Shades Of Sepia

Photographic art & community shared thru photography.

Sepia: Vintage Reproduction: Objects & Thāngs

Van Cortlandt House Museum

  • Aperture: ƒ/4.5
  • Credit: ShadesOfSepia.com
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 3 September, 2014
  • Exposure bias: +5EV
  • Focal length: 55mm
  • ISO: 1250
  • Shutter speed: 1/2000s
  • Title: Van Cortlandt House Museum

 

 

 

Bronx Walk

  • Aperture: ƒ/20
  • Credit: Yogi
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 20 July, 2014
  • Exposure bias: +1EV
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 1000
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s
  • Title: Bronx Walk

Sepia: Objects & Thāngs

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  • Aperture: ƒ/1.8
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 26 July, 2014
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/640s

Bronx Walk

  • Aperture: ƒ/20
  • Credit: Yogi
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 20 July, 2014
  • Exposure bias: +1EV
  • Focal length: 58mm
  • ISO: 1000
  • Shutter speed: 1/250s
  • Title: Bronx Walk

DSC_0175

  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Credit: ShadesOfSepia.com
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 22 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 116mm
  • ISO: 1250
  • Shutter speed: 1/800s

DSC_0009

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Credit: ShadesOfSepia.com
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 22 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 280mm
  • ISO: 1000
  • Shutter speed: 1/500s

DSC_0076

  • Aperture: ƒ/7.1
  • Credit: ShadesOfSepia.com
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 22 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 22mm
  • ISO: 1250
  • Shutter speed: 1/250s

DSC_0005

  • Aperture: ƒ/16
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 14 June, 2014
  • Flash fired: yes
  • Focal length: 200mm
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter speed: 1/4s
I want to use this particular photo as an example, to illustrate why people like me  prefer to only work with RAW files. Please compare with this photo. I took about 4 of these, but this first one did not have a good exposure, it came out very dark and barely visible. I always shoot both RAW+JPEG, cause it's nice having those backups just in case. Long story short, You will quickly noticed how I was able to adjust the brightness coming from the window, the glass is now visible. I also give it a Sepia tint, and made several other adjustments. I would have never been able to make it look this natural, or make the colors blend the way they do, if I started from a jpeg file, especially a small jpeg file.

I want to use this particular photo as an example, to illustrate why people like me prefer to only work with RAW files. Please compare with this photo. I took about 4 of these, but the first one did not have a good exposure, it came out very dark and barely visible. I always shoot both RAW+JPEG, cause it’s nice having those backups just in case. Long story short, You will quickly noticed how I was able to adjust the brightness coming from the window, the glass design is now more defined, and visible. Notice the flooring is more visible as well. I also give it a Sepia tint, and made several other adjustments. Normally, I would have never been able to make the kind of adjustments I did, and still keep the photo looking this natural; or make the colors blend the way they do, if I started from a jpeg file, especially a small jpeg file. I’m not going to lie, this sh** can be a lot of work depending on what your doing, but its totally worth it. So, the next time someone says, your less than smart for working with RAW, just simply walk away. ‘Cause that should give you an immediate clue, they have no idea what their talking about. Remember, investigate for yourself (hands-on), and always speak from the “I”. Oh, BTW: I used mostly light room and Paintshop.

  • Aperture: ƒ/3.5
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 29 December, 2013
  • Focal length: 18mm
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter speed: 1/60s

Sepia: A Little Warmth

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  • Aperture: ƒ/7.1
  • Credit: ShadesOfSepia.com
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 22 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 280mm
  • ISO: 1250
  • Shutter speed: 1/160s

DSC_0146

  • Aperture: ƒ/9
  • Credit: ShadesOfSepia.com
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 22 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 210mm
  • ISO: 1250
  • Shutter speed: 1/125s

Sepia: Sports

Bronx Walk

The guy in the middle looks so much like Pharrell Williams. I can’t believe it.

