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Archive for October, 2016

Oct
31

G-Technology introduces its first SSD portable stand-alone drive

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Storage company G-Technology has announced a new stand-alone SSD storage device that it claims can manage transfer speeds of up to 540MB per second. The G-Drive slim SSD uses a USB 3.1 interface and requires no external power source to run. Designed to be used with Mac computers the 500GB and 1TB drives, which come finished in silver or ‘space gray’, can be formatted for PC using the company’s Windows Format Wizard software. The drives come with a ‘high-quality’ USB Type-C to Type-C cable as well as a Type-C to Type-A cable.

The drives are set to retail for $229.95 and $379.95, and are available now – with the space gray option an Apple Store exclusive.

For more information see the G-Technology website.

Press Release

G-TECHNOLOGY G-DRIVE LINEUP OF PORTABLE SOLUTIONS EXPANDED WITH SOLID STATE TECHNOLOGY AND FAST USB-C™ CONNECTIVITY

G-Technology®, a trusted premium storage brand by Western Digital (NASDAQ: WDC), today announced the expansion of its G-DRIVE portfolio, with its first solid state portable drive, the G-DRIVE slim SSD USB-C. The new drive brings faster interface speeds with USB-C connectivity and expanded external storage for next-generation computers such as MacBook and the all-new MacBook Pro, perfect for consumers and creative professionals across the world.

Available in 1TB and 500GB capacities, the G-DRIVE slim SSD USB-C delivers super-fast solid state drive performance of up to 540MB/s. It features the speedy 10Gb/s USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface, taking full advantage of the SSD performance. The included high-quality Type-C to Type-C cable and Type-C to Type-A cable, allows this drive to operate with any computer featuring Thunderbolt 3, USB-C or USB 3.0* ports. Requiring no external power source, the G-DRIVE slim SSD USB-C will ensure that high-quality videos, photos and music will be readily available whether traveling in the field, back at home or in the office.

“G-Technology continues to embrace advanced technologies in its line of products, and is excited to announce its fastest portable consumer storage solution to date,” said Mike Williams, vice president, advanced technologies/G-Technology, Content Solutions Group, Western Digital. “The G-DRIVE slim SSD USB-C embodies our commitment to delivering products that offer exceptional performance, style, and reliability, while combining SSD technology with the latest USB-C interface ensures users will have the latest technology and performance at their fingertips.”

Plug-and-play for Mac®, this sleek drive is available in space gray and silver, making it a perfect companion for a MacBook or MacBook Pro. The MSRP for the 500GB capacity is $229.95 and the 1TB is $379.95*. The product is available for purchase today at G-Technology resellers with the space gray model available exclusively at Apple Stores in early November.

G-Technology also announced today a new rose gold color for its G-DRIVE mobile USB-C line up, adding to its portfolio that also includes space gray and gold. Featuring a fast 1TB 7200RPM hard drive for transfer speeds of up to 136MB/s, the G-DRIVE mobile USB-C is compatible with any Thunderbolt 3, USB-C or USB 3.0 system**. The G-DRIVE mobile USB-C, is available in your favorite Apple colors, now at Apple stores, with rose gold coming in early November. The silver G-DRIVE mobile USB-C is available today at G-Technology resellers. The drives can be purchased at a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $119.95*.

“When I am out on location I need fast, reliable portable storage solutions to help keep up with demanding shoots. With sleek designs and super speeds, I know I can count on G-Technology drives as my go-to back up and transfer solutions, wherever I need to be,” said Jeremy Cowart, celebrity photographer and G-Team Ambassador.

The G-DRIVE mobile USB-C and G-DRIVE slim SSD USB-C are easily reformatted for Windows users with the G-Technology Windows Format Wizard. For more information on G-Technology offerings, please visit www.g-technology.com.

Oct
31

LaCie unveils Thunderbolt 3 desktop storage devices

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

LaCie has launched three new Thunderbolt 3 desktop storage devices, the 12big, 6big and Bolt3. All three devices are, according to LaCie, the fastest desktop storage solutions currently on the market, making them suitable for storing and editing 4K and 6K video content, among other things. The Bolt3 offers 2TB of storage, the 6big offers up to 60TB, and the 12big offers up to 120TB.

The Bolt is the smallest of the three products, offering speeds up to 2800MB/s. According to LaCie, this model can handle raw video from a Blackmagic or RED camera, and can be used to transcode up to 6K footage using Adobe Premiere Pro or something similar. It only takes about 5 minutes to transfer a terabyte of 4K ProRes 4444 XQ video from the Bolt3 to the 12big.

The LaCie 6big offers speeds up to 1400MB/s and the 12big has speeds up to 2600MB/s. These models can be used to edit uncompressed 10-bit and 12-bit HD videos or multiple streams of ProRes 422 HQ and ProRes 4444XQ footage. The company also says raw photos can be accessed and edited in Lightroom without lag. A custom Pelican Storm case will be available for these two models.

The storage devices will be available this quarter starting at the following prices:

  • LaCie Bolt3: $1,999
  • LaCie 6big: $3,199
  • LaCie 12big: $6,399
  • Pelican Case: $349

Press release:

LaCie Announces World's Fastest Desktop Storage and Complete Thunderbolt 3 Portfolio for Creative Professionals

CUPERTINO, CALIF. - Today, LaCie, the premium brand from Seagate Technology plc (NASDAQ: STX), announced its Thunderbolt™ 3 portfolio of storage solutions aimed at helping video professionals excel with ultra high-resolution footage. First, the LaCie® Bolt3 combines Thunderbolt 3 speed with the latest M.2 PCIe SSDs to create the world’s fastest desktop drive. In addition, the LaCie 12big Thunderbolt 3 and 6big Thunderbolt 3 are ready to handle massive amounts of content thanks to fast transfer speeds, RAID 5/6 security and enterprise-class drives. These storage solutions, design by Neil Poulton, are ideal companions to the all-new MacBook Pro.

