Sometimes people ask how I learned photography. First of all, I have many friends who are as enthusiastic as I am about photography. I went out shooting with them and step by step I learned about my camera, the principles of composition and lighting. Also I read books and attended a handful of seminars on photography. But the main source from where I learned photography (besides taking photos myself) was and still is the internet. There are numerous excellent free learning resources available. You just have to know where to go and start sucking up the knowledge. I will present a few jewels today which I find helpful and entertaining. Of course there are endless other great photography sites, blogs, podcasts and so on besides from my list, but I will stick to naming only a handful. Google is always your friend in finding more
Something is definitely not right with my technological karma. The D800 hassle, a week ago our 3.5-year old TV went dead and a few days ago my praised Drobo refused to mount in the Finder.
A Drobo, for everyone who is not familiar with it, is a plug-and-play RAID system. It has multiple storage bays into which you can plug 3,5” hard drives (even when the system is running). The system automatically distributes the files among the four harddrives and your data is safe, so goes the claim of the company.
I had the funny situation that the journal entries on the Drobo were corrupted. The drives were running, the device was recognized in Drobo dashboard (the management software which shows storage capacity etc) and even OS X’s Disk Utility recognized the drive. But I could not get it to mount in the finder. Several attempts to repair the drive did not work.
In the end I had to reformat the Drobo, make a brand new time machine backup and copy my archived files back on the Drobo. I was able to do so because I always keep more than one copy of my archived files. I actually have three copies of my archive: One on the Drobo, one on a separate HDD which I keep at home and a third copy on an HDD I deposit at work. An extensive post on my backup strategy can be found here. This made reformatting the Drobo a nuisance but not a catastrophe.
Conclusion of today’s post: Do not rely on only one backup. Always keep several copies of your data on separate storage devices and distribute those storage devices spatially.
The rubber ring on my 24-70 f.28 lens started to wear out. It expanded, lost its grip on the lens barrel and came loose. I contacted Nikon support and they told me that this is normal wear. It is actually not a surprise, my 24-70 is the workhorse of my lens collection. No other lens is used more, therefore it is understandable that after 2.5 years of owning it the rubber ring wore out. The spare part cost 19,64 Euros (proud price for a piece of rubber, but that’s what spare parts cost…), installation was very easy, see the video. Also you can see images of the worn out rubber ring and the new one.
When I was reading the lighting 101 guide from strobist.com one product which was presented there struck me – the Lumiquest Softbox III. It is a flexible, lightweight and very flat packing softbox which is attached to your flash directly. Lumiquest offers a range of such light modifiers. I purchased two of those softboxes and in this video I make a mini review and show how to install them.
I got a Leap Motion Controller today. Leap is a startup company which offers a truly marvelous 3D tracking device. The little box you see in the title picture is not much bigger than a lighter. You place it in front or behind your keyboard and the Leap Motion Controller tracks the movement of your hands. It does not only track your hands but is way more accurate. It can track your fingers individually. I have absolutely no idea what the technology inside that little box is, I only know two things at the moment. It is very accurate and very affordable. The item ships at around 90 Euros in Europe (I got it cheaper since I pre-ordered last year when I first heard of it).
In games you can control an aircraft with your hands, curling your fingers to shoot. In imaging software you can paint with your fingers in thin air or flip through photos, see the video. You need own apps to work with the Leap and these can be purchased in the Leap App Store. Prices range from zero to twelve USD for an app. I think eventually the large software companies will implement support for the Leap in their software. Imagine Lightroom or Photoshop being controlled with your fingers. Sorting, organizing images like Tom Cruise did in Minority Report (hey, and even there he had to wear a data glove
At the moment the App store is quite empty, there are only 57 (fifty-seven) Apps for the Mac at the moment (22nf of July 2013). But this will grow I suppose. There are only a few photographic Apps, mostly for browsing through flickr, 500px and such image repository sites. Let’s wait and see how the App portfolio develops. In the meantime I will have some fun with the available software Enough talk, let’s watch the fun ! Enjoy the video !
