LensAlign MKII – Lens Caliberation Tool [Gear Review]

LensAlign - Lens Caliberation Tool [Gear Review]Hey guys!

Today, I would like to introduce you to a very interesting product that costs less than a 100$ that will (maybe) change you’re shooting lives – the LensAlign MKII. If you guys are like me and own a body (or more) plus a couple lenses, chances are you’ve experienced focusing problems here and there. At first, you might wonder if you’re just focusing badly, or that something’s just wrong with your shooting technique but after enough repeats you start asking yourself… could it be something else?

If you’re lazy like me, you bring your camera to your nearest Nikon or Canon service center and get told that they don’t take care of lens calibration issues. Or they test it out on the spot and insist that your shot is properly focused or that the difference is negligible. Or perhaps, you’re slightly more independent and find out that most semi-pro bodies have a nifty little tool called MICRO-ADJUSTMENTS that allows you to force your camera to focus slightly forward or backwards through a little software tweak!

From there, you think EUREKA, and either tries building some sort of 45 degree ruler system to attempt and calibrate your system following some forum on the internet only to realize that your results are inconsistent and somewhat unpredictable. There are improvements, but you just can’t quite seem to get things right…

Now if you’re stuck at this step (which I was for the longest time) … read on for THE solution. [Read more...]

Using Dropbox To Manage Projects With Big Files

Using Dropbox To Manage Projects With Big Files

Recently I was involved in a video production for the DIY Lighting Kits that demanded synchronization between a large number of participants. Well, that is usually the case right, you have the photographer (or more than one), the editor, a retoucher sometimes, a sound man,  and a client. It can get even more complex if you have even more stakeholders to the project. how do you sync them all? In this post, I want to share my personal experience with Dropbox a semi-free file synchronization solution. (Here is my personal subscription link, if you sign up through this, both you and I get some extra space)

Before diving into the technical solution a few words about projects. The ability of ad-hock teams to organize like this to meet a project creative goals and deadlines is truly amazing. Only a few years back it was not really possible to work with a scattered team like this unless you were working for a big organization with a pricey network and expensive servers. For me this means freedom. Freedom to hire better craftsmen regardless of their physical location. Freedom to interact faster and on a deeper level with fellow photographers, and freedom to put my efforts into my core business rather than deal with bureaucracy and technicalities. [Read more...]

Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques – A Book Review

MikaI’ll be the first to admit, Photoshop and I don’t get along as well as I wish we had. And it’s not because I’m a purist or anything. If possible, I’d try to get the good stuff SOOC (Strait Out Of Camera), but the truth is, almost all my pictures go through some level of retouching. Near the end of the post you can see how this portrait of Mika looked before applying some retouching. (Click for larger view)

Recently I got a copy of Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques (long name, I know). And While I don’t usually review books, let alone Photoshop books, the book helped me make a huge jump in my post-processing, I hope that by sharing my thoughts on it can help others too. [Read more...]

The LensBaby Composer – A Review by Kirk Tuck

I am probably the last person anyone want to hand an “artsy” device to. I shoot quick, have not tolerance for fiddling around and I hate the canned look for most “alternate” processes that are inherent in a camera’s performance profiles. So maybe the owners of this site did the LensBaby people a big disservice and then again, maybe not…..

The LensBaby Composer - A review by Kirk Tuck

[Read more...]

In Praise of the 50mm 1.8 Lens

In Praise of the 50mm 1.8 LensWhen I was your age, we did not have no fancy zoom lenses, we used to zoom by walking. In the snow. Barefoot. Uphill.

OK, OK, I am just as young as you and my first lens was a Sigma 28-300 so I can’t really say what I just said and mean it. But is sure felt good to write it down :) And since I am going to talk about a prime lens – the 50mm 1.8 (AKA the nifty fifty) it had to be said.

My welded-to-the-chassis lens nowadays is the 24-70mm/2.8 Nikon lens which really rocks for most of the things I do (indoor portraits). And when it comes off, it is usually replace with the 50mm/1.8 prime. Here is why: [Read more...]

LightStudio iPhone App Lets You Take Studio Pictures (And shows You How Too)

LightStudio iPhone App Lets You Take Studio Pictures (And shows You How Too)If you like the SLR iPhone app that lets you take studio pictures from your iPhone, you’re gonna love LightStudio ($1.99 on the app store).

It is a great fun while riding the train to work, or waiting on the bench for your date to arrive. The application is built from a series of lighting setups each has several tabs or “functions”.

If you are familiar with lighting, the first tab is kinda trivial and shows the setup and a sample portrait taken with that setup. By setup I mean “Rembrandt Light”, Clamshell, Butterfly and so on.

If, on the other hand, you are new to photographic lighting, this is a great resource to have on your next train ride. Just browsing through the setups and getting familiar with the “classic” lighting positions. [Read more...]

PocketWizard Review – My Two Cents – Part 2

Jump awayAs I was telling a week ago, I got me some PocketWizards. Last week I shared why I thought that PWs were a good choice. There was quite an interesting debate on the comments whether this “industry standard” set is worth its high mark price – $169 apiece and you need two – and I recommend reading those comments and opinions before making any decisions.

In this post, I will share my thoughts on the PWs. My likes and dislikes. Now, this goes without saying (yet, I’ll say it anyway) those are my opinions, there are not absolute truths (and my wife will testify to that). I am also aware of the fact that a lot has been written about this set, however, they are still considered the standard and for that alone deserve the attention. [Read more...]

Radio Slave Triggers – PocketWizard Review – Part 1

Radio Slaves Triggers - PocketWizard Review - Part 1If you remember a while ago, I was full of pain about my crappy you-get-what-you-pay-for radio slaves. When they worked, it was a match made in heaven. Sadly, they did not always work.

Long story short. I made a change. In this two posts series,  I will first detail how and why I came to select Pocketwizard as my radio system and then share my first impressions after using it for more than a month. [Read more...]

Photek SoftLigher II – A Product Review

JimLately I’ve been finding myself wanting more out of my all around umbrella. I’ve been using the Westcott double fold umbrella for a long time now as my main on location modifier. While I am generally happy with it as a softening device, I wanted to have some more options in my bag without giving up on portability.

The Softlighter II by Photek provides an interesting option for that sake. I’ve been using it for a few days and in general I am pretty happy.

The images on this review are from a recent shoot for Jim Ridolfo profile pic. Jim Ridolfo is an Assistant Professor of Composition and Rhetoric at The University of Cincinnati. [Read more...]

The Book Shelf

Long before I started blogging, and around when I picked up photography I read books. In the beginning I read almost any photography book I could put my hand on, and as time progresses I got more picky.

I intend to maintain this list and link to it from the main page for your reference.

Below you will find my favorite reads, the books that helped me learn how to light, how to approach a portrait and that a photograph is more than a combination of aperture and shutter speed. [Read more...]