Posts Tagged ‘Some’

Just Pull Some Strings: 8 Easy Transforming Furniture Designs for Lazy People

21 Mar

[ By SA Rogers in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

gesture controlled transforming furniture

When you’re lazy, even the most intuitive transforming furniture isn’t easy enough to operate unless it’s on the same level as clapping your lights on and off. Luckily for those of us who fall into this category, some furniture makers are creating multifunctional designs for small spaces that work their magic at the push of a button, the pull of a string, a flick of the wrist or even a mere gesture.

Retractible Ollie Chair by RockPaperRobot

ollie chair gif

ollie chair flat pack

ollie chair

ollie chair

You really have to watch the video of how this chair works to fully appreciate its brilliant simplicity. It starts as an entirely flat panel of slatted teak wood with a slight curve at the top. Pick it up, pull a string and the whole thing unfurls into a seat in a single fluid motion that’s very satisfying to watch, and it works the same way in reverse. The slats are affixed to a textile canvas to make the seating flexible, and the rest takes folding inspiration from origami.

A-Board Flat-Pack Shelf


a-board 2

This bookshelf starts as a flat piece of laser-cut plywood. Yang the orange ribbon on the back, and it will pull the shelves down perpendicular to the face so you can rest the whole thing against a wall and use it as a bookshelf. Designer Tomas Schön used a laser-cutting technique to bend the wood instead of hinges, and there’s no other hardware or even glue involved.

MIT Media Lab CityHome

MIT cityhome

MIT cityhome 2

MIT cityhome 3

Still not easy enough for you? How about commanding your bed to slide out with a gesture of your hands? MIT’s robotic ‘home in a box’ can pack a full, spacious-feeling apartment into 200 square feet of space, including a bed, workspace, dining table for dix, storage and a mini kitchen. The box uses built-in sensors, motors, LED lights and low-friction rollers to respond to your voice commands or gestures.

Ori Robotic Home Controlled via Smartphone App

ori robotic home

ori robotic home 2

ori robotic home 3

There are all sorts of complex transforming furniture systems designed to fit maximum function into small spaces, but how many of them are operated through a smartphone app? The Ori system (taking its name from the prefix of ‘origami’) runs on robotic technology, featuring an on-device user interface as well as an app for your handheld device so you can press a button to initiate various configurations, like the bed sliding out, the table folding down or the entire unit moving to tuck itself against a wall to open up the floor area.

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Just Pull Some Strings 8 Easy Transforming Furniture Designs For Lazy People

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[ By SA Rogers in Design & Furniture & Decor. ]

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Posted in Creativity


This photo of some strawberries with no red pixels is the new ‘the dress’

02 Mar

UCLA neuroscientist Matt Lieberman posted the ‘no red pixels’ image on the left. It’s developed from an original by Experimental Psychologist Akiyoshi Kitaoka (right) that, despite appearances, does have some very slightly red-tinged pixels in it.

Remember internet kerfuffle that was ‘the dress’ ? Well, there’s another optical illusion that’s puzzling the internet right now. Behold: the red strawberries that aren’t really red. Or more specifically, the image of the strawberries contains no ‘red pixels.’

The important distinction to make here is that there is red information in the image but, despite what your eyes might be telling you, red is not the highest value for any individual pixel in the image. Hence, no ‘red pixel’ in the image.

As was the case with ‘the dress,’ it all relates to a concept called color constancy, which relates to the human brain’s ability to perceive objects as the same color under different lighting. Which should immediately bring to mind a familiar photographic concept: white balance. Although there’s a significant cyan cast to the whole image, your brain is able to correct for it without you having to consciously identify a neutral part of the image (as you’d need to in processing software).

This got us thinking: without any understanding of what strawberries look like, how well would a camera’s auto white balance cope with the significant color cast in this image?

Here’s what a Nikon D7200’s auto white balance algorithms made of the image (defocused slightly, to avoid moiré from the monitor’s pixels)

The answer? Pretty well, actually. We don’t know whether it’s been able to detect the overall cyan cast or has assumed that the brightest point in the image is probably neutral, but it’s done a good job.

We have Experimental Psychologist Akiyoshi Kitaoka to thank for turning this puzzle loose on the world, and neuroscientist Matt Lieberman for turning it viral. Curiously, the first image contains a few red-dominated pixels (which Lieberman’s edited version doesn’t), yet appears more grey than Lieberman’s version.

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CP+ 2017 – Sigma interview: ‘We’ve learned that some customers require exceptional lens performance’

27 Feb
Kazuto Yamaki, CEO of Sigma Corporation, pictured at CP+ 2017, with Sigma’s new 14mm F1.8.

Sigma released four lenses at this year’s CP+ show in Yokohama – the 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art, 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art, 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art and 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM. We’re at the show, where we made time to sit down with Kazuto Yamaki, CEO of Sigma, to find our more about the new lenses. 

You’ve told me previously that you really want Sigma to make more wideangle lenses. Do you think you’re achieving that goal with the 12-24mm and new 14mm?

Yes, but I’m still not satisfied. I think we need to make more wide-angle lenses. A fast 14mm was one of the lenses that our customers were asking for. Most existing 14mm lenses are F2.8, so F1.8 was a challenge.

