Archive for April, 2017

How Understanding Your Learning Style Can Improve Your Photography

28 Apr

Lady in the blue hat walked into my shot and I chose to include her to emphasize the size of the trees and the distance of the park


It’s an exciting time, going to the camera shop, discussing options, making the final choice, parting with a reasonable sum of money. Finally the anticipation of getting home and unpacking your shiny new camera gear. Suddenly all the dials and buttons seem so much more confusing, the manual may not explain things enough. The menus are complicated so it’s easiest to switch over to Auto mode and leave it there while you try to figure it out.

Six months later what’s happening with your camera? Are you still using it? Is it still on Auto or have you tried other modes? Did you decide it was too hard and the camera is gathering dust in a cupboard somewhere (this is more common than you may realize)?

Toi Toi silhouetted by sunset – an experiment in backlighting.

Learning to learn is a skill that also needs to be developed

Learning a new skill is difficult. It takes commitment to put time and effort into the learning process. It requires you to admit you are at the beginner stage, where you will struggle to produce the quality of work that you want. Learning is a process which requires you to put some thought and structure into working out a process that is right for you. Different people learn in different ways, so it’s helpful for you to understand how you prefer to learn. Why?

  •  Value: If you are spending money on a course or a workshop, you want to make sure you are going to get the best value out of it.
  • Time: Learning takes time, so when choosing an option, knowing your preferences helps maximize your benefits.
  • Fun: It’s more fun if you are learning in a way that you enjoy.
  • Return: You are more likely to invest the time and effort into something that makes sense to you and shows a return on your investment.
  • Pain avoidance: No one enjoys doing something painful or difficult for the sake of it.
  • Find the best sources: Information is everywhere but varies in quality – you need to sift the good from the not so good.

Narrow depth of field, focused on the sparrow using a 70-200mm lens at a distance.

Learning styles

While there are many theories on learning styles, there are three basic types that apply to most people:

  1. Auditory learners – learn by hearing and listening – you may prefer to read things out loud as you store information by the way it sounds to you.
  2. Visual learners – like to see what you are learning as either pictures or words – you understand and remember things that you see.  May use flash cards or similar for studying.
  3. Tactile learners – you learn best by being hands on – touching things, taking them apart, twiddling with the settings (probably not listening to a speaker while you are doing it).

Of course, most people are a combination of all of these styles but you will likely have a preference for one or two. Understanding them can help you make choices around developing your own personal approach to learning photography. There are many options. Some don’t need lots of money but others might cost quite a lot, and it’s difficult to know in advance if it will be worth it.

Swan Yoga – if you take time to sit and be with your subject, all sorts of interesting things might happen

Opportunities for learning photography

  1. Books, magazines and other printed material – can be purchased, downloaded in digital format or borrowed from libraries.
  2. Online tutorials – short tutorials on a specific subject.
  3. Video courses – can be watched for free online or many options can be purchased.
  4. Short workshops (a day or less) – attend in person – usually listening to a speaker plus opportunities for questions and hands-on experimenting.
  5. Long workshops (several days) – attend in person – some travel may be involved, often with a specific focus, planned talks plus time for independent shooting, discussion sessions, editing sessions.
  6. One-on-one tutoring – customized service offered by some professionals where you can have a training session targeted to a particular subject.
  7. Small groups – similar to one-on-one tutoring but with 3-5 students.
  8. Camera clubs – often organize workshops or field trips for members with the aim of learning for everyone, often a safe place to ask questions.
  9. Photography forums – online forums where photographers gather to post images and share information, might be general or around a specific subject (landscapes or birds).
  10. Online courses – structured learning courses hosted online aimed at a range of capabilities from beginner to advanced (rather than random videos) on specific topics.
  11. Formal education – University Degree courses in photography and other tertiary institutes are available.
  12. Apprentice or intern – offering to work for free assisting a professional and learning on the job.
  13. Mentor – someone experienced who is happy to answer questions, go for a bit of a photo walk, give you tips and advice (be nice and buy them lunch).
  14. Organize your own DIY photography retreat focused on specific techniques.
  15. PRACTICE!! – take your camera out and use it as often as you can.

Learning the hard way about photographing a subject in bright sunlight – washed out colors and harsh shadows as the result.

How to choose?

There are many choices listed above and even within just one of those options, there are many more choices – thousands of books available, tons of YouTube videos, loads of courses and workshop options. That workshop in Iceland might sound super exciting but are you okay with learning outside in some possibly dodgy weather, where you have to drive and hike for hours? Maybe you have to camp and will be tired and grumpy from getting up early in the morning to get the sunrise.

Would you prefer a structured classroom environment, where you can interact with students and the teacher for questions and discussion? Does it suit you better to watch videos at home after work, when the kids are in bed and you can pause them to write notes, or play the same step over and over until you understand it?

Practicing isolating a subject from the background and blurring with bokeh effect.

We are all busy people, with limited spare time to dedicate to our hobbies and passions. So it makes sense to maximize the value of your time spent learning. Understand what your personal preferences are and then take the next steps.

Learning factors

  •  If you like to read do you need to buy expensive printed books or magazines – does your library have them? Can you get them cheaper in digital format? Can you borrow them?
  • The voice of the person presenting a video course is important – do they speak in a language or an accent you can understand? Do they present in a style that you like? Are they to the point or do they waffle all over the place and take twice as long to get the point across? Is the video a “talking head” or are they demonstrating the subject matter in some way? Is it something you can listen to for hours without getting annoyed or a headache?
  • When attending a workshop is there time allocated for questions and discussion? What reviews do the workshop speakers get from other attendees?
  • Are there sample videos available for you to hear/see speakers present so you can get a feel for their delivery style and approach to the subject matter?
  • Do you get frustrated in a group of mixed ability? If you are new and need a lot of help do you feel uncomfortable asking questions, or if you are more advanced do you feel held back when beginners are present?
  • Is the subject matter relevant to what you want to achieve? Do you have a chance to clarify goals and outcomes with a workshop presenter or speaker in advance?
  • Do you have the time or money for more formal education? Is it really necessary or a nice to have in the overall scheme of things?
  • Does being in a group of strangers bother you or inspire you?
  • How much time or money do you have available?

All these factors can have an affect on how well you will learn. It would be a real shame to spend several thousand dollars on a workshop in an exotic location to find that you get very little out of it. Or you might discover the most helpful channel on YouTube that really resonates with you.

Using flash on a dull overcast day seemed like a good idea until you see the bright highlights in the final image

How do we learn?

Research tells us that the best way to learn is via a technique called “distributed practice” which is where you study in an intense burst and then take a break, and keep repeating this cycle. Photography lends itself well to this style as it is often taken up as a hobby to be done in spare time. So allocating a weekend or an evening when you have time to focus on a particular style or technique, and then having a break is actually okay.

Applying some variety to your learning process improves outcomes as well. You could apply this easily with photography by changing the subject matter you are shooting. Or take your camera into different situations. Moving between similar topics can help you see connections or understand concepts in a different way. Bear in mind that getting out of your comfort zone is an important learning opportunity too, so be prepared to push your boundaries as well.

NZ Native Tui – shot in an enclosure at a nature park

Teaching someone else also helps you retain knowledge more effectively too. Writing things down after a learning session is also a recommended way to improve knowledge retention. Perhaps start a photography blog and share your learning journey with others? Keeping track of your achievements is important to give you a sense of scale (i.e. how far you have come from being a complete beginner) and it also motivates you to move forward, knowing that you have mastered some learning steps.

Learning to see from a different viewpoint is important as a photographer, as is taking chances and experimenting – this is a chair


Ultimately everyone learns on their own but the learning doesn’t truly happen until there is a link between action and reflection (i.e. what was I trying to achieve and did I manage it?) You must be prepared to experiment, and with experimentation there comes failure.

No one likes to fail as there is a lot of ego tied up in success. So to truly learn you must suspend your ego, embrace failure and admit to yourself that you can improve. These days with digital it’s more or less free to shoot as many frames as you want. So other than the cost of time, it’s never been more cost effective to get into photography (after the initial hardware purchase, of course).

Both the foreground and background were important in this image, composition was a challenge

Spend some time on this

Learning also requires you to move out of your comfort zone and do different things, try new styles. It requires you to actively think about what you are doing, what outcomes you are trying to achieve, and analyzing how and why you did (or didn’t) achieve them. Yes, you can just go out and randomly shoot and put no more work into it than that. However, any improvement is likely to be slow. It’s difficult to produce work of a consistent quality if you don’t understand how you got there in the first place.

