Posts Tagged ‘Master’

How to Master Natural Light Portraiture

07 Dec

I love working with natural light, I always have. Even more so now that our digital cameras have sensors so incredibly capable of making images in extremely low light. Making portraits using natural light only is a good skill to learn so you can make photographs anywhere. Here are some tips to help you mast nature light portraiture.

How to Master Natural Light Portraiture

Be aware of the quality of light

When you want to make a series of portraits using only natural light, you first need to be aware of what the light is like at your chosen location and the style of portrait you want to make. Is the quality of light hard or soft?

If it’s a bright sunny day and the light is harsh (hard), you will get portraits with a much different look and feel, than if the sky is cloudy and overcast. Morning and evening light will give your portraits a different quality (soft light) as will photographing your subject indoors and using light from a window.

How to Master Natural Light Portraiture

Soft side light from a window.

Hard sunlight can be quite challenging to work with, but can produce some good results if you style you portrait well. If you’re working in open sun it can be helpful to have a reflector on hand and a friend to assist you so dark shadows can be reduced.

What kind of photo do you want?

Having a concept in mind for the type of photo you want will give you a better chance of success. If you’re heading out to make some portraits on a sunny day and have an idea of making some soft dreamy romantic photos, this will be difficult. But if you want to make some photos to illustrate the idea of a journey in a hot country the light will be your friend and support your idea.

How to Master Natural Light Portraiture

Bight, harsh sun in the middle of the day.

Cloudy days provide a soft light that’s generally easier to get a more even exposure. The flat light tends to render a softer feeling to portraits.

So if you’re making portraits with natural light on a cloudy day, you will have more success if your concept is for a gentler look. Photos taken under a cloudy sky and later converted to black and white work well as the tone range will be more limited than on a sunny day.

How to Master Natural Light Portraiture

Portraits on a cloudy day.

Use light to your advantage

If the sky is heavily overcast you will find it challenging as the light will be very dull. On days when there’s not such thick cloud you will notice the light is still soft, but brighter and more vibrant (less flat,) so nicer for making portraits. Be careful of your exposure settings if the clouds are moving and the light value is frequently changing.

Finding a shaded space and making use of naturally reflected light will help you achieve a different look on a bright sunny day. This is not the same as the light you have on a cloudy day. Light reflecting off a wall close by or light-toned pavement, (cement rather than asphalt or dark paving,) will fill in shadows on your subject’s face and produce a more even, lively result.

How to Master Natural Light Portraiture

Light reflecting off a nearby white wall provided fill light for this portrait.

Placing your subject so they are slightly inside a shaded area, but close to the bright sun, can allow the reflection of the sunshine to have a very helpful effect in lighting your subject. So long as your subject is not too far away from the bright light you can make use of the reflection to add a more interesting dynamic to your portraits.

The Golden Hours

Of course, making portraits with the rich morning or evening sunshine (often called Golden Hours), or even subdued light can produce very pleasing portraits. Be careful though not to have your subject look directly ahead into the sun as they will typically make an unpleasant face. Backlighting or side lighting your subject at these times can be more effective and more comfortable for your subject. Diffused morning and evening light is lovely to work with as it is soft yet can still be quite rich and warm toned.

How to Master Natural Light Portraiture

Diffused early evening light.

Try new things

I’ve loved making natural light portraits for many years, but I also enjoy developing my technique by trying new ways of working. If you enjoy a particular aspect of photography, stick with it, develop what you do. But don’t just do the same thing every time.

If you like making portraits in natural light on a cloudy day because you find it easier, sometimes try shooting on a sunny day. Stretch yourself to learn some new technique. You may discover something new, a new way ot working that you really enjoy.

How to Master Natural Light Portraiture

Portable natural light studio

I have a portable natural light studio I love to take into the mountain villages here in northern Thailand. We’ve even started including it in some of the workshops we run and our customers love the professional looking results they can achieve. My outdoor studio only requires that we have space to set it up, (just a few square meters is enough,) and a sunny day for the best light, but I do use it on cloudy days too.

