Finding the Photo in the Cruft

Finding the Photo in the Cruft

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by the power of software to bring out something interesting in images that might otherwise be a wash, but wouldn’t you know it, I’m still capable of being amazed. I’m currently shooting with the Nikon D800 of late as part of an assignment (more to come on that later), and I was up in the hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay Area at night, hoping to get some shots of the brilliantly-lit vista that encompassed San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and parts of the Peninsula area. Of course, I got up there, and everything was completely fogged in. I was miffed. Even the slight glimpse of the city in the background behind the Bay Bridge was mostly obscured by fog. I was ready to pass up on the image, finding not much of value, but then decided to play with it a bit. Since I had megapixels to spare (the D800 has a 36MP sensor), I decided to crop the heck out of it. Okay, That was kind of cool, and it was still a 22MP image. But it was still just a fog-blurred image. I decided to see what Lightroom 4 could do with it. Well, okay, that’s not half-bad. Exposure bump by +0.30, highlights lowered by -16, +48 on Clarity and +51 on Vibrance. Not half-bad at all. I didn’t want to stop there. If Lightroom could bring that much life back into this image, what could I do with one of my favorite software packages, Color Efex Pro 4 from Nik Software. I added a little bit of the Detail Extractor...
Tilt/Shift: Working With Perspective-Control Lenses, Part 1

Tilt/Shift: Working With Perspective-Control Lenses, Part 1

This is Part 1 of a series on using Tilt-Shift or Perspective-Control lenses. In this part, we look at the “Shift” functionality of these unique lenses. Part 2, which covers the “Tilt” functionality of these lenses, can be found here. Anyone who’s ever shot a building or any other structure from the bottom looking up knows that the bottom-up perspective makes it look like the vertical lines of the building are all converging towards the top. This problem is exaggerated with wider-angle lenses, making many of these lenses unsuitable for certain types of architectural photography, where not having those distortions is key. While the latest version of Photoshop does include an “Adaptive Wide Angle” filter to help correct these distortions, a lot of photographers prefer to get things right in-camera, leading to less image manipulation in post. For that reason, both Canon and Nikon, as well as third-party manufacturers like Schneider-Kreuznach, have come out with a range of lenses that address that specific problem. The box below outlines the list of tilt-shift lenses BorrowLenses.com has in our inventory. Canon  TS-E Lenses Nikon PC-E lenses Schneider-Kreuznach TS lenses Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Tilt-Shift Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Tilt-Shift Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 Tilt-Shift Nikon 24mm f/3.5D ED PC-E Tilt-Shift Nikon 45mm f/2.8D ED PC-E Tilt-Shift Nikon 85mm f/2.8D PC-E Tilt-Shift Schneider PC Tilt-Shift Super-Angulon 50mm f/2.8 Lens For Canon Schneider 90mm f/4.5 Tilt-Shift Lens for Canon Schneider PC Tilt-Shift Super-Angulon 50mm f/2.8 Lens For Nikon Schneider 90mm f/4.5 Tilt-Shift Lens for Nikon Take a look at the image below. Here, I’m using a 17mm...
Hard at Work

Hard at Work

I’m working on a piece on tilt-shift lenses for our blog and I wanted to get some shots of the historic forts in the Marin Headlands at sunrise. So, I hauled my carcass out of bed at 4:30am and made it to the headlands shortly before sunrise. Turns out, it was one of those beautiful days where the upper reaches of Conzelman road, which overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge and downtown San Francisco, was right above the marine layer. So I pulled over to shoot a bit from there, and guess who I ran into? Our Marketing VP, Jim Goldstein, was out in force, shooting time-lapse videos with two bodies, a dolly, and other miscellaneous gear. This was my first time up there this early (I tend to shoot a lot in the evenings, when I don’t have to ingest large amounts of caffeine to keep my eyes open), and apparently, I had the luck of the beginner, as Jim said it could take as many as ten tries to get the atmospheric conditions we had that morning. Jim, for those of you who aren’t familiar with him, is a professional photographer himself (that’s kind of a running theme with BorrowLenses.com hires – we’re all either pro or avid amateur photographers). You can find out more about him on his blog, http://www.jmg-galleries.com/blog/, or you can follow him on Twitter (@jimgoldstein) or on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/+JimGoldstein/ Jim also has an excellent eBook out now called Inspired Exposure, which tackles an element of photography we often don’t think about as still shooters: time. From Light Painting and Star Trails photography to time-lapses and cinemagraphs, this...
Notable Storytellers – Vincent Laforet

Notable Storytellers – Vincent Laforet

Welcome to Notable Storytellers, where we bring you the work of photographers, videographers, and other visual artists we think you should be following.  Vincent Laforet is a filmmaker and photographer that belongs in any reasonable list of Notable Storytellers (read this short piece to understand why we haven’t mentioned him in this column before). Long before he became one of the pioneers (some, including me, would say he is the pioneer) of making films with video-capable DSLRs, he was a staff photographer for the New York Times – and a Pulitzer-prize-winning photographer at that. Reverie was the film that started it all. Shot over the course of a weekend on a pre-release 5D Mark II borrowed from Canon (that he wasn’t supposed to have, but managed to get Canon to loan him anyway), it set off a storm in the world of video and put Vincent, an already accomplished and talented photographer, on the map in that rarified world. Reverie from Vincent Laforet on Vimeo. Reverie was followed eventually by Nocturne, a short film shot to highlight the capabilities of the then-new Canon 1D Mark IV. If Reverie was Vincent “bad cologne commercial,” as he once called it, Nocturne showed off not only his ability to successfully scale a vertical learning curve, but also his increasing prowess as a storyteller in his newly adopted medium. Nocturne from Vincent Laforet on Vimeo. When Canon decided to break into the world of filmmaking in a more “serious” way, they did so with the introduction of the Canon C300. Vincent was one of the filmmakers tapped to create a short film that showcased its capabilities....
In Their Own Words

In Their Own Words

I came across the video below on David Hobby’s site (which happens to be one of the first things I check every morning). In it, photographer Nadav Kander talks about his approach to photography, how he deals with his subjects, and more. Now, I love gear. I pretty-much eat, sleep, and breathe photography gear. I write about it, I advise our customers and staff about it, I test it, use it, abuse it, and love it. I am, in every sense of the word, a gearhead. Creativity, however, isn’t a function of gear. It is, rather, related directly to your imagination and your eye, and those are fed by seeing the work of other photographers, talking to them, and learning from them.  Now, behind-the-scenes videos are my not-so-guilty pleasure. I pore over them incessantly, watching for everything from the big picture of how these photographers work, to tiny nuances in their lighting adjustments, client interactions, camera positioning, posing, and a myriad of other details. These videos, however, don’t always give you an insight into the photographers mindset, or his creative approach, or his thought process. Sometimes, what’s needed is that same photographer standing in front of a crowd for a bit, just talking and showing them images. Narratives about a shooter’s experiences are perhaps one of the most valuable learning tools we have at our disposal. To that end, I present, for your edification, a couple of my favorite photographers talking about their work. Similar to the video above with Nadav Kander, these videos are more along the lines of lectures, rather than technique how-tos. First, we have Joe McNally. Back...