Photography

Canon 5D Mark III Announced- Mixed Reviews

March 2, 20120 Comments

Canon 5D Mark III

 

The new Canon 5D Mark III was announced by Canon today. From the reviews I’ve been reading over on the BH Photo site, Canon users don’t seem very thrilled with the new features. Many are comparing the camera to the Nikon D800 which at a glance has more features and is $500 less. I was hoping the Canon would have really raised the bar, but it looks like this version might just be incremental updates. Anyway, here are some of the features of the new Canon 5D Mark III.

  • 22.3 MP full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Digic 5+ image processor – increased speed, power and sensitivity
  • 61 Point High Density Reticular Auto Focus
  • Capture 1080HD video at 30, 25, 24 fps
  • Intelligent viewfinder and large 3.2 inch Clear View II LCD with 170 degree viewing angle

What do you think about the Mark III? Excited? Disappointed? Will you be pre-ordering?

Update 10/12/2012

My photography buddy Linda I’Anson purchased the Canon 5D Mark III as an upgrade to her Mark II.  She recently traveled with the new camera on a photography shoot for a travel catalog in Bangladesh.  She really liked the performance of the camera and from what I saw of some of the photos she posted, the images are incredible.  I’m a Nikon shooter myself and I’ve been contemplating upgrading from a D700 to the D800, but I keep reading about issues with the autofocus and the leftmost AF point.  I’m also not sure I need 36mp of resolution, though most of my photography is landscapes.  I’ve actually thought about switching camps, selling all my Nikon gear and purchasing Canon equivalents, but even though the Canon lenses tend to be less expensive, it would end up costing me more than the price of a D4, so maybe that’s the route I will take.  I’m in no hurry, I really like the D700 so I think I’ll wait it out a few months before I make a decision.

By the way, Linda and I are contemplating hosting a photo tour to Bangladesh sometime early next year before the weather gets too hot.  Included will be a trip to the Chittagong ship breaking yards.  http://www.luminous-landscape.com/locations/ship-breaking.shtml.   Let me know if you have any interest in attending.

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Understanding Your Camera’s Histogram

February 25, 20122 Comments

Understanding Your DSLR Histogram

You don’t need to be a camera guru to understand the histogram on your digital camera. It only means that you need to learn more about your camera and its features.  To get an optimum exposure and not lose any data, it is important to interpret your digital camera’s histogram to comprehend what it means and make the appropriate exposure adjustments.

What does the graph mean?

Well, what is a digital camera histogram and what do you do with it?  This would be a great time to pull the manual out for your digital camera and learn how to display the histogram on the camera’s LCD display.  On most digital cameras the histogram can be enabled so it displays every time you take a photo.  To explain it briefly, it is a graph that shows the level of brightness of an image from the very darkest levels on the left (value 0) to the very brightest on the right (value 255), on the horizontal axis.  Camera HistogramThe graph’s height, vertical axis, is the measure of the density of image pixels of a particular tonal value.   The taller the graph for a particular tonal value the more shades of that tone will display in the photo. As you can see from the histogram on the left, there are a lot of pixels between the mid-tones and highlights.   This is a histogram from a photo of Badwater in Death Valley which because of the bright sodium deposits most of the pixels will be somewhere between the mid-tones in the center and the highlights.

Camera RGB HistogramSome histograms also display separate graphs for the level of brightness and pixel density for the three primary colors- Red, Green and Blue (RGB).  The histogram also displays in many photo editing software programs including Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture, among others.

 

Now that you have a better understanding of your digital camera’s histogram, we can move on to how you evaluate the exposure of a photograph.  After you’ve taken a photo and you are viewing the graph on your LCD display, ideally you want to see most of the graph’s pixel density between the left and right brackets. Continue Reading »

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Photoshop CS6 – New Content Aware Features

February 16, 20120 Comments

Looks like there are going to be some amazing new features in the upcoming release of Photoshop CS6. The video shows a couple of really neat features around content-aware.

 

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Guest Post – Linda I’Anson

February 8, 20120 Comments

Guest post by Linda I’Anson. Linda’s avid photography interests include street photography, landscapes and travel photography.

My Yosemite Visit
El CapitainEvery time I’m in the Fresno area I make Yosemite a mandatory stop before going home. I used to hate this place. I thought it was overrated and was so sick of hearing about Ansel Adams this Ansel Adams that.

Coming to Yosemite in the winter changed my mind. Freshly fallen snow on the trees and mountains is breathtakingly beautiful. The crowds are gone and the wildlife are plentiful, even near the roads.

Yosemite is a two hour drive east from Fresno. You take Route 41 for the first hour to the park entrance. Then another hour to get to the meat and potatoes of the park. When you come out from the park’s tunnel you are struck in the face with the most grand awesome landscape in the world.