The best thing about it is having control over how the sun lights my subjects. I set it up so the sun is behind the backdrop. Above the backdrop is a fine gray nylon screen to filter the sunlight. The light reflects off the ground which is a light colored earth and works well with Asian skin tones, or a large plastic sheet. I have more recently introduced a large reflector too and am achieving some very pleasing results.

How to Master Natural Light Portraiture

The light coming from behind the backdrop is providing great light on these subjects’ hair as a rim light, and on their faces via reflected light.

The portable studio behind the scenes.

Your turn to try it

Next time you head out to make some portraits try something different with the light. If you prefer sunshine, make some in the shade as well. If you prefer a cloudy day challenge yourself to go out in the middle of the day when the sun is shining and find a location where you have some good light. Remember, the only time you cannot make a photo is when there is no light at all.

The post How to Master Natural Light Portraiture by Kevin Landwer-Johan appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Master drone pilot captures video while flying around, inside, and under a moving train

25 Sep

Absolutely, positively never try this yourself. By all accounts, this flight was highly illegal and DPReview in no way condones this activity.

If you’re at all plugged into the world of drone news, you’ve probably seen this video floating around the past week. Captured by master First Person View (FPV) drone pilot Paul Nurkkala, it shows his “flight of the year” in which he flies around, inside, onto, and under a moving train… barrel rolls included.

Nurkkala captured the video using his custom built drone, which is equipped with a GoPro Hero5 Session and piloted from afar using special FPV goggles.

The video has split the internet into two predictably conflicted camps. The first thinks it’s just the coolest footage to ever come out of a drone, because Nurkkala is clearly such a talented pilot. The second is infuriated that he would do something so obviously illegal, post the results online, and receive so much praise and adulation (and so many views… at last count his 5-day old YouTube video had accrued nearly 850,000 views).

No judgement if you find yourself both entertained and a little bit annoyed/angry while watching the video.

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Throwback Thursday: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3, Multi-Aspect Master

23 Mar

Back in 2008 there weren’t a whole lot of enthusiast compacts. The two models which got the most attention were the Canon PowerShot G10 and Nikon Coolpix P6000. At that time, the ‘Megapixel race’ was really getting going, with the G10 and P6000 having 14.7MP and 13.5MP sensors, respectively (the LX2 was still at 10MP). All three of the aforementioned cameras had lenses with lovely focal ranges, but slow maximum apertures (F2.8-4.5 for the Canon, F2.7-5.9 for the Nikon).

Enter the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3. Panasonic didn’t go crazy with Megapixels like other companies, instead using a 10 Megapixel, 1/1.63″ CCD with a unique ‘multi-aspect’ feature. An even bigger story was its ‘Leica’ DC Vario-Summicron lens that had an equivalent focal length of 24-60mm (yep, kind of short) and a max aperture range of F2-2.8. Despite that fast lens and because of that limited range, the LX3 remained extremely compact.

The LX3 is remarkably compact considering its lens. Its metal body gave it a quality feel.

Indeed, one of the fun things about the LX3 was its multi-aspect capabilities. Using the switch on top of the lens barrel you could choose between 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9. On most cameras the angle-of-view would change at each of those ratios, but on the LX3 they are all the same. Simply put, the focal range (24-60mm equiv.) was the same, regardless of which of the three aspect ratios used. Having the ability to quickly switch aspect ratios made it a lot more tempting to mix things up a bit, since a trip to the menus wasn’t required.

The back of the LX3 had a pretty standard layout, with a 3″ LCD and cluttered controls.

The LX3 had a snappy UI, effective ‘MEGA OIS’ image stabiliization and plenty of manual controls. It could even capture 720/24p video, which was uncommon in that era. It’s battery life of 380 shots/charge was pretty darn good, too.

A pricey optical viewfinder was an available accessory. Third parties made teleconverters, like this 2.5x model from Fujiyama.

Two other nice things about the LX3 were its support for an optional viewfinder and a threaded lens barrel. The DMW-VF1 was attached via the hot shoe and was framed for 24mm shooting. If you wanted to screw something onto the lens, Panasonic sold a 0.75x wide-angle converter and a number of filters. While Panasonic didn’t sell any teleconverters, third parties did. Fujiyama produced a 2.5x teleconverter, which brought the long end of the lens to 150mm equivalent. 

