Archive for the Techniques Category

The Weekly Photo – December 5, 2011

Posted in Art of Photography, TCBlog, Techniques, Workshops and Seminars on December 5, 2011 by Darwin

When I am out doing ‘serious’ photography, I have my ‘serious’ camera gear. Usually for landscape photography that is my Canon 1ds Mark III with my four Tilt-Shift lenses and a telephoto zoom (Sigma 120-400mm). But even with my landscape photography pack, I still always have my point-n-shoot camera in a pocket just to get fast grab shots in changing light. For the November Fire and Ice Tour we stopped at the Bighorn Dam west of Nordegg to find fast moving fog rolling through the spruce trees. I made these two quick snaps with the Canon G11 because the light was changing super fast. By the time I could dig out the ‘big guns’ the moment was gone. If I didn’t have the point-n-shoot I probably would have missed the moment! Mostly this is a reminder to myself to always have the point-n-shoot with me.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

The Weekly Photo – November 7, 2011

Posted in Art of Photography, Image Processing and Software, Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2011 by Darwin

Making photos usually does not stop at pressing the shutter. Image making is a three part process and this process was really popularized by Ansel Adams in his series of books; The Camera, The Negative and The Print. In today’s digital world photography world, we capture images in our camera, we process the resulting image (often a RAW ‘negative’) in the computer and then we output our images to print (or the web) so the process has not changed just the technology of how we do the process.

I would add a fourth component to Ansel Adams equation and that is The Person. The camera does not make the image; it is the photographer. What interests you, what attracts your eye, what you choose to include or exclude, how you compose and ‘see’ are individual and personal. So let’s not forget that the end product is the result of the personal vision of the photographer (and this vision can and should carry through from seeing to capture, development and print).

As a photographer who learned and grew up photographically using slide film, I was mostly denied the luxury of carrying my photographic vision beyond the press of the shutter. The end product was the slide (a piece of positive film). The image was ‘processed’ by a lab and there was little ‘creative’ input at the processing stage (save for altering the the exposure by pushing or pulling the development). Really, the film was developed in a set formula to insure that the exposure captured in-camera was the exposure that came out on the slide. And as far as printing was concerned slide film could be printed but with difficulty and serious photographic printers stuck with negative film. Mostly slides were used to hand to publishers who printed the image in books and magazines and calendars (the printing was out of the photographer’s control). The simple point here is that a slide shooter had to use all his or her craft and art in the capture stage. The image had to be finished in-camera. End of story.

I was reminded of the ‘getting it right’ in-camera during a recent Creative Expression Masterclass workshop with Royce Howland and Samantha Crysanthou. For some of the exercises in seeing we needed participants to capture images in-camera using JPEG and the images were not to be processed after the fact. Having to capture what to what you see and getting it the best possible in-camera is great exercise in discipline. Even this former slide shooter realized just how much I have come to rely on ‘enhancing’ my personal vision through the development of the digital negative. The image below is an in-camera JPEG capture and this image reminded me how rewarding it was and is to get a completely finished image in-camera. No post-processing was done on this image save for resizing and sharpening for the web.

©Darwin Wiggett

Canon EOS-1ds Mark III, Canon TS-E 24mm lens, 1/4s at f11, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer, Singh-Ray 3 stop soft-edge grad filter.

Fabulous Film Fridays – September 30, 2011

Posted in Art of Photography, Fabulous Film Fridays, Photography Gear, TCBlog, Techniques with tags , , , , , , on September 30, 2011 by Darwin

Below are three images I made with Einstein our glass lens Holga which is really sharp in the center of the frame but soft towards the edges. I think Holga’s are great for old abandoned things;the look of the images matches the feel of the subject.  I used Fuji NPS 160 film. Click on each image to see a larger view.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

Dredging Up the Canon 7D

Posted in Camera Review, Controversy, Photography Gear, TCBlog, Techniques with tags , , , , , on September 24, 2011 by Darwin

Note: To see all future reviews please note this blog is no longer active, please visit me over at oopoomoo.com

Almost two years ago Samantha and I did a little review on the Canon 7D that caused a bit of a stir. We felt that the 7D is one of Canon’s most user friendly and best handling cameras. We loved it for that. What we did not like was the quality of files from the camera which we felt were sub par. Of course a vocal majority of people blamed our methodology, and the way we used the camera for the shoddy results; according to them the camera was not the problem, it was the testers. If that is the case then why do we get really fine results from the Canon EOS 1Ds, the Canon Rebel Xsi, The Canon Rebel T2i, and the Nikon D300s? Others accused us of being paid by Nikon for the bad review. Really? Wow. It goes on on on. In the end neither Samantha or I and the way we do photography could get acceptable results from the camera.