  • Aperture: ƒ/20
  • Credit: Yogi
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 20 July, 2014
  • Exposure bias: +1EV
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 1000
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s
  • Title: Bronx Walk

Image1

  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Credit: ShadesOfSepia.com
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 22 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 1250
  • Shutter speed: 1/4000s

Sepia: Pieces Of History

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  • Aperture: ƒ/10
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 8 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 200mm
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter speed: 1/160s

DSC_0138

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 8 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 200mm
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter speed: 1/160s

DSC_0137

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 8 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 200mm
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter speed: 1/160s

DSC_0130

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 8 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 70mm
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter speed: 1/40s

DSC_0119

  • Aperture: ƒ/10
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 8 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 105mm
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter speed: 1/100s

DSC_0124

  • Aperture: ƒ/10
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 8 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 200mm
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter speed: 1/100s

DSC_0102

  • Aperture: ƒ/10
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 8 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 130mm
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter speed: 1/160s

Sepia Vintage Reproduction: People

Van Cortlandt House Museum

  • Aperture: ƒ/4.5
  • Credit: ShadesOfSepia.com
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 3 September, 2014
  • Exposure bias: +5EV
  • Focal length: 55mm
  • ISO: 1250
  • Shutter speed: 1/2000s
  • Title: Van Cortlandt House Museum

DSC_0107

  • Aperture: ƒ/5
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 26 July, 2014
  • Focal length: 185mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/500s

Sepia: People

Native American Arts Council

  • Aperture: ƒ/5
  • Credit: ShadesOfSepia.com
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 20 September, 2014
  • Exposure bias: +3.3EV
  • Focal length: 170mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/50s
  • Title: Native American Arts Council

Bronx Walk

  • Aperture: ƒ/14
  • Credit: Yogi
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 20 July, 2014
  • Exposure bias: +1EV
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 1000
  • Shutter speed: 1/500s
  • Title: Bronx Walk
I wish I was able to capture both of them. I knew If I didn't snap I would miss an opportunity. These guys appeared to be the best of friends, because their walking rhythm was so on point; it was almost identical, like synchronized swimming.. LOL

I wish I was able to capture both of them. But I knew If I didn’t snap I would miss a photo opportunity. These guys appeared to be the best of friends, because their walking rhythm was so on point; it was almost identical, like synchronized swimming.. LOL

  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Credit: ShadesOfSepia.com
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 22 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 200mm
  • ISO: 1250
  • Shutter speed: 1/4000s

DSC_0046

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Credit: ShadesOfSepia.com
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 22 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 500
  • Shutter speed: 1/1250s

DSC_0141

  • Aperture: ƒ/22
  • Credit: ShadesOfSepia.com
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 22 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 1250
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s

DSC_0211

  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Credit: ShadesOfSepia.com
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 22 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 1250
  • Shutter speed: 1/4000s

DSC_0201

  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: NIKON D5200
  • Taken: 8 June, 2014
  • Focal length: 135mm
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter speed: 1/80s

What Makes A Photographer?

WaterBottleProcessedSpeaking as a hobbyist/enthusiast, all we need to start off in photography is to fist learn some basic principles of photography; second is understanding your camera; third is imagination; fourth is being in tuned; and the fifth is intuitively being able to find that subject you naturally connect with before you shoot. There are probably a few others I’ve missed, but these are the 5 primary things we need to successfully enjoy photography. Oh yeah, and practice. Practice makes a world of difference; but not just practice, experimentation as well. Work with all the accessories and techniques frowned upon by closed minded photographers, cause that’s what is going to help you be unique (by then everybody will be asking you how did you do it?). Practice and experimentation will also give you a greater perspective and understanding of what your doing, rather than quick assumptions and spread these assumptions as truth for everybody else. Practice has definitely improved my photographic perceptions, as well as interpretations of what I’m shooting. Although reading is essential, but practicing will make us proficient. There is no such thing as a “magical shutter number” that we can set for every and any situation (as though a shutter speed was a benchmark of sorts, the shutter speed is a camera function not a benchmark). Remember that your shutter, ISO, Aperture, WB, & flash all have their own side effects, in addition to effecting other components. There is no such thing as an “all purpose lens” that can be used for every circumstance. But, for those who are hobbyist like me, we don’t need to spend 10-20 thousand dollars on a professional camera and studio accessories or fancy photography studio. You’d be surprised on how many photographers I’ve met and spoken to that managed to created their own home made alternatives. For instance, the photo on the left I simply used my entry level DSLR hobbyist camera, to create this stunning photo of my freshly half drunken bottle of Poland Spring water bottle. So, it’s more about the photographer (his/her ability to understand the technology well enough, that you can then become resourceful with limited resources, and within the best of your ability produce a beautiful meaningful photo that tells a story), not the equipment per-say.

