One of the main things to look for in a new lens (or a hand-me-down lens), is Image Stabilization (IS for Canon et al, VR for Nikon). The lens name itself usually tells you whether the lens has this feature. The importance of this cannot be underestimated.
Without IS, the normal rule of thumb to follow with shutter speed is this: the slowest shutter speed you can use without your hand shaking is 1 divided by the effective focal length. Effective focal length refers to the 35mm equivalent focal length which in this case is 18*1.6 or about 29mm. (See my FAQ for more info on crop-factors.).
So without IS, the slowest hand-held shutter speed I would be able to use here would be around 1/30th of a second.
With IS, you can hand-hold the camera with much slower shutter speeds. For this shot, it allowed me to use a nice, slow shutter speed of 1/6th of a second which made the cars blur nicely in the background.
Some photos work in black and white, some don’t. My friend James, has a philosophy that if the color isn’t contributing anything, he just removes it.
Personally, (and this is just my opinion) , that’s too extreme for me. My default is to keep my photos in color and only go to black and white on two occasions. (1) if my shot really works in b&w or (2) if the color is very distracting and doesn’t work in the shot.
In Lightroom, you can get to black and white quickly by pressing the letter “V.” This will give the photo a default b&w mix. You’ll then need to tweak how each color responds to grayscale treatment. For shots with lots of sky, it helps to force the cyan and blue to be dark grey or even black because this will make the clouds pop out of the sky.
Other settings to play with are the white balance, fill light, blacks, and exposure. When I get something nice, I often add this as a preset so I can apply the same b&w mix to similar shots. For information on how to have even greater control over your black and whites in Photoshop, please see this article by James Maher.
I try to include the camera settings in my image captions because I think you learn a lot from them (I know I do). Always examine the camera settings on your own shots and try to examine them on other people’s. If you are using Google Chrome as your browser, an amazing browser extension that you can install is called “Fittr Flickr“. This will allow you to examine all the camera settings people use on Flickr. Read the rest of this entry »
This is a shot I took in Queens of the 7 train. In the original (before post-processing), the driver was obscured in darkness. I used Lightroom’s local adjustment feature to brushes to lighten (dodge) that area so we can make out his face. I highly recommend the local adjustment brushes, it can save you time in Photoshop.
Photos of signs can be boring. But not this one! This zoom effect is one of my favorites to experiment with. The entire effect is done in the camera! How do you do it? Well, in yesterday’s post, I discussed the 2nd curtain flash and how it enables you to sort of get two shutter speeds.
In order to get this shot, you’ll need a zoom lens and some kind of SLR. Here is the setup. Set the camera to 2nd curtain flash, and use a fairly slow shutter speed (like 1/10th of a second). Zoom in all the way on your lens and center the subject. Do not press the shutter yet.
Now, here’s where the magic comes in. You are going to zoom out DURING the shot. What happens when you do this, is the light from the flash illuminates the subject (here it’s the sign) so that remains clear, however the flash light won’t reach the background and the background will have a zoomed out motion blur. Pretty neat.
Experiment with 2nd curtain flash. Trust me you’ll like it.
Here is a fun shot of two girls in a cab at night. I was able to get this motion blur by setting my camera for “second curtain flash” using my camera’s on-board flash (look at your camera’s instructions to access this setting).
A good explanation of the mechanics of 2nd curtain flash is found at this article at Digital Photography School. By using a slower shutter speed AND the 2nd curtain flash, you effectively get two shutter speeds. The foreground (in this shot, the cab) will be frozen while the background will be blurred. To get the motion effect, I also used a panning technique here. A lot of photographers try to avoid the on-board flash like the plague because it usually looks poor, but it CAN be used artistically.
This is the amazing Google Goggles Android app in action. This is a phone screenshot of a photo I took this photo in Zurich which had a landmark I did not recognize. I sent the photo through this app, and lo and behold, instant recognition. Now I can tag unknown landmarks. Google Goggles is also available for iPhone as well, so you Apple guys are in luck.
Here’s a view you don’t see often: the inside of the Met Life Building. I was able to get this view because of an NYC summer program called Summer Streets, where Park Avenue is open to only cyclists and pedestrians for 3 weekends each in the summer. One way to get great shots like this is be on the lookout for opportunities where you can access places that are normally off-limits.