On a trip to Serbia to attend a camera show I had brought with me my Leica IIIg and Elmar 50mm 3.5 lens and loaded up with my favorite film Agfa Vista 200. What was interesting about this roll is…Read More
Just last week on my 6th visit to Serbia I found a pretty good deal on a 1951 Leica IIIf screw mount camera body. After a few consultations with Google Translate I met a man named Milos in front of the Belgrade National Theater to inspect the camera…Read More
I recently set out to accomplish an extreme task. Reduce everything I own down to the size of an 18 liter backpack. It was especially challenging considering the "extra" items I needed in order...Read More
I searched this city up and down for film cameras and film photography equipment. I put that knowledge into this film camera buying guide, detailing and ranking all the places with a steady...Read More
Unless you are an avid point and shoot film camera collector, it's likely you have never heard of the Rollei AFM 35. First of all its a marvelous little camera, but the misconception that it lacks...Read More
Fuji Superia 1600 is potentially the perfect film for most any casual situation, from sunlit outdoors to dim indoor interiors it provides a very fine grain structure for its class maintaining rich color saturation in low lightRead More
For those who already have an understanding that the sensor size of your camera affects the effective field of view of a lens, here are some charts, tables, and other visuals to help you calculate the 35mm…Read More
One of the most well-known photos of our time is that of the 'Afghan Girl'. Taken by photographer Steve McCurry while on assignment for National Geographic in Pakistan in 1984.Read More
With news of a Sony A6000 predecessor coming mid-June, two things come to mind for current A6000 fans. One, it's time to buy the latest and greatest; and two, a price drop on the current model only adds to its appeal. Even though the coming A6XXX is said to be a successor and not a replacement, let's take a look at the current A6000 and see how it stacks up to other popular cameras after a solid 15 months on the market - with the Sony A6000 vs Everything.
Canon EOS M3 vs Sony A6000
In this article we will take you out of the studio and into the real world, simply trying to find the best shot for each lens type. If you don't yet know difference between an 18mm and a 50mm, read on.Read More
There are a lot of cameras out there, let's see all types of digital cameras explained to help you find what camera is right for you.Read More
Today, Wednesday the 22nd of April, marks the 45th year of Earth Day. A day dedicated for support of environmental protection. In celebration of Earth Day, let's take a look at our planet through the eyes of an astronaut and photographer.
Donald Pettit is an American chemical engineer and NASA astronaut. With seven missions to space and two long stays aboard the International Space Station, Donald gives us and inspirational insight into the vast possibilities of seeing things differently.
NASA Space Photographer: Cupola Frontier
Time-lapse Earth from Space & Aurora Borealis
More Awesome Space Pictures from Donald Pettit
For more images visit Don's SmugMug Photo Gallery.
Street photography is the photography of street life, be it people, animals, architecture, nature, or public spaces where they all combine. Street photography is built on basis of candid photography, which is defined as subjects having a unposed appearance often with a lack of acknowledgment to the cameras presence.
Cameras like the Fujifilm X100T and Ricoh GR are modern classics in the street photography scene. With full frame focal lengths equivalent of 35 and 28mm, they sport focal lengths that are widely accepted as the best for street photography.
With such wide focal lengths, it is essential to get physically close [compared to standard and tele. lengths] to your subject if it is the focus of your composition, especially if you are trying to capture an emotion through a portrait.
Getting close without breaking the candid relationship with your subjects can be extremely difficult. A skilled street photographer will find the composition, adjust settings, get close, frame the shot, capture the image, and move on all in a matter of seconds and without being noticed.
It's the fast pace of street photography that can sometimes lead to dutch angles, slightly blurry shots, and improper exposure. While unacceptable in a studio situation, these elements add to the charm candid nature of street photography.
What is a Candid Image?
Being that street photography is so closely related to candid photography, let's take a closer look at the meaning of candid photography. Here are some excerpts from the Official Nikon Nikkormat Manual (1977).
