New Years Photo Resolutions 2015

Traditional Lion Dancers / Bellevue Square, WA
Leica M-P [Type 240] w/ 50mm f/2 APO Summicron ASPH
1/180 sec @ f/4.8 ISO 1250
http://www.leicastorebellevue.com/

Gung hay fat choy!

I’m waaay behind with my writing this year so I thought I would post this article to coincide with the Chinese Lunar New Year. That being said, along with all of the New Year Resolutions that many of you are making (and likely breaking by now…), I thought I would add a list of resolutions that you might actually enjoy. Here are my Top 10 Photo Resolutions for 2015

1) Start a 365 Project

01 Blipfoto

This is a challenging project where most photographers start off strong capturing a daily photo, but then fade after about four or five weeks. It’s demanding and requires diligence, but it also prepares you to view the world with a heightened sense of awareness. You’ll become more attuned to your surroundings always on the lookout for a worthy photo to post.  One of the best places to post your project is on Blipfoto which is designed specifically to accept one photo per calendar date. It’s free and the community is very supportive and complimentary towards its members.

2) Print Some Enlargements

The digital age with all its benefits and advances has a major drawback when it comes to viewing images. Most photographers are storing their images on their computers (more on that in #4 below) rarely to be seen unless it’s posted online somewhere. One of the best ways to preserve your images and share them with your friends is to print some enlargements and frame them. When you run out of wall space you can then…

3) Make A Photo Book

03 Photobooks

There are a lot of options for producing a slick photo book, ranging from very basic to custom masterpieces, that’s only limited by your imagination.  All of the major self publishers (I like Blurb) offer a myriad of templates and designs that suit most occasions and themes. You can make a book for vacations, birthdays, and holidays then, at the end of the year, create a retrospective annual of your family’s activities.  To manage all that you’ll need to…

4) Get Organized and Back Up Your Images

Data-Recovery-1

This resolution may not be fun, but the time and effort invested in organizing your photos will pay off in the long run.  I organize my family images in an annual folder (Family Photos 2015) with numbered monthly sub-folders (01 January 2015, 02 February 2015…).  This narrows the search based on the date of the event and saves a lot of time otherwise spent clicking and opening folders and files.

This is also the perfect opportunity to purchase a couple of external hard drives and archive your images on a daily basis.  If there is one true adage in the digital age, it’s this,

“It’s not a question of “if” your computers’ hard drive will fail, but “when”.

Save yourself a lot of heartache, dirty looks from the family, and endless self-loathing by making the effort to back-up and archive your files. Check out my Back Up Your Memories article for more detailed information regarding storage and archiving solutions.

5) Share, Post, and Publish

The internet is a great way to share your images with family and friends and there are lots of online resources to facilitate the publishing of your photos. Facebook, Flickr, Twitter are the “Big 3″ and they all offer options for sharing, posting, and adding comments. It’s a great way to share news of family events and to get feedback on your latest images.

A cautionary note: Facebook and other online services implement strict Terms of Service (TOS) that explicitly give them all rights to use your photos as they deem fit. It’s mostly a protective legal measure but you need to be aware of it …

6) Take Your Camera Everywhere

Just do it… You can’t take great images without a decent camera, and a cell phone doesn’t quite cut it.  It’s certainly better than nothing, but a real camera will provide more creative options that will produce higher quality files and allow you more control over shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.

7)  Embark on a Photo Safari

07 Safari

One day, one week, one month… it doesn’t matter. Plan a trip somewhere with the sole purpose of photographing the essence of that location. Treat the excursion as a photo assignment where you must deliver images to an editor that provides a variety of different angles, views, and subject matter from that locale. Be sure to include some people shots and to change lenses and locations often. This mindset will help you capture many different perspectives of the area and prevents you from getting into a rut and returning home with 317 photos of the same statue…

8) Enter A Photo Contest

Photo contests are a fun way to keep your creative juices flowing and maintain a competitive edge. The odds are stacked against you, and the judge’s choices often defy all logic, but it’s still a thrill to enter. Start out with contests that are free, but consider reputable fee-based contests that offer more prestige and recognition. Always be aware of what the rules require, and what rights the sponsoring organization claims when you submit your photo (usually Rule #6).   Most newspapers also sponsor a “your best shot” type of contest that is easy to enter. The Seattle Times offers the Reader’s Lens contest that can be entered online here.
TIP: Don’t even think of submitting a sunset shot to a photo contest. Trust me, I’ve judged a lot of contests and most sunset shots go straight into the trash…

9) Try a New Photo Technique

baywoodpano12x36

Panoramas, black & white, infrared, pinhole, 3D… There is a wide selection of different techniques and effects that you can experiment with to keep the creative juices flowing. If you prefer to do something unique and different with pictures you already have on file, then I recommend purchasing The Photojojo Book.  It contains treasure trove of creative DIY type photo projects that will keep you busy on those days when it’s just too bleak to go outside and shoot.