The new Sigma 14mm F1.8 is the fastest lens of its kind, and according to Sigma, should outperform competitive, slower designs from other manufacturers.

What have you learned, from making the Art series?

We’ve learned that some customers require exceptional lens performance. We believe that our mission is to make products that other manufacturers don’t have. If we just released similarly-specified lenses to existing models, we wouldn’t be contributing to the industry, or benefiting customers. So our Art series is meant to provide the best performance.

They’re bulky and heavy, it’s true, but our customers like them because of the performance. That’s what we learned.

Hands-on with Sigma MC-11 (CP+ 2016)

You now make a mount adapter for Sony E-mount, but are you planning native support for the Sony E-mount in the future?

Yes, that’s our plan. Our plan is to develop full-frame lenses for Sony E mount, and in the future we will have more E mount lenses. But it takes time. Normally it takes about two years to develop one lens, sometimes three. So even if I start the process now, the lens might come out in two years time.

Sigma’s new Art-series lenses have a degree of weather-sealing – why now?

It’s based on customer demand. Some of our customers said that rain and snow sometimes got into the lens mount, so they wanted sealing. And the other reason is that it’s becoming a trend. Other manufacturers are offering sealed mounts.

Does that make the design process more complex?

No, not really. The only seal is around the lens mount. It’s not a perfect weather-proofing like our Sports series. The 150-600mm for instance has sealing everywhere, on the focus ring and zoom ring.

Of the lenses in the Global Vision line, which were the most complex to bring to market?

Our 12-24mm zoom. Because that lenses uses a very large aspherical element, and at the time, no other company was producing an element of this kind, and there were no machines capable of producing it. So we designed a custom machine to make that element. But as a result of developing that technology, we were able to create this new 14mm F1.8.

The Sigma 12-24mm ultra-wide zoom is a complex design, containing a very large aspherical (front) element.

The Global Vision line is almost five years old. What are you most proud of?

Firstly, I’m still not satisfied. We need to do more. But these days, I’m pretty happy that people regard Sigma as a high-quality company. In the past, some people regarded Sigma as just another third-party lens manufacturer, and maybe even as a cheap, low-quality lens supplier. But people’s perception has been changing, gradually, and I’m very happy about that.

One of the things that professional Canon and Nikon photographers rely on is the support networks for service, like CPS and NPS. Is a professional service support system something that Sigma is interested in creating?

I think we’ll have to. In Japan we’ve already started a pro support project, and I hope we can create a global professional support system very soon.

In the past you’ve expressed concern that you don’t want Sigma to grow too much, too quickly, because this might threaten some the magic of being a small company. Is this something that you’re still worried about?

Growing too fast is not good. We need to grow, but we should grow gradually. We need to develop our capability to produce higher-quality products. That’s the priority. Then turnover, and sales, and profit will follow. We do not prioritize making the company bigger. We focus on product quality, and technology.

Over the past five years, we’ve actually been making fewer lenses, because we decreased the number of cheaper lenses we were producing. But we’ve expanded our manufacturing capacity, because the higher-end lenses use more glass. Cheaper lenses might use 10-15 elements, but these higher quality lenses use 15-20, sometimes even more elements. So more capacity is needed to make a single lens. We’ve actually invested massively in the past five years.

Sigma and Fujifilm have recently introduced lineups of cine lenses. How much growth do you see in this segment?

We don’t know. Even before I decided to get into the cine lens market, I tried to collect market data, but there’s no data out there. It’s not available. It’s only anecdotal. But we guessed that this segment will grow in the future.

Video has lower resolution demands than stills, but we’ve been designing lenses for 36+ megapixel sensors for several years. That is equivalent to 8K, in video terms. A lot of traditional cine lenses aren’t that high resolution. Our lenses might be more affordable, but they’re top quality.

The Sigma Cine lens range includes a geared version of the company’s 18-35mm F1.8, now known as the 18-35mm T2. The lens covers the Super 35 format and requires a roughly 350 degree rotation to zoom from 18-35mm, allowing very precise control.

Do you have a market share target for your cine lenses?

No, we’re waiting to see how the market develops. We can dream, but it’s not the same thing!

Editors’ note:

We always enjoy speaking to Mr Yamaki, partly because on the occasions when we get the opportunity to do so, it’s usually because he’s just unveiled something really interesting. Mostly though, we enjoy speaking to Sigma’s CEO because he’s a nice guy. Open, honest, and candid about Sigma’s plans and ambitions, Mr Yamaki is well-liked in the photography industry, even by his competitors.

Speaking of competitors, I get the feeling that Mr Yamaki was compelled to deliver the new 14mm F1.8 partly out of a general disappointment with the available options for photographers. Sigma has a strong history of innovating in the wide and ultra-wide market, and the new 14mm, alongside the previously-released 12-24mm certainly look like a confident statement of intent. If the 14mm is as good as Mr Yamaki claims (and we are rarely disappointed by the optical performance of Sigma’s Art series) it looks set to be a reference lens for landscape, architectural and astrophotographers. We’re hoping to be able to post a gallery of samples very soon – watch this space.

