How to Take Amazing Night Photos

Have you ever been interested in taking night shots, but never known where to begin?

Night photography can be intimidating, even for seasoned photographers who are used to taking shots during the day.

Well, now you can learn how to take amazing photos from dusk till dawn with our brand new Night Photography video course – launched in the last few hours.

Night photography course eml 01

In this online video course by regular dPS writer Jim Hamel you will learn:

  • How to master exposure at night to take your photos from average to amazing
  • The secrets to finding the best subject matter and locations
  • The must-have gear to get these stunning shots
  • Detailed retouching techniques to make your photos pop
  • What to look for and how to set up your shot
  • All the technical aspects to nailing the shot

This is our biggest course ever – with 9 learning modules, 11 practical ‘field work’ videos and over 6 hours of videos so you can learn everything you need to know to take beautiful photos at night.

Here’s just a taste of what’s inside:

Best of all – if you pick it up today you can take advantage of a wonderful early bird offer.

Early Bird Offer – Save 50% and receive a Bonus

As part of our early bird special on this course, we’re offing 50% off the regular price. Normally $99 – today you can pick up our new night photography course for just $49!

In addition to that great saving we are also including a “The Complete Guide to Shooting the Night Sky”, a 40 page ebook dedicated to photographing stars. This great eBook is yours free if you buy but only for a limited time.

Discover the Secrets to Great Night Photography Today

We’re so excited to share this course with you today. Everyone we’ve shown it to loves what Jim teaches.

The early bird price and bonus is only available at this price for the next 3 weeks, so grab it while you can here and start your journey to learning how to take amazing night photography images.

We Guarantee You’ll Love this Course

Like all dPS products our Night Photography Course comes with a 60 day money back guarantee. While we’re confident you’ll love this course if for any reason you decide it isn’t for you please just contact our support team within 60 days and we’ll refund your money – you can even keep the bonus eBook as our gift to you for checking out the course.

The post How to Take Amazing Night Photos by Darren Rowse appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Canon releases downloadable EOS-1D X Mark II AF Setting Guidebook

Canon has released a downloadable 100MB PDF guide book for the EOS-1D X Mark II camera’s AF system. According to the company, this guide 'will clarify many of the details about' this AF system, including menu settings, the effect of various AF Cases, and more.

Canon goes on to point out that most of the information found in this guide is also applicable to the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera's 61-point AF system, which features the same AF sensor as the EOS-1D X Mark II. Canon says of the guide 'We're confident having access to this file, on your computer or in a mobile device will answer many of the questions which may arise as you use either of these cameras.'

The PDF can be downloaded directly here.

Via: CanonRumors

Unable to recover from failed Kickstarter project, Triggertrap announces it will close shop

Triggertrap, one of the pioneers in the area of smart camera triggers, has today announced that it will cease operations within approximately a month. Triggertrap was founded in 2011, following a successful Kickstarter campaign. The initial product offered a wide range of trigger options, including, sound and motion sensors and an intervalometer.

In 2013 the company launched another Kickstarter campaign, this time for the Triggertrap Ada, a modular and expandable follow-up version to the original product line. Despite the campaign being very successful, raising more than $500,000, trouble started when the cost of components was higher than originally quoted by some suppliers and in May 2015 Triggertrap had to admit the project had failed and the Ada could not be delivered. 

The company has never been able to recover from this failure and today one of the founders, CEO Haje Jan Kamps, has posted an article on medium, announcing the closure of the company. 

“Triggertrap, like any startup, had some big highs and lows. At one point, we employed 15 staff; a team of photographers, coders, support, marketing, logistics, and operations. Ever since we announced that our Triggertrap Ada Kickstarter project failed, we’ve been in a downward spiral. For the past 18 months, we’ve been operating with just a few team members, who have been working their asses off to keep the lights on. But ultimately, we weren’t able to claw our way out of the hole, and the company now owes the company’s founders around $60k. With no realistic hope of ever paying that money back, and after ten months in a row of struggling to make payroll for our remaining staff members, we decided it was time to give up."