10) Take a Class or Workshop

07 Sunset Photogs

The best way to learn or improve any skill is in a hands-on environment at the feet of a Master. You can watch all the YouTube videos you want, but attending a workshop is the most efficient way to hone your skills.  I offer a series of classes each month on a wide variety of topics ranging from Basic Photography to Advanced Speedlite seminars.  I also lead several “destination” workshops each year in various locales around the US. Check out the Workshops section my website (www.jeffreymgreene.com) for the latest updates.

~

There’s your top 10 photography resolutions for 2015.  I look forward to doing many of these items myself and hope you do too.  Happy New Year!

-Jeff Greene

My 2008 Self Portrait Project

366-2008_Mosaic2

Advertisements

Clean Your Own Camera Sensor

dust banner

Sensor dust.  The scourge of  DSLR photographers everywhere…

The hot, dry summer months, along with increased camera use during vacation adds up to lots of dirty sensors. Considering that most photographers have likely never cleaned their sensors,  it’s a sure bet that most digital cameras in use today have a significant amount of debris on their sensors.

“Not me. I take great care of my camera…”

Not your camera, you say? Trust me, if you have never cleaned your sensor, it’s filthy – you just don’t know it.  And don’t say to me, “But I never take the lens off…”  either…  Camera systems are not hermetically sealed. All brands and models are prone to contamination when used regularly.  Ironically, the bigger the sensor, the more likely it will attract dust.

Since most photographers shoot  between  f/4 and f/11, they don’t realize that their sensors (actually, the anti-aliasing filter protecting the sensor) are dirty.  At that range the depth of focus is relatively shallow so any dust on the sensor may not be visible. Once you start shooting at f/16 and smaller, it’s quite likely you will start noticing dust spots. Especially in areas that have consistent tonal values, ie:  the sky.

Should you send your DSLR in for cleaning,
or should you attempt cleaning it yourself?

Frankly, it’s not that scary or difficult and you can easily clean your own sensor with the right materials.  The first step is to determine if you  actually NEED to clean the sensor at all. Although there’s certainly some dust on it, you should only attempt a cleaning if there’s visible dust on your images.

First, check your DSLR sensor for dust…

Don’t be fooled by the dust you observe in your viewfinder.  That’s actually on the ground glass prism and does not show up on your images. You need to create a test image to accurately determine if there’s is dust on the sensor.  Here’s a step-by-step process I use:

1) Attach your longest lens and rack it out to it’s maximum focal length.

2) Set your lens to manual focus. Now focus the lens to its closest distance.

3) Set your camera to Aperture Priority (Av) at it’s smallest aperture (ex: f/22, f/32) at ISO 200.

4) Take a photograph of a neutral colored / non textured subject. I usually photograph a patch of clear blue sky, or a piece of paper.

IMPORTANT:
The image should NOT be in focus and a long shutter speed is OK.

5) Review the image on your camera’s LCD monitor.  Zoom in to 100% magnification and inspect it.  If you’re at home, it’s easier to review the test image on your computer.

6) If you see some blurry dark spots, those are dust specks on the sensor.

clean spots

Time to Lean? Time to Clean!
Dry Method or Wet Method?

There are many different methods for cleaning sensors and much debate on which method is best.  Generally speaking, they’re categorized as either  “Dry” or “Wet”.  The “Dry” method uses a blower (not compressed air!) and/or and special brush. The “Wet” method uses a special methyl alcohol solution and swab. The most challenging jobs will require both.

Visible 2157 800px  Dry 2159 800px

Cleaning Your Own Sensor

1) Determine if you really need to clean the sensor by reviewing a test image shot at the lens’ minimum aperture (f/22 – f/32)

2) Activate the Manual Sensor Cleaning mode on your DSLR .  Make sure the battery is fully charged before starting.

3) Use the “dry method”  first by using a hand-held blower such as Giottos Rocket Air Blaster to dislodge any loose dust particles. It’s best to face the camera in a downward position while blowing off the sensor.