I have a growing concern that there exist some people that think the best equipment will make them a “good photographer,” this is absolutely not true! There are reasons why we have so many options within both software and camera technology; it is to give us the diversity we need to be the photographer we’d like to be. Not every photo needs to be in HDR, and neither does HDR automatically make us good photographers. Even if it’s just a matter of “HDR” being your preferred processing; you’d have to consider the possibility that too much of any one particular tool can cause dependance. NOW, that doesn’t mean I am against using filtering, I love them and use it all the time; in fact I feel they are essential for making not only corrections to bad exposures, but enhancing photos with already great compositions. However, the rule of thumb is, capture as much as possible in your camera so that you’re not solely depending on photo editing tools for everything. The more you put on the camera, the less processing you have to do on your computer, and the more natural/dynamic your finished creation will look. Unless of course you are creating something with artistic, rules can sometimes made to be broken. 😉 If you can’t get everything in your camera, it doesn’t mean you’re are a bad photographer at all; it now means you have the tools to correct. Bottom line, I am coming from the opinion that, using when needed is much better than using when dependent on a particular software tool or equipment. I’m sure some of my readers understand what I’m trying to say. If the image you’re working on is meant to be a photo, then let it be that photo. There is no need to dowse it with filtering. If the intended image is meant to be used to create art, then there is no limit.

Take a look at this photo, despite this was captured some time in 1910-1911, the composition is extraordinary. I’m referencing this photo to illustrate the fact that Photoshop did not exist back then, neither did we have automatic cameras (that would try its best to think for you), we didn’t have wireless flashes, or flashes that allow for control of power. In fact they used powder that was equivalent to gun powder in my opinion;their was no option to control the flash duration because the powder was basically on fire until powder was fully consumed. We didn’t have insanely fast shutter speeds, there was no strobe lights, back lights, center lights, diffusers, exposure metering, light metering, we didn’t have the luxury of a preview pic, and deleting it if the exposure was not right, or you’ve miscalculated, etc (you know what I’m getting at). However, because this photographer was skilled, he captured a photograph that was not only beautifully exposed, he also captured the story and emotion of this photo, which made this shot worthy of archiving. So in essence, don’t try to compensate for lack of imagination or intuitiveness with a bunch of Photoshop filters. Photoshop & Paintshop tools only exist to enhance an already meaningful photograph. Either you have the magic of photo taking, or you don’t. Or you can be inspired by photographers and build that creativeness within you. But this also means being open minded enough to listen and observe, and find YOUR OWN uniqueness as an individual intuitive photographer.

With the right lighting, be it artificial or natural, and if angled correctly, a great photographer can even show emotion, or tell a story from shooting a simple statue. I realized I am a rebel, because my views on photography are so left-wing, compared to most traditional/professional photographers. I think my problem is, I focus more on creativity and expression, while others focus only on the technical, and other people only focus on doing things “one way” for every situation (and they think others should do the same), which in my opinion can hinder one’s creativity. Make no mistake, it’s very important to know the technical parts of photography; however, the technical parts are not the absolute/definitive rules in photography, because there are none when it comes to art expression. At the end of the day, I talked to more photographers that rely on their ideas on how to get a particular picture, than solely on “what they know”; however, if they know nothing, they can’t get any ideas. Make sense? One thing I know they teach in Photography school is, “there are millions of photographers in the world, therefore if you want to make it as a professional photographer, you have to stand out”. Well, very few stand out, because most stick with the same format that everyone else does! Soooo boring! Being so technically stuck up, and stubborn can hinder creative ideas. Then again, I can see how it is possible for many photographers to “get set in their ways” (which is probably the core issue). Photography is art, your supposed to tell a story (of course there are exceptions to the rule, but the photo with the story is the one with the lasting impression)! Why even call yourself a photographer if you can’t step out of the box? The very essence of photography IS expression; to express those things that can’t be expressed through words. You must have imagination, and not be scared to try new things, period. Even those of us who have a strong fondness for a particular genre of photography, there still exist diversity within that genre!

A good photographer knows that everything needs to be balanced in order to create great photographic art! A good camera must have a decent lens; and a decent lens requires good filters; but a good filter(s) without taking the time to set up the appropriate camera settings doesn’t mean much; and the settings don’t mean much either if you don’t have a powerful & flexible flash (and know how and when to use it); but flashes can’t be utilized effectively if you don’t understand the contrast between your flash and natural lighting, etc. A good photographer knows that the internet is a massive resource for free education and free tools for imaging/photography; all you need is to learn how to use Google (which is not hard at all believe it or not). Don’t just let people tell you about photography, go on walks with them and see them in action, this is the best way of learning photography (IMHO). The last thing every good photographer knows is photo editing software, which you can add any finishing touches to an already perfect photo, but if you don’t have a quality photos to edit, there is very little any software can do for you. That’s what makes a photographer a photographer, and the difference between taking pics and shooting photographs.