Take a bit of time to understand your best learning style, look at the available options, try a few out. Maybe ask for recommendations from other beginners. Accept that it’s okay to say, “I’m new at this and I need some help.” In general, many people are happy to offer advice, after all, they were once new at it too.

Playing with an old vintage lens with manual focus and odd imperfections that did strange things around the edges was a fun afternoon field trip.


Investing in your own personal learning process is important. Learning a new skill can happen via osmosis but improvement will be slow and the process is frustrating for many. So much so that they may give up completely as it was too hard. Having a considered structured approach gives you an achievable goal to aim for – it’s even better if you break it down into smaller milestones so you get some sense of accomplishment at each step.

Learning a new skill takes time, so why not ensure that your time is well spent in the learning you are doing. Often there is a cost involved, so investing time in understanding a good learning choice for yourself is also important. Keep in mind that your learning journey will never be finished, don’t get lazy or complacent once you reach a certain level of mastery, there will always be something new to try.

Most of all, it should be fun!

Long exposure as the tide was going out after sunset.

(Note:  All the images provided are ones taken by the author on her learning journey which started 10 years ago and is only now getting to the really fun stuff!)

The post How Understanding Your Learning Style Can Improve Your Photography by Stacey Hill appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

28 Apr

This tutorial will help make it much easier for you to take the photographs needed for focus stacking. This is the best and the easiest way to achieve the results you want. There are a few details along the way, but the bonus is that there are also other photographic situations where you will be able to apply the same technique.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

What is focus stacking and why is it needed?

When your camera is really close to the subject, depth of field will be very shallow. For example, if you are using a 100mm lens, at a distance of 50cm (nearly 10 inches from your subject) with an aperture as small as f/16, the area which is acceptably sharp is just 1.9 cm (about 3/4 of an inch). Reduce the distance to subject to only 25cm (less than 5 inches) and the depth of field reduces to only 0.36 cm (1/6th of an inch).

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking
The only way to conquer this issue in order to get a greater depth of acceptable sharpness in a final photograph is with computational photography. That means using software to blend together a number of photographs which have been taken with different points of focus. This computational process is called focus stacking.


The recommendation made in this article is an application of the old computer acronym of GIGO. Garbage In, Garbage Out. If you input rubbish, the output will be rubbish. To achieve the best results with focus stacking, you need to produce the photographs which are technically the most suitable for the focus stacking process.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking


A while back, I decided that I wanted to make some images that would look good in a home or workplace, which would reflect the Filipino environment. With various adjustments, the five photographs shown in color above were combined to produce the image below (and a lot more like it!).

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

If you like the idea of producing something like this, with sharp focus through the whole frame, it needs a little attention to start. This soon becomes quite easy, and you may find that it is actually a lot of fun. Find your own subject, then follow along with this method for producing your focus stacking images.

The actual processing of the images is a sequence of steps, and I would be happy to go through my approach for you at another time. Although there are other specialist programs for producing a focus stacked image, you will most likely use Photoshop. Of course, there are tutorials on how to do this here on dPS; A Beginner’s Guide to Focus Stacking.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

The Method – Part One – It is a Surprise

At this point in most focus stacking tutorials, you will see somebody holding a set of focusing rails. Forget it! No further expense is required here. They might then talk to you about focusing manually. Forget that too! No need for any delicate touch with this method. You do not even need a cable release. This is absolutely all you need.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking
In the past, I had not even bothered to install Canon’s software offerings. Yes, the surprise news might just be that it is Canon EOS Utility which will serve you best for shooting focus stacking images.

As far as I have been able to determine, Nikon users will find that Nikon Capture includes a Camera Control component. I do not have the facility to put that to the test, but I imagine it works just as well. If you shoot Nikon and give this a try, do tell us how it worked for you in the comments section below.

The magic trick – the secret sauce – the silver bullet, for making images for focus stacking is the Canon EOS Utility program. It allows total remote control of the settings of your camera when shooting tethered to your computer.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

Plug and play!

Once you have your shot set up, you can control everything from your computer. If that happens to be an adjacent laptop, that will work the best. However, the photographs which follow below were produced with everything controlled from a computer in another room, fully 10 meters, more than 30 feet away from the set.

The Method – Part Two – The Mechanics

This type of photography, which I think of as “constructed photography”, does take a little while to set up. Follow these steps:

  • Put your camera on a tripod.
  • Compose your shot.
How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

You need to make two measurements.

  • Measure from the focal plane of the camera (the mark indicated above) to the front of the object which you are photographing (A), as shown above.
How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

The circle with a line through it indicates the focus plane – this is where your lens focuses the image onto the sensor.

  • Measure the depth of the object, from the point which is nearest to the camera, to the point farthest away. I have found that a steel rule or tape measure works well enough for these tasks.

Standard issue.

  • Now take a test shot.
  • Use a small aperture, like f/10, then check the exposure. I tend to look at the LCD screen which gives the RGB histograms. This allows you to judge the exposure, exposing to the right if you like, but also to check that none of the individual colour channels is overloaded. That is prone to happen in photographs which have one subject filling the major part of the screen. At this stage, exposure is not critical, you are only trying to achieve a guide shot.
  • Make a note of the settings which have given a reasonable exposure.
  • Cover the viewfinder to prevent possible light leakage.
  • Switch off image stabilization, it is always the best practice to do so when your camera is on a tripod.
  • It is not essential, but you might choose to put your camera into manual focus.
How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

Manual focus, stabilizer off.

  • Again, not essential, but you might choose to put your camera in Manual shooting mode.
How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

Switch to Manual Mode

Now the magic begins, the bit which makes me smile at how brilliant and easy it is.

The Method – Part Three – Computing

Connect your camera to your personal computer using Wi-Fi, a USB or Ethernet cable, whatever works best for your setup. I like cables, so I use a USB cord.

Run the EOS Utility software. Your camera should be discovered quite easily.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

The EOS Utility dashboard.

Choose “Remote shooting” and the screen below will appear.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

You are in control

From the comfort of your computer, you can release the shutter, the ultimate cable release, and do pretty much whatever else you like. As advised, you can switch off autofocus, and switch to Manual Mode without even touching the camera. In fact, adjustments can be made to all the usual camera settings for shooting. Most importantly for this exercise, you can switch to Live View shooting. Do so, and you will see a screen like this.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

The Remote Live View window. This is where the fine focusing happens.

The first thing to do is to fine tune the exposure. Controlling your camera from EOS Utility soon becomes quite easy, and intuitive. You can actually learn a lot about exposure by experimenting with the exposure triangle of ISO, shutter speed, and aperture all from your computer, with the benefit of Live View in grand scale.

One extra benefit of shooting in Live View is that you will have locked the mirror up, and removed any chance of vibrations from that source.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

You can click on the screen arrows, even use the scroll wheel on your mouse to make adjustments.

Take a shot and it will soon appear on your screen. This is not an article on ETTR (Exposing To The Right), but there is a good one here; Exposing to the Right. You can now adjust the exposure to try and get as much data onto your sensor as possible (the premise of ETTR). Take your time and take as many shots as you like. Check the histogram, check what you can see on the screen, and get the exposure exactly to your liking.

I do tend to prefer a shorter exposure. In the interests of sharpness, if I can get a compromise between ISO, and aperture which gives me an exposure of less than 1-second, I believe that is a good step in the direction of sharper photographs.

For this particular exercise, there are all sorts of detailed decisions, but the most important part of this screen is the Focus Adjustment and the Zoom View.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

Double clicking on the area highlighted, shown towards the bottom of the screen capture of the Remote Zoom View window (shown above), will bring you to this window below.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

Zoom View – allow you to easily get the nearest point of the image sharp as possible.

You now have turbocharged, hyper control of your focus. Not until you take the plunge and try this method, and find out that you can focus to the width of a hair, will you realize how brilliant it is. There is even the facility to zoom in further still.

I believe you will find the focus adjustment intuitive. There are three different levels for adjusting focus in either direction, “<<< / << / <” and “> / >> / >>>”. This is very useful in a way that no focus rails or manual adjustment could ever be. The bonus is that you will have no physical contact with the camera whatsoever.