I have been coming to Yosemite 4-5 times a year now. Typically, the two parking lots for Tunnel View are full. This last weekend there were about 3 cars in the parking lot. And when I left the Park, zero! Unfortunately, this winter has been particularly warm and dry. I was hoping to get a shot of tufts of grass in the snow and the the stream iced over.

The easiest thing to do is park the car along the north or south roads, walk off into the woods, and you will find heaps of photographic opportunities. Every time I go, I find something new. I won’t go hiking in the mountains unless my husband joins me (to carry all my gear).

I barely made it for sunset at Valley View. When I arrived, a Japanese photography workshop was there. Thankfully, they didn’t go to my favorite tripod spot, to the right, at the base of a fallen tree trunk. But quite a few in the group were smoking and I had to yell at them in my best Japanese. SMOKING IN YOSEMITE???? Anyway, the sunset was brilliant. The sun hit the face of El Capitan in a gorgeous orange glow. Another photographer showed up afterwards and I told him he missed out on the most glorious sunset. I then showed him what I shot. Lesson learned the hard way, show up on time! My husband is laughing at me right now, as he reads this because I’m not a morning person and hate waking up for sunrise shots. He is always chastising me for not being a “true” photographer and calls me the “lazy faux-tographer”. Continue Reading »

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Nikon D800 Announced

February 7, 20121 Comment

Nikon D800Since I’m a Nikon shooter and I currently use the D700, I’m excited to see the next generation announced by Nikon.  Some of the new features I’m motivated about  included in the D800 are the 36.3MP FX-format CMOS sensor, Full HD 1080p video at 30p and the built in HDR feature.  The price is less than I was expecting too, $2,999.   One thing I am concerned about is the number of pixels they are jamming into the sensor and the effect if will have on the output.   This will definitely be on the top of my list as my next purchase, but I want to wait and see some of the real world photos with all those pixels before I take the leap.

Looks like just over a month for the release.

Here are some highlights from the Nikon press release for the D800.

  • High resolution 36.3-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor (7360 x 4912 resolution)
  • 91,000-pixel RGB Matrix Metering System 3D Color Matrix Metering III
  • Advanced Scene Recognition System
  • Improved 51-point AF system for images with amazing sharpness, color and clarity
  • Full HD 1080p video, such as full manual control, uncompressed HDMI output, and incredible low-light video capability
  • Nikon’s latest EXPEED 3™ image processing engine
  • Wide native ISO range of 100-6400, expandable to 50 (Lo-1)-25,600 (Hi-2)
  • New enhanced auto white balance system that more accurately recognizes both natural and artificial light sources, and also gives the user the option to retain the warmth of ambient lighting
  • In-camera High Dynamic Range (HDR) image capture
  • Video including Full HD 1080 at 30/24p and HD 720 at 60/30p
  • Dedicated headphone jack for accurate monitoring of audio levels while recording. Audio output levels can be adjusted with 30 steps for precise audio adjustment and monitoring
  • The chassis is constructed of magnesium alloy for maximum durability, and is sealed and gasketed for resistance to dirt and moisture
  • Dual memory card slots for CF and SD cards, and offers users the ability to record backup, overflow, RAW/JPEG separation
  • Shutter has been tested to withstand approximately 200,000 cycles, and the camera also employs sensor cleaning

Price and Availability
The Nikon D800 will be available in late March for the suggested retail price of $2999.95.* The D800E version will be available in mid April 2012 for a suggested retail price of $3,299.95.* For more information about these models, NIKKOR lenses and other D-SLR cameras please visit http://www.nikonusa.com.

Update 10/12/2012

As I’ve indicated in another post, I’m still contemplating buying the D800.  In the meantime to tide me over, I purchased a Fuji X100. 🙂  What a great camera and I just love the retro rangefinder look.  Watch for my first take on the X100 soon.  Anyway, my daughter’s boyfriend purchased the D800 and really likes the camera.  He primarily uses it for portraits and will be doing some wedding shoots.   The shots I’ve seen have turned out great and the resolution is nice though the files are huge.

Let me know if any of you have tried the D800 and your thoughts.  I’d also like to hear from folks that have both the D4 and D800.

 

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My Trip to the Palouse

January 15, 20122 Comments

 

Palouse MorningI’m just getting around to looking at some of the places I was fortunate enough to visit in 2011 and the great photography opportunities that happened as a result.  This photo of the Palouse, in Eastern Washington really stands out for me.

A couple of my photography friends from L.A.  (Linda I’Anson, Scott Stulberg and Holly Kehrt) met me in the small town of Colfax, Washington where we set up our base.  By the way, check out their web sites, they are all very accomplished photographers (http://www.iansonphotography.com/, http://asa100.com and http://hollykehrt.com).  We wandered the numerous paved and unpaved roads that cross the countryside looking for barns, old farm equipment and of course, the great rolling fields that the Palouse is known for.

On this particular day, we left the hotel before dawn in hopes of a sunrise shot of the fields of the Palouse from Steptoe Butte.  As you can see from the photo we were greeted with low hanging clouds, but we made the best of the situation and I think we all came back with some great shots.  There is so much to photograph in the Palouse, it’s almost hard not to get a few great shots.  Just an amazing landscape!

