Thursday, October 31, 2013

Nikon's Pure Photography Teaser Videos

Last week I told you about Nikon's "Pure Photography" campaign for a secretive upcoming DSLR. Well, today Nikon released more videos.

What exactly this new camera is continues to be a mystery, but we will likely find out next week. In the meantime, enjoy the teaser videos below.

Thought Of The Day: Sony Alpha 7R DxOMark Tested

DxOMark just published the results of their test on the new Sony A7R digital camera. They rank the camera #2, just one point behind the Nikon D800E. That's not surprising considering that the two cameras share the same sensor and neither have an anti-aliasing filter.

I talked about the Sony A7R not very long ago when it was announced. What I find interesting is that it's a small, lightweight camera (it is a compact interchangeable-lens), yet it has the image quality of medium format. And at an MSRP of $2,300, it is not over priced. In fact, it is $700 less than the D800E!

Now, we could get into a discussion about whether or not DxOMark scores mean anything, and if the Sony A7R is really the second best digital camera out there, but we won't. What we can say for certain is that the camera is exceptional and a good value. I suspect that this will be a popular model among professional photographers, especially travel photographers.

Now, with all of that said, don't have camera envy. Vision is what is important in photography, not equipment.

Photographing Emotion

Pathway To The Soul - Tehachapi, California
Perhaps the most difficult and most powerful thing to capture in a photograph is emotion. Every scene has emotion, but conveying that through an image can be difficult.

When I talk about photographing emotion, what I'm actually referring to is the emotional response of the viewer to an image. It is not the emotion found at the scene or even my own emotions that are most important, but the viewer's emotions when looking at an image.
My Heart or My Grave? - Tehachapi, California
Like I said, every scene has emotion. The tricky part is conveying the emotion in such a way that the viewer sees it and responds to it in the way that you would want them to. You want to control the emotional response of the viewer. And different things cause the viewer to respond differently.

A high contrast scene and a low contrast scene will cause different emotional responses. An image with vibrant colors will cause a different emotional response than an image with muted colors. A black-and-white photograph and a color photograph will cause different emotional responses. A warm-toned image will cause a different emotional response than a cool-toned image. Same with the luminosity of a photograph.
Man At Shoshone Point - Grand Canyon, Arizona
Even the placement of objects within the frame will change the emotion of the image. A balanced image will feel different than an imbalanced image. One should consider negative vs positive space and how that relates to the subject. Focus should receive the same consideration.

Before opening the shutter, consider what emotions you want to convey through the image and consider all of the factors that determine how the viewer will respond. You should do your best to figure this out in your mind prior to capturing the photograph because it will effect how you capture it, both camera settings and composition.
Sisters - Surprise, Arizona
Photographs that have people in them are able to more easily convey emotion. This is because we can easily recognize the meaning of facial expressions and nonverbal communication. We can also empathize with the subject, and even imagine ourselves in their place. For this to be effective, one must capture the decisive moment.

Photographing emotion takes vision. It takes creativity. It takes forethought. And it takes practice. However, since there is emotion in every scene, it should be your goal to convey emotion with each and every photograph that you make.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Looking Back: Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, Texas

Sunrise At Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, Texas
Sometimes it is interesting to look back and to see what I was doing in the past. One year ago today I posted about my stop at the iconic Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. I live in California, so this was an interesting site to see. Definitely worth my time. This is a stop I'd recommend to any photographer driving along the I-40 through west Texas.

Two years ago I posted an article called Quantity For Quality? There is a bit of advice found it in that post that could be helpful to you.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What Is Holding You Back?

Wired Ears - Tehachapi, California
"The only thing that holds any artist back is the critic in their head and negativity." --Nikki Sixx
I came across the above quote today and thought I'd pass it along. What you most likely know is that Nikki Sixx is the bass guitarist for the rock band Montly Crue. What you might not know is that he is a more talented photographer than musician.

Here is a related quote worth mentioning:
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." --Albert Einstein
How are these two quotes related? They both are about barriers. They both say that what holds a person back is their own mind. You are holding yourself back from creating what you want to create.
Inorganic Boy - Palmdale, California
Let's take a closer look at Sixx's quote. He says that the only thing (not one of many things, but the only thing) that holds the artist back is the critic in their head and negativity. Note that it is both self-criticism and negativity together that holds one back. It is not negativity alone and it is not self-criticism alone, but both working together. This tells us that self-criticizing can be good at times and that pessimism can be good at times, but never are they good at the same time.

