Wednesday, December 30, 2009

white balancing act

Our friends over at PhotoWalkPro have put together a very nice blogpost about White Balance that you can find here . If you use Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom (basically the same processing engine) you can easily adjust your white balance after the fact, whether you shoot in jpg or raw. RAW will always give you a greater margin of error, however.

However, it will save you some time and guesswork if you set it correctly to begin with. A truly white object will be helpful, or an 18% grey card, or the slightly warming grey that is mentioned in the linked post. You can also use devices like the expodisc.

The most important thing to remember is to try to avoid a situation where your subject is under lights of different temperatures. An incandescent light coming from one angle, some flourescent off this other way, maybe some natural daylight sneaking in a window. Try to limit your lighting to just one kind or match the temperatures if you can in order to achieve true colors in post.

Of course, completely whacked out color can be fun, too. That's why they invented cross-processing. But I advise you generally go for accurate color early and allow yourself more options later.

Monday, December 21, 2009

more sweet 16

sweet 16

This past Friday I got a last-minute job to cover a sweet 16 party. Mom and Dad (middle shot) threw a very nice party for the birthday girl and about 75 of her closest friends! Most of the night I was shooting in near total darkness (only a bit of light leaking in from two doors and a blue glow from a projector that was left on -- I think these pix really speak to the power of the ol' 580EX flash and the joy of a white ceiling [and acceptably light walls]).

And special thanks to John Horn for the loan of some extra gear. Didn't end up needing it, but it was a godsend to have available. Check out his site, he's becoming a photographic force to reckon with!

Friday, December 18, 2009


So I was out and about yesterday trying to find an image that would fulfill an assignment with a very broad scope and (perhaps too much) freedom. Didn't find what I was looking for (yet) but I stumbled upon a couple of hawks in the desert. One would perch, runaway, perch, runaway, and so on and so on. I did not have a long enough lens with me to give him the space he so clearly wanted.

The other one was happy to soar and soar and soar, sometimes close enough for these shots. Wished I had had some different equipment with me, but we make do. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

visitin' santa (in SAN TAn valley)

Yesterday, we took pictures of children visiting with Santa over at Harmon Elementary (Dawn's old school). Here's a favorite. Aren't they just precious?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Intro DSLRs under $500

Our friends over at Photography Bay put together a just terrific blogpost highlighting several DSLRs that are currently available for under $500. If you are thinking about making the jump to a DSLR (from point and shoot or film or from nothing at all!) but you don't want all the expense and know that you don't necessarily need every single bell and whistle at this point in your photographic education, these are just great choices. And, although I know far too well that $500 is by no means cheap, it is a substantial discount from the prices of the majority of worthwhile DSLRs.

Check out the post and keep these in mind for yourself or for holiday gift-giving. Also, any of these would be a swell choice for anyone taking my Basics of Digital Photography class in Gilbert next month (Wednesday evenings, January 6, 13, and 20!).

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

p & s and video guide

MSNBC put together a nice little shopping guide to consumer cameras, specifically point-and-shoot and pocket HD video (with a Polaroid wannabe thrown in to round out the field). Take a peek if you're shopping for yourself or someone special for the holidays. Of this batch, I'm partial to the Canon G11 and the Flip Video MinoHD. Let me know what catches your eye and why.

shutter speed/aperture simulator

In a most basic sense, cameras handle exposure through shutter speed (how long the shutter stays open) and aperture (how wide or narrow the hole that admits light is).

In today's digital environment you can also affect exposure with ISO (the adjustable sensitivity of your camera's sensor) and and variety of light modifying options (from on- or off-camera speedlites, off-camera strobes, hotlights, reflectors, etc., etc.) and of course, some manipulation of your ambient light situation.

It is important to understand the basics of shutter speed and aperture before anything else. They not only affect the brightness or darkness of your image, but also your ability to quell motion blur, and, perhaps most importantly, depth of field, especially of backgrounds.

I just stumbled across this terrific little shutter speed and aperture simulator to give you a nice introduction to how they can affect each other dramatically. Play with it for a few minutes, trying different combinations and then get that camera in hand and go shooting!