And So The Battle Begins

As most of you know already, Nikon launched its full-frame mirrorless cameras on Aug 23/18, revealing two models that will appeal to both pros and hobbyists alike.  Priced respectively for those markets, the pro model will be available in September and the consumer model in November.

This isn’t a review of that equipment.  You can get a very good overview of the offering in the great article by M. Zhang from Petapixel.Nikon Mirrorless

What struck me as I watched the launch was just how hard Nikon was struggling to differentiate this product from the offerings already out there.  Perhaps it was the English translation, but “redefine possibilities” and “new light…to pioneer the future” left a lot to be desired as to why I would buy this camera over any other. Continue reading

The Meaning of Life (ok, not quite)

One of the most confusing parts of photo editing for me is finding simple definitions for some of the concepts inherent in photo editing software.  Things like layers, blend modes and opacity, which are concepts many people ask about.  But also the difference between pixel layers, raster layers, adjustment layers, and fill layers.

What are filters and why are they separate from adjustments?  And what the heck is rasterizing anyway? Or the difference between “rasters” and “vectors”?  And what is “rendering”?  And of course, the single most important concept – non-destructive vs. destructive editing.

Despite shooting for many years, I stumble my way through explaining these concepts.  So I finally went looking for the real answers.  It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.   But I persevered.  Here’s what I found. Continue reading

Computational Photography – The Next Big Thing?

Ok, don’t panic.  I can hear all of my photographer friends out there slamming their computers, tablets and phones shut.  It can’t be happening:  photography evolving into something that uses math, algorithms and logic to deliver the “decisive moment”?  Say it ain’t so!  Oh, but it is, and I think we will be better off for it.  At least I hope we will.

neural-net copyI’ve been hearing and reading quite a bit about this thing called computational photography.  It is such a new field that what’s in and what’s out, or even the language with which it is communicated, is not yet well defined.  But it can be applied to any form of optical capture, whether in the science lab or in the artist’s studio.

Just as digital photography revolutionized the medium by converting light into numbers through sensors and processors, computational photography manipulates those numbers “in camera” through layers of new software, providing the photographer with new options, like correcting capture problems after the fact or applying a wide variety of creative effects.

It’s actually been around in the engineering and computer science universe for more than a decade, but practically speaking, is now having a huge impact in pro and consumer photography, particularly in the latest smartphones. Continue reading

Being Sociable

Radio copyI come from a generation born before televisions were common in middle class homes.  We relied on a radio for news and our only “social network” was the people we knew in the neighbourhood, at school, through our parents or through our church.  Getting your name out there was done by word of mouth and by advertising on the radio and in the “yellow pages” or other print publications.

Yet just a couple years ago, I was told that repuations were made in photography by having a presence on as many online sources as possible, particularly social media and sharing networks.  Word of mouth is still very big in photography, but increasingly, I was told, new business comes from being discovered on these sites.  Word of mouth, while still important, was also now equally “word of post” or “word of tweet”. Continue reading

Breakin’ Up is Hard to Do

When I first took up photography full-time in 2014, I became completely joined at the hip to Adobe’s photography-related products:  Lightroom and Photoshop.  For many years before then, we had just been casual acquaintances.  Over the years, we’ve settled into a very comfortable and predictable relationship.  We’ve grown older together, seen changes around us and tried to adapt as best we could.

But sometimes you grow apart as a result.  When Adobe first moved completely into a subscription model and last year announced its intention to move more into cloud and web-based image editing, I knew that we were on the skids and destined, someday, for a breakup.

Well, that day has come, sort of.  As of today, I’ve moved out of Lightroom, trading in its familiar interface for the new face of ON1 Photo Raw. Continue reading

Reading the Histogram

Another short presentation to my local camera club.  This item was on activating, reading and responding to the histogram.

A histogram is a plot of the tonal values (dark to light) captured by the millions of photosites that make up your camera sensor in a digital camera.  Just like the eye of a fly that uses thousands of tiny lenses to create one image, the digital camera uses millions of photosites to create one image.  These tonal values can be plotted on a chart available in camera that photographers can use to assess the overall exposure of their images.  One reason this chart is useful is that our eyes handle complex scenes so much better than our cameras.  Knowing what the camera sees helps you make the right choices on settings.

Most cameras show the histogram after you take the photo and display it on the LCD screen.  You can then adjust your settings for the next shot.  But higher end or newer models, especially mirrorless models, include a “live” histogram that helps you pick the right settings before you ever press the shutter.

While post-processing can address some of the problems that arise from using the wrong settings, if your image is overexposed or underexposed, there will be limits on what you can do afterward.  So use the histogram to give you an extra edge every time.

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