Also interesting, is another statement of intent – Sigma’s move into affordable cine lenses. While the company is not competing (yet) with the Arris of this world, or with Canon’s Cinema EOS optics, Sigma (like Fujifilm) sees an opportunity to cater to a newer generation of videographers who are working with mirrorless systems. Optically, Sigma’s cine lenses should be top notch, although being based on existing stills lens designs, we’re told that some qualities, such as focus breathing, might cause issues for professional broadcast and film cinematographers. There is a reason, after all, that high-end professional cine lenses can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

So what next for Sigma? We wouldn’t be surprised if Mr Yamaki is working on more wideangle lenses, and following the new 24-70mm F2.8, it seems likely that the company will refresh its 70-200mm F2.8 in the near future, too. More Sony E-mount optics are also on the way, we’re told, which will be welcome news to Sony a7-series users.  

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Posted in Uncategorized


24 Frozen Images of Some Cold Winter Weather

29 Jan

Here in the northern hemisphere part of the world, it is winter. That means two things – cold and snow. But that doesn’t stop some people (nor should it stop you) from doing photography.

Let’s have a look at some frozen images of some cold winter scenes.

By Howard Ignatius

By Neil Howard

By Dan (catching up)

By smilla4

By Ken Mattison

By Sigurd Rage

By Roger S. Hart

By Barbara Friedman

By Julie Falk

By chuddlesworth

By USFWS Mountain-Prairie

By Jack Skipworth

By ShinyPhotoScotland

By B Gilmour.

By Tupulak

By Kamil Dziedzina

By MJI Photos (Mary J. I.)

By Brian Hawkins

By Melinda Shelton

By Simon Doggett

By Nicolas Raymond

By ellenm1

By Gonzalo Baeza

By ravas51

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Posted in Photography


Some Options for Backing Up Your Photos Online

27 Jan

Backing up your data is an essential part of your photography workflow. While many photographers still advocate for using physical external hard drives, there are also many online services where you can store your images. In this article, I will go over the pros and cons of several popular sites to backup your photos online. Please note that these photo solutions are constantly changing their features, so always check with them directly to verify any details.

Photo backups versus photo sharing sites

Some Options for Backing Up Your Photos Online

It’s important to note the differences between a designated photo backup services and photo sharing websites. Traditional photo backup services such as Backblaze and CrashPlan focus purely on backing up data and can be set to backup an entire computer or hard drive. This is good in the sense that you can have everything you’ve ever created on your computer saved to the cloud. However, these backups end up being extremely large files and they take extra time to retrieve. So if you need to constantly and quickly access your backed up photo data, it may not be wise to rely solely on these types of providers.

Photo sharing sites, on the other hand, are not meant to be comprehensive backups of your entire computer. Many of these sites impose limits on the types and sizes of files that can be uploaded. Thus, photo sharing websites are best used to upload, store, and share edited photos.

How I backup my photos

My advice is to have a backup for your backup. As a professional photographer who shoots primarily in RAW, I have terabytes of data to store, but I don’t generally need frequent access to those original files. I opt for CrashPlan to do automatic backups of my RAW images, in addition to storing them on external hard drives.

Charles Wiriawan

Image By Charles Wiriawan – external hard drive method of backing up.

My photography business is such that I constantly need to dig up old high-resolution photos to present to clients, and CrashPlan doesn’t give me easy, immediate access to those files. So I save edited, high-resolution copies of every photo I take and upload them to SmugMug. This way, I have quick access to the photos and can easily prepare an online gallery to share and sell images to clients. I also have Google Photos set to do automatic online photo backups anytime I save a new JPG image to my computer. In the end, I have four ways of backing up my photos.

Backup Services

These are comprehensive backup and cloud storage solutions meant to hold large amounts of data. Set them to automatically backup your entire computer or hard drive, and practically any file type or size will be accommodated. On the plus side, these backup solutions are pretty affordable for what they offer. However, it can take a long time to backup huge files, and file restoration can also take a bit of time.


One of the most popular backup solutions, Backblaze can automatically backup an unlimited amount of data from a single computer (note; it will connect and backup external drives as well). There’s no restriction on file type or size, and there’s only one pricing plan. It costs $ 5.00 per month or $ 50 USD per year for a Backblaze account. You can even pre-pay $ 95 for a 2-year plan. It’s an affordable and reliable solution for making sure everything on your computer is backed up.

Some Options for Backing Up Your Photos Online backblaze


Virtually the same as Backblaze, CrashPlan also offers automatic computer backups. The main difference is that CrashPlan offers several different subscription plans. Included in the free plan is an automatic backup to a local hard drive or another computer. If you want to backup your data to CrashPlan’s cloud, the cost is $ 5 per month to backup one device for unlimited cloud storage and mobile file access. To add an extra device (as many as 10), the Family Plan is available for $ 12.95 per month.

crashplan Some Options for Backing Up Your Photos Online

Amazon Cloud Drive

At $ 11.99 a year for unlimited photo storage (or free for Amazon Prime members), Amazon offers competitive cloud storage solutions, but at some expenses. The main downside to Amazon Cloud at the moment is its lack of features when compared to other more established solutions. For example, a desktop client must be used to upload files larger than 2GB, there are no automatic backup features, and stored files are not automatically updated. Given these underdeveloped features, Amazon Cloud Drive at this moment seems more like an off-site hard drive rather than a true backup solution.