Ultimately, it’s was the sensor + lens combination that made the LX3 so appealing. The LX3 had very good image quality at its base ISO and it held up well through ISO 800. Having that bright lens made the LX3 very capable in low light, as it allowed the photographer to keep the ISO as low as possible. And at a time when CCDs weren’t exactly noise-free, that made a huge difference.

My colleague Richard Butler adds:

The LX3 is the first compact I ever liked. It also, arguably, rejuvenated the entire sector: everyone else started to make small cameras with bright lenses, including Canon re-launching the S series. Sure, the move to 1″ sensors make the LX3 look rather less impressive, but it still pointed the way towards a generation of enthusiast pocketable compacts with lenses that let you get the best out of their sensors.

Have fond memories of your Panasonic LX3? Share them in the comments below!  Feel free to leave suggestions for future TBT articles as well.

Read our Panasonic LX3 Review

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Hands-on with Sony 100mm F2.8 STF G Master and FE 85mm F1.8 lenses

09 Feb

Hands-on with Sony 100mm F2.8 STF G Master and FE 85mm F1.8 lenses

Sony announced a pair of short telephoto prime lenses at this year’s WPPI show in Las Vegas – the FE 100mm F2.8 STF GM OSS and the FE 85mm F1.8, both intended for use on the company’s a7-series mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.

Here’s the FE 100mm F2.8 STF GM OSS, which joins Sony’s growing ‘G Master’ lineup, as one of the company’s flagship lenses. 

Hands-on with Sony 100mm F2.8 STF G Master and FE 85mm F1.8 lenses

The 100mm F2.8 has a complex optical design, featuring 14 elements in 10 groups, including ED and aspherical elements. Somewhat unusually, this lens is a ‘Smooth Trans Focus’ (STF) design, which incorporates an APD (apodization) element. The APD element acts as a radial gradient filter, which – in simple terms – improves the quality of out of focus areas, by diffusing bokeh circles. Traditionally, we’ve seen APD elements in lenses specifically aimed at portraiture, for obvious reasons.

Unlike the Minolta-designed 135mm F2.8 [T4.5] STF lens that Sony still offers for A-mount cameras, the 100mm F2.8 STF is an autofocus lens.

A ‘macro’ switch enables the lens to be focused down to 0.57 meters (a little under 2 feet), and built-in stabilization should enhance its usefulness when hand-held.

Hands-on with Sony 100mm F2.8 STF G Master and FE 85mm F1.8 lenses

Eleven aperture blades means an almost perfectly circular aperture even when the 100mm F2.8 is stopped down. This isn’t the sole determinant of bokeh quality but it goes towards ensuring out-of-focus highlights remain circular.

Hands-on with Sony 100mm F2.8 STF G Master and FE 85mm F1.8 lenses

The FE 100mm F2.8 features a ‘manual’ aperture ring. It’s not mechanically linked, and offers an ‘A’ position to transfer aperture control to the camera body. The ring can operate either as a conventional ‘clicked’ dial with third-stop detents, or ‘declicked’ for smooth, stepless operation. For video work, ‘declicking’ allows for much more practical brightness adjustment during shooting. 

Hands-on with Sony 100mm F2.8 STF G Master and FE 85mm F1.8 lenses

Like all of Sony’s G Master lenses, the 100mm F2.8 is built to a very high standard, and features dust and moisture sealing. A rubber grommet runs around the circumference of the lens-mount, to help maintain the seal between camera and lens. Despite the complex optical construction and high standard of build, the lens is relatively lightweight, weighing in at 700 g (1.54 lb).

Hands-on with Sony 100mm F2.8 STF G Master and FE 85mm F1.8 lenses

Much lighter though, is the new FE 85mm F1.8, a budget short telephoto prime aimed at enthusiast Sony FE shooters who don’t need (or can’t quite justify) the GM 85mm F1.4. This affordable prime weighs in at 371 g (0.82 lb).

