BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Archive for April 2009

Nikon Receives NAPET Manufacturer Service Support Award 8 Years in a Row

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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.

For the eighth consecutive year, the National Association of Photo Equipment Technicians (NAPET) awarded Nikon Inc. the Martin Strauss Memorial Manufacturer Service Support Award. This award recognizes Nikon’s continued commitment to quality and the efficiency of its National Service Department, Service Relations Department, and Parts Department.

“Being recognized by the photo industry as the leading provider of excellent service in our Service Department, Service Relations Department, and Parts Department is an accomplishment to be proud of,” says Arnold H. Kamen, Vice President of Operations & Customer Services. “Being recognized eight years in a row goes beyond our expectations and demonstrates our commitment and dedication to our customers.”

The efficiency of the Service, Service Relations and Parts Departments is integral to the success of Nikon’s retail partners, as it provides their customers with a valuable resource and deters product returns.

The Nikon Service Relations Department is available for active support to retail partners, authorized repair stations, and consumers seven days a week, 18 hours a day.

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Books for Your Library: ‘Extreme Birds: The World’s Most Extraordinary and Bizarre Birds’

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Photo books are a great addition to any library. As photographers, we are constantly searching for new ideas and are always interested in seeing concepts-done-well. Here’s a suggestion to add to your library …

The biodiversity found on this planet is too large to fully comprehend. The complex adaptations made by species in order to not only survive, but thrive in the various environments are not only scientifically amazing but also artistically beautiful. Dominic Couzens’ photo essay, “Extreme Birds: The World’s Most Extraordinary and Bizarre Birds,” is a look at birds on the extreme edge of biodiversification.
birds
Couzens states in the book’s introduction, birds are more constrained than other animals by their physiological and physical adaptations for flight and yet are still able to take their bodies and behaviors to amazing extremes. His photo essay documents 150 birds that are unique in the extreme way they live, play and mate.

This is a great book for anyone interested in not only bird photography but any form of wildlife photography. It is available at Amazon.

Places to Go on the Web – Great Photo Sites Issue 14

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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:

Dave Moser: Dave Moser has what has to be one of the coolest Websites on the planet but it even pales in comparison to his photographic work. As you navigate the fish bowl (you’ve just gotta see it to believe it) you will be increasingly amazed at the quality of his work. Moser uses color multiplied by 10. His client list includes: ING, GlaxoSmithKline, The Boeing Company, Temple University and Gap.

John Scarpati: Nashville-based photographer John Scarpati is THE musicians photographer. The Dixie Chicks, Clay Walker, Gin Blossoms, Jane’s Addiction, Rolling Stones and many, many more musicians have all had camera time with him. His images are perfect and his ability to blend personalities with light and color is simply amazing. This is a Website you can spend hours looking at.

Written by jeremyparce

April 21, 2009 at 7:30 am

Photo Critique 14: ‘Perfect Hideaway,’ by Adri O.

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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 Adri, my friend in Venezuela.

"Perfect Hideaway," by Adri. O. of Venezuela

"Perfect Hideaway," by Adri. O. of Venezuela

General Overview:
Adri, I really enjoy this image. I can see this image being used for advertising. It has a nice, weathered look. I love the texture on the weathered beach chair and the way it compliments the texture of the rocks. I also like the use of color in this image. It’s a nice, soothing blue tone that helps tie in the beach chair, the ocean and the sky.
This is a nice image. Good job.

Improvements
Here are a few improvements I think will make the image better: First, I think the image would look better if the beach chair filled the entire bottom right corner of the image. I think this will help set the tone for the image a little better. I also think it would help tie in the blue in the chair, the blue in the sky and the blue in the sea a little more.

