Back to Basics – Shutter Speed

shutter speedIn the previous article, I talked about exposure, and how it affects the final image. I mentioned that there are three controls the one can use to change the outcome of the clicking the shutter button: ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed. This article will focus on Shutter Speed. As I said, Shutter Speed is one of the three exposure controls. Luckily for this article, it is the easiest to understand. It simply controls the amount of time the shutter is left open for light to come in and hit the sensor.

I am saying sensor, but the old experienced folks may remember a time when the light was actually hitting film. Both the sensor and film collect light. The longer the shutter is open, they see more light – so the longer the shutter is left open the brighter your image will be. But shutter speed also affects other aspect of your image. Let’s try and have a look, but first let’s set the groundwork so we better understand each other. (Shutter image by brighterworlds) [Read more...]

Back to Basics – Exposure

Back to basics - ExposureThis is the first article of the Back to Basics series which tells allabout the basics of photography, and it deals with Exposure. Do you know that click sound that cameras make? It originates from a “flip” of a mirror that allow light to fall on the camera’s sensor (or for the old skool photographer – to fall on the film).

The effect of light falling on a sensor is called Exposure. That is because the sensor is exposed to light. (OK, great, so exposure happens when something is exposed. Big deal! no wait there’s more…) When the sensor is exposed, it gathers the light and depending on how much light is gathered it creates an image.

Exposure is relative and is comparable by something called stops. (or F stops). The main trick for understanding exposure is that “opening” or “closing” a stop, doubles or halfs the amount of light that falls on the sensor. Lets have a closer look. [Read more...]

Very Cool Optical Slave Unit

optical flash slave
This guest post was made by Rolf Randby, the same person who wrote the Hot Shoe Adapter article. In fact, This slave trigger was the “trigger” (pan intended) for building the hot shoe adapter in the first place.

There are some Gazillion optical slaves out there. We even one optical slave unit published on this site. So what is so special about this circuitry? Rolf used a PIC (Programmable Interrupt Controller) to give this unit some very nice features: 1. No setup 2. It will work with a red eye setting in your camera. Yep, those annoying red-eye pre-flashes will not trigger the flash, it will “magically know” when the main slash if fired and activate the unit. 3. It will work with all point and shoot cameras.

Those three nice features accomplished with PIC hex code written by Evan Dudzik, from a algorithm by Rolf, make this unit an optimal optical slave unit for P&S cameras. It is the reason I call it the “Very Cool Optical Slave Unit”. Rolf, for some reason, insists on the boring name “STF 1″. I’ll stick with my name – “Very Cool Optical Slave Unit” or VeCOSU :). [Read more...]

Back to Basics

back to basicsIsn’t it fun to take a pile of PVC pipes and turn it into a studio? Or to take an old sheet and make it a first class photography backdrop? Some of those trash reused highly complex – space age technologies require nothing but two good hands, showing that no studio equipment is out of reach for the poor enthusiastic photographer. This is especially true when it come to mono-e-mono Vs. them high end gear guys.

Collecting all those DIY stories over the last year and a half or so, helped me realize that random stuff you find around your house good equipment is only half the key to taking good pictures. The other half is having good understanding of photography. Yet the third half is creativity or the ability to get creative. (yea, yea, I know that 150% of being a good photographer. But hey! if you really know it all you can get to be a 150% photographer… ) [Read more...]

DIY – Hot Shoe Adapter

diy hot shoe adaptor
The following guest post was made by Rolf Randby, a fellow DIY-er, who has two right hands (this is yet another manifestation of Darwin’s Evolution – The survivor of the guys who make stuff instead of buying them). The problem which Rolf was facing, is how to build a hot shoe mount for a flash trigger he made. Instead of running to the nearest photo store, he came up with a pretty cheap nice solution, that involves taking a part an old camera. This is also a good solution if your flash does not have a pc-sync outlet, as many of the commercial radio triggers use a phone jack to send the signal to the flash.

So to start this project of you will need an old camera that has a hot-shoe mount. Those are available at a lot of junk stores for a dollar or so. This camera is going to be disassembled – faint of heart – beware! [Read more...]

My Sea Is Dripping? Photoshop To The Rescue

HorizonAllot of times you’ll look at two very similar pictures, and say "Man, the left picture looks great, the right one is nice, but the left – Man I love it". Eight times out of ten, this difference can be explained by something called rules of composition. There are many such rules, (The Rule of Thirds is one known example, but there are many more). The rules of composition are a set of thumb rules to help the photographer rely on experience gathers in many years of art. (I was trying to avoid the whole "breaking the rules" argument, but feel free to comment) One such rule simply says Keep Your Horizon Straight. It’s a simple rule to follow, just make sure your camera is leveled when you take the shot. If you miss that rule, you’ll sometime hear comments about people falling to the side, or having the sea spilled out of the frame – some persons can not resist this remark. Some of the new DSLR models can help you with this task. Nikon’s D80 (or Nikon’s D70) for example can display a grid on the view finder, and you just need to make sure the horizon aligns with that line. There are also some nifty accessories you can attach to your hot shoe mount if you have one, see this nice gizmo from Hakuba for example.

But leveling the horizon can be sometimes tricky. When you take lots of shot, when you don’t have time to aim well or when you don’t have anything to level against. [Read more...]

DIY – The Panorama Head El Cheapo!

panoramic headHow to take good panoramas? Sounds simple, right? Take some shots with some overlapping landscape, go to your favorite stitching software, and stitch them up (I like panorama tools AKA PT, and autostich AKA autostich). Right? Not exactly…

If you’ve done a panorama or two, you must have noticed those annoying vertical stitching lines. Some are caused by wide angle distortion, some due to Polarizer filter that stayed on, and some are the “software’s fault”. Allot of those annoying stitching lines are caused due to something called parallax. In layman’s terms Parallax means that your camera’s focal plan does not “sit” (or as Neo would say – is “not in one”) with rotations axis of your camera. confused? Here is a great article to explain this. So if you want to get professional panoramas you need to do something about it; This something is called Using the Nodal Point (is it me, or does this term sounds a bit weird). Curious? here is how you find your Nodal Point. Of course is not the first to find this Nodal thing. you can always get some cheap accessories for panorama at Manfrotto. Or you can try and build one yourself, just like Stefan Lindgren – DIY-er extraordiner. [Read more...]

Flash photography – ACE of bounce

ace of bounceStep right up, young man, my lady. Come photographers – You are about to see some card magic that will leave you amazed. This very special card magic was thought to me by the Harry Potter himself ancient wizards of Tibet, passed on from generation to generation (from when flash photography was invented). You may say it is a slight of hands, an illusions of the eye, distraction of the mind. But I tell you NO, my friends this is true magic. It is called “The ACE of Bounce”.

Now, does anyone in the audience has a card deck, any card deck will do. Yes sir, step right up. Please tell me where did you by this deck? At your usual K-mart, I see. is there anything special about this very regular Bicycle deck of card? No you say, well let us see. [Read more...]

Gels for flash – Rosco & Lee

Rosco –

Lee -


My favorite sites from around the world

My favorite sites from around the worldHere are my favorite sites from around the world – not surprisingly most of them deal with photography. If you’ve ever wondered where I spend my time when I ought to be shooting, here is the answer. I tried to organize them sites into categories. beware – those are major time spenders. [Read more...]