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Thursday, 26 July 2012

Artistic Cell Phone Photography

by NYIP Student Advisor Chris Corradino

Whether you use a smart device like an iPhone or an Android, or a more compact cell phone, chances are that you have a camera in your pocket right now. Not very long ago, the optical quality of these cameras was very poor, especially in low light situations. Yet today, thanks to continued technological developments, a growing number of users are beginning to realize the power of the latest cell phone cameras. In fact, the International Telecommunications Union estimates that "4.6 billion mobile phones are in use at the moment." If this is any indication of what the future holds, cell phone cameras may very well replace smaller point-and-shoot cameras altogether.

Rather than carrying a phone, a camera, and an MP3 player, many consumers look for one electronic device that does it all. Some shoppers simply search for "best camera phone" and make their purchase solely on the quality of the camera. Manufacturers are taking notice, and they're adding more capable cameras to their phones. For example, the Nokia PureView 808 features a staggering 41 megapixels of resolution along with full HD 1080p video recording and audio recording at CD quality. The affordable Sony Xperia has an 8.1 megapixel camera with autofocus, 16x digital zoom, LED flash, and a maximum aperture of f/2.65.

One of the best parts about camera phones is the ability to share the image with others right away. You can post your photos to a variety of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and more. You can even post videos to YouTube directly from your phone. This type of content sharing has become incredibly popular. Facebook alone receives more than 2 billion photo uploads each month! On Twitter, many photographers share their "Twitpics" with their followers. These can range from "look where I am" to beautiful fine art imagery. If another user appreciates an image, it's often retweeted, and shared with even more people. It's possible to upload a photo at 10:15, and have several hundred or more views by 10:30.

Camera phones don't have the speed or advanced functionality of the more full-featured DSLRs. Yet, the benefit of having a small, quiet camera in your pocket at all times outweighs any of its technical limitations. When a professional photographer arrives on the scene with two DSLRs, telephoto lenses, and flash units, everyone immediately notices. In certain situations, this can hinder the pro from doing his or her job, as people are more guarded and aware of the cameras. With small cell phones, however, a photographer can get the needed shot and leave the scene virtually undetected. In addition, there are some places where professional-looking cameras are absolutely prohibited. Thankfully, camera phones are more discreet, and don't generally draw attention to the user.

For iPhone and Droid users, there are an overwhelming number of photo-related applications (just called "apps") to help edit, enhance, and share pictures. In fact, Adobe Photoshop has an inexpensive app called Photoshop Touch with many impressive features including the ability to adjust curves. While in-phone editing can be convenient and fun, some users prefer to edit the "old fashioned" way, on their computers. Cell phone images are typically JPEGS, and can be downloaded into a full version of Adobe Photoshop, or other editing software. This opens up many possibilities like layer masking, unsharp mask, noise reduction, and more. Here are two popular apps you'll want to look into for serious cell phone photography.

Hipstamatic soon became a household name infiltrating its way into the fabric of our society. Not a day went by where our Facebook wall wasn't filled with photos that looked like they were taken 50 years ago. Still, despite being overused at the peak of its popularity, there was an authenticity to the images that ordinary phone snaps were lacking. What some may have initially written off as a fad appeared to have staying power. This shift was first evident after New York Times photographer Damon Winter used the app to document war in Afghanistan. Winter is a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer whose work we've long admired for its creativity and technical brilliance. Yet, when his photo story "A Grunt's Life" was awarded third place in the Pictures of the Year International contest, a flood of naysayers took to the Internet to bash the ethics of his camera selection. In his thoughtful response, Winter said, "I will always stand behind these photographs and am confident in my decision that this was the right tool to tell this particular story." In studying the series of twelve photos, it's difficult to envision them any other way. The quiet, introspective moments he captured coupled with vintage aesthetics make for a telling look at life behind enemy lines.

The Instagram app, acquired by Facebook in 2012 boasts over 40 million users, and that number is growing fast, especially after adding support for Android devices. These two apps have paved the way for a landslide of similar options, many of which are free to download.

Other photo-editing apps you might want to investigate include PhotoForge2, Camera+, and Filterstorm. And don't forget to download the free app from The New York Institute of Photography. You can access ongoing photography and business tips and videos. Tune in to informative tweets and view photos from NYIP students and graduates.

Source: New York Institute of Photography

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

5 Hot Tips For Holiday Shots With A Compact Camera

Taking your compact camera with you on holiday? Here our top tips to get the best out of it.

Your compact camera may be small, but it can still take some pretty good holiday snaps. Compacts are often easier to carry around than DSLRs as they are lighter and smaller which means it's easy to pop one in your bag and that way, you'll always have it on you, so that you never miss a shot if an opportunity arises. With this in-mind, here are our top 5 tips for compact camera holiday photos.

Palm Leaf


Most compacts will have some kind of beach setting that'll stop your shots looking underexposed when taking photos in bright sunlight at the coast. This will most likely be under the scene mode or equivalent on your camera. The Beach scene mode will increase the exposure slightly to compensate but also adjusts the white balance to make the sand look more natural.

When shooting portraits, if you find that the sun is causing harsh shadows, particularly under the nose and chin, use your camera's built-in flash to put detail back into shadow areas and as an added bonus, it can add catch-lights to eyes too. Some cameras let you reduce the output of the flash so it isn't as harsh. Check your camera's manual if you're unsure if you can do this with yours.