Microsoft OneDrive

Formerly known as SkyDrive, OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage solution that works with Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices (but still no Linux). Base plans include a generous 15GB of free storage. Paid plans start at $ 1.99 a month for an extra 100 GB, or $ 6.99 for 1TB of space. The main downsides are a slow upload and download speed, a 10GB size limit per file, and the need to have a Microsoft, Outlook, or Xbox Live account in order to access OneDrive. This may be a hurdle for those who don’t use any Microsoft or Windows products.


Google Photos

The photo storage solution offered by Google takes a slightly different approach than that of Dropbox or Flickr. Google Photos offers unlimited backup of a wide variety of file formats (including RAW images). You can also set automatic backups to occur whenever a new photo is taken on your mobile device or saved to your computer. However, all photos and videos must be under 16 megapixels or 1080p HD video.

If you upload larger files under the unlimited plan, your files will be compressed to fit these maximum size requirements. The only way to upload original, full resolution images is to opt for a plan with limited storage. In a way, this makes sense. You pay for more storage space if you need it.


Photo Sharing and Image Hosting Websites

These websites were not originally meant to be comprehensive backup solutions. However, many photographers have begun using them as such. Most of these websites have limitations when it comes to data storage or file types that you can upload. Thus, they may not be the best all-around backup solution for your photos, depending on your needs.


One of the most popular tools to backup photos online is Dropbox. It exists in the form of a mobile app, website, and desktop app and allows you to store all types of media including photos, documents, videos, and other files. Anything you add to Dropbox can be immediately accessed anywhere when you log in via the corresponding website or app.

Using the free version gives you 2MB of storage space, but you can purchase additional space. Dropbox made an attempt at pushing an automatic photo backup feature in the form of Dropbox Carousel. However, this app along with Dropbox’s email app Mailbox shut down in early 2016. Thus, it’s questionable if they will make future investments into further feature development.



Yahoo’s venerable photo solution, Flickr, has withstood the test of time and continues to be popular among amateur and professional photographers. Even with a free account, you get 1TB of photo storage space. However, you cannot get more than 1TB of space, even with a paid Flickr Pro account. Instead, the paid account just removes ads and gives you access to your account stats. While Flickr isn’t the best for sharing photos with clients, it does give you the option to license and sell your photos.

The main downside to Flickr has to do with file size limits. Uploaded photos cannot be more than 200MB and videos must be 1GB or less in size. Additionally, RAW images cannot be uploaded.


SmugMug, Zenfolio, and Photo Shelter

These three paid photo-sharing websites are popular for presenting and selling photos to clients:

  1. SmugMug
  2. Zenfolio
  3. PhotoShelter

However, the push for offering unlimited photo storage has elevated these sites into becoming viable ways for photographers to backup images. All three sites also offer components that help you build your photography website. SmugMug and Zenfolio are among the most affordable, while PhotoShelter is more expensive.

In Conclusion

So which photo backup solution is best for you? It truly depends on what media you are looking to backup, how often you will access it, and your budget. Whichever solution you choose, remember to always have a backup for your backup. Also, please remember that these services are constantly offering new promotions and features. The information in this article may change, so always check directly with the provider to verify details.

How do you backup your photos? Let us know in the comments below.

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Posted in Photography


Some of the Best Beginner Photography Tips of 2016

04 Jan

Earlier this week we shared some other popular articles from 2016. Check those out here:

  • Top Gear Related Articles of 2016
  • 15 of the Most Popular Landscape Photography Articles of 2016
  • 18 of the Most Popular Portrait Articles on dPS in 2016

Now it’s time to take a look at some photography basics. These are some of the best beginner photography tips we ran on dPS in 2016. If you just got your camera recently, or even for Christmas, these will be a good place for you to dig in and get started.


  • How To Find Your Lens’ Sweet Spot: A Beginner’s Guide to Sharper Images
  • How to Understand the Mysteries of ISO for Beginners
  • Beginner’s Guide to Water Droplet Photography
  • Histograms for Beginners
  • How to Photograph Sun Flares: 14 Tips for Beginners
  • A Beginner’s Guide to Doing Black and White Photography
  • 5 Tips for Getting Started with Wildlife Photography for Beginners
  • 13 Snow Photography Tips: A Beginner’s Guide
  • Beginner’s Guide to Doing DSLR Video Clips
  • An Exercise to Learn and Practice Shutter Speed at Home
  • 12 Common Newbie Photography Mistakes to Avoid
  • 10 Things Nobody Tells Photography Newbies
  • Common Photography Mistakes Newbies Make and How to Avoid Them
  • Camera Modes Explained for Newbies
  • How to Overcome 6 Common Newbie Photography Fears
  • How to Use Exposure Compensation to Take Control of Your Exposure
  • How to Use the Zone System to Learn about Metering and Exposure Compensation
  • Do These 5 Quick Exercises to Learn What Your New Camera Can Do
  • Your Next Purchases After You Get a New Camera



You can also check out our ebook for beginners: Photo Nuts and Bolts.

OR our online course Photo Nuts and Bolts here.

day-05-nut and bolts

That’s a lot of reading for you. Tomorrow I’ll dig up some post-processing tips if you think you’re ready to tackle that subject.

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dPS 12 Days of Christmas: Save up to 85% on Some Great Photography Training and Tools

13 Dec


In 24 hours our dPS 12 Days of Christmas celebration begins!

