Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Richmond Metro Zoo

Traveled to the Richmond Metro Zoo last weekend (which is actually located in Chesterfield) and had a good time feeding animals and taking pictures.  While you could get pretty close up to some of them I really longed for a nice zoom lens.  I was considering a wide angle lens for my next purchase but since I discovered Photomerge I think a zoom will be next on the list.

The full album can be viewed on Flickr.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Adobe Lightroom

The more I play with it the more I love Adobe Lightroom.  With almost ten years experience using Adobe Photoshop I have gained an extensive knowledge of the program, but after only about a year of working in Lightroom it has become my primary choice for photo editing.

If you're shooting in Camera Raw (which if you have a DSLR is a must) Lightroom is the best tool I can recommend for editing.  Not only does it provide an incredible amount of control over things like exposure, white balance, and color correction post shoot, it also has a whole suite of tools to adjust nearly every aspect of your photograph including preprogrammed settings to correct lens distortion.

I've even used Lightroom to enhance JPEG images taken with point and shoot cameras.  The sharpening and noise reduction features are much simpler (and in my opinion better) than Photoshop's.

The entire program is streamlined for photographers allowing you to work on entire sets of photographs at once.  In Photoshop every photograph you want to work on has to be opened up as its own file.  Lightroom keeps your entire photo shoot open (similar to iPhoto or Bridge) allowing you to seamlessly switch between images, compare shots, even apply effects across multiple photographs at once.

The interface does take a bit of getting used and creating catalogs was something completely new to me.  Once I got comfortable with it all and got my workflow down editing batches of photographs has gone from weeks work (in Photoshop) to days.

You can even tether your camera to the program allowing you to shoot and instantly record photographs to your library.  Once your done shooting it opens up in the library allowing you to pick out your best shots.  Then just click over to "Develop" for touch up and final editing.  From there your pictures can be exported to just about whatever format you need for print or digital with built in slideshow features and web galleries.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Product Photography

Once you've figured out the basics of a camera the only thing you can do to improve is understand photography better.  I soon learned that lighting and composition are far superior to any technical skills shortly after I started posting photographs on serious photography forums.  The thing that helped me improve the most in these aspects was product photography.  You have so much control when you just focus on one thing that its really easy to see how lights and positioning affect the image.  

The above shots were all taken for Jaimie Ware.  Ceramics were the perfect subject to start with as there are so many shapes, colors, textures, and levels of gloss that all react differently to light.  I'll post more shots in the future along with images of the set up I'm using as well as tips I've learned to get the most out of each shot.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Photography's not a crime (through the eyes of a former rent-a-cop).

Police Chief Confirms Detaining Photographers Within Departmental Policy

For a brief period of time (about a year) I worked as mall security for one of the largest malls in my area.  One of the biggest things I had to deal with was people taking pictures in the mall.  We (the security guards) were explicitly told that it was the mall's policy that none of the store fronts could be photographed.  This really didn't leave any place where you could take photographs so every time someone was seen taking a picture we were supposed to approach them and ask them to stop.  Some people got really bent out of shape and angry while others got really scared and actually deleted all the photographs in front of me without me even asking.  The worst part though was when people asked you why.

The mall wanted people to come and enjoy there experience there.  Telling them "the mall dosen't want you to take pictures and share your experience here with other potential customers" isn't the most effective way to go about that.  So what did we, the security guards, tell people instead?  "I'm sorry but the malls policy dosen't allow photographs due to security concerns after 9/11."

It was essentially bull shit.  Yes, there is a small chance that a terrorist (domestic or international) would use the photographs to plan out a disastrous attack.  In fact the mall was vandalized during construction by a group of eco-terrorists.  However if someone was going to sabotage the mall or harm its patrons denying them photographs isn't going to stop them.  You could spend a day in the mall taking notes on a pad of paper and come off with more than enough information than you could with a few photographs.

I'm not saying that the police shouldn't keep an eye out for suspicious activity, and honestly its just easier for a photographer to cooperate and be cool about things if a police officer does approach you.  Neither parties want the hassle that comes with fighting things like this.  Lets all just be cool and let police be police and photographers be photographers.

Originally seen on Gizmodo.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Long Exposure

MÖBIUS from ENESS on Vimeo.

These kinds of stop motion videos are great.  Something about the scale of it just amazes me.  I remember making little stop motion videos as a kid and I think if I had seen this back then my tiny little brain would have expolded.  A while back Sony made a pretty awesome commercial using the same concept.  I really think the internet has been a catalyst for this type of thing and can't even imagine what people will come up with in the future.

Originally seen on Gizmodo.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

You know what's cooler than panoramas?

Hiroshima after the Atomic Bomb (3 of 5) by Harbert F Austin Jr in Japan

360° Panoramas

Found this one today on Boing Boing.  I wonder what makes telephone poles resistant to a nuclear blast.

P.S. Click "Full Screen" for maximum effect.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Before and After

One aspect about photography that I love is the ability to see things before and after a natural (or man made) disaster.  BBC News has some pretty striking shots from the recent riots and the New York Times did an excellent piece using satellite images from the Japanese tsunami that you can scrub back and fourth to reveal the damage.  Just goes to show how subject matter can really change the quality of a picture.

Monday, August 8, 2011

No Reservations Desert Roll

No Reservations Desert Roll from Adam Lupsha on Vimeo.

I've always been a big fan of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.  It was no surprise to me when it won an Emmy for its cinematography in 2009.  The show's style has evolved every season and gotten better and better.  Watching this B-roll footage shot by Adam Lupsha and Brian Griffo its clear these guys know their stuff.  They pull just about every trick out of the camera bag HDR, time-lapse, astrophotography, and tilt-shift.  Not to mention the audio track by Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) that is the icing on a beautifully shot cake.

River City Photomerge

I created this image from multiple shots using the photomerge feature in Photoshop.
While the result isn't perfect (one of the buildings on the left side is slightly blurred) its definitely an impressive feature that I don't think most people know about.  I also use this at work for creating high resolution scans of images that are too large to fit in one pass on the flatbed scanner.