For the Bolt3, LaCie harnessed the breakthrough performance potential of Thunderbolt 3 and paired it with two M.2 PCIe SSDs striped into a 2TB volume. Bolt3 delivers record speeds of up to 2800MB/s and cuts valuable time off of post-production workflows, such as ingesting RAW footage from RED® or Blackmagic® cinema cameras or transcoding 4/5/6K footage using Adobe® Premiere® Pro or DaVinci Resolve. What’s more, videographers can transfer a terabyte of 4K ProRes 4444 XQ footage from the LaCie Bolt3 to RAID storage—such as the LaCie 12big Thunderbolt 3—in only 5 minutes and 11 seconds*.

The LaCie Bolt3 is engineered for long term reliability—from the enclosure to the internal components—to endure intensive storage tasks. Each product is individually Computer Numerical Control machined from solid aluminum blocks for rigid durability and heat dissipation. Effective cooling helps to ensure long-term component health. The stand securely docks the product with powerful neodymium magnets—and detaches for easy transport.

With up to 120TB of massive capacity, the breakthrough performance of Thunderbolt 3 and RAID 5/6, the LaCie 12big, and the new LaCie 6big help video professionals meet the data demands of 4/5/6K cameras. Both feature Seagate enterprise-class drives with 256MB cache and 7200RPM for superb accessibility, reliability and robust performance.

“From ultra high-resolution cameras to virtual reality to drones, the new experiences that content creators can bring to life are truly exciting,” said Tim Bucher, Senior Vice President of Seagate and LaCie Branded Solutions. “Creating these experiences generates unprecedented amounts of data while requiring extreme performance, and today we’re thrilled to help our customers by offering best-in-class storage solutions that excel in even the most demanding video workflows.”

Thunderbolt 3 speeds of up to 2600MB/s for LaCie 12big and 1400MB/s for LaCie 6big slash time off nearly every post-production workflow task. Users can then edit multiple streams of ProRes 422 (HQ), ProRes 4444 XQ, as well as uncompressed HD 10-bit and 12-bit video. What’s more, photographers can transfer RAW photos quickly and edit in Adobe Lightroom without lag. Plus, with up to 120TB of capacity, the LaCie 12big can store 100 hours of 4K ProRes 4444 XQ footage in RAID 5*.

With double the video bandwidth of its predecessor, Thunderbolt 3 lets a user daisy chain dual 4K displays or a single 5K display to the LaCie 12big or LaCie 6big. With two 4K displays, users can spread out their workspace by dedicating one display to the timeline and the other to previewing 4K footage, for example. It’s even possible to power a compatible laptop through the USB-C cable**. Additionally, the user can connect to USB 3.0 computers via the included USB-C to USB-A cable.

The LaCie 12big and LaCie 6big are engineered to handle demanding video workflows. Front-accessible drives offer convenient and quick drive replacement and front-facing drive status LEDs help the user keep track of drive health and RAID build status. The aluminum enclosure dissipates heat far better than plastic, while two thermoregulated fans pull heat away from internal components. Both the LaCie 12big and LaCie 6big are protected by a five-year limited warranty that covers drives, enclosure and spare parts.

LaCie has also partnered with Pelican Products to offer custom cases to safely transport the LaCie 12big or 6big to and from set. The Pelican™ Storm Case™ is an injection-molded case made of HPX® high-performance resin that is virtually unbreakable and resistant to dents and shatter. The custom, durable foam configuration houses a LaCie 12big or 6big, multiple LaCie Rugged® drives and accessories such as cords or a power supply. The cases are lightweight, airtight, watertight and backed by Pelican’s lifetime warranty***.

AVAILABILITY
The LaCie Bolt3 will come in a 2TB SSD capacity for $1999.00. The LaCie 6big will come in 24TB, 36TB, 48TB and 60TB capacities starting at $3199.00. The LaCie 12big will come in 48TB, 72TB, 96TB and 120TB capacities starting at $6399.00. The custom Pelican Storm cases start at $349.00. All LaCie Thunderbolt 3 solutions and the custom Pelican Storm cases will be available at LaCie resellers this quarter.

* Based on 764GB per hour of 4K GoPro footage (source) and 764GB per hour of 4K ProRes 4444 XQ footage (source). Quantitative usage examples for various applications are for illustrative purposes.
** Delivers up to 15W to power compatible laptops.
*** See pelican.com/warranty for full details.

Oct
31

4 Secrets for How to Get Tack Sharp Photos

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Photography Tips and Tutorials

We’ve all been here before. You get home from an afternoon with your kids in the park, at the ball game, or even a formal photo session only to load your pictures on the computer and realize that many of them are fuzzy, blurry, or just plain out of focus. It’s a problem that has plagued photographers for years. While new cameras offer all sorts of features like 3D focus tracking and real-time face detection to help make sure to get the ultimate tack sharp photos, the fact remains that out-of-focus images are still an issue for just about everyone with a camera.

It’s an unfortunate reality of the way cameras work with incoming light, and until we are all shooting with Lytro-style light field cameras we are all going to have the occasional out-of-focus picture or two. Fortunately, there are a few relatively simple things you can do to make sure your pictures are indeed as sharp as possible.

tips for getting tack sharp photos

Use a fast shutter speed

The world around you is constantly in motion, and having a camera means you are equipped to freeze that motion into a single frame. Depending on what you are shooting the result can sometimes be a blurry mess, which is often the result of a shutter speed that is simply too slow. There’s an old bit of conventional wisdom that says the minimum shutter speed needed to get a sharp image of a still subject is 1/focal length. So if you are shooting with a 50mm lens you need a shutter speed of 1/50th of a second.

