Canon issues advisory for new super-telephoto lenses, promises firmware fix soon

Canon has issued a product advisory for its new super-telephoto lenses, the EF 400mm F2.8L IS III and the EF 600mm F4L IS III.

Canon says the two lenses might experience a 'phenomenon where the exposure may flicker slightly if recording a movie with the camera shooting mode set to M or Av in combination with select cameras.'

According to the press release, an upcoming firmware update (version 1.0.8) will fix the issue with the affected cameras. In the meantime, Canon says there are two ways to avoid this problem:

  1. When shooting movies, set the camera’s shooting mode to P or Tv mode.
  2. When using the lens alone or with the EXTENDER EF 2x, set the exposure setting step to 1/2 or 1/1 with the camera’s custom function, even if the camera shooting mode is M or Av.

DPReview will update this article accordingly when the new firmware is released.

Is the Leica Q2 right for you?

Is the Leica Q2 right for you?

Leica recently announced the Q2, a 47MP rangefinder-style digital camera with a super-sharp, fixed 28mm F1.7 lens. It's a heck of a lot of fun to shoot with - if you can afford the $4995 price tag - but is it right for you? Based on our time with the camera, and its specifications, we've examined how well-suited it is for common photography use-cases, including:

Leica Q2 for Street photography

Leica cameras have been associated with street photography as well as photojournalism for generations, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the Q2 is well-suited for capturing candids. Its 28mm F1.7 Summilux lens is not only impressively sharp, it's also stabilized for hand-held shooting, in low light.

The camera offers two ways to set an autofocus area, either via the touchscreen or the rear four-way directional pad: whichever you choose, point movement and overall AF responsiveness is excellent. There is no touchpad AF option when using the Q2 with your eye to the finder, though, only the directional pad.

If you're more of a purist, go ahead and manual focus: the focus ring is well damped and really quite pleasing to turn. The camera offers two focus assist tools: Auto Magnification and Focus Peaking (available in a variety of colors) - one, both or neither can be turned on. There's also a hyperfocal scale on the lens barrel.

The 28mm F1.7 Summilux lens is not only impressively sharp, it's also stabilized for
hand-held shooting

Being neither seen nor heard is important for street photographers. The Leica Q2's leaf shutter is nearly silent and its electronic shutter is completely silent, though you may encounter some rolling shutter. The former can sync with a flash up to 1/2000 sec. There's no in-camera flash, but a strobe can be attached to the Q2's hotshoe.

The Q2 has a new 3.68MP OLED electronic viewfinder that's a major improvement in terms of detail and color over its predecessor, which used a field sequential-type display. Its 3" 1.04-million dot rear touch display is also lovely to compose with, but the lack of screen articulation limits your ability to compose from the hip.

28mm can sometimes be too wide, especially in instances when 'zooming with your feet' isn't possible. For these moments the Q2's 'Digital Frame Selectors' or 'crop modes' are quite handy. The camera offers 35mm (30MP file), 50mm (15MP file) and 75mm (6.6MP file) crop options. When selecting one you'll still see the full 28mm field of view, just with corresponding frame line for the crop you've chosen. If shooting Raw+JPEG, the former saves a full-resolution file with the crop applied, the later will be a cropped-in file.

Back to Intro

Leica Q2 for Travel photography

When it comes to travel photography, you want a camera that's not going to let you down. Battery life, weather-sealing, versatility of focal length and low light capability are all factors worth considering: after all, this might be your one chance to get that shot.

Overall, the Q2 has solid battery life. It's rated 370 shots per charge (CIPA), but as usual our experience suggests you'll likely be able to get closer to double that number, depending on how you shoot. Unfortunately, the Q2 has no ports, so there's no in-camera charging: you'll have to pack the charger in your bag.

One of the most significant upgrades the Q2 received was the addition of weather and dust-sealing. It's officially IP52 rated which means it should be able to tolerate some drizzle and/or encounters with particulate matter.

The Q2's biggest detractor from being the ultimate travel camera is its lack of zoom

The Q2's biggest detractor from being the ultimate travel camera is its lack of zooming capability. Sure the 35mm, 50mm and 75mm in-camera crop options are handy, but the latter is fairly low resolution: 6.6MP. So if you have any desire to shoot at a truly telephoto focal length, the Q2's not for you.

On the other hand, the Q2's lens should have you covered in low light. The 28mm F1.7 Summilux is fast and darn sharp, even wide open. And the camera's new 47MP sensor should offer a good deal of dynamic range for shadow lifting - but further testing is needed to confirm this.

But at the end of the day, what's the point of traveling if you can't upload and share your photos? The Q2 offers low power Bluetooth to keep your device paired so you can easily transfer photos via WiFi as needed. The only down side here is the Q2's default JPEG profile is somewhat lackluster, so you may want to run your image through a favorite mobile editing app before posting. No word yet on whether you can transfer DNGs.

Leica Q2 for Family and Moments photography

One of the most important questions to ask yourself when shopping for a camera to capture special moments is, 'Will this camera make me want to reach for it when heading out the door? Will I want to bring it along?'

