also in this issue:
  • A Death in the Family
  • How I Shot This Really Annoying Sculpture
  • Rescheduled Seminars 

A99 & A77: Same Settings, Different Exposures 


It started out innocently enough.  Here I was, photographing a science experiment we found in the pantry one night (a potato that decided to start sprouting) and so I thought I'd document it in the studio and go for some dramatic light.  I used just one flash on the right, set to manual output.  An early shot can be seen above.  (As always, click on any image to see a larger version.)

"The depth-of-field is too shallow" I said to myself.  "The front leaves are very sharp; but the back ones 4 inches back are too fuzzy".  And so I switched from an A99 to an A77, knowing that the smaller sensor will give about 1.5 stops' worth of increased depth-of-field for the same composition.  I carefully set up the camera so all the settings were identical, and took a similarly-composed shot:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Life as a Geek

Me and the World's Smallest Telephone (as verified by the Guinness Book) back in 1980.

Once upon a time, back in the days of film, time exposures (like of the picture below, which was taken at 2:00 AM using a 20-minute exposure) were very much a trial-and-error process.  It was difficult to know how long to keep the shutter open, as the light was too low for the camera's meter to measure accurately, and even if you had a Sekonic handheld light meter (famous for ultra-low-light sensitivity) you still had to account for something called film reciprocity, a property where film would become less sensitive to light the more light hit it.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Preventing Image Theft

Also in this issue:
  • Studiozaloon Portrait - Behind the scenes
  • The Road Ahead
  • Seminar Schedule
  • Preventing Image Theft

Studiozaloon Portrait -Behind the Scenes

Say hello to "Uncle Chin", owner of the Studiozaloon Sony Pro Shop, the store that sells more Sony Alpha equipment than anyone else in Malaysia.  Uncle Chin credits his success in this space by employing good customer communications both before and after the sale, and has been responsible for producing an army of loyal followers.

I wanted to take a proper "Environmental Portrait" (a portrait showing a person in the environment in which they thrive) of Uncle Chin using my now infamous Five Dollar Studio - one wireless flash and one large diffuser, with some volunteers acting as light stands.