Blower 2153 800px

 4) If needed, continue by using one of the many specially designed sensor-cleaning brushes. These are use micro fiber bristles that are specially treated for cleaning sensors. Do not use a small paintbrush. Those are too harsh and will scratch the sensor.

For stubborn dust specks still remaining, you’ll need to switch to the ‘wet” method using a swab wetted with sensor cleaning solution.  I prefer using Sensor Swabs (Type 2 for cropped sensors / Type 3 for full-frame sensors) and Eclipse Solution.

5) Apply a very small drop of the Eclipse solution to the SensorSwap and, working quickly, swipe across the sensor in a firm and smooth motion.  The motion is similar to running a squeegee across a window.  I work from left to right, then pivot the swab, and then work back right to left.

6) Discard the swab. Do not use it again. Don’t even think about it.  If the sensor requires another pass, use a fresh swab.  Repeat as needed.

Cleaning your sensor can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools, the instructions above, and some basic common sense, you can save a lot of time and money by doing it yourself.

Fiat lux (mundi)…

-Jeff Greene

10 Essential Items For Your Camera Bag

When hiking and camping in the wilderness every experienced outdoorsman packs their “10 Essentials“, the basic necessities required to survive in case of an emergency.  For photographers I would like to recommend the following 10 Camera Bag Essentials. In addition to my camera, lenses, and flash, these are items that I keep in my bag at all times so that I can “Be Prepared” for any situation.

1. Extra Batteries

IMG_0002 (800x602)I always carry an extra camera battery, AAs for the flash, and “button” batteries for my intervolumeter.

2. Extra Memory Cards

IMG_0004 (800x576)

Got a few smaller 2GB cards that you don’t use much anymore? Keep them in your bag for the rare occasion you might forget your memory card case.

3. Headlamp

IMG_0005 (800x525)I prefer a headlamp since it allows me to work with both hands in the dark. I also prefer the type that offers a “red lamp” option. It offers enough illumination to work in the dark while still preserving my night vision.

4. Multi-tool

IMG_0019 (658x800)I own a bunch of these, but my black anodized Leatherman is my favorite. Crucial for field repairs and adjustments.

5. Remote Release

IMG_0035 (800x426)It makes no sense to mount your camera on a tripod only to trigger the shutter by hand because you forgot your remote release. Keep it in your bag. (Hint: If you don’t have a release, use your 2-second timer to trigger the camera. This works great for landscapes, but not so much for action.)

6. Polarizing Filter

IMG_0040 (800x533)A circular polarizing filter is absolutely essential for every outdoor and landscape photographer. It enhances photos by reducing unwanted glare and reflections allowing the underlying colors to appear. It separates the amateurs from the pros and you can not replicate it’s effect in Photoshop.

7. Business Cards

IMG_0051If you’re a pro, semi-pro, or even just an avid enthusiast, carry some business cards with your contact info. You never know when a potential buyer might inquire about viewing your work. Be sure to include your phone number, email, and website.

8. Microfiber Cloth

IMG_0053 (800x502)I keep several microfiber cloths in my bag and one in my pocket at all times. They’re great for cleaning my eyeglasses, lenses, and smartphone screen.

9. Wide Rubber Bands 

IMG_0059 (800x510)I always carry several #84 rubber bands in my bag since they are 1/2″ wide and very handy for a myriad of uses. Here are few examples:
Mounting attachments to a flash | Bundling cords and cables | Removing stubborn filters from lenses| Securing a Smartphone to a tripod | …and snapping inconsiderate photographers who walk into my frame…

10. Office Supplies

IMG_0061 (762x800)I use a small notepad, pen, pencil, and a Sharpie to record contact info, location notes, and reminders. Yes, I know, smartphones can do all that; unless the battery runs out.
I carry a pencil in case the pen runs out…

Bonus Item:  Gaffers Tape

In the photo above you’ll notice that the pencil is wrapped with a length of Gaffer’s tape. I also have several short strips taped to the inside of my camera bag flap. Gaffer’s tape or “Gaff” is invaluable since it is very strong, can patch up just about anything, and most importantly, it leaves little, if any residue. DO NOT USE duct tape for photography. Trust me, spend the extra money for real gaff.

These are the items I consider essential for every photographer’s camera bag. Later, I will provide another list of 10 not-so-essential-but pretty-darn-useful items for your bag.

Stay tuned.