We think the Leica Q2 fits the bill well - it looks gorgeous and is not too big nor is it too heavy. Plus it should be able to stand up to some abuse thanks to its magnesium alloy body and moisture/dust-resistant construction.

The combination of excellent manual focus and fast/accurate autofocus gives you versatility to take your time or speed things up

We also feel the combination of an excellent manual focus experience and fast/accurate autofocus gives you versatility to take your time and compose, or speed things up. That being said, other cameras on the market offer highly-reliable tracking/Face Detect modes that will essentially remove focus from the equation, if you so desire. These cameras are generally easier to use and are a better option if you're a novice looking for a family/moments camera.

We're also not terribly impressed by the Q2's rendition of skin tones in out-of-camera JPEGs, they tend to look neutral and unsaturated to the point of being unflattering - for best results we suggest processing Raw files. If you're not comfortable working with Raws, there are other cameras with lovely JPEG engines that will suit you better.

Leica Q2 for Landscape photography

A rangefinder-style digital camera may not be your first thought when considering a camera for landscape work, but the Q2's impressively sharp lens (corner-to-corner), compact size and high resolution sensor make it a fine option. Furthermore, we hope its base ISO of 50 gives an advantage over the competition when it comes to dynamic range (but again, more testing is needed to confirm).

The Q2's impressively sharp lens, compact size and high resolution sensor make it solid choice for landscape

And as previously mentioned, the camera has some degree of dust and moisture resistance - it also offers good battery life. There are however some ergonomic considerations for landscape shooters, namely, the lack of a flip-out screen. It's also nearly impossible to open the card or battery door with the camera mounted on a tripod. Additionally, the lack of light-up buttons may make adjusting settings a challenge in the dark.

Leica Q2 for Portrait photography

28mm is obviously not a traditional portrait focal length, and if you're a stickler for shooting portraits with such, well, the Q2 really doesn't make much sense. But for those willing to bend the rules, 28mm and 35mm (via the 'Digital Frame Selector') can easily be used for photojournalism-style environmental portraits, like the one above. The Q2 also offers 50mm and 75mm crop modes, but at resolutions of 15MP and 6.6MP, respectively.

If you're a stickler for shooting portraits with a traditional portrait focal length, the Q2 really doesn't make much sense

A top flash sync speed of 1/2000 sec also makes this camera a good choice for daylight portrait work using strobes. However the lack of an Eye AF mode means you'll need to move a focus point over your subject to maintain a sharp image - or use manual focus.

Leica Q2 for Video

You might think it's a little silly to include video as a use case for a rangefinder-style camera, but don't be too quick to chuckle - the Q2 shoots stabilized DCI or UHD 4K/30p footage though a ridiculously sharp lens capable of delightful manual focus pulls. Plus, you can easily tap to focus. It's also capable of Full HD shooting at 120p for slow-motion clips and its new base ISO of 50 could translate to less need for an ND filter when shooting in bright light.

The Q2 shoots stabilized 4K/30p footage though a ridiculously sharp lens capable of delightful manual focus pulls

While you're probably not going to win the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival with a movie filmed on the Q2, it should be more than usable for run-and-gun style shooting. Just don't get too fancy because there are no ports of any kind - that's right, no headphone, microphone, HDMI or even USB connection.

The Wrap

Ultimately, if you don't mind the Leica Q2's fixed lens and touchscreen, it is a great choice for a wide variety of photographic disciplines including street, travel and family photography. It also makes a handy all-in-one landscape camera. And while its 28mm lens can be used for wide angle 'environmental portraits,' it's probably not the right choice for most portrait photographers. Same goes for videographers: its footage is usable, but other cameras will suit you better.

Of course, more testing is needed to know exactly how the Q2 lines up to its competition. For now, read our Leica Q2 First Impressions, and we look forward to publishing a full review soon.

How Mark Rothko’s Paintings Can Inspire Your Photography

The post How Mark Rothko’s Paintings Can Inspire Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

I first encountered a painting by Mark Rothko when I was a uni student, perusing the National Gallery of Australia. Seeking the wisdom of abstract expressionists like Lee KrasnerClyfford Still and Hans Hofmann, I was somehow completely unaware of Rothko’s renowned canvases. So when I came across #20,1957 I was instantly mesmerized. In the reverent light of the gallery, the cells of the painting seemed to shift under my gaze, bleeding and retracting at once. And when I looked away, the after-image formed a striking hollow into the gallery surrounds.

I felt meditation and calm, but I also felt something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The ineffable. #20,1957 was like nothing I’d ever come across before.

My reaction to the Rothko painting wasn’t unique. Audiences around the world have reported a deep emotional experience when viewing Rothko’s work. Rothko hoped that in viewing his paintings, others would be drawn into a deep meditative state, a state of vulnerability and receptivity that he himself entered into while creating his artworks.

Today, Rothko’s motivations and techniques continue to inform not only painting but visual arts as a whole.