The Method – Part Four – Finally

Martin Bailey is a photographer who goes into admirable detail. He is of the opinion that if you start photographing to the rear of the object, and work forward, Photoshop handles the process better. I do not see the evidence so clearly but, experience tells me, he is very likely right.

Another piece of advice would be to shoot a little wider, do not frame as tightly as you might usually. It gives you a little more room for maneuvering if you need to make adjustments.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

You now need a Depth of Field (DoF) calculator. There’s a wide choice, there are many that are readily available for your computer, phone, and for use online. I happen to use, Simple DoF (iOS only, see Android options here), as shown in the screenshots. Let’s apply it to a situation.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

The depth of field required for this scene is about 20cm (8 inches) To determine what you need, measure from the part of the object nearest the camera to the point furthest away. Divide that by the Depth of Field of 3.39cm (let’s call it 3.4cm), which tells us we will need 5.88 images. That means that we will need to take six evenly spaced images from the back to the front, in order to get every part of the image in focus. Here they are!

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

Focused at the rear, on the plastic case of the ruler.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

Moving forward, picking a point about 3cms (just over an inch) closer each time.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

Focused between 6 and 7 inches.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

Shot 4.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

Coming forward.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

Focus closer 3cm, about an 1 inch, each time.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

Finally, focused sharply on the front edge of the ruler.

You can go to whatever lengths of precision you like. Experience allows me to trust my judgment of distance, and I am happy to err on the side of taking too many shots. If I reached the front edge of the saucer and found that I had taken eight shots I would be perfectly happy with that. As it happens, it seems that I took seven.

Here is the image produced from all the above by following the focus stacking processing routine in Photoshop.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

The final focus stacked image.

You should always be looking for ways to improve. As I have said, better results from less effort is a good thing.


I think that to be certain of producing the highest quality product, the next time I do a project like this, I would refine my technique a little further.

I would actually put a rule next to the object but, unlike this time, do so temporarily. In this specific example, I would decide to take 3cm as my Depth of Field. I would then focus a shot on the 0cm mark of the ruler. I would then use the focus controls in EOS Utility to nudge the focus to 3cm and see how many clicks of the “>”, “>>” or “>>>” buttons it took to move the point of focus 3cm. It might, for example, be three clicks of the “>>>” button. Again, sticking with this example, I would then know that I needed to take seven shots. I would then take a shot focused on the back edge, click “>>>” three times, take another shot, click “>>>” three times again … and so on. As I said at the start, what could be easier?


This leaf was 10cm, that is 4 inches from front to rear. I do not think there is a way to produce this final image without using the technique of focus stacking. What you have read above is the best, and the easiest way to produce the shots.

How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking

Waving goodbye?

I am all for spontaneous, shooting on the run, shots. However, if you want to shoot in a more controlled way, I think you might find the control offered by Canon EOS Utility to be a lot of fun. I do!

Once you have been introduced to it and learn some of the power of the software, you may well find yourself using it for other projects. This last week, I have used Canon’s EOS Utility to produce some product shots. The proof is in using it, and I hope you can see that it is something you can try if you want to do focus stacking.

The post How to Photograph the Images Needed For Focus Stacking by Richard Messsenger appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Nikon releases firmware update for 1 J5 mirrorless system camera

28 Apr

Nikon has released a firmware update for its 1 J5 mirrorless system camera. Version 1.01 only comes with one modification over version 1.0 and fixes an issue that prevented additional deletions after multiple shots had been deleted in succession from a single burst of pictures.

The Nikon 1 J5 captures images on a 1″ 21MP BSI CMOS sensor and was originally announced in April 2015. If you own the camera you can check your current firmware version by selecting Firmware version in the Setup menu. If you want to update, the new version is now available for download on the Nikon website. 

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6 Color Settings in Photoshop That You Need to Know

28 Apr

Photoshop CC is a complex piece of software. Most of us barely scratch its surface in terms of the features we use. Thankfully, it doesn’t matter if we’re not familiar with every aspect of this vast program if only we achieve the results we want. One of the hurdles in Photoshop has always been understanding how it handles color and what effect different color settings have. This can be mind-boggling for new photographers and even catches a few seasoned ones out.

There are 6 color settings to consider in Photoshop

#1 – RGB Working Spaces

Some basics

Under “Color Settings” in Photoshop, the first item needing attention is choice of RGB working space. What is this? It’s your editing color set, if you like, where all the various tones of red, green and blue are split into values between 0 and 255 and blended to make 16.7 million possible colors. We can’t separate all these colors with our eyes, but mathematically they’re there.

1b Simple RGB Color Wheel - 6 Color Settings in Photoshop That You Need to Know

This simple RGB color wheel shows the relationship between primary (red, green, blue) and secondary (cyan, magenta, yellow) colors. For example, a fully saturated magenta tone contains no green (RGB 255,0,255), so sits opposite green on the wheel. Tertiary colors are created by blending adjacent primary and secondary colors.

All RGB working spaces have the same number of colors; the gamut they cover is the main difference between them. Choice of RGB working space is, therefore, mainly about picking a gamut that suits your needs best.

Standard RGB working spaces (e.g. sRGB, Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB) are used for editing because they are “well behaved”. In other words, we know what to expect from them when we edit our photos. To illustrate this, if all three red, green and blue (RGB) values are equal in any pixel, the tone will always be neutral, be it gray, black or white. Any adjustments made to shadows, mid-tones or highlights cause the same degree of change, too, so editing is always predictable.

Choosing an RGB Working Space

Here are the three main choices of RGB working space:


sRGB might be a good choice of working space if all you ever do is publish photos on the Internet and get your prints done at the shopping mall (i.e. a commercial photo lab). It’s one way of keeping things simple, but does potentially forfeit a lot of color data between camera and Photoshop, especially if you shoot RAW.

Some subjects are better suited to this color space than others, like portraits. Skin tones are likely to be encompassed by the sRGB color space, so you don’t lose data by editing in it. The types of subjects you shoot may play a part in choosing a working space.

The popular assertion that this color space is the “Internet standard” is partly true, though slightly outmoded. Most people can’t see much color outside of sRGB because of the standard gamut of their monitors, so a bigger space would be largely wasted on your web audience.

Adobe RGB

Adobe RGB is recommended to anyone who does their printing at home or who supplies third parties with images for publishing. Even humble models of inkjet printer produce colors outside of the sRGB gamut, while only high-end printers exceed Adobe RGB in output.

The Adobe RGB color space was designed to encompass the output of CMYK printers. It is often seen as a good all-rounder for the average photographer, and you can easily convert files to sRGB for the web at the end of editing if desired.

Landscapes benefit particularly from Adobe RGB, largely because of the cyan and green colors lost when converting down to sRGB. To a lesser extent, yellows and oranges are also truncated.

1a Working RGB space - 6 Color Settings in Photoshop That You Need to KnowSince most browsers are now color-managed by default, you can get away with saving photos in the larger Adobe RGB color space for the web. You must embed the profile into the image file if you do this, otherwise, your photos will look desaturated to most people. Only a minority of your audience will benefit from the bigger color space, alas, but it could be worth trying among a group of keen photographers with wide-gamut monitors.

ProPhoto RGB

ProPhoto RGB is the largest of the three commonly used RGB working spaces, and it’s the one that best preserves all color data between a RAW file and Photoshop. A purist would ask; why would you want to throw color away needlessly? You don’t always discard color with a smaller color space, of course, depending on the content of your photo.

ProPhoto RGB is a good choice if you use a high-end inkjet printer capable of colors outside the Adobe RGB gamut, but there are caveats attached to its use:

  • Because ProPhoto is spread over such a wide gamut, you’re forced to work with larger 16-bit files to avoid posterization, or banding. (The opposite is true of a small working space like sRGB, which is ideally suited to 8-bit editing.)
  • Since ProPhoto RGB produces colors beyond the capabilities of any monitor or that of human vision, you’ll be working partially “blind” when you edit in this color space. This is a trade-off that many accept in return for extracting as much color as possible from their printer.

Note: some photographic subjects, particularly those with a deep yellow color, lose detail straight away merely by opening them in Photoshop in a smaller color space (i.e. sRGB or Adobe RGB). It’s possible to see blotchy, posterized areas in photos of yellow flowers, for instance, in anything less than ProPhoto RGB, and the effect is worse the smaller a working space you select. This makes it desirable to print such subjects directly from ProPhoto RGB.