Technical support for Triggertrap products will end with immediate effect. Apps will remain available for download in the respective app stores but are sooner or later likely to run into incompatibility issues with updated operating system . If you are happy to keep using your current mobile OS and rely just on the Reddit-forum for support, you can still buy a Triggertrap device at a hefty discount in the online store.

5 Common Post-Processing Mistakes to Avoid

For today’s photographer, post-processing is a critical element of image making. Sure, when you first get started with digital photography, you might shoot in JPG mode and allow the camera to make decisions about things like color and contrast. But when you’re ready to take control of your images, it’s time to shoot in RAW format and make the important decisions about how you want your final image to look yourself.

Estuary in Campbell River BC by Anne McKinnell - 5 Common Post-Processing Mistakes to Avoid

When you first start shooting in RAW, you might think your images look a bit gray and bland. That’s because the decisions that the camera was making before are now left up to you. That can be a bit daunting! But here are some tips to help you avoid the most common post-processing mistakes and make sure you are helping your images and not hurting them.

Remember, the purpose of post-processing is not to fix bad photos, but to bring out the best in good photos.

Mistake #1 – Lightening shadows too much

Always try to get the best exposure possible in camera. You’ll get a better result when you start out with a good exposure rather than relying on the highlights and shadows sliders in post-processing to balance it.

That said, sometimes you will still want to use the shadows slider to lighten your shadows to bring more detail in the darker areas of your image. Just be careful not to overdo it, or you’ll end up with an image that no longer looks natural.

This is overdone, the shadows have been pulled too far here and it no longer looks natural. Notice it also introduced noise into the sky.

Convict Lake, California by Anne McKinnell - 5 Common Post-Processing Mistakes to Avoid

Shadow adjustment in moderation is better.

If you try to equalize the brightness of the highlights and shadows, you’ll end up with a photo that not only looks unnatural, but the lack of contrast will make the image look boring. Contrast is a good thing! This is especially true when you have a scene with a reflection. The reflection should always be darker than the scene it is reflecting, as it is in nature.

Mistake #2 – Over saturation

Another way to create an unnatural looking image is to over saturate everything. It’s a tempting thing to do because a little bump in saturation and vibrance makes such a big difference. Again, just don’t overdo it. A little goes a long way.

Before you touch those sliders, spend a bit of time thinking about your image and the colors in it. Sometimes adding saturation globally is not the best idea, especially if you have a scene that contains many different colors. Instead, consider using the HSL (Hue/Saturation/Luminosity) panel, choose Saturation, and use the target tool to add saturation to one color in your scene. For example, you might want to add saturation to the main subject to draw attention to it.

Over saturation leaves the colors looking odd.

Yellow flower with bee by Anne McKinnell - 5 Common Post-Processing Mistakes to Avoid

Better saturation levels.

Mistake #3 – Over sharpening

First of all, never use sharpening to try to fix a photo that is out of focus. It just doesn’t work. Sharpening cannot fix blur. However, if you have an image that is in focus, adding a bit of sharpening can make it extra crisp and realistic.

Again, consider adding sharpening locally (to one select area) not globally, especially if you have areas of your scene that are purposely out of focus, such as when you have a shallow depth of field. Also, the sky usually looks better when it is smooth, so you don’t want to add sharpening there. Keep in mind that adding sharpening will increase noise, which is another reason not to add it globally. Rather, just add it to the main subject or areas of your scene with a lot of detail.

This has been over sharpened, you can see artifacts throughout the image here.

Deer by Anne McKinnell - 5 Common Post-Processing Mistakes to Avoid

Better level of sharpening.

In Adobe Camera Raw, use the Detail panel to add sharpening. Then, hold down the option (or alt) key and use the masking slider. As you move the slider, the areas that appear black do not have sharpening applied and areas that are white do. This is an effective way to add sharpening to the areas of your image that have details. Another option is to use the adjustment brush to brush sharpening on where you want it.