It is really important to remember, the more you improve as a photographer/photographic artist, the more likely you may encounter a lot of people who will never understand your art, your photographic vision, your passion for photography, or simply may not respect your way of doing things in respect to your own photography and your camera. Unfortunately, once you make your images available for others to see regardless of the medium, there always will exist people who feel the have an exclusive right to comment negatively on your work. It usually has nothing to do with you or your photography. Although I guess it could be slight chance of jealousy (you’ll always have quite a few of those), but I also think most of them just desire to impose their personal preferences of how images should be handled, or how photos should be taken. Strange how these same type of negative “overly smart” people don’t know how to use Google, or feel they don’t need to, yes miss thang, you do. Gotta love all those “know it all” people, they feed off that shit, but I digress. Others are just in capable of minding their own business, or not capable of saying something nice to anybody. From experience, the minute someone gives you negative feedback about anything your doing in your own life, you’re on the right track! The point of art is NOT to be a copycat, but to allow you to express what you see and feel through your mind’s eye. Unfortunately, because it’s your eye and not anybody else, chances are many people will not have a clue. The only way to really combat this is to surround yourself with people of the same interest, and people who are positive and supportive.

© 2014 Yogi / ShadesOfSepia.com

 

The Photographer’s Creed

The Photographer’s Creed

©2014 ShadesOfSepia.com

  1. Spend a little time with yourself, in order to find YOUR OWN inner photographer.
  2. Not everyone will understand YOUR photography, accept that for what it is and move on.
  3. Don’t accept criticisms as failure, or that you’ll need to change any part of your work; it is just an opinion.
  4. Photography is in the eyes of the individual photographer, not the critic.
  5. There is photographic beauty in every single object.
  6. A talented photographer knows how to intuitively turn something bland and ordinary in to beautifully artistic photograph.
  7. Follow YOUR OWN photographic intuition and interpretation.
  8. There is more to photography than just HDR.
  9. Practicing with an open mind is a key element in photography.
  10. It’s best to try and get as much processing done from the camera as possible.
  11. There is no such thing as the best “equipment model”, ’cause there will always be an even better one tomorrow.
  12. A photographer knows how to harness his/her creativity with limited resources.
  13. The world of photography is continuously evolving, it’s best not to get stuck in repetitiveness.
  14. Always keep your eyes open and see what’s new in the world of photographic techniques.
  15. You cannot create good photography without imagination; yet, you can’t have imagination if you don’t understand photography.
  16. Be inspired by other photographers; there exists a plethora of resources, and social media sites to connect with!
  17. Stay open minded when it comes to software, you’ll never know where your next work of art will come from.
  18. Staying in automatic mode all the time is a cop-out.
  19. All parts/aspects of photography/camera and software are important, you shouldn’t only focus on one aspect while disregarding another. They all work together to create an amazing image. Limiting yourself will only limit your imagination and your photographic abilities.
  20. There is nothing unique about a photographer that stays redundant.

 

Picture Or Photograph? What’s The Difference?

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I will answer this question in the context of street photography. It is interesting how many people don’t get street photography. But trust me, there is much beauty within street photography. We all know that photography is an art form; however, along with the art from, comes the philosophy of photographic art itself. The whole philosophical aspect of photographic art is not only huge, but it’s meaning is also personal and individual. I think one of the problem many people may possibly have with street photography, is that people align street photography on the same level as picture taking with our cellphones (socially); and I don’t necessarily consider these two things the same (now I could be wrong about that, but that’s what’s in my thoughts right know). I’m sure that if my readers were to ask 300 street photographers why they do what they do; you’d get 300 different answers, and possibly 100 additional in depth responses.

Although I enjoy MANY different kinds of photography, I think street photography is up there with my “most liked” list. It is not just taking random pictures of people, but capturing the true nature of people. In my own words, how I’d like to explain it is, there are two very distinct and measurable differences between a picture, and a photograph taken on the street. If I ask a man in a football uniform to stop what he’s doing to pose for me, I interpret that to be a picture. Why? He is temporarily altering his state of mind, while preparing himself to pose. However, if I take a picture of that same man while he is playing football in his uniform, I am now helping to tell his story, by capturing him doing what he loves; which is football. I now have the opportunity to capture part of his essence, at which point becomes a photograph. It’s about telling the story of culture and life through my lens.

Note: The only time I would accept a pose (and quite a few have for me), is if that person as a ham. There is a certain energy that a ham gives off; and if that’s the case, that person is naturally being who they are. I would then consider that a photograph, because they are not taking a moment to alter their state of being.

© 2014 / ShadesOfSepia.com

About Saving Money On Photography?