Fun Effects

Most compacts have some quirky effects (digital filters) that will work well with holiday photos. For example, use of the miniature mode from high viewpoints can create some great images. Be creative, and you can produce some fun holiday shots that show your skills off too.

david clapp mini beach
Photo courtesy of David Clapp -

Be Unique

Try going off the beaten track to get some good vista and panorama shots of your destination that will be completely original. For example. If you're in a coach party and the coach stops, walk up the road and see if there's a better viewpoint rather than standing with the crowd. Go for something that you can't find on a post card – perhaps a macro or close up shot, something a little different that'll make your shots stand out from the rest.


By using your camera's self-timer you'll be able to be in group shots rather than always hiding behind your camera lens. After all, it's your holiday too! You should be able to set your timer to various intervals, usually 10, 20 and 30 seconds as well as minute intervals.


Using a tripod will help ensure the horizons straight but if you aren't planning on taking one with you, a quick check of the viewfinder or screen just before you take the shot will help prevent wonky horizons spoiling your shot. Look for other distracting objects such as rubbish as well as lamp posts and trees growing out of people's heads. Make sure your fingers aren't sitting over the lens, or flash if you're using it, too.


Photography Reviews, News, Techniques, Photos and Community Forum

Friday, 6 July 2012

Polarising Filters - How To Use Them? Why?

Digital photography enables us to recreate most filters effects that we used to produce using optical attachments on our cameras. But there's one filter that should still be in every photographer's gadget bag. Let's forget the crazy world of multi-images, the colourful starbursts and the dreamy diffusers - the essential item you should own is a polarizing filter. A genuine polarizing filter can have a dramatic effect on your photographs, but it won't ruin them, which is one common criticism of special effects filters, such as spot colours and multi images.

polarising filters
The classic effect a polarising filter has on the sky. Left shows a non polarised photograph and right with a polariser attached. Notice the saturation in the sky, making it vivid blue, but also the improved detail in the foliage and blooms, that give the picture more clarity.
How they work
Polarising filters work by suppressing surface reflections from non-metallic objects, by blocking the rays. The amount of suppression depends on the angle of the reflected light, the rotation of the filter and the amount of polarisation. You also see an increase in colour saturation, as the glare caused by the surface reflections often lightens the subject.
polarising filters
Polarsing filters are perfect for landscape photography. Here a warm tone version was used which has made the picture look more like a summer's day.
Some image editing software suggests it can offer the same results as a polarizing filter, but it misses the mark. A digital polarizing filter can enhance contrast and colour saturation, but it can't remove the reflections caused by light - well not yet anyway!

polarising filter reflections
Here sunlight has caused glare on the varnished wooden sign which can be reduced when a polarising filter is used.

Photos of non-metallic surfaces aren't the only subjects that benefit from the use of a polariser. Light reflected from water and glass is also polarised and using a polariser enables the photographer to see through the glass or water.
polarising filter results
A polarising filter used on water kills reflections, allowing you to see below the surface.

Another essential use of a polariser is for creating those rich blue skies that are normally seen in travel brochures and on postcards. Light scattered from a blue sky is polarised, making many blue skies look drab, add a polariser to the equation and you will produce a lovely dramatic blue sky.

How they attach 

There are three types of polarizing filter. The most basic is a sheet of polarizing gel, which you would need to cut to size and hold over the lens or mount in a gelatin holder. Then we have precut and mounted versions, made by the likes of Jessops and Cokin, that slot into a filter holder and mount onto the front of the lens. The third option is the round type that has a sheet of polarising material sandwiched between two pieces of optical glass. The screw-in variety has a rotating front ring so you can adjust the filter while looking through the viewfinder until the reflections are reduced. The holder variety is usually round and can be rotated in the holder.
Ten top tips on using polarising filters
  • When shooting to prevent reflections, it's best if you are at an angle of around 35 degrees to the reflective surface.
  • A polariser can be attached on top of an existing UV protective filter, but if you do so, be aware that the depth of the filter rims may cause a small amount of vignetting (darkening of the edges) on wider-angle lenses. And as there are more glass to air surfaces the image quality could be degraded. So where possible it's better to remove any other filter and just attach the polariser.
  • When shooting skies ensure you shoot at the best angle - for rich blue skies move around so that the sun is at 90 degrees to the subject - anything more or less and the saturation is reduced.
  • Avoid using a polarising filter on a lens wider than 28mm as the effect can look false because only a proportion of the sky will be deeply polarised.
  • Watch the exposure. A polariser has a neutral grey look, which won't affect colour, but does reduce the amount of light reaching the film/CCD. If your camera has through-the-lens metering it will calculate the exposure difference automatically, which is roughly two stops.
  • Use two polarisers together as variable neutral-density filter with between two and nine stops light reduction.
  • Use two polarisers one over the light source behind a plastic subject and one on the camera for a cross polariser effect.  There's a technique how to do that here: Cross Polarisation
cross polarisation effect
Cross polarisation is a colourful technique that makes use of one of the polarising filters more creative features.
  • When using a polarising filter on an older camera that doesn't have TTL viewing hold it up to your eye and rotate until the filter is showing the best effect. Then mark the uppermost point of the rim with a china graph pencil or tape, screw it onto the lens and rotate so that the tape or mark is at the uppermost position. Some filters have a white line mark already printed on the rim which can be used as a gauge.
  • Buy a slim version for use on a wide-angle lens to prevent the mount causing vignetteing
  • Don't use a polariser when shooting through an aircraft window, you will record distracting patterns in the window.
polarising filters
There's one incident when a polariser should not be used. Here I increased the colours in the sky and made the ground look more saturated by using the polariser (left), but look at the rainbow pattern. This is caused by the material used in the windows and has produced the cross polarised effect.