"So much of the best 35mm photography today is unposed, that the term 'candid' has almost lost its meaning. However, we'll limit our discussion of candids to those shots you are attempting to take in a natural surrounding with your subject almost or entirely unaware of your intent."
"Try avoiding confusing backgrounds. Make use of your depth of field to throw confusing backgrounds out of focus."
"Wait for peak expression or peak excitement to occur before shooting"
"If you intend to shoot many candid shots, investigate the 85mm f1/.8 Nikkor Auto, which is a lens with exceptional speed and sharpness and can make close-us from some distance."
So now it seems we have a bit of conflicting information. The best focal length for street photography is widely accepted as about 35mm, but the essence of street photography is based on the candid, which is most easily achieved by a telephoto length.
Perhaps it's best to settle somewhere between. Say a nifty fifty (50mm lens)? Like most of photography it's a little more art than science. So there is no official best focal length for street photography, the best focal length is what works for you, but 28mm to 85mm is a great place to start.
Street Photography with A Telephoto Lens
Taking the idea of introducing telephoto lengths to street photography a bit further, I wanted to personally explore the candid in a most unobtrusive way. Completely leaving wide angles in the dust, I chose a (Canon FD) 200mm lens on a Sony A6000, giving an equivalent full frame focal length of 300mm.
With an 11 mile walk through the city, I was able to capture a small glimpse of the most iconic and diverse street life of Manhattan.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Telephoto Lens for Street Photography
Using a large telephoto lens for street photography presented several new challenges and advantages. Firstly the physical size was a challenge. It's no secret you are taking photos. Though it is not easy for a bystander to pinpoint what is it you are gazing at. Additionally, with the reach of a telephoto lens, extreme changes in lighting are easy to come across with a simple pan of the lens. From blinding sunlight to a heavily shaded stoop, these situations are not new to a street photographer, and are ones where a camera with a wide dynamic range will prove its value.
The biggest advantage of using a telephoto lens for street photography is of course the optical reach of the lens. With the narrow field of view of a 200mm lens, even standing across the street may be too close to capture a head-to-toe image.
Being further away from your subjects make it much easier to maintain a candid relationship. This also lends the ability for the photographer to take their time waiting for a peak moments of interest, in a way that wide angle street photography often does not.
Conversely though, putting distance between you and your subject can make it difficult to get a clean shot in crowded areas. And with these distances the subject is more in control than the photographer. If you are about to capture a portrait and your subject turns around completely, you may have to walk half a block to get on the other side of them to mimic the composition you intended to capture but just missed.
Looking back at the idea of street photography and the results from shooting it with a 200mm lens:
With its narrow field of view, a 200mm lens captures very compress images, that is your foreground and background appearing to be compressed together. A 200mm lens is commonly accepted as yielding 'unflattering' results when taking pictures of people. Though the ability to take your time composing images [unnoticed] is a clear advantage of using a telephoto lens for street photography.
Considering the pros and cons I think there may be a sweet spot in using an 85mm to 105mm lens. These two focal lengths are telephoto lengths that still support a realistic and flattering amount of compression when photographing people, and put enough distance between you and your subject that you may get a bit more time to wait for the moment of peak excitement.
 Amphora Editorial Board. Official Nikon Nikkormat Manual. Garden City, New York: American Photographic Book Publishing Co., Inc. 1977
Technical note: Other than slight cropping and some highlight adjustments, these images are mostly as-is from the camera. Shot on 'Soft High Key' picture setting which gives a low-contrast look similar to that of the RAW video from a Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC).
As photographers we often find ourselves waist deep in odd-jobs searching for that next big opportunity. From the inaugural $150 wedding job to the corporate client that pays more for three days of work than you've ever made in a month; opportunities can take you anywhere and everywhere in-between.
