BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Posts Tagged ‘lesson

Technical Image Press Association honors Sigma Corporation’s new 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM lens

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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.

Sigma Corporation of America has received the award of Best Entry Level Lens by Technical Image Press Association for its newly available 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM.

The 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM, extended range zoom lens, currently available for Nikon and Canon mounts, incorporates Sigma’s exclusive technology, the Hybrid Optical Stabilizer, an anti-shake system providing image stabilization in both the camera body and the viewfinder. In addition to the unique OS system, this DC lens is a dedicated digital SLR camera lens suited for APS-C format, and incorporates Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) functionality to ensure quiet and high speed auto focus (AF).

“Sigma’s new 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM lens provides all levels of photographers with smooth zoom action, best-in-class image quality, and innovative OS technology,” said Mark Amir-Hamzeh, general manager of Sigma Corporation of America. “We’re thrilled that the Technical Image Press Association has recognized our continued commitment to providing our customers with excellent products and unparalleled quality, at reasonable prices.”

The 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM was selected for the TIPA award by a panel of 25 editors of leading European photography publications. Judges cited the lens’ exclusive optical stabilization (OS) system, along with four Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass elements and three aspheric elements as key factors in their decision process, all of which they said ensure “high quality” results.

Each year, TIPA editors vote for the best photo and imaging products introduced in Europe during the previous 12 months. The judges consider innovation, the use of leading-edge technology, design and ergonomics, ease-of-use, and the price/performance ratio while making their decisions.

The lens has 13.8 times zoom ratio capabilities, exclusive to digital SLR, making it ideal for close-up photography. In addition, an inner focusing system eliminates front lens rotation, making it suitable for use with circular polarizing filters and the supplied petal-type hood.

The 18-250 F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM is currently available for Nikon and Canon mounts for $800 MSRP in a number of stores nationwide. Within the next few months, the lens will be also be available in Sigma, as well as Sony and Pentax mounts, the first-ever optically stabilized lens offered for those manufacturers’ digital cameras.

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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!

Sports Photography Isn’t Always About the Action

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Sports photography seems to be one of the more frequent topics I am asked about and for good reason. Many parents have children who participate in athletics and being active parents, they want to capture their child’s activities in photographs.

While lacking much action, this photo would be acceptable to hang on any wall or e-mail to relatives. Without the proper gear, sports photography - especially capturing action - is tough. So, work within the limits of your gear. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

While lacking much action, this photo would be acceptable to hang on any wall or e-mail to relatives. Without the proper gear, sports photography - especially capturing action - is tough. So, work within the limits of your gear. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Unfortunately, these parents lack the photographic equipment (a basic sports photography setup for pros would set you back more than $10,000 not to mention the experience and training it takes to make good sports images) so these parent/photographers become discouraged because the images they have are not the Sports Illustrated-quality images they envisioned.

Sometimes the quiet moments of sports helps express emotion without the action. This photo was taken at a track & field event in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Sometimes the quiet moments of sports helps express emotion without the action. This photo was taken at a track & field event in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

There are some options. First, I guess you could buy the equipment, enroll in some classes and start working hard to become good at sports photography. The second option is to hire a photographer to photograph your child’s sporting events – it’s not cheap, but you should get some high-quality results or, finally, you can do yourself but within the limits of your current gear.

If you lack a telephoto lens and a camera that will capture images at a high frames-per-second rate (above 5 fps would be best) there are still things you can do to help capture images worthy of hanging on the walls or e-mailing relatives.

Predicting Action
First, you can attempt to predict the action. If you know where the subject is going to be you can prefocus on that area and make an image when the player/subject enters the frame. It takes a lot of trial-and-error but it is possible. If you’re using a DSLR or an extremely high-end point-and-shoot camera, this may be a good technique to try.