Optical-EquipmentI think we know by now that whether you are a professional or just a hobbyist, photography can be very expensive for everyone (regardless of your level). Unlike shopping for a desktop computer, there are some technologies within photography that will always remain consistent. Which theoretically should make purchasing a camera a little easier (or at least help narrow down your choices (this is not always true, but it does help somewhat)). Because finances and tight budgets is a reality for most Americans today, it is even more crucial that you not only have a good understanding of basic camera technology, but your manufacture’s accessory lines and what the features are worth in the current market. Remember, the money you pay is for the featured technologies, not for the “longevity” of your unit. Especially when it comes to the lenses; lenses have mechanical moving parts, therefore will suffer wear and tear one day. Although you can have maintenance done to your equipment, that doesn’t guarantee said part can’t become unusable because of what you “paid” for it. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that your camera/lens can’t last for many years, so long as you take good care of them.

This article is really focused on the new hobbyist, but I guess some veterans can be helped by this too. I’d like to discuss how you can save money on camera bodies and lenses. I’ve worked in retail for many years and would like to share with you a few things that I feel can be beneficial to some. But as I do this, it is important that I go through a few retail vocabulary heard in most stores today. Businesses and manufacturers are required by law to label the state of the products they are selling. Here are four common labels.

OPEN BOX: An open box is simply an item returned by the customer. I know many consumers get squeamish about open boxes, but there really isn’t anything wrong with buying one. I’ve worked for several retail stores, and I can honestly say that the most common reason for someone returning an item is because either that customer realized they purchased way above their means, or the sales person oversold the customer; sometimes it was also because the product was too complicated for the purchaser to setup. If there is no damage to the product or manufacture malfunction, a restocking fee is often charged to the customer for the return. Restocking fees are usually charged at a percentage, additional charges can be tacked on if parts are missing from the return. This is because it is no longer manufacture “new” and the product must be now resold at a discounted price to the next customer. Defianz-one-year-warranty-badgeRestocking fees cover the financial loss retail business get when dealing with open box items. Be aware, manufacture warranties are sometimes different on open boxes. Many retailers are not aware of this. Make sure that the open box includes the warranty certificate. If the item does NOT have the warranty certificate, and it is a big ticket item, CONTACT THE MANUFACTURE DIRECTLY FIRST, AND FIND OUT WHAT THEIR WARRANTY POLICY IS ON OPEN BOXED ITEMS. DO NOT LISTEN TO THE STORE, UNLESS THEY ARE OFFERING THEIR STORE WARRANTY AT A GOOD PACKAGE DEAL. This is important, most sales people assume that the warranty is the same as new, but not always with some manufacturers. Also find out if the manufacturer will still honor the warranty if there are any pre-existing physical damage on the unit (very important)! Do not say I didn’t warn you! If you don’t believe, well quite frankly its your problem, and it will be. And don’t go back to the store 60 days later and say, it’s broken and I need it fixed without a warranty, cause you bought it from them..

REFURBISHED: Do not confuse refurbished products with open boxed items, because sometimes they can be both! Refurbished items are products that have been returned to the manufacture, then serviced, then returned back to the retail store. Sometimes the unit hasn’t been actually “serviced or repaired.” Sometimes the product was returned because it was missing an accessory, NOT because the product was ever damaged. Sometimes the product was refurbished because the casing was slightly damaged on shipping; so the manufacture replaces the body, however everything else is technically brand new. Sometimes depending on the manufacture, the retailer, and sometimes the current market, the refurbished product is sold at an insanely low price. Especially with camera lenses because lenses have a high turnaround rate; and most retailers don’t want to be stuck with older models, so to get rid of it fast, they will sell the items at a significant price reduction (which benefits both consumer and business. Refurbished products almost always come with original packaging, and warranty certificates. Manufacture honors their warranties in full on all refurbished products (this has been my experience on all major manufacturers).

USED: The term “used” is self explanatory. However, there is a difference between “retail used,” and someone selling on eBay used. It is extremely important that you carefully inspect every camera or lens you before you purchase from someone. Keep in mind that if you purchase from a camera store, you get at least a 30 day in-store warranty, and an option to purchase an extended store warranty for that “used” product.

DISPLAY PRODUCTS: Personally I would stay away from purchasing a camera display. Unless they are giving you a great deal, with warranty included.

