BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Archive for March 9th, 2009

Places to Go on the Web – Great Photo Sites Issue 4

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I love photography. Not only do I love to take photographs, I love to talk, teach, and explore photography. I also like to look at great photographs to get ideas on how I can be a better photographer.
If you have any interest in digital photography, then a visit to some of these sites is worth your time. Looking at great photos will help make your own photos better because you can get ideas, tips and see what and how others are photographing their subjects. As your cruise Cyberspace, spend a few minutes looking at these Websites:

Jerry Avenaim: Jerry Avenaim is the definition of a fashion photographer. His first assignment when he turned pro was in 1985 and it was the cover shot for the foreign edition of Vogue. His subject: then-rising star Cindy Crawford. His photographs have appeared in most major magazines including Vogue, GQ, and Vanity Fair. His advertising clients include Ford Motor Company, Merle Norman Cosmetics and Guess.

Jim Zuckerman:  Jim Zuckerman is the author of 13 books on photography and has taught at some of the premier photographic schools including UCLA, Kent State University and Hallmark Institute of Photography. His work has appeared in publications of the National Geographic Society, Omni Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler and Outdoor Photographer.

Julie Dennis Brothers:  Photographer Julie Dennis Brothers’ work began in Europe over 20 years ago and since then, she has made images on five continents. She has photographed icons such as Beyonce Knowles, David Beckham, Snoop Dog, Jerry Seinfeld and Jennifer Lopez; and has Disney, Sony Pictures, HBO and Interscope on her lengthy client list.

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Photo Critique 8: ‘Texture 1,’ by Andres L.

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I love critiquing photos. It’s the best way to learn and get new ideas for photo shoots. Today, we’re going to critique an image made by Andres, my friend in Miami, Florida.

'Texture 1,' by Andres of Miami.

'Texture 1,' by Andres of Miami.

General Overview:
Andy, you have a great eye for finding beauty in the ordinary. You have a great ability to present ordinary objects in a new light. That’s a talent that will help you in photography or any other artistic endeavors you choose to pursue. You also have an incredible amount of patience working in post production. This is an important aspect to digital photography and you’re learning post-production techniques quite well.

Like most images submitted for critique, I like the concept of this image because of its simplicity. You present the viewer with an attractive, pleasing look at an otherwise normal scene. You give the viewer plenty of room to roam around the scene, yet stay focused on the message you’re trying to convey. As a viewer, I feel “at home” and comfortable in your scene and want to explore it more. I want to walk down the road and see where it leads. You did a great job of convincing your viewer to look at the image and wonder “where does that go?”

Good job.

Improvements
There are just a few improvements I want to suggest. First, the object (it looks like a box) about mid-way down the road needs to be removed. You could have either moved it prior to shooting or walked past it and shot further down the path. In post production, you could easily edit the box out. Either way, it’s a little distracting to the viewer.

Secondly, I think a little more detail in the sky would have helped separate it some from the ground.

Finally, I think a little more vignetting on the top and bottom would have achieved a better look. This is a matter of opinion, though, so it’s really up to you to decide.

I would also recommend playing around with the ISO sensitivity. Perhaps a grainy look would help make the image “pop” a little more.

A quick edit removes the box and the distraction. (Photo Credit: Andres L. with edit by Jeremy Schneider)

A quick edit removes the box and the distraction. (Photo Credit: Andres L. with edit by Jeremy Schneider)

Andy, you always do a great job. Keep up the good work.

Thanks for the submission, good luck and keep shooting!

If you would like to submit a photo for critique, e-mail us at submissions@brickhousephotoschool.com.

Written by jeremyparce

March 9, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Panasonic Adds Lumix GH-1, Offers HD Recording Capability

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I will often publish media releases related to photography on this blog in order to help keep you informed. These media releases are created by the respective companies. I edit the releases for space as needed.

Las Vegas, NV – Panasonic recently introduced the DMC-GH1, the newest member of the company’s revolutionary LUMIX G Micro System – a new digital interchangeable lens camera system that delivers professional-level features and performance in a compact and easy-to-use camera body.