Note: Due to the cropped sensor on cameras like the Canon Rebel series or lower-end Nikons the formula becomes 1/(1.5x focal length), so you would need a minimum shutter speed of 1/75 second.

This might sound fast but it’s actually not, especially if you are shooting in low light conditions or with a small aperture on your lens. It gets even worse when your subject is moving, in which case you need a much faster shutter speed! This is why many mobile phone pictures end up looking blurry, in order to let in enough light to get a photo they often use slower shutter speeds.

This jittery squirrel was moving all over the place, so I shot with a speed of 1/180 second to get a sharp picture. tips for getting tack sharp photos

This jittery squirrel was moving all over the place, so I shot with a speed of 1/180 second to get a sharp picture.

Proper settings

The solution is to use a faster shutter speed, which might sound fairly obvious but it doesn’t always work unless you have your camera configured properly. If you shoot in Auto your camera might not know you want to use a fast shutter speed. So shooting in Program or Shutter Priority is a good way to control the shutter speed to make it as fast as you want.

You can also utilize higher ISO settings like 1600 or 3200, which look just fine from most modern cameras if you need a fast shutter and there isn’t much light. Most photographers would take a slightly grainy (noisy) photo that can often be fixed with software like Lightroom or Photoshop over a blurry photo that can usually not be fixed. If you find that you consistently get blurry pictures of your subjects, try increasing your shutter speed and you just may just be surprised with the outcome.

Use a smaller aperture

The lens on your camera is designed to gather incoming light and focus it so you can take a picture. The amount of light it lets in is largely dependent on the size of the physical lens opening. A bigger opening, or aperture, lets more light pass through than a smaller opening, much in the same way a bigger hole in the bottom of a bucket lets more water leak out than a smaller hole. Wider apertures let you use faster shutter speeds and also help you achieve the type of beautiful out-of-focus backgrounds, called bokeh, that are common in portrait, wildlife, or even sports photography.

tips for getting tack sharp photos - family photo

Even though my 85mm lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.8, I shot this at f/2.8 because I wanted a wider depth of field in order to make sure all three subjects were in focus.

Depth of field

One tradeoff that comes into play when using wide apertures, is that your depth of field is much shallower. That means you have a very narrow section of the image that will actually be in focus or tack sharp.  Under very carefully controlled conditions this can be fine and even quite desirable. But in many situations, a thin depth of field can result in more headaches and frustrations than it’s worth.

Shooting with a wide aperture can result in a depth of field that is so narrow a person’s nose could be in focus but her eye might not. One of the best solutions is to just use a smaller aperture. The tradeoff when using smaller apertures like f/2.8, f/4, etc., is that your background won’t be quite as blurry and you will need a longer shutter speed, but if your lighting is good the latter won’t matter. And as for the former, I like to err on the side of caution and go with a technique that will give me a higher chance of having my subject sharp and focused, even if it means a slightly less blurry background.

tips for getting tack sharp photos

Use cross-type focus points

Almost every interchangeable-lens camera has one or more cross-type focusing points. That means they look along the horizontal and vertical axes to make sure things are tack sharp before taking a picture. These points are the little dots or squares you see when you look through the viewfinder of your camera. The ones that are cross-type are usually a bit faster and give you better results than their single-axis counterparts. Of course, you will need to know which of the points on your particular camera are cross-type but a quick online search of your camera model and “cross type focus points” will usually get you the information you need.

tips for getting tack sharp photos cross-type focus points

The center focusing points on my D750 are all cross-type, so I like to use them whenever possible in order to make sure to get maximum sharpness.

Cross-type focusing points are usually limited to a certain portion of the viewfinder. This can present a bit of a problem since normal-type focusing points are what is commonly used to lock focus on objects along the outer edges. A solution I like to use for these situations is the focus-and-recompose technique. I use a cross-type focusing point, often the one right in the center, to lock focus and then recompose my shot to frame it how I want. This does not always work when shooting wide open since even the smallest amount of movement can affect your shot when the depth of field is razor thin. But as I mentioned earlier, if you want tack sharp pictures you should probably stop your aperture down a little bit anyway.

Sharpness is critical when shooting macro pictures, so I used a wide aperture (f/8) and cross-type focusing points to make sure the foreground tulip was tack sharp.

Sharpness is critical when shooting macro pictures, so I used a small aperture (f/8) and cross-type focusing points to make sure the tips of the petals on the foreground tulip were tack sharp.

Use a tripod and Live View and zoom in to 100%

If you’re like me, you spend 99% of your time looking through the viewfinder of your camera as opposed to using the Live View function (where you use the LCD screen on the back of your camera to compose your shot). DSLRs have traditionally been designed for photographers to use the optical viewfinder which is why this method is generally faster and easier to use. But Live View has some very good features as well depending on the type of photos you want to take. If you are doing a lot of action shots like sporting events the Live View function is quite frustrating. But if you shoot landscapes, products, or other types of pictures where your subject remains relatively still, Live View can be a major advantage in terms of getting the sharpest image possible.

Using Live View helped me get this small wooden duck very sharp and focused.

Using Live View helped me get this small wooden duck tack sharp and focused.

Using Live View

The trick to using Live View for getting sharp images is to frame your shot with your camera on a steady surface such a tripod, then zoom in to 100%, using the controls on your camera. This gives you an ultra-close-up look at your image, and you can then use autofocus or manual focus to make sure everything is perfectly tack sharp.

While the autofocus points in the viewfinder do a good job, this type of 100% magnification shows you precisely how in-focus your image will be and helps you get pixel-perfect images. Landscape (and macro) photographers often use this technique, combined with small apertures for a wide depth of field, to get pictures that are much sharper than they could otherwise. It’s a tip that I highly recommend you try, especially if you don’t often shoot in Live View.

tips for getting tack sharp photos long exposure image

I wanted to get this 30-second exposure as sharp as possible. So I first used Live View and zoomed in to 100% to check that the foliage was focused.

