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Tips & Tricks

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.

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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.

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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

 

Tip of the week: How to Visualize and Shoot in B&W

Tips & Tricks
Nik Silver Efex Pro / Alien Skin Exposure

Nik Silver Efex Pro / Alien Skin Exposure

Every Thursday, 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]

Black and white photography is one of the oldest forms of photography; yet its popularity seems to have been on the uptick of late. With plugins like Alien Skin’s Exposure and Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2, digital photographers now have some amazing tools at their disposal to create black and white images of varying types.

But the problem with shooting for black and white is knowing what will look good as a monochrome image. It can take photographers years to look at a scene and know what it will look like when rendered in monochrome. The old adage of “If it doesn’t look good, just convert it to B&W and call it art,” doesn’t hold very true. Rather, the axiom “GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out)” is much more accurate. You have to know what will stand out as a black and white image, and that’s what this week’s tip is about.

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Travel Photography Tips from John Batdorff

Tips & Tricks
John Batdorff

John Batdorff

This is a guest-post from John Batdorff II, a renowned travel photographer and friend of BorrowLenses.com. John is known for his landscape and travel photography, workshops, books and popular photography blog. He has traveled all around the world and, as part of our Tip of the Week series, shares his top tips on what to do if you’re planning a photo trip abroad. Take it away John! 

Over the years I’ve learned a few things about travel photography. First and foremost, preparation is critical, and second, nothing ever goes as planned. Managing expectations, mitigating potential problems, and being flexible are key ingredients to ensuring a great experience. Here are few of my tips for planning a successful photo trip: (more…)

Tip of The Week: Using ND filters for video

Tips & Tricks

Every Thursday, 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: Our favorite iPad photography applications

Gear Talk Tips & Tricks

Every Thursday, 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]

Visuals, by Vincent Laforet

Visuals, by Vincent Laforet

This week’s tip is a list of recommendations for iPad owners. Since it was released, the iPad has been used by many photographers as a mobile portfolio, a reference tool, and even as – yes, we’re serious – a light source for photography. Some enterprising photographers have released their own apps for instructional purposes and one National Geographic photographer even gave up his website in favor of an iPad app.

Clearly, the iPad has a lot to offer to photographers. (more…)

Tip of the week: Making sense of PocketWizards, Part II

Gear Talk Tips & Tricks

Every Thursday, 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]

In Part I of this series, we talked about the standard types of PocketWizards, covering the Plus II and Multimax triggers. Now, we’ll tackle the newer, more complex types of PocketWizards, called the ControlTL series.

About the ControlTL series

ControlTL stands for “Control The Light”, and it’s PocketWizard’s way of giving photographers even greater power over their lighting setup. There are several items that make up the system, from triggers designed specifically for studio flashes like the Paul C. Buff Einstein E640 lights, to small flash-specific triggers like the Nikon SB-900 and Canon 580EXII.

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Tip of the week: Using a gimbal head

Tips & Tricks

Every Thursday, 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]

Canon 1D MK IV on a Wimberley gimbal head

Canon 1D MK IV on a Wimberley gimbal head

One of the questions we get quite often from our customers is about photographing wildlife using long lenses. Here at BorrowLenses.com, we carry a wide variety of those lenses, like Canon’s 500mm, 600mm and 800mm lenses, as well as Nikon’s flagship 500mm and 600mm lenses.

These are large lenses and can weight in excess of 10lbs, making hand-holding them incredibly impractical. A tripod is very important to have, but so is having the right kind of tripod head. A regular ballhead would work fine if your subject was stationary for the most part, but wildlife – particularly birds – aren’t known for staying still. Ballheads also pose a threat to your delicate lens as their heavy front elements have been known to cause the entire setup (lens, tripod, ballhead) to pitch forward if the tension is released too quickly.

The best solution? Say hello to our littler friend, the gimbal head. Made by vendors such as Custom Brackets and Wimberley, these heads allow you to mount large lenses in a way that makes them almost weightless and lets you move the lens in a free and easy manner using just your fingertips.

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