Although I personally prefer my camera body brand new instead of “used” (just cause I don’t want wear and tear), however open boxed/used/refurbished products are a huge business in the photography world; and you should not be scared of them, so long as you are on your P’s and Q’s. Make sure that the store/person you’re buying it from has a good reputation. If you’re buying online such as amazon, make sure the vendor (not the product) you’re ordering from has a good rating. You want to make sure that the vendor sold refurbished before, and that consumers imagehad a good experience, and they are trustworthy. I find that you can get better deals on lenses (which is more important). I have purchased refurbished lenses for more than half off it’s market value (be it online or in a retail store). Personally, I would only purchase from a vendor and NOT an individual, because 99 percent of the time, if you want to return the item there is no hassle. Even if you purchased your refurbished item in a retail store, if you purchased their extended warranty, you are still getting it at a significant reduction in price. In terms of lenses, I think it’s worth getting the store warranty; simply because it is a mechanical unit with moving parts, and if you use it a lot, it may need maintenance every once in a while (which labor and parts costs). Understanding what lens you are buying, and it’s market value is key. A Nikon 55-200mm f4-5.6G ED AF-S DX Nikkor, is not that same as a Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR the big difference in price is because one has VR (Vibration Reduction) and the other doesn’t. So don’t go on a rant inside a store saying “that looks like it will work in my camera “how come I can’t have it for xxxx price?” Also, be forewarned, aperture, and the “from” and “to” zoom capacity of your lens makes a difference in price. Also keep in mind, the smaller the aperture number the greater the price, the greater the zoom capacity the greater the price; not to mention the physical weight of the lens will also increase. Do not equate the heavy weight with having a “sturdy quality,” it’s just that more glass is needed to get the type of lens you need. Period. Understand the differences between cropped and full framed lenses. Not all 3rd party lens work good with brand named cameras (plus the quality isn’t always equivalent either).

In the end, do your research because it will pay off big time. It is ultimately your decision, but there is no doubt that understanding photo technology will give you a huge edge when it comes to buying parts and accessories for your camera. Please do not depend solely on the sales person. Good luck!

© ShadesOfSepia.com

 

About Our Cameras: What Are The Most Important Things Before You Shoot?

nikonThere are literally billions of web articles on tips on how to take the “perfect” photo; probably there exist an even larger amount on printed magazines by now. Each author’s article has their own spin on what is a “perfect” photo. In my opinion, I’m not sure if such a thing exists? I say this simply because like any other forms of art, the meaning of what is perceived to be a “perfect” photograph, is subject to one’s personal opinion. But at the same time, a truly artistic photograph’s purpose is not to tell the viewer “look how beautiful I look.” The purpose of photographic art is to make the viewer think about it’s story (although it can be both beautiful and tell a story). But what is the formula for this? This is one of those questions I’m not sure I would readily answer in a room full of paid photographers; many times these conversations can turn in to the equivalent of political discussions. Although, I think its still important to listen in to some of those discussions, because often times you’d hear valuable information. The important thing is to only add those things that resonate with you personally, before you add them to your existing pool of photographic knowledge; opposed to just taking that information and let it become a part of you. In other words, one single thing isn’t going to work for every situation. In my opinion, this is just as bad as someone who never gets off using his/her automatic settings; yet often that same person usually bombards you with millions of questions about “how did you do that.” Just for the record, personally I don’t mind when people ask questions; this is how we learn obviously. But, if you really don’t intend on opening your mind to experiencing new ways of doing things, how do you expect to really understand photography? Especially if you have a DSLR? Keep in mind, there is nothing wrong with staying on automatic if that’s what makes you feel most comfortable. However, any good photographer will tell you, your camera can’t calculate the best exposure all the time. Having said that, there comes a time when you will need to take control.

If you want to get off auto, there are 7 major parts of your camera you MUST understand and grasp. There is no way of getting around this, if you don’t want to take the time to understand these 7 principles, then it makes no sense talking to a photographer about creating the “perfect” shot:

  • Aperture
  • ISO
  • Shutter
  • Focus Modes & Focus Points
  • White Balance
  • Flash
  • Natural Light

Anything beyond these 7 (that I can think of at the moment) are unimportant. When your camera is set to auto, 6 out of these 7 things are controlled by your camera. I’m just going to give you a quick run-down. Anything beyond what I’ve written you can use Google.

Aperture. This is what gives you your depth of field (or bokeh). What creates this? It is the hole that the shutter blades create inside your lens. The wider the blade, the smaller the F-stop. The greater the F-stop number, the smaller the shutter hole will be. Smaller number for greater depth of field, larger number for less depth. When using certain lens filters, be sure to read the documentation, because some of them actually take away a couple of stops, and you’ll have to compensate/take in to account.

ISO. Simply put, it’s your sensors sensitivity to light.