Bonus tip: Use Focus-Peaking on mirrorless cameras

Most of the items in this article are geared towards traditional DSLR shooters, but if you use a mirrorless camera there is one handy tool you probably have that gives you a leg up on your traditional-style camera counterparts.

Focus-Peaking is a way for your camera to show you precisely what is tack sharp as you focus your lens. Many, but not all, mirrorless cameras have this capability and it is a fantastic way of making sure you get everything that should be tack sharp focused properly. With Focus-Peaking enabled, as you turn the focusing ring on your lens you will see a swath of dots (usually red or green) travel across the viewfinder. These dots indicate the spots that are perfectly focused, and when you see an outline of dots around the part of your image that you want focused, you can snap a picture and rest assured that it will show up exactly how you envisioned.

You can even use Focus-Peaking in conjunction with autofocus, so it’s another tool in your repertoire to help make sure you are taking the best possible pictures.

tips for getting tack sharp photos - focus-peaking

The edges of the leaves are all outlined in red by Focus-Peaking, which indicates that they will be in focus. Image by Bautsch (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Over to you

Do you have any favorite tips or tricks for getting sharp photos? Are there things I left off this list that you’d like to share with others? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

The post 4 Secrets for How to Get Tack Sharp Photos by Simon Ringsmuth appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Oct
31

Lume Cube returns to Kickstarter with the Life Lite mini LED cube

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Lume Cube launched the first generation of its high-powered LED-lighting cube for smartphones and action cameras back in 2014. Now, the company has returned to Kickstarter to raise funding for its follow-up product Life Lite. Compared to the original Lume Cube the Life Lite is about half the size and weight but, at 1000 lumens, still offers approximately 70% of the Lume Cube's light output. 

As before, you can control one Life Lite, or several units, via a smartphone app and a Bluetooth connection. The Life Lite is waterproof down to 10m/33ft, making it suitable for filming surfing and other water-based activities. There are multiple levels of strobe mode for creative lighting effects, a physical multifunction button and a custom fresnel lens. The emitted light has a color temperature of 5600K and the light is charged via a microUSB connector. A full charge gives you approximately 30 minute of illumination. 

The Life Lite also comes with an internal magnet and a standard tripod mount, allowing for attachment to a wide range of metallic objects and camera support systems. You can secure a Life Lite now by pledging $39 on the project's Kickstarter page. Shipping is planned for March 2017. 

Oct
31

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85/G80 Review

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Key Features

  • 16MP Four Thirds MOS sensor w/o optical low pass filter
  • 5-axis image stabilization with Dual I.S. 2
  • Splash/dust-proof body
  • Depth from Defocus AF
  • 2.36M-dot OLED EVF
  • 3-inch 1.04M-dot fully-articulating touchscreen LCD
  • 4K video / photo
  • Focus stacking and post focus

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 is an SLR-style mid-range mirrorless camera. It features 4K video capture, 2nd-generation 5-axis image stabilization and a 16MP Four Thirds sensor with no optical low pass filter. A sister model, the G80 will be available in other markets.

Though Panasonic has not come outright and said it, the G85 is the successor to the G7. More a refinement than something new entirely, both cameras share seemingly identical bodies and offer twin control dials, plenty of customizable buttons and fully articulating touch interfaces. 

But the G85 is rather more grand: it's weather-sealed with a magnesium alloy front plate, and offers a new electromagnetic shutter to combat shutter shock, an upgraded electronic viewfinder and 5-axis in-camera IS.

Like the Panasonic GX85, the G85 uses a 16MP chip with no anti-aliasing filter. We found image quality from the GX85 to be slightly improved over that of past Panasonic cameras using the same 16MP chip with AA filters (like the G7).

The G85 also uses the same redesigned shutter mechanism as the GX85, which we found to effectively mitigate shutter shock, an issue that affected the Panasonic G7

Compared to its peers

  Panasonic G85 Panasonic G7 Panasonic GX85 Sony a6300 Olympus EM-5 II
MSRP $900 (body) $800 (with kit lens) $800 (with kit lens) $1000 (body) $1100 (body)
Sensor (resolution/size) 16MP Four Thirds 16MP Four Thirds 16MP Four Thirds 24MP APS-C 16MP Four Thirds
AA filter No Yes No Yes No
Stabilization Sensor-shift (5-axis) + Dual IS 2 In-lens only
Sensor-shift (5-axis) + Dual I.S.
In-lens only Sensor-shift (5-axis)
EVF res/mag. 2.36M-dot OLED (0.74x) 2.36M-dot OLED (0.7x) 2.76M-dot field sequential LCD (0.7x) 2.36M-dot OLED (0.7x) 2.36M-dot LCD (0.74x)
Autofocus Contrast Detect w/ 49-points + DFD Contrast Detect w/ 49-points + DFD Contrast Detect w/ 49-points + DFD Hybrid AF w/425 PDAF points Contrast Detect w/ 81-points
Burst w/ continuous AF 6 fps 6 fps 6 fps 11 fps 5 fps
LCD size, type 3-inch 1.04M-dot articulating 3-inch 1.04M-dot articulating 3-inch 1.04M-dot tilting 3-inch
921k-dot tilting
3-inch 1.04M-dot articulating
Touchscreen Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Mic/Headphone port Yes/No Yes/No No/No Yes/No Yes/No
Max movie resolution 4K/30p 4K/30p 4K/30p 4K/30p 1080/60p
Weather-sealing Yes No No Yes Yes
Flash sync speed 1/160 sec 1/160 sec 1/160 sec 1/160 sec 1/250 sec
Battery life 320 shots 350 shots 290 shots 400 shots 310 shots
Weight 453 g 410 g 426 g 404 g 469 g
Dimensions 128 x 89 x 74 mm 125 x 86 x 77mm 122 x 71 x 44 mm 120 x 67 x 49 mm 124 x 85 x 45mm

While the three Panasonic cameras compared above share quite a lot, the G85 stands out against the other 16MP Panasonic's as the most appealing choice. This is due to its inclusion of weather-sealing, an updated Dual IS system and upgraded electronic viewfinder.