Compatible with the Micro Four Thirds System standard, the new LUMIX GH1 features advanced video photography functions, such as the ability to record High Definition (HD) AVCHD 1080p/24p video. In addition, the new LUMIX GH1 comes with a newly developed long-zoom interchangeable lens – the LUMIX G VARIO HD 14-140mm/F4-5.8 ASPH./MEGA O.I.S. This lens was specifically designed to support HD movie recording and features a silent motor and continuous auto focusing (AF) capability; two features which distinguish the LUMIX GH1 from DSLRs that offer HD video recording capabilities.

“Photographers of all levels – professionals, amateurs and beginners – will be stunned by the range of creative possibilities that the LUMIX GH1 creates in the world of high-quality photography and HD video. Users will be equally amazed by the camera’s easy-to-use design and small size,” said David Briganti, National Marketing Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. “Beyond its creative potential, the LUMIX GH1, a sister product to the award-winning LUMIX G1, is also innovative and differentiates itself from the pack by recording High Definition video with continuous AF, an indispensable feature for practical video recording.”
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In late 2008, Panasonic redefined the traditional DSLR category with its launch of the Panasonic LUMIX G1 – a digital, interchangeable lens camera system that takes the radical step of eliminating the large, internal mirror structure that is currently contained in all traditional DSLR cameras. This innovation allows for dramatically smaller camera body and lens sizes and permits many new, advanced consumer features such as LUMIX G1 “Live View Finder”.

The new LUMIX GH1 provides cutting-edge video recording features, including the ability to record high-resolution full HD (1920 x 1080) video at 24 fps or smooth HD video (1280 x 720) movie at 60 fps using an AVCHD format (MPEG-4/H.264). The AVCHD format provides the important benefit of doubling the HD quality recording time compared with Motion JPEG. The LUMIX GH1 hosts a dedicated video record button on the back of the camera which lets users instantly start recording videos, even while shooting still photos – removing the fear of potentially missing a must-see video moment. The LUMIX GH1 also records video in high-quality stereo sound via Dolby Digital Stereo Creator, the global standard of audio recording. An optional stereo microphone (DMW-MS1) is also available to achieve a more intensive sound recording experience. Finally, a convenient Wind Cut function is provided to help to block out distracting video background noise.

Like the LUMIX G1, the LUMIX GH1 features the Live View Finder system which enables something that simply is not possible with conventional DSLR cameras – the ability to preview the effects of camera settings (e.g., exposure, aperture, shutter speed) before taking the photo. This helps take the guesswork out of the camera setting process and helps users ensure that every photo they capture comes out exactly as they envisioned.

The brilliant 1,440,000-dot equivalent Live View Finder system can also display information settings that a user can see without removing their eyes from the subject.  Furthermore, a built-in eye sensor automatically switches on the viewfinder when the user looks into it, then switches it off and turns on the swivel 3.0-inch large 460,000-dot high-resolution LCD when the user looks away from the viewfinder. The 60-frames-per-second Live View is made possible by the Live MOS sensor, which takes real-time signals directly from the image sensor and sends them continuously to the LCD.  Both the Live View Finder and LCD provide a 100% field of view – allowing the user to accurately frame and compose a shot from most any position.

The LUMIX GH1 kit lens – the LUMIX G VARIO HD 14-140mm/F4-5.8 ASPH./MEGA O.I.S. –provides a broad focal length range of 28-280mm (35mm camera equivalent) and supports continuous AF using the contrast AF system for both photo and movie capture. The low-noise lens design also seamlessly supports video recording by minimizing the mechanical sound generated by AF/AE actions.

At the core of the LUMIX GH1 lies a newly developed 12.1-megapixel high speed Live MOS sensor and Venus Engine HD, which features twin CPUs for outstanding processing capabilities. The Live MOS sensor is capable of high-speed readout over four channels to be compatible with full-HD movie recording. This sensor is also advantageous for photo recording with a high signal-to-noise ratio thanks to the new circuit structure that is unaffected by the noise generated in each of the circuits. This results in crisp photos – even those taken at high ISO levels. The multi-aspect type sensor allows users to take photos in 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9 aspect ratios with the same angle of view.  The Venus Engine HD is also energy efficient, supporting long periods of AVCHD video recording on a single battery charge.

