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

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

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 blog@borrowlenses.com.

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. read more…

Tip of the Week: Behold the Frankencam!

Tip of the Week: Behold the Frankencam!

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.

read more…

Op-Ed: Your Medium and Tools as Inspiration

Op-Ed: Your Medium and Tools as Inspiration

I just noticed that Instagram for Android was released yesterday, and it’s downloading as I write this. I really dig Instagram, SmugMug’s Camera Awesome, and all the other iPhone/Android camera apps out there; they’ve truly democratized photography and that’s for the better.

Then I saw this on Popular Photography: Inside the World of Large Scale Wet Plate Photography.

The story is about photographer Ian Ruther’s camera-in-a-truck that he takes out on location to make images. The cost of each image is a staggering $500, and the process isn’t exactly easy, as shown in the video below.

I’m old enough to remember the days of film, of loading hand-rolled 35mm film cassettes into my Canon AE-1. As late as 2010, I still developed a bunch of medium-format 120 film myself, having fallen in love with the medium all over again. I’ve even shot on 4×5 film on a borrowed Crown Graphic, and it was a wonderful experience. read more…

Adobe CS6 and Lightroom 4 bogging down your computer?

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?

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

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.

Canon 5DMarkIII Review by OliviaTech.com

We spent a day with OliviaTech testing out the capabilities of the new Canon 5DMarkIII. We took it into a full production setting to shoot a music video and then into her studio to compare the ISO sensitivity, rolling shutter, and aliasing vs its predecessor, the Canon 5DMarkII. Check out the video review below and her full write up here.

Longer video clips available for you to download at Canon 5D Mark II vs Canon 5D Mark III Video Clips.

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

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

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 blog@borrowlenses.com.

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. read more…

Tip of the Week – Copyright Your Images

Tip of the Week – Copyright Your Images

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 blog@borrowlenses.com.

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.

read more…

The BigmOS: A Review Of Sigma’s Stabilized 50-500mm Lens

The BigmOS: A Review Of Sigma’s Stabilized 50-500mm Lens

The Sigma 50-500mm OS Lens

The Sigma 50-500mm OS Lens

Introduction

BorrowLenses.com has carried the non-stablized version of the Sigma 50-500 for some time now. That lens, nicknamed the “Bigma” has been something of a cult favorite, despite its many failings. We recently introduced what I consider to be its older, more grown-up sibling, the Sigma 50-500mm lens with Optical Stablization, to our inventory as well. I took the Canon version of this lens, nicknamed the “BigmOS”, out for a spin to put it through a few paces.

Let’s get this out of the way immediately: when you use a lens like the Sigma 50–500mm f/4.5–6.3 APO DG OS HSM (there’s a mouthful for you), you really do have to keep your expectations in check. If you can remember that any lens with a 10x zoom factor is going to compromise quality and adjust the bar accordingly, you’ll walk away with some pretty decent images.

read more…

Pros You Should Know: Juan Pons

Pros You Should Know: Juan Pons

Wildlife and Nature Photographer Juan Pons

Wildlife and Nature Photographer Juan Pons

“Pros you should know” is an ongoing Q&A series with photographers that the folks here at BorrowLenses.com admire and follow.

Juan Pons has been a photographer for more than 20 years. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Juan is a fantastic nature and wildlife photographer and educator. An avid conservationist, Juan’s passion for the environment is evident through his images, many of which he donates to non-profit organizations focused on nature conservation. He leads workshops in Yellowstone, Bosque Del Apache, and many other locations around the world, and is co-host of the Digital Photo Experience podcast, which is definitely worth a listen for photo enthusiasts.

We asked Juan to take a bit of time from his busy schedule and answer a few questions for us, and he was kind enough to acquiesce, and to provide us with some of his amazing photography (more of which can be found on his blog) for this piece.

1. How did you get started in photography?

I was very fortunate that the high school I attended had an excellent photography teacher and program. Ms. Solorow was incredibly inspirational and taught us not just the basics and mechanics of photography, but that we should always be experimenting and stepping out of our comfort zones photographically.

Bohemian Waxwings in Yellowstone

Bohemian Waxwings in Yellowstone

2. How has photography changed the way you see the world around you?

The primary reason I decided to concentrate on wildlife and nature photography is because it allows me to slow down and examine wildlife and nature much more intimately than I would have otherwise. I am a firm believer that you must know your subject well in order to capture their essence photographically and since i have always been very drawn to wildlife and nature, photography gave me the perfect opportunity to explore those subjects much more carefully.