Mistake #4 – Over cropping

The crop tool is a handy way to refine your composition, remove unwanted elements on the edges of the frame, and make sure your horizon line is straight. But don’t use it to remove all the “negative space” in your scene.

You don’t need to fill the frame with your subject. A little breathing room keeps the image interesting. Think about creating a balance between the space taken up by your subject and the space around it. This is not necessarily an equal balance.

Cropped too tight on the subject.

Bisti Badlands, New Mexico by Anne McKinnell - 5 Common Post-Processing Mistakes to Avoid

Cropped to leave negative space and lead your eye to the subject.

Mistake #5 – Too much Noise Reduction

Sometimes the nature of the light requires the use of a high ISO. Perhaps you need both a small aperture and a high shutter speed for your scene, so increasing the ISO is the only way to get a good exposure. That’s okay. The noise caused by using a high ISO can be reduced in post-processing using the noise reduction slider.

But nobody said that all images must have no noise. Not all images have to be perfectly smooth looking. Especially if there is a lot of detail and texture in your subject. Using too much noise reduction can create blurry splotches in areas that were previously sharp.

Too much noise reduction has been applied here and overall the image now looks blurry.

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona by Anne McKinnell - 5 Common Post-Processing Mistakes to Avoid

Noise reduction scaled back.

You may have noticed a theme in these common mistakes. Don’t over do it! Small adjustments go a long way to bringing out the best qualities of your images, but taking it too far can just as easily ruin them.

After you process your image, take a break from it and look at something else. Maybe even give it a day to settle. Then, when you look at it again, it will be more obvious if you have taken the processing too far.

The post 5 Common Post-Processing Mistakes to Avoid by Anne McKinnell appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Use Graduated Neutral Density Filters for Landscape Photography

Since the camera was invented, we have tried to copy one of the greatest wonders of our body; the human eye. Unfortunately, despite being over 100 years since the first time that we captured light, we are still far from overcoming Mother Nature.

Why? Because in the visible spectrum your eye sees much better than your camera.

How to Use Graduated Neutral Density Filters for Landscape Photography

Dynamic Range

The parameter that describes this behavior is called Dynamic Range. This basically defines the difference between the minimum and maximum value of brightness that a device (like your eye or the sensor of your camera) is able to record. In the real world, Dynamic Range defines the ability of your camera to see details in very dark areas and very clear (bright) areas of the scene.

If you’re wondering how much more your eye sees, the answer is staggering. Your eyes have about twice as much range that they can see and capture.

How to Use Graduated Neutral Density Filters for Landscape Photography

The problem

That’s why when you look at a marvelous sunset with your eyes you’re able to see all the details in the scene (in both the sky and the land). But as soon as you try to capture it with your camera, you’ll get an overexposed sky or a underexposed foreground. The Dynamic Range of your camera is only able to capture detail in one of those areas so you have to choose.

But if even the best cameras have a Dynamic Range which is only half that of the human eye. So how can we hope to shoot a beautiful sunset or a wonderful sunrise and capture all the marvelous details?

There are different methods to overcome this problem, but my favorite is the use of Graduated Neutral Density filters (GND).

graduated neutral density filters

What is a Graduated Neutral Density Filter?

A Graduated Neutral Density Filter is one made of two distinct parts; a completely transparent area, and a darker section. By setting the darkest part of the filter to correspond with the brightest portion of the scene, you can reduce the exposure difference (dynamic range) in the frame.

To reduce the exposure difference is to reduce the dynamic range of the scene, and thus allow your camera to simultaneously capture detail in both bright and dark areas of the scene. Basically, to make an analogy, GND filters are like a kind of sunglasses for your camera.

