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Tips & Tricks

Tip of the Week: Get Better at Google+ With “Google+ For Photographers”

Tips & Tricks

There’s a new resource to help photographers make the most of Google+. Photographer and educator Colby Brown has released a book called “Google+ for Photographers,” and whether you’re new to GPlus, or have been around for a while, you’ll find something useful in this book.

Tip of the Week: In-Camera Panos with Fuji

Tips & Tricks

Making a panorama doesn’t have to be an involved affair. Learn how to make one easily with a Fuji camera in this week’s Tip!

Product Update: D800 and D4 Lock-Up Fix

Gear Talk Tips & Tricks
News has been circulating today about a newly identified bug with the Nikon D4 and D800 that may negatively impact photographers employing certain settings. To give you a deeper insight to the problem, a short term fix and a likely long term solution our resident technical expert and repair manager Michio Fukuda  has the following to report:
 
The Bug
Nikon’s newly released D4’s and D800’s have had an alarming number of complaints regarding an intermittent issue causing the bodies to lock up under normal user conditions. Nikon has officially addressed the issue, in a recent conversation with PDN (Photo District News) on 5.3.2012,  and DPReview has since confirmed this bug.  The problem encountered again and again is that the body will become completely unresponsive until the battery is removed and re-installed, but should return to good working order once this is done.
 
The Fix
Nikon stated that the issue is present for only a small users who have ‘Highlights’ and ‘RGB Histogram’ display options turned on.  They also communicated that they are in the process of developing the permanent fix and have instructed users on a temporary fix for the interim. The temporary “band-aid” fix is to turn off the ‘Highlights’ and ‘RGB Histogram’ display options in the ‘Playback Display Option’s sub-menu of  the ‘Playback’ menu.
 
Here is the step by step process to implement the temporary fix:
 
Step 1 – Press the menu button.
 
Step 2 – Scroll down to “Playback display options” and press the center button on the directional pad to access that menu.
 
Step 3 – Once inside the playback menu, scroll down to “highlights” and “RGB histogram”.
 
Step 4 – Deselect the “highlights” and “RGB histogram” options.
 
Step 5 – Scroll back up to “Done” and confirm the actions by pressing down on the center button of the directional pad.
 

While we all like our settings a certain way, at least they have narrowed down the catalyst to these two specific settings so that we may all go about our shoots without any hiccups. We speculate that the permanent fix will be a firmware update, since the determining factor (specific camera settings) is a software-based function. Like all Nikon D4 and D800 users we’re hoping that the permanent fix will be released in the coming weeks at which time all BorrowLenses.com customers can rest easy knowing we’ll have the needed update in place ASAP.

Tip Of The Week: Use ND Filters to Blur Motion

Tips & Tricks

It’s pretty amazing what a piece of dark glass can go for your photography. Read on to find out what can be achieved with ND filters in this week’s Tip Of The Week.

Tip Of The Week: Use Nik Software’s Snapseed for Quick Photo Editing

Tips & Tricks

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at [email protected]

Tip Of The Week: Get Rid Of Duplicates In Your Image Library

Tips & Tricks
Duplicate Finder for Lightroom

Duplicate Finder for Lightroom

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at [email protected]

This week’s tip is a software pick, and it came about when I was trying to to figure out how to get rid of hundreds of duplicate images from my library.

I set about writing my own scripts for detecting duplicating images on my drive based on the images’ EXIF metadata, which is embedded by the camera into the RAW or JPEG file it produces. I was about to start writing the logic for the script when I the thought occurred to me that someone, somewhere, must have done this already. (more…)

Tip of the Week: Use a Tilt-Shift Lens for Panoramic Photos

Tips & Tricks
Figure 1. A panorama taken with the Fuji X100's built-in pano feature.

Figure 1. A panorama taken with the Fuji X100's built-in pano feature.

