How to Visualize and Shoot in B&W

How to Visualize and Shoot in B&W

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. Most – if not all – digital cameras out there have a black-and-white or monochrome setting. For example, my 5D Mark II has a Monochrome setting under the Picture Styles menu, as does my Olympus Micro-Four-Thirds camera. Simply select this setting and shoot. Your subject – whether it’s a portrait or a landscape or a street scene – will be recorded as a black-and-white image. Furthermore, if you want to see what an image will look like in B&W when you adjust your exposure, switch to Live-View on your camera. If you have a smaller, Micro-Four-Thirds or Sony NEX camera, this is what you use anyway to take your shots. You’ll get a live preview of what a B&W image...
5 Photographers’ Blogs You Should Read

5 Photographers’ Blogs You Should Read

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you already have bookmarks or RSS feeds for some of the leading photographer blogs out there like Joe McNally, Scott Kelby and Chase Jarvis. But as engaging as they are (and as much as we tend to read them every day), there are other, less-famous photographers who are nonetheless doing a stellar job in their fields and whose blogs are incredibly stimulating and interesting. In this piece, we introduce you to five of them. Martin Prihoda. Martin Prihoda’s story,  and his fascinatingly Zen-like approach to his life and work – make for amazing fodder. Martin now shoots for the biggest magazines in India, including the Indian editions of Vogue, Marie Claire, GQ and Cosmopolitan. We wish he’d update his blog more often, but go rambling through the archives; they’re worth your time. Daniel Milnor. He’s Blurb’s Photographer at Large and a deeply interesting, quirky and smart guy. Daniel Milnor’s blog Smogranch makes for some marvelous reading as he ruminates on his travels, his deep love of his Leicas (which are his primary cameras) and how much he loves the thunk of the shutter of his Hasselblad. Daniel shoots film (though he has shot with digital as well, he returned to film some time ago and doesn’t appear to have looked back). Check out the entries on his Peru workshops – they’re a very interesting take on what goes into making a good photo book. Drew Gardner: We were introduced to Drew’s blog by way of David Hobby over at Strobist. Drew is… well, it’s not easy defining him. His portfolio has a...
Tip of The Week: Using ND filters for video

Tip of The Week: Using ND filters for video

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 blog@borrowlenses.com.

Tip of The Week: Our favorite iPad photography applications

Tip of The Week: Our favorite iPad photography applications

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 blog@borrowlenses.com. 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. With that in mind, here are our pics for iPad apps for photographers. We’ve broken this down into three sections: Photographer Showcases, Instructional, and Photo Utilities. Photographer Showcase Visuals by Vincent Laforet: Most people know Vince Laforet for his video work on projects like Reverie, Mobius and Nocturne. But did you know that Vincent is a Pulitzer-prize winning still photographer who was on the staff of The New York Times? This app is a collection of some of his favorite works, and is divided into categories like “Aerials”, “Man & Nature”, “Tilt-Shift” and more. Each image is accompanied by camera settings and commentary on the making of that image. Moreover, you can also buy prints of his images (though be warned, these prints are often signed, limited editions and are priced accordingly). Definitely worth a look! 50...
Tip of the week: Making sense of PocketWizards, Part II

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

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 blog@borrowlenses.com. 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. The fundamental idea behind the ControlTL series is to give photographers a way to control their lights right from the camera. This means that not only can you trigger an SB-900 from your Nikon D700, but you can also control the power output of that strobe, right from your camera. Now, some of you might be thinking, “I can already control my SB-900 from my D700. What do I need these triggers for?” Well, as we mentioned in part I, the cool thing about radio triggers is that you don’t need line-of-sight to trigger your flashes. Moreover, in bright sunlight, the Nikon CLS system or the Canon Speedliting system break down and become less reliable. Radio triggers do not suffer from these conditions,...
Tip of the week: Using a gimbal head

Tip of the week: Using a gimbal head

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 blog@borrowlenses.com. 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. Let’s take a look at what you need to make this work. All these components were photographed, then assembled in the field, so what you see...
Tip of the week: Offloading your images quickly