When compared to similar mirrorless offerings from Sony and Olympus, things get a bit more complicated. The Sony beats it in terms of its more sophisticated AF system, larger sensor and faster burst (w/ AF), but the G85 offers superior ergonomics (fully articulating touchscreen, dual top-plate control dials, higher magnification EVF). The G85 and EM-5 II also share quite a lot, the major distinction between the two being the G85's 4K video capability (compared to 1080p on the Olympus).

The whole Panasonic gang, including the Panasonic G85, GX85, G7 and 20MP GX8.

Pricing and availability

The Panasonic G85 will be available in the US for $899 body only and $999 with 12-60mm F3.5-5.6 Power O.I.S. kit lens.

Accessories

The optional DMW-BGG1 vertical battery grip adds an additional shutter release and improved ergonomics, as well as room for a second battery, effectively doubling shooting time.

Review History

Review History
19 September 2016 First Impressions and Samples Gallery published
31 October 2016 Video & Features updated, Autofocus & Performance, Image Quality, Raw Dynamic Range and Conclusion published,
based on production camera running f/w 1.00
Oct
31

How to Get Stunning Macro Photos with Your Mobile Phone

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Photography Tips and Tutorials

If you’ve ever scrolled through Instagram or Flickr and seen an incredible close-up photograph of a flower, insect, or even jewelry, you may have wondered how you can get similar photos, especially if you don’t have a camera. Thankfully, you don’t have to buy a DSLR or expensive macro lens to get these kinds of shots. All you need is a mobile phone, a simple accessory, and a bit of curiosity. In this article, I’ll go through some tips to help you get stunning macro photos using your mobile phone.

how-to-get-stunning-macro-photos-with-your-mobile-phone

Busy

Lenses

While some phones have a macro mode, the best way to get amazing macro photos with your phone is to invest in an inexpensive lens (or set of lenses) that work specifically with your device. I have an iPhone 5s and initially purchased the Olloclip 4-in-1 set that includes lenses for wide-angle, fisheye, macro 10x, and macro 15x.

I quickly discovered the 10x was my personal favorite since it best suited most of my subjects. So I also got the Olloclip Macro 3-in-1 that has lenses for 7x, 14x, and 21x, as well as a couple special hoods that diffuse the lighting and make getting a good shot a bit easier. Over time, I’ve discovered that the 7x lens is my go-to for nearly all of my macro photos since it can capture a large enough area while still getting lots of detail. You can experiment and use any of these magnifications to get the types of shots you are not able to take with your phone camera alone.

Prairie

Options

There are definitely other brands and magnifications available, but make sure that the lens you buy fits with your phone and won’t get in the way of taking photos. Note that most lenses slip over your phone so you cannot typically use them with a phone case. Olloclip has special cases with openings at the camera area for easy access, or you can go without a case.

You never know when you might come across something that will make for a good macro photo. Initially, I suggest taking your lenses with you (they fit in a pocket), especially when you go outside so that you can experiment with different subjects. A garden or another area with flowers or insects is a great place to try out your new lens. Or if it’s winter, use your lens as an excuse to buy a bouquet of flowers.

Garden

Lighting

As with all photography, lighting is critically important for taking good macro pictures. Daylight is probably the best and easiest to work with, but bright sunlight can make for tricky shadows. With macro photography, sometimes you can simply move your subject to decrease shadows by gently bending a flower stem or turning a leaf toward you.

Fullsun

You can also use your body to block bright sunlight or put a hand over your subject to reduce glare. You can play around with sunrise and sunset, and catch lighting in the background of your images. With macro lenses, the light will often turn into a lovely addition to your photos in the form of bokeh, or out-of-focus areas that make your pictures appear to glow.

Bokeh

Note: you can also add light. Read: How to Create Gorgeous Flower Images using a Flashlight and a Reflector

Focus and framing

With macro photos, there are endless ways to frame your subject, but you will be limited in the depth of field or the area of the photo that will remain in focus. You want the subject to remain (mostly) in focus, depending on your magnification. The larger the magnification, the smaller the area of exact focus in your pictures. This can lead to surprisingly beautiful photos which you might not expect to get from just your mobile phone.

Sunset

Sometimes your intended subject will be too large to fully capture, even with the smaller magnification (like the 7x lens), so you may have to focus on only a part of the subject like the center of the flower, or a few petals. This is the fun part of macro photography! You can shoot the subject from directly above, from the side, or even from below. Experiment with different angles for the same subject.

Center

Other notes

When taking macro photos, any movement is your enemy. Even slight movement while shooting will result in blurriness. You will need to remain very still, and do everything you can to keep your subject from moving. A tripod for your phone can help but isn’t necessary. Just find a position that’s comfortable, stay as still as possible, and steady your phone with two hands.

Sometimes, like on a breezy day, it’s impossible to keep your subject in one place. You can sometimes hold your subject still (as with a flower), but other times you can’t, as with shooting insect photos. One helpful tip for these situations is to use the burst mode on your phone’s camera which takes many shots in rapid succession. On an iPhone, you can hold down the camera button on the side of the phone or on-screen to shoot multiple photos very quickly. Android phones usually have a way to do this, too. If you don’t have built-in burst most, just take many photos while staying as still as possible. This is how I get most of my insect photos, patience and taking many shots. It’s easy to weed out the blurry photos later.