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at [email protected]

There are many ways to create panoramic images. You can start with a really wide-angle lens, then simply crop down to a long, narrow band to create a “faux” panorama. You can also use the built-in panoramic functions of cameras like Sony’s NEX and Alpha series, as well as Fuji’s X100 and X-Pro1. You can also simply take a series of pictures and stitch them together in Photoshop, or, if you’re really into panoramic photography, you could rent a pano-head from us, like the ones from Nodal Ninja.

Today, we’re going to talk about one of my favorite ways to create panoramas. All of the methods above have some shortcomings that make it a bit harder to create good panos. Using a wide-angle lens and cropping, for example, leaves me with a lower-resolution file than I’d like. The built-in pano features in some cameras is neat, and I do use them (as shown in Figure 1), but they’re also relatively low-res JPEGs. Pano heads are great for this sort of work, but you have to find the “nodal point” of each lens you want to use, and that takes quite a bit of work. (more…)

Tip of the Week: Behold the Frankencam!

Tips & Tricks
The Frankencam: A Canon 5D Mark II with a Nikon 14-24 f/2.8G lens

The Frankencam: A Canon 5D Mark II with a Nikon 14-24 f/2.8G lens. Image Copyright © Sohail Mamdani

The practice of swapping lenses between platforms via adapters isn’t something new. Back in October 2011, for example, we wrote about using Canon, Nikon, and Leica lenses with Micro 4/3 cameras. Similarly, you can use an adapter to mount Nikon lenses onto Canon cameras, but until recently, this was limited to a smaller subset of Nikon lenses.

The “D” lenses from Nikon, the ones with manual aperture rings like the Nikon 35mm f/2, could be used via an adapter on Canon cameras. You could manipulate the aperture manually on the lens, and set the shutter speed on your camera. DSLR video shooters quickly took to these lenses for this very reason.

(more…)

Adobe CS6 and Lightroom 4 bogging down your computer?

Tips & Tricks

If you’re a photographer, chances are that you spend a lot of computer time ploughing through the Adobe Creative Suite and Lightroom. Chances also are that you’ve also spent a fair amount of time tearing at your hair as you wait for that filter, or that export, or some other function to wrap up.

What you may not know is that it might not be Photoshop or Lightroom that’s slowing your computer up. Here are a few tricks to help speed things up for you.

1. Close those browser windows and tabs. Do you really need to be checking your Facebook and Twitter feeds while editing photos and videos? Didn’t think so! We have all fallen victim to the Social Media gods, but a little resistance from a “hashtag” here and a “like” there will help you focus on whats important: color splashing and adding a vignette to all your photos!

You probably never noticed, but multi-tabbed browser windows eat up a lot of system memory. The photo above is a screenshot of my computers activity. More than 1GB allocated to internet browsing! If your computer is running 8GB of ram or less, then you should close those tabs and allocate as much memory to your editing software as much as possible.

2. Add more Ram. This is probably the cheapest and single most efficient way to speed up your computer. You’ll not only see a significant decrease in render time, but you’ll see the overall performance of your computer get a boost. If you own an i7 MacBook Pro or a PC equivalent, you should be able add up to 16gb of ram into your system. I did it to my MacBook Pro. It’s not even the top of the line model, but it was still able to pop in 16gb of ram without a hitch. Ram prices are at an all-time low, I picked up 16gb for less than $150 from Amazon.

3. Upgrade to an SSD (Solid State) Hard Drive. Although SSDs have gone down in price, they are still a good ways away from being cost-competitive with traditional spindle hard drives. With that said, they do provide significant performance gains. Computers will boot noticeably faster, will come out of sleep almost instantly, and will read and write files with greater speed.

How many times have you tried to open up a multi-layered .psd and found yourself staring at the screen, waiting for that status bar to reach its end? Check out the example below. A 128gb SSD was installed on this PC and scored the highest possible score, 7.9, on Windows Performance scales.

One draw back though, is that you won’t have nearly as much storage space to store your data. Those who do upgrade to an SSD choose to run their OS and Applications from the SSD, and store their data onto a separate hard drive.

These are just a few ways to get a performance boost out of your existing hardware, without having to drop the dough for the latest and greatest from Apple/Dell/HP/whatever. Regular maintenance and policing of the contents of your drive also helps.