This is when you’ll score HUGE savings on our most popular products and MASSIVE discounts with some very special dPS partners so that you have the best resources to reach your photography goals for 2017.

It works just as you’d expect. Over 12 days, we’ll announce a brand new deal every 24 hours.

To get notified of each deal just add your email address below.

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Each day you’ll receive an email from us with a special offer from us or a partner.

Many of our deals are offering 70% to 85% off the normal price.

We’ll also share the deals on our Facebook page, but the best way (so you don’t miss a thing), is to sign up for the emails above.

On signing up you’ll also get a special free downloadable gift from dPS – our mini-guide and checklist for photographing the holidays.


Our annual 12 days of Christmas is the most anticipated event on the dPS calendar – and this year is going to be bigger than ever! It starts in less than 24 hours and is always lots of fun. We hope you’ll join us.

We can’t wait to unveil the first deal with you…just 24 hours to go!

Again – to get the deals via email just sign up below.

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Some Tips to Help You Figure Which Camera is Best for You

07 Nov

As far as absolute requirements go, there aren’t many which are needed in order to make a photograph. There is, however, one certain necessity that cannot be dispensed with if you set yourself onto the maddening path of a photographer. You need a camera. Now, it doesn’t really matter which camera you have. A camera is after all just a box with an opening that allows light to pass onto some kind of receptor.

This simplistic technology is the facilitator of every photograph that has ever been made. A camera is indeed just a tool. That being said, there are virtually limitless cameras to choose from in this world. If there’s one question I receive more than any other it is this . . .

Which camera should I buy?

Cameras sony canon which camera is best for you

On its own that is an unanswerable question. You see, as it relates to cameras and photography, the camera you use is utterly dependent on you. This is not a guide for how to choose the right camera from a technical standpoint, nor is it a commentary on what gear is better than any other. This is an article to help you to understand yourself and to that end, the type of camera that will allow you to fulfill whatever needs you have right now, and maybe even beyond.

which camera is best for you - destination journey

There are so many cameras to choose from (remember we’ve said this) that it can quite literally become overwhelming to make a choice. There are point and shoot cameras, cropped sensor digital SLRs, mirrorless cameras, full-frame mirrorless, and so on.

Of those cameras, there are also countless models and variations which muddy the waters even more. Each one essentially performs the same function, which is to make a photograph. Still, each type of camera offers many variables that work for a wide variety of different situations and for different people. But you have to decide which camera fits YOU best.

The biggest hurdle to conquer when choosing a camera is to understand exactly what you want and need. That is not always as easy as it sounds. However, here are some tips to assist in making your decision.

Where do you shoot?

The location where you will be doing most of your shooting takes up a big chunk of the pie when it comes to deciding on a camera.

which camera is best for you - Sony a7r camera

Will you be outdoors most of the time or will you be inside in more of a studio-type setting? Do you need weather sealing? How about wireless flash capability? Having an idea of the environment in which you will most often find yourself will help you to better understand the features you may or may not need in a camera.

What will you shoot?

The “what” you will be shooting goes hand-in-hand with the “where.” While it’s not possible to completely predict every subject you will ever photograph it’s still very possible to know what kind of photography you enjoy.

which camera is best for you - Canon 7d camera

If you understand what you like to shoot, then you can move forward in a more educated and deliberate fashion when deciding what camera to buy. If you love street photography then a smaller, more compact system, may be better to carry around for hours on end. Need a lot of resolution for landscapes? Ask yourself what you will use the camera for the most and the choice will become much clearer.

Where are you now in your photographic journey?

It’s a good idea to be constantly self-aware of where you stand in your journey as a photographer. The benefits of constant self-evaluation helps you to grow your skills and refine your craft. It also allows you to know when and if you have surpassed the capabilities of your equipment and need to upgrade. When it comes to finding a camera that fits your current position within the photography world, you must look at the realities of your situation and proceed accordingly.

which camera is best for you

Are you just starting out and need a learning tool? Are you a hobbyist who only shoots occasionally, or have you pushed yourself everyday and now feel like you need a more advanced camera body to facilitate your growing ability? Take stock of yourself and be honest (even brutally) so that you can find the best camera to fit your needs.

Where do you want to take your photography?

Perhaps even more important than learning where you stand in terms of your photography is knowing where you want to take your work. It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway, that your camera is the link between you and whatever vision you want to express with your images.

which camera is best for you Canon 7d camera

This expression can be personal, commercial, or something in between. Realizing where you want to go and setting goals is paramount in your development as a photographer. Naturally, your choice of camera should reflect this.

I remember when I was starting out on my own journey making photos. I realized that this was something I wanted to pursue seriously. So I invested in a camera that not only fit my needs at the time, but would also grow with me as I moved towards making photography a career. I still have that camera (Canon 7D Mk1) and it still sees a fair amount of use today. It was quite an investment for a lowly college student at the time but it has paid for itself time and time again, not just from a monetary standpoint.


which camera is best for you - Journey photography

The internet is chock full of more reviews and tech write-ups than I can count. So I hope you didn’t come here looking for advice on the latest and greatest advancements in the camera industry. Instead, hopefully you got something much more meaningful from this article; the understanding of how important it is to truly know yourself and what you intend to do with your photography.