Tip of the week: Offloading your images quickly

Every Thursday, we post a photography-related tip. These tips are 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 inspired by something that we’ve heard asked many times; with today’s high resolution cameras, a 4GB, 8GB or even 16GB memory card may not be enough to hold all your images from a shoot, so you’ll need a safe way to offload the images and resume shooting.  Carrying multiple cards is always a good idea, but as anyone who’s dropped an SD memory card knows, those things are tiny and easy to lose. Replacing a lost card is easy. Replacing the images on it? Not so much. It’s also not always possible to offload the images to a laptop as well. So here’s our tip of the week: don’t let the lack of a computer prevent you from ensuring that your images are offloaded from your cards every night. We offer two great options for you to do this. The first is everyone’s favorite tablet, the Apple iPad. BorrowLenses.com rents the iPad 2 64GB WiFi edition and we send it to you with Apple’s Camera Connection kit so you can transfer images from your SD card directly to the iPad. If your camera uses CompactFlash cards, you can connect your camera to the iPad using the USB dongle (that’s part of the Camera Connection Kit) and transfer your images that way. The advantages of this method are clear...
Tip of the week: An adaptable camera system

Tip of the week: An adaptable camera system

Every Thursday, we will post a photography-related tip here. 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. Today we’re going to talk about a video camera called the Panasonic AG AF100. The AF100 is from a family of products that adhere to the Micro Four-Thirds standard. So far, Olympus and Panasonic are the two manufacturers making cameras for this standard, but a number of other manufacturers have also signed on to produce add-ons for it. Sigma, Carl Zeiss, Lensbaby and Voigtlander, all venerable manufacturers, have signed on to make lenses for it. But the true power of this standard comes from the manufacturers that have built adapters that let you bring a variety of non Micro Four-Thirds lenses to this platform. Voigtlander and Redrock Micro are some of the companies that make adapters that will let you use Leica, Canon and Nikon lenses on a Micro Four-Thirds camera. The image above is of a Canon-mount CP.2 lens from Zeiss, with an adapter that let us put it on an Olympus E-P2 Micro Four-Thirds camera. There was a little play in the fit, but it worked well enough. The CP.2 was a lens designed specifically for video. With the same adapter shown in the image, you can also adapt that lens to the Panasonic AF100, opening up a wide range of cinematic possibilities. But that’s not all. Take that Nikon F mount adapter we rent and you can take Nikon’s...
Pros you should know: Syl Arena

Pros you should know: Syl Arena

“Pros you should know” is an ongoing Q&A series with photographers that the folks here at BorrowLenses.com admire and follow. Welcome to the first in a series of articles talking about some of the professionals in our field that the folks here at BorrowLenses.com think you should know. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Syl Arena. Syl Arena’s profile is pretty distinctive. If you want to spot him in a crowd, look for a head of fiery red hair. Chances are, if it sticks out in a halo, it’s Syl. Friendly, gregarious and blunt, he’s likely also talking to five people at once about everything from small flashes to motion and more. Syl first gained a steady following as a teacher and photographer when he started into the wilderness that was Canon flash photography at that time. His book, The Speedliter’s Handbook, is now considered required reading for anyone getting into Canon Speedlites, and has been recommended by no less a master than Joe McNally. The level of detail and effort that went into the book is staggering, especially when you consider that Syl was suffering from major back issues at the time. But if you think that speedlites are all that Syl is into, you’d be wrong. As you’ll see below, he’s into a whole lot more, from studio still shoots to location video shoots. Talk to him and you get the sense that Syl isn’t going to be known just as the guy who pretty-much conquered Canon flash photography. We were fortunate to get Syl to take time out of his schedule to answer the Q&A...
Tip of the week: Making sense of PocketWizards, Part I

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

Making sense of PocketWizards, Part I. The increasing interest in off-camera flash has led to a number of our customers requesting PocketWizards to trigger off-camera flashes. The problem is, there isn’t just one single PocketWizard available to rent – there are no less than a half-dozen transmitters you have to chose from and just as many receivers. Since there are several combinations of cameras and lights you could be using, this blog entry won’t focus on giving you the list of things you would need for each imaginable combination. Instead, we’ll focus on the basics of PocketWizards and help you figure out what you’re going to need. The Broad Categories of PocketWizards In essence, PocketWizard’s products can be broken down into two key areas: Standard PocketWizards (also called PWs in the lingo) and ControlTL PocketWizards (ControlTL = Control The Light). We’ll address standard PocketWizards today, with a tip on how to select and use ControlTL PocketWizards in a future tip. Standard PocketWizards These are the original PocketWizards, the ones that are the mainstay of many professionals, if not most. They are both transmitters and receivers (called transceivers) and can be used interchangeably. There are two products in this category. PocketWizard Plus II This is the workhorse of the photographic industry. Relatively small and simple to use, it runs off 2 AA batteries and has four seperate channels it can use for transmission. These are considered to be the most reliable PocketWizard, and they see more use than any other version of PocketWizard as well. So, how would you use this? Here are a few combinations. You have a camera...