Windows users can run Check Disk and remove temporary files to help with performance issues, while Mac users should run Disk Utility every so often as well. Another tip for Mac users: keep your Desktop clean and as file-free as possible. Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that does help.

Got a tip of your own? Leave it in the comments below!

Tip of the Week: Edit Video in Adobe… Lightroom?

Tips & Tricks
You can now apply certain presets to video in Lightroom 4.

You can now apply certain presets to video in Lightroom 4.

It’s no big secret that video is now something even still photographers need to pay attention to. If you do photography for a living – or want to do photography for a living – then at some point, the specter of video is going to raise its head and you’ll have to deal with it, or risk falling behind your competition.

Since photographers are dabbling in video, it’s no surprise that a software application formerly dedicated to still photographers is itself now dabbling in video. The latest version of Adobe Lightroom, released this month, now offers DSLR video shooters the ability to do some video edits and effects without having to leave the program.

Among other things, you can do basic cuts and trims, apply color and exposure settings, and sync those settings between clips.

The folks over at Adobe – specifically, Adobe’s Senior Digital Imaging Evangelist, Julieanne Kost – have a great video showing you some of the things you can do to your video with Lightroom 4. Take a look – I think you’ll be surprised at how much you can do.

As an aside to our Aperture fans – yes, Aperture has had many of these features (and I’ve happily used them for a while) for some time now. It’s just nice to see Lightroom catching up.

Tip of the Week: Understanding Sensor Crop Factors, Part 1

Tips & Tricks
Different sensor sizes, compared

Different sensor sizes, compared

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at [email protected]

You’ve likely heard the term “Crop Sensor” before, and if you’re new to the world of digital photography, then you may only have a rudimentary understanding of what that means.

In Part 1 of this series, we take a look at three different types of sensors and the practical effect they have on lens selection. In Part 2, we’ll take a look at what this means for depth of field, and that “bokeh” thing everyone’s talking about.

What’s a “Crop Sensor” camera anyway?

To understand what a “Crop Sensor” camera is, you first have to understand what a “Full Frame” sensor camera is, and that takes us back to the days of film photography. (more…)

Tip of the Week – Copyright Your Images

Tips & Tricks
The "Photographers Survival Manual," by Ed Greenberg and Jack Reznicki.

The "Photographers Survival Manual," by Ed Greenberg and Jack Reznicki.

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at [email protected]

Imagine this scenario: you’re out shooting and take an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime image of the San Francisco skyline. Pleased with your work, your rush home and put it up on your Flickr account, your 500px gallery and your Goolge+ page. It’s up on Facebook, you’ve Tweeted it, it’s out there for the world to see.

Six months later, your photo is on the cover of a magazine. You didn’t give them permission to print it, and you certainly didn’t get paid for it.

(more…)

Tip of the Week – Our favorite lighting videos

Tips & Tricks

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at [email protected]

This week, we bring out our favorite lighting videos. Whether it’s about small flashes or studio strobes, lighting is something we get an awful lot of questions about. So, we decided to put together a short list of our favorite lighting-related video tutorials to help you get going. These are paid videos, but are worth every penny, since the instructors are some of the best in the business.

  1. Joe McNally’s “Language of Light”: Joe is easily one of the best lighting instructors in the world, and his “Language of Light” DVD set is pure genius. Whether it’s shooting a family portrait, or hanging off the back of a truck to capture speeding downhill skaters, Joe does it all and does it incredibly well. He’s funny, engaging and eloquent, and while he doesn’t make it look easy, he does help you understand his methods and techniques, letting you learn a lot in the process.
  2. David Hobby’s “Lighting in Layers”: David Hobby became famous for starting what is now considered to be the bible of small flash photography websites. Strobist.com has become the go-to site for folks looking to learn about lighting with small flash, and to his credit, David pretty-much gives away a ton of information for free there. His “Lighting in Layers” DVD, however, ratchets things up to a whole new level. Six full shoots span nine hours of video, replete with lighting diagrams, commentary and on-the-job demos. For lighting enthusiasts and aficionados, this is definitely worth checking out.
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  3. Scott Kelby’s “Light it, Shoot it, Retouch it!”: This one requires a subscription to KelbyTraining.com, but is totally worth it. Scott takes you through a complete shoot, from lighting setup, to shooting, to the retouching process. Throughout the entire tutorial – which is actually broken into three parts – he describes all the gear, software and techniques he uses in great detail, leaving few, if any, questions in the minds of the audience. Scott’s class got so popular, it spawned a book and a nationwide teaching tour of the same name.  If you don’t have a subscription to KelbyTraining, they do have a free trial so you can check out the class during that. Get the subscription, however, because it also gets you access to another video on this list.
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  4. Zack Arias teaching studio lighting at creativeLIVE.com