In addition to the digital camera’s HD video recording capability, the DMC-GH1 features the LUMIX Creative Movie mode which lets the user manually set the shutter speed and aperture, making their videos more creative and representative of their own personal video style preference. Changing the shutter speed gives the videos a special look, particularly suitable for shooting fast-moving subjects. Controlling the aperture is convenient when there are several subjects at varying distances, so the user can focus on the foreground and blur the background – or vice versa.

While the LUMIX DMC-GH1 has cutting-edge still image and video capture features, the LUMIX GH1 is also incredibly easy-to-use, thanks to Panasonic’s iA (Intelligent Auto) mode – a user-friendly setting made popular in the LUMIX line of digital point-and-shoot camera products. Panasonic’s iA mode is a suite of technologies which engage automatically (no settings needed). The latest addition to the iA suite of features is Face Recognition, a feature that directs the camera to prioritize focus and exposure on a specific face that that the user had previously registered in the camera. This invaluable function makes it especially easy to take sharp and beautifully exposed images of things the user values most in their photos – the user’s friends and family.

Panasonic’s iA mode offers other innovative features which help deliver consistently outstanding photos: O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilization) to help reduce blurring from hand-shake; Intelligent ISO Control to help limit motion blur by adjusting the ISO sensitivity if the subject moves as the shot is taken; AF Tracking that lets the camera lock onto any subject and keep it in focus even if it moves; Intelligent Exposure which optimizes the exposure for each part of an image, preventing blocked shadows and blown highlights, and helps ensure that gradation and details are reproduced beautifully; and Intelligent Scene Selector which automatically detects the five most common shooting situations – Portrait, Night Portrait, Scenery, Night Scenery and Close-up – and switches to the appropriate Scene mode.

Best of all, the benefits of Panasonic’s iA mode extend to motion image recording on the DMC-GH1. For example, the LUMIX GH1 motion iA includes O.I.S. and Face Detection, which automatically detects a face in the frame and adjusts focus, exposure, contrast, and skin complexion. Intelligent Exposure continually checks the ambient light level and adjusts the exposure setting as conditions change to prevent blown highlights and blocked shadows. Intelligent Scene Selector automatically switches between Normal, Portrait, Close-up, Scenery, and Low Light modes according to the environment.

The Contrast AF system adopted by the LUMIX GH1 is accurate, easy-to-use and fast. Users can choose from a wide range of AF modes, including multiple-area AF with up to 23 focus areas, 1-area AF with a selectable focus area, Face Detection, and AF Tracking. To help keep the images free of spots from dust and particles, the Supersonic Wave Filter dust reduction system helps prevent foreign contaminants from adhering to the image sensor.

In addition to the new LUMIX G lenses, the DMC-GH1 and LUMIX G Micro System is compatible with any interchangeable lens that complies with the Four Thirds standard. This gives users access to the entire range of Four Thirds lenses. Additional Micro Four Thirds lenses will be announced in the future, giving users a large, diverse line of high-performance lenses to add to their photographic toolboxes. With the LUMIX G Micro System and the growing assortment of lenses becoming available, the creative possibilities are endless.

Written by jeremyparce

March 9, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Panasonic Expands Its Lumix Micro G System

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I will often publish media releases related to photography on this blog in order to help keep you informed. These media releases are created by the respective companies. I edit the releases for space as needed.

Las Vegas, NV – Panasonic recently introduced two new lenses for its LUMIX G Micro System – the innovative digital interchangeable lens camera system – the LUMIX G VARIO HD 14-140mm/F4-5.8 ASPH./MEGA O.I.S. and the LUMIX G VARIO 7-14mm/F4 ASPH. Both lenses are compatible with the newly announced LUMIX DMC-GH1 digital camera, which can record High Definition (HD) AVCHD 1080/24p video, and its award-winning sister camera, the LUMIX DMC-G1 digital camera.
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“Panasonic is excited and proud to expand our LUMIX G Micro System – with the addition of these two new Micro Four Thirds lenses, as well as the LUMIX DMC-GH1, which can record superb High Definition video,” said David Briganti, National Marketing Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. “We firmly believe that consumers of all skill levels can benefit from the advanced features we are able to pack into these new compact lenses and camera bodies.”