Again, there’s nothing to stop you from editing your files in ProPhoto RGB and then converting down to smaller RGB color spaces when required. Remember; you can’t convert up to a bigger color space and get data back.

ProPhoto RGB is not typically an in-camera option. You need a RAW > 16-bit workflow to make it a useful choice in Photoshop.

1c RGB Color Space Gamuts - 6 Color Settings in Photoshop That You Need to Know

A comparison of RGB color spaces. Note how the profile of an Epson 2200 printer with matt paper exceeds the Adobe RGB gamut.

#2 – Monitor RGB (check your monitor profile)

Also under the RGB working space menu you’ll see the “Monitor RGB” heading. This is not a profile you’ll want to use as a working space, because it effectively turns off color management in Photoshop. One thing the Monitor RGB selection is useful for is checking that Photoshop is accessing the correct monitor profile. The profile in current use is listed beside “Monitor RGB”.

If you’ve created a custom monitor profile and notice that color is wayward in Photoshop, one thing you can do is temporarily switch the monitor profile back to sRGB in your OS settings (Adobe RGB for wide-gamut monitors). If this improves the color, your own custom profile is probably corrupt and you’ll need to delete it and create another. Again, the “Monitor RGB” working space option will verify the profile in use.

#3 – Color Management Policies

Under “Color Management Policies” in Color Settings, select “Preserve Embedded Profiles” in all three drop-down menus.

3a Preserve Embedded Profiles - 6 Color Settings in Photoshop That You Need to Know

There is a case for unchecking the 2 boxes next to “Profile Mismatches”, since you’re unlikely to act on the alerts they produce. The first box “Ask When Opening” might be useful if you want to be kept in the loop and know immediately if a file has a different profile embedded to the one you edit with. You can disregard the second box “Ask When Pasting”.

3b Profile Checkboxes

It’s desirable to check the box next to “Missing Profiles”. When opening an image file without a profile embedded, you can sometimes guess the correct color space based on where it came from and then assign that profile to the image. You may also choose to open the file without a profile and then assign different profiles in Photoshop to see which looks best.

#4 – Assign Profile

The vital thing to learn about “Assign Profile” in Photoshop is that you should leave it alone in most situations. Many people don’t distinguish between this and “Convert to Profile”, which is a mistake.

4a Assign Profile - 6 Color Settings in Photoshop That You Need to Know

4b The Effect Of Misusing Assign Profile - 6 Color Settings in Photoshop That You Need to Know

A color shift occurs when wrongly using “Assign Profile” to convert files from one known RGB color space to another. “Convert to Profile” uses a relative colorimetric rendering intent to match destination colors to source colors as closely as possible.

Assign Profile applies the RGB values embedded in a photo to a different color space without any attempt to match color. This often causes a huge color shift. You’d only use this feature on a file that had no profile embedded or that had one assigned upon opening that you’d like to change.

#5 – Convert to Profile

If you need to convert a file from one RGB color space to another in Photoshop, “Convert to Profile” is the right tool for the job. A relative colorimetric rendering intent is used to match color between different color spaces. If you’re converting from Adobe RGB to sRGB, for instance, colors outside the sRGB gamut are matched to their nearest in-gamut equivalent.

5 Convert to Profile - 6 Color Settings in Photoshop That You Need to Know

Convert to Profile is typically used to convert between RGB color spaces, since most of us have no need to convert to printer or CMYK profiles within Photoshop. When converting between RGB files, “relative colorimetric” is always the rendering intent used, even though it’s possible to select other intents from the menu.

#6 – Proof Colors

You wouldn’t ordinarily check “Proof Colors” under the “View” menu unless previewing the color output of a printer or other device. The colors it displays are based on the selection made in the “Proof Setup” menu. Some people assume they should use Monitor RGB proof colors for editing, but, as we’ve already noted, this turns off color management in Photoshop.

6 Proof Colors For Color Blindness - 6 Color Settings in Photoshop That You Need to Know

Proof colors being used to simulate “Color Blindness – Protanopia-type”. More typically, you’d use this function to preview and edit print colors so they matched the original RGB screen image satisfactorily (a technique known as “soft-proofing”).

The normal method for using “Proof Colors” is to open a duplicate image next to the original, apply the printer profile to the duplicate using proof colors and then edit so it closely matches the original. This is basic soft-proofing method, though a full description merits another article.


  • RGB Working Space: Choose Adobe RGB if in doubt. It’ll encompass the output of most monitors and inkjet printers.
  • RGB Working Space: Take note of the Monitor RGB selection to ensure Photoshop is using the right monitor profile.
  • Color Management Policies: Select “Preserve Embedded Profiles” in the three drop-down menus and check the “Ask When Opening” box next to “Missing Profiles”.
  • Don’t use “Assign Profile” to convert from one RGB space to another. It causes unwanted color shifts. Use it only when the original profile is unknown, which shouldn’t be often.
  • Use “Convert to Profile” to convert from one known RGB space to another. This matches color as closely as possible between the source and destination color space.
  • Proof Colors are used for previewing the color output of other programs or devices, or to see how an image will look to a color-blind viewer. For normal editing, this should be turned off.


I hope that clears up any confusion you have had around color settings in Photoshop. Please post any comments and questions below and I’ll try to answer them.

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Sekonic announces price and availability of ‘groundbreaking’ L-858D-U light meter

28 Apr

Light meter manufacturer Sekonic has announced that its new L-858D-U light meter is now available and priced at $ 599/£599.

This new meter offers a number of firsts, including the ability to measure flash duration and to work in HSS mode. It can read out the duration of a burst of light as short as 1/55500 sec and work with shutter speeds as short as 1/16000s ec, both of which will be useful for those working with high-speed photography or trying to balance bright daylight with flash.

Designed for moviemakers as well as still photographers, the meter can display frame rates or shutter speeds under continuous lighting, and with more sensitivity than previous models it can now measure down to 0.1 lx of illuminance for low-light scenes and night photography.

The L-858D-U is also compatible with the radio triggering and control systems of a range of studio and hotshoe flash units via drop-in modules for the PocketWizard, Elinchrom’s Skyport and Phottix Ares ll and Strato ll environments. This 2.7″ touchscreen meter offers reflected 1-degree spot metering as well as built-in filter factor modes, an ISO range of 3 – 13,107,200 and a shutter speed range for ambient light that runs from 30 minutes to 1/64000 sec. The wireless modules cost $ 159/£159 each – the Skyport and Phottix functionalities are combined into a single module.

For more information see the Sekonic website.

Press release:

Now Available: The Sekonic L-858D-U Speedmaster

The next generation of light measurement control

Sekonic is proud to announce their ground breaking L-858D-U Speedmaster Light Meter is now available for purchase.

As previewed at last year’s Photokina, the L-858D-U Speedmaster is the combination of Sekonic’s cutting-edge light measurement technology and 60 years of experience in the photographic and filmmaking industries. The meter has undergone significant design changes from previous models and has a feature set sure to meet and exceed the demands of today’s image-making professionals.

The First of Its Kind
The Sekonic L-858D-U Speedmaster is the first fully featured light meter to offer flash duration measurement from 1/40 to 1/55,500 sec. at t0.1 through t0.9, which can be changed in 0.1 steps. A long-held secret of some of the world’s most talented photographers, the key to freezing action consistently is found in being able to measure flash duration. Photographers are now able to do this easily for the first time, demystifying one of photography’s most challenging techniques.

Wireless Freedom
Having pioneered wireless exposure measurement, Sekonic has expanded upon this groundbreaking innovation by creating hot-swappable radio control modules for the L-858D-U Speedmaster. With the PocketWizard module, photographers can easily trigger any PocketWizard wirelessly and control the power of their lights with any Control TL compatible unit. With the combined Elinchrom & Phottix module, Phottix users have Strato II and Ares II triggering capabilities, while Elinchrom users have access to wireless triggering and Skyport’s full range of power-control capabilities.

“The Sekonic L-858D-U Speedmaster has all the touchscreen features I love about my L-478D, with the added benefit of replacing my old spot meter. Now I only have to carry one meter, and have gained a lot of speed and convenience while on set.”
Timur Civan, Director of Photography

A Low Light Monster
Increased ISO capabilities in today’s cameras have created a need for light meters to increase their ability to measure light in the dimmest of settings. With an additional 3-stops of light sensitivity for incident light, 2-stops of light sensitivity for reflected light (spot), and an ability to capture a reading down to 0.1 lx of illuminance, accurately metering candle-lit scenes or getting the right measurement for long-exposure night photography is now a possibility.