Are you a beginner? Are you a hobbyist set on taking your passion to the next level? Or are you still trying to decide if that shiny new dSLR is worth the money just to take pictures of your pet?

Whatever your current situation may be, before you buy a camera be sure you know why, how, and to what end you intend to use it. Take it from me, you can save yourself a lot of regret by simply understanding your own intentions on the front end before making the jump.

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Winter is Coming: Here are some tips on what and where to shoot when it gets cold

10 Oct

Winter is Coming

Winter is only a month or two away and many photographers will find it challenging to press on through the dreary winter months; especially those of us that live in Seattle or other areas where wind, rain, sleet and snow pound the region for months on end.

In this article I’ve outlined some tips to keep your landscape photography fresh when the weather starts to head south.

Photograph Transitions

The transition between fall and winter offers up a unique opportunity to photograph fall color under a fresh dusting of snow. If the forecast is calling for snow toward the end of fall, head out and see what you can find!

The warmer colors of the fall leaves and foliage will be presented in stark contrast against the cold tones of the snow and can make for very interesting and dynamic images. The above image was taken in the central Cascade mountains of Washington state at the end of Fall.

Head to the Desert

This may sound like a weird tip, but if you have any sort of opportunity to visit the desert or the canyon lands of any kind during the winter, do it! Places like Bryce Canyon in Utah (pictured above) and the Grand Canyon in Arizona offer very unique conditions and compositions that the average tourist won’t get to see during the summer months.

Snow can add a nice color contrast to the desert landscape and can also add soft textures to the arid environment. As an added bonus you won’t have to deal with the crazy crowds and 100 degree temperatures.

Icy Waterfalls

Shooting waterfalls during the winter months can often times make even popular and well shot locations look refreshing and new. Multnomah falls is one of the most recognizable waterfalls in Oregon and even it can take on a different appearance during the winter.

The frozen spray from the falls can add some really nice textures and visual elements to your images. The snow can also contrast well with the icy blue water flowing over the falls.

  • If you plan to shoot waterfalls or any sort of moving water during the winter definitely invest in a good set of micro-spikes (for traction) to give you an extra edge for hiking and climbing.
  • Trekking poles (your tripod can work in a pinch) are also a great idea to help with stability and balance while transversing icy terrain. 
  • If your tripod comes with metal spikes or feet it’s always good idea to bring them along as they may work better (or worse) depending upon conditions.
  • Hip-waders and Gortex can definitely help keep you dry and comfortable.

Let’s face it, slipping and falling into a river or on a rocky slope isn’t something you really want to do in cold weather.

The Mountains are Calling

Snow and the winter weather that comes with it can really add depth and layers to your images. Heading to the mountains with a longer focal length lens can really help to emphasize winter weather conditions such as fresh snow, low clouds and fog. 

When the weather looks to be heading south I love to head up to the mountains to check out how the conditions are shaping up for sunset and sunrise.

  • Bring waterproof and breathable layers, snow shoes and any other supplies that you may need when you find yourself hiking in cold conditions.
  • Packing a Jet Boil (or another source of heat) and some instant meals can be a lifesaver if you’re in a pinch.
  • A GPS can be your best friend if your tracks get covered by fresh snow.
  • Check the weather forecasts often and do some research to ensure that you don’t find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Chase the Storms

The sunsets that often follow winter storms can offer some of the most intense and gorgeous light that you can capture. To really take advantage of this try heading to the coast just as a low pressure system has begun to move on shore. It takes a bit of planning but the sunset/sunrise conditions on the back edge of the storm can be absolutely spectacular! The above image was taken in late winter at Cape Kiwanda on the Oregon Coast.

  • Check the weather forecasts hourly when planning a trip like this.
  • The National Weather Service here in the US is a great place to track weather and believe it or not the Weather Channel website offers some of the most accurate forecasts you can find on the internet. 
  • The NOAA Hi-Def radar smartphone App can give you a great deal of insight into minute by minute precipitation and cloud cover forecasts.

As an added bonus you won’t have to deal with that pesky marine layer that often plagues the west coast of the US during the summer months. 

Stay Close to Home

If the conditions are just too dangerous or you just don’t have time to plan a trip, look to areas near you for unique vantage points and compositions that can offer up very different photographic results during the winter months. This was taken near my home in Snoqualmie, WA. 

Get creative in your surroundings! This shot was taken with my Canon 70-300mm F4-5.6L IS lens. Using longer focal lengths in your area can really open up new and exciting compositional opportunities. 

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Take a peek at some of the contenders for Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016

03 Sep

First Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 images

Splitting the catch. Audun Rikardsen / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

A 40 minute, 104°F wait for a hornbill to toss a termite. Hours in cold water waiting for a crowd of giant cuttlefish to strike the right pose. If there’s a lesson to be learned from this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year finalists, it’s the importance of patience in wildlife photography.

Now in its 51st year, the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition attracts entries from all over the world. Winning images will go on display at the London museum starting October 21st, but you can get an early preview of some of the finalists here. They’ve been selected from nearly 50,000 entries coming in from 95 countries. If the early results are any indication, we’re in for a treat when all of the winners are revealed.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London.

First Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 images

Splitting the catch. Audun Rikardsen / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Sometimes it’s the fishing boats that look for the killer whales and humpbacks, hoping to locate the shoals of herring that migrate to these Arctic Norwegian waters. But in recent winters, the whales have also started to follow the boats.