Types of GND filters

Graduated Neutral Density Filters are typically distinguished by the type of transition that exists between the transparent and dark areas of the filter. For this reason, we can identify three families of GNDs:

  1. Hard-edge filters, which are characterized by a clear boundary (it’s obvious where one begins and the other ends) between the transparent and dark areas. They are therefore used when the separation between the bright and dark areas of your scene is very defined, such as the horizon at sea.
  2. Soft-edge filters are characterized by a soft transition (they change from light to dark more gradually) and are therefore used when the transition between light and dark areas is not so clear. A classic example is a shot in a mountainous area.
  3. Reverse filters, which are nothing more than hard-edge GNDs with the dark area that fades away the more you move from the line of separation to the upper border of the filter (meaning it’s darker in the middle than on the edge). Basically, they were invented to better manage sunrises and sunsets, where the light is more intense on the horizon line (middle). If you love seascapes like me, this filter will be one of your best friends forever!

How to Use Graduated Neutral Density Filters for Landscape Photography

Which to buy?

Another distinction is between filters is the construction material. Higher quality filters are made of optical glass. Putting an inexpensive resin filter in front of a lens worth hundreds (or thousands) of dollars is not a great idea.

Finally, GND filters are distinguished by graduation, or their ability to block light through the darkest area. Essentially how dark they are at the extreme. Normally in landscape photography, this difference is between one and four stops during sunset and sunrise, depending on weather conditions. This is the reason why you will find these gradations almost exclusively on the market.

Shop for Graduated Neutral Density filters on or on B&H Photo Video’s site (they ship worldwide).

How to use a GND filter in the field

The use of GND filters in the field is very simple; try to take exposure readings in the darkest and in the brightest areas of the scene (usually the sky). The exposure difference will indicate the intensity of the filter to be used. Let’s assume that the light meter reading for the sky is 1/250th, and the one for the rocks in the foreground is 1/30th. The difference between those readings is three stops (250th > 125th > 60th > 30th), so to balance the exposure you must use a 0.9 (3-stop) GND.

At this point, just mount the filter with its dark side over the brightest part of the scene. This is why a GND screw-in filter does not make sense. You would not have the possibility to align the dark area in accordance with the scene as well as a drop-in style filter.

How to Use Graduated Neutral Density Filters for Landscape Photography

To avoid having to hold the filter with your hands (that could be a problem if you are going to use them together with other filters) you can buy a holder, that once mounted in front of your lens will do the job for you. There are many valid solutions on the market, but the best one (in my opinion) is the V5 Pro Holder by NiSi filters. This is the only one that lets you simultaneously install three different filters and a polarizer without any vignetting issues (as wide as 16mm on full frame cameras).

At this point, the limited Dynamic Range of your image will be just a bad memory!

How to Use Graduated Neutral Density Filters for Landscape Photography

The post How to Use Graduated Neutral Density Filters for Landscape Photography by Francesco Gola appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Sony SLT a99 II Review

Photokina 2016 proved to us, with the announcement of the a99 II, that A-mount isn't dead: it was just waiting for the right tech to show up for its next big release, like the 42MP BSI-CMOS sensor that debuted in the a7R II. So much more than an a99 with a new chip, the a99 II's improved specifications aim to put it in the same company as DSLRs like the Nikon D810 or Canon 5D IV, and full-frame mirrorless cameras like Sony's own a7r II.

Key features

  • 42MP BSI CMOS Imaging sensor
  • 399 on-sensor PDAF points + dedicated PDAF sensor with 79 points
  • Dual SD card slots [UHS I]
  • 12fps continuous shooting in Raw with C-AF
  • 4K UHD 100Mbps recording, and 8-bit 4:2:2 4K output over HDMI
  • Picture Profile settings with Log gamma curves
  • 5-axis in body image stabilization
  • Wi-Fi with NFC

The weather-sealed body features a dedicated PDAF sensor separate from the imaging sensor that has light directed to it via a mirror, like a traditional DSLR. Unlike a DSLR, this mirror doesn't ever flip out of the way. Instead, it is semi-transparent and sends only part of the light to the dedicated AF sensor, and lets the rest of the light pass through to the imaging chip. The camera can use both of these AF systems where they overlap, creating a Hybrid Cross Type AF system that should deliver both speed and accuracy that Sony hopes will match the best systems out there.