A Guide to buying a polarising filter

Buying a polarising filter - You may be aware that a polarising filter is one of the most useful additions to your camera kit, but there are a few things you need to decide before buying one. First thing you should know is that there are two varieties - linear and circular. Although they're both physically round, a linear variety can have an effect on the autofocus or metering accuracy of any camera that uses a semi-silvered mirror or prism to split the light entering the viewfinder.

Guide to buying a polarising filter

You may be aware that a polarising filter is one of the most useful additions to your camera kit, but there are a few things you need to decide before buying one.

Linear or Circular?

First thing you should know is that there are two varieties - linear and circular. Although they're both physically round, a linear variety can have an effect on the autofocus or metering accuracy of any camera that uses a semi-silvered mirror or prism to split the light entering the viewfinder. This is known as a beam splitter and is used by most modern SLRs to calculate exposure and focusing distance.

As a rule use a circular filter if you have an autofocus camera or a manual focus model with a spot meter such as the Canon T90 or any modern digital SLRs.

Screw-in or System filters?

Next thing to decide is whether to buy a round, screw mount filter or a system version that slots into a filter holder. Round ones are often easier to adjust and feel better built. They're also more compact to carry around. The disadvantage is larger sizes are more expensive and, if you have two lenses with different filter thread sizes, you may need to buy two filters, whereas a system type would just need another adaptor ring for the filter holder.

The filter holder type can also cause vignetting when used on some larger thread wide-angle lenses. Equally, a larger filter holder may prevent vignetting when used on a smaller thread wide-angle.

Guide to buying a polarising filterFeatures to look for
  • If you have a camera without through-the-lens viewing look for a filter that has an index mark printed on it. This will help you align the filter correctly.
  • Some filters have a small screw-in arm to help rotate the filter, which is useful if you intend using the filter when wearing gloves in cold weather.
  • Filters with thick rims can cause slight vignetting when used on wide-angles. The latest Pro1 D versions from Hoya have slim rings.
  • Check whether the filter is circular or linear. It will often say PL CIR if it's circular, while linear often just has polariser or PL marked on the rim.
  • Polarising filters for square system holders are still round so they should rotate easily in the holder.
Who makes them?

Screw-in filters

Screw in filters attach to your lens' filter thread and are the least bulky option. If you have a number of lenses with different filter threads it can be an expensive option.

A brass mount with solid ring and deep filter thread make this a heavy filter that feels substantial compared with its Japanese competition. Extremely neutral throughout the range with plane parallel polariser material that the German makers, Schneider, say will guarantee optimal image results. The one to choose if your budget can stretch to the hefty price tag in sizes from 46 to 95mm.

Suppliers of one of the largest accessory ranges made, with thousands of items for video, stills and audio markets. Recently they have introduced a range of silver finish filters that match the modern styles seen with newer compact digital cameras and AF SLRs, This range includes the HTMC Circular polariser in sizes from 25.5mm to 77mm. In conventional black rimmed options there's a Linear in sizes from 49mm to 82mm, Circular in sizes from 27mm to 82mm and a HTMC circular in sizes from 37mm to 86mm. Hama also produce an slim mounted circular version for wide-angle lenses in sizes from 49mm to 77mm.

Ksemannn polarising are very expensive, but different in that the after the sandwiching of the polarising layer the filters are polished plane parallel and the edges are thoroughly sealed and mounted in a precision rotating mount with numerical scale. The special seal helps if you're using it in difficult climates such as sub tropical. They are available in linear or circular versions along with a linear warm polariser all in sizes from 39mm to 105mm along with Hasselblad and Rollei bayonet mounts.
Heliopan linear and circular polarisers are made from top quality Schott glass (made by the Zeiss group) and come in black anodised brass mounts in sizes from 39mm to 105mm.

Super HMC Pro Multi-coated circular polarisers are difficult to make because the heat needed to multi coat the outer surfaces can damage the polarising sheet that's sandwiched between the glass. Hoya have managed that with this version available in sizes from 49mm to 82mm and it's ultra thin and lightweight. Hoya also make a normal circular polariser in sizes from 27mm to 86mm and linear in sizes from 39mm 95mm.

Produce a wide range of low cost screw-in filters including linear options in sizes from 46mm to 72mm and circular varieties in sizes from 27mm to 77mm.

Have a range of screw fitting polarisers in sizes from 39mm to 86mm for the linear variety and 27mm to 86mm for the circular versions. They also produce 84mm linear and circular versions for use in Cokin P series holders.

The company that makes lenses also has a range of circular polarisers with slim mounts for their lenses. They range in sizes from 46mm to 82mm for normal coated versions and there's also a multi-coated version in sizes 86mm, 95mm and 105mm.

System filters

Square filters fit onto your lens with removable adaptor rings. You only need one holder and one filter which can be attached to a variety of lenses using different size adaptor rings.

Guide to buying a polarising filterCokin
French manufacturer Cokin was the originator of the special effects system with A (amateur) and P (professional) sizes. The A series are 67mm square and designed for use on 35mm cameras while the 84mm square P series are more suitable for larger medium-format systems and also come in handy when you use wide-angles to helps prevent cut-off.

More recently a larger Z-Pro and X-pro range were added to accommodate those lenses with large filter threads, especially suitable for the modern ultra wide-angle lenses.

Both linear and circular polarisers are available, which are very neutral in colour. Unlike other resin Cokin filters these are mounted in glass making them much heavier. They fit into the filter holder's back slot so you can rotate them easily.

A British brand with a unique box shaped filter holder that holds the 76mm filter in place while acting as a lens hood. The filter fits into the back slot of the box holder and you have to flip down the cover of the box to rotate the filter. This can slow you down, but you do gain the benefits of a superb light tight hood. A 100mm version is also available and both are glass mounted with circular or linear options.

