Custom Functions: A Hidden Treasure in Your Camera

Canon 5D Custom Function

Canon 5D Custom Function

A while back, I posted a photograph on Flickr which lead to a discussion on the settings I used to create that particular image. I started listing away the basic exposure values (aperture, shutter,etc.) and then I got into custom function settings. As soon as “custom functions” entered the conversation, a barrage of questions quickly followed. What are custom functions? How do I access them? Where can I find more information on custom functions? Sadly, I was not surprised to hear that so many people are not using these fantastic, and somewhat hidden, settings as manufacturers love to bury them in a sea of menus. Let’s take a trip to the mystical world of custom functions. Continue reading…

How To Not Suck at Retouching

Professional retouching is a closely guarded industry secret but the most important part of it is not that difficult to learn and you probably already have most of the things you need to do it. A properly retouched photo gives that finished magazine look to an already great photo and can salvage an otherwise unacceptable one.

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Shooting a Reflected Portrait Using Your Surroundings

This image of former Superbike World Champion James Toseland looks simple, but it’s not – a whole bunch of circumstances had to come together for it to work.

The lighting is from the top – it was shot during the middle of the day. Normally this would cause a lack of detail in the subject’s face, but the white walls all around has bounced beautiful soft light into all the right places (seen in the subject’s glasses). The dark, shadowed wall in the background is the perfect contrast to the subject’s face.

The woman talking to Toseland is reflected in his sunglasses: beware, you need to use an aperture small enough to capture the depth of field to both subjects. Using f/8 has given me enough depth for both people but kept the background soft.

Canon EOS 1D MarkIIN, EF 24-105L IS USM @ 97mm, ISO 320, 1/640th @ f/8, Aperture Priority.

An Introduction to The Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is a fundamental concept of photography that deals with the composition of your image based upon an imaginary or superimposed grid. We talk about it often here on the site, but you may not even know what it really is or how to use it. Here’s your field guide.

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Book Review: DIY Photography- Home Studio Photography

Do it yourself projects are usually very fun. I used to work on things like this back in college when I was more into cinematography. DIYPhotography’s Udi Tirosh, the creator of the well reviewed Bokeh Master’s Kit, has written a very informative and carefully explained book: Home Studio Photography. The eBook is a complete listing of a bunch of fun projects to work on at home when you’re bored. Beyond boredom, many of the creations have practical applications in the photo world as well.

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On Photowalking

A nice calm moment as the day ends

Sometimes I don’t want to work. I just want to go out on a photo walk. It’s meditation for me. It’s also a form of exercise. Spring is coming. Photowalking, one of my favorite activities, is on my mind—walking around taking photos in a city or a park. On a nice day, I can walk alone, or with people I know, taking photos and having fun. I use photo walks to test photo gear, socialize, and explore new areas. I have been thinking of how to make them better. Here are some thoughts, feel free to use them.

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Spacious Thought: Winter Landscapes (as learned from this winter)

Camera Nikon D90 Exposure 0.006 sec (1/160) Aperture f/8.0 Focal Length 44 mm ISO Speed 200

Winter can be brutal. It can also open up great landscape photography opportunities. A lot of snow gives a lot of contrast. Getting to a good location in the winter provides challenges and affects composition. With hard work and some hot coffee, great images can be created. Here are some tips to help you out.

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How Faster Lenses Can Save Your Flash’s Battery Life

Faster lenses (i.e. those with a wider maximum aperture) are often the ones that will preserve the battery life of your flash. Keep this in mind when photographing events, weddings, portraits, photojournalism, or concerts. This is even more true for flash modifiers like the Orbis and Gary Fong Lightsphere that bend the shape of the flash output but lose light in the process. There are ways to get the most out of your flash output. Besides using it wirelessly to place the light anywhere you want, there are many factors that new photographers should keep in mind to be super-efficient with their flash output. Additionally, knowing that faster lenses can save you lots of trouble in the end is critical. Before you read this post, you may want to open up our recommended Canon lenses post in another tab. Also keep in mind that you don’t need to spend a fortune on these lenses.

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Suggestions on Saving Money for Your Photography

The path of photography is not always cheap. As a family man and photographer, I really have to look at how I spend money. A person can go broke or in debt, trying to acquire and maintain cameras, lenses and other equipment. People today have less money to begin with due to the economic downturn. With patience, one could save money for their photography needs. To me it’s about anticipating what’s needed and wanted long before buying it. Continue reading…

Capturing Children (with a camera)

Camera Nikon D90, Lens Nikon 18.0-105.0 mm, f/3.5-5.6 Exposure 0.005 sec (1/200) Aperture f/5.6 Focal Length 105 mm ISO Speed 200

Taking pictures of kids is an adventure. As a dad, and as many other parents out there know, children are kinetic—never static and always moving. This can make photography rather challenging. With the correct settings and attitude any one can get a decent image of children especially if you have a DSLR. Here are some tips to help with that. Continue reading…

Five Reasons Why Smaller Cameras are Better for Street Photography

There is often a debate back and forth about which cameras are best for Street Photography, and Eric Kim does a very good job of trying to discern through it all for people. Being a gear and tips oriented blog, we try to help readers make better decisions on which cameras are best for certain situations. In truth, it is all up to the photographer, and I agree with Eric that any camera can do the job. However, I personally believe that smaller cameras do it best. Here’s why:

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The Phoblographer’s Guide to The Histogram (Part 1)

In these days of the digital SLR, we’ve all seen these weird graphs, jagged and erratic like the output from some radioactive geological experiment. Most modern cameras allow quick access to these cryptic readouts. They come in a range of sizes and colors, instant review, live feedback, even histograms for every color channel. So are they useful? Can they help us to take better photos? In this quick 3-part series, we’ll dive into the power of the histogram and, hopefully, share a few handy tips.  Continue reading…

Spacious Thoughts: Landscape Photography Composition

Camera Nikon D90 Exposure 0.017 sec (1/60) Aperture f/5.6 Focal Length 24 mm ISO Speed 200

In Landscape Photography, composition is one of your most essential decisions. It is how you decide what you want in the frame. Every time you bring your camera to your eye, you are composing a shot. Taking time to think about your landscape photography can turn a snapshot into a great photograph. Using Rule of thirds, lead lines, foreground interest and your background, can make your images truly engaging.

Before you read this posting, perhaps you should read about gear, light and location.

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How ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture All Relate to One Another

Here it is: the one chart you’ll ever need to understand shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. It will help you to create better black and white photos, it helps to explain why your lenses are more important than your camera, how to get the most of them, etc. If you don’t understand any of this, take a look at our guide to terminology. Or…take it with you.

This chart will help you with the dark art of metering and shooting out in the field, like at pop culture events. Enjoy!

Editor’s Note: This isn’t our chart. It was sent into us by a reader. Thanks Andrew!

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