Also, the fixed mirror means AF readings can be taken with the dedicated sensor even while the shutter is firing, which should result in high 'hit' rates even at the maximum 12 FPS burst shooting. The downside is the loss of around 1/2 stop of light, something that the impressive 42MP sensor shouldn't mind too much.

The a99 II also boasts some impressive video specs, which should be enhanced both by the camera's ability to continuously autofocus in video and by its in-body image stabilization.

All of these features are controlled via a re-worked menu system that color codes sections and categorizes settings by which aspect of the camera they are adjusting, like Flash or Autofocus. Do all of these improvements transcend the inherent pitfalls of SLT technology?

Review History  
31 Jan 2017 Introduction, Specifications, Body & Design,
Operation & Controls, and Image Quality pages published.
13 Feb 2017  Full review published

Get to know the Compass Camera, an ultra-compact pocketable film camera from 1937

The quest to make a ridiculously small, yet still fully-featured camera is not a new one. For historical examples, look no further than the Compass Camera. Made by Swiss watchmaker LeCoultre, it was designed by Englishman Noel Pemberton Billing and sold by Compass Cameras of London starting in 1937. It features a collapsible design and accepts 24x36mm plate film (a roll film back was later introduced).

Take a look at the video above for a full tour of the camera. Only around 5000 were produced, and they're now highly sought after by collectors. In fact, you can pick one up now on ebay if you have $7450 to spare.

Benjamin Von Wong takes aim at coal pollution with post-apocalyptic photo shoot

Shot on the Phase One IQ3, Schneider 35mm | ISO400, 35mm, f/8, 1/400 with Broncolor Move & Siros. Photo by Benjamin Von Wong

Benjamin Von Wong's latest project doesn't pull any punches. For this shoot, he collaborated with the Wasteland Warriors – a pair of artists who pay homage to a Mad Max-style post-apocalypse by creating custom clothing and props. Von Wong began planning the shoot months ago, hoping it would bring awareness to the impacts of global reliance on coal. When the political climate in the US shifted and then-President Elect Donal Trump called for a return to coal, it all seemed suddenly very timely.

Shot on the Phase One IQ3, Schneider 35mm | | ISO100, 35mm, f/6.3, 1/200 with Broncolor Move & Siros. Photo by Benjamin Von Wong

The concept envisions a future where oxygen is a precious commodity, controlled and traded by Mad Max-style soldiers. The backdrop is a mining museum in Germany called Ferropolis, and the dramatic setting is complemented by Wasteland Warrior's custom props and elaborate costumes. 

Shot on the Phase One IQ3, Schneider 35mm | ISO800, 35mm, f/12, 1/640 with Broncolor Move & Siros. Photo by Benjamin Von Wong

Per usual, Von Wong provides plenty of behind-the-scenes information, including a post-apocalyptic lighting demo. For the shoot he used a Phase One IQ3 and Schneider 35mm lens. And yes, he did use smoke bombs on the set for effect. He acknowledges how this is somewhat at odds with his message, but ultimately decided it was the only way to achieve the right visual impact and paid a voluntary carbon emissions tax.

In his blog post, Von Wong makes it clear that he doesn't believe this truly the future for the US. 

'To be fair, I don’t expect our country to ever become this polluted. That would be an unrealistic and improbable projection even if President Trump completes his promise to save jobs and bring back “clean coal.”

Yet despite that, coal still presents some very real risks if we ignore what science tells us and turn our backs on developing sustainable, renewable energy.

I think we can all agree that coal is a finite resource that will only carry us so far. Shouldn’t we focus on the future and not dig up the past?'

Does Von Wong's message come through in his photos? Let us know what you think in the comments. 

ONA releases new style bags and accessories for mirrorless users

Premium camera bag brand ONA has announced a set of new small bags and a wrist strap that are aimed at compact system camera users. The Bond Street is an upright bag designed to hold a single body and a couple of lenses, or three or four lenses while the camera is in use or on a strap. The bag has a large flap-over cover which is secured with a locking clasp, while the padded interior comes with a single adjustable divider. ONA offers the Bond Street in black or ‘antique cognac’ leather, or in a ‘smoke’ grey waxed canvas.