Mark Rothko

Born in Dvinsk, Russia (now Daugavpils, Latvia) on September 25, 1903, Mark Rothko (born Marcus Rothkowitz) immigrated to the USA with his family in his youth. Inspired to take up art in the autumn of 1923, he began his artistic career painting urban life, portraits, nudes and landscapes. His portrayal of architectural space leaned on abstract compositional techniques, exploring the relationship between the painting and the viewer, an aspect that would play a critical role in his future works.

In the early 1940’s, Rothko shifted from painting the figurative to the symbolic, exploring themes such as prophecy, ancient myths, archaic ritual and the unconscious. Inspired by the surrealist method of automatic drawing, Rothko began to delve into more abstracted imagery, graduating almost entirely to abstraction by the late 1940’s. Unimpeded by the figurative or symbolic, Rothko stained the canvas with diluted oil paint, rendering shapes and forms with soft, indistinct edges, some outlined by luminous white halos.

Mark Rothko, No. 3 No. 13 1949, MOMA
No. 3 No.13, 1949 photo credit: Sharon Mollerus on Flickr

Rothko’s arrived at his signature style in the 1950’s. His expanses of graduated tones and ethereal light seemed to suspend vibratious squares and rectangles upon active planes of color. Toward the end of the 1950’s, Rothko began to paint in an increasingly darker, more restricted pallet.

Mark Rothko (1903-1970)
No. 9 (Dark over Light Earth/Violet and Yellow in Rose), 1954 photo credit: G. Starke on Flickr

In 1964, Rothko received a commission for a series of paintings for a non-denominational chapel in Huston, Texas – a space that was ideal for immersion in his stark, contemplative canvases. Unveiled in 1971, the paintings took 6 years to complete. However, sadly, Rothko never saw the culmination of the space. He committed suicide in his studio on February 25, 1970. He was 66.

Mark Rothko (1903-1970)
Black on Dark Sienna on Purple, 1960 photo credit: G. Starke  on Flickr

Making photos inspired by the art of Mark Rothko

Painting and photography are two different mediums, I know. There is a significant separation between the paintbrush and the camera (although there are some commonalities too). Creating photographic work inspired by Rothko’s paintings isn’t about mimicry, it’s about trying out different styles and techniques. While this article discusses ways to approach photography that reflects Rothko’s paintings, you don’t have to end up with an exact copy of Black on Dark Sienna on Purple, 1960 (I sure didn’t!).

Through the elements and principals of art and design, Rothko created work that communicates beyond seeing. Using the same principals, photographers can create work inspired by Rothko that challenges the viewer and plays with the concept of photography and visual arts.

Using color

When described solely as a colorist Rothko said, “if you are only moved by color relationships, you are missing the point.” Rothko used color as a path to realizing the unseen. Looking beyond the event of color as an optical phenomenon, Rothko constructed oscillating visions driven by our innate conceptions of color.

Like Rothko, photographers use color as a tool to convey an image beyond seeing. Our associations with color stem from experience and instinct. Emphasizing color over literal subject matter doesn’t just convey color relationships; it communicates emotion and ineffability.

Capturing photography imbued with color is simple enough, but may require a little exploration. Look for flat planes of solid or graduated color. Seemingly dull urban surfaces like doors, walls or panels come to life within the camera frame. Try to include as little objective evidence as possible, articulating the emotional charge of color without the disturbance of other visual detritus.

The color in this image breaks up space, conveying meaning through our inherent associations

Unfocused photography

Another way to exemplify color is through unfocused photography. Rothko created a visual vibration within his paintings by blurring the edges of his colors and forms. This effect can be re-imagined by unfocusing your camera lens (turn off Auto Focus first) before taking a photograph. Unfocused photography creates a painterly quality that emphasizes color over subject matter. Rather than taking pin-sharp photos, unfocused photography frees the edges of the components that make up a scene, creating a unique movement throughout the image.

Unfocused photography emphasizes color, creating a unique movement throughout the image

Rothko’s abstract expressionism

Although Rothko himself shrugged off classifications, his work is generally categorized as abstract expressionist. Developed in New York in the 1940’s, abstract expressionism refers to a movement of predominantly non-representative painters. Neither completely abstract nor completely expressionist, abstract expressionism encompassed a wide variety of styles and techniques. Overall however, the practitioners of abstract expressionism stood united in their desire to reinvent the nature of painting.

Abstract expressionism is understood today to be divided into two camps – the action painters and the color field painters. Considered a member of the latter, Rothko prioritized austere beds of color over the wild, diacritic mark. Rothko’s serene blocks generate an emotional aura predominately through shape, form, color and line. It’s these basic precepts that have translated into abstract photography.

Like abstract painting, abstract photography operates independently from depicting the objective. As a result, abstract photographers emphasize the non-objective, peeling back the literal to expose the bare bones of an image. Beyond language, abstraction investigates the visual, discards the literal and charges an image with potentiality.

Aerial photography cultivates abstraction through distance. Abstract macro photography closes in on a subject to reveal often unseen planes. Like Rothko’s paintings, what you exclude from a photograph is just as important as what you include. Turning your lens to strong shapes, forms, colors, textures and lines cultivates imagery that cuts through to the essence of visual language.

Abstract photography operates independently from depicting the objective

Movement

Through extensive layering, blending and blurring, Rothko manipulated hard-edged structures of color into stark, yet softly transcendent forms.