Beebalm

Editing – especially for Instagram users

Since many people who use their mobile phones for photography also use Instagram to share them, here are a couple extra tips for Instagram users.

1. You don’t need to use Instagram’s filters to make great photos.

Adjusting color or warmth slightly can make your photos look more like real life. In the image below, the only adjustment has been to crop the image.

Original

2. Turn up the Lux

This is the little light/dark option at the top of the screen when you are on the Filter or Edit pages in the Instagram app. Using this editing trick (try moving it to the right to 50 or even 100), you increase the intensity of your images. This makes the photo a little less washed out, which can help if you’re taking photos on a very bright day. In the image below, this is turned up slightly and adds more depth to the petals.

Lux

3. Sharpen your macro photos

Using Instagram’s own built-in sharpen edit, you can bring a bit more detail out of your macro photos. In the image below, this has been adjusted and brings out the detail in the center of the photo.

Sharpen

Conclusion – your turn

Do you have any tips for getting good macro shots with a mobile phone, or with other gear that doesn’t cost a lot of money? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and feel free to share your own macro shots, too. I’d love to see your photos.

Ladybug

The post How to Get Stunning Macro Photos with Your Mobile Phone by Beth Ringsmuth Stolpman appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Oct
31

Google Pixel XL real-world sample gallery

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

The Google Pixel XL landed in our office recently, and in addition to a trip to the studio, it's been around the neighborhood for some real-world shooting. Take a look at how it handles a variety of situations, including some inexplicably sunny fall Seattle days.

See our Google Pixel XL
real-world sample gallery

Oct
31

Nikon Small World 2016 winners announced

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Nikon Small World 2016 winners announced

Four-day-old zebrafish embryo (10x). 1st place 2016 Photomicrography Competition. Photo by Dr. Oscar Ruiz

For over 40 years Nikon's Small World photomicrography competition has celebrated imagery of the hidden world right under our noses. This year, an image of a four-day-old Zebrafish embryo has taken the top prize. But that's just scratching the surface – take a look at the top ten winners here and head over to the competition website to see even more.

Nikon Small World 2016 winners announced

2nd place 2016 Photomicrography Competition. Photo by Douglas L. Moore

Polished slab of Teepee Canyon agate (90x).

Nikon Small World 2016 winners announced

3rd place 2016 Photomicrography Competition. Photo by Rebecca Nutbrown

Brain cells from skin cells : Specifically, this is a culture of neurons (stained green) derived from human skin cells, and Schwann cells, a second type of brain cell (stained red), which have started to cover the neuron in the same way these cells interact in the brain. (20x)

Nikon Small World 2016 winners announced

4th place 2016 Photomicrography Competition. Photo by Jochen Schroeder

Butterfly proboscis (6.3x). 

Nikon Small World 2016 winners announced

5th place 2016 Photomicrography Competition. Photo by Dr. Igor Siwanowicz

Front foot (tarsus) of a male diving beetle (100x).

Nikon Small World 2016 winners announced

6th place 2016 Photomicrography Competition. Photo by Marek Miś

Air bubbles formed from melted ascorbic acid (vitamin C) crystals (50x).

Nikon Small World 2016 winners announced

7th place 2016 Photomicrography Competition. Photo by Dr. David Maitland

Leaves of Selaginella (lesser club moss) (40x).

Nikon Small World 2016 winners announced

8th place 2016 Photomicrography Competition. Photo by Samuel Silberman

Wildflower stamens (40x).

Nikon Small World 2016 winners announced

9th place 2016 Photomicrography Competition. Photo by Vin Kitayama & Sanae Kitayama

Espresso coffee crystals.

Nikon Small World 2016 winners announced

10th place 2016 Photomicrography Competition. Photo by Rogelio Moreno Gill

Frontonia (showing ingested food, cilia, mouth and trichocysts) (200x).

Oct
30

A Simple Way to Conquer Your Fear of Street Photography

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Photography Tips and Tutorials

Frustrating, isn’t it? You are ready to go out, your camera is in your hands, it’s a nice day outside and once you actually go where people are….panic starts settling in. It’s that old fear of street photography.

It’s almost like, as soon as you start putting the camera to your eye, your heart starts beating faster and you start sweating. You can’t think about the picture anymore, it’s gone. You are pretty sure you can get a nice shot if only you could get close enough. But you chose to play it safe and settle for some wide angles where everyone is pretty far away.

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That, my friends, is called the fear of street photography. And if you are reading this, I am pretty sure you want to get rid of it, right? The good news is, you not only can, it’s actually probably not the way you think. Oh, and take it from a guy that couldn’t even look his own older brother in the eye.

But before diving into the logistics of fear, let’s get two things straight and out of the way first.

1 – Getting closer means nothing

There’s an unspoken creed amongst street photographers, it’s the notion that that you always need to be close for it to be a good image. While it is probably better to be closer than not, that’s just one thing. A bad image is a bad image, whether it’s close or far away. Just getting close won’t magically make an image good. Look at the image below, I’m not particularly close to the guy in the middle and he’s not even facing me!

fear-street-photography-3It’s not just about getting close. There are far away images that are great and very close images that are the epitome of boring. If anything, you might NOT want to get too close to people, so that you can include them and their surroundings. All of this to say what? Street photography is an art form, it’s about images, and getting closer sometimes has no bearing on the final results!

2 – A smaller camera is better

Some cameras bring more attention to them than others. No one would really notice a pocket camera, but pull out a double battery DSLR with a large lens and you will be noticed. So, use a small camera, it’s de facto less attention on you, at least for the time being.