Master High Speed Sync
Like its name implies, the Sekonic L-858D-U Speedmaster is optimized for photographers looking to exceed the maximum sync speed of their camera. For the first time, a light meter can measure the stroboscopic pulses fired from strobes when they are used for High Speed Sync. Finally, photographers now have an accurate way of measuring their lights when they want to overpower the sun or achieve a very shallow depth of field through using HSS.

The L-858D-U Speedmaster is an invaluable tool for image-makers of every kind. A HD Cine Mode for DSLRs and CINE Mode for Motion Picture Cameras gives filmmakers the ability to set the meter to collect the information relevant to the camera being utilized. Users can set frame rates from 1 to 1000 fps and choose to adjust either their shutter speed or change their shutter angle to acquire an accurate reading. Custom frame rates and shutter angles can also be set for an unprecedented amount of versatility. Now, a content creator can accurately measure their light regardless of the camera, or combination of cameras, they are using.

Pricing and Availability:
The Sekonic L-858D-U Speedmaster is now available for purchase at photographic retailers across the United States.
Sekonic L-858D-U Speedmaster (Cat# 401-858) – $ 599
RT-EL/PX Elinchrom & Phottix Transmitter Module (Cat# 401-626) – $ 159.95
RT-20PW PocketWizard Transmitter Module (Cat# 401-627) – $ 159.95

Additional Features:
Full Information Spot Viewfinder

The 1-degree spot meter has a broad reading range from EV 1 to EV 24.4 for ambient light and measures flash down to an amazing f/2.0

Expanded Shutter Speed Range for Ambient Light
Measure ambient light for shutter speeds between 30 min. to 1/64,000s

Expanded Shutter Speed Range for Strobe
Measure strobes for shutter speeds between 30 min. to 1/16,000s

Extended ISO Range
Additional ISO range from ISO 3 to ISO 13,107,200, with ISO 850 for cinema cameras

Filter Compensation Mode
Photographers and filmmakers using high-density ND filters now have a filter factor of up to 12EV. Save up to 30 “favorites,” to instantly know what exposure compensation needs to be considered.

2.7” Color dot-matrix touch screen
Allows users to quickly and easily change settings and read important information
Connectivity with MAC/PC DTS Software

Upgrade firmware, apply custom settings, and utilize exposure profiling
All-Weather Design

Dust-proof and Splash proof (JIS Standard Water Resistance Class 4, Splash-Proof Type) for continued reliability and durability on-set, in any location.

For a full list of specs and features please visit

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NAB 2017: Hot products and trends

28 Apr

NAB 2017

Yesterday marked the end of NAB 2017, the annual convention of the National Association of Broadcasters. NAB isn’t really a consumer-oriented event, but we like to go because it gives us some insight into trends and technology that will trickle down to prosumer and consumer products within a few years, as well as new products designed for these users.

With over 100,000 people in attendance, and almost 2,000 companies exhibiting, it’s a safe bet that we can’t share everything from NAB with you. (And really, do you want to hear about things like the latest advances in rack-mount news van hardware?) That said, let’s take a look at some of the things that did catch our eye at NAB 2017.

Atomos rocks the house

An afternoon trip to the Atomos booth is like the NAB equivalent of trying to get into a U2 concert. Things got so crazy in recent years (thanks in part to daily equipment giveaways), that for 2017 Atomos built a booth where CEO Jeromy Young could hold court and do live demos for the masses from an elevated perch. I almost expected him to start singing ‘Don’t cry for me, Argentina’ as he leaned over the balcony.

But the masses had good reason to be excited, because Atomos showed off a couple very cool products… 

Atomos Ninja Inferno

Although it was announced about a month ago, this was the first chance many people had to get their hands on the new Ninja Inferno off-camera monitor and recorder. The Ninja Inferno is basically a non-SDI version of the company’s flagship Shogun Inferno, and Atomos is specifically targeting Panasonic GH5 users with support for 4K/60p recording via HDMI-out. For $ 995 it seems like a pretty compelling package, and apparently the masses agreed.

We have a Ninja Inferno we’ve been testing with the GH5, so we’ll be bringing you an in-depth look at this combination in the near future.

Atomos Sumo

While Shoguns and Ninjas drew people into the Atomos booth, what really got their attention was the new Sumo. Imagine an oversized, 19″ Shogun recorder and you’ll have a pretty good mental image of what it is. It can record 4K 12-bit Raw, 10-bit ProRes/NNxHR.

But the Sumo isn’t just for on-set monitoring and recording. It’s also designed to be an HDR color grading monitor, either in the field or in your edit suite. With a brightness of 1200 nits and a claimed 10+ stops of dynamic range, the Sumo can accept Log, PQ, or HLG signals from your editing software and display color accurate HDR footage with 10-bit quality.

This thing is a beast. If you want a sense of scale, look at the lower right hand corner of the picture above. See that little thing next to it? That’s a 7″ Shogun recorder. And with a price tag of $ 2,495, it’s surprisingly affordable. I want one of these things!

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro

Blackmagicdesign is another company on fire with useful products for emerging filmmakers and even consumers. At NAB the company showed off its recently released URSA Mini Pro 4.6K camera. It offers a user-swappable lens mount, with support for EF, PL, and B4 mounts, and the company promises a Nikon mount later this year. Its Super 35 sensor captures 15 stops of dynamic range, and the camera includes built-in ND filters for optimal exposure. 

the URSA Mini Pro feels like a very solid piece of equipment, and with a price tag of $ 5,995 it offers a lot of bang for the buck.

DaVinci Resolve: More features, lower price

Blackmagic also announced upgrades to its industry standard DaVinci Resolve software.

Branded as DaVinci Resolve 14, the new version promises to revolutionize the Resolve experience. In addition to a fully integrated NLE and industry leading color grading tools, Resolve 14 now includes pro-level audio tools, the result of a 2016 acquisition of Fairlight, a manufacturer of audio hardware and software for motion picture production. The addition of Fairlight audio tools means that users have access to professional editing, color correction, and audio tools in a single piece of software. Blackmagic claims that Resolve 14 also improves playback performance by a factor of 10.

What’s possibly just as interesting as the new features is the new price. While the basic version of Resolve will remain free, the full DaVinci Resolve Studio 14 will cost $ 299, a significant decrease from the previous price of $ 995. This is a shot across the bow of Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X, and should attract a lot more new users to the system. A beta of Resolve 14 is available now.

Blackmagic Mini and Micro Panels

One of the important features of the DaVinci Resolve experience has been integration with the DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel, a $ 30,000 piece of hardware used by professional colorists, but out of reach to users with smaller budgets.

A few weeks ago, Blackmagic introduced two smaller panels, the Resolve Mini Panel ($ 2,995) and the Resolve Micro panel ($ 995). These smaller panels would be useful for a pro to use in the field, or in a smaller home studio, however they also represent a very affordable way for smaller production companies, or even enthusiasts, to access pro-level editing equipment at an affordable cost. I found both panels to be very easy to use: the trackballs and dials are very smooth and well-weighted, and the panels actually feel a lot more solid than they appear in pictures (at least to me). I think this is a great addition to the Resolve family of products, and I hope to do an extended test at some point.

Blackmagic Web Presenter

I know, I’ve covered a lot of Blackmagic products already, but I’m going to throw in one more. The Blackmagic Web Presenter is a box that does one basic thing, but does it really well. It takes output from any camera via HDMI or SDI, and converts the signal to a high quality 720p stream that gets sent to a computer through USB so that it appears as a standard webcam.

What that means is that you an use virtually any camera as a high quality webcam for applications like Skype, YouTube Live, or anything else that uses a webcam as a video source. So, if you’re tired of using your cheap built-in camera or mobile phone for your guest appearances on CNN, plug your GH5, 5D IV, or E-M1 II into the Web Presenter and Anderson Cooper will have no idea you’re coming to him live from your living room.

DJI meets Hasselblad: 100MP aerial photos ensue

Remember that time when DJI took an ownership stake in Hasselblad? Remember how we all joked that DJI would put a medium format camera on a drone? We all got some good laughs out of that, didn’t we?