Intentional camera movement (ICM) uses the same principals of movement within a photograph. Through motion, ICM reduces a subject to shape, form, color, and line, creating an abstracted study of movement and light. Similar to painting, ICM involves the physical movement of the camera during an exposure. Also, like Rothko’s actions documented in the strokes of a brush, ICM creates an artwork that is visibly, inextricably linked to the experience of the photographer.

To take an ICM photograph, first, turn off autofocus and, if you have it, image stabilization. Set your camera to Shutter Priority, adjust your exposure time to around 1/2 of a second and turn your ISO down to the lowest setting on your camera. The longer your shutter speed, the more a subject will blur.

Point your camera at a subject, depress the shutter and physically move the camera. Once the shutter closes, review the result on your LCD screen. Your movement will register as blurred lines within the image.

The nature of ICM is that it is both simple and experimental – it takes some adjustment to perfect. Explore different combinations of subject matter, time of day, focus, shutter speed, aperture, and movement to create an image you’re happy with. Moreover, don’t forget to wear your camera strap!

Conclusion

Saying once that “the most interesting painting is one that expresses more of what one thinks than of what one sees,” Rothko shifted the way art is made and observed. Now, with the advent of digital photography, we have new ways to communicate visually.

However, Rothko’s reflections on the human spirit continue to resonate as a vital pause amongst visual loudness. Through his use of color, abstract expressionism and movement, Rothko’s work transcend artistic mediums, informing and inspiring contemporary practice today.

The post How Mark Rothko’s Paintings Can Inspire Your Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Megan Kennedy.

Panasonic Lumix S1R sample galleries updated

Now that our Panasonic Lumix S1R has final firmware, we're pressing ahead with our full review – but not before getting in some shooting time. Take a look at how the S1R deals with a variety of situations in our sample gallery, and we have to admit, we're kind of smitten with the out-of-camera JPEGs (there are some Raw conversions too, of course). Head to the end of the gallery to see some samples of the S1R's incredible 187MP multi-shot mode.

You can also click below to check out our pre-production sample gallery from the launch event in Barcelona last month.

See our Panasonic Lumix S1R
sample gallery

See our pre-production Panasonic
Lumix S1R sample gallery

NASCAR teams up with DroneShield to bring down unwanted drones at racing events

It's not just countries and federal agencies getting tough on drones, unruly or otherwise. According to a report from TechCrunch, NASCAR, the sanctioning body of multiple stock-car racing series in the United States and abroad, has struck a deal with anti-drone technology company DroneShield to help shoot down rogue drones at specific venues.

According to the report, DroneShield will be present at NASCAR-sanctioned events held at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. This includes events for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and other feeder stock-car series throughout the 2019 season. Below is a promotional video captured and shared by DroneShield showing off its new DroneGun product:

In an email announcing the news, DroneShield CEO said 'We are proud to be able to assist a high-profile event like this [...] We also believe that this is significant for DroneShield in that this is the first known live operational use of all three of our key products – DroneSentinel, DroneSentry and DroneGun – by U.S. law enforcement.'

DroneShield Sentry (left), DroneShield Sentinel (right).

Despite being the first time its trifecta of products are being used, this isn't the first time DroneShield has been used at major sporting events. DroneShield technology was used at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, as well as at the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, Australia most recently.

858 Limits

Chris looks at what extreme limitation can do to your photography and why it works at all. Chuck wants to know how to prepare for an extreme Himalayan winter journey.. and Chris talks about how a big walk-in freezer might be all that’s needed.

Photo by Flo Karr

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2019/2020 Photo Tours with Chris Marquardt
» Feb 2019: Arctic: Fantastic Fjords Tour 1
» Feb 2019: Arctic: Fantastic Fjords Tour 2
» Jun 2019: Silk Road Kyrgyztan
» Oct 2019: Romaina Fall Colors
» Feb 2020: Lake Baikal, Siberia
» Sep 2020: Ireland, The Wild Atlantic Way
» all photo tours

The post 858 Limits appeared first on PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS FROM THE TOP FLOOR.

How to Improve Your Photography by Changing Perspective

The post How to Improve Your Photography by Changing Perspective appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

Sometimes I find myself stuck in a bit of a photographic rut, and it seems like no matter what I do I just can’t quite find interesting subjects to take pictures of or compelling scenes to capture. Even worse, when I do think I’ve stumbled across something that would make a good picture, I’ll start clicking away only to be disappointed with the results.

One trick I’ve learned over the years to dig myself out of these pits is to change my perspective. By looking at familiar subjects from a different angle, or under a different light, I often find myself seeing it almost for the first time. It’s a fun exercise and doesn’t involve much effort. It can transform even the most boring scene or bland subject into something worth photographing and framing.

There is any number of ways you can change your perspective on things to get a good photo. I’m going to examine four of my favorite techniques and show you an example of each one. Hopefully, this gives you some ideas to try out on your own and start turning the mundane into something magical.