Hands-on with Sony 100mm F2.8 STF G Master and FE 85mm F1.8 lenses

The optical design of the FE 85mm F1.8 is much simpler in comparison with the 100mm F2.8, comprising 9 elements in 8 groups. The button above the AF/MF switch can be customized and assigned together with functions in the camera body. On most bodies it’s a focus hold control by default, but you could for instance assign it to EyeAF.

Hands-on with Sony 100mm F2.8 STF G Master and FE 85mm F1.8 lenses

Sony makes life easy for camera journalists by writing some key spec directly onto the lenses. Here, we can see that the filter ring is 67mm and minimum focus distance is 0.8m (2.6ft). Compared to the 100mm F2.8 this isn’t great (it’s pretty standard for a short tele prime) but it’s fine for mid-length portraiture, of the kind that lenses of this type are ideally suited to.

In contrast to the more expensive Zeiss Batis 85mm F1.8, the Sony isn’t stabilized. However, unlike the similarly unstabilized 85mm F1.8s from Canon and Nikon, the Sony FE 85mm F1.8 can be used with the second-generation a7 series cameras, which offer in-body stabilization.

Hands-on with Sony 100mm F2.8 STF G Master and FE 85mm F1.8 lenses

Despite its lower cost and lack of ‘GM’ designation, the FE 85mm F1.8 is also dust and moisture sealed, although we don’t know whether the amount of sealing is equivalent to Sony’s high-end lenses. Like the FE 100mm F2.8, the 85mm features a rubber grommet around its mount, to help keep dirt and moisture out of the lens throat. 

Both lenses are expected to ship in March. The FE 100mm F2.8 STF GM OSS will cost $ 1500, while the FE 85mm F1.8 will sell for around $ 600.

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Sony announces 100mm F2.8 STF G Master and FE 85mm F1.8 lenses

07 Feb

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Sony has taken the wraps off of two full-frame new mid-telephoto prime lenses. The company is making big claims about bokeh produced by the FE 100mm F2.8 STF OSS GM, which it says is improved by the use of an apodization (APD) element. The optical design is said to minimize vignetting, and the lens offers an 11-blade aperture. A macro switching ring engages the lens’ close focus capabilities for shooting subjects as near as 0.57m/1.87ft (0.25x magnification). The lens includes Sony’s built-in optical stabilization, and like other G Master lenses, it’s dust- and weather-resistant.

100mm F2.8 GM MTF chart via Sony. Lens configuration via Sony.

Also new is the non-G-Master FE 85mm F1.8, a relatively compact and lightweight portrait prime for the E-mount system. It uses a 9-blade circular aperture, ‘double linear motor system,’ and is also dust- and moisture-resistant. The lens does not offer built-in stabilization.

85mm MTF chart via Sony. Lens configuration via Sony.

Both lenses are expected to ship in March. The FE 100mm F2.8 STF GM OSS will cost $ 1500, while the FE 85mm F1.8 will sell for $ 600.

Press Release

Sony Introduces 100mm F2.8 STF G Master™ with Highest Ever Quality Bokeh for an ? Lens

New Full-frame 85mm F1.8 Mid-telephoto prime lens and Compact Radio-Controlled Flash announced as well

LAS VEGAS, Feb. 7, 2017 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today introduced two new lenses for their popular line of E-mount interchangeable lens cameras.

Sony’s new lenses include one of their flagship G Master Series – an FE 100mm F2.81 STF GM OSS mid- telephoto prime lens (model SEL100F28GM) built to deliver breathtaking bokeh with a unique STF™ (Smooth Trans Focus) design, and a new compact, lightweight FE 85mm F1.8 mid-telephoto prime lens (model SEL85F18) that is a welcome addition to the bag of any hobbyist or enthusiast photographer looking to create amazing portraits.

They have also introduced a new powerful, compact flash (model HVL-F45RM) with radio-controlled wireless communication that is ideal for professional shooting with Sony’s lineup of ?7 full-frame cameras.