Well, they went and did it, pairing a DJI M600 Pro hexacopter and a Hasselblad H6D-100c 100MP camera mounted on a Ronin-MX gimbal. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but the good news is that you can get the M600 Pro for only $ 5,000. Of course, you’ll still need a $ 30,000 H6D-100c to complete the package. (Though I hear free shipping is common…)

Curiously, there were a couple Hasselblad X1Ds sitting next to the drone as well, a camera whose size and weight might be more amenable to flight. I asked a Hasselblad representative if there were plans to release a similar combination using the X1D instead, but he wouldn’t confirm if that were the case. Of course, he didn’t deny it either.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality, or VR, has been trying to get traction in the market for several years. Although it has gained some success in the gaming community, adoption of VR technology for photos and video has been slower. However, that certainly isn’t keeping people from trying to find the magic formula, and there’s a lot of investment from companies trying to do just that. Let’s take a look at a few VR products that grabbed our attention.

New Ricoh Theta

By now, everyone has probably heard of the Ricoh Theta. In fact, it’s one of the few VR cameras that has seen fairly wide adoption, thanks to its compact size and ease of use. However, the current Theta S still suffers from relatively low 1080p video quality and a lack of spatial audio.

The new Theta prototype on display at NAB addresses both of those issues, with 4K capture, four microphones, and also live 4K streaming capability. What really stands out to me here is the directional audio. Even at 4K, your VR viewing experience is still somewhat limited by the relatively low resolution of most viewing hardware, however in a demo the spatial audio was immediately noticeable. Instead of guessing where sound is coming from and trying to correlate it with what’s in front of your eyes, directional sound allows you to tell where the sound is coming from, providing a more immersive experience. No word on when the next Theta will be released.

Ricoh Theta R Development Kit

We first saw the Ricoh Theta R development kit at CES, but it was on full working display at NAB. The Ricoh R is based on the same overall design as the Theta, but has a very different purpose: it’s designed to provide 24-hour 360º live streaming. As such, there are a few differences in the product.

The most obvious one is a ribbed surface on the camera, which we’re guessing is to assist with heat dissipation. Also, unlike the upcoming version of the Theta, the Ricoh R still uses 1080p resolution, which should reduce data usage while streaming 24/7. Additionally, all image stitching is done in-camera, which makes it easy to feed out VR video for streaming. There’s no internal battery either, which probably makes sense for a device designed to run 24 hours a day.

What will the Ricoh R be used for? Well, pretty much anything you want, ranging from a security camera to placing it in the middle of a falcon’s nest. Ricoh wants you to develop unique applications. It will be available in June, and you can pre-order it now for $ 499.

YI Halo VR camera

YI Technology arrived in town with the new YI Halo, a VR camera built around Google’s Jump platform. The Halo utilizes 17 synchronized 4K YI cameras to record 8K stereoscopic video. At first glance, it appears that the cameras in the Halo are just standard YI 4K action cameras, but that’s not the case. While similar in size and shape, YI has actually made special cameras optimized for easy swapping and improved heat management.

After watching some sample videos from the Halo I have to admit I was pretty impressed. It’s some of the better VR footage I’ve seen. What particularly stood out were outdoor scenes with bright clouds. Clouds tend to be blown out on most VR cameras due to limited dynamic range, but on the Halo footage you could still see quite a bit of detail without darker areas on the ground being crushed to black. 

The Halo is expected to be available this summer for a cool price of $ 17,000.

Insta360 Pro

The new Insta360 Pro is an impressive VR camera that captures 8K video, or 6K stereoscopic video, in a small, spherical package. It emphasizes the ability to get very high quality footage straight out of camera that can be streamed or posted online quickly, for example by a reporter in the field. In addition to six fish eye lenses, the Insta360 Pro includes four integrated microphones for spatial audio, but also supports external audio and power for extended use. All stitching is done in-camera, making it easy to stream out content live during an event.

Video quality was surprisingly good, though I still noticed obvious stitching artifacts in places. Also, whenever I looked at the camera, I couldn’t get over the feeling that it was smiling and staring back at me. Kind of like an evil clown. But if you can get past that, it’s possible to order one now for $ 3,500, with units expected to ship in mid-May.

The VR camera we all want

Of course, if you really want to do VR right, you build a spherical rig for 10 Arri Alexas. It’s the perfect solution if you have ten Alexas sitting around. 

Just sayin’.

Sony still makes video tapes

Yes, Sony still makes video tapes. And yes, there’s still a market for them.

Fujinon MK50-135mm T2.9 cine lens

In the past year we’ve seen a lot of new cine lenses aimed at emerging filmmakers who want the quality of cine lenses without spending $ 20,000 and up for the privilege. In fact, just a couple months ago, Fujifilm announced its new MK series of cine lenses aimed at this market. We tested the first of these, the Fujinon MK18-55mm T2.9, and found it too be an outstanding lens, both in terms of image quality and build.

At NAB, Fujifilm displayed the second lens in the series, the MK 50-135mm T2.9 lens. It shares the same weight and dimensions as the 18-55mm lens, as well as its parfocal design and E-mount for use on Sony cameras. The lens is expected to be available in July, and while pricing has not been announced, we expect it to be in the same ballpark as the 18-55mm model, or around $ 3,799.

Fujifilm MK lenses in X-mount

When Fujifilm announced the MK series of Fujinon lenses, there was initially some confusion about the fact that Fujifilm was releasing them for Sony E-mount. This actually made a lot of sense, considering how many Sony Super 35 cameras are in use professionally. However, the company made clear it would eventually release the MK lenses in Fujifilm’s own X-mount as well.

At NAB, we got our first look at one of these X-mount lenses, the MK18-55mm T2.9, attached to a Fujifilm X-T2 body. Pricing and release date remain unannounced, but earlier this year Fujifilm told us the X-mount versions would be available ‘near the end’ of 2017.

Zeiss CP.2 Primes get artsy

Zeiss says that its Compact Prime CP.2 series of lenses are the most popular cine lenses it has ever produced. To commemorate this success, the company was busy creating a series of ‘art’ lenses (pardon me if that sounds a bit familiar…) by artist Joseph Ari Aloi. In fact, Aloi was in the Zeiss booth painting lenses in all shapes, colors and patterns.

C’mon. You know you want it.

Sigma Cine lenses

Not to be left out of the cine lens game, Sigma was showing off the newest members of its Cine Prime line of lenses, the Cine FF High Speed 14mm T2 and the  Cine FF High Speed 135mm T2, which join five existing prime lenses in Sigma’s Cine Prime product line.

The Sigma Cine Primes are based on existing Sigma lens designs, but are redesigned into cinema-friendly hardware, including high quality mechanical barrels with integrated gearing. In use, the new lenses feel very solid and should produce beautiful video. If you don’t like seeing your distances in feet, you can opt for a metric version. The lens markings even glow in the dark for low light use.

Illuminati light and color meter

The Illuminati light and color meter, from Illuminati Instruments Corporation, is a clever little device that provides all the functionality of a traditional meter, but uses Bluetooth communication and a mobile phone (or smartwatch) app as a user interface. This means it’s much smaller than traditional meters that have displays and controls integrated into a single unit.

What’s even more helpful is that a phone can be paired with multiple meters, meaning they can be placed around a scene and accessed from a single app. The meter can continuously monitor both ambient exposure and color, and warn a photographer if any changes in brightness or color temperature occur. What’s more, additional software functionality can be added in the future through a simple app update.

The Illuminati light meter is available for pre-order through a Kickstarter campaign with about three weeks remaining. This is an impressive little device, so I’m rooting for them.

Manfrotto Nitrotech tripod head

Manrotto’s new Nitrotech N8 tripod head uses an innovative design to provide good balance and smooth motion with a minimum of fuss. Where the horizontal axis of the head would usually be, the Nitrotech head uses what Manfrotto calls a ‘nitrogen piston mechanism’ to push up against the bottom of the mounting surface. It claims this will counteract movement of the head and the pull of gravity to product fluid and controlled motions.

I was impressed at how well the Nitrotech head worked. With a large camera and lens mounted on it, it did an excellent job of maintaining balance no matter where I placed the center of gravity of the camera. Even with the weight moved forward on the tripod, the Nitrotech head stopped moving wherever I left it, with no downward creep. It also produced relatively smooth motion when panning and tilting, though it wasn’t as smooth as a very high quality fluid head. I suspect it would work nicely for still photography as well, particularly when using long telephoto lenses.