Look at the lighting

Not long ago I was walking around a pond near my work with my Fuji X100F when I stumbled across the following scene. As you can see, it really wasn’t much to look at whatsoever. I noticed two brown leaves among a sea of dull green leaves, but nothing stood out to me as photo-worthy.

A few minutes later the sun poked out from behind the clouds. I decided to take a look at this same scene from a slightly different perspective, and with a bit of a change in lighting as well.

Instead of shooting from above with the sun behind me, I shot from below with the sun behind my subject.

That simple change made a massive difference.

The result is one of my favorite leaf photos I have ever taken.

One morning in May, I used the same technique to get this shot of a butterfly.

I put myself in such a position that the sun would be behind this particular butterfly. It not only gave an incredible glow to its wings but made the dew on the grass glow and sparkle in a way that makes the scene seem almost magical.

Normally, I incline to take pictures like this with the sun behind me, not behind my subject. However, this was a good reminder that sometimes creative lighting choices yield amazing results.

You cannot overstate the effect that lighting has on your photos. Even the word photograph itself means to draw with light. Even so, I often think of lighting in terms of formal portraits or other contrived situations. It doesn’t immediately cross my mind to alter the lighting when I’m trying to capture casual shots in an interesting manner.

The next time you feel a bit of a slump coming on, try looking at everyday items and situations from a different perspective. A perspective where the light is altered, and see how it changes everything right before your eyes.

Another tip is to try creating your own lighting, like in the shot below. It is nothing more than a jar of pasta in my kitchen that I set on top of a flashlight. However, the result was something interesting and unexpected that brought a big smile to my face.

On a similar note, this purple vortex was shot using pretty much the same principle. It might look like something out of a movie or painting, but it’s just a plastic bottle with some purple water that I lit with a flashlight.

The original setup is far less dramatic and quite boring – not the type of scene that seems ideal for an interesting photo. However, with a bit of light manipulation, even scenes like this can result in a magical picture.

Get closer

When I first started taking pictures, I didn’t realize how much I could change the impact of my images by moving myself around a bit. Sometimes I would end up moving to shoot a subject or a scene from a different angle. However, the proverbial light bulb really lit up when I realized how moving closer to my subjects could have resulted in such a dramatically different outcome. This has come in to play when taking pictures for clients – such as this one that I shot at 190mm with an aperture of f/4.

The picture is fine on its own. However, when I moved closer, I found the resulting image more intimate and personal. It was almost like I had caught the two in a bit of a private moment. I shot this image at 150mm with an f/4 aperture. While the focal length was shorter, the image feels more comfortable and natural because I was physically closer to the couple.

I didn’t zoom in to get this shot – I zoomed out. But, I moved a lot closer to them. Not only did this give me a more personal picture, but it also helped the couple feel more comfortable with me. Instead of being remote and distant, I was now able to talk and joke with them. This enabled them to let down their guard and smile a bit more naturally.

Of course, the converse of this is true as well. Sometimes you might find that moving farther away can give you a better shot. The point is that a simple change in perspective can profoundly impact your pictures. Also, if you are working with people, it can change the entire mood and tone of the photo session as well.

Re-frame your subject

When you don’t want to move back and forth but you want to kick your pictures up a notch or two, try moving your subject around. Such that they are in a slightly different spot with slightly different surroundings. Take this photo from a maternity session as an example. The expectant mother is in a garden leaning against a brick outcropping.

Like the couple in the earlier example, this picture is fine on its own, but it feels like it’s missing something. By moving my subject to a nearby flower bed and shooting a similar photo, we were able to add an entirely different dimension to the photo. As a result, I captured an image that feels much more personal and intimate despite a similar pose and expression.

A simple re-framing of the subject, and even adding foreground and background elements, can have a huge impact on the resulting images and the story you want to tell or emotions you are trying to convey. This works with more than just people too, such as this image of the moon. It’s not bad. The subject is sharp and in focus. However, the picture isn’t all that compelling. It’s just a big white circle against a black background. As a result, the image is somewhat lifeless and uninteresting.

Now contrast that image with another one that I captured months later just after sunset. This time I composed my shot so there would be some tree branches in the foreground. This simple compositional decision made the final image far more compelling than just a shot of the moon in the sky with nothing else around it.

Above and below

There is one final tip that can help make your pictures a lot more interesting (or just more fun to look at). Examine your subject or the scene from a vantage point that’s either much higher or lower than you might be accustomed. That may involve climbing up on a ladder or crouching down to the ground. The more creative you can get, the more compelling your results can be.

These two shots are the same sleeping infant. However, I took one from a very low angle and the other from directly above. Neither one is better or worse than the other, and that’s not the point. Instead, both pictures showcase the same subject in different ways. Thus, they convey different meanings to the viewer.

The same scene from a different angle feels more personal and intimate, even though almost nothing about the baby has changed.

On a similar note, I did a family photo session for some clients recently where they wanted a picture of all their hands together. After discussing some ways to accomplish this, we decided to shoot the hands from above. It involved a tall ladder, and all the family members crowded around a tree stump. They were thrilled with the result.

It all came about because I shifted my vantage point to directly above instead of my normal inclination to take photographs from my eye level.