A great deal of my photographic knowledge comes from blogs, podcasts and instructional videos which are freely available on the internet. My key driver for writing here is to share my experiences and humble knowledge with other people. I am blogging for about three years now, the first post was published August 13th 2010. In that time I have published around 190 posts, which is roughly a post every six days in average. The blog has a small, but steady amount of readers, which makes me very happy. I would like to extend the activities on the blog and post more frequently. But I can not do this alone.
Therefore I am looking for guest writers or co-authors. What does it take to be qualified ? Mainly just two things. You should be passionate about photography and you should enjoy writing and explaining (in the english language).
You are free to write about anything, as long as it is related to photography in any sense. Examples:
I can only repeat – as long as it is a post related to photography in any sense you are free to contribute.
Now for some kind of disclaimer to make clear what you are dealing with. I am not a full-time photographer but a photo enthusiast who enjoys maintaining this blog in his spare-time. I have a daytime job which pays my bills (and has nothing to do with photography, I am an engineer) and therefore I have no commercial interest in the blog (yes, one can book me for shootings. But the blog is hardly a vessel for acquiring clients. The posts are centered around photo gear, technological issues, shooting setups etc. That is not the stuff image-buying people usually read). I will never sell images or articles that you contributed. Which means on the other hand that I won’t pay you for your posts. As written above, your key motivator should be giving back to the community. Disclaimer end.
If you are interested in contributing please drop me a line.
I decided to change my profile pic I use on wordpress, twitter, tumblr,…. everywhere. For some years it has been a picture of me in a red weather jacket, lying on an icelandic beach and hiding behind my D300s. I thought it was time to come out of the shadow… well not completely, see above. I wanted to make an interesting self-portrait and not another shot of myself in the mirror holding the camera… you might know this type of picture.
One of the biggest problems when taking your own picture is that you can’t look through the viewfinder, because you are in front of the lens obviously. I overcame this obstacle by tethering the D300s. Tethering means that you connect your camera with a cable to the computer and use a program to trigger the camera. Adobe Lightroom offers this functionality. I used my D300s with the 24-70mm lens, at 58 mm, 1/200 sec, ISO 200 and f10. I chose that aperture because I wanted only my face on the picture with everything else being dark. The flash highlights my face, the rest of the room is black. Note that I shot this image not in my studio but in my office room. With normal lighting conditions you would see a comfy chair and some other furniture in the background, but f10 suppresses the ambient light and only the photons coming from the flash are visible.
The self-portrait above was taken using the following setup (I always wanted to explain something on a napkin, so here we go):
Since my handwriting is a catastrophe (I actually had to redo my homework many times in elementary school but it didn’t help…) I am deciphering the scribble for you: computer, tethered camera, SB-700 + Lumiquest Softbox, me on chair, holding mouse and light stand, mouse.
I put the camera on a tripod and angled it a little downwards. This forced me to look upwards at the camera, which is merciful on the double chin. With the right hand I held the mouse on my right knee, with the left hand I held the light stand with an SB-700 and a Lumiquest Softbox III attached. The drawing is distorted. My left arm is actually not twice the length of my right arm (side note: Now that you have seen my drawing skills you know why I photograph and not paint). The Speedlight loomed very close over my face, just out of frame. Obviously you can’t place the light stand on the camera axis to achieve symmetrical lighting, so I tilted the light stand to have the speedlight centered over my face.
Sitting like that I took the first picture, after a few seconds the image showed up in Lightroom. Then I had to adjust my position and the position of the flash many times until I found the desired framing and lighting. I took 86 images that evening until I had the image above with which I am now happy.
It was very unusual for me to be before the camera. Most of the shots I had to redo because I did not like the expression I was making. You get a glimpse at what skills professional models or actors have. On most of the pictures I either looked angry, smirky, goofy or hyped up cool. That was not what I was looking for. The final result shows what I think to be a relatively neutral, but friendly expression. I like it, do you ?