Cropping and some adjustments to the color saturation makes the image standout a little more. (Photo Credit: Adri O., with edit by Jeremy Schneider)

Cropping and some adjustments to the color saturation makes the image standout a little more. (Photo Credit: Adri O., with edit by Jeremy Schneider)

Secondly, I think the hotspot in the middle of the chair needs to be toned down just a little. Perhaps the use of a polarizing filter or a neutral density filter will help. If you don’t have a ND filter or a polarizer, then I would suggest a little editing in Photoshop help smooth out the blown highlights.

Finally, I think you should edit the photos so the colors pop a little more.

Adri, keep up the good work. Your portfolio is expanding.

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

April 21, 2009 at 7:06 am

Jonathan Singer Photographs Flowers With a Heavenly Touch

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Jonathan Singer’s flower images have been called a marriage of art and science. Dr. Singer is a botanical photographic artist whose images of plant life is awe inspiring.

Jonathan Singer in front of his photograph of a Hippeastrum ‘Toscana,’ a new hybrid amaryllis. (Photo Credit: Howard Schatz via the artist’s Website)

Jonathan Singer in front of his photograph of a Hippeastrum ‘Toscana,’ a new hybrid amaryllis. (Photo Credit: Howard Schatz via the artist’s Website)

His credits include being named a consulting photographer to both the U.S. National Arboretum and the U.S. Botanical Gardens; a guest lecturer in photography at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts; and the first American photographer/artist to speak and have a handmade book accepted in the Swedish Royal Academy of Science.

Click here to view an interview with Singer offered by CBS News.

Written by jeremyparce

April 21, 2009 at 6:27 am

Enjoy the Everyday with Photography

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For all of you wandering about your home looking for photographic subjects take note: Trying photographing the everyday things in your life in a new way. Photographic subjects are everywhere. It just takes a little time and a lot of imagination to cull them out and make them shine.

Here are a few tips to help you out when there’s “nothing to shoot:”

  • Look to the Lawn: If you have a lawn, especially a landscaped one, then you may not have to go any further than your own property. Since spring has sprung in many places, now is a great opportunity to get outside and shoot. Flowers, insects, and decorative lawn ornaments make for nice subjects. Try different things, too. Trying getting close or shooting from different levels. Try arranging small compositions. Be creative!

    Try photographing flowers in black-and-white so you can focus on texture. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

    Try photographing flowers in black-and-white so you can focus on texture. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

  • Four-legged Friends: Pets always make good subjects. Sometimes they can be a little difficult but if you just sit down, eventually they will lose interest in you and your camera and go back to doing what they do best.

    Newton, my into everything Schnoodle, stops for a quick pose before destroying a tulip. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

    Newton, my into everything Schnoodle, stops for a quick pose before destroying a tulip. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

  • Clothing: Clothes? Sure. Why not? There are plenty of people who make a GOOD living photographing clothes and fashion so why not practice fashion photography yourself? If you have a willing model, it’s even better but you can still photograph clothing without a person. Try playing with lights and colors.

    Try photographing all types of clothes and accesories. Another tip: Hats make interesting subjects. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

    Try photographing all types of clothes and accesories. Another tip: Hats make interesting subjects. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

  • Musical Instruments: Have a piano or guitar around the house? If so, get creative and photograph someone playing. Better yet, make the instrument the subject and try to arrange it in creative ways.
  • Figurines: Still life images of figurines is especially interesting if you own a macro lens. Get close and make little portraits out of your little collectibles.

    Focus on the small things ... a figurine makes for an interesting photo. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

    Focus on the small things ... a figurine makes for an interesting photo. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

  • In the Kitchen: Look for items laying around in the kitchen. Try food photography or product photography. Try arranging little scenes and see what happens.

No matter what you may thing, there’s always an opportunity to hone your photographic skills and make images. It just takes a little creativity and some time. You never know … you might have some wall art just waiting.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Trip Through the Canon Store: Wide-Angle Lenses

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A lens is a tool. Most people forget that for some reason but simply enough, a lens is a tool that we use to make an image. Like all tools, at the risk of overextending the analogy, the better the tool, the better the finished project.