    Zack Arias teaching studio lighting at creativeLIVE.com

    Zack Arias’ “Studio Lighting.”: This is easily THE go-to course if you’re just starting out and want an immersive, extensive course. Shot over three days, this workshop form creativeLIVE is absolutely stunning in the amount of instruction it provides. From learning how to setup a shoot to why you start with, say, a soft box to what that does versus an umbrella or a beauty dish, to measuring exposure, this workshop has it all.

    Zack is a fantastic instructor; he’s humble, self-deprecating and brutally honest. This is a guy who’s not afraid to let his mistakes be a teaching tool, and you’ll see that in this video workshop. Moreover, he doesn’t assume you know something about lighting already, so he explains things very thoroughly. Even experienced folks will get something out of this workshop, so don’t pass it up.
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  5. Syl Arena’s “Working with Speedlites”: This two-part course, also available from KelbyTraining.com (the same place you can find Scott Kelby’s class, mentioned above) is a nod to the Canonistas out there. Since David Hobby and Joe McNally are Nikon users, their classes invariably involve heavy use of Nikon cameras and flashes. Syl’s class, on the other hand, is all about Canon flash photography.What’s really cool about this class is that it does what your Canon flash’s manual should have done, but didn’t. Syl breaks down Speedlites and explains everything in detail – but he doesn’t stop there. There’s plenty of technical information to give you lots of “Aha!” moments, but then he shows you just how to use those flashes in actual shooting situations. The class is broken into two parts, one for working with single Speedlites, and the other for working with multiple Speedlites. If you’re a Canon shooter and want to get into the world of small flash photography, this is your go-to class.

So that’s the list of our favorite lighting videos. Got a recommendation of your own? Leave us a comment, and let us know!

Tip of the Week: Our Top 5 Sites for Photographic Inspiration

Tips & Tricks

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. This week’s tip is about inspiration. Since one of the keys to becoming a better photographer is to look at the work of other photographers, here’s a few sites we go to for our inspiration.

Tip of the Week – Real-World Cold Weather Shooting Tips

Tips & Tricks

Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at [email protected]

Dove in Winter. Image Courtesy ImperfectPhotographer.com.

Dove in Winter. Image Courtesy ImperfectPhotographer.com.

Winter seems to be one of those months where the desire to stay indoors and do nothing overtakes many photographers. For those who live in areas where the landscape gets coated with ice and snow in the winter months, this temptation might be even stronger.

Thing is, winter shooting can be incredibly rewarding. Landscapes take on a surreal quality and, though fewer than in summer, there is still plenty of wildlife around. Snow and ice tend to eliminate distracting backgrounds, making your subject stand out. “Winter,” as one photographer told us, “is nature’s very own white seamless background.”

Shooting in cold weather, however, isn’t without challenges. From keeping your gear safe, to keeping yourself safe, there are a fair number of obstacles that can not only keep you from getting the shots you want, but cause injuries to you and damage to your equipment. With that in mind, for this week’s Tip, we bring you an excellent article from Mark over at ImperfectPhotographer.com. With over three years of shooting in cold weather down to -23 degrees, Mark has some incredibly useful insights for you if you’re venturing out in winter.

The Real World – Cold Weather Shooting Tips at ImperfectPhotographer.com