Waiting for Breaks in the Action
You can make good images during breaks in the action. For instance, when the coach is talking to players, during a water break or when there’s a timeout. Let me advise this, however. If a player is injured, it’s common courtesy among photographers to put down the camera.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Candid Moments Can Make Lasting Memories

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There are times when all the posing in the world just doesn’t make a photo pop. You try every trick in the book and nada – it just ain’t working.
So, what do you do? Wait.

I had tried several things to get a good image of this New Mexico JROTC group but nothing worked. So, I just moved away from them - they were too busy paying attention to me - and just waited. When I no longer held their attention, they went about being themselves and it shows through their facial expressions. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

I had tried several things to get a good image of this New Mexico JROTC group but nothing worked. So, I just moved away from them - they were too busy paying attention to me - and just waited. When I no longer held their attention, they went about being themselves and it shows through their facial expressions. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Patience seems to be one of the hardest things to teach new photographers. Most of them want to shoot, shoot, shoot and shoot some more (spray-and-pray is what we call it). Unfortunately, when the camera is constantly clicking, the subject or subjects get more tense and less likely to allow their true selves to shine through.

If you can’t get a posed photograph to work, there’s nothing wrong with just letting the subject go back to doing whatever it is they were doing before and you – the photographer – sitting there with the camera ready to capture a candid moment.

Candid photos does not mean bad photos. It just means that the subject wasn’t posed and just being themselves. Candid images can be made well and can add more depth to an image than any posed photograph ever could.

Here’s some tips on capturing good candid photos

Stay out of the way – just blend into the environment and let the subjects do what they do naturally.

Be ready – just because you SEEM relaxed and inattentive doesn’t mean you are. Be ready to capture the image when it happens.

Use the largest aperture setting you have available – a larger aperture setting reduces the depth-of-field and causes the background, which may distract from the subject, to blur keeping the focus on the subject.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Tips and Tricks: Look for Facial Expressions in Sports Photos

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I don’t pretend to be a know-it-all sports photographer. It’s an area of photography in which practice makes perfect but through my career – especially while working in photojournalism – I have had many opportunities to photography sporting events.

The eyes have it. Look for emotion in sports images. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Schneider)

The eyes have it. Look for emotion in sports images. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Schneider)

One of the more frequent complaints I hear from both students and photo hobbyists who photography sports is their images lack a certain “punch.” So here’s a little tip that my help: Look for emotion.

I’ve said it before on this Website … emotion is the one element a photograph needs to communicate and it holds true in sports photography as much as it does for portrait work.

Sports, fortunately, are ripe with expressive moments. It just a matter of catching the right look, the right facial expression at the right moment. It takes time, patience, practice and the right gear to do so.

Keep your eyes open and stay focused on the game. Once you get the “rhythm” of the game down, then you’ll be able to predict when the action – and emotion – will occur.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

April 13, 2009 at 5:36 am

Photo Critique 10: ‘Waiting for the Magic Bus,’ by Carla B.

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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 Carla, my friend in Miami, Florida.

"Waiting for the Magic Bus," Carla B., Miami, Florida

"Waiting for the Magic Bus," Carla B., Miami, Florida

General Overview:
Carla, although you do great portrait work, I really like when you leave your “comfort zone” and try something different. The concept for this image is great … it’s an image that really makes the viewer create a story. You give great visual clues and set a nice tone with the image. I think you have a great eye for visual storytelling.

It’s important to give your viewer the ability to let their minds go off the beaten path and dream up a story behind an image. I believe you’re well on your way to doing that with this image.

Good job.

Improvements
Here are a few improvements I will suggest: First, remove the lights that are popping through in the background. I think it’s a little too distracting.

A quick edit removing the lights in the background and playing with the color. (Edit by Jeremy Schneider, photo credit: Carla B., Miami, Florida)

A quick edit removing the lights in the background and playing with the color. (Edit by Jeremy Schneider, photo credit: Carla B., Miami, Florida)

Secondly, I would add a little more light to the subject. An off-camera flash placed to the viewer’s right and directed at the subject would have helped a little.

Finally, I think I would have toned the colors a little more to mute them, with the exception of the red. It might look a little better if all the colors were muted and the red bus station frame popped.