Finally, one more example involves nothing more than a washing machine that my father had rigged to run with the lid open. I held my camera directly above to get this picture of the spin cycle in action.

While it may not be as special as an infant or three generations of hands together, it’s an interesting image of a familiar situation made possible by shifting perspectives.

Hopefully, these images give you a sense of what’s possible by changing a few simple things with your photography. You don’t need expensive gear or fancy studio setups to accomplish some interesting results. Often you just need to adjust your viewpoint or find ways to use the light differently.

I’d love to see some of your examples and read your tips on this same idea. If you have any thoughts or images about this, please share them in the comments below!

The post How to Improve Your Photography by Changing Perspective appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

Widen your window: a message to landscape photographers

If there’s one thing landscape photographers obsess over more than gear, it’s light. And often, we fall into the trap of treating light as a zero-sum game - either a sunset is amazing or it’s a complete fizzer. This all-or-nothing mindset is detrimental to our growth as photographers and the work we can produce.

Instead, when we approach our time in the field with a richer appreciation for the subtle, ever-changing interplay between light and landscape, we foster greater opportunities for creative expression.

Expectations create limitations

Early in my landscape photography journey, I would fixate on burning sunrises and sunsets. Almost obsessively, I would track the clouds each day, searching for the signs of a promising explosion of color. While every month or two the heavens would align, more often than not, the sky either fizzled out or failed to produce the color I had hoped for.

By tying our time in the field to ‘great light’, we limit our opportunities

Chasing idealized visions of light, I’d either a) go out anticipating perfect conditions, only to be disheartened when it didn’t materialize, or b) I wouldn’t go out at all if there weren’t signs of a banger on the way. I’m not sure which was worse. Both mindsets have been harmful to my development as a photographer. In hindsight, internalizing the concept of ‘perfect light’ falling across each scene was an unrealistic expectation—one that set me up for disappointment and hampered the images I took.

By tying our time in the field to ‘great light’, we limit our opportunities. Opportunities to grow in versatility. Opportunities to better experience landscapes and compose scenes. Opportunities to expand, refine and execute on our photographic vision.

Go out earlier, stay out later

If you’re the kind of person who, like I was, predominantly shoots 20 minutes either side of sunset (or sunrise), then consider widening your capture window. That is, arrive on location an hour earlier, and continue taking images well into twilight.

This enables you to gain a more rounded understanding of the key elements of the scenes unfolding before you. Exploring locations without looming time pressures offers you the freedom to discover compelling compositions. Compositions that may not present themselves to others who simply arrive at the car park 10 minutes before sunset.

Time is a limited resource, particularly so for some more than others

(Note: This emphasis on time is understandably more difficult for people traveling or working another full-time job—people like me. Time is a limited resource, particularly so for some more than others. If that’s you, then reflect on your priorities. Do you want to capture a collection of good images from multiple locations? Or is your preference for a handful of great images—images that you’d be proud to add to your portfolio?)

Additionally, expanding your capture window forces you to experience the landscape under ever-changing lighting conditions. Over a one hour period on sunset, a scene can change from golden side light, to indirect light from colorful clouds overhead, to soft, yet moody, blue light before dusk arrives. Sometimes a burning sky can be too overwhelming, commanding all the attention in an image, while softer light during twilight may better emphasize the mid-ground and foreground elements.

Challenge yourself

By allowing yourself more time, you can still reserve a window for your ideal composition later in the shoot. Having that composition safely scheduled away opens up new opportunities to create images you not only previously overlooked, but may have entirely not thought possible.

Furthermore, this mindset needn’t - and shouldn’t - apply to sunrise/sunset scenes. Challenge yourself to head out during non-ideal conditions. When time allows, explore landscapes in the middle of the day, after (or for those more adventurous, during) rain or even under moonlight.

Without a colorful sky acting as a crutch to make the scene interesting, how else might you compose it make it compelling? For seascapes, try shooting handheld and getting even closer to the action. For forest scenes, consider shooting with a telephoto lens to really focus in on the subject and remove all distractions. While it’s approaching cliche, experiment by adding a human element to your image for an enhanced sense of scale and place. And when all else fails, shoot abstract - capture intimate details that hone in on key elements of the landscape.

Final thoughts

This article shouldn’t be treated as a prescriptive guide - nor would I want it to be. Each of us has our unique way of seeing and capturing the world around us. That’s one of the reasons so many landscape photographers are passionate about their craft. It’s a medium for personal expression.

Rather, I’m sharing this article to encourage you to expand the scope of your photography and of your potential as an artist. To broaden your view of the images you can (and hopefully will want) to create. To open up new possibilities for your creative vision.


Mitch Green is a Melbourne based Travel and Landscape photographer. He can be found via his website, through Instagram, or down by the beach at 5am waiting for sunrise.

Review: Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lens for Canon – At just US$50 could this be the most affordable “nifty fifty”?

The post Review: Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lens for Canon – At just US$50 could this be the most affordable “nifty fifty”? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.

The 50mm f/1.8 lens, or as we call it, the ‘Nifty Fifty,’ is one of the most widely used lenses in the market. This is usually the first lens a modern digital camera owner desires to purchase after the kit lenses.