A closer look at Einstein's quote reveals that reality is whatever you make it. If the reality you see in your own photographs isn't what you want it to be, then change it. Only you can make it what you want to make it. You are your own barrier.
Wood Tear - Tehachapi, California
It may not be easy. It may take much effort. It may take many failures. But you can be the artist that you wish to be.

With this knowledge you can forge ahead with your photography. You can tear down the barriers that are holding you back. You can create the art that you want to create. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Abandonment: Mojave House

Broken Gate, Broken Home - Mojave, California
I photographed another abandoned house in Mojave, California. This house is very close to two other abandoned homes that I've photographed (click here and here), and not far away from two other homes (click here and here). That's a lot of abandoned homes within a short space.

I don't know the story with this particular place. The home itself was a two bedroom, one bath, maybe 1,200 square feet building. There's a basement that I stayed out of. There's also a wood shed out back.

I believe that animals were kept on the property, such as horses and maybe chickens. Perhaps other animals, too. It's hard to tell, but there is some evidence of this.

The house looks like it was built in the 1940's or 1950's. It appears as though it has been abandoned for at least 20 years. It is difficult to know for sure, these are just guesses.

I used a Sigma DP2 Merrill to capture these images.
No Water - Mojave, California
View of the Desert - Mojave, California
Old Plumbing - Mojave, California
Back Window View - Mojave, California
The Master - Mojave, California
Broken Hallway - Mojave, California
Homemade Wallpaper - Mojave, California
Broken Interior Wall - Mojave, California
Stairs To The Unknown - Mojave, California
Old Breaker Box - Mojave, California
Pealing Green Paint - Mojave, California
Old Paint Can - Mojave, California
Monochrome Windows - Mojave, California

A Walk In The Park

Back Lit Tree In Autumn - Stallion Springs, California
I took a walk in the park last week. I had 30 minutes to kill in the middle of the afternoon, so I went to a local park with my Sigma DP2 Merrill in hand.

In time, any day, as long as you have a camera and are motivated, you can craft good images. It doesn't have to be the golden hour. It doesn't have to be some spectacular location. You just need vision.
Yellow Leaf On Blue - Stallion Springs, California
Fallen Leaf - Stallion Springs, California
Yellow Leaf - Stallion Springs, California
Autumn Path - Stallion Springs, California

Friday, October 25, 2013

Nikon Pure Photography (New Full-Frame Digital Camera)

There have been a lot of camera announcements recently. The holiday season is quickly approaching, and camera manufacturers are gearing up for a mass buying spree. Perhaps the most interesting, and most mysterious, is Nikon's "pure photography" camera.
Check out their teaser:

What is this mysterious camera? Apparently, it will be a Nikon D4, but in a retro SLR body style, and without an anti-aliasing filter, no video capabilities, and stripped of many auto features. It is supposed to be in some aspects the digital equivalent of a manual film camera.

I think that's pretty cool. If money was no object, I'd certainly buy one. 

Speaking of money, the camera is supposed to sell for around $3,000 for the body only. That seems pretty steep, but the D4 sells for about twice that, so in comparison maybe it isn't so high after all. Something else to consider is that the D610 costs significantly less and might actually be a better camera.

I do like the idea of a digital equivalent to the manual film camera. I bet this new "pure photography" camera will be a blast to use. 

We should find out more in the coming two weeks.

Photography Advice: Sweep The Edges

The Tragic Home - Mojave, California
This image is all about the "distractions" but note how they are kept to a minimum around the edges of the frame.
When composing photographs, it is easy to overlook the edges. In fact, it is easy to get so focused on the main subject that everything else is forgotten. Every part of an image is important, not just whatever the main subject is.

The edges are especially important because a distraction on the edge may lead the viewer right out of the photograph. So before you open the shutter, sweep the edges.
Leaning Ladders - Rosamond, California
One step further back or to the right would have revealed several distractions around the edges.
Look around all four sides of the frame. Look for anything that you don't want in the image. Recompose and look again. Make sure everything is just where you want it to be in the composition.

A little care prior to opening the shutter will go a long ways later.
Butterfly - Bakersfield, California
It is hard to avoid distractions around the edges on a busy image like this, but they can be kept to a minimum.
Don't get so caught up in this that you miss the decisive moment. However, spending just a couple extra seconds making sure everything is right before capturing a picture will significantly improve your photography.

Photography is a form of nonverbal communication, and unnecessary distraction make that communication less strong. In order to communicate well with you images you must make them as strong as possible. Sweeping the edges will help to ensure that you are effective in your photographic communication.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sigma DP2 Merrill Revisited

Autumn Tree Leaves - Tehachapi, California
I purchased a Sigma DP2 Merrill camera almost three months ago, and wrote a full review over two months ago. I've had the camera long enough to fully know if the quirks are worth putting up with.