FE 100mm F2.81 STF GM OSS Telephoto Prime Lens

A specially designed mid-telephoto, full-frame prime lens, the new 100mm STF is built to produce truly unique, magnificent and beautiful bokeh while maintaining the exceptional standard of resolution that is showcased by Sony’s entire line of flagship G Master series lenses, making it a powerful photographic tool for any portrait, fashion, nature or wedding photographer.

These impressive defocus capabilities are made possible by the lens’ advanced optical structure, as it features a newly designed 11-bladed aperture and a unique optical apodization lens element. Similar to a neutral density filter that increases in density towards the edges, the apodization element creates beautiful transitions of in-focus to out-of-focus areas within an image, making for exceptionally soft, smooth bokeh that adds depth and dimensionality. This allows the subjects to stand out against beautifully defocused elements in both the foreground and background, producing an image that is naturally pleasing to the eye. The design of the lens also ensures that vignetting is kept to an absolute minimum, ensuring optimum image quality.

Additionally, the new 100mm lens supports both contrast AF and focal-plane phase detection AF2, and has a high-precision, quiet direct drive SSM (Super Sonic Motor) system that ensures exceptionally fast and accurate AF performance. The SEL100F28GM also offers up to 0.25x close-up capabilities with a built-in macro switching ring, built-in Optical SteadyShot™ image stabilization, a customizable focus hold button, AF/MF switch, aperture ring and more. It is dust and moisture resistant as well3.

FE 85mm F1.8 Telephoto Prime Lens

The new 85mm F1.8 mid-telephoto prime lens offers an extremely versatile, lightweight and compact telephoto prime lens solution for a variety of Sony camera owners ranging from working professionals to emerging enthusiasts that have stepped up to full-frame or APS-C cameras for the first time. With its wide F1.8 aperture, it can produce impressive, exceptionally sharp portraits with soft background defocus that take advantage of its 85mm focal length and wide F1.8 maximum aperture.

The new prime lens features a 9-bladed circular aperture mechanism that ensures smooth, natural looking bokeh, and a double linear motor system to allow for fast, precise and quiet focusing. It also has a focus hold button that can be customized and assigned together with functions in the camera body like the popular Eye AF feature. There is a smooth, responsive focus ring and AF/MF switch as well, and the lens is also dust and moisture resistant 3.

New Compact Radio-controlled Flash

Sony’s new HVL-F45RM flash enhances the radio-controlled lighting system capabilities of their growing system, offering a compact professional shooting solution when combined with the currently available wireless remote controller FA-WRC1M and receiver FA-WRR1.

The new flash, which is designed to complement the compact bodies of Sony’s E-mount camera lineup including full-frame ?7 models, produces a maximum lighting output as expansive as GN45 4. This ensures sufficient illumination even when shooting with bounce lighting or high-speed-sync (HSS) flash. The radio capabilities of the HVL-F45RM allow it to be used as a transmitter or a receiver at up to 30m (approx. 98 feet5), making it an ideal fit for creative lighting with multiple flashes. Additionally, unlike optical flash systems, radio-control flashes do not require a direct line-of-sight between components to function properly, while also minimizing any impact that bright sunlight has on signal transmission and control.

The HVL-F45RM flash has an impressive battery life of up to 210 bursts, and can tilt up to 150o vertically, a complete 360o horizontally and up to 8o downward to maximize versatility. Usability has been maximized with a new large, bright and highly visible LCD display, an LED light, dust and moisture resistant design3 and a revamped menu system that mimics those of Sony’s newest camera systems.

Pricing and Availability

Both of the new lenses and the new flash unit will ship to authorized dealers throughout North America.

The new FE 100mm F2.8 STF OSS GM Telephoto Prime Lens will ship this March for about $ 1,500 US and $ 2,050 CA.

The new FE 85mm F1.8 Mid-Telephoto Prime Lens will ship this March for about $ 600 US and $ 800 CA.

Replacement lens hoods for each of the new models will also be available for purchase as well.

The new HVL-F45RM flash will ship this May for about $ 400 US and $ 550 CA.

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‘Camera Master’ Gian Luigi Carminati has been repairing cameras for almost 60 years

31 Dec

A new short video introduces Gian Luigi Carminati, a 76-year-old technician from Milan, Italy, who has been repairing analog cameras for nearly 60 years. While the documentary is only a touch over two minutes long, it introduces viewers to Carminati’s analog camera collection and his thoughts on photography.