Sennheiser MKE 2 Elements mic for GoPro Hero 4

One of the downsides of using action cameras in waterproof cases is that audio can be truly horrible, with muffled sounds and rattles transmitted from equipment like bikes or snowboards.To solve this problem, Sennheiser designed the MKE 2 elements microphone for the GoPro Hero 4. As its name implies, the elements mic is built around Sennheiser’s very well-regarded MKE 2 lavalier microphone, but in a design created to be tough and withstand the elements, be it snow, water, or dust. The flexible stem of the mic also isolates it from vibrations for a rattle-free recording.

After watching and listening to several videos show with the MKE 2 elements mic, I have to say that it seems like the real deal. Sound was noticeably better than I’m used to hearing through waterproof cases on action cams, and was very clear and realistic. The sound of water was particularly impressive, and added to the immersive sense of being right there in the waves with a surfer. Sennheiser even had a unit sitting in a tank of water to illustrate how elements-proof it actually is.

HDR video

For the last decade, improvements in video generally had to do with resolution, resolution, 3D (oops, not so much), and more resolution. Over the past couple years, however, there has been increased focus on dynamic range, and it seemed like everyone at NAB this year was talking about HDR video, which promises brighter brights, blacker blacks, and more realistic renditions of real world scenes.

We’ll be exploring HDR video in more detail in future articles as it’s directly relevant to photographers as well. However, watching HDR demos illustrated that content creators are still learning how to use the technology. For example, while viewing some HDR film clips behind the sign in the above photo, I quickly discovered that in a dark environment, extremely bright specular highlights could be so bright as to make you squint. This is a technology that will only get better, though there’s still room for everyone to start speaking the same language and agree upon some conventions and standards. Stay tuned.


OK, you knew we’d get to it eventually. 8K video has been a hot topic at NAB for the past couple years, and of course that continued in 2017 as well. 8K holds great potential for content creators, but it’s clear the industry is pushing hard to move 8K into the living room as well. 

I’m not convinced that consumers are quite ready to begin moving to 8K TVs yet, especially since most of them haven’t even gone 4K. However, the one 8K demo that absolutely blew my mind was watching a hockey game in 8K/120p. If you think 60p looks lifelike, 120p is even more so. And at 8K resolution it’s borderline amazing. In fact, if broadcasters can figure out how to deliver 8K/120p, it may be the thing that does convince people they need to upgrade once again, particularly if they’re sports fans.

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2017 Roundups: Fixed Prime Lens Cameras

28 Apr

The fixed lens camera market may be a bit niche, but it’s here that you’ll find some of the best cameras you can buy. Sensors ranging from APS-C to full-frame are designed to match their lenses, which cover ranges from 28-75mm equiv., so image quality is top-notch.

This segment includes both pocketable models without viewfinders to ‘best worn over your shoulder’ cameras with unique or ultra-high-resolution EVFs. There’s a gigantic spread in pricing, as well. The Fujifilm X70 and Ricoh GR II can be had for under $ 700, while the Leica Q sells for around $ 4250.

For those who want to zoom with their feet, here are the fixed-lens cameras we think are worth a look:

  • Fujifilm X70
  • Fujifilm X100F
  • Leica Q (Typ 116)
  • Ricoh GR II
  • Sigma dp Quattro series
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II

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How to Use a Neutral Density Filter to Control Depth of Field

28 Apr

If your photography isn’t focused around landscapes, there’s a fair chance you don’t have a set of neutral density filters. These accessories are mainly for landscape photographers as their use in long exposure photography is invaluable. Because they are most associated with slow shutter speeds, their application in other genres, like portrait photography, isn’t immediately apparent. A neutral density filter can, however, be vital to gain control over your depth of field in some situations.

This tutorial will show a quick and dirty tip for two scenarios in which to use ND filters to control the depth of field in your photography; one outdoors in natural light and the other in a studio environment.

What is a Neutral Density filter?

At its most basic, a neutral density filter is a piece of material (usually plastic, resin, or glass depending on the quality) you place between your lens and subject to reduce the amount of light entering your camera. This will result in a slower shutter speed being required, a larger aperture, or a higher ISO in order to achieve the correct exposure. The filters come in different strengths, usually ranging from a loss of one stop to three stops of light. For example; if you are metering an exposure of f/8 at 1/250th and you place a 1-stop ND filter on your lens, to compensate you will need to change either your shutter speed to 1/125th or your aperture to f/5.6.

How to Use a Neutral Density Filter to Control Depth of Field

Neutral density filters are a valuable tool in landscape photography, but they are also useful in other genres.

In terms of photographing landscapes in low light, you can probably see how they are useful. A 2-stop ND filter turns a 2-second exposure into an 8-second exposure. Alternatively, it turns an 8-second exposure into a 32-second exposure. If you’re trying to smooth out water or clouds on a windy day, an ND filter makes it a breeze.

For portraits, however, you will almost never want to reduce the shutter speed. If anything, you will often want to increase it. Why, then, would you want to put something on your lens that reduces the amount of light coming in? The answer is simple – when you have too much light in the first place.


If you’re taking photographs outdoors on a bright sunny day, you may find yourself limited to smaller apertures like f/11 and f/16. This is great for capturing a high amount of detail, not so much if you would like a shallow depth of field.

This is where a neutral density filter comes in. A 2-stop ND filter will turn an aperture of f/8 into f/4. A 3-stop ND filter will make it f/2.8, making it far easier to obscure a cluttered background with a shallow depth of field.

How to Use a Neutral Density Filter to Control Depth of Field

Both of these images were taken moments apart. Left: Shot at f/8 without an ND filter. Right: Shot at f/4 with a 2-stop ND filter.

In the studio

The idea behind using the ND filter in a studio environment is the same as it is outdoors. The main difference is that with natural light, you can always wait until later in the day. With high powered studio lights, that’s not always the case. If you’re aiming for soft light , you need to get your light source in close to your subject. If you have high-powered studio strobes, you may not be able to turn the power down low enough to use large apertures.

Again, a quick solution is to pop a neutral density filter on your lens. By doing so, you don’t have to sacrifice the softness of your light and you gain the benefit of complete control over depth of field.

How to Use a Neutral Density Filter to Control Depth of Field

Taken in a studio environment at f/8

How to Use a Neutral Density Filter to Control Depth of Field

Adding a neutral density filter reduced the aperture to f/4 without changing anything else in the scene.

Bonus round

Chances are that throughout this tutorial, the problem-solving side of your brain has figured out that all of these scenarios have a multitude of other methods to solve them. Outdoors, you could use a diffuser that cuts down exposure, or you could move to an area of open shade where the intensity of the light is reduced. In a studio, it’s often easy enough to move a light backward or to move your subject. Using an ND filter just adds another potential tool, and like most techniques, it is neither a be all or end all, nor is it required. It’s just another option.

That said, what do you do in a situation where you can’t control the intensity of your light and if you were to move it even an inch further away from the subject, everything in the frame would completely change? Same with diffusing it? I ran across this exact situation recently, as illustrated below, and it was a 2-stop ND filter that solved the problem.

How to Use a Neutral Density Filter to Control Depth of Field

Moving the light source in this instance, would have ruined the effect of the lighting. A neutral density filter allowed for a larger aperture while still allowing the camera to be handheld.

That’s it

In the end, if you want to have full control over your camera and the depth of field in your images, then neutral density filters deserve a place in your kit bag even if you never set eyes on a landscape.

The post How to Use a Neutral Density Filter to Control Depth of Field by John McIntire appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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7 Tips to Get Professional Results on Your Next Outdoor Fashion Photography Shoot

28 Apr

Many photographers like to take portraits or fashion outdoors, as it does not require any huge investment such as owning a studio space and lights. Though it might look like an easy task, there are few things that you need to be aware of before and while doing fashion photography outdoors.

Outdoor fashion photography 01

You might have a good-looking model and expensive camera and lens, but you still may not be able to capture professional results. You need not worry, as the tips mentioned below would help you drastically improve your results during your next outdoor fashion photo shoot.

1. Know the location well

The location is one of the first things you should finalize while planning an outdoor photo shoot. Scout the location at least once before the day of the shoot to ensure that you do not waste time on the final day. It is even better if you take some photos of the places that you feel could be perfect for your images, and simply browse through them on the day of your shoot.

If you follow these practices for your next outdoor photo shoot, you would surely save a lot of time as you would have already pre-planned and pre-visualized your frames.