Like any fancy new electronic, once the initial excitement wears off, the shortcomings become more and more annoying. This is true with every camera. And every camera has shortcomings.
Decrepit Corner - Rosamond, California
The Sigma DP2 Merrill certainly has shortcomings. There are things about it that really annoy me. Yet, I've never been happier about a camera before. That's because as much as the shortcomings bug the heck out of me, the highlights of the camera continue to blow me away.

I purchased the Sigma DP2 Merrill because of how it handles color. But what I found that I like the most about the camera is how it handles monochrome. Specifically, because it captures the entire scene in red, green and blue color channels, one can choose exactly how to mix that, effectively making whatever "filter" one wants. Or, one can actually use black-and-white filters meant for film cameras on the Sigma DP2 Merrill.
Rusted Bolt - Loraine, California
To be honest, I'm not sure if there is a better digital camera for black-and-white than Sigma's Merrill cameras. Maybe the Leica M Monochrom, but I'm not sure because it still uses a Beyer sensor.

Something else that continues to impress me about the Sigma DP2 Merrill is its ability to recovery highlights in RAW. I've found that I can overexpose by one stop and still recover the highlights, no problem. This is important because the DP2 Merrill has a fairly average dynamic range, with shadows being the Achilles' heel. I believe that this is because of the three-layered sensor, in which dim light has trouble penetrating all three layers. However, by over-exposing one stop and recovering the highlights, one is able to increase dynamic range by one stop. This gives the camera a dynamic range that is closer to full-frame DSLRs.
Abandoned Bathroom - Rosamond, California
Another thing worth mentioning is that the camera producing incredibly sharp and detailed images. It compares well to cameras that cost thousands of dollars more. But, it is a low-ISO camera meant for good-light situations.

Because the Sigma DP2 Merrill is small and lightweight, I've found that I have it with me more often than other cameras. And because I have it with me more often I capture more images.
Tired Window - Rosamond, California
So my initial impressions of the camera continues to prove true. And I am still quite happy with my purchase. I strongly believe that the Sigma DP2 Merrill is not a camera for everyone, but for the right photographers it is an incredible tool.

You can read my full review by clicking here.
Light From Above - Rosamond, California

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Abandonment Photography Series

Abandoned Bathroom - Rosamond, California
I've been photographing abandoned locations for about 18 months now. It started with the old George Air Force Base housing in Victorville, California. I've really been busy photographing abandoned places over the last couple months.

If you look over at the right side of this page under "Important Pages" you'll see Abandonment. I've made accessing and viewing my abandonment photography easier. Simply click on the link at the right (or click here) and you'll see that it has been organized into one place.

You can also view my abandonment set on Flickr (click here).

I've really enjoy creating this series and I look forward to continuing it. Be sure to check back often.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Photography Rule: Simplicity (Keep It Simple)

I don't really believe in photography rules. Rules in photography are meant to ensure consistently good results, but rarely allow for great results. Rules are meant to be broken.

There is one rule, however, that is not talked about or used nearly enough, and that is the rule of simplicity. Keep it simple. This is one rule that is worth its weight in gold.

The rule of simplicity is, well, simple: refine your composition until you've reached the minimum that you can include to convey your point. Or, put even more simply, less is more.

Photography is a form of nonverbal communication. Often, people try to say too much and use too little punctuation in their images. A run-on sentence is not clear. A paragraph with multiple ideas is not clear. Most photographs are not clear because they are not kept simple.

The best way to simplify an image is to extract. Remove everything that is unnecessary from the composition. Get in closer. Get rid of distractions. Make the point of the photograph obvious.

Whatever it is that your image is about, make sure that the viewer can quickly figure it out. People won't spend but a second or two looking at your photograph. If it's confusing or not immediately clear, the viewer will move on to the next image.

Below are some examples of the rule of simplicity.
Curves - Tehachapi, California
Three Green Leaves - Tehachapi, California
Light From Above - Rosamond, California
Cluster of Roses - Tehachapi, California
Abandoned Bathroom - Rosamond, California
Rusted Bolt - Loraine, California
On A Brighter Day - Tehachapi, California
One Yellow Board - Lancaster, California
Motorcycle Engine - Tehachapi, California
Forgotten Doll - Mojave, California
Surfers - Avila Beach, California
Flower Star - Stallion Springs, California
Pathway To The Soul - Tehachapi, California
Blue Square - Mojave, California
Old Chimney - Loraine, California
Sailboat Race - Oxnard, California
1955 Chevy Pickup - Stallion Springs, California
Farm Sprinkler - Stallion Springs, California