The reasons why this is the most popular lens are fairly simple – the first being affordability, and the second, the ability to produce pleasing bokeh.

In terms of affordability, the Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lens is ideally the cheapest Nifty Fifty. Priced at less than US$50, this is less than half of the Canon variant and works on APS-C as well as full-frame cameras.

However, the Yongnuo lens for Nikon costs around US$70 as it includes the focus motor. I recently bought one for my Canon 5D Mark iii, so I thought of sharing my views about this lens.

Build quality and ergonomics

The Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lens looks exactly like the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens (discontinued version). The plastic used in the Yongnuo lens feels a bit cheaper though. Surprisingly, the rubber grip is smooth, and the ‘AF and MF’ switch is similar to Canon.

The construction of the lens consists of 6 elements in 5 groups and has 7 diaphragm blades – the same as the Canon variant. This Yongnuo lens is light to carry as it weighs only 120g – 40g lighter than its competitor. Overall the lens looks and feels good at this price point.

Focus speed and accuracy

I have been using this for almost a month now, during the day as well as night time. The focus speed is a bit slow as the lens hunts for focus, especially in low light conditions. If you are shooting stationary subjects, then it is fine, but if you want to nail the focus swiftly, then you might be disappointed.

Though the focus speed is not that fast, the accuracy is fairly good. It takes time to focus but when it does the focus is accurate. I would not recommend this lens for video shooters as it messes a lot with the focus. However, if you are a hobbyist and casually shoot portraits or still objects, this lens can do the job.

Sharpness and Image Quality

Before clicking photos using the Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8, I had much less expectation from this lens. To my surprise, this lens produced amazing sharpness and image quality. I did not compare it side by side with its competitor lens, but I am sure it is on par with it.

The few image samples that you see are all shot at an event during the sunset/evening time. The images are tad sharp, and the colors also look natural. I had done a test on vignetting performance, and at f/4 it was almost gone. This lens worked for me when I was shooting stationary subjects as well as when shooting performing artists at an event.

For me, the bokeh shape was a bit unpleasant at f/1.8, and I’m not sure exactly why. I used this lens at f/2.8 and achieved sharp and crisp images with minimum vignetting and shallow depth of field effect.

Conclusion

This lens by Yongnuo is for someone who has just started with photography or has a tight budget but still wants to achieve the f/1.8 look at 50mm. The focus speed is something that might irritate you, but once it focuses the image quality is quite impressive. I would suggest this lens to someone who shoots still subjects or portraits without much movement. If you are a wedding, event or a professional portrait photographer, you might be disappointed.

Have you used this lens? What are your thoughts?

The post Review: Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lens for Canon – At just US$50 could this be the most affordable “nifty fifty”? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.

A Beginners Guide to Taking Portraits of Elderly Clients: Part 1 – Preparation and Rapport

The post A Beginners Guide to Taking Portraits of Elderly Clients: Part 1 – Preparation and Rapport appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Clinton Moore.

1 - Taking Portraits of Elderly Clients

You often hear it said that outstanding photography is about storytelling. An image may not have perfect lighting ratios or razor sharpness, but if it connects with you that can be all that matters.

Working with elderly clients can be the ultimate storytelling journey as these folks have experience in spades!

In this first of a two-part series on working with elderly clients, we’ll explore the practical and rapport building aspects of creating a story through the click of a shutter. Part two focuses on lighting and posing techniques.

How old is old?

2 - Taking Portraits of Elderly Clients

Remember that there is a spectrum of seniors. Most do not think of themselves as frail or grizzled. Get to know your stereotypes and your subject.

One place where your point of view can get in the way of a great image is generalizations around age. You’ve fallen into this trap the minute you conceptualize your client as “old” or “elderly.”

They tend to hate these terms. Can you blame them?

It’s important to step back and remember that there is a spectrum of the elderly. A 65-year-old is probably going to be at a different place in their life, both physically and mentally, to a 90-year-old. This includes everything from their health and mobility to their attitude about what they desire in a portrait.

Just try getting a 90-year-old to go for a brisk walk down the beach at dusk as you do in your standard family portraits.

Step back and remember that you need to get to know where your client is at before you even pick up your camera. After all, age is a state of mind.

Rapport building

Older clients tend to take a bit more time to photograph. They’ve been around the block a few times, and they want to get to know you a bit first. Also, they’re generally not trained models looking for a glamour shot for their Instagram feed.

For them, a photograph is an event, not an addiction.

3 - Taking Portraits of Elderly Clients

Older generations may only have had one formal photograph in their lives. Don’t assume they will be comfortable around the camera just because they’re there.

Communicate their way

You may be used to connecting through a world of emails and social media, but this isn’t always the case for older clients. For many older clients, their first instinct will be to pick up the phone (and we’re not even talking about a cell/mobile half the time!).

So be sure to place your phone number prominently on your website and any other form of marketing. This creates a sense of trust that you’re not going to just run off with their money.

Of course, many older clients do have email but may likely hold you to a higher standard of communication than you are used to on social media. Make sure you address them formally (i.e. “Dear John”), don’t use modern abbreviations or slang, and please check your spelling and grammar!