An 85mm system with an option of attaching a 105mm screw thread Kaesemann polariser to the front of the 100mm holder.

Jessops make a range of budget priced filters for their effects filter system which are, like Cokin, available in two sizes Standard (67mm slot) and Professional (83.5mm slot). Linear and circular polarisers are available in each system.

A system originally developed for the professional photographer who needs the very best quality. The filter holder is larger and accepts 100mm square filters. Their linear polariser is made from Butyrate and is less than 1mm thick so needs to be mounted in a gelatine holder for the best support. It's available in 75mm, 100mm and 150mm square versions.

Square system from the popular maker Hoya. A wide range were made and the system had a useful rubber hood that attached to the outside of the filter holder. Several of the filters in this range were glass. The system was 75mm square and excellent quality. You can pick these up second-hand Used Hoyarex Filters and they're well worth the investment.


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

How To Sharpen Your Digital Images

Let’s face it, we all come across a great shot which was taken at a unique moment in time but for some reason, it just isn’t sharp enough. “What did I do wrong?” we often say to ourselves. Sharp images aren’t that elusive! In fact, they are dead easy if you know how. This particular article gives you many insights to sharpness that aren’t that obvious, in fact, it’s a strategic approach to the issue in many ways. I think you’ll enjoy this one…

How To Sharpen Your Digital Photography Images

Let’s start this digital photography lesson by looking at the digital camera. All digital cameras photograph images which have a normal pattern of pixels that make up this image. In some digital photography images a moiré effect is created. To avoid this, modern slr digital cameras come with an in built filter that givens a softer effect to the image.

When you are faced with having to sharpen a noisy digital photography image you’ll find that some photos are easier to sharpen than others. This might be caused from having a too high ISO. The usual way of adding sharpness to a digital image has it problems too; it can actually increase the noise in your image quite a bit. To clarify this point, what is actually happening is the noise isn’t being increased as such, it’s being enhanced.

There is a way to sharpen noisy digital photo images without going into the noise itself.

To begin with its important to understand colour modes in Photoshop. The easiest way we remember colour modes is when we think of RGB mode. This is a “channel” of colours which are Red, Green and Blue. As I was taught by my good friend Lyndie Jeffry, there are more colour modes where your digital photo can be altered, adjusted and sharpened.

When I was first learning about digital photography Lyndie taught me that you can involve the CMYK mode which uses four colour channels. This stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. (Yes I know, “Black doesn’t start with a “K”.)

Lyndie explained to me that the best one to use for this purpose is the L-A-B mode. LAB mode really just related to the 3 channels it uses. In a nutshell Lab stands for the individual channels. The “L” really means “luminance”, “A” the green-red aspect “B” the blue-yellow aspect. When working in LAB mode you can modify the brightness of your digital photo and keep the saturating and colours the same. The way this is possible is because practically no image information is depleted or lost when you convert to Lab mode. It also stays good when you convert back again, which is extremely handy. (Especially with highly valuable photos such as other peoples wedding photos.) Not everyone uses this, but it’s a neat trick with some digital images.

In some digital photography images you can simply choose to sharpen the L channel in LAB mode. By doing this much of the noise in the image is in the other channels that are usually not affected by this sharpening effect.

Now this may not work for every single noisy digital photography image you have. But in some situations it works very well. I suggest you try it to see the effect you give. I’ve used it a few times and it’s saved my ‘you-know-what’. So if you’re in a tight spot with a noisy image, give this a go, you might be surprised with the results!

By Amy Renfrey

Published here by Roy Barker. You should look closely at this device, very handy indeed – instantly improved photo images (also comes with a trial) **It will be very handy when time is not on your side!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

How To Choose, Set Up And Use A Tripod

Manfrotto Tripods
Tip Number 1 - Buy A Tripod That You Will Use

It is easy to end up buying a tripod that is so heavy or impractical that it never leaves your house. It is all very well thinking that the tripod is lovely to use and portable in the shop or when you're looking at it online, but the reality can be very different when you're actually walking with it.

Tripods come in all sizes, styles and budget levels. Aluminium tripods, for example, are cheaper than carbon-fibre models, however they are heavier and tend to be colder to the touch. If you do really want to travel light, you could always consider investing in a monopod. There are plenty of styles out there but one popular type are those found in Manfrotto's 190 series. There's a wide range of models available which makes them a popular choice for hobbyists right up to pro level.

Tip Number 2 - What To Look At When Buying A Tripod

The Legs

Extend them fully and make sure they go to the height you need or if you're shopping online, look for this information in the specifications.

Spec Table

The Head

Not all tripods come with one, but most do. Optional heads are made by Manfrotto. Look at how the camera locks into position. Are the locks positive? Is the head as good shooting vertical-format images as it is with horizontal ones? Etc.

The Quick Release System

Many tripod heads have a quick release system with a plate that you can leave permanently in position on the camera. Check how solid the quick release system is and how easy it is to use. Metal ones offer greater stability but regardless of the material, make sure the plate securely fixes to your camera.

The Leg Locks

Legs locks should be comfortable and quick to use as well as secure. There are two main types: twist grip or lever lock. Twist grip locks can be slightly uncomfortable to use but are very secure while lever locks are fast to use but may need checking every so often to make sure they lock tight.

Leg locks and feet

The feet

Most tripods have rubber feet, but some do have spiked feet. Spiked feet can be bought as optional accessories or sometimes you can get both types in one.