3. What is your favorite subject, and why?

It’s probably obvious by now but my favorite subject is wildlife, and although I do have my favorite species I like photographing anything that moves, from large mammals like Bison in Yellowstone National Park to insects in a local park or botanical garden. As to why, I would have to say that I never cease to be amazed by natures handiwork, wether its the beauty of a delicate flower, or the cunning of a red fox.

4. Is there a market that you want to break into or simply just try?

Coyote near Gardiner, MT

Coyote near Gardiner, MT

I have been very deliberate in what I like to do with my photography so I feel like I am doing what I like to do best. However I have been wanting to try outdoor action sports photography. My problem right now is finding the time.

5. What client/project are you most looking forward to shooting next year?

I have recently moved to Maine, and although I am very familiar with Acadia National Park and the island it’s located in, there are incredible wildlife opportunities in the interior of the state. So I am very much looking forward to exploring and getting to know some of these areas with the goal of putting in place a number of wildlife photography workshops closer to home.

6. What do you derive inspiration from?

This one is easy, most of my inspiration come from nature itself, however I very much enjoy looking at other photographer’s work, certainly the work of other professional photographers, but I specially enjoy seeing the work of amateur photographers. The reason is that amateurs work is almost completely driven by their passion and oftentimes you can see this in their work. In addition, the work of amateur photographers can sometimes be equated to seeing thru a child’s eye, meaning that they will have a different and new perspective than those of us with more experience and I find that very refreshing.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

7. Where do you go for inspiration when you reach a creative plateau?

Outdoors, I do not necessarily have to visit a National Park like Acadia, although that is nice, but sometimes inspiration can be gleaned from some of the simplest scenes and subjects. I find that trying to capture a different perspective on ordinary and everyday subjects can get my juices flowing.

8. What’s your favorite piece of gear? Why?

It would definitely have to be my tripod. I often say that I feel naked when I go out shooting without a good tripod. I find that the tripod slows me down and makes me more deliberate in my photography.

9. Where do you see the future of photography technology taking us? How will the next generation take photos?

The sky is truly the limit, I believe we are living in the golden age of photography. At no other time have we enjoyed the choices we have in photography, and not just in terms of gear, but also in terms on how we share our work with the world.

10. What do you do when you’re not shooting?

Most people think that being a professional photographer means you are out shooting all the time, and while that may be true for some, for most of us photography is a business and as with any business there is a lot of other work you need to do to be successful. Things like logistics, accounting, marketing, interfacing with clients, selling, etc.

However beside my photography business I very much enjoy Kayaking, Downhill skiing, biking, hiking and camping. But most of all I enjoy spending time with my 7 year old son.

11. What is the biggest challenge you face currently in your photography that you are trying to overcome, and what are you doing to overcome it?

For me it’s always marketing and selling of myself. This is my least favorite part of my photography business, but without it I know I would not have a photography business so I do it. Eventually I will want to hire someone to help tackle my marketing much more effectively.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse, Acadia National Park

Bass Harbor Lighthouse, Acadia National Park

12. What’s the best piece of advice you can give someone just entering the photography business?

I get this question all the time, and the best thing I can tell someone wanting to get into this business is to think long and hard about what photography means to them. Most amateur photographers do it for the passion, the release that photography gives them as well as a way to relax and put aside, at least for some time, the stresses of their regular life and daytime job. There is a real danger of taking something that you do to feel better and relax and make it your primary source of income and apply to it all the stresses of having to make a living at it. As I said above, being a professional photographer does not mean you are taking pictures all day every day, the vast majority of the time will be spent taking care of the business side of photography.

If after reflecting on this you determine that you still want to be become a professional, then go for it! Work hard at it, be tenacious, be determined to succeed. I believe that there is still a lot of opportunities out there, you just have to be creative and resourceful and most important remember that this is a very rapidly changing field, so you need to be flexible and always be learning. Best of luck!

 

You can learn more about Juan at his website, at http://juanpons.org. The Digital Photo Experience podcast that Juan co-hosts can be found at http://dpexperience.com.

 

All images Courtesy and Copyright © Juan Pons.

Tip of the Week – Our favorite lighting videos

Tip of the Week – Our favorite lighting videos

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 blog@borrowlenses.com.

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

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

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 blog@borrowlenses.com.

This week’s tip is about inspiration. One of the keys to becoming a better photographer is to look at the work of other photographers. Before the internet (and there are some of us who remember those dark and ancient times), this meant buying or borrowing heavy and expensive printed books. read more…

Which topic do you most want to learn more about?

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