Carla, keep up the good work and keep pushing yourself OUT of your comfort zone and try new things.

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 5, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Tips & Tricks: Overexposure

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Digital cameras are technically-advanced and extremely user-friendly. So much so, it’s easy to get accustomed to letting the camera do all the thinking and only take photos in the automatic mode. But why limit yourself? A digital camera is a great tool for exploring your creative side.

For this little exercise in digital photography, we’re going to look at using your camera’s shutter priority function.

Most of the time, shutter priority mode is marked as “Tv” or “S” on the dial. This function allows you to input the shutter speed and the camera sets the appropriate aperture value. Let’s assume you don’t know anything about shutter speeds. That’s fine. You can learn as we go along.

Understanding Shutter Speed
Shutter speed is the time value measurement of the camera. It’s the amount of time light is allowed to strike the image sensor. If the scene you’re photographing is relatively dark, then a slower shutter speed is required because it takes more time for enough light to strike the image sensor to make an image. Alternately, a bright scene would require a faster shutter speed because too much light will make the image too bright – or what’s called overexposed.

Overexposure
For the purpose of this discussion, let’s discuss three levels of light were going to be concerned with: highlights, which are the brightest areas; mid-tones, which are the “middle” or “normal” light levels; and lowlights or shadows.
A “properly” exposed image has a balance between highlights, mid-tones and shadows. If an image is underexposed, it is too dark and details are lost in the shadows. If an image is overexposed, it is too bright and the image looses details in the highlight area.

Hard, directional light from the right side of the image was used for lighting. The shutter speed was set so the image would be overexposed giving it a unique look. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Hard, directional light from the right side of the image was used for lighting. The shutter speed was set so the image would be overexposed giving it a unique look. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

If Overexposure is ‘Wrong,’ Why Use It?
Sometimes it’s OK to break the rules.  Overexposure can add a sense of drama. It can also help give a new way to look at something that’s been photographed many, many times. Furthermore, slight overexposure can really help in portraits where your subject has slight facial blemishes such as acne.
Photography is one of those fields that once you know the rules, it’s perfectly OK to bend or break them. Experimenting with different looks and different techniques is a great way to unleash your own creative potential.

OK, You’ve Convinced Me. Now What?
Overexposure is easy, especially with a digital camera since you get instant feedback. Back in the “old days” when I studied photography, I kept a little notebook with me and recorded shutter speed, aperture and other values of all the pictures I took on film. That way, when I developed the images, I could see what process and what values I liked best. I also bracketed the image, which means I shot each image underexposed, properly exposed and overexposed. That way, I could pick and choose what I liked best for the particular image.
With a digital camera, you can leave the notebook at home. Not only can you instantly see the results, the shutter speed and aperture values are recorded for each image.

Step-by-Step
First, find a good subject. Since you’ll be experimenting with many different exposure values, it’s best to find something inanimate since people get cranky and pets get bored or vice versa. Flowers work really well, especially big, colorful flowers.
Next, take your subject outside on a bright day. Place your subject in a location where the background isn’t too distracting.
Now, put your camera on the “Tv” or “S” setting. Then you need to look at the shutter speed value, which will probably be displayed on your LCD view screen. Consult your owner’s manual to find out how to increase or decrease the shutter speed value. There will be a bar, usually at the bottom of your camera, that tells you if you’re underexposed, correctly exposed or overexposed.
Look at the light meter display on your LCD view screen and take a picture at the “normal” or “proper” exposure level. Then, decrease your shutter speed value and take another picture. Keep this up until you can no longer see the subject on the LCD screen. After you’re finished, look at your images on the computer. If you have image editing software, open the images in the software and start applying minor adjustments to your best images until you get the results you want.

While using overexposure gives you a new tool to use in your photography, it won’t work for every subject every time but don’t be afraid to experiment. Try new techniques whenever you get a chance because you might find a new spin on an old subject.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

March 16, 2009 at 2:44 pm