How about the opportunity to investigate a murder? Heck, maybe even solve one? Well this is the day to day reality of London Metropolitan Police Department Forensic Photographer Nick Marsh. With 30 years on the force, and 20 of them as a forensic photographer, Nick's uses his analytical approach to photography fusing art and technique to unearth some of London's most gruesome mysteries.
The Forensic Photographer
The Photographic Eye
Imagine this: There's a young woman sitting in a café near the window...
The portrait photographer notices how the contours of her face are gently lit by the setting sun, while the photojournalist sees the empty seat in front of her and the constant glances outside. The forensic photographer sees a perfect lipstick mark left on the coffee cup, while the fashion photographer prefers a lighter shade.
First popularized by Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers: The Story of Success", it's commonly said that to become an expert at something, it takes 10,000 hours of practice at the given skill. That's roughly 20 hours a week for 10 years.
While that may be true, it surely doesn't take that long to develop a habit. Meaning it doesn't necessarily take 10 years behind the camera to start to think like a photographer. As photographers we train ourselves consciously and subconsciously through experience and muscle memory. With all the places photography can take you, it's interesting how each of us interpret our surroundings differently, what I call - how we perceive the woman by the window.
This short documentary by director David Beazley provides an intriguing look at one photographers such interpretations of the world around him.
It's All About the Light
One recurring piece of insight you'll find time and time again from professional photographers is that it's not about the camera it's about the photographer. On the importance of photographic equipment, Nick Marsh would tell you:
"As a matter of fact the camera in most types of photography we undertake is irrelevant, it's about light. It's about understanding about the way light is going and what we need to see in our image."
..And the Knowledge
Sure you need equipment capable enough for the type of work you are doing, but beyond that it's not about how many bells and whistles you've got or how big you camera case is. Nick stresses the importance training in photography. For him the artistic eye is used to unearth the fact of the matter, while being sure not to misrepresent the reality of the scene.
"If you've got limited training, say for example a fatal accident, and you're trying to recreate that for the jury as-is with true perspective, one of the most common things I see is the use things like a wide-angled lens. Which clearly distorts perspective and appears to make the the vehicles look twice the distance they are away. So if you put that into court you're actually giving them false information.. The Level of knowledge is reduced."
The Proactive Use of Light in Forensic Photography
In the video Nick mentions an investigation of a murder where crucial evidence was discovered on the wall of a flat by use of infrared imaging. In his book Forensic Photography: A Practitioner's Guide he details the crime further.
... In this case a suspect was arrested for multiple murders around the St Pancras area of London. On his arrest his flat was searched and half a torso was found in his bedroom. When the rest of flat was treated with luminol in the search for blood, it was clear that thcrc had been a lot of previous activity. When a light source search was carried out for latent linger marks to ascertain who else might have been there, in terms of victims or other suspects, a small area of erased writing was found, as in the above case. In this case, however, it was almost illegible even under the laser. As is standard practice we then repeated the search area using a tunable light source through the spectrum, starting at UV finishing at IR. To mist with the viewing of IR, a video camera with an IR viewing mode was used and this time the area showed a girl's name. The walls of the flat were then speculatively searched and vidcoed (as required) using IR and another four or five names were found. These names subsequently turned out to be the names of previous victims.
If you're curious what it takes be a London MET Forensic Photographer, well first you've got to already be employed as Police Photographic Officer. Second, you can take this course:
Professional Forensic Photography Attendance Criteria
This course is for police staff currently employed as Photographic Officers.
To enable the student to develop advanced stills techniques to use at Scenes of Crime.
The student will be able to:
Demonstrate using the equipment Describe relevant procedures and policy that impact on crime scene photography Demonstrate the ability to adapt techniques to different scenes Describe legal issues that impact on crime scene photography Demonstrate completing relevant paperwork Conduct critical assessment of their work
Duration; 15 days Course number; CS209
The following is a collection of some of the earliest known images of people smiling, starting with a pair of soldiers in the Mexican American War in 1847, up to a group of soldiers near the end of the Civil War.Read More
There's much to be debated when asking "Is film dead?" In my opinion it could best be summarized by saying, "Film is not dead, it's just not a necessity." Though some film purists would disagree.Read More
From guaranteed sharp pictures every time, to stunning astrophotography photos, here are 7 lesser known photography tips and principles.