Other Points To Consider:

  • Cost
  • Weight
  • Construction material
  • Height (folded, minimum and maximum)
  • Maximum supported weight

Tip Number 3 - How To Carry Your Tripod

This can be done either by strapping it to your photo rucksack, in a bag with a strap or with a tripod strap. Manfrotto offers bags and carrying straps, but if you own a photo rucksack you might find that it came with the appropriate accessories.

Tip Number 4 – How To Keep Your Remote Release Secure

If you use a cable remote release get some Velcro fastening and use it to hold the control unit in place during long exposures. It is better than the remote just hanging down which might cause tension on the connections or, if the wind is strong, cause the release to bang against the tripod and blur your images. This arrangement is only for temporary holding of the remote release during exposure and is not advised to hold the release in place when you're carrying the tripod around.

Tip Number 5 – Setting Up Your Tripod

Before setting up, make sure you are completely happy with your location as if you change your mind about the composition once you've set your tripod up, it can take you some time (and be rather annoying) to have to put it away again to move positions.

When setting up, extend the legs before extending the centre column. Extending just the centre column is quick but it is not good technique and won't offer as much stability as adjusting the legs first will. Extend the fattest leg section first then if you really need the height, extend the thinner parts of the legs.

For extra stability, hang your camera bag or another heavy object from the centre column. Many tripods actually come with hooks fitted so you can hang items from it. If it's a really windy day, however you may find the object moves too much and actually knocks your tripod, causing shake, instead of helping support it.

Manfrotto 055 Series Tripod

Many tripods and tripod heads, such as those found in Manfrotto's 055 Series,  have built-in spirit levels to help you keep the tripod level. If yours hasn't buy a spirit level to fit into the camera's accessory shoe.


Friday, 2 March 2012

The Canon 5D Mark III has arrived!

Today, after three years of rumour and speculation Canon has officially announced the Canon 5D Mark III. Building on the 5D Mark II the new camera (we’re told it’s not going to replace the mark II), the 5D Mark III closes the gap between the 5D and 1D series cameras.

Today, marks another mile stone in the photographic industry with yet another highly specified machine to join the Canon EOS range. More than three years have passed since the announcement of the ever-popular Canon 5D Mark II (Sept 08), which in the photographic world is an absolute lifetime! Today, the suspense has reached an end and Canon has confirmed what we have all been waiting to hear, but will it live up to our expectations? Let’s have a look at the specs.


  • 22.3 megapixel CMOS sensor (36 x 24 mm)
  • A standard ISO range of 100-25,600 (expandable 50-102,400)
  • Next-generation DIGIC 5 image processing engine
  • Full HD 1080p movie capability
  • 3.2″ 1,040,000-dot LCD screen
  • Dual card slots: one for CF cards and one for SD cards
  • Up to 6 frames per second
  • 61-point AF system (41-cross type sensors)
  • £2999**
The Canon 5D Mark III holds onto the impressive level of specification as the respectable and legendary Canon 5D Mark II but with a boost of technological enhancements in all the right directions.

22.3 Megapixels

With only but a little nudge in megapixels, Canon has chosen not to enter the 5D Mark III into the race of “who has the most megapixels” and focus more on what is essential to users looking to upgrade.

The revolutionary DIGIC 5+ Processor

Wildlife and Sports photographers who require a fast burst rate will be pleased to see Canon have increased the frame rate from 3.9fps (found in the Canon 5D Mark II) to 6fps. Working together with the CMOS sensor, the DIGIC 5 processor ensures fast continuous shooting and provides exceptional image quality in low light and is designed to be six times faster than the DIGIC 4 and create 75% less noise, previously found in the Canon 5D Mark II.

61-point Autofocus System

While the Canon 5D Mark II was everything and more, the obvious and headline improvement would be that of the AF system – Canon has hit the nail on the head with this one! The Canon 5D Mark III now features an impressive 61-point AF system including 41-cross type sensors, the same found in the Canon 1D X. Like the 1D X, the 5D Mark III can also detect a subject that is completely out of focus by utilising the entire sensor, rather than just a single AF point, thus ensuring rapid and effective AF control at all times.

Night capability, ISO 50-102,400

The standard ISO ranges from 100-25,600 which is impressive in itself but the ISO performance doesn’t stop there, the Canon 5D Mark III’s ISO can reach down to as low as 50 and expand to a remarkable 102,400.

Get the full view

The new viewfinder as been upgraded to offer 100% coverage (98% on the Canon 5D Mark II), on par with the 1D X.

Movie mode 

With a quick press of the dedicated movie button, the Canon 5D Mark III offers Full HD 1080p recording with manual control over depth of field, exposure, shutter speeds and in a selection of frame rates – 30, 25 and 24, with 60 and 50 available at resolutions of 720p.

Design and Weather Sealing

The button arrangement is a similar feel to the Canon 7D, so it is designed to suit all needs for anyone looking to upgrade from this older cousin. The Mark III also gets some improved weather resistance, with extra sealing throughout the body – around the buttons, LCD, battery and more importantly the memory compartment.

Dual card slot

The Canon 5D Mark III now includes dual card slots, one for Compact Flash and the other for SDHC.

Comparison table

Megapixels 21.1 22.3 18.1  
ISO range 100-6400 100-25,600 100-51,200
Max extendable ISO 100-25,600 50-102,400 50-204,800  
Image Processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 5 DIGIC 5
HD Video 1080p (30fps) 1080p (24, 25, 30fps) 1080p (24, 25, 30fps)
Autofocus 9-point 61-point 61-point
FPS 3.9 6 12
Card Slot CF Dual SDXC & CF Dual CF
Screen (dot resolution) 3.0″ LCD (920k) 3.2 LCD (1,040,000k) 3.2″ (1,040k)
Weight* 810g 950g TBC
Price** £1688 £2999 £5299
*approximate body only weight (without battery or memory cards)
**Prices as of today (2nd March) and are subject to change 

Final thoughts

When the Canon 5D Mark II first hit the market, it was priced at £2299.99, so that’s £699.01 more to save. Whilst not exactly cheap, the Canon 5D Mark III is still within reach of many semi-professional photographers and with this set of impressive features there will be many clamouring to buy one. Watch this space for more specifications and important updates on this impressive full frame DSLR.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Start a year-long Photography Project in 2012!