A second bag, called the Beacon, is shaped more like a tripod case, but features a pair of zip-up compartments for lenses, accessories or small cameras. Three dividers allow the bag to be converted from a single compartment to four, so a small tripod can be accommodated or four CSC-style lenses. The case has a carry handle as well as a removable shoulder strap, and is made from black ballistic nylon with leather trim.

The company is also to begin sales of a leather wrist strap called Kyoto, which it says is strong enough to support cameras up to 6lbs – though it has been tested to 10lbs. The underside of the strap, which ONA says is made from the same leather as is used for its bags, is suede-lined for comfort. The Kyoto comes in black, ‘dark truffle, and ‘antique cognac’.

The Bond Street bag is set to cost $219, while the Beacon will be $149. The Kyoto wrist strap will be priced at $49. All will be available from January 31st.

For more information see the ONA website.

Press information

The Leather Bond Street
Camera Bag and Insert
Suggested Retail: $219

Handcrafted with full-grain leather and antique brass hardware, the Leather Bond Street is our most compact bag—for your camera, everyday essentials, or both. Designed specifically for mirrorless and instant cameras, the Bond Street adapts the style and function of our popular Bowery bag into a smaller silhouette that comfortably holds a camera and 1-2 lenses. The Bond Street features a closed-cell foam padded interior, a removable padded divider, and a zip pocket on back perfectly sized to fit your smartphone, batteries or other small goods. Like the Bowery, the Bond Street can also be stowed as an insert in a larger bag by detaching the strap.

Exterior Dimensions: 9”Hx7.5”Wx4.5”D I Weight: 1.7 lbs Colors: Antique Cognac (ONA5-064LBR), Black (ONA5-064LBL). Also available in Waxed Canvas: Smoke (ONA5-064GR)

The Kyoto
Leather Camera Wrist Strap
Suggested Retail: $49

The Kyoto camera wrist strap is handcrafted from full-grain premium leather left over from the material used to make ONA’s premium camera bags. Designed for the photographer who needs their camera at-hand without wanting a traditional strap, the Kyoto wrist strap is lined with suede, reinforced for strength, and padded for comfort. A steel key ring clasp and a leather scratch guard allow for compatibility with most cameras; the strap is intended for camera kits up to 6lbs and has been stress-tested to 10lbs.

Colors: Antique Cognac (ONA062LBR), Black (ONA062LBL), Dark Truffle (ONAO62LBL)

The Beacon
Lens Case
Suggested Retail; $149

The Beacon lens case is a first-of-its-kind, combining the silhouette of a vintage lens case with the function, style and flexibility of ONA’s camera bags. The Beacon is designed to protect up to four lenses and small accessories, utilizing a close-cell foam interior and customizable padded dividers. For the photographer or creative who needs more flexibility, the Beacon can also hold select camera bodies, 360 and action cameras and small tripods. Highly durable and water-resistant, the Beacon is handcrafted from premium 1050D ballistic nylon and features full-grain leather accents and solid brass hardware. It features two large zippered openings, a small accessories pouch and a removable strap to protect your lenses in a suitcase or attached to a larger bag.
Exterior Dimensions: 4"Wx18"Lx6"H (with handle) I Weight: 1.7 lbs
Colors: Black Nylon (ONA5-058NYL)

DPReview and the TWiT Network team-up to talk cameras

On Saturday, DPReview made a guest appearance on The New Screen Savers, a popular show from the TWiT Network (named after its flagship show, This Week in Tech) hosted by technology guru Leo Laporte and guest co-host Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun-Times.

In this episode, DPReview editor Dale Baskin joins Leo and Andy to discuss the resurgence of analog technologies like film and instant prints.

What topics would you like to see us discuss in the future? Let us know in the comments!

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