1. Shutter Sharp
This tip doesn't really have a name. I'm dubbing it Shutter Sharp. Shutter sharp is a simple calculation to determine the minimum shutter speed that will ensure a sharp shot every time, when shooting handheld on non image stabilized lenses. For this one all you need to do is set your shutter speed to double your focal length.
Shutter Speed = Focal Length x 2
So if you are shooting with a zoom at 250mm, your shutter speed should be 1/500th or faster. If you are shooting with a 100mm lens shutter speed should be 1/200th or faster and so on.
Getting the Most Out of Shutter Sharp
Many of you out there have an APS-C or smaller sized sensor. Make sure to note your sensor size and use this rule based on the Full Frame Equivalent given by your lens and sensor. On a Canon 7D MKII for example, you would have a Canon APS-C sized sensor giving a crop factor of 1.6x. In this scenario a lens at a focal length of 250mm would have a full frame equivalent of 400mm. Giving you a suggested shutter speed of 1/800th of a second.
[pmath size=14]800= 2(250 x 1.6)[/pmath] or 250 x 1.6 x 2 = 800
You can see it put into practice here, as well as 7 addition causes of blurry photos and how to fix them.
This is not a rule but a guide. It's possible to shoot at lower shutter speeds than shutter sharp suggests, but the likelihood of doing so is much less when you go against it.
2. Hyperfocal Distance
Hyperfocal distance is a way to achieve the maximum amount of sharpness (depth of field) on a given lens. This is most useful in street photography and landscape photography. Hyperfocal distance is:
The shortest distance at which a lens can be focused where the depth of field spans from exactly half that distance, out to infinity.
As there are no numbers in this base principle, it's best understood in practice. This is nearly impossible to do on modern lenses with no focal distance scale written on them like older manual focusing lenses.
Depth of field is exponential, so with any lens as you focus further away the depth of field increases. It increases more so forward than backward from the point of focus. At some point you will achieve focus where the depth of field spans from half your current focal distance out to infinity. That is your Hyperfocal Distance.
For example if you used a Nikon D4 with a 50mm lens, your hyperfocal distance would be about 35ft. It's at that focal distance that you would have everything in focus from about 17ft onward to infinity.
3. Sunny 16
This rule goes all the way back to the mid 1800's and can be used today to the same effect. The Sunny 16 is a method for obtaining correct exposure when shooting outdoors without any metering. Basically it sets the par for proper exposure in the sun, and with some knowledge of photography Reciprocity, this little tip goes a long way. It is as follows:
Correct exposure outdoors on a sunny day: f/16, 1/100th, 100 ISO
Getting the Most Out of the Sunny 16
Use the photographic Reciprocity Law below to match exposure to the Sunny 16 while getting the aperture or shutter speeds you want.
4. Reciprocity Law
The reciprocity law is probably the most significant of this list. Once you understand and apply it to your work, you'll find your abilities and confidence as a photographer broaden in ways you didn't know possible.
The density of a photographic image is directly proportionate to the density of light
Essentially this is a method of calculating exposure equivalence. If you can multiply and divide simple numbers by 2 as well as observe the aperture of your lens, you can calculate reciprocity. By knowing what setting changes are equal to one stop of light change, you can compensate for almost any gain or loss of light from one setting, by changing another. This knowledge will give you control of the image while maintaining proper exposure. You will do this by using aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
Doubling or halving the shutter speed or ISO once equals a change in 1 f-stop. Increasing or decreasing to the next common aperture is also equal to a change in 1 f-stop.
Lets start in a scenario where The Sunny 16, is in effect, which is f/16, 1/100th, 100 ISO.