The new LUMIX G VARIO HD 14-140mm/F4-5.8 ASPH./MEGA O.I.S., available as part of the kit with the DMC-GH1, or separately, incorporates an inner focus direct-drive linear motor for focusing.  This allows fast and accurate contrast auto focus (AF) to operate smoothly and silently – a necessity for video recording.  Adopting the Micro Four Thirds System standard, the new LUMIX G VARIO HD 14-140mm/F4-5.8 ASPH./MEGA O.I.S. offers a long zoom of 14-140mm (35mm camera equivalent: 28-280mm), suitable for a wide range of shooting situations – from scenery to portraits to telephoto shots – all possible with a compact and lightweight lens.

The LUMIX G VARIO HD 14-140mm/F4-5.8 ASPH./MEGA O.I.S. uses four aspherical lenses and two ED lenses to achieves dramatic downsizing – despite its powerful 10x optical zoom – and still minimizes distortion and chromatic aberration. Panasonic’s Mega O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilization) is incorporated in the lens, making it easy to shoot clear shots even in telephoto shooting or in low-light situations – as this feature minimizes blur caused by hand shake.

Panasonic’s other new lens, the ultra-wide-angle zoom interchangeable lens LUMIX G VARIO 7-14mm/F4 ASPH features an astonishingly wide-angle zoom range of 7-14mm (35mm camera equivalent: 14-28mm). Its compact and lightweight size makes it easy for users to carry while they are on the go. Taking advantage of its 114-degree wide-angle view, users can fit more subjects in a frame – even when the shooting distance is limited, for example, while shooting indoors. This expansive view gives users great flexibility and a rich perspective when shooting photos or video.

The high-performing, yet lightweight LUMIX G VARIO 7-14mm/F4 ASPH. achieves its compact size by incorporating two aspherical lenses and four ED lenses in a unit of 16 elements in 12 groups. The resolution of the images is high, even at its wide-end and features F4 brightness through its entire zoom range thanks to a large diameter glass-molded lens embedded within the body.

When both of these news lenses are mounted on the LUMIX DMC-GH1, users can take advantage of the advanced contrast AF system including Face Recognition, offering a variety of convenient and fun shooting. Seven aperture blades give the aperture a rounded shape that, when shooting at a larger aperture, produces an attractive smoothness in out-of-focus areas. Featuring highly-durable metal mounts, the new lenses use multicoated lens elements to reduce ghosting and flares, helping to deliver a positive user-experience – whether shooting HD videos or taking beautiful digital photos. For more information, please visit http://www.panasonic.com/lumix.

Written by jeremyparce

March 9, 2009 at 1:05 pm

Pentax Lowers Price on K20D

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I will often publish media releases related to photography on this blog in order to help keep you informed. These media releases are created by the respective companies. I edit the releases for space as needed.

GOLDEN, CO. – PENTAX Imaging Company recently announced a reduction in the minimum advertised price of the award-winning PENTAX K20 digital SLR.

Effective immediately, the MAP price of the PENTAX K20D body and two K20D lens kit configurations have been reduced by $200 US. The new MAP pricing is as follows:

  • PENTAX K20D body only: $799.95
  • PENTAX K20D with DA 18-55mm II lens kit: $879.95
  • PENTAX K20D with DA 16-45mm lens kit: $1199.95

“With this price reduction, PENTAX now offers consumers the highest resolution on one of the most fully-featured DSLRs priced under 800 dollars,” said Bill Zani, vice president sales and marketing, PENTAX Imaging Company.

Along with the price reductions, PENTAX is extending the K20D FREE Three Year Warranty (one year standard, two years extended) on all K20Ds purchased by March 31, 2009.

Highly rated by several consumer magazines, the PENTAX K20D digital SLR camera with 14.6 megapixels is equipped with advanced features including a dust-proof, weather-resistant body, PRIME image processor that allows full image customization, and PENTAX developed Shake Reduction that works with any of the 25 million PENTAX lenses ever manufactured. The PENTAX K20D is the most affordable high resolution DSLR camera in the advanced photo enthusiast category and allows more experienced photographers, who demand complete control, to fully customize the camera.

Visit www.pentaximaging.com to learn more and to locate a dealer.

Written by jeremyparce

March 9, 2009 at 12:22 am