Here a large male killer whale feeds on herring that have been squeezed out of the boat’s closing fishing net. He has learnt the sound that this type of boat makes when it retrieves its gear and homed in on it. The relationship would seem to be a win-win one, but not always. Whales sometimes try to steal the fish, causing damage to the gear, and they can also become entangled in the nets, sometimes fatally, especially in the case of humpbacks. The search for solutions is under-way, including better systems for releasing any whales that get trapped.

Having grown up in a small coastal fishing community in northern Norway, Audun has always been fascinated by the relationship between humans and wildlife. And for several years, he has been trying to document the interactions between whales and fishermen. A specially designed, homemade underwater camera housing allows him take split?level pictures in low light. But he needs to get close to a whale, though not close enough to disturb it or be dragged under a boat’s side propeller. So having the fishermen’s permission to snorkel by their boats has been as important as being tolerated by the whales.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 11– 24mm f4 lens at 11mm + 1.2 Lee filter; 1/200 sec at f6.3; ISO 640; custom-made housing.

First Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 images

Termite tossing. Willem Kruger / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Termite after termite after termite – using the tip of its massive beak-like forceps to pick them up, the hornbill would flick them in the air and then swallow them. Foraging beside a track in South Africa’s semi-arid Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the southern yellow-billed hornbill was so deeply absorbed in termite snacking that it gradually worked its way to within 6 metres (19 feet) of where Willem sat watching from his vehicle.

Though widespread, this southern African hornbill can be shy, and as it feeds on the ground – mainly on termites, beetles, grasshoppers and caterpillars – it can be difficult for a photographer to get a clear shot among the scrub. The bird feeds this way because its tongue isn’t long enough to pick up insects as, say, a woodpecker might, and though its huge bill restricts its field of vision, it can still see the bill’s tip and so can pick up insects with precision. What Willem was after, though, was the hornbill’s precision toss, which he caught, after a 40-minute, 40°C (104°F) wait.

Nikon D3S + 600mm f4 lens; 1/5000 at f4; ISO 800; Kirk WM-2 window mount + Benro GH-2 Gimbal tripod head.

First Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 images

Golden relic. Dhyey Shah / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

With fewer than 2,500 mature adults left in the wild, in fragmented pockets of forest in northeastern India (Assam) and Bhutan, Gee’s golden langurs are endangered. Living high in the trees, they are also difficult to observe. But, on the tiny man-made island of Umananda, in Assam’s Brahmaputra River, you are guaranteed to see one.

Site of a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, the island is equally famous for its introduced golden langurs. Within moments of stepping off the boat, Dhyey spotted the golden coat of a langur high up in a tree. The monkey briefly made eye contact and then slipped away. Today, there are just six left on the island, and, with much of the vegetation having been cleared, the leaf-eating monkeys are forced to depend mainly on junk food from visitors.

Canon EOS 500D + 55–250mm f5.6 lens; 1/250 sec at f5.6; ISO 1250.

First Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 images

Nosy neighbour. Sam Hobson / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Sam knew exactly who to expect when he set his camera on the wall one summer’s evening in a suburban street in Bristol, the UK’s famous fox city. He wanted to capture the inquisitive nature of the urban red fox in a way that would pique the curiosity of its human neighbours about the wildlife around them.

This was the culmination of weeks of scouting for the ideal location – a quiet, well?lit neighbourhood, where the foxes were used to people (several residents fed them regularly) – and the right fox. For several hours every night, Sam sat in one fox family’s territory, gradually gaining their trust until they ignored his presence. One of the cubs was always investigating new things – his weeping left eye the result of a scratch from a cat he got too close to. ‘I discovered a wall that he liked to sit on in the early evening,’ says Sam. ‘He would poke his head over for a quick look before hopping up.’ Setting his focus very close to the lens, Sam stood back and waited. He was rewarded when the youngster peeked over and, apart from a flick of his ear, stayed motionless for long enough to create this intimate portrait.

Nikon D800 + 17–35mm f2.8 lens at 17mm; 1/6 sec at f4.5; ISO 800; Nikon SB-700 + SB-800 flashes; PocketWizard Plus III remote release; Manfrotto tripod.

First Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 images

The disappearing fish. Iago Leonardo / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

In the open ocean, there’s nowhere to hide, but the lookdown fish – a name it probably gets from the steep profile of its head, with mouth set low and large eyes high – is a master of camouflage.

Recent research suggests that it uses special platelets in its skin cells to reflect polarized light (light moving in a single plane), making itself almost invisible to predators and potential prey. The platelets scatter polarized light depending on the angle of the sun and the fish, doing a better job than simply reflecting it like a mirror. This clever camouflage works particularly well when viewed from positions of likely attack or pursuit.

What is not yet clear is whether the fish can increase its camouflage by moving the platelets or its body for maximum effect in the ocean’s fluctuating light. The lookdowns’ disappearing act impressed Iago, who was free-diving with special permission around Contoy Island, near Cancun, Mexico. Using only natural light, he framed them against a shoal of grey grunt to highlight the contrast between them.

Canon EOS 5D + 20mm f2.8 lens; 1/320 sec at f11; ISO 400; Ikelite housing.

First Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 images

Blast furnace. Alexandre Hec / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

When the lava flow from Kilauea on Hawaii’s Big Island periodically enters the ocean, the sight is spectacular, but on this occasion Alexandre was in for a special treat.

Kilauea (meaning ‘spewing’ or ‘much spreading’) is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, in constant eruption since 1983. As red-hot lava at more than 1,000°C (1,832?F) flows into the sea, vast plumes of steam hiss up, condensing to produce salty, acidic mist or rain. Alexandre witnessed the action and returned in an inflatable the following evening to find that a new crater had formed close to the shore.

Capturing the furious action in a rough sea was no easy task. From 100 metres (328 feet) away, he was blasted with heat and noise – ‘like a jet taking off’. In a moment of visibility, his perseverance paid off, with a dramatic image of glowing lava being tossed some 30 metres (98 feet) into the air against the night sky.

Nikon D300 + 70–200mm f2.8 lens at 70mm; 1/350 sec at f4; ISO 800.

First Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 images

Playing pangolin. Lance van de Vyver / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Lance had tracked the pride for several hours before they stopped to rest by a waterhole, but their attention was not on drinking. The lions (in South Africa’s Tswalu Kalahari Private Game Reserve) had discovered a Temminck’s ground pangolin. This nocturnal, ant-eating mammal is armour-plated with scales made of fused hair, and it curls up into an almost impregnable ball when threatened.

Pangolins usually escape unscathed from big cats (though not from humans, whose exploitation of them for the traditional medicine trade is causing their severe decline). But these lions just wouldn’t give up. ‘They rolled it around like a soccer ball,’ says Lance. ‘Every time they lost interest, the pangolin uncurled and tried to retreat, attracting their attention again.’

Spotting a young lion holding the pangolin ball on a termite mound close to the vehicle, Lance focused in on the lion’s claws and the pangolin’s scratched scales, choosing black and white to help simplify the composition. It was 14 hours before the pride finally moved off to hunt. The pangolin did not appear to be injured, but it died shortly after, probably not just from the stress of capture but also from being out in the heat all day.

Canon EOS 5DS R + 500mm f4 lens; 1/1600 sec at f4; ISO 1600.

First Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 images

Thistle-plucker. Isaac Aylward / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Try keeping a flying linnet in sight while scrambling down rocky embankments holding a telephoto lens. Isaac did, for 20 minutes. He was determined to keep pace with the linnet that he spotted while hiking in Bulgaria’s Rila Mountains, finally catching up with the tiny bird when it settled to feed on a thistle flowerhead.

From the florets that were ripening, it pulled out the little seed parachutes one by one, deftly nipped off the seeds and discarded the feathery down. Isaac composed this alpine-meadow tableau with the sea of soft purple knapweed behind, accentuating the clashing red of the linnet’s plumage.

Canon EOS 1200D + 75–300mm f5.6 lens; 1/640 sec at f5.6; ISO 400.

First Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 images

Collective courtship. Scott Portelli / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Thousands of giant cuttlefish gather each winter in the shallow waters of South Australia’s Upper Spencer Gulf for their once-in-a-lifetime spawning. Males compete for territories that have the best crevices for egg?laying and then attract females with mesmerizing displays of changing skin colour, texture and pattern.

Rivalry among the world’s largest cuttlefish – up to a metre (3.3 feet) long – is fierce, as males outnumber females by up to eleven to one. A successful, usually large, male grabs the smaller female with his tentacles, turns her to face him (as here) and uses a specialized tentacle to insert sperm sacs into an opening near her mouth. He then guards her until she lays the eggs. The preoccupied cuttlefish (the male on the right) completely ignored Scott, allowing him to get close.

A line of suitors was poised in the background, waiting for a chance to mate with the female (sometimes smaller males camouflage themselves as females to sneak past the male). Scott’s hours in the cold water were finally rewarded when the onlookers momentarily faced the same way, and he framed the ideal composition.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 15mm f2.8 lens; 1/200 sec at f18; ISO 320; Seacam housing; two Ikelite DS161 strobes.

First Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 images

Swarming under the stars. Imre Potyo? / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Imre was captivated by the chaotic swarming of mayflies on Hungary’s River Rába and dreamt of photographing the spectacle beneath a starlit sky. For a few days each year (at the end of July or beginning of August), vast numbers of the adult insects emerge from the Danube tributary, where they developed as larvae. On this occasion, the insects emerged just after sunset.

At first, they stayed close to the water, but once they had mated, the females gained altitude. They filled the air with millions of silken wings, smothering Imre and his equipment in their race upstream to lay their eggs on the water’s surface. Then they died, exhausted, after just a few hours. This ‘compensatory flight’ – sometimes as far as several kilometres upstream – is crucial to make up for the subsequent downstream drift of the eggs and nymphs, and luckily for Imre, it was happening under a clear sky.

To capture both the mayflies and the stars, he created an in-camera double exposure, adjusting the settings as the exposure happened. A flashlight added the finishing touch, tracing the movement of the females on their frantic mission.

Nikon D90 + Sigma 17–70mm f2.8–4.5 lens at 17mm; double exposure 1.3 sec at f14 and 30 sec at f3.2; ISO 800; in?camera flash; flashlight; Manfrotto tripod + Uniqball head.

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