Shutter. This is what controls your exposure time. Contrary to beliefs, the shutter is not the granddaddy of all camera features. It is simply a function like any other camera function. There is no magic shutter number. The only number that’s important, is the number that is needed for that split second in time.

Focus Mode & Focus Points. I almost forgot about this. Not sure if it’s called something different on the Cannon. But the focus mode and focal points are extremely important, especially if you’re shooting sports. it can really help reduce blur as a result of continuous movements from your subject. Learning how to use this feature can also ensure that several subjects are all focused in one frame.

White Balance. Not enough photographer talk about white balance. White balance controls the “white” in the color your sensor sees, and keeps it balanced. I think the best way I can explain it Camera_tips_custom_white_balance_gearcraft.step2_is, your camera interprets light color by using the kelvin temperature scale system. Many different light sources emanate light at various temperatures. So for instance, if your indoors, the sun would be one light source, your light bulbs is another light source, florescent light bulbs is another source, candles is a light source, mirrors can also be a new light source (because it bounces light, the direction of where the light is bouncing from can change temperature too). Believe it or not, whether it’s Winter or Summer also effects temperature emanating from light sources. Your camera tries to calculate and balance the correct colors based on the readings of the various temperatures, but staying in automatic mode doesn’t always do a good job. If this happens, you manually use a “White Balance” card to tell your camera what temperature level to start from. Do not confuse this with using “flash color correcting gels.” The difference between the gels and white balance, is that gels cast a color hue over the entire frame; whereas the “White Balance” feature changes/shifts your camera’s internal color palate. Although you can change the White Balance using a good photo editing software, I think it’s worth doing it in your camera instead. There are a ton of videos on youtube about White Balance.

External/Internal Flash. I feel that flashes are under discussed in the photography community too. Guys, know that flash is not the enemy! Sometimes you need a little help from your flash, it’s not a bad thing. However, I should also add that if you want to make most of your flash, you should know how to operate both external and internal manually as well. Understanding when and when not to use a diffuser, and what kind of diffuser. There may also be times when you will need to use a flash off camera; and understanding how to control the power is important. Its all part of learning how to manipulate light in order to get the exposure you want. The flash is just another different kind of light.

Natural Light. The last one is not a camera feature, but it is the very essence of photo taking. We must learn how to see light. The direction of light, its shadows, contours it makes around the subject, and so forth. All of these things will help you figure out the best camera position, angles, and poses for your subject. Once you can see light, you can learn how to manipulate it to serve your purpose.

Side Effects. It’s equally important to note that all these five important features all control light in different ways. But they also all have side effects. An aperture hole too small will become too dark. An aperture hole too open with an high ISO would be staggeringly white in some circumstances. Even different white cards can give you different results, which is one of the reasons why some photographers are anal when it comes to certain products. Each lighting condition will give you different results. Not every bad exposure can be fixed in LightRoom or Paintshop, so it’s important for you to take the initiative and do the extra work required for a good shot. Understanding the above will help you get the photograph that YOU want, and gain better control of your camera. Although the type of lens and sensor you have does make a difference too; however, even if you don’t have the most expensive equipment, understanding all of the principles above will help create the best photograph using your available resources.

Alright, this article has gotten longer than I planned 🙂 The bottom line, practice, practice, and more practice. Inform yourself, inform yourself, and even more reading, as well as being in the midst of other photographers. Having read the above article, now do you see why it’s insane that any person would make the claim that digital photography is “so much easier” than film? I digress. I hope this article was of value to you. Thanks for visiting.

 

© ShadesOfSepia.com

Every Photograph Is Important!

Bronx Walk: Morrisania & Claremont VillageSomething that came to mind whilst I was responding to a Facebook question involving photographs. Maybe this would be a good opportunity to encourage a new resolution in 2015 for photographers. I didn’t realize that a lot of photographers perform massive deletions of photographs they feel are “not up to par.” I encourage all photographers to NOT delete photographs unless you are absolutely sure that the photographs in question are not usable. I think file deletions are more common with photographers who do street photography mostly. I think that it is important for people to realize “street photography” is a world of difference from “studio photography.” It is important to note that in terms of working towards capturing a meaningful photograph whilst on the street (on foot) is a lot harder than most people are willing to give credit for (and that includes many “professional studio photographers”). The fact of the matter is, there are so many variables that can effect your exposure in a fraction of a second. Because of this, it is very important that the photographer is able to not only think fast, but master their camera so that they can make quick adjustments on the fly. Because street photography is about capturing life in the real world; the real world isn’t always perfect; and therefore sometimes even the best skilled photographers will occasionally get a percentage of images in their camera that will be imperfect.