Carminati, who considers himself a technician rather than a photographer, dabbles in photography himself, describing a particular fondness for old cameras and black-and-white images. The technician has been able to continue running his repair business despite the rise of digital cameras, stating in the video,’When the digital came, it felt like my job was over.’ The documentary was directed by David Drills.

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How to Find Your Photography Niche: You Don’t Have To Master It All

05 Nov

When it comes to photography, there can sometimes be this strange assumption that we are (or should be) experts in all types of photography. Photography is essentially painting with light, so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to do newborn photography, astrophotography, weddings, family portraits, landscape photography, and food photography, right? Light is light, whether it’s on a newborn or a spider, right? The simple answer is yes, and no. But, there’s good news, you don’t have to master it all. Let’s talk about how to find your photography niche.


Different strokes for different folks

Much like a chef benefits from learning about cooking as a whole, photographers benefit from learning the fundamentals that apply across all types of photography: aperture, shutter speed, ISO, finding light, capturing movement and emotion, and focus. However, much like chefs often break off into different specialties, photographers also tend to break off into different niches. Some photographers find that they love newborns, but hate weddings (raises hand). Others love landscapes, but don’t enjoy photographing humans ever. Some photographers love to work in a studio, while others prefer to work only outdoors with natural light. Finally, some photographers prefer to shoot in digital, while others prefer film.


Do what you enjoy

Whichever type of photography sparks your passion and fills you with joy? Do that. Whether that’s black and white portraits, lifestyle newborn images, macro photography of spiders, or architecture – do what you love.

Then when it comes to post-processing, if there’s a method that transforms your image the way that you’ve always pictured it in your head, do that. If it’s a hipster vintage wash, do it. If it’s a quick curves adjustment and nothing else, do that too. Heck, if it’s black and white with selective coloring that makes you happy when it comes to post-processing, by all means, do that.

Do it even if it isn’t cool, and no one else is doing it. Whether you consider photography to be a craft or an art, it is most certainly an opportunity to have a creative voice. And as corny as it may sound, your authentic voice, whether expressed in cooking or in photography, is important.


It’s okay not to do it all

Just in case no one has ever told you before, it’s okay not to do it all. If you specialize in food photography and someone calls you up and asks if you’ll consider accepting a wedding booking, it’s okay to say, ‘Thank you so much for thinking of me, but no.” It’s okay to love photographing families and have absolutely zero interest in doing macro photography of insects.

Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, it’s really hard sometimes to admit that a particular area of photography isn’t your preference or your strong suit. No one wants to feel incompetent. On the other hand, there’s no shame in telling someone that you are unable to accept a newborn booking because it isn’t your specialty and consequently you aren’t familiar enough with newborn posing safety to feel comfortable with accepting that job.

Say it with me – I do not have to master it all.


Finding your niche

If you’re reading this article and thinking, “Okay great, so how do I find my niche?’ The answer is simply to try everything you can. Trying different types of photography is very different than feeling compelled to master every type of photography. Giving different genres of photography a try in low stakes (often unpaid) environments allows you to experiment, and to discover what it is that you really love.

It also requires possibly humbling yourself a bit and allowing yourself to be taught by someone else. Even if you’re the best wedding photographer in your state or area, you may not know the first thing about being a wildlife photographer. So if you really want to learn, you have to be ready and willing to be taught.


Benefits of trying things

My personal niche in photography is newborns and families. It’s what really makes me excited, and what I really enjoy most. However, every time that I’ve stepped outside that comfort zone, with the goal of learning about another genre of photography, it’s been worth it.

I’ve not been a master of every genre that I’ve tried, nor have I enjoyed them all, but I’ve learned something valuable in every case. When I buckled down and focused on landscape photography, it gave me an opportunity to review techniques of composition, metering, and shooting with a relatively small aperture in ways that I don’t typically use on a daily basis when it comes to people photography.