In the intervening time, we have received dozens of emails from 7D users telling us they see exactly what we saw in our review (crappy files). They all want to know if there is a ‘fix’ for the camera that they otherwise love. I had hoped that Canon would have addressed whatever issue was causing the problem (too strong of an anti-aliasing filter, or some adjustment to the sensor) but they don’t seem to have (to my knowledge). For example, here is an email I just got yesterday from another unhappy 7D owner:

I know this is old news to you, but it’s new to me and I’m wondering if you can help? I bought a Canon 7d about 6 months ago. I took it out of the box, shot the usual dumb pictures of my kitchen and back yard, but didn’t really look at them. I won’t bore you with the details, but for a bunch of reasons I put the 7d down and didn’t get back to it until today.

So today, I took the 7d and my wife’s Nikon d300 out and shot about 150 pictures, most of the time shooting identical or similar pictures with both cameras. Long story short, the Nikon pictures are perfect and the 7d pictures look like the ones in your 2009 article. Every single one.

A few of the Canon pictures, ones that have a distant subject and something in the foreground, look as though they might be tremendously front-focused. I don’t mean a little bit; I mean they’re focused about half-way between me and the subject. I’ll have to go out tomorrow and test that.

In any case, the problem has nothing to do with diffraction, or raw conversion programs, or any of the other things that commenters bashed you with. They’re just not sharp.

This makes me sad, because like you, I love the way the camera handles, and the color is fantastic, better, I think, than the Nikon. Also because I was dumb enough not to do this until it was too late to return the camera, and I don’t even feel that I can sell it honestly. So as of now, I feel like I might have burned 1500 bucks, or whatever. I Googled “soft Canon 7d”, and I found your blog.

Sooooo, here’s the question: Since you’ve been aware of the issue for a year or so, I’m wondering If you ever found out what the problem is. Did Canon ever acknowledge that there is a problem? Can it be fixed? Or is it just a paperweight that I might as well throw away? If there is a fix, could you just point me in the right direction?

The point of this post is not a ‘we told you so’ or to rehash the results of the test. The point is simple; numerous people have troubles getting an acceptable file from the 7D (it’s not just us). Are there any 7D users out there that have solved this problem and if so how? Does anyone know what the cause of the problem is? Has Canon addressed the issue or made a fix (e.g. firmware update)?

Not only have we heard complaints about file quality but we have also heard about severe front-focus or back-focus problems with the 7D that can’t easily be fixed with micro-focus adjustments (this sounds like the problem in the email above). We want to hear from 7D users who have had any  ‘problems’  (focus or otherwise) with the 7D and learn how you fixed those problems. We would like to help out frustrated 7D owners to get them the camera they thought they purchased. Please constructive comments only, bashing and name-calling will not be tolerated. Thanks in advance.

Readers have sent in these really helpful links as well:

How to fix auto-focus problems with the 7D

Canon 7D Auto-focus Petitition

Last Chance in 2011 for Intensive Photo Learning

Posted in Art of Photography, Artistic Development, Instruction, Monthly Photo Contest, Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2011 by Darwin

Whew! Autumn is just getting started and Samantha and I are very busy with tours and workshops.  Fall is always a prime time to be out either photographing on a tour or learning the art of photography in a workshop, and this year we’re seeing a lot of keen shooters out there! In fact, almost all of our joint workshops are sold out at this juncture! Luckily, though, we still have some space in the PhotoCram Workshop held in Edson, Alberta Sept. 30 – Oct. 2, so if you are looking to invest in your photography, this is a great opportunity (and last chance!) to catch some fall colour while also honing your craft. Edson is not too far from world-famous Jasper National Park so you may want to extend your learning with a little side-trip to catch the start of the elk rut in Jasper.

©Darwin Wiggett

What is PhotoCram, you may be thinking.  Well, Sam and I have developed a special, intensive learning experience that strikes the balance between improving your technical skills (and we mean REALLY understanding creative use of aperture, shutter speed, histograms etc.) and artistic development.  (You can see the topics we are covering listed below).