Creating comfort

When shooting a portrait, comfort should be your number one priority regardless of your client’s age. However, for older clients, you may have to do a little more than just making bad jokes from behind the lens.

Take the time to meet with your client before the shooting date. Sit down with them and be willing to share a bit of your personal story. This means more than just your shooting style. Tell them about where you come from, your family, or your interests.

This old school type of business approach might seem a little strange if you’re used to more modern online interactions. However, for older clients, it builds trust.

Try to keep in mind that older generations didn’t grow up with cameras being thrust in their face every second of the day. So your first job is really to make them feel safe. It’s entirely possible that the photo shoot was the idea of their children, and the client themselves may not be entirely on board.

So be sure to make them feel comfortable. Communicate your process and timeline clearly, and then stick to it!

4 - Taking Portraits of Elderly Clients

Sitting down with your client can be the most interesting part of the whole process. Take the time to do it right.

Understand their goal

Who paid for the shoot? One of the tough parts about working with older people is that they may not actually be the client!

If their children are footing the bill, understand what they want from the session in addition to the older persons desired outcomes. Often this is going to be a case of compromise. This highlights the importance of communication and preparation.

Now assuming the older person is your client, the first step is to determine how they want to be portrayed. While this should be standard practice regardless of age, there are a few areas here that can trip you up.

If they’re quite old, this portrait could be the photo destined for the tombstone. No one will say it out loud, but people may be thinking it. As such, family members might have differing, but strong opinions about how things should look.

Keep in mind that some clients might want to be photoshopped back into their 20s, whereas others may proudly want their wrinkles on display. As always communication is vital!

Be careful about imposing your ideas of old age photography onto the session. Try to avoid the cliché shots of the serious or delirious old person. Instead, let their personality shine.

5 - Taking Portraits of Elderly Clients

Avoid the clichéd shots and post-processing that portray older subjects as worn or child-like. Let their personality lead your images.

Get out of their face

Want to make an 80+-year-old client feel immediately uncomfortable? Get right up in their face with a lens. Aside from the fact that it’s probably not going to give a very flattering look, it can feel intimidating.

They may also not be over the moon about being surrounded by multiple light stands, softboxes, flags, and reflectors.

During your initial consultation, find out what level of gear will allow them to feel comfortable. If that means just the natural light through a window, then work with that.

Posed versus candid photographs

One of the most important initial questions pre-shoot is whether the client wants posed or candid shots.

While the client’s wishes should mostly steer this decision, you need to take a few factors into account.

Client’s who are experiencing dementia, particularly frontal dementia, may struggle with a posed photo shoot. Frontal dementia affects a person’s ability to plan and organize. So your usually simple instructions such as “open your eyes and smile on the count of three,” may quickly descend into chaos.

That said, if you’re doing a family shoot, a little bit of this chaos (provided no one gets too embarrassed) can be a great natural ice-breaker.

When in doubt ask yourself what style of shoot will best allow the client’s personality to shine through. A shot of grandpa tinkering away in his workshop might be infinitely more valuable than a stale headshot for the family.

6 - Taking Portraits of Elderly Clients

Sometimes the best photograph won’t be the perfectly lit, composed and exposed image. A family snapshot can be infinitely more iconic if it captures your subject’s personality.

Length of sessions

When shooting significantly older clients, keep sessions as short as possible.

The process of having to concentrate on a range of different instructions can be quite fatiguing. There’s also a good chance that their preparation for the shoot started well before you arrived.

As mentioned before, clients suffering with dementia can also experience a phenomenon called “sundowning” which is a tendency to become more confused towards the end of the day.

See again the importance of making sure you know your client before you organize anything?

7 - Taking Portraits of Elderly Clients

Jot down everything you can during your pre-consultation to create a fleshed-out idea of your client and their needs.

Mobility and location of sessions

Although a 60-year-old client can probably go anywhere you can think of; a 90-year-old client can’t. Something as small as a flight of stairs can pose a massive hurdle to a significantly older client.

Plan where you are going beforehand and give your client plenty of time to get there.

Asking them to cross a park to get to a beautiful spot you usually take your clients could end up taking more time than you had intended for the entire shoot.

As you can see, the minute you leave the client’s home, things get a bit more complicated. However, don’t let that discourage you from venturing outdoors. Just do the groundwork beforehand and make sure everyone involved is on the same page.

8 - Taking Portraits of Elderly Clients

Be realistic about the areas an older person can access. A few steps may as well be a mountain for some. It never hurts to send your assistant to check it out first.

Conclusion

Working with older clients is a delightful experience. Their sincerity is hard to miss. To ensure you have the best chance at a successful shoot, take the time to prepare more than just your lighting diagrams. Focus on understanding the client’s goals and personality. Collaborate with the family where necessary, and make their comfort your number one priority.

Next time we’ll be looking at some ideas around lighting and posing older clients.

Do you have any other tips you’d like to share? If so, please do so in the comments section.

The post A Beginners Guide to Taking Portraits of Elderly Clients: Part 1 – Preparation and Rapport appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Clinton Moore.

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