When I made an attempt to learn about astrophotography (a genre of photography that had always greatly intimidated me) I had the opportunity to learn more about long exposures, and the technique of shooting with a wide open aperture in a different application than portraits. Are my astrophotography images perfect? Absolutely not! I’m not an astrophotography expert, and probably never will be. I have two kids, so staying up all night to photograph the stars is a special kind of sleep deprivation torture that I have no interest in repeating with any frequency.

Yet, there’s also a certain importance in taking something that you have no idea how to do and learning the steps necessary to make it happen. When all the pieces finally fall into place, and you have an image that sort of resembles the gorgeous astrophotography images that you see in magazines, it’s a pretty amazing feeling. Like creating something out of thin air.



The more types of photography you try, the more you’ll find yourself saying both “Yes!” and “Nope, I don’t need to do that ever again.” You may also find that there are several types of photography that you enjoy, which is fine. When I suggest finding your niche, I’m not suggesting that you choose one photography genre and one post-processing style and stick to those for the rest of your life and career.

Your niche in the photography world should grow, shrink, and evolve over time. Give yourself the freedom to identify the types of photography that you really enjoy, and forget the rest of it. You do not have to master it all.

What’s your photography niche? What types of photography do you love? Are there any types of photography that you hate? Chime in below!

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Binational Megacity: Master Plan Designed to Span US-Mexico Border

18 Sep

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

border city plan

Border City is being designed as a bridge between nations, a novel approach to creating international unity at a time when some politicians call for building walls. Proposed by architect Fernando Romero of the firm FR-EE at the London Design Biennale, this visionary project is to be developed along a region of border covering parts of Texas, New Mexico and Chihuahua.

futuristic border city

The plan is centered around an extant border crossing and aligned with other crossings in the area as well. It may sound far-fetched, but Romero is already negotiating with private land owners in the region as well as developers and investors. He hopes to make the city a reality within a decade.

border city design

Romero believes our existing concept of borders is “primitive” and sees and urgent need to move past binary understandings of such divides. Already, many global centers of economic activity are centered not around cities but rather clusters of metropolitan areas, often along national borders.

border city map

“This is a long-term vision, a vision that is not about building walls but about thinking more ambitiously about the mutual relationship [between two countries] and about what borders really mean between countries” said the architect. It is also a reflection of current reality, where there already “exists a very strong mutual dependency of economies and trades.”

border city installation

The urban plan consists of interconnected hexagonal-shaped grids, each with their own center and linked to existing transportation corridors and border crossings. If his proposal is fully realized, the city could even become a special economic zone (see also: Hong Kong and Andorra) that would enjoy semi-independent governance.

border city room

Even without that kind of designation and semi-autonomy, however, there would still be big benefits to residents and businesses in terms of easy access between countries due to optimized transit and city planning. Many “twinned” border cities along the Rio Grande have already benefited from close ties despite extant borders, despite the lack of centralized and ground-up plans to optimize connectivity.

border city utopia

“What you’re seeing here is the first binational city to be designed from zero between the United States and Mexico,” said Romero. “This is one of the most active borders in the world in terms of commerce and traffic of goods but also in terms of human activity and employment.”

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Interview: Landscape photography master Charlie Waite

07 Sep
Grand Canyon Lighting by Grant Ordelheide. Winner of the ‘My USA’ category in the 2015 USA Landscape Photographer of the Year Award.

Founded in 2006, the annual UK Landscape Photographer of the Year Award has become one of the most prestigious photo contests in the world. 2016 marks the third year of a USA-specific competition, open to entrants from all over the world to showcase inspirational images taken in the United States.

As the deadline for the 2016 USA Landscape Photographer of the Year Award approaches, we spoke to its founder, renowned landscape photographer Charlie Waite about his life and career, and his hopes for the contest.

You’re one of the best-known names in landscape photography – how did you get started?

Well originally, I was an actor. I was rather a mediocre actor for 12 years, and I photographed a lot of actors for their publicity and so on. My wife was in television, and in the 1970s she was filming down in Devon. One day I was watching her filming and I wondered off into the Devon landscape with my camera and I just found myself responding to the landscape.