As a keen photographer, your list of 

resolutions for 2012 might include an 

intention to photograph a particular 

subject you’ve always dreamed of 

capturing, to learn more about your

camera and what it’s capable of or 

simply to take more photos, more often.

Many photographers choose to embark on a year-long photography project as a result of a new year’s resolution or just from a desire to focus their photographic efforts with a specific goal in mind.


Personal photography projects can benefit photographers of any experience level – from keen enthusiasts to working professional photographers. Tim Gander is a photojournalist-turned-commercial photographer who praises the benefits of fitting a personal photography project into your schedule. In the past he has undertaken a project to photograph the unique characters and everyday goings-on at an old pub in Bath which has since shut down. More recently he has been working on an ongoing personal project to photograph the bustle of the local livestock market. Previously on the Wex Blog, Tim wrote about what personal photography projects are and why photographers should consider doing one…
Personal projects have an intangible value. They allow a photographer the opportunity to stretch their creativity, try out new techniques without the risk of jeopardizing a paid assignment, or explore a subject which fascinates them.
To find out more about Tim’s personal photography projects, his post Photography: this time it’s personal! is definitely worth a read, or check out his blog here.

The 365 project

A photography project that many photographers choose to get involved in is a 365 project. If it’s not obvious already; you take a photo every day for a whole year (and since 2012 is a leap year, you’ll need to take an extra photo!) Mark Stephenson completed his first 365 project in 2011 and we caught up with him to find out how he got on…

Congratulations on completing your 365 project in 2011! How did you feel on December 31st when you finished the project?

Thanks! It was a strange feeling on the last day. I had a massive sense of achievement, but also the sad feeling that it was the end of an era. For a short while I toyed with the idea of carrying the project on and doing another year of photos, although for my sanity I decided not to.

This mage of a kiwi fruit is one of Mark's favourites from the year

Have you taken the time to look through all 365 of your photos in one sitting yet? Did you notice any significant changes in your photography, whether it be your style, level of skill or otherwise, over the course of the year?

I haven’t actually but it’s something I will definitely do soon. It will be fun to relive the whole year in pictures and I’m sure it will bring lots of memories back. Personally, I haven’t noticed a massive jump in skill level but I’ve had plenty of comments telling me I’ve improved a lot over the year.

What are the biggest positives that came out of doing the project?

The biggest positive was that it got me using my camera gear on a daily basis. That was the main reason I took on the project – I felt I wasn’t shooting enough. I would find I’d go for weeks with the camera gear sat lonely in the cupboard. Another benefit that’s come out of doing the project is I feel myself thinking more like a photographer every day. Spending a whole year constantly looking for interesting shots changes the way you see the world and even after the project I find myself looking for shots where before I may have missed them.

When all else fails, your cat may provide some photographic inspiration

What did you struggle with the most while working on your 365 project? Were there days where you really didn’t want to pick up your camera?

The struggle is the sheer relentlessness of the project. It’s the days when you have to stay late at work and just want to go to bed when you get home that I found the most difficult. I found it really helps to have some backup ideas. I’d recommend making an “ideas list” for those days when your creativity is lacking. Failing that, the cat was always a good fallback.

Do you have a favourite image from 2011? We’d love to hear the story behind it if you have one!

I think my favourite image is the kiwi fruit shot. I love the vibrancy of the colours and the simple nature of the photo. I took it quite early on after reading about someone doing something similar. It’s a shot I’d like to have printed on a canvas for the kitchen some time. The photo that gets the most attention is the pigeon shot, people seem to love it. Apart from that I proposed to my girlfriend one day using a photo which I suppose is pretty memorable! And now we will always have that picture to look back on.

One of Mark's more memorable photos from his 365 project

Any advice for those considering starting a 365 project or something similar?

Do it. It’s a big commitment but if you’re even considering it then I think you’d benefit from the experience. Once you’re over that initial hurdle of starting and you’ve overcome all your commitment issues, don’t give up. There were many days when I really didn’t want to take a photo, but I also found I got some of my best images on those days as I really pushed my imagination and creativity. As I mentioned before, making a list of ideas is a great help, and please just don’t give up. For the sake of that one photo on the day you want to throw in the towel you’ll thank yourself in the long run if you get through it.

You can find Mark’s final set of all 365 images from his project on Flickr.