In our last installment, we discussed the basic facts related to lenses and then looked at Canon’s ultra-wide zoom lenses. If you didn’t read that article, you really should because it explains the basic mechanics of how a lens works.

Today, we’re going to look at the company’s fixed focal length, wide-angle lenses. I have always been a fan of prime lenses. Prime lenses are defined as lenses with a fixed focal length versus zoom lenses which have a range of focal lengths. I like prime lenses because they are generally very well made and typically cost less than zoom lenses. I also like prime lenses because they typically have a larger maximum aperture than zooms and often weigh less than zoom lenses.

There are, however, advantages to using zoom lenses. Zooms obviously cover a broader focal range, thus eliminating the need to carry multiple lenses. If you purchase a zoom, I highly suggest buying one that has a fixed maximum aperture throughout the entire zoom range. Although more costly, they are worth the investment.

Canon’s Wide-Angle Lens Selection
Canon currently manufactures nine prime wide-angle lenses. Of the nine, one lens is a fisheye and three of the lenses are L-series.

EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM: This pro-series lens has an amazing 114-degree angle of view and is a perfect lens for architectural applications. The lens also features better optical elements that reduce problems in edge-to-edge sharpness. It is dust- and moisture-proof and the ultrasonic motor (that’s the USM designation) means you’ll get faster and more responsive autofocus. This lens isn’t cheap, though. Expect to pay between $2000-$2200 US for this pro-series lens.

EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM: This pro-series lens has an amazing 114-degree angle of view and is a perfect lens for architectural applications. The lens also features better optical elements that reduce problems in edge-to-edge sharpness. It is dust- and moisture-proof and the ultrasonic motor (that’s the USM designation) means you’ll get faster and more responsive autofocus. This lens isn’t cheap, though. Expect to pay between $2000-$2200 US for this pro-series lens.

Canon's EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens: If you’ve never seen images made with a fisheye lens, you’ve missed out. The fisheye lens has a 180-degree angle of view and barrel distortion giving the image a curved look. With its f/2.8 maximum aperture, this lens works well for photographing fast-action subjects and with its 8 inch minimum focus distance, you can get really close and really wide. This is a specialized lens and you probably won’t use it everyday. But when you need to give your images a different look, this is a go-to lens to have in your camera bag. The lens isn’t priced too bad, either. You can expect to find this lens for about $625-$725 US.

Canon's EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens: If you’ve never seen images made with a fisheye lens, you’ve missed out. The fisheye lens has a 180-degree angle of view and barrel distortion giving the image a curved look. With its f/2.8 maximum aperture, this lens works well for photographing fast-action subjects and with its 8 inch minimum focus distance, you can get really close and really wide. This is a specialized lens and you probably won’t use it everyday. But when you need to give your images a different look, this is a go-to lens to have in your camera bag. The lens isn’t priced too bad, either. You can expect to find this lens for about $625-$725 US.

EF 20mm f/2.8 USM: This is a nice lens to have if you need to get wide and maintain a big maximum aperture. Plus, this lens is fairly well priced. You can expect to pick one up for about $450 US.

EF 20mm f/2.8 USM: This is a nice lens to have if you need to get wide and maintain a big maximum aperture. Plus, this lens is fairly well priced. You can expect to pick one up for about $450 US.

EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM: This is one of my favorite wide-angle lenses. First of all, it produces needle-sharp images from corner-to-corner. Second, its ultra-fast f/1.4 maximum aperture is ideal for photojournalists who may be shooting in tight spaces with less-than-ideal lighting. Also, this lens offers extremely pleasing bokeh (the out-of-focus, soft blur when using a shallow depth of field). The ultrasonic motor allows for highly responsive and quiet autofocus. Again, being a pro-series lens, the EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM isn’t cheap. Expect to pay between $1700-$1800 US.

EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM: This is one of my favorite wide-angle lenses. First of all, it produces needle-sharp images from corner-to-corner. Second, its ultra-fast f/1.4 maximum aperture is ideal for photojournalists who may be shooting in tight spaces with less-than-ideal lighting. Also, this lens offers extremely pleasing bokeh (the out-of-focus, soft blur when using a shallow depth of field). The ultrasonic motor allows for highly responsive and quiet autofocus. Again, being a pro-series lens, the EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM isn’t cheap. Expect to pay between $1700-$1800 US.

EF 24mm f/2.8: This lens is really ideal for students interested in photography but not ready - or able - to make a huge financial investment. The lens has a fast maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a great focal length to get into wide-angle photography. It has a minimum focus distance of 10 inches, which lets you get fairly close to your subject. You can pick this lens up for about $310 US.

EF 24mm f/2.8: This lens is really ideal for students interested in photography but not ready - or able - to make a huge financial investment. The lens has a fast maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a great focal length to get into wide-angle photography. It has a minimum focus distance of 10 inches, which lets you get fairly close to your subject. You can pick this lens up for about $310 US.

EF 28mm f/2.8: This lens is considered a good standard wide-angle lens. It’s a nice walk around lens because its both lightweight (185g) and offers a nice focal length for general photographic work. Again, this isn’t an expensive lens. You can find one for about $200 US.

EF 28mm f/2.8: This lens is considered a good standard wide-angle lens. It’s a nice walk around lens because its both lightweight (185g) and offers a nice focal length for general photographic work. Again, this isn’t an expensive lens. You can find one for about $200 US.

EF 35mm f/1.4L USM: This is another great lens I enjoy using. It has a super fast maximum aperture of f/1.4 and is a really well-made lens. For those of you who don’t own a full frame camera, which many Canon digital cameras have a 1.6x magnification ratio, this lens is a really nice portrait lens because it gives you an actual focal length of 56mm. The bokeh effect of this lens is also aesthetically pleasing. Like most pro, L-series lenses, this one isn’t too cheap. Expect to part with $1200-$1400 US for this lens.

EF 35mm f/1.4L USM: This is another great lens I enjoy using. It has a super fast maximum aperture of f/1.4 and is a really well-made lens. For those of you who don’t own a full frame camera, which many Canon digital cameras have a 1.6x magnification ratio, this lens is a really nice portrait lens because it gives you an actual focal length of 56mm. The bokeh effect of this lens is also aesthetically pleasing. Like most pro, L-series lenses, this one isn’t too cheap. Expect to part with $1200-$1400 US for this lens.

EF 35mm f/2: This is a less-priced lens that still offers the 35mm focal length and a fast aperture. Although it’s not as solidly built as the EF 35 f/1.4L USM lens, it still offers the photographer a compact, lightweight and relatively low-cost lens. You can purchase this lens for about $300 US.

EF 35mm f/2: This is a less-priced lens that still offers the 35mm focal length and a fast aperture. Although it’s not as solidly built as the EF 35 f/1.4L USM lens, it still offers the photographer a compact, lightweight and relatively low-cost lens. You can purchase this lens for about $300 US.

EF 28mm f/1.8 USM: A nice all-around lens, this model offers a super fast maximum aperture and sharp edge-to-edge images across the aperture range. A good student lens, you can purchase this model for about $450 US.

EF 28mm f/1.8 USM: A nice all-around lens, this model offers a super fast maximum aperture and sharp edge-to-edge images across the aperture range. A good student lens, you can purchase this model for about $450 US.

Sample image from the Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM lens. (Photo Credit: Image from Canon)

Sample image from the Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM lens. (Photo Credit: Image from Canon)

For our next installment, we’ll discuss Canon’s standard and medium telephoto prime lenses. Good luck and keep shooting!

Sample image from the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens. (Photo Credit: Image from Canon)

Sample image from the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens. (Photo Credit: Image from Canon)

Sample image from the Canon's EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens. (Photo Credit: Image from Canon)

Sample image from the Canon's EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens. (Photo Credit: Image from Canon)