The question I want people to think about is, “what is a bad photograph” exactly? Does a bad photograph mean that the photo is unusable? Or is it a bad photograph because for whatever reason you just don’t like it? Well, of course both of these can be true, but if the answer is that you just don’t like the photo; I don’t think it’s a good idea to just immediately delete them. If a photograph comes out a little blurry, turn it in to abstract art. If a photo is over exposed, maybe you can use that photo as a background. In other words what I’m trying to say is, part of having creativity is also being able to make use of anything and everything that you personally own, and that would include images. I also think that it’s important to save all images because we can make our own assessments as to what works for us and what doesn’t.

© ShadesOfSepia.com

Floyd Bolin and Dottie Taylor: Photo Restoration

I have received permission from Kelly Mikton Bialk Bone, to post this historic photo on my blog. This was Floyd Bolin and Dottie Taylor of Newton Country Arkansas. Age of photo is estimated at around 1930’s. Kelly and I are in the same photo group on Facebook. She has given us permission to try and restore this wonderful photograph, and this is my end result. At first glance I thought it was easy; but once I started working on it, it required a lot more detail then I realize. In my opinion, images of this nature (and age) should always be restored as close to how it was originally taken as possible. Not only does it look better, it preserves the photo’s Nostalgia. Thanks Kelly for giving us the opportunity to restore this photo.

 

Before

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After

FinalKellyMiktonBialkBone

Warm Greetings

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Here is a simple creative project that anyone can do. I used a large red cardboard (purchased from  a 99 cent store) as a background, and I purchased a xmas tree ball (which I also purchased from the 99 cent store. Geared up my flashes and tubes and fired it up. I think it came out a beautiful photograph, and yet I paid less than $3 dollars to achieve it. If you wanted to, you could even create something like this as a postcard and mail it to your family overseas. Staples always has printable postcards in stock; although I don’t remember how much they cost, I can’t imagine they would cost more than $10 depending on how many cards are in a box. Do you see why it helps to be creative? Instead of doing the same thing, day in and day out? I love being different, and I love being unique. All it takes is a little open mind, and the ideas will flow.

© ShadesOfSepia.com

Working Around Software Limitations

windows-screen

Regardless of the forum I’m in, be it Photoshop, Paintshop Pro, or Lightroom; every once in a while someone will ask “does anybody know if one filter/action/script will work with another?” Many well meaning members would hastily say “yes they will work.” But the reality is, not all applications are equal (that includes Photoshop). If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life (whether it be my personal life, or professional) time and time again, is to NEVER assume anything. It is extremely important to do you’re research in anything you want to know, especially when it comes to computer technology; because software and hardware incompatibilities are almost the norm. In terms of photography, it’s not enough “to just learn Photoshop,” or “just how to use x third party application.” Personally, my belief is that it is more important to understand what you’re doing, than to learn what your doing. There are usually 3 main challenges when it comes to third party applications. The first is compatibility. Regardless of the version of Photoshop/Paintshop you have, older plugins may not work. Usually it’s because of optimizations that calls for the software to be restructured; and sometimes that restructuring doesn’t work with the way the plugins were originally designed to do. Second, sometimes for whatever reason, the programmer is no longer interested in supporting their work, and eventually winds up abandoning their software (both free or paid). This is also another reason why I don’t recommend newbies to go crazy and download thousands of plugins. It doesn’t make sense, it will take you longer to figure out which plugin that is appropriate for what your trying to do, than to just  process your photo. It is best to have a few main ones and that’s it (unless for those occasional one time use searches). Third are fonts, brushes, backgrounds, frames, and other elements. From my experience, these are often forgotten about by the programmer, or the programmer assumes you already have the elements they’ve used by default, causing errors during the process.

One way to get around these annoyances, is to consider using standalone applications. First off, right away I have to be upfront; the biggest downside of using standalone products is that you no longer can take advantage of marques/selection features. However, the flip side is, you don’t have to deal with incompatibilities because it’s standalone. The way you can use standalone applications to your best advantage, is to make about 4 copies of your original (including backup). I know many of my readers maybe saying “that’s too much;” however, you can never have too many backups when it comes to accidental mistakes including deletions). Take one photo and process them in your standalone application. Then import them back in to your main application using a layer. Now import your original under or over (depending on what you want to do, and modify your work that way. Yes I know it’s a lot more work, but then again, true art is never quick or easy. I think doing this is a great alternative, it will decrease the likelihood of you spending hours searching the internet for a similar plugin.

 

© ShadesOfSepia.com