I highly recommend a visit to the Palouse in the late Spring when the fields are green, or in the Fall when everything is being harvested.  You won’t regret it.

I processed this in Lightroom and Photoshop using Nik Color Efex.

Jim

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Abstract Architecture Photography

January 3, 20122 Comments
Back in early October 2011, I took a trip with my wonderful girlfriend to London and Paris.  I’ve been to both cities several times and have some wonderful photography to show for it.  As much as I love the wonderful old architecture of both locales, I was very keen on seeing and photographing the modern architecture of La Defense in Paris.  The area is much larger than I imagined and I could have spent a couple of full days there exploring.
Lately, I’ve been getting into abstract architecture photography.  I find it interesting the things you can discover in the viewfinder with a long focal length lens.
I think the trick is to try out different angles and perspectives.  Walk around the building or structure.  I find I do best with the camera up to my eye.
Here are a couple of shots I like:
La Defense Abstract
And the Grande Arche:
La Defense Grande Arche Abstract
Look for another post soon.
Jim
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My Favorite New Photoshop Shortcut

February 8, 20111 Comment

I recently came across a Photoshop shortcut, I can’t remember where I learned of this little gem, but I’m grateful I found it.

Basically, if you make a selection and then click the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel everything will be masked except your selection.  If you hold the alt key on Windows or the option key on the Mac the opposite will be true, your selection will be masked and the rest of the image will not.

image

I get excited about the smallest things. Smile

Until next time!

Jim

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New Web Site – jmclarkphoto.com

January 23, 20110 Comments
JM Clark Photo Website

My Photo web site - JM Clark Photo


My new website is live! http://www.jmclarkphoto.com. I decided to make the move to Livebooks to save on cost, ease of posting new photos and now I can also sell prints of my photography.

It’s still a work in progress, but take a look and let me know what you think.

Until next time!
Jim

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Adding Dimension to Your Photos in Photoshop

February 1, 20100 Comments

You’ve just come back from a great trip and have a boatload of photos to process.   You’ve narrowed your cache down to a few really great shots for further processing and you want to make certain that the viewer’s eye focuses in on a particular part of the photo.   One way to do this is to shallow depth of field and direct the viewer’s eye in Photoshop.

The photo was recently taken in Cambodia by a friend of mine, Linda I’Anson.   You can see more of her great photography here:

Linda I ‘Anson Photography

I'Anson Photography

I really like the subject and the way Linda composed this photo, I just wish the depth of field was shallower.  My eye keeps wandering back and forth between the statue in the background and the darker statue in the foreground.  The statues seem to be competing to gain my attention.  I can tell by the focus in the photo that the statue on the left was the intended main subject and emphasis of the photo.

Photoshop to the rescue!

One way you can create the simulation of shallower depth of field is by using a blur filter in Photoshop.   Basically, I want to reduce the prominence of the statue in the background and make the focus the statue on the left, as initially intended.  Using a blur filter will also give the photo more dimension.

Original –

Cambodia - Before

Modified –

Cambodia - After

I probably could have added even more blur to the statue in the background, but as you can see it really gives the photo depth and causes the statue in the foreground to pop.  Since the statue in the rear is brighter, I also added a burn layer so it is not as prominent.

How did I do it you ask?  Well, it is really rather simple.  First I made a copy of the layer by clicking on Layer | Duplicate Layer…

Photoshop Layer menu

Then I added a Layer Mask.  You can add a layer mask by clicking on the icon that looks like a front loading washing machine in the layer palette, or from the Layer menu (Layer | Layer Mask | Reveal All).

Photoshop Layer Mask menu

Now add the blur.  In the layer palette, be sure the image in the layer  is selected.  It should be outlined with box as you see below.

Adding blur

On the Filter menu, click Blur | Gaussian Blur…

Gaussian blur selection

A window will appear similar to the screenshot below. Now adjust the radius for the amount of blur to obtain the effect you are looking to achieve.  At this point the entire photo will be blurry, but don’t worry, we’ll fix that in a moment.

Gaussian blur screenshot

Click OK.  Now we want to mask the statue in the foreground so the blur is hidden and the statue is sharp.  To do this we paint on the image with black with the layer mask selected.  Remember this, black conceals, white reveals.  Be sure the layer mask is selected or you will end up painting over your image!

Layer mask

Now select the brush tool, set the hardness to 50%, make sure black is selected and start painting over the section of the image where we want to conceal the blur we applied earlier.  If you make a mistake, you can switch to white and go over the area to reveal the blur again.

In Linda’s image you can see the mask that was applied revealing the foreground statue sharp and the statue in the background blurred.

Result of mask

If you want to apply some feathering and reduce the hard edge of the mask. you can blur the mask, but I’ll leave that to another lesson.

Until next time – Jim

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