Tips for completing a 365 photo project

We also spoke to Helen Ogbourn, another successful 365 project photographer who finished her year-long photography project on 31st May 2011. She shares with us some of her tips for getting through the year and finding inspiration when you get stuck…
  1. Take your camera everywhere you go because quite often the best photos come when you least expect it. Try using your camera phone or a compact camera for a change if you usually use a DSLR.
  2. Don’t be too particular, not every photo in a 365 project is going to be brilliant. Some days will be far better than others and some days are just about getting any photo. Don’t give up, it’s worth sticking to it for the better days!
  3. Share your photos online and get people to follow along, then you are accountable to an audience! It’s nice when people enjoy the photos and follow your experience.
  4. Have back-up ideas.  Some days will be full of inspiration and you’ll be spoilt for choice. Make a note of the extra ideas so that you can go back to them on a day where you are feeling less inspired.
  5. Join a photo sharing site such as Flickr. There are many groups out there to join and plenty of encouragement from other 365-ers to keep you going.
  6. Set some themes for yourself or ask others for suggestions. For example, you could spend a week taking black & white photos or a week of street photography.
  7. If you don’t want to think of ideas yourself, websites such as The Daily Shoot will set you a theme each day and can be followed online, by email and twitter.
  8. Take the opportunity to learn more about your camera while you do the project and challenge yourself to take photos using different settings.
  9. Don’t leave taking your photos until the evening. Get used to thinking about them from when you get up in the morning, it’ll soon become a habit and then you won’t have that evening panic.
  10. Go to the library or a bookshop and browse photography books and magazines – you’ll get plenty of inspiration.

Other projects to consider

Taking one photo each day for a whole year will not appeal to everyone, but there are plenty of other weekly and monthly photography projects that may be more practical for some people.  We asked Helen about her photography project experience over the past year and found out a little more about the personal photography goals she has lined up now that her 365 project is done and dusted…

Why did you decide to start a 365 photo project?

Having received a compact camera the year before as a gift, I decided it was time to learn how to use it to its potential and in no time I had caught the photography bug. The only issue was that I had no real idea about types of photographs I wanted to take. It was then that I took on the challenge of taking a photo every day for a year to explore the possibilities.

What is your advice to someone who’s thinking about starting a 365 project or other daily photography project?

365 photo projects are certainly not to be underestimated! They require commitment, imagination and a bit of patience but after a short while the project becomes a part of your everyday life. The challenge of finding a photo opportunity each day can be difficult, however, it’s worth persisting for the satisfaction and rewards that you experience throughout the year.

What are the biggest positives that  have come from working on your various photography projects?

I soon realised I was taking a lot more notice of the world around me and enjoying otherwise mundane activities such as my commute to work! Over the course of my 365 project I got to know my camera incredibly well and used it as an opportunity to shoot with other types of camera, try all different camera modes and use different processing techniques. I’ve became a much more confident photographer and have started to realise that there are types of photography that I find particularly rewarding.

Can you tell us a bit more about the self-portrait project that you’re currently working on?

Having thoroughly enjoyed my first photo project, I wanted to continue to push myself to learn more about photography and decided to take on another one. I’m currently approaching the end of a 30 day project of self portraits which has been a huge challenge! I don’t love being in front of the camera and haven’t previously had a lot of experience of taking photos of people, so I thought this would really get me out my comfort zone.
Initially I was unsure about what a self portrait should be. 26 photos into the project I find myself in a very different position. I enjoy the challenge of thinking of new ideas, I don’t mind being in front of the camera and I’ve come to the conclusion that self portraits can be anything from capturing the very ordinary to the more creative and posed shots. They’re also a great way to experiment with focus settings as a much more manual approach is required here. Tripods are also very useful for this kind of project, but not necessary if you are willing to experiment a bit more.

Do you have any plans for another year-long photography goal in 2012?

I’ve started to take weekly photos in 2012 to reflect my year, in which all photos must include some part of me and an item that has been significant in the week. I am processing the photos using Adobe Lightroom presets, all with a similar tone, so that they fit nicely as a collection to print in a photobook at the end of the year.

A 365 project isn’t for everyone, do you have any other suggestions for those wanting to embark on a photography project that doesn’t require taking a photo every day for a whole year?

Here are some more ideas you may want to consider for photo projects:
  • 52 week photo project – one photo each week for a whole year
  • 30 day photo project,  perhaps using a particular theme. For example: black and white photos or mobile phone photography
  • A day in the life – take one photo every hour for a day
  • Work your way through the alphabet and take photos of things beginning with the letters A-Z
  • Photograph the seasons throughout the year
  • A self portrait project
  • A time specific project, for example, taking a photo at 3pm every day, week, month or year
To see more of Helen’s work, visit her blog or Flickr.

So, are you planning on starting a photography project in 2012 or have you already begun? If so, let us know in the comments below – we’d love to hear what you’ll be focusing on photographing this year!


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Ten Top Wedding Photography Tips

Article from Kapow - You can read more wedding photography tips and business advice with Kapow’s new iPhone app titled: Wedding Photographer's Starter Kit.

At every wedding we shoot we meet guests with shiny new DSLRs. It’s amazing how often one of them will come and ask for advice because they are about to photograph their first wedding. Karl and I are total photography geeks so we never mind chatting about our equipment and sharing some of our techniques. Because of this approach we find that we make a lot more friends (and therefore customers) rather than if we strive to keep our wedding photography ‘secrets’ to ourselves.

Wedding photography can be one of the most rewarding professions around. The emotion that you can evoke when you give a newlywed couple their wedding photographs can be incredible. Once you have experienced this you will be addicted to improving your work and growing your list of satisfied customers.

Unfortunately shooting your first wedding is not as easy as buying a big camera with a bigger lens and turning up at the church. You are going to be capturing the most important day in the couple’s life and you should prepare accordingly.

So here are 10 tips to consider when you're asked to photograph your first wedding:

1. Manage expectations

Every photographer with aspirations of becoming a professional wedding photographer should start out shooting weddings for free. In this ‘current financial climate’ a lot of couples are looking to reduce the cost of getting married and would be grateful for some free photography. This will take some pressure of you and as long as you explain to them that it is your first attempt, they will understand if your work isn’t quite up to the standard of Damien Lovegrove.