With that being said, let’s get to the nitty gritty of fear!

fear-photography-1

People don’t really care about what you do

Sorry to break it to you. You are not so important that all the people in the street want to do is to notice you. Except if you are Brad Pitt, or Beyonce. If you are, call me! If you are just a regular Joe like the rest of us, the bottom line is this; people just don’t care about you. They care about themselves, and it’s easy to prove. Just go out in the streets without a camera and ask yourself how many of these people actually notice you.

Hint: Very few, most likely none will notice you.

Psychology tells us we all have something called the spotlight effect, where we believe a spotlight on us, that everyone notices us, but that is not the case, it’s just how we feel. But it’s not the same when you have a camera with you and near, right? Yes and no. Again, most people won’t notice you with a camera, but even if they do, what’s the problem?

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Why you fear street photography

What’s the problem if people notice you taking a picture of them? Well, let me ask you a question. Don’t worry, it relates to the matter at hand. Do you feel guilty when your boss pays you? The answer (except if you are doing something fishy) is probably NO. Because you exchanged value for it. Your time and skills in exchange for his/her money, nothing wrong there.

But it’s not the same on the streets. There you feel like you are TAKING something from the person you are photographing. Something that is theirs, and you took it. That’s called stealing, right? So doesn’t it logically follow that you feel fear because you fear being caught at thievery? It’s easily proven. As soon as you ask for permission the fear dissipates because there is no more tension.

street-photography-fear

You fear because you think you are doing something inherently wrong. Let’s look at it in another way, do you feel any fear when just walking down the street? No, because you don’t feel you are doing anything wrong. Fear in street photography comes from fearing the reaction of others to your perceived wrong-doing. And between me and you, if I was stealing, I would feel fearful!

The cure for fear

The answer then is understanding the value exchange that happens on the street. You are not taking anything, you are making a photograph. You are creating something. Of all the people and things to photograph, you have chosen one person to make an image of them. You have acknowledged that person’s existence and importance.

street-photography-fear-03

Sounds cheesy? The photograph is the ultimate ego tool. Check your Facebook, everyone is clamoring for attention through their selfies. Why can’t you be the one that bestows that attention on them with your lens?
Images are so powerful, that a Japanese photographer got carte blanche to photograph Yakuzas, Japanese mafia. Quite powerful, no?

By making a photograph of someone, you are acknowledging their existence, something that every one of us needs and desires at a deep level of our psyche.

fear-street-photography-5

The exchange between you and the subject

Go down the street, give a nod to someone. Smile, and say hello. You have just altered someone’s day with your acknowledgment. Images are like that, they are visual acknowledgment. Once you stop seeing what you’re doing (photographing them) as something that’s wrong and actually see it as something good by exchanging value (they get to participate in the making of an art piece in exchange for their photo) your outlook will start to change. And by doing so you change your way of approaching street photography and the fear will dissipate.

The street photographer’s posture

This is truly where the magic happens because here’s a truth – the street reacts to you. The way you are in the street will dictate how people react to you. That’s the whole secret. But wait. If that was the whole secret, why then did I write all of the stuff above? Couldn’t I just cut to the chase, get right to this part? The streets react to you, so it’s all about appearing confident, right?

fear-street-photography-6

Well, not really because I don’t believe you can fake it. I could tell you to go up and down the streets and act confident, to fake it till you make it so to speak. But I think people smell these things like a dog smells fear. If you think you are doing something wrong, it’s probably going to show in your posture and people will react accordingly.

Street Karma

Think about this with me – you look out your window and this guy is just strolling by your house, all happy go lucky. Then you look out your window once again and see this shady looking guy, looking right and left, as if he is doing something wrong. How are you going to react towards each one? Towards the first one you might even smile, but to the other, you may be ready to call the police.

The same rule applies on the street, it’s called street karma. You will get out of it the energy that you put into it. And it’s no woo-woo stuff either. It’s because of mirror neurons, those things in your brain that make you tend to mimic others. The street reacts to you. That’s what makes the difference between getting a dirty look and a smile of amusement.

street-photography-fear-04

Conclusion

As you have seen, people care less about you than you may think, and the streets react according to how you hold yourself. Act like a thief, be treated like one. But act like you are enriching the world, and people will react differently.

Such things can be faked. It all comes from knowing that what we are doing in the street isn’t anything wrong. Indeed we are not thieves because as photographers we seek to simply interpret the reality that is in front of us with our lens. Now go out there and shine forth. Be yourself, stay focused, and keep on shooting.

The post A Simple Way to Conquer Your Fear of Street Photography by Olivier Duong appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Oct
30

How to Go Beyond the Hero Image and Get Real Storytelling Photos

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Photography Tips and Tutorials

Good photography is really about telling stories, and that’s where all the lessons of composition, juxtaposition, lines, and focus fall short. Compelling images tell compelling stories, but the hard part is recognizing that story. I’ll tell you a story of how I missed the opportunity to do that, and look at some ways you can add more storytelling into your photography.

A bear story with a moral

I was camped on a low tundra bench above a swift blue river in Alaska’s western Arctic. Our green canoes lay upside down next to the kitchen tent, and the willows along the river were flecked with the first autumn yellow. It was early when I crawled from my tent, stood and stretched. While still reaching skyward I saw another form rise from the tundra a stone’s throw away, a young grizzly giving me a curious look. I dropped my arms and turned just in time to see its sibling offering me a similar stare from a bit farther back. These bears were three-year-olds, spending their first summer away from their mother, ursine-teenagers, and just as troublesome. Unlike the many adult bears we’d encountered on our journey down the river, these two didn’t yet know to give humans a wide berth.

In Katmai National Park at the famous Brooks Falls tourists are inescapable. In this image, I embraced that part of the story of being there.

In Katmai National Park at the famous Brooks Falls tourists are inescapable. In this image, I embraced that part of the story.