If you wanted more shallow depth of field in this situation, you could compensate the light increase of lowering the aperture by increasing the shutter speed. Changing the Aperture from f/16 to f/5.6 would add 3x the amount of light (3 stops) to your image. To compensate you would double the shutter speed 3 times equalling 1/800th, reducing 3x the amount of light. Both settings balance out and total light input to the image remains the same.
5. Inverse Square Law
This law is most closely associated with the use of flash or studio lights.
An object at a distance 'A' from a given light source, will receive 1/4th the illumination when distance is doubled to distance 'B'.
Therefore if you have a proper exposure and lighting, then move your subject twice the distance from the light source, it would require 4x the amount of light to achieve the same amount of light when it was half the distance it currently is.
6. The Astrophotography 500 [AKA 600]
If you haven't explored simple astrophotography before, I can tell you its surprisingly easy to expose an image long enough that the stars in your image have slight trails to them rather than being a pinpoint of light. Unless done to extremes this is undesirable. At long exposures the rotation of the earth can act as a sort of camera shake, as you are moving but the stars are [comparatively] not.
This is a simple mathematical calculation for determining the longest exposure possible before star trails begin to emerge.
Shutter Speed = 500 / Focal Length
Simply take the number 500 and divide it by the focal length you are using, the result is the maximum amount of time (in seconds) you can expose the image before star trails begin to emerge.
If you were shooting the night sky with a 24mm lens:
500 / 24 = 20.83
So this means you should shoot at about a twenty second exposure or faster to capture pin sharp star images. Some use the number 600 which gives a similar results, but I find 500 to be a bit more conservative and therefore better results.
Getting the Most Out of the Astrophotography 500
With the maximum shutter speed determined, you can then lock that in and use aperture and/or ISO to increase the light input for your image. In astrophotography you'll want to increase the ISO to its usable limits and the aperture to its minimum. The more light, the more stars.
7. Scheimpflug Principle
Austrian army captain and aerial photographer Theodor Scheimpflug (1865-1911) stated that:
"If the lens pane is tilted down, when extended lines from the lens pane, the object plane and the film plane intersect at the same point, the entire subject plane is in focus."
This principle shows its effect in swing and tilt movements of view cameras, and tilt-shift lenses. In landscape photography for example, this means that the lens can be tilted downward, so that the plane of focus is no longer perpendicular to the ground but parallel to it. This acheives focus from near to infinity no matter the aperture.
TED Talks "Conference Series"
If you haven't heard to TED talks, they are a highly interesting and educational series of global conferences guided by the slogan "Ideas Worth Spreading". They cover topics from breakthroughs in the medical technology industry, to world issues, to dancing robots.
Any given TED talk is sure to spark your interest. If you're a photographer and you happen to find a talk on ideas worth spreading in the photography industry, even better. Here are 5 TED talks for photographers.
1. Mysteries of the Unseen World
Ideas, Topics, & Principles:
- Timelapse Photography
- High Speed Cameras
- Macro Photography
- Data Visualization
2. The Silent Drama of Photography
Ideas, Topics, & Principles:
- Art of Photography
- Photojournalism, Anthropology, Activism, Publication
- Black & White
3. Imaging at 1,000,000,000,000 FPS
Ideas, Topics, & Principles:
- Optical Science
- High Speed Cameras
4. Hidden Cameras in the World's Most Dangerous Places
Ideas, Topics, & Principles:
- Hidden Cameras
- Human Rights
4. A Flying Camera on a Leash
Ideas, Topics, & Principles:
- Photographers Rights
5 TED Talks for Photographers Takeaway
Photography is all about having fun, constantly learning, and creating. Hopefully you have found some inspiration from one of these videos, either to explore a new area of photography, or further develop your current skill set. With so much to learn, photography is like a good book that never ends. And of course I wouldn't leave you without...
Dancing Mini Robots!