Class sessions are reinforced with practice during field sessions, and student assignments ensure that concepts are understood on a working level so that your learning stays with you after the weekend is over.  We have designed this event so that both beginners and advanced shooters will gain significant benefit. The folks in the Edson Camera Club have done an excellent job in keeping the costs for this workshop low so that price is less of a barrier.  The workshop costs $300 for Edson Photography Club members and non-members are welcome at only $350.  These prices are a steal for such a concentrated burst of learning (just compare to other workshops — including our own!) so thanks Edson Camera Club for bringing this opportunity to photographers.

To sweeten the deal, we are giving away as a door prize a custom 16×20 canvas print ($350 value). Also we are drawing a name from registered participants for a 1/2 hour, 20-image private portfolio critique with Samantha and me ($200 value). Anyone registered in the Edson PhotoCram I event will have their name entered in the draw.

Creative Camera Controls Made Easy

Are you mystified by f-stops and shutter speed? Want to know how to pick the right aperture and shutter speed every time? We will reveal the three simple rules that will take the guesswork out of the technical aspects of photography. Think of it as ‘new math’ without the hard numbers. Once camera controls are mastered you will have the tools needed to master artistic expression.

The Camera and the Creative Eye

The most essential skill you can master as a photographer has little to do with camera controls and everything to do with conceiving a photograph before you snap it. We will guide you on the path to mastering the ability to ‘see’ the potential of an image in the jumbled, visual world around you.

Personal Style and Creative Vision

Are you afraid of your photographs being lost in the vast array of images out there? Does  photography feel stale to you? We will speak on the evolution of personal style in photography. What is personal style and where does it come from? Learn to shoot from your soul and let your inner artist flex its muscles. See how two photographers shooting the exact same subject at the same time will produce very different results when each photographer is shooting from the heart for personal expression.

How to Make Money with Your Photography

The industry of photography has undergone a sea change in the last decade. Learn the essential tips and techniques used by the pros to help sell and market your photos. You can make extra money selling your photos but being an artist is not enough, learn the business skills needed to get your photos seen and purchased by the world.

For more information about the Edson PhotoCram event contact edsonphotoclub@gmail.com. We are looking forward to see you there!

©Darwin Wiggett

The Grande Prairie Photo Club – PhotoCram II

Posted in Photography Gear, Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2011 by Darwin

Samantha and I just got back from a wonderful weekend at the Grande Prairie Photo Club where we presented PhotoCram II, an intensive 3-day workshop designed to help photographers build skills for creating images with personal vision. This is the second year we’ve been invited to the Grande Prairie Photo Club and like last year we were met with the most well organized and fun group of photographers ever. This crew had us in stitches! And the food was fantastic.

We want to thank everyone at the club for great time. Below is a photo from the Sunday night field session where we were lucky to get a full moon hanging in a glowing sky over Grande Prairie. Also below are three images of Samantha taken from our assignment on lens choice where she was photographed with a normal, wide angle, and telephoto focal length lens.

If you missed this PhotoCram event and want to take part in an intensive weekend of photographic learning you can join us at the Edson Camera Club in Edson, Alberta, September 30 – October 2, 2011 where we are presenting PhotoCram I.

©Darwin Wiggett - Moon rise over Grande Prairie - Canon Rebel T2i with a Sigma 17-50mm lens

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon, T2i, Sigma 17-50mm at 35mm

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon T2i, Sigma 8-16mm lens

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon T2i, Sigma 70-200 at 200mm

The Weekly Photo – August 29, 2011

Posted in Art of Photography, Image Processing and Software, Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2011 by Darwin

I use three HDR programs and each has its strengths. In the past I mostly used Photomatix (the most popular HDR program out there). I really like its ‘exposure fusion’ mechanism to create realistic-looking images from high tonal range subjects. Lately I have been using Oloneo’s Photoengine because I find it simpler and faster to use and it gives wonderful realistic-looking results. If I want the grunge, cartoon-look from HDR I will use PhotoMatix. If I want artsy-looking HDR I will use Nik Efex HDR Pro. This latter gives me lots of control over making images that are less grunge and more painterly. I especially like Nik for making old subjects look nostalgic (hint the preset “Granny’s Attic’ is fantastic). The image below is a single exposure photo run through Nik Efex HDR Pro using “Granny’s Attic” with some customization. The original shot was shot hand-held using a Canon G11 point-n-shoot camera. Click on the photo to see a larger version. The original capture is included for comparison.

If you want a 15% discount on any Nik product, just use my name, darwin, as the discount code on checkout.

©Darwin Wiggett

The original single image capture