Safety first

They backed off, after I shooed them with a wave of the arms, though not far enough. I woke my co-guide, and together we herded them away from camp and down onto the gravel bar below. One of the two young bears, rather than wandering off, decided to push my buttons and walked straight over. When off hiking or away from camp, you always give bears the right of way, but in camp, you can’t do that. Bears cannot learn that camps are places to explore.

Standing on the low bench, I knew that I could not let this mischievous youngster enter our camp. I stepped forward as he approached, right to the edge of the cut bank, and started speaking to the bear in a low steady voice. “I can’t let you up here, you have to back off. Back off. Now.” The bear paused in its approach, then stepped forward again. I raised a can of strong pepper spray, and held it up, ready to fire. The bear took another step forward, and then another until he was just eight feet away.

Hard lesson learned

And that’s when I felt a sudden moment of regret. Not for my behavior around this young, dumb bear, (in that, I knew I was doing the right thing) but for the fact that my camera lay in my tent. This beautiful (if troublesome) beast was so close I could count his whiskers. What a photo-op I was missing! But I pushed that aside, and spoke again, “One more step and you are getting it in the face. Don’t do it”, I said. “I’ll give you a count of three, then you are getting sprayed. One. Two…” before I could say three the young bear thought better of his situation, turned and ambled back to the river, swam across with his sibling, and disappeared.

Similar to the story I related above, this bear approached a group of photographers I was a part of on Admiralty Island, Alaska. He came very close, and I regret not taking a moment to show a wider shot with the group of us in the frame.

Similar to the story I related above, this bear approached a group of photographers I was a part of on Admiralty Island, Alaska. He came very close, and I regret not taking a moment to show a wider shot with the group of us in the frame.

Think outside the frame – the moral

In retrospect, as I thought about the images I missed, I realized that it wasn’t the frame-filling portraits of the bear that would have been so spectacular about that moment. It was the story that went with it. Facing the bear down with a can of pepper spray, the bear testing us, and his eventual retreat. That’s where the compelling images were, not in the missed photos of the bear, but in the missed story that went with it.

If I had a camera in that moment with the bear, even if I’d been on the sidelines, I know I would have blown it and gone for the wildlife portraits, missing the much more interesting interaction that was taking place.

Here a herd of caribou is seen migrating across the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. This image tells a more important story of movement, landscape, and perspective than a more typical portrait of an animal would.

Here a herd of caribou is seen migrating across the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. This image tells a more important story of movement, landscape, and perspective than a more typical portrait of just an animal would.

Learn from the best

Take a look at any issue of National Geographic. Many, even most, of images that are selected are storytelling images, not illustrations. The compositions are atypical, often showing the interaction of people or animals within the scene. Those photographers stepped back from a typical composition and explored their surroundings in a way that most of us, myself included, usually forget to do.

This image of an Adelie Penguin on an iceberg, I made in Antarctica. Getting close to wildlife is easy there, and the following image provides information to see just how easy.

This image of an Adelie Penguin on an iceberg, I made in Antarctica. Getting close to wildlife is easy there, and the following image provides information to see just how easy.

A zodiac pull right up to an iceberg with Adelie Penguins.

A zodiac pulled right up to an iceberg with Adelie Penguins.

Look around

This is an easy lesson to say, a much harder one to perform in the field because the real story is often easy to miss.

Another example: I was photographing the start of the Yukon Quest sled dog Race in Fairbanks, Alaska, where I live, a few years ago. I’d been concentrating on the passing dogs, the smiling mushers, and been studiously avoiding the crowds of people that surrounded me. At one point a spectator raised a point and shoot in front of my shot, I was irritated, but in that moment I was forced to pause. It clicked, and I realized that the real story was the crowd of mushing fans, out on a cold morning to watch the race. I changed my composition and made an image of the spectator’s camera. That shot is much more telling of the experience than any of my previous photos.

Here, the scene of the dog teams seen through a spectator's camera is more telling of the experience of the start of the Yukon Quest.

Here, the scene of the dog teams seen through a spectator’s camera is more telling of the experience of the start of the Yukon Quest.

This broad perspective is also an effective way to tell the story, showing the rows of spectators and the buildings of Fairbanks in the background.

This broad perspective is also an effective way to tell the story, showing the rows of spectators and the buildings of Fairbanks in the background.

Sometimes it’s a sudden realization like mine at the mushing race, but often, you have to put some effort into the real story. You need to break away from the scene you think you should be photographing, pause, and look around. Consider not just the scene, but the experience. What are you, or those around you, feeling, seeing, and doing?

Stay open to your surroundings

While being focused on your subject is vital to creating good images, it’s important not to close yourself off too much. Take the time to look around. Literally step away from your tripod, and turn 360 degrees while paying attention. What else is out there? Have you been missing anything as you’ve been staring through your viewfinder? What happens if you back up and show the surroundings?

While an image of single bird, in this case a Least Sandpiper is nice portrait, it is more of an illustration than a story.

While an image of a single bird, in this case, a Least Sandpiper is a nice portrait, it is more of an illustration than a story.

A large flock of shorebirds, when compared to the single-bird portrait, is more telling of the lives of the birds, and their epic migrations.

A large flock of shorebirds, when compared to the single-bird portrait, is more telling of the lives of the birds, and their epic migrations.

Think in terms of stories

That real story can be told within a single image, but there are also other strategies. Though an entire article is required to discuss the photo essay (5 Tips for Creating a Photo Essay with a Purpose), I do want to note that you can always think through your story using a series of images. This is also a good way to make the classic images you strive for while simultaneously capturing the storytelling ones as well.

Telling the real story is important not just for the quality of our images, but also for the quality of our experience. These storytelling images may not have the flash and glamor of a bear portrait or a sprinting sled dog, but it will help your viewers know the story, and that really is where the real excitement lies.

The post How to Go Beyond the Hero Image and Get Real Storytelling Photos by David Shaw appeared first on Digital Photography School.