Back in London my wife and I went to look at a house we were thinking of buying and the guy who was selling it asked me what I did, and I said I was a landscape photographer, which was a complete untruth.

 Loch Indaal, Scotland. Photograph by Charlie Waite, used with permission.

It turns out he was in charge of the illustrated books department at a publisher and he said ‘can I look at your portfolio?’ so over the weekend I enlarged the pictures that I’d made, showed them to him and he commissioned me to do a book.

So I went from being an out of work actor to a photographer. And it just rolled on after that.

What inspired you to continue and make a career out of landscape photography?

I felt spiritually enriched. I knew that a deep engagement with the landscape was really good for me, and really elevated me as a person and calmed me. I found that landscape photography leveled me. Fully engaging with my surroundings. A lot of people think that landscape photography has nothing to do with emotions, it’s just craft, and skill, and finding the right light and everything else but it settles me and I’m very enriched by it. I’m more in love with photography now than I ever have been before.

 Amish country, Pennsylvania, USA. Photograph by Charlie Waite, used with permission.

What’s your favorite location?

In my heart I want to say the UK, and I think in joint second place would be the USA and France. I like to call France the most undiscovered country in Europe. It’s so quiet there.

 Autoire, France. Photograph by Charlie Waite, used with permission.

What lead you to create the Landscape Photographer of the Year programs?

I didn’t think there were many people out there who loved landscape photography as much as I did. I’ve always thought that if it elevated me it could elevate other people. I hate the word ‘evangelist’, but I felt sort of evangelical, and I wanted to say ‘come on let’s get together’. I love being in the company of other photographers, and I thought we could all get together and do a good thing, and bring landscape photography to a wider audience. And the competition really has done that.

It’s brilliant to go to the annual winners’ exhibitions, with 30 or 40,000 people visiting, and seeing the pleasure they get from the images. They’re moved by the eye and the craft of the photographer that made the images. I call a photograph a production. It’s not something you ’take’.

Dancing Trees, by Paul Leatherbury. Winner of the ‘Classic View’ category of the 2015 USA Landscape Photographer of the Year Award.

I love the US, I’ve traveled there a lot, so I thought it was a natural thing to start a US version of the competition, which we’ve been running in the UK since 2006. It’s been really fun bringing it all together. I wasn’t very good at school, I wasn’t a very good actor, and I wanted to do something that might mean something to people. And that’s what drives me on. There are some great photographers out there.

My dream – what I really want to happen, is – do you remember the series ‘Earth From Above? I cannot believe what a grand, far-reaching tour that exhibition had. And what I would love to do is to take the Landscape Photographer of the Year Award in the US and UK and take the exhibition around the world. And say ‘this is what America looks like, in the eyes of some of the word’s best landscape photographers’.

Hourglass, by Ted Gore. Overall winner of the 2015 USA Landscape Photographer of the Year Award.

Is there anyone who’s come through the Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards in previous years who’s gone on to make a career out of landscape photography?

I think they all have. It’s elevated the winners hugely. It’s an amazing label, to be Landscape Photographer of the Year.

What advice would you give to an aspiring landscape photographer?

Find your signature and specialize. Don’t be a jack of all trades. Find your way of seeing. And be memorable for your particular way of seeing. I was given that advice, and it’s a bumpy ride, like acting. It’s really not easy. It’s precarious and insecure, but there are many different ways of seeing, and many ways that are still to be found. Make your images have meaning. And practise.

Click here to submit entries to the 2016 USA Landscape Photographer of the Year Award

Charlie Waite is a renowned landscape photographer and founder of Landscape Photographer of the Year Award competitions in the UK and USA.

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Feast your eyes on a Sony 24-70mm F2.8 G Master teardown

03 Aug

Teardowns are a handy way to satisfy the urge to see what’s inside expensive and prized electronics, while remaining a safe distance away and keeping warranties intact.

Behold, a teardown of the Sony 24-70mm F2.8 GM, a lens that sells for $ 2200. Sony’s own SGNL YouTube channel does the dirty work of prying it apart for us, giving us a close-up look at the inner workings of the fast full-frame zoom.

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