2. Create a 'Shot List'

It’s important when you are starting out to create a photography shot list to use during the day. Speak to the bride and groom beforehand and come up with a plan of what photographs they would like and when they will need to be taken. Great uncle Bob might be sat in a corner for the entire wedding day but if he’s on your list, make sure to seek him out for his portrait.

Once you have ticked off all your official photographs you will be able to relax and have fun with the camera capturing the emotions of the big day.

Wedding Photography

3. Enlist the help of the Groomsmen

Ideally you should ask a friend or relative to help you shoot your first wedding but if this isn’t an option, ask the groomsmen for help. After all, they are really there to help with the smooth running of the day and not just to look pretty.

Give the best man and each of the ushers a copy of the shot list and a timetable of events. Ask them to give you a hand calling the guests for the group shots especially. When you are preparing the photograph of the entire wedding party you won’t want to be running round on your own, retrieving guests from the bar.

4. Know your camera inside out

We often joke that anyone with a decent camera can photograph a wedding and this might just be the case if the weather is perfect, the vicar is cooperative and the wedding is being held on a beach in Mauritius. In reality you probably won’t be getting at least two of these whilst shooting your first wedding. You might get a rainy day, the vicar will only allow you to shoot from the back of the church (without flash) and the venue might be cramped and dark. These are the situations where a professional photographer will make his work stand out.

You must know what your camera is capable of in every situation. Experiment with different ISO settings and know where the acceptable range is in case you need to squeeze a bit more light out of a badly lit room. Learn how to use the different focusing modes to track a moving subject. Practice using flash as a main source of light and also a fill light and ensure you are competent in any lighting situation.

These techniques will ensure you are ready to tackle anything that the wedding day will throw at you and they’ll ensure that you are shooting with the camera and not fiddling with it.

Bride and groom walking down road

5. Shoot a lot

It costs nothing to fill up a memory card so shoot and keep shooting all day. I don’t mean keep lining the guests up for group shot after group shot but shoot everything you can. The venue, the cars, the flowers, etc. should all be on your standard list but try putting on a long lens and shooting the guests again and again from different angles. If you are standing back and not getting in their way they’ll ignore you after a while and you’ll get some great shots of them relaxing and enjoying themselves.
You’ll find as you shoot more and more weddings you will become more efficient and the amount of ‘keepers’ you’ll get on a typical day will increase over time. When you are starting out you can try and offset this by keeping that shutter busy.

6. Research the venue

Always go and see the church and wedding venue before the big day. Especially if you haven’t been there before. Try and meet the wedding coordinator and explain to them that you are a novice photographer. You’ll usually pick up some great advice from them and they will show you all the usual spots for the best photography.

At your first wedding you are not trying to create unique images that have never been seen before so have a look at what others have shot in the past. Visit the websites of local wedding photographers and the chances are you’ll find some photographs from a wedding shot at your venue and you will be able to take inspiration from them.


7. Hire but don’t buy

It’s very tempting when you have been booked to shoot your first wedding to go out and buy a new professional camera with all the accessories that inevitably come with it. The trouble is, it will probably cost you more money to buy the camera than you will earn from the wedding. This means that you are running your business at a loss right from day one.

It’s much better in my opinion to rent the equipment that you need for the day. That way you’ll have excellent gear to use and it also means that your current camera can be used as a backup if things go wrong.

Do ensure to book the rental for a day or two before the wedding. This will give you time to familiarise yourself with the different button layout and tune the camera to your ow preferences.

8. Be polite and professional

There are a lot of stories about wedding photographers being rude to guests. A guest told me he’d been to a wedding once where the photographer was stood on the steps setting up the group shot, smoking a cigarette whilst whistling and barking orders at the guests. Don’t be that photographer!
After a wedding only a handful of the guests will actually see your wedding photos. The only experience most of the guests will have of you is watching you work. If you are rude or discourteous then you can forget any referral work, no matter what the standard of your photography is.

If you are polite and professional with the guests this will also reflect in your photography. Most people hate having their photograph taken so making this as painless as possible is your aim for the day.

Wedding - Bride and groom walking

9. Backup, backup and backup again

Alex Lindsay from Pixel Corps is often heard saying ‘A photograph doesn’t exist until it exists in three places’ and we tend to agree. During a wedding there is usually some downtime when the guests are eating and this is the first opportunity you have to start your backup strategy. We always take a laptop with us and copy the cards to the hard drive while we are on our break. This also gives you the chance to quickly scan through the photos that you have already taken and you can double check that you have everything that you need so far.

After the wedding we return to the office and back the photographs up to our main editing machine. We use Macs so once this has completed we use Time Machine to make another backup of the photographs to an external drive. After this round of backups has completed, the external drive is taken off site and put in a fire safe at one of our houses.

Then and only then do we know that we can reuse a memory cards for the next wedding.

10. Keep it simple

There’s a saying in sport ‘Don’t try to win the game with a miracle shot’. The same theory applies to wedding photography. Don't attempt to be over creative because you think you have to. Keep it simple. Good, sharp, uncluttered and in focus images are what you are aiming for. Trying to be too arty and spending too much time looking for that miracle shot could waste precious time that could be used to capture a dozen other ‘banker’ images.

Shooting your first wedding can be nerve-wracking but you’ll soon find that it can also be tremendous fun. Get to know the groomsmen and bridal party before the wedding day if you can. This will help you all relax and the fun you are having will be reflected in your photographs. Share your work on all the social media sites and before long you’ll be receiving referrals, gaining a reputation and hopefully be well on the way to building a successful wedding photography business.

Wedding couple

Article from Kapow - You can read more wedding photography tips and business advice with Kapow’s new iPhone app titled: Wedding Photographer's Starter Kit.