Outdoor fashion photography 4

2. Choose the right time of the day

Once you have finalized the location for the fashion photo shoot, you need to make sure that you choose the right time of the day to captured desired results. There is no fixed time of day that you should be shooting, it all depends on the weather conditions and how you want to use the ambient light.

Try and avoid the time when the sun is at its peak as it would create hard shadows on your model’s face. The safest time to shoot outdoors is either just after the sunrise or a couple of hours before the sunset. During a cloudy day, the light would be soft and there would be less contrast in the background (depending on the backdrop) but it all depends on your choice. I you wish to capture photos with diffused light, you can go ahead and shoot during a cloudy day.

Outdoor fashion photography 5b

3. Choose the right background

It is important to spend some time thinking about the background in your photo. You might see a beautiful location and simply pick up your camera and get started taking photos, without even visualizing whether the background will make or break your photo.

You need to think, visualize, and then frame accordingly, making sure that the colors in the background and the colors of the model’s clothes are not getting merged. The colors in the background should not overpower the model, which is the main highlight of your photo.

Outdoor fashion photography 05

4. Try mixing ambient and flash light

Go out of your comfort zone and do something different by using both ambient light as well as flash. This gives an extra dimension to your photos. You can use the sun as the key light falling on the subject and place the flash at the back of the model to give a rim light effect on their face or hair. Or you can use the sun light as the rim light or the kicker and the flash as the key light source, this allows you to control the shadows on the face.

Outdoor fashion photography 02

5. Make the model comfortable: Talk and Compliment

Expressions and body language of the model are key ingredients in fashion photography. You need to make sure that your model is comfortable shooting outdoors, as sometimes there may be other people surrounding you as you work. If it’s possibility that you are shooting with a model who is not professional or has just started his/her career, you as a photographer have to make your model feel comfortable.

You can do so by constantly interacting with your model, compliment them while he/she is posing and make them feel confident. You need to tell your model whether they are posing right, you must direct and get the best out of the model in the friendliest way possible.

Outdoor fashion photography 08 Outdoor fashion photography 09

6. Get the best possible exposure in camera

Never shoot with the thought that the exposure can easily be adjusted during post-processing. You can adjust the exposure later during the post-processing stage but you might end up losing details in your photo, depending on the camera that you are using. If you have taken a photo which is 2-3 stops over/under exposed, adjusting the exposure during processing will not give details as good as a correct exposure would.

If you adjust the exposure of an underexposed photo, remember that you may also be introducing noise. Similarly, if you adjust the exposure of an overexposed photo then you will not be able to retain as much details in the highlights as you would have in a correctly exposed photo.

To ensure that you are capturing correctly exposed photos during the shoot, you should refer to the histogram in your camera.

7. Shoot in RAW format

Never be afraid of shooting in RAW. It may take up space on your memory card but it is really for your benefit. Shooting fashion in RAW format allows you to capture much more details as compared to the JPEG format, which helps in retouching the image during post-processing.

Outdoor fashion photography 6

Another benefit of RAW format is that it contains the maximum dynamic range possible from your camera and can be used to recover an overexposed or an underexposed image during the processing, as discussed in the previous point. You can also edit the same RAW file multiple times, without losing any details. Whereas, a JPEG file loses its quality every time you edit the image.


Being a photographer, you need to plan and stage the photo shoot so that you get the best possible results out of your model. From choosing the apt location to scheduling the shoot at the right time of the day, it is your job to get the things planned in advance to save time and energy. Try and get out of your comfort zone by adding more light sources such as the flash lights or strobes, this will help give you more professional results.

You might be using the best possible camera and lens, but if you are not able to get good expressions and body language, your photos will not stand out. So, the next time you plan an outdoor fashion photo shoot, do keep these tips in mind to achieve the best possible results.

Share your fashion photography tips and images below.

The post 7 Tips to Get Professional Results on Your Next Outdoor Fashion Photography Shoot by Kunal Malhotra appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How to Find the Best Locations for Landscape Photography

28 Apr

Have you ever looked at the work of a good landscape photographer and wondered how they found such beautiful places to shoot? Or would you like to travel to a new place to do landscape photography but are unsure how to find the best locations?

You are not alone. It takes work to find the best locations and most landscape photographers go through this process. The tips in this article will help you.

Landscape photography locations

1. Look at the work of other photographers

The first step to finding great places to take landscape photos is to look at the work of other photographers. There are so many great photographers on 500px, Instagram, and Flickr that it should be relatively easy to find some who have worked in the areas that you have in mind.

Looking at the work of other photographers helps you in two ways:

  1. It helps you find the most iconic, popular, and spectacular places to take photos.
  2. It gives you an idea of the potential of a place for the type of landscape photography you have in mind (for example, perhaps you are looking for somewhere to do long exposure photography, or perhaps you like to work in black and white).

It’s a good idea to look for the work of a local photographer. Locals have a huge advantage over visitors. They know the area better and are familiar with photogenic but relatively unknown locations. They may have lived there for years and built up a substantial body of work. Their portfolios contain photos taken at different times of the year. All these things help build a picture in your mind of the location and its potential for landscape photography.

I went through this process when I traveled to northern Spain last year. Looking at the work of local photographers helped me find locations like this.

Landscape photography locations

2. Go out and explore

Once you’re on location, curiosity is the key to finding interesting things and places to photograph. If you’ve done your research you already know the most iconic and popular locations – they are probably what attracted you in the first place.

But what about other locations? The not so well known ones? You can only find those by exploring. It’s only the desire to see what lies around the next corner, or where a lonely road takes you that allows you to find these places.

I made this landscape photo while walking along footpaths near my parent’s house. This is not a well-known area and you’ll struggle to find other photos taken here. Yet it has a lot of potential and I was able to make photos like this.

Landscape photography locations

3. Make a bucket list of great locations

As you look at other photographer’s work and read about landscape photography on websites like Digital Photography School you are bound to come across interesting places and locations.

My suggestion is that you set up a spreadsheet or word processing file that contains a list of all the places you might like to visit one day. The world’s a big place and there are a lot of photos to look at online. If you don’t make a note when you find something interesting you may forget it and never find it again.

As time goes by you can go back to your list and research the places that seem most interesting to you. For example, let’s say you have the city of Venice on your bucket list. Whenever you find an interesting photo or a good article about photography in Venice, add it to your file. Then, when the time comes that you finally get to go, you’ve already done most of the research required and have a good idea of what you’d like to achieve.

Make your list

Another approach is to write down a list of the places you’d like to visit. Don’t censor the list – they are ideas, not certainties. Then you can research them and make notes as you find out more information. This gives you time to think about how much time you need on location, and how to fit that into your schedule. You can think about time and money and gradually build your plans.

Places on my bucket list include the mountains of Torre del Paines National Park in Patagonia, the Italian Dolomites, and the desert landscapes in the southwestern United States. How about you?

The Picos de Europa in northern Spain, where this photo was taken, were also on my list.

Landscape photography locations

4. Find your personal vision

One of the dangers of looking at the work of other photographers is that it creates a desire to take photos of the same places as other photographers. There’s nothing wrong with capturing photos of iconic locations, and sometimes it’s just an itch that has to be scratched before going on and finding the lesser known places. But the danger is that you forget to look elsewhere for good places to take photos.

Photographer Cole Thompson has an interesting idea he calls photographic abstinence. He never looks at the work of other photographers as he wants to find his own locations and his own way of seeing the landscape. There’s a lot of merit to this idea and it’s something you might like to try for yourself. It’s the opposite approach to the advice given at the beginning of this article, and it may work well for you.

Personalize it

Last year I visited my family in Norfolk, England. Look up the work of local photographers and you’ll find lots of photos of sand dunes, wide beaches, and beach huts – the typical landscape of the local area.

I stayed away from those places and walked around with my camera through the landscapes around the village where my family left. It wasn’t intentional to start, but as I did so I found that I was building a body of work photographing the elements of the landscape that were personal to me. I was ignoring the iconic locations, the ones you see photos of for sale in local galleries, and photographing the landscape in a much more personal and interpretive way.

I ended up taking photos like the one above, and this one.

Landscape photography locations

Wherever you go to take landscape photos, and no matter how well known and iconic some of the locations there are, I encourage you to look for and find your own personal vision.


These ideas are just some of the ways that you can find interesting landscapes to photograph. Do you have any more? I’d love to hear them – please let me know in the comments.

